#UNHCR; #AsylumSeekers; #Greece; #investagePushBacks; #HumanRights
Geneva, Jun 13 (Canadian-Media): UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging Greece to investigate multiple reports of push backs by Greek authorities at the country’s sea and land borders, possibly returning migrants and asylum seekers to Turkey after they had reached Greek territory or territorial waters, UNHCR reports said.
A young girl shelters with a blanket on the beach on Lesvos, Greece, March 2, 2020. She had just crossed the Aegean sea from Turkey in a dinghy. Image credit: © Image Eurokinissi via ZUMA Wire),Ritzau Scanpix
UNHCR has continuously addressed its concerns with the Greek government and has called for urgent inquiries into a series of alleged incidents reported in media, many of which corroborated by non-governmental organizations and direct testimonies. Such allegations have increased since March and reports indicate that several groups of people may have been summarily returned after reaching Greek territory.
Some 3,000 asylum seekers arrived in Greece by land and sea since the start of March, a precipitous drop from previous months and compared to previous years. Yet, the number of reported push backs, particularly at sea, has been rising.
Greece has the legitimate right to control its borders and manage irregular migration while respecting international human rights and refugee protection standards. Controls and practices must guarantee the rights of asylum seekers and they should not be turned away at Greece’s borders.
The Hellenic Coast Guard has shown exceptional dedication and courage to save countless refugee and migrant lives at sea. However, the present allegations go against Greece’s international obligations and can expose people to grave danger.
The right to seek and enjoy asylum is fundamental and all asylum seekers should be provided with access to asylum procedures and protection from refoulement or informal forced return.
The Coronavirus pandemic has deepened the plight of people fleeing war, conflict and persecution, but people who are forced to flee conflict and persecution should not be denied safety and protection under these circumstances.
UNHCR has been calling on states to manage border restrictions in ways that also respect international human rights and refugee protection standards, including through quarantines and health checks. With the need to reduce risks to public health, UNHCR has been supporting efforts and calling for additional and adequate spaces for a 14-day quarantine
Amid COVID-19 and climate change, UNHCR appeals for $186 million for Sahel refugee and displacement crisis
#UN; #UNHCR; #IOM; #AfricanRegion; #HumanitarianAppeal; #HorrifyingConflict; #Covid19; #SahelRefugees; #ClimateChange
Geneva, Jun 13 (Canadian-Media): The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has issued an urgent appeal for $186 million to provide lifesaving protection and assistance in the Sahel amidst fears that the conflict in the vast African region – exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – will spread, UN reports said.
Malian refugees seek shelter in Télemsès, Niger, after violence has escalated in the Sahel region. Image credit: © UNHCR/Sourig Aboutali
The appeal, issued Friday in Geneva and Dakar, calls for $97 million in initial requirements for this year, $29 million to implement COVID-19 prevention and response measures in displacement areas, and $60 million to scale up UNHCR’s emergency response as part of its Sahel strategy.
In Burkina Faso almost nowhere is safe.
On top of armed conflict + terror, it struggles with poverty, failing schools + a fragile health system.
Now there's a new threat: coronavirus.
Meet 6 people whose lives have been turned upside down by conflict.
‘Horrifying violence’: Grandi
“The emergency in the Sahel is a humanitarian and protection crisis of major proportions, where horrifying violence against vulnerable populations is becoming endemic,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“The risk of spillover of the conflict into neighbouring coastal countries is very real and now exacerbated by COVID-19,” Mr Grandi added.
UNHCR puts the number of refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and people at risk of statelessness in the Sahel at 3.1 million.
In Burkina Faso alone, the number of IDPs has more than quadrupled in less than a year, from 193,000 in June 2019, to 848,000 at the end of April amid escalating violence.
For those who have fled wars and persecution – and for host countries accommodating them – the coronavirus outbreak is having a devastating impact on what is mostly a hand-to-mouth existence, according to the refugee agency.
“We need to scale up with a comprehensive and inclusive response that places the rights and well-being of millions of displaced people at the heart of what we do,” Mr. Grandi said. “We must act before it is too late.”
Friday’s appeal complements other efforts by the UN and partners to galvanize financial and political support for the humanitarian response in the Sahel, UNHCR said.
It will enable UNHCR to provide more shelters and core relief supplies and to respond to sexual and gender-based violence, which the agency says has become more widespread in overcrowded camps. It will also provide support for education, rebuilding schools and classrooms, and extending distance learning opportunities.
‘Do no harm’ approach
In its statement, UNHCR said that given the impact of climate change in the Sahel, its response will follow a “do no harm” and eco-friendly approach that strengthens the ability of communities to prevent climate-related forced displacement, supports the use of clean energy and enables better waste management.
Last week, the UN’s peacekeeping chief told the Security Council that COVID-19 is complicating an already complex security situation in the Sahel, with terrorist groups exploiting the pandemic as they step up their attacks.
And in mid-May, eight United Nations aid agencies, including UNHCR, and non-governmental organizations working in the Sahel, warned that a record 24 million people, half of them children, need assistance and protection.
#UN; #UNHCR; #IOM; #StrandedMigrants; #Covid19PandemicOutbreak
Geneva, Jun 13 (Canadian-Media): In countries across the world, tens of thousands of migrant workers are finding themselves stranded through travel restrictions, in the hope of curbing the spread of COVID-19, UN reports said.
IOM assisted over 1,300 Nigeriens stranded in Burkina Faso after fleeing clashes in gold mining areas. Image credit: IOM
The scale of the problem is huge, with roughly 220 countries imposing over 60,000 travel and mobility restrictions. For many migrant workers, the consequences have been disastrous, as unemployment rises sharply in sectors that traditionally rely on their labor, such as tourism and construction.
As visas and work permits expire, the threat of deportation hangs over migrants, who also face rising stigmatization and xenophobia, homelessness, and detention in overcrowded facilities.
The UN migration agency, IOM, has put together a contemporary snapshot of stranded migrants across 17 countries; from forced quarantine in Yemen, to dire food shortages in Zimbabwe, and exploitation in Russia.
You can find out more, including the many ways that IOM is trying to help stranded workers, here.
#UNHCR; #KillingsofRefugees; #WesternNiger; #UNHCRSupportingSurvivors
Geneva, Jun 2 (Canadian-Media): UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, strongly condemns the targeted killing of two Malian refugee leaders and a local host community leader in an attack by unidentified armed elements in Western Niger late Sunday, 31 May, UNHCR reports said.
Image credit: Twitter handle
Over 50 armed men on motorbikes swarmed into Intikane, which is located 72 kilometres from the Malian border and hosts some 20,000 refugees and an additional 15,000 displaced Niger nationals. In addition to brutally killing the three men, the assailants torched stocks of relief items. They also destroyed mobile phone towers and the main water station and pipes, cutting communication and the water supply to the displaced population and their host communities.
Reports indicate that hundreds of people are on the run following the senseless murders and are heading to Telemces, a small village 27 kilometres from the site.
“The heinous and senseless act against vulnerable refugees and their hosts is heartbreaking and must be condemned in the strongest terms,” said Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR Representative in Niger. “By targeting refugees and cutting lifeline supplies, these armed groups are forcing vulnerable people to flee again, to leave from a place where they had found hope and where a careful balance had been built to allow solidarity with the local communities,” she adds.
UNHCR is working to support the survivors and is providing urgently needed assistance – for example organizing water delivery to make sure that refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities have water available for drinking and for hand washing, which is critical in preventing COVID-19 from spreading.
The past few months have seen a sharp increase in attacks in the Liptako Gourma region, where Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger share borders, forcing people living in the area to flee.
Despite violent attacks and insecurity severely limiting humanitarian access to those in need of protection and assitance, UNHCR is stepping up its response in Niger, focusing especially on providing shelter, education and programmes to prevent and address sexual and gender-based violence. Niger also continues to demonstrate its commitmet to protecting people fleeing violence.
UNHCR renews its urgent call on warring parties in the Sahel to protect civilians, people forced to flee and communities hosting them, as civilians are bearing the brunt of increasing attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In the past couple of months, refugee camps in Burkina Faso have been the target of attacks and incursion, forcing many to leave.