#US, #ForeignStudents, #Covid19, #Coronavirus, #OnlineClasses, #USImmigration
Washington, Jul 25 (Canadian-Media): After rescinding the new rules to keep foreign students out of the country, the United States immigration officials said the new foreign students will be barred from entering the country if they decide to take the classes entirely online, an AP report said.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has written to college authorities telling that new students who have not enrolled as of March 9 will "likely not be able to obtain" visas if they plan to take the courses entirely online, the report said.
The decision affects students who planned to enrol at universities that will provide classes entirely online due to the coronavirus situation.
International students who are already in the US or are returning and already possess visas will be allowed to take classes online even if they start instructions in person but their colleges move online in the face of the pandemic, the report added.
#UN; #UNHCR; #Yemen; #IOM; #FundingGaps; #Covid19
Geneva/UN, Jul 21 (Canadian-Media): COVID-19 fears have prompted fresh displacement in war-torn Yemen, and forced many of those on the move to sell what little they have to survive, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.
A displaced woman stands in the doorway of her shelter with her young children in Ibb city, Yemen. Image credit: IOM/Olivia Headon
From the end of March to 18 July, more than 10,000 people interviewed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), cited “fear of infection and the impact of the outbreak on services and the economy”, as their as reasons for leaving virus hotspots.
“A woman named Salam in Aden told our staff about people selling their mattresses, blankets and children’s clothing in order to meet their basic needs”, spokesperson Paul Dillon told journalists in Geneva. “Displaced women who used to work as maids are forced to beg in the streets because potential employers are afraid they’re carrying the virus.”
Following interviews with displaced individuals, IOM said that some were travelling from Aden and Lahj to areas within the same governorates less affected by the outbreak; others were making for districts in Abyan despite active fighting elsewhere in the governorate.
“One of the key concerns that we have and one that’s shared by the humanitarian community not just in Yemen but elsewhere, is the emergence of these false narratives about COVID-19”, Mr. Dillon said. “False information that’s been circulated in different areas about the virus and the emerging and very clear examples, of xenophobia and xenophobic attacks being directed at displaced people.”
Latest data from IOM’s Data Tracking Matrix indicates that “more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee due to fighting and insecurity since January”, amid ongoing violence linked to the country’s grinding conflict, which is well into its sixth year, Mr. Dillon continued.
The actual number of displaced people is likely to be higher, he added, as data is only being collected in 12 of 22 governorates amid access restrictions, while many of those displaced because of the pandemic, were moving for the “second, third or fourth time”.
Hospitals ‘turning people away’
Although the official number of COVID-19 infections in Yemen remains low, it is widely believed the actual number is much higher after the first cases were identified in April, given limited testing capacity and concerns among the local population about seeking treatment.
Mr. Dillon highlighted that around half of all health facilities have been forced to close or been damaged since conflict escalated in March 2015, between the forces of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi - supported by a Saudi-led international coalition – and mainly Houthi militia, which also have international support, for control of the Arab nation.
“The situation is especially dire in places like Aden where hospitals are turning away suspected cases and news reports have shown large numbers of graves being dug”, he explained.
Widely described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, around eight in 10 people in Yemen need humanitarian assistance, according to IOM.
To date, its $155 million appeal for funding from April to December to provide comprehensive assistance to around five million people, is around 50 per cent funded.
The organization’s humanitarian activities are made possible through nine mobile health and protection teams and 36 health facilities across the country and in 63 sites for displaced people.
“Access constraints are having a knock-on effect on operations but we are continuing to deliver, for example, medical assistance and materials to people who are living rough, whether they be migrants or internally displaced people within Yemen. So that’s a major focus of what we’ve been doing”, Mr. Dillon said.
#UNHCR; #Ukraine; #StatelessnessLaw; #RightToWork; #AccessHealthCare; #Study; #HumanRights
Ukraine/UNHCR, Jul 19 (Canadian-Media): A new statelessness determination procedure in Ukraine gives people without identity documents the right to work, study and access health care, UNHCR reports said.
Anna Miryasheva, a 22-year-old stateless woman from Kyiv in Ukraine, holds a photo album containing pictures of her late mother, Olena. Image credit: © UNHCR/Anton Fedorov
Despite having cancer, Olena Miryasheva was denied access to health care: she could not be registered at the outpatient clinic, could not obtain a prescription, and could not even undergo a medical examination which would have been free for a Ukrainian citizen.
In May 2019, her condition worsened, and in October she died. But even then the problems faced by her family did not stop. Her daughter, Anna, was barely able to obtain a death certificate and perform cremation – her mother’s last wish.
“My mother struggled to receive documents for 25 years,” says Anna. “If she had access to the public health system earlier, perhaps the cancer could be diagnosed and treated at the early stages.”
Olena was born in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. But when the former Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, she was among hundreds of thousands of people left with invalid passports across Central Asia, who became stateless.
While she subsequently lived in the Russian Federation and then in Ukraine, where she gave birth to her daughter, none of the states recognized her as a national. Neither she nor Anna, who was born in Kyiv, were able to obtain a residence permit to be able to remain in Ukraine legally.
That impasse was removed this week with a law signed by the president of Ukraine. Adopted by parliament on 16 June 2020, it formally establishes a statelessness determination procedure (SDP) to help an estimated 35,000 people who are either stateless or at risk of statelessness to emerge from legal limbo.
“This law will transform the lives of thousands of people who have been living in the shadows.”
Drafted by the parliament’s Human Rights Committee, with inputs from experts in the president’s office, civil society and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the law will allow people without a nationality, like Olena and Anna, to apply to be recognized as stateless and to obtain a temporary residence permit, valid for one year.
The temporary residence permit establishes the holders’ legal residency. After two years of continuous residence – during which they will enjoy basic rights, such as freedom of movement, access to work, education and health care – they will be able to apply for permanent residence. After five years of permanent residence in Ukraine, stateless people are eligible to apply for naturalization.
“This law will transform the lives of thousands of people who have been living in the shadows,” said Pablo Mateu, UNHCR’s representative in Ukraine. “We stand ready to provide support during the implementation which shall be concluded within three months after its entry into force,” he added.
The adoption of the law came under a commitment Ukraine made while accessing two UN Conventions on Statelessness in January 2013: the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
As the law is implemented in coming months, UNHCR will offer its assistance to Ukraine’s State Migration Service, providing training to key staff in Ukraine’s 25 provinces and access to free legal aid. In addition, while the government will provide free legal aid, as foreseen in the law, UNHCR stands ready to support applicants in the initial stages of the implementation of the statelessness determination procedures. It will also seek to raise awareness among stateless people and those at risk of statelessness of the possibility to apply for recognition of their status.
“With this law, I will finally get a sense of how it is to be someone who exists.”
Worldwide, statelessness blights the lives of millions of people. By adopting this law, Ukraine becomes the 21st country in the world to establish dedicated statelessness determination procedures.
While it is tragically too late to help her mother, Anna hopes that the law will allow her to move forward after a lifetime spent living on the margins.
“Without a passport I have never been able to enter university. I can’t get proper employment, even though I have been working in online marketing for a few years now. I can’t use state public services, nobody really cares about me,” she says.
“But with this law, I will have a chance to become a normal person. I will travel, get proper employment, grow professionally. But first and foremost, I will finally get a sense of how it is to be someone who exists.”
#UN; #UNHCR; #Ukraine; #StatelessnessLaw; #EndLegalLimbo; #Covid19
Geneva/UNHCR, Jul 19 (Canadian-Media): This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Nigara Bakoieva, a 58-year-old formerly stateless woman from the city of Odesa, fought for Ukrainian citizenship for years before finally being granted it this year.
Image credit: © UNHCR/The Tenth of April/MykhailSorochyshyn
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes a new statelessness law in Ukraine which came into effect this week. The law will give thousands of people who lack a nationality a chance to work legally, study and access healthcare among other rights and opportunities, and will ultimately provide a pathway to citizenship, once they are recognized as stateless.
The law, known as the ‘Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning Recognition as a Stateless Person’, was signed by the President of Ukraine this week after being adopted by Parliament on 16 June.
The measure is an important step towards ending statelessness in the country.
It formally establishes a Statelessness Determination Procedure which is expected to benefit an estimated 35,000 people in the country who are either stateless or whose nationality is undetermined.
These include people who have been residing in Ukraine for many years— many since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union — but have not been able to acquire Ukrainian citizenship or any other nationality due to a lack of documentation or ties to post-Soviet countries.
With the introduction of the procedure, recognized stateless people will now be able to regularize their stay by obtaining temporary residence permits. They will have the right to freedom of movement, to work, and to access education and health services.
Crucially, the law will pave the way for their naturalization as Ukrainian citizens. After five years of permanent residence in Ukraine, people recognized as being stateless will be eligible to apply for naturalization.
The law was drafted by members of Parliament in close collaboration with the State Migration Service, the Ministry of Interior and in consultation with other government entities, experts from civil society and UNHCR.
UNHCR has been advocating for the introduction of a Statelessness Determination Procedure since 2013 when Ukraine acceded to the two UN statelessness treaties – the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
UNHCR stands ready to support authorities in the implementation of the law and has offered its assistance to Ukraine’s State Migration Service, providing training to key staff in their regional departments as well as to legal practitioners, including from the state-run Free legal Aid Centers. UNHCR will also raise awareness among concerned populations on the possibility to apply for statelessness status.
Worldwide, statelessness blights the lives of millions of people, leaving them without access to basic rights and official recognition. Some 4.2 million stateless people are reported by 76 countries, but UNHCR believes the actual number to be significantly higher.
UNHCR launched a global ‘#IBelong’ Campaign in 2014 aimed at ending statelessness within a decade. Since then, 95 governments, civil society and international and regional organizations have made commitments to tackle statelessness, a major cause of human rights deprivations for millions of people worldwide.
In addition to supporting the efforts of the Government to address statelessness, UNHCR in Ukraine provides assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and other conflict-affected people and supports the search for solutions Almost 1.7 million people have been affected by the conflict including 734,000 who are internally displaced.
UNHCR has been supporting national authorities and civil society in responding to the needs of those displaced, providing legal, material and social assistance, including as part of the Covid-19 response. UNHCR focuses its activities on strengthening their rights and freedoms, improving their living conditions and providing long-term solutions.
#UN; #UNHCR; #Covid19; #IRC; #PHCCs; #Libya; #Migrants;
Geneva/UNHCR, Jul 19 (Canadian-Media): With new equipment and training, the facility provides free healthcare and protection services to a population of 30,000 – including Libyans, refugees and migrants, UNHCR reports said.
A medical worker organizes equipment at the Gergaresh primary health care facility in Tripoli, Libya. Image credit: © UNHCR/Caroline Gluck
Libya is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. While some movement restrictions have recently been eased, nighttime and weekend curfews are still in place and much of daily life in the country remains on pause. Only a few stores have re-opened, and most businesses and public buildings are closed. Access to health care remains a challenge for many.
But in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown, a primary healthcare centre in the Gergaresh neighbourhood of Tripoli – serving a catchment area of at least 30,000 people, including high concentrations of refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa – has re-opened, thanks to the support of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partner the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
The centre, which is providing medical and protection services to those in need, is one of just three Primary Health Care Centres (PHCCs) that are currently operating in the whole municipality, an area where an estimated 450,000 people live.
“Everything was closed.”
“This clinic is close by where we live – it helps,” said 19-year-old Alhadi. “This is a very good thing to find a place that is close by that would help us to get treatment. I’m very happy, especially because everything was closed.”
The young father said that travelling out of the house during lockdown to seek emergency medical help at a hospital could be very difficult, as you may be stopped by the authorities at checkpoints.
It was costly, too, he said: journeys required taxis, and even if you arrived at a hospital, there would often be problems gaining admittance since many facilities did not recognize UNHCR registration documents, or wanted up-front payments.
The Gergaresh PHCC was closed by the government when a state of emergency was declared as the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in March. It was an attempt to try to contain the spread of the virus. In the clinic, staff faced shortages of equipment, including PPEs, or personal protective equipment, and lacked training in how to manage and control infectious disease.
When UNHCR and its partner, IRC, offered to step in and provide services through an IRC medical and protection team, while also procuring equipment and offering training for local staff, PHCC manager, Belgasim Shibli, enthusiastically accepted.
“We are open to Libyans, to refugees, to migrants.”
“There are big health needs in this municipality,” he said. “When the centre closed, that led to many Libyans seeking treatment in the emergency units in hospitals, which caused overcrowding.
“The services provided here have a huge impact on the local population. We are open to Libyans, to refugees, to migrants,” Shibli added. “We can provide integrated services and facilities to all, regardless of their background.”
The Libyan staff working at the centre, who are soon expected to resume their work alongside the IRC team, received several training sessions on infectious disease control and treatment.
UNHCR and IRC jointly procured gloves, face masks, goggles, sanitisers and thermometers and other medical and office equipment. A generator will also be provided, to ensure the facility has constant access to electricity during working hours.
The IRC protection team visits the facility daily to provide psychosocial support for women and girls and case management services, especially for those who are affected by gender-based violence.
The centre has introduced social distancing measures to ensure smaller numbers inside the main waiting room, with others waiting in the shady courtyard outside. Patients are given masks and have their temperatures checked as they enter.
As well as providing health services to refugees and asylum seekers directly at several health care and community centres around the country, in response to the pandemic UNHCR has also stepped up its support for national health systems, providing generators, ambulances, medical tents and prefabricated units used as initial reception and examination rooms for COVID-19 detection.
UNHCR’s Assistant Public Health Officer, Dr. Meftah Lahwel, said it was important to be able to provide essential health services to all at a time of the COVID crisis, including reproductive health and mental health services.
“The health needs here are huge. We are working in this facility to provide free of charge health care access for all, regardless of their status,” Lahwel said. “This partnership is one of the steps to provide integrated health services for refugees and asylum seekers in areas where they reside in large populations.”
Libyan patients queuing alongside refugees and migrants in the waiting area were also happy that the centre was back in operation. Halwa, a Libyan mother who had given birth nine days earlier, and had come in for a check-up, said: “Everyone has put a lot of effort into reopening this place. It is really helpful for us to come here.”
Dr. Wafa Elmati is a member of the IRC team, which includes a gynaecologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, doctor, nurse and pharmacist, as well as protection staff who carry out psychosocial care, recreational activities for children and mental health counselling.
Many cases involve patients with chronic issues such as diabetes and hypertension, requiring ongoing medication, which had been disrupted during the lockdown period But Elmati said that she’d also seen cases of malnutrition, scabies and even tuberculosis.
“I’m very happy to be working here.
#UN; #UNHCR; #MigrantChildren; #Education; #DisplacedChildren; #UNESCO; #Covid19
Geneva/UN, Jul 13 (Canadian-Media): Global advocates for refugees are pushing to ensure the COVID-19 pandemic does not derail efforts for displaced children and young people to continue learning and eventually return to a real classroom.
Two refugee boys in a classroom at a reception centre in Kos, Greece.
Image credit: © UNHCR/Socrates Baltagiannis
During a roundtable discussion held online on Monday, top UN officials, education ministers, and young refugees, together with representatives from the private sector and non-governmental organizations, highlighted growing needs on the ground - during the crisis and beyond.
“Even before COVID-19, refugee children were twice as unlikely as other children to attend school”, said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UN’s educational and cultural agency, UNESCO, which co-organized the event alongside the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
“Four million of these children, aged between five and 17, did not attend primary or secondary education, and only one per cent embarked on higher education, severely limiting their chances for the future.”
One billion out of school
Although some countries are slowly emerging from the pandemic, with an increasing trend towards re-opening schools, more than one billion students worldwide are still out of the classroom, according to UN estimates.
COVID-19 has upended lives and societies but its impacts have been harshest for the world’s most vulnerable people, such as the nearly 80 million refugees who have been forced to flee their homelands.
Despite improved enrollment rates, only 63 per cent of refugee children are receiving primary or secondary education.
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie underscored why the disruption to education cannot become permanent.
“COVID-19 is proving to be an incredible catalyst for science, and discovery and innovation”, she stated.
“And if we could do the same for education—harnessing new technologies with the power of government and private sector funding, and the energy and the drive of millions of talented young people—it would be one of the greatest single inoculations imaginable against poverty and the denial of rights worldwide.”
Fear of rising inequities
The partners fear the pandemic could increase inequities, whether due to existing barriers, such as those hindering girls’ access to education, or from rising racism, discrimination and xenophobia brought on by the crisis.
Canada’s Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, revealed that school closures have disrupted more than just learning.
“Instead of benefiting from school feeding programmes, 370 million children are facing food insecurity”, she told the meeting. “Instead of experiencing a safe environment at school, children and youth are more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence and abuse at home. This reality is further compounded for refugees and internally displaced persons. These children are missing out not only on education and meals at school, but also a safe place to grow up and thrive.”
Both Canada and the United Kingdom, co-hosts of the online discussion, announced $5 million pledges to support young refugees as well as their teachers, who also serve as sources of psycho-social support.
“If we are truly to build back better, which we all want to do, education must be prioritized in the global recovery from coronavirus”, said Baroness Sugg, UK Special Envoy for Girls’ Education.
Young refugees on the frontlines
Bahati Ernestine Hategekimana is a living example of the powerful influence education can have on the life of a young refugee.
She and her family arrived in Kenya from Rwanda in 1996. Today, Bahati is on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response effort, as a nursing intern in the capital Nairobi. She also participates in an online campaign that showcases refugee contributions to counter the crisis.
“All over the world, young refugees volunteer like me to support the emergency response. We have communication officers who fight against fake news, students who raise funds to support vulnerable families: from refugees as well as host communities; and others who have produced masks and soap and distributed them among communities”, she said.
Bahati was able to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse when she was awarded a scholarship through a UNHCR programme that supports higher education opportunities for refugees.
She said most recipients are studying in the health care field, meaning they can help strengthen health systems in their host countries and in their countries of origin.
#Ontario; #FarmWorkers; #CoronavirusOutbreak; #MigrantWorkers
Ontario, Jul 2 (Canadian-Media): Close to 1,000 migrant farm workers were sickened with three deaths in Ontario's Windsor-Essex due to an outbreak of the coronavirus, media reports said.
Covid-19 Pandemic. Image credit: Twitter handle
Ontario's Windsor-Essex region with agriculture as a big business has more than 175 farms, greenhouses and wineries and contracting some 8,000 official migrant workers to help raise and harvest the crops every year.
With spike of coronavirus cases among farm workers last week, a three-point "action plan" was unveiled by Ontario Premier Doug Ford which included dispatching mobile testing units to farms, promising benefits and support for ill workers who are put in quarantine, and modifying rules to allow farmers to keep asymptomatic labourers on the job.
But since undocumented workers are not covered by these measures, there is a growing fear and concern that these workers are unlikely to present themselves for testing since they don't qualify for free provincial health care or any sort of government employment assistance.
This gap could make it more difficult to bring the farm outbreak under control, given the large number of so-called paperless labourers in the area.
It also makes it difficult to lift the Stage 1 of the pandemic lockdown to which Leamington, Ont., and neighbouring Kingsville are stuck at.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed July 3 that the province's emergency management team has been deployed to Windsor-Essex.
"It's all hands on deck," he said, during a daily COVID-19 briefing on Jul 3. "I want to try to help them, I feel terrible for the situation they're in."
Ford says the province's emergency management team is collaborating with members of the Canadian Red Cross already in the area, as well as Public Health Ontario, to look at the grave situation of COVID-19 cases among agri-farm workers in the region.
During the briefing, Ford also apologized for criticizing migrant workers during his briefing Thursday, when he said they were hiding from efforts to retest them for COVID-19.
Speaking at the same press briefing on Jul 3, Ontario's chief coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer explained that the emergency management team is helping coordinate care, accommodations, as well as food for workers at the facility.