News Update – 21 December ’15
Our weekly news update on refugee issues around the world by Isobel Fraser.
- 2015 is likely to surpass the previous record for people forcibly displaced across the world a UNHCR report warned. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ Mid-Year Trends 2015 report explored global displacement from January and the end of June this year. The global refugee total, which a year ago was 19.5 million, had as of mid-2015 passed the 20 million threshold (20.2 million) for the first time since 1992. Asylum applications meanwhile were up 78 per cent (993,600) over the same period in 2014. And the numbers of internally displaced people jumped by around 2 million to an estimated 34 million.
- Chartered flights carrying Syrian refugees have arrived in Belfast and London Stansted as part of a government scheme to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps surrounding Syria by 2050. David Cameron said the arrivals will mean the UK has now met its target of resettling 1,000 refugees before Christmas. The Refugee Council’s head of advocacy, Lisa Doyle, said the refugees will have their lives “transformed, if not saved” by the scheme but called on the government to also assist those refugees who had travelled to Europe from Syria.
- Amnesty International released a report detailing the unlawful detention and deportation of refugees by Turkish authorities, to Iraq and Syria. The report claimed Turkey has rounded up many, possibly hundreds, of refugees and has sent them to detention centres where many have experienced abuse or been pressured to return to their homeland. Amnesty International said the human rights abuses occurred in parallel to Turkish-EU migration talks and warned the EU was in danger of encouraging such violations.
- Refugees on the Italian island of Lampedusa protested against proposals by the European Commission to introduce forced finger printing of all new refugee arrivals. The Commission insisted Italy needed to develop a “solid legal framework” allowing for the “use of force for fingerprinting”, amid criticism that the country has failed to sufficiently log new arrivals in an EU-wide database. Refugees protested outside the city hall in Lampedusa, one sign carried by the protesters read “We are refugees. No fingerprints”.
- Jordan began deporting hundreds of Sudanese asylum seekers on Friday, despite warnings by international bodies that the group faced persecution in their homeland. The asylum seekers had been rounded up earlier in the week, at a camp erected outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Amman, as the inhabitants were protesting against discrimination in resettlement procedures. Many of the asylum seekers are reported to have been registered with the UNHCR.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has called for a “massive resettlement” of refugees within Europe. Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, Guterres, discussed the need for hundreds of thousands to be resettled before the asylum system collapsed; he said: “If this is not put in place and the tragedy in the Aegean goes on and the Balkanic chaotic situation goes on, I must say I am very worried for the future of the European asylum system”.
- A European parliamentarian has defected from Denmark’s Social Liberal Party over a new Danish immigration bill which will allow officials to confiscate valuable items from asylum seekers. The proposed bill, which is expected to be passed next month, would allow Danish Police to seize valuables and cash from asylum seekers which one minister said would “be used to meet the costs of the refugees”. The proposal has been criticised by many in the international community.