News Update – 24 Nov ’15

Our weekly news update on refugee issues around the world by Isobel Fraser.

  • Theresa May has responded to questions by Conservative, Oliver Colvile, over preparations the government has taken before for the arrival of refugees to Plymouth. The Home Secretary said: “In relation to both refugees that we’re accepting from Syria and people who come here and claim asylum when their asylum claims are considered, of course we do make the necessary security checks and that’s an important part of the processing that we undertake”.
  • The first group of refugees have landed in Glasgow under a government relocation scheme to take in 1,000 Syrian refugees before Christmas. 103 refugees were met in Glasgow by local authority representatives from Western Scotland and Edinburgh. The group have been given leave to remain in the UK for five years, after which they can apply for permanent residence. Scotland’s Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf, said the arrival was “a proud day for Scotland.”
  • Following talks between Cypriot and British authorities, Cyprus announced a significant number of the asylum seekers who landed at a British airbase base on the island this month will soon be moved to a Cypriot housing facility.  Officials said a large number of the group being rehoused have claimed asylum in Cyprus whilst 13 asylum seekers will return voluntarily to Lebanon. Cypriot authorities are reportedly considering the deportation of those asylum seekers who have as yet not made their intentions clear.
  • The U.S House of Representatives approved a bill that would make it more difficult for refugees from Iraq and Syria to enter the country. If passed the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act would require certain American officials including the director of national intelligence to vouch personally for every refugee before they may enter the U.S. Democrats plan to obstruct the legislation and Barack Obama has said he will veto the Act.
  • A boat carrying asylum seekers was intercepted by authorities after reaching Australian waters, the first boat to do so since June of last year. Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, refused to comment on the boat and its passengers, addressing the press he said the government did not comment on operational matters.
  • After Slovenia started returning those identified as “economic migrants” from its borders, Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia announced only asylum seekers hailing from war zones would now be allowed to enter. Croatia’s interior minister said the country had refused to take back a group of 162 asylum seekers from Slovenia where they had been rejected as “economic migrants”.
  • Turkey has all but closed its borders to Syrian refugees and is summarily pushing back those who try to cross, a monitoring group has said. In interviews published by Human Rights Watch, Syrians in Turkey described how border guards had intercepted them at or near the border. Some said they were immediately beaten back into Syria; others told the human rights group that they had been detained and then expelled.