News Update – 30 Nov ’15

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

  • Hundreds of asylum seekers have been left stranded at the Greek-Macedonian border, after it was announced only Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis would be allowed to pass through. A number of refugees were reported to be on hunger strike in protest of the new policy and six Iranian men sewed each other’s mouths shut, writing “Iran” and “Freedom” over their bodies. The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned a “fresh humanitarian situation” will result from recent border closures in the Balkans.
  • An independent press regulator has received a record number of complaints in response to an article published by the Sun newspaper, which claimed nearly one in five British Muslims has “sympathy for jihadis”. Critics called the article misrepresentative as survey respondents were asked only if they had sympathy with “young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria”, rather than specifically Isis. The Scottish minister of Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf, said the article put “Muslims at risk of further abuse”.
  • Sweden has announced only temporary residence permits will be granted to most refugees from April except those encompassed within the EU’s relocation scheme and unaccompanied children and refugee families with children who have already arrived in the country. Following the moves Norwegian officials announced border checks would be introduced, lasting for 10 days, in order to manage refugee influxes.
  • Two activists glued themselves to the gates of an immigration centre to prevent the deportation of a group of refugees to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. The moves were taken as part of a protest at Colnbrook immigration removal centre in which ten protesters formed a blockade, in an attempt to halt a bus carrying asylum seekers from the centre to Stansted Airport.
  • A boat carrying asylum seekers has been found stranded at sea near the tip of West Timor in Indonesia as the result of an Australian boat turn-back operation. The whereabouts of the boat’s passengers and crew had been the topic of much speculation after a boat carrying the group was spotted 200 metres from Christmas Island last Friday. Asylum seekers who were on board the boat have reported they were detained by Australian authorities, before being transferred to a different boat and told to return to Indonesia.
  • A report published by Amnesty International has documented the deportation of Syrian refugees from Turkey to Syria, by Turkish authorities. The human right’s body said a group of 80 asylum seekers, previously held in a detention centre in Erzurum, had been returned to Syria in violation of the principle of non-refoulement enshrined within international law which opposes the return of refugees to a situation where their lives would be in danger.