Saturday, June 18, 2016

The refugee crisis doesn't go away

The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières says it can no longer take money from countries and institutions that are “intensifying attempts to push people and their suffering away from European shores. This decision will take effect immediately and will apply to MSF’s projects worldwide.” The decision could see the organisation miss out on €60m (£47m).

MSF has criticised the EU-Turkey deportation deal, the agreement created in March that is meant to ensure the deportation of almost all asylum seekers arriving by boat to Greece, and which has seen thousands of people stranded in legal limbo in squalid conditions on the Greek islands. MSF has also condemned Europe’s ongoing attempts to pay dictatorships in Africa to stem migration flows before they reach Europe. MSF says these moves risk stranding refugees in precarious conditions – just as the EU-Turkey deal has contributed to the trapping of thousands inside war-torn Syria.

Jérôme Oberreit, MSF’s international secretary general, said, “Deterrence policies sold to the public as humanitarian solutions have only exacerbated the suffering of people in need. There is nothing remotely humanitarian about these policies…rather than maximising the number of people they can push back, they must maximise the number they welcome and protect.” 

Only a small percentage of the world’s most vulnerable refugees will be resettled in 2017, according to new figures released by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNCHR expects to be able to only resettle up to 170,000 refugees in 2017, out of 1.19 million refugees considered eligible for resettlement, a small fraction of the world’s 60 million displaced people.

Refugees considered eligible for resettlement include survivors of torture, unaccompanied female refugees at risk of sexual abuse in refugee camps, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) refugees who are at risk of persecution even after fleeing their home countries.

“It may be a woman whose husband has been killed in Syria, who is a single female head of household with multiple children for example, and in the Zaatari camp in Jordan who will be vulnerable, just getting to and from the latrines because she doesn’t have a man to escort her,” Bill Frelick, Refugee Rights Program Director at Human Rights Watch told IPS. “Or it may be someone who is a gay refugee who has fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Uganda and (he) would not be safe in Uganda.

Even the 170,000 places currently offered are not guaranteed.

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