Press Review 48
30 November to 6 December 2015
International Asylum Seeker/Refugee Policy Issues
Turkey detains 1300 migrants
AFP, IOL News, 1 December 2015
After agreeing to a three-billion-euro aid deal with the European Union to stem the flow of migrants, Turkey launched a 250-strong police operation to raid eight different locations on the coast around the resort town of Ayvacik. About 850 people were initially detained on 1 December, with the number rising to 1,300 people later in the day. Three suspected people traffickers were arrested while four boats and six motors were seized. The region around Ayvacik has become a hub for refugees seeking to go to EU member Greece, with the Greek island of Lesbos just a few kilometres to the south but the crossing a perilous undertaking in overcrowded, open boats.
Mediterranean migrant arrivals near 900 000
News 24, 1 December 2015
The number of migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea since January are about 870,000 with a growing number of vulnerable children according to international organisations in Geneva. The share of children has risen from one in six in June to one in three in October. Leonard Doyle, spokesperson of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said that ‘Children are among the most vulnerable of the migrants and refugees travelling to Europe’. Along the Balkan route, Macedonian authorities have registered more than 15,000 unaccompanied minors since mid-June. Italy has seen a sharp increase of Nigerian children who are in the hands of traffickers seeking to exploit them, according to IOM. Arrivals of migrants in November, however, dropped by more than a third to 140,000 compared to October, which marks the first month with a downward trend this year. UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said that this was probably due to colder temperatures as well as Turkish efforts to stop people smugglers.
Migrant crisis: Turkey demands £2.1bn
John Stevens, IOL News, 2 December 2015
On Sunday 29 November the European Union signed off a 3 billion euro deal with Turkey in order to get help to stem the influx of migrants coming to Europe. The EU turned to Turkey for help after experiencing its largest population movements since World War II. More than 900 000 people reached the continent this year. Many transit through Turkey, including people fleeing war-torn Syria. The EU now wants Ankara to hold back those flows, by offering people better lives in Turkey, upping its border controls and cracking down on migrant traffickers, among other things. While the two sides displayed a united front on Sunday, Turkey warned on Tuesday, 1 December, that it would keep demanding billions every year for it to help stem the influx of migrants. David Cameron agreed to Britain contributing at least £260 million towards the first payment, but taxpayers could now face demands for more and more money. According to leader Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party, the President of Turkey is ‘holding [Europe] for ransom’ by demanding more money and threatening to flood the EU with more migrants. The figure in the aid deal was now signed to be only ‘an initial’ payment, with an agreement for it to be ‘reviewed in the light of the developing situation’. Experts communicated that the deal was unlikely to significantly slow the flow of migrants travelling to Europe stating that what Europeans are asking of Turkey is simply ‘unrealistic and unrealizable’.
Canada suspends deportations to strife-torn Burundi
AFP, Yahoo News, 2 December 2015
On 2 December the Canadian government suspended the deportations of Burundi nationals due to ongoing violence and political instability in Burundi. The administrative reprieve was announced by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It did not say how many Burundians would be affected. The order will, however, not affect anyone wishing to travel voluntarily to Burundi, the agency said, adding that it would re-evaluate its deferral policy once conditions improve in the country. Since April, Burundi has faced a grave political crisis that, by UN estimate, has claimed at least 240 lives and prompted 200,000 to flee the country. Canada has extended similar reprieves to nationals from several other troubled countries or regions, including Somalia, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Libya, Nepal and Yemen.
Regional Displacement Issues
Unaccompanied child refugees flee Burundi
News 24, 1 December 2015
Over the past seven months of a crisis sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial decision to run for a third term re-election, more than 2,000 of minors have taken risky, unaccompanied journeys because they are afraid to stay in Burundi. According to Save the Children most of the undocumented minors reach refugee camps on foot, often having travelled for up to one week. Save the Children spokesperson, Ellen Okoedien, als warns of the dangers minors face on their journey saying that those ‘who take the risk of travelling on their own could come into danger from both armed people and other refugees who try to pass them off as their own children so that they can get better housing here. We are very wary of this and try to act against it’. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), working in partnership with the International Committee for the Red Cross and Tanzania's Ministry of Home Affairs, has managed to reunite at least 48 children with their families in Burundi thus far. Nduta camp office manager, Roland Triande, says that the UNHCR is also making preparations for another refugee influx which could mean more unaccompanied minors.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: The ICRC condemns attack at the Eringeti clinic in North Kivu
ICRC, 2 December 2015
Following an attack on a clinic in the North Kivu town of Eringeti, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed deeply concerned about the climate of fear and violence that has reigned for several months in the area. The attack on the clinic and the severe damage to its facilities have deprived an estimated 35,000 people of access to health care, and many have fled their homes in recent weeks. According to Alessandra Menegon, head of the ICRC's delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ‘It is extremely worrying that a local clinic was targeted and civilians killed. Dozens of people lost their lives. A health-care worker and several patients – including a baby – were executed in cold blood’. The ICRC reminds those involved in the fighting that attacks against civilians and civilian property, such as health-care facilities, are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law. Civilians and health-care workers must be afforded the respect and protection accorded them by law.
Fresh Fighting in Contested Somali Town
Abdulaziz Osman, VOA News, 3 December 2015
Renewed fighting was reported in central Somalia in the town of Galkayo on 3 December, a day after the leaders of the rival Puntland and Galmudug administrations signed a peace deal. The fighting began early on 3 December with heavy gunfire and continued with both sides using mortars. At least 10 people were killed and more than 30 others wounded. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the renewed fighting, saying it was ‘unfortunate’ that the two sides did not honor the deal they signed. Meanwhile, authorities say Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke went to Galkayo in order to meet separately with the rival sides in an effort to defuse the situation.
Wars in South Sudan forces thousands to flee Congo, UNHCR said
News 24, 4 December 2015
According to the UN high commission of refugees the recent fighting between local groups and the South Sudanese army has displaced over 4,000 people into a remote region of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the first week of December around 3,464 newly arrived refugees were registered. Ezo settlement in South Sudan, which was home to 3,300 Congolese refugees is now empty, with the remaining refugees having fled to nearby fields. Adrian Edwards, UNHCR spokesperson, says that ‘Registration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is ongoing in areas along the border and more arrivals are being reported’. Around ninety per cent of the South Sudanese refugees are women and children. According to the UN, South Sudan’s
Somali journalist killed after bomb explodes under her car in Mogadishu
AFP, Mail & Guardian Africa, 4 December 2015
A Somali journalist with the national television station, SNTV, was killed when a bomb exploded under her car in Mogadishu on 3 December. She was returning home from university when the bomb detonated. A journalist with the same television station, was already killed in a suicide attack on a Mogadishu restaurant in 2012. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however, Al-Qaeda’s East Africa branch, the Shabaab, carry out regular attacks against government officials and journalists, who are also targeted for assassination by businessmen and politicians who object to their reporting.
Burundi facing possibility of civil war - US
News 24, 4 December 2015
According to a Thomas Perriello, the US special envoy for Africa's Great Lakes region Burundi is on the brink of civil war and will need regional mediation to establish a peace process between the government and opposition to prevent further bloodshed. But regional efforts to cool Burundi's crisis have stumbled, despite calls by the African Union and East African states for dialogue. Perriello said the international community has kept a close watch on Burundi and the extension of sanctions and readying of a peacekeeping force are among the options. However, the peace process, led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and backed by the United States and others, has so far failed to bring the two sides to the negotiating table.
Burundi Says It Thwarted Ambush, Killed Three Gunmen in Capital
Desire Nimubona, Bloomberg Business, 4 December 2015
On 4 December Burundi’s police said that it clashed with armed men in the capital, Bujumbura, where three people were killed. According to Domitien Niyonkuru, director of police in Bujumbura, the gunmen tried to ambush a car belonging to security officer General Christophe Manirambona on 4 December. Manirambona wasn’t in the vehicle and nearby police officers intervened to fight the assailants of which three were killed. Two people were arrested in connection with the attack and an investigation is under way. Burundi officials have been targeted before in violence the United Nations says has left at least 277 people dead since April. In early August, the country’s former intelligence chief General Adolphe Nshimirimana was killed in an ambush in the capital, while a former army chief of staff was assassinated about two weeks later.
Complainants to challenge SAHRC findings
Nabeelah Shaikh, IOL News, 6 December 2015
Complainants who took King Goodwill Zwelithini to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for his utterances relating to foreigners are unhappy with the findings of a preliminary report are prepared to take the matter to the Equality Court if King Zulu does not apologise for his actions. The complainants include the African Diaspora Forum and 30 other private individuals. The findings of the report went against claims that the King’s speech constituted a call to locals to take up arms or harm foreign nationals. The SAHRC said it could not have been reasonably construed as inciting harm or violence against foreign nationals. It was only ‘hurtful’. The report recommends that mediation be used to solve the issue and that the king indicate to the commission within 30 days of the final report whether he agrees to apologise publicly and to submit to a private mediated settlement of the dispute. Complainants were also upset that their identities had been revealed to one another when the SAHRC sent out a group e-mail to all of them. Their e-mail addresses, which contained some of their names, were made public. According to Lindiwe Khumalo, chief executive officer of the SAHRC, none of the complainants asked for their identities to be withheld. Khumalo also called on complainants to give feedback which can be used to put together a final report.
Posted in December 2015 in Press Reviews.