Australia’s RefugeeAustralia founded their offshore Nauru Detention Center for asylum-seekers on the Pacific island Nauru in 2001. It closed for a brief period in 2008 while the Australian government built detention centers on the mainland, but Nauru eventually reopened for refugee-processing in 2012.

Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without a valid visa are transferred to either the Nauru or Manus Island Detention Center, where they spend an average of 445 days behind bars.

Australian law dictates that there is no limit on the length of time a refugee may be held in a detention center.

This militarized system of dealing with refugees is designed for the ease of processing on staff.  It is also easier to sell to other countries as “effective” rather than identifying and adapting the Australian refugee system to current changing global migration patterns.

Despite criticism that its refugee system is inhumane, the Australian government’s methods in their detention centers are often envied and copied by other countries, particularly because of the hostile mood toward refugees in recent years.

In contrast to Germany, which accepted over one million refugees in 2015, Australia placed only around 13,750 refugees in their Humanitarian Program in the 2015-2016 year.

Recently, the Nauru Detention Center, in particular, has come under scrutiny since the release of around 2,000 staff incident reports from the Center. These detail, among other things, sexual and physical abuse of refugees as well as self-harm among refugees.

In July 2015, there was an average of one incident of a refugee self-harming every two days. These “incidents” ranged from slashing wrists or overdosing on pills to self-immolation.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stated in a press release that refugees lied about the incidents of sexual abuse at Nauru Detention Center and deliberately self-harmed in order to garner sympathy and speed up their immigration process.

Though the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has resisted holding a royal commission on the state of Nauru Detention Center, Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs called for immediate action on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, calling the Detention Center’s methods illegal and immoral.

Three non-governmental organizations have also petitioned the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse to investigate Nauru, based on the released reports of abuse.

Because the reports on the maltreatment of Nauru Detention Center prisoners were released so recently (first published by The Guardian on August 10th, 2016), there is no current information on whether the Australian government plans to close the detention center or allow it to remain open. There is also a dearth of information on what solutions the government will propose to fix the allegations of sexual and physical abuse to refugees.

Until the mistreatment of asylum seekers at Nauru Detention Center can be investigated thoroughly, proposed solutions are based on testimony alone. These solutions include improved living conditions, faster processing, and more visitations between refugees and any relatives/loved ones who live on the mainland.  An increase in healthcare, especially mental healthcare, for those living in the detention center is also a proposed solution.

Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr

Haitian RefugeesAfter six years of recovering from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people and left 1.5 million Haitians homeless in 2010, Haitian refugees continue to face marginalization and poor living conditions. As a growing number of refugees from Haiti flock to the U.S. border seeking asylum, here are the top five current facts you should know about the Haitian refugee crisis and what is being done to alleviate it:

    1. An estimated 60,000 people live in Haitian refugee camps, according to Public Finance International (PFI). This is a 96% reduction from the initial number of refugees that moved to makeshift encampments after the earthquake that rocked Haiti’s foundation. The improvement can be largely attributed to the effectiveness of Haiti’s relocation programs.
    2. Food insecurity and cholera are on the rise in Haiti’s refugee camps after El Niño and three years of drought. The effects of the tropical storm and years of drought have left 3.6 million people in Haiti food insecure, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). To deal with the crisis, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls for increased medical treatment, access to clean water, and nutrition interventions in Haiti according to PFI.
    3. Tense ties with the neighboring Dominican Republic, threaten mass deportations of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. With the possible expulsion of nearly 200,000 stateless people, a new refugee crisis with devastating consequences looms in the distance, according to UN News. Last spring, the New York Times reported that an estimated 3,000 people had arrived in Haiti’s makeshift encampments after fleeing or being forced out of the Dominican Republic.
    4. Brazil is striving to improve immigration services on a community-level in order to decrease xenophobia and improve the living conditions of Haitian refugees. Brazilian organizations, such as the Association of Haitians in Balneário Camboriú, is filling in the gaps left by the government by managing work opportunities and improving integration services for refugees from Haiti, according to the Huffington Post.
    5. There has been a recent surge of Haitian refugees camping near the San Diego-Tijuana border as they await processing for asylum in the United States. Most of the refugees originally sought asylum in Brazil, but a worsening recession and lack of immigration support services drove refugees from Haiti to seek better living conditions elsewhere, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

As the poorest country in the northern hemisphere, Haiti continues to strive for economic and political stability years after the quake. While the Haitian government rebuilds Haiti’s economic and social infrastructure, the U.S. and other countries play a major role in supporting the integration and well-being of Haitian refugees abroad.

One way to ensure that the U.S. provides vital humanitarian support to refugees is by expanding the International Affairs Budget. The funds of the International Affairs Budget are imperative to helping refugees and the world’s poor but unfortunately, this resource is grossly underfunded.

To help alleviate the Haitian refugee crisis, call or email your congressional leaders in support of increased funding for the International Affairs Budget.

Daniela Sarabia

Photo: Flickr

The Vatican has taken in several Syrian refugees over the last few months. In April of 2016, Pope Francis took 12 Muslim Syrians from three different families into the Vatican as refugees. In June, he welcomed nine more Syrians as Vatican City refugees, seeming very symbolic to many individuals throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The refugees that were brought into the Vatican were very grateful for the Pope’s “gesture of hope” and some even went on to call him a savior.

Being a refugee is difficult but being a refugee in Vatican City is not only difficult but also very interesting due to the uniqueness of the situation. Here are 10 facts about Vatican City refugees:

    1. The Greek island of Lesbos is where many Syrian refugees are being held and where the Pope took in a portion of the refugees in Vatican City. Most of the refugees on the island of Lesbos feel as though they are trapped as prisoners in the neglected detention center. They are also constantly at risk of being sent back to Turkey due to a new deportation deal between the E.U. and Turkey.
    2. The refugees the Pope took from Greece on his visit in April consisted of three families whose homes had been bombed in the Syrian war. After bringing these refugees to the Vatican, the Pope declared that he wanted to make a gesture of welcome for the refugees.
    3. Even though many thought the Pope’s action in taking in these refugees were on a whim, his actions were actually carefully thought out and had involved a large amount of planning and paperwork for not only the Vatican and Italy, but also Greece.
    4. The Pope’s refugees will all be taken care of by the Catholic charitable association, Sant’Egidio, which will help care for the families and assist them in finding work.
    5. When questioned about why these specific families were chosen to be taken from Greece to the Vatican, the Pope did not explain, but instead simply stated that: “They are guests of the Vatican.”
    6. Beginning in the summer of 2015, thousands of migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, journeyed into Lesbos after paying smugglers to make the brief sea journey from Turkey. This smuggling of refugees caused the E.U. to have a political crisis which, in turn, led several countries to either restrict or completely close their borders.
    7. The number of migrants coming into Greece has fallen significantly since Turkey agreed to take back all of the individuals coming into the Greek islands for billions of dollars in E.U. cash. Over 1.1 million people have covertly crossed from Turkey to Greece since the start of 2015, and hundreds have drowned in this journey.
    8. In 2015, the Pope appealed to all Catholic diocese in Europe to take in a refugee family. Unfortunately, the Pope’s appeal was ignored by the majority of individuals across Europe.
    9. The Pope continued to fight for refugees when he offered special praise for ordinary Greeks who have taken refugees into their homes. Other religious leaders have called upon the E.U. to provide more help for Greece in this migrant crisis.
    10. Currently, there are 20 Syrian refugees living in the Vatican, which consists of 1,000 inhabitants.

While the Pope has clearly been doing his part in the Syrian refugee crisis, the issue has not been solved. However, using the Pope as a model by taking in refugees to the Vatican and treating them with respect, many individuals in Europe and around the world should have a better outlook on Syrian refugees and how they should be treated.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Ukraine

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has taken nearly 10,000 lives just since 2014, and the casualties continue to rise as the conflict becomes tenser.

Many of the refugees in Ukraine have been internally displaced – some have fled to cities that are actually close to the conflict like Kharkiv and Zaporizhia while others have left to their neighboring nations.

The 1.4 million internally displaced Ukrainians are victims of a hidden humanitarian crisis where families are displaced in run-down apartments or other vacant buildings instead of typical refugee. UNHCR has been providing shelter repairs for these internally displaced people after the damage in the eastern region. However, many are still without accommodation or have lost their homes.

Many of these Ukrainians fled to the Russian Federation. During the worst time of conflict Russia made a significant effort to assist refugees in Ukraine by providing housing and dispatching humanitarian convoys regularly. However, Russia recently has dialed back on their efforts and is accepting far fewer refugees. Ukrainians now flee to Belarus, Poland, and Germany where they find aid from various organizations such as the Ukrainian Samaritan Federation.

The Ukrainian Samaritan Federation has partnered with the ASB in Ukraine to provide assistance to the refugees. They have donated over $30,000 while aid has also come from seven other European Samaritan Associations.

These funds are meant to ensure that the refugees continue to have medical care, particularly for the injured activists. Refugees have also received over 200,000 food parcels as well as 4,000 winter aid parcels. The volunteers at SSU have spent countless hours providing relief supplies and have even provided safe shelter for many refugees.

In order to improve life back home, USAID has installed the Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative to create a more stable nation and provide short-term assistance to Ukraine in its transition to democracy. Assistance comes in the form of grants for goods, services and technical support to help communities to mitigate the effects of conflict in the east. The goal is to make this a stable and peaceful transition to resolve this conflict so that the refugees may eventually return to their homes and rejoin their families.

– Amanda Panella

Photo: Flickr

San Jose Action Statement
On August 4, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and the United States welcomed the San Jose Action Statement. The statement was issued in response to an unprecedented meeting of concerned nations regarding the influx of Central American refugees.

Since 2012, the number of pending asylum cases in the U.S. and Mexico alone has reached over 109,000. In 2014, 66,000 unaccompanied children fleeing Central America entered the U.S. Further, data from 2015 shows the U.S. continuing as the main receiving country, registering almost twice as many asylum applications as in 2014.

Recognizing the need for urgent action and improved institutions to manage the flow of migrants, members of the San Jose Action Statement agreed to responsibility-sharing and regional cooperation. To mitigate the crisis and lessen the plight of refugees, the San Jose Action Statement has three main objectives:

Preventing and Addressing Root Causes of Displacement in and Migration from Countries of Origin

To accomplish this, member states vowed to strengthen coordinated responses, focusing on socio-economic development, access to education and livelihood opportunities, consolidating the rule of law, acting against impunity and operating under a framework that fully respects human rights.

Member states further agreed to monitor internal displacement and migration in order to develop well-informed national and international responses to the refugee crisis. In addition, all parties acknowledged the need to provide protection for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees. These measures aim to minimize the outward flows of migration by creating prosperous, secure lives in home countries.

Enhancing Asylum and Protection Responses in Countries of Transit, Destination and Asylum

All parties to the San Jose Action Statement agreed to provide timely identification and documentation of refugees, as well as unhindered access to documentation processes and protection.

Member states further vowed to improve alternatives to detention and resource provision for refugees, including access to legal aid, psychosocial support and humanitarian assistance. Early integration into receiving communities will also be targeted and strengthened.

Promoting Regional Cooperation

All nine nations agreed to develop a collaborative approach, emphasizing the need for partnerships with other nations, U.N. organizations, international and regional organizations, civil society, academia and other entities. These partnerships will create responsibility-sharing mechanisms in the region, such as legal pathways to admission and humanitarian visas.

This call for action marks an important step in combating the Central American refugee crisis. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Türk, stated, “The San Jose Action Statement is a visible and significant demonstration of the willingness of countries from the region to work together to address the plight of refugees, internally displaced persons and others in need of protection, in a spirit of solidarity.”

Anna O’Toole

Photo: Flickr

The North Korean refugee situation is not one to be taken lightly. While the American media predominantly focuses on the recent refugee crises in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, the totalitarian regime of North Korea impedes on the human rights of North Korean refugees everyday and such injustices cannot be ignored.

10 Facts about North Korean Refugees

  1. The people who live in North Korea are governed by Kim Jong-un under a completely totalitarian regime. Totalitarianism as a form of government theoretically prohibits individual freedom and expression; all aspects of an individual’s life are subject to the government’s authority. As such, media access and information about life outside of North Korea is extremely restricted.
  2. Most North Korean refugees defect to either China or South Korea. Refugees must usually travel through China to reach South Korea, as the border between North and South Korea is extremely regulated.
  3. South Korea’s media usually does not publicize individual defections, but large groups of North Koreans who defect all at once, such as the group of thirteen restaurant workers who left North Korea in April 2016, are more likely to be reported.
  4. The government of South Korea offers citizenship to all North Korean refugees who legitimately try to claim refugee status. The people seeking refuge are extensively interviewed to filter out any North Korean spies. As of May 2016, around 29,000 North Korean refugees live in South Korea.
  5. South Korea also offers reorientation classes for refugees from NK. These courses teach refugees basic life and job skills that don’t apply in North Korea, such as how to withdraw money from an ATM or shop in a Western-style supermarket.
  6. If any refugees from NK manage to escape to China, most face the fear of Chinese government discovery and the forcible repatriating that follows. Despite a signatory on the United Nations convention on refugees stating that China is not obligated to repatriate people seeking refuge, China still cooperates with the North Korean government and will even pay Chinese citizens to turn in undocumented refugees.
  7. Once they arrive back in North Korea, the refugees generally face torture, harsh physical labor and internment in political prisoner camps. It is therefore important to make sure people who want to leave North Korea can leave without fear of repatriation and punishment for leaving their country of birth.
  8. Organizations like Liberty for North Korea use donations to provide rescue and rehabilitation for North Korean refugees without any direct cost to the refugees themselves. It costs about $3,000 to fully rehabilitate one refugee. So far they have rehabilitated 505 refugees.
  9. As of May 2016, over 200,000 North Korean refugees live secretly in China. Most of them live in fear of repatriation and simply want to move on to South Korea or another country that will offer legal protection to refugees. However, tightly restricted travel between China and other countries’ borders often prevents such an opportunity.
  10. Many refugees from NK suffer from a host of mental health problems, including but not limited to depression and PTSD, even after they leave North Korea.

The cooperation of the Chinese with North Korea’s government makes the Chinese government complicit in the refugee injustices. North Korean refugees need help, and they’re looking to the rest of the world for aid.

Bayley McComb

Photo: Liberty in North Korea

Burundi Refugees
Burundi is a country in East Africa that shares borders with Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. The country’s civil war has left Burundian refugees in a state of emergency.

The tumultuous civil war, which occured from 1993 to 2006, culminated in the parliamentary election of Hutu rebel leader Pierra Nkurunziza. Events similar to those that triggered the war, which claimed 300,000 lives, have once again come into focus.

Although Burundi’s constitution limits presidential incumbency to two terms, President Nkurunziza expressed desire to seek a third term, aggravating opposition groups severely.

A 2015 coup exacerbated the issue further. The power struggle between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnicities contributed to the discord. Although Nkurinziza received 79 percent of the vote, the crisis led to bloodshed and mass emigration, which has crippled Burundi and left many impoverished.

The following 10 facts about Burundi refugees describe their plight:

  1. As highlighted by the 2008 U.N. Human Development Index, Burundi ranks 167 out of 177 countries, with a concurrent rural poverty rate of 68.9 percent.
  2. More than 250,000 Burundian refugees have fled to neighboring countries. Moreover, Tanzania alone is collectively home to 144,000 Burundian refugees.
  3. The Nyarugusu and Nduta refugee camps in Tanzania have reached maximum carrying capacity, and the Mtendelli refugee camp now has to house the surfeit.
  4. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has played a pivotal role in combating the spread of malaria among Burundian refugees and addressing mental health problems. One in two MSF patients in the Tanzanian refugee camps have malaria.
  5. Attackers from Burundi’s ruling party have gang raped and ostracized women, especially female family members of assumed opposition groups. The problem has been widespread in refugee camps.
  6. According to UNHCR, an estimated $134 million is needed to effectively respond to Burundi‘s plight and safeguard the needs of Burundian refugees. However, only $46 million has been raised by donors.
  7. The Brethren Disaster Ministries have provided grants to help the Brethren Church of Rwanda carefully maneuver and support the influx of Burundian refugees into Rwanda. The grants will provide emergency food and supplies to hundreds of families.
  8. The U.N. Security Council has agreed to deploy 228 police forces to monitor and ease the situation in Burundi‘s capital, Bujumbura. Despite this decisive move, the U.N. still needs to seek approval from the Burundian government and cope with the protests that have emerged as a result of the decision.
  9. Many Burundian refugees want an outlet for their products and a way to market their goods. Handcraft cooperatives at Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda have benefited from UNHCR guidance and aid. Most of these cooperatives are spearheaded by women, who now have the opportunity to express their culture and sell their products.
  10. The UNHCR has made great headway with regards to promoting education in refugee camps. A major plan is in the works to set up a university in Mahama camp.

These 10 facts showcase the plight of Burundian refugees. The balance of power between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnicities in military and government institutions is fragile. Keeping it in check is the objective of the international community and Arusha Accords.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

Refugee SummitThe United Nations released a statement on August 2, 2016 regarding the inaugural U.N. Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. The event (also known as the U.N. Refugee Summit) will take place in New York on September 19, 2016.

Because the refugee crisis has reached unprecedented levels, representatives from all Member States will come together to discuss objectives for handling the crisis. Leaders will also outline a course of action that will ideally be put into effect over a 14-year period.

Upon announcement of the U.N. Refugee Summit, the United Nations also released a draft document that outlines objectives and proposals. In order to better understand what will occur during this summit, it is useful to review background information on key organizations and to examine the overall scope of the refugee crisis.

    1. The overarching goal of the U.N. Refugee Summit is to address migration on the basis of conflict, poverty, food insecurity, persecution, terrorism, marginalization and climate change.

In 2015, the number of displaced people worldwide surpassed 60 million for the first time in history.

According to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.3 million people were displaced last year. Approximately 40.8 million were internally displaced, 21.3 million were refugees and 3.2 million were asylum-seekers.

Among those 65.3 million, 12.4 million people became refugees because of conflict and persecution. Another 22.5 million fled from natural disasters and issues related to climate change.

In order to address these staggering numbers, the U.N. seeks the cooperation of all 193 Member States to create sustainable solutions for the global refugee crisis.

    2. Rhetoric that demonizes refugees is a crucial topic, as it is an issue that could potentially put refugees at increased risk.

The draft states simply, “We deplore all manifestations of xenophobia, racial discrimination and intolerance.” A key component of the U.N. Refugee Summit will be the effort to counter hateful attitudes toward refugees that only exacerbate the problem.

In order to quell international fears, summit members will design integration proposals that will make the intake process easier for all parties. Some of these proposals include language learning and policy education for refugees upon arrival in recipient nations.

    3. Because individual countries maintain their rights to border control, officials will work to reach a compromise between national border legislation and practices that comply with international refugee law.

It is important to remember that the UNHCR is not a supranational entity. However, U.N. standards dictate that Member States are obligated to collaborate with the UNHCR in upholding international refugee law.

According to refugee rights policies, “Countries may not forcibly return refugees to a territory where they face danger or discriminate between groups of refugees.” The idea in this case is to strike a balance between refugee rights and border control.

    4. Measures to decrease transit death will be another important discussion topic during the U.N. Refugee Summit.

The UNHCR reported that 203,981 refugees and migrants had traveled to Europe by May of 2016. One representative noted that the chance of dying in transit when crossing the Mediterranean was one in 81.

The journey from northern Africa to Italy has proven to be particularly dangerous, with mortality rates rising to one in 23. UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi also emphasized the importance of dealing with refugee smugglers.

    5. Members will pay particular attention to the problems women and children refugees are facing in this crisis. 

A derivative of transit danger is the oppression of women and children as they travel between nations. Instances of transactional rape, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and trafficking run rampant when people must rely on smugglers for transport.

One goal at this meeting will be to develop survivor-centric practices that help women report and deal with issues of SGBV. Member Nations must make these programs more accessible to women and girls as they travel.

Another issue is child death due to a lack of small life jackets. This summit will likely feature a discussion that focuses on transit death.

    6. In-depth evaluations of mass-exodus regions will come into play. The goal is to identify the root cause of crises in heavily affected areas and neighboring nations.

In 2015, over 50 percent of all refugees came from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Officials want to uphold the idea that migration should never be a matter of necessity, which is why these areas deserve more attention.

Massive movement away from nations ultimately wreaks havoc on neighboring countries as well. During the U.N. Refugee Summit, alleviation of intake problems from top host countries like Turkey, Iran and Ethiopia (which border the former three nations, respectively) will be a priority.

      7.  Organizers will call on Member States to work with the Nansen Initiative to help those displaced by natural disasters.

The Nansen Initiative’s mission is to address legal gaps that leave refugees unprotected if they leave their home nations for environmental reasons.

Those who are internally displaced are already covered by international human rights laws and United Nations policies. However, refugees and migrants who must cross borders after natural disasters strike find themselves in murky waters.

By working with the Nansen Initiative during the Summit, leaders will attempt to close loopholes by protecting those who face climate-related displacement with appropriate action.

    8. Encouragement of global governance as it relates to refugee issues more generally is also on the agenda. The desired outcome is a working partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM began in 1951 as an entity that works with government and humanitarian bodies to regulate migration. The organization essentially serves as an intermediary force that could potentially bridge gaps between nations.

Its role would be to promote policies, laws and humanitarian efforts that protect refugees and migrants on the basis of international refugee law in a global context.

    9. Statelessness is another keynote topic: there will be an emphasis on the UNHCR’s plan to end statelessness by 2024.

According to the UNHCR, a stateless individual refers to “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.” Some of these rights include education, legal protection and healthcare. At least 10 million people are stateless worldwide. An individual can attain this status at birth or acquire it for reasons like ethnic discrimination, gender discrimination, birthplace or change of national borders.

Gaps in nationality legislation often lead to statelessness, and they need filling before millions of migrants and their children can receive the benefits of having a nationality.

    10. Perhaps most ambitious of all will be the UN’s push for all Member States to ratify the 1990 Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Works and Members of their Families.

The goal of this initiative is to develop standards of treatment for those who work in receiving nations. It would also disallow arbitrary expulsion from those nations.

When the treaty was presented for ratification in 2003, only 20 countries signed, none of which were Western migrant-receiving nations. Major recipients like Australia and India also failed to ratify. Failure to accept this treaty means that its principles of refugee worker protection are not technically in effect across 173 Member States.

Although the upcoming Summit is facing criticism for not being aggressive enough, representatives insist that objectives and proposals are being approached with substantial progress in mind.

As Karen AbuZayd, who serves as the Summit’s Special Adviser, explained to the United Nations News Centre, “[Member States] have agreed to a number of new actions that they will take on behalf of refugees and migrants. We should be happy about this and embrace it.”

The U.N. Refugee Summit is an important first step towards solving the refugee crisis and improving the lives of displaced individuals across the globe.

Madeline Distasio

Refugees in Turkey impose a crisis on the country, as it is currently hosting over 3 million people — the largest refugee population in the world. Syrian nationals embody a majority of the refugee population — a consequence of the devastation inflicted by five years of civil war.

Here are 10 facts about Turkey’s refugee population:

  1. As of July 28, 2016, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, (UNHCR) reports that there are 2.7 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey. Those registered as of July 31, 2016 have origins in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Somalia.
  2. Human Rights Watch estimated that 250,000 Syrian refugees are residing in one of the 25 government administrated camps. The remaining estimated 2 million refugees in Turkey live outside the camps and often struggle to find housing while they live in abject poverty.
  3. According to Project Hope, an international health care organization, Turkey has created an ID card system to provide registered Syrian refugees with free health care and education.
  4. Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that since 2011, Turkey has spent more on those living outside the camps (around $30 billion), compared with about $10 billion on those living in the camps. And according to Human Rights Watch, the government has been increasingly under pressure to generate sufficient resources for a growing refugee population.
  5. The World Food Programme joined the Turkish Red Crescent in 2012 to form the Electronic Food Card Programme for Syrian refugees residing in camps. Each card given to households has a monthly stipend which allows individuals to purchase food.
  6. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) reported that it will fund the Faculty for Refugees in Turkey, providing €3 billion in humanitarian aid and development in 2016 and 2017.
  7. In the last year and a half according to the Washington Post, about 1 million refugees, mostly Syrian nationals have traveled illegally to Greece via Turkey. The journey by sea on small boats is costly and very dangerous — many have died.
  8. In January, Syrian refugees were permitted to work legally in Turkey after the government issued work permits, and in July, Al-Monitor reported that the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was planning to offer citizenship to 300,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey.
  9. According to The Economist, the flow of refugees traveling to Europe has slowed in recent months because of a deal brokered between the EU and Turkey in March. The plan is controversial with human rights groups but allows migrants and refugees that came to Europe from Turkey to be sent back. In exchange, Turkey is to receive €6 billion in assistance for refugees, have renewed EU membership talks and visa-free travel in the Schengen area for Turkish citizens.
  10. In an August interview with Le Monde newspaper, President Erdoğan said that readmissions of migrants and refugees will stop if the EU does not implement the visa-free travel. The readmissions were to begin on June 1.

A thwarted coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 has generated concern as to the possible implications it could have on the March EU-Turkey deal to end erratic migration from Turkey to the EU. Prior to the coup attempt, there were EU concerns going forward with the deal, and this unease may now be heightened due to the internal disquiet occurring presently in the country.

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr

Facts about Sudan refugees
Historically, Sudan has been the site of great conflict and famine since the mid-twentieth century. As a result, a constant outflow of refugees streamed into neighboring countries and all around the world. Here are ten significant facts about these Sudan refugees.

10 Facts about Sudan Refugees

  1. According to the U.N. Refugee agency, there are currently 666,000 displaced Sudanese. Sudan has recorded high numbers of refugees since 1990.
  2. Major causes for the Sudanese exodus are prolonged civil war and famine. There have been three major Sudanese conflicts and ongoing hostilities since 1969, with the most recent South Sudanese Civil War beginning in 2013.
  3. A major spike in refugees from Sudan occurred following a famine in 1998. In the subsequent six years, Sudan’s refugee numbers doubled before decreasing rapidly during a period of relative stability.
  4. Refugees fleeing Sudan were about half as numerous in 2009, but large-scale ethnic conflicts displaced hundreds of thousands in the 2010s, particularly in the Darfur region.
  5. Neighboring South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011, houses many Sudanese refugees, despite the ongoing conflicts in the region. The opposite is also true, with many South Sudanese fleeing north to Sudan, an area that is regarded as slightly safer by the Global Peace index.
  6. Despite the split of Sudan and South Sudan, the Sudanese have continued to seek asylum in other countries since 2011. The number of Sudanese refugees steadily increased through 2014, before decreasing ever so slightly in 2015.
  7. One of the most interesting facts about Sudan refugees are the final places where the migrants eventually end up. The U.S. Census estimated there were about 41,000 Sudanese Americans in 2012, many of whom left Sudan in the 1980s and 90s during civil war. Australia also hosts many Sudan refugees, reporting almost 20,000 in their national census.
  8. The ongoing hostilities and large numbers of refugees have decreased Sudan’s annual population growth rate to less than 1 million per year, lower than Iraq, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
  9. While current numbers of refugees from Sudan and South Sudan are undoubtedly high, (both above 600,000) there have been significantly more Sudanese displaced in the past. For example, during the second Sudanese Civil War, approximately 4 million people were forced to leave Sudan.
  10. Despite the extremely complex and difficult nature of the Sudanese exodus, the UNHCR was able to assist 39,470 Sudanese refugees, with 2/3 of them living in adequate dwellings through almost $75 million in aid.

These facts about Sudan refugees are not all-encompassing, but they do offer great insight into the critical Sudanese refugee situation. Fortunately, there’s hope that current peace talks in South Sudan may help stabilize the region, despite the failure of previous regimes to put an end to Sudanese violence.

In the meantime, the UNHCR and refugee-hosting first world countries continue to be an ally for the huge numbers of displaced Sudanese.

John English

Photo: Flickr