Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup 15 October 2018

National News
International News


V. Turk, Assistant UN High Commissioner for Protection, ‘Statement to the 69th Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme’, UNHCR, 4 October 2018

R. Schweitzer, ‘The Psychological Needs of Resettled Refugee Women’, Psychology Today, 10 October 2018

P. Dowling, ‘Venezuela’s Refugee Crisis: why don’t we care?’, The Independent, 13 October 2018

D. Baslan and I. Leghtas, ‘We need to help Jordan’s other refugees’, News Deeply, 11 October 2018

D. Southerland, ‘Say a prayer for Vietnam’s forgotten Montagnards’,  Asia Times, 13 October 2018


'Refugee Diplomacy: Negotiating protection in a changing world'

Hear from an expert panel as they discuss the current state of play in negotiations affecting refugees in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Guest speakers, including Travers McLeod (Centre for Policy Development), Tamara Domicelj (Act for Peace/APRRN) and Professor Penelope Mathew (Griffith University), will discuss the prospects and pitfalls for enhancing responsibility-sharing for refugee protection in this part of the world.

See the full program and book your tickets here.

National News


UNHCR calls for evacuation of Australia’s offshore facilities


The UN refugee agency has called for the Australian government to take ‘immediate action’ and bring refugees and asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island to Australia. The text of UNHCR’s press briefing can be read here.




Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called for immediate evacuation of all refugees and asylum seekers off Nauru, reporting that it treated dozens of patients who had serious thoughts of self-harm or suicide or had attempted suicide. The organisation was ordered off the island by the Nauruan government, and the Australian government has said it will not intervene in the matter. Meanwhile a state coroner in Queensland will examine the death of asylum seeker Omid Masoumali, who set himself alight on Nauru in 2016 and later died in a Brisbane hospital. A funeral was held in Brisbane for Fariborz Karami, a 26 year-old who took his own life on Nauru three months ago.


Manus Island


Behrouz Boochani has spoken about his receipt of a top international award for investigative journalism.


Australian asylum policy


A Guardian/Essential poll of Australian public opinion has found that around half of respondents support bringing asylum seeker and refugee families off Nauru to Australia. Meanwhile asylum policy continues to be a prominent issue in the lead up to the Wentworth byelection.


International News




UNHCR has reported that the number of Eritreans registering as refugees in neighbouring Ethiopia has dramatically increased. Between 12 September and 2 October nearly 10,000 Eritreans arrived in Ethiopia seeking asylum, mostly women and children hoping to reunite with family members who left illegally before the border opened. The spike in numbers has triggered fears that the border may close again.

Rwanda has lodged a digitally readable passport to refugees, to allow them free movement across the world. Rwanda’s Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration has said that the passport will ‘facilitate storage of accurate data, control forgeries and allow relevant law enforcers to securely verify and authenticate the travel document’. To obtain a passport, a person must present documents that testify that they are a refugee.




UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has said that the South and Central American region needs to ‘brace itself for the arrival of even more Venezuelan migrants’, as the Venezuelan crisis appears unlikely to abate soon. More than 2 million Venezuelans are thought to have left the country in recent years — one of the largest mass migrations in the Western Hemisphere. Grandi, who is currently following the flow of Venezuelan refugees throughout the region, praised the ‘extraordinary solidarity’ shown by neighbouring Colombia, which receives over 4000 Venezuelans daily.

The Costa Rican government has granted political asylum to Nicaraguan human rights activist Alvaro Leiva, months after he fled his country due to death threats. This is the first time Costa Rica has granted such protection to a Nicaraguan citizen since the increase of political turmoil and civil unrest in Nicaragua. 

It has been reported that the Trump administration released hundreds of asylum seekers in Arizona this week without following protocols to ensure they can reunite with relatives or get to their court date. A senior Department of Homeland Security official has been quoted as saying that this ‘is the start of a dam breaking’ and such releases are likely to become commonplace along the southern US border.

Canadian police are  investigating an alleged arson at the Radisson Hotel Toronto East, which is temporarily housing asylum seekers. The fire was extinguished quickly, and no one was injured. Police believe the fire was started intentionally, but have not identified a possible motive, and have said that no evidence at this stage indicates that the arson was a targeted attack on the refugees staying at the hotel.


Asia Pacific


UNHCR and UNDP have completed initial assessments in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and have concluded that Myanmar is yet to create an environment conducive for the safe and dignified return of Rohingyas who have been forcibly displaced. A second phase of assessments has just commenced. Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to increase transparency over her government's handling of the Rohingya crisis. 

Meanwhile, Bangladesh is proceeding with plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees from refugee camps on the Myanmar border to Bhasan Char island. Government officials have reportedly said that the camp will open later this month, and that it is ready to accommodate 25,000 refugees.

In Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, over 100 Rohingya women have formed a first-of-its-kind committee to provide women and girls with a direct pathway and communication channel to UN project managers. The committee has been launched with the support of IOM, the UN Migration Agency, following months of on-the-ground research and informal discussions with Rohingya women in the camps about what kind of platform would enable them to raise concerns with senior UN staff, without breaching cultural gender norms.

The Indian government is working with the State of Assam to deport a batch of 23 Rohingya from detention camps to Myanmar. This follows the deportation of 7 Rohingya earlier this month.

Taiwan officials have reportedly given assurances that authorities will not forcibly repatriate two Chinese dissidents who have been camped at Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport since September 27 awaiting a decision on their asylum applications.

As part of a crackdown on illegal immigration, Thai authorities have issued fines and suspended jail sentences to 70 Pakistani asylum seekers on the grounds that they have been staying illegally in Thailand. The group is set to be deported, despite claims that its members will face persecution if they are sent home. Thailand regularly deports foreigners who are in the country illegally under Thai law, even if they are recognised by the United Nations as refugees who are fleeing persecution




The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposal that would enable refugees seeking asylum to apply for humanitarian visas at European Union embassies and consulates overseas. A parliamentary source has said that the visa scheme is ‘designed to help better manage the flow of asylum seekers into the EU, tackle human smuggling and also reduce the horrendous death toll of people who drown en route to Europe from Africa’.

Greece’s Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos remains in a critical state, with sanitation issues and reports of regular sexual assault including child sexual assault. Government efforts to move asylum seekers out of the camp and onto the mainland have proved slower than intended, due to overcrowding.

A truck carrying refugees has crashed in western Turkey, killing 22 people, including children. This follows the death of at least eight people after a boat filled with refugees sank off the western coast of Turkey last Wednesday. 

The UK Home Office has agreed to carry out an independent and far-reaching inquiry into alleged abusive treatment of immigrants held in UK detention centres,  following threats of legal proceedings. It has also been reported that there are two suicide attempts a day in UK deportation centres.


Middle East and North Africa


The Israeli Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority announced last Tuesday that asylum seekers in Israel who are citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been given 90 days to leave the country. There are currently hundreds of Congolese asylum seekers residing in Israel. The move follows policy change made after a report was released from Israel’s Foreign Ministry concluding it would be safe to send Congolese asylum seekers back to Congo. Israel has said that Congolese asylum seekers who do not comply with the order will be deported. 


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