‘Land Route Through Africa Twice as Deadly as Mediterranean’ – UNHCR

Human Wrongs Watch

The Refugee Brief, by Kristy Siegfried*

4 November 2019 (UNHCR)*Land route through Africa twice as deadly as Mediterranean, says UNHCR.


Image from UNHCR.

The UN refugee agency’s special envoy for the central Mediterranean, Vincent Cochetel, told a German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, on Sunday [3 November 2019] that while more than 1,000 people have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year, the land journey across Africa to reach the Mediterranean is even more lethal.

Although exact numbers are unknown, he said twice as many people are thought to die on their way to the Mediterranean as in the sea itself. An Italian offshore supply vessel docked at the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Sunday with 151 people it had rescued in waters off Libya the day before.

Hours earlier, an NGO rescue boat, the Alan Kurdi, disembarked 88 people at Taranto, on the mainland, eight days after rescuing them. Four other countries have agreed to take in 67 of them, while the others will stay in Italy.


UNHCR “troubled” by latest US refugee resettlement cut. In a statement on Saturday, UNHCR said it was troubled by the US decision to substantially reduce its refugee admissions ceiling for the third consecutive year, adding that it “leaves thousands of the most vulnerable refugees in risky circumstances” and “sends a counterproductive message to other countries on the need for more burden-sharing”.


President Donald Trump late Friday signed off on a decision to cap the number of refugees admitted for resettlement to the United States in fiscal year 2020 at 18,000, a record low for the country’s resettlement programme.

The UN refugee agency pointed out that the new ceiling is well below the number of people already waiting in the US resettlement pipeline and would leave many “living in open-ended limbo”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that refugee resettlement “is only one aspect of US humanitarian-based immigration efforts”. He cited diplomatic efforts to find solutions to crises as well as humanitarian aid.

What’s on UNHCR’s Radar

Bangladesh plan to move Rohingya refugees to island on hold. AFP reports that the Bangladesh government’s plan to move thousands of Rohingya refugees from camps to the silt island of Bhasan Char were “uncertain” after authorities failed to gain the support of UN agencies.

Dhaka had planned to start moving Rohingya families who volunteered to relocate this month, but UN agencies have reportedly set out a list of conditions that must first be met, including a regular shipping service between the islet in the Bay of Bengal and the mainland. Bangladesh disaster management and relief minister Enamur Rahman told AFP they would not force anyone to move.

UK lorry deaths should act as “wake-up call” for government, report findsThe deaths of 39 people found in the back of a lorry in Essex last month should act as a “wake-up call” for the government to rethink its approach to irregular migration, MPs have said.

In a report published today, the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee said that the current policy is driving migrants to take more dangerous routes and pushing them into the hands of criminal groups. The report also calls for more cooperation with Europe and the expansion of legal pathways for asylum-seekers.

Canadian citizens sponsor Australia’s offshore refugeesThe Guardian reports on a private sponsorship programme that has brought dozens of people sent to Papua New Guinea under Australia’s offshore asylum policy to Canada.

Amirhossein Sahragard from Iran was the first of two refugees who spent years on Manus Island to arrive in Toronto last week. He was welcomed by several of his sponsors and a friend from Manus who arrived in Canada two years ago. An organization called Ads-Up Canada is connecting supportive Canadians with Manus and Nauru refugees like Sahragard.

Cape Town church shelters refugees and asylum-seekers after removal from sit-inMore than 1,000 refugees and asylum-seekers have been sheltering at the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town since last Wednesday, when police, acting on a court order, forced them to end a sit-in outside the offices of the UN refugee agency in the centre of the city.

The Daily Maverick reports that congregants and refugees gathered together for a service on Sunday. Reverend Alan Storey said his church could only provide temporary relief and called for long-term solutions for the refugees. UNHCR said it was engaging with local authorities, government representatives and refugee leaders to try to find a peaceful resolution.


Over 1.4 million refugees were considered in need of resettlement in 2019. By the end of September, just 50,000 had departed for resettlement countries.


2019 Human Wrongs Watch

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