April 11-18, 2022 Mixed Migration—hebdo
This week, we kick off with dire global food security warnings, then catch up on natural disasters in the Philippines & South Africa, and man-made disasters in Ukraine, the UK, the U.S.-Mexico border.
Welcome to Mixed Migration—hebdo! Here—in the time it takes to read one feature—you get a global sweep of the last week's most relevant migration policy developments, & links to all the articles you need to dig deeper.
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Last Tuesday, OXFAM warned that a quarter-billion people around the world could tumble into extreme poverty this year, under the combined weight of the pandemic (~198 million) and increases in food prices (~65 million). If East Africa’s forthcoming rainy season fails again—for the third time in a row—another 28 million people in the region could plunge into extreme food insecurity. The UN announced on Thursday it would release $100 million to alleviate hunger in Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Horn of Africa. That full amount, in any one of those countries, would not likely be sufficient to meet needs.
Though poverty and hunger can and often do fuel localized displacement, it’s a bit premature to predict sudden increases in global migration flows. Migration is costly, and that cost acts as a natural feedback loop: those with the means to do so may attempt to migrate in order to improve their living conditions, while those who lack those means also lack the choice to migrate. Localized displacement, however, can increase competition for scarce resources, which can destabilize already fragile regions, which can in turn trigger conflict. As destabilization ripples outward and larger numbers of people are affected, the pool of affected people with the means to migrate can only grow. Which is to day: though it’s a bit premature to predict sudden increases in global migration flows on account of the poverty and hunger ahead, increases in global migration flows as a second-order consequence of the povery and hunger head shouldn’t be ruled out either.
Now: if that chain reaction holds and ripples outward, and as a result migration increases toward Western countries (read: those countries with the means today to alleviate future suffering, and also with the means in the future to receive those whose suffering they won’t alleviate today), populist leaders in these countries are certain to cry foul. There’s a technical term for this phenomenon: bullshit.
In other news, last week German statstics agency Destatis tallied that just over one quarter of all German residents have a migrant background—of whom roughly half foreign nationals, and the other half German nationals with mixed or wholly foreign roots. There’s a technical term for that too: voll geil!
On to the news…
Myanmar and its neighbors
Last Monday, Bangladeshi authorities detained 8 Rohingya youth near Cox’s Bazaar and returned them to their camp of registration, after they had traveled irregularly to Bhasan Char to visit relatives and been robbed when returning to mainland Bangladesh. | On Tuesday, suspected ARSA militants assaulted 3 residents of a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, including a community leader, resulting in their hopsitalization. | On Thursday, Bangladeshi authorities detained 8 Rohingya refugees under suspecion of absconding from Bhasan Char. | On Sunday, the Burmese junta committed to release 1.600 prisonners in a Buddhist New Year’s amnesty.
Natural disaster-borne displacement in, and labor migration from, the Philippines
Last Monday, residents of Leyte in the central Philippines awoke to widespread flooding and distruction on the heels of Tropical Storm Megi’s passage on the Sunday prior, killing over 70 people and displacing ~30.000. | On Sunday, authorities disclosed that Tropical Storm Megi’s fatality toll had risen to 172, with 2 million people affected and over 200.000 displaced. | This Monday, Migrante Internatinal released a report chiding Philippino authorities for weak enforcement of legal protections owed to domestic laborers emigrating to work abroad (see MI’s full report here).
Last Tuesday, Iranian authorities requested security guarantees for its diplomatic representations in Afghanistan, as digital media highlighting the mistreatment of Afghans in Iran continues circulating and stoking tensions on both sides of the border. | On Wednesday, Afghan officials announced a quadrilateral meeting to be held in early May with Iranian, Pakistani, and UNHCR officials to discuss the treatment of Afghans in bordering states and reduce tensions. On the same day, a gathering of clerics in Afghanistan’s southern Paktika province demanded that girls’ and women’s upper education be restored. | On Saturday, Tajik authorities announced they had completed a refugee camp south of Dushanbe equipped with 64 shelter units to accommodate Afghan families that may flee into Tajikistan in coming months.
Fiscal and social instability in Sri Lanka
On Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s Finance Ministry announced it was no longer capable of servicing its foreign debt, demanding a restructuring of its obligations and IMF bailout to preserve its shrinking foreign exchange reserves. | This Monday, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced a new cabinet ahead of bailout negotiations with the IMF this coming week.
Sources: New Age Bangladesh, the Daily Star, AFP, al Jazeera, dpa, philstar, TOLOnews, the Independent, the Straits Times.
Ethiopia and its neighbors
Last Tuesday, Ethiopian authorities disclosed that, in the week prior, they had detained 96 people trying to enter Afar from Amhara State, with the goal of eventually crossing into Djibouti and ultimately emigrating to Middle East countries. | On Wednesday, the World Bank announced it would issue $300 million in assistance to Ethiopia to help it rebuild damaged infrastructure through the Response-Recovery-Resilience for Conflict Communities facility. On the same day, doctors at Ayer Hospital in Mekelle lamented that 60 patients have perished in recent months of preventable kidney disease due to lack of dialysis equipment, and another 81 have perished due to lack of oxygen, as Ethiopia’s civil war has plunged 90% of Tigray’s population into a state of humanitarian need. | On Thursday, authorities in SNNPR State appealed for federal rehabilitation aid on the heels of violent demonstrations demanding regional autonomy for the South Omo zone over the weekend prior that displaced several thousand civilians. | On Saturday, the WFP disclosed that an aid convoy carrying wheat, pulses, hygiene and medical supplies, and fuel, had entered Tigray to provide basic support to 43.000 at-need civilians.
Food insecurity in East Africa
Last Tuesday, the EastAfrican relayed findings by the Horn of Africa’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development warning that, on the heels of rains that were 25%-50% less bountiful than needed last October-December in the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, 29 million people are facing high-level food insecurity across the region and 81.000 in south-central Somalia facing imminent famine. | On Wednesday, the New Humanitarian highlighted potentially deadly delays in humanitiarian fundraising and mobilization to meet regional nutrition needs, already dire and certain to grow in coming weeks and months.
Migrant abuse and disaster-borne displacement in South Africa
Last Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned vigilante violence against migrants in South Africa, equating it to apartheid-era violence against Black South Africans and calling it racist, immoral, and criminal. On the same day, heavy rains flooded South Africa’s province of KwaZulu-Natal, killing over 250 people and displacing at least several dozen. | This Monday, authorities in South Africa tallied nearly 450 fatalities and 63 missing, over 13.500 homes damaged, and ~40.000 left homeless due to flooding in KwaZulu-Natal.
Sources: Addis Standard, the EastAfrican, AP, IANS, the New Humanitarian, al Jazeera, AFP.
Middle East and North Africa
Yemen’s civil war
Last Monday, UN-OCHA Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly announced his intended timeline for the salvage operation to retrieve 1.1 million barrels of crude oil stored on the disintegrating FSO Safer, hoping to have the oil transfered to an alternate vessel in the next 4 months, before adverse weather conditions pick up in September and further compromise the integrity of the FSO Safer, and to have a permanent replacement facility in place within 18 months. | On Sunday, 150 officials of Yemen’s Internationally Recognized Government returned to Aden from Riyadh to govern and continue conflict resolution talks from within Yemen. | This Monday, officials of Yemen’s IRG reported that Ansar Allah attacks on Marib have continued despite the ceasefire, raising questions as to the viability of peace talks to be held in coming weeks.
IDP provision in Syria, asylum seeker (im)mobility in Turkey
Last Friday, WFP announced it would be forced to reduce the food baske it distributes to Syrian IDPs from 1.300 to 1.170 kilocalories per day, in response to dramatic increases in food prices. | This Monday, Turkish authorities detained 101 Afghan asylum seekers being transported in a truck intercepted at a military checkpoint.
Sources: the Maritime Executive, Middle East Monitor, al Jazeera, ANF.
Maritime Migration Routes to & through the West
Central and western Mediterranean
Last Monday, IOM confirmed that 4 asylum seekers had drowned, and 14 gone missing, from a shipwreck off the coast of Libya, adding to another 13 drownings and 27 disappearances tallied by Alarm Phone over the previous 3 days. | On Friday, IOM relayed that a wooden vessel carrying 35 asylum seekers had capsized in waters off the coast of Sabratha, with 6 lifeless bodies recovered and the remaining 29 passengers missing and presumed deceased.
Gulf of Mexico
Last Monday, 4 Cuban asylum seekers arrived autonomously in Upper Keys, where they were promptly apprehended by CBP for likely repatriation. | On Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 89 Haitian asylum seekers it had rescued from a distressed vessel off the Cuban coast on the Saturday prior. | On Sunday, 11 Cuban asylum seekers made landfall in Key West, where they were promptly apprehended by authorities for likely repatriation.
The English Channel
Last Wednesday, over 100 asylum seekers on 3 vessels reached Dungeness, where they were met by Channel Rescue and NGO personnel. | On Friday, the Ministry of Defence disclosed that 181 asylum seekers had reached UK soil across the English Channel through the day. | On Sunday, UK authorities announced that over 500 asylum seekers had arrived across the English Channel between Friday and Sunday, as French police announced they had prevented another 600 from crossing into British waters.
Sources: InfoMigrants, the Miami Herald, Local10, Kent Live, the Independent.
Displacement within and beyond Ukraine
Last Tuesday, Ukrainian authorities disclosed that ~870.000 Ukrainian refugees have returned from abroad since the outbreak of hostilities, with women, children, and the elderly beginning to return despite warnings that returnees may contribute to the challenges providing for IDPs within Ukraine. | On Thursday, Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand announced she would deploy 150 soldiers to Poland on a humanitarian mission to assist with refugee reception and provision. | On Friday, Education cannot Wait signaled that only ~1.800 of the ~50.000 displaced Ukrainian children currently in Moldova are enrolled in local schools, calling for a surge in financial and capacity-building support to help local educators absorb displaced children into Moldovan schools. | On Friday, UN agencies disclosed that over 5 million civilians had fled Ukraine since the outbreak of hostilities, including ~4.8 million Ukrainians and ~215.000 third-country nationals. | On Sunday, the EU announced an additional €50 million in funding for humanitarian programming targeting Ukrainian IDPs (€45M) and refugees displaced to Moldova (€5M).
Asylum seeker reception in the UK
Last Tuesday, BBC Scotland revealed that an asylum seeker shot dead by Glasgow police last June after experiencing a breakdown and stabbing several people had placed 72 calls to the Home Office and to the housing contractor facilitating his accommodation, complaining about poor living conditions and demanding assistance with voluntary return, with Home Office investigators assessing his insistence should have rung alarm bells and prompted a timely and appropriate intervention. | On Wednesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel traveled to Rwanda to finalize a migration and development deal, ahead of announcements planned for the following day to include the Royal Navy taking control of search-and-rescue in the English Channel and offshore asylum seeker processing in Rwanda. On the same day, UNHCR demanded of UK authorities that they implement greater safeguards in the Homes for Ukraine scheme, including but not limited to filtering the matching of lone Ukrainian women with single men, to reduce the risk of abuse and harm. | On Thursday, multiple stakeholders, ranging from UNHCR, to opposition politicians, to border force officials, all condemned the announced externalization deal with Rwanda, charging that it lacked a clear legal basis, would lead to increases in irregular arrivals in the short term, and that Rwanda lacks the capacity to absorb the number of asylum seekers that UK authorities aspire to relocate. On the same day, Rwandan autorities clarified that they would not admit the relocation of asylum seekers orignally from East Africa. Also on Thursday, itv revealed that Home Secretary Priti Patel had likely employed a ministerial direction to approve the Rwanda externalization plan, given the plan’s undemonstrable fiscal projections. | On Saturday, the Home Office confirmed that the plan had been approved under ministerial direction, an exceedingly rare proceeding used only twice in the last 30 years. On the same day, the Home Office released correspondence between Home Secratary Priti Patel and Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft laying out the latter’s doubts on the fiscal impact of the plan and demanding the issuance of a ministerial decision. | On Sunday, Rwandan authorities further clarified that the UK externalization deal would apply only to single men arriving irregularly in the UK, as Kenyan authorities revealed they had also been approached, and had rejected the deal on account of disfavorable cost-benefit analyses.
Med5 migration (mis)management
Last Tuesday, the Greek Ombudsman’s Office deplored that ~270 children living in the Ritsona refugee camp, north of Athens, have now gone 3 years without access to local public schools, demanding that administrators remove an ongoing impasse around securing public transport from Ritsona to local schools so that its resident children can enroll and attend school. On the same day, Spanish authorities introduced a bill to overhaul age determinations among arriving asylum seeking children, prohibiting invasive medical inspections and better safeguarding their dignity. | On Wednesday, Italian Interior Minister Lucia Lamorgese disclosed that, thus far this year, Italy had repatriated 850 rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants, most of them to Tunisia. | On Thursday, Greek authorities announced they had rescued 27 asylum seekers from an islet in the Evros river marking the land border between Greece and Turkey. | On Saturday, an asylum seeker perished while trying to cross the Evros river in an exchange of gunfire between border guards on the river’s Greek shore and a supposed gunman on the boat conducting the crossing. On the same day, 2 Turkish asylum seekers reached Greek soil by using a glider, landing in waters near the mainland-adjacent island of Euboea.
Balkan border control
Last Wednesday, Croatian authorities disclosed they have observed a decline in irregular arrivals from Bosnia in recent months, assessing that there remain ~2.800 asylum seekers in northwestern Bosnia, roughly two-thirds of whom remain sheltered in camps or makeshift structures along the border. | On Friday, Bosnian police disclosed that one asylum seeker was killed, and another injured, in a suspected shootout between two groups of asylum seekers informally encamped near Bihac.
Sources: the Irish Times, the New Arab, ABC News, AFP, European Commission, the Guardian, the EastAfrican, itv, BBC, efsyn, elDiario, ANSA, InfoMigrants, AP, GreekReporter, Deutsche-Welle.
U.S. migration policymaking
Last Tuesday, the Biden Administration disclosed it was preparing to offer humanitarian parole to displaced Ukrainians wishing to migrate to the U.S., after finding that current migration pathways are too slow, effectively channeling Ukrainians to U.S. ports of entry on the southern border Mexico. On the same day, border authorities began implementing supplemental inspections of commercial trucks—repeating inspections already conducted by federal officials—mandated by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, immediately massive causing delays at border checkpoints, effectively freezing commerce at multiple ports of entry and compromising supply chains across the U.S. | On Friday, the Biden Administration announced it would issue TPS to ~10.000 Cameroonians living in the U.S. as of April 14, on account of conflict between government forces and Anglophone armed groups in Cameroon’s west, and attacks by extremist groups in its far north. On the same day, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that, pursuant to agreements with Mexican border states to better control migration, supplementary inspections by state officials had been lifted and normal commercial traffic across Texas ports of entry could resume. Also on Friday, Newsweek revealed that the Biden Administration was considering reducing the treshold for crimimal behavior blocking eligibility for the Family Reunification Task Force’s services, which still has 1.000 children separated from their families by the preceding Administration’s zero tolerance policies it has not yet managed to reunify with their parents.
Irregular migration in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean
Last Monday, Guatemalan authorities signaled they are preparing to respond to a novel asylum seeker caravan assembling in Honduras and comprising some 2.000 people hoping to crossing into Guatemala in coming days. | On Thursday, a group of 38 asylum seekers denounced that they were detained near the U.S. Mexico border and sent back to processing centers in central Mexico, where their residency documents were revoked—on account of their violation of the limited right of internal transit these documents allowed—and then returned to southern Mexico to apply for new documents. On the same day, Guatemalan authorities assessed that the possibility of a novel caravan forming in Honduras had passed, but that they would remain vigilant for irregular arrivals at the eastern border. | On Friday, U.S. authorities disclosed that they had tallied just over 220.000 encounters with irregular migrants last March, the highest number in 2 decades. | On Saturday, Mexican authorities announced they had dispersed the viacrucis caravan, offering 800 the asylum seekers comprising it transport to Huixtla, to have residency documents issued, shortly after their departure from Tapachula. | On Sunday, Mexican authorities repatriated 37 asylum seekers to Cuba, contributing to 928 repatriations from Mexico to Cuba thus far this year, and to 1.680 repatriations this year to Cuba in total. On the same day, Mexican authorities disclosed that, as of April 13, they had intercepted just over 115.000 asylum seekers this year, including just over 6.000 from outside of the Americas.
Migration and its drivers in South America
Last Tuesday, la Tercera disclosed that, over the last 10 years, out of nearly 29.000 asylum petitions filed in Chile, just over 700 were approved, with low recognition rates and large backlogs reflecting a fundamentally ineffective refugee status determination system. | On Thursday, Chilean authorities lifted the state of emergency declared last February along the borders with Perú and Bolivia, through they kept in place a decree surging security personnel to ensure continued border control.
Sources: CNN, the Washington Post, CBS News, Newswee, Deutsche-Welle, el Diario del Sur, EFE, américatevé, la Tercera, infobae.