April 18-25, 2022 Mixed Migration—hebdo
This week, we skip Spotlighting altogether while I announce a novel way I want to interweave Mixed Migration—hebdo with the Fractured podcast. Tune in to Fractured later in the week to listen in!
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, and links to all the articles you need to dig deeper.
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No Spotlight this week—to be fair, the UK-Rwanda deal would warrant one, but we’ve covered the mid-life crisis of the principle of territorial asylum before and I would just end up repeating myself.
Instead I invite you to tune in to the Fractured podcast—a collaboration I’ve been pursuing with Refocus Media Labs for a few months now. My co-host Sonia Nandzik just dropped a new episode last week built around Even after Death, Refocus’ documentary on the necropolitics around Aegean and Evros river crossings. I’ll be dropping an episode this week, where I want to try something different: going through the last month’s worth of MMh issues to try to talk through the events covered in this newsletter, pulling relevant trends together and offering a bit of context and observation. We’ll see how it works out. Tune in… should be Wednesday or Thursday.
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On to the news…
Last Monday, UAE officials delivered 30 tons of food assistance to Kabul for distribution to vulnerable families. | On Tuesday, three blasts ripped through two community centers in western Kabul, with the first targeting a job training center and the next two targeting a high school, causing at least 6 fatalities and another 11 injuries. | On Thursday, three bombings occurred across Afghanistan, in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, and in Kunduz, killing at least 40 people and injuring at least 165. On the same day, civil society leaders convened in Kabul to demand that authorities reopen girls’ schools at all age levels throughout Afghanistan. | This Monday, Afghan refugees held a demonstration outside of UNHCR offices in Islamabad, protesting delays in the issuance of registration papers to Afghans who fled Taliban rule over 6 months ago but remain precarious and without status in Pakistan.
Myanmar and its neighbors
Last Tuesday, OCHA disclosed that the total number of IDPs in Myanmar exceeds 565.000, with the total numbers for the northwestern regions of Chin State exceeding 300.000 for the first time (see the full OCHA report here). | On Wednesday, al Jazeera highlighted that, in recent months, Burmese authorities have rendered stateless at least 33 diplomats abroad, in posts as prominent as Myanmar’s Ambassadorships to the UN or the UK, in retaliation for their refusal to uphold the diplomatic interests of the military junta. On the same day, 528 Rohingya detainees fled a containment center in Malaysia’s northern Penang state on the heels of a protest, with authorities promptly detaining 326, and with 6 fatalities due to roadside accidents during their flight. | On Thursday, UNHCR expressed its dismay over the fatal jailbreak, demanding access to Malaysian detention facilities hosting asylum seekers and proposing alternatives to detention for vulnerable cases. | On Saturday, Indian authorities detained 13 Rohingya refugees in New Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, on suspicion they were attempting to exit India irregularly and return to refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Sources: TOLOnews, the Irrawaddy, al Jazeera, AP, PTI.
Ethiopia’s civil war
On Tuesday, UN OCHA disclosed that 87.000 people had been displaced from northeastern Tigray in recent weeks, and that another 33.000 remaining in the area faced extreme food insecurity. On the same day, UN officials signaled that resurgent conflict in the Konso zone of southern Ethiopia’s SNNPR state has displaced nearly 37.000 people over the last month, including nearly 20.000 women and girls. | On Thursday, TPLF leadership complained, in an open letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, that while Ethiopian authorities have used a recent ceasefire to curry favor with the international community, they have not opened meaningful access to humanitarian aid into Tigray, threatening to withdraw from the ceasefire if aid access does not resume promptly. On the same day, the TPLF spelled out their 4 preconditions for withdrawing from occupied areas of Afar: the standing up of safe and effective humanitarian corridors, the launch of adequate humanitarian provision, the lifting of the blockade on Tigray, and the resumption of socioeconomic services in Tigray. | On Friday, doctors at the Ayer Hospital in Mekelle lamented that they had had to turn away 200 patients in recent weeks, as they lacked the resources to provide them treatment. | On Saturday, Ethiopian authorities announced they had allowed a convoy of 74 trucks, including 6 fuel trucks, to start advancing toward Tigray via Afar. | On Sunday, Agence France-Presse revealed that 528 Tigrayan peacekeepers, deployed to the border of Sudan and South Sudan as part of Ethiopia’s contribution to UNIFSA, have refused to return to Ethiopia due to fear of persecution, instead demanding asylum in Sudan.
Displacement in southern Africa
Last Tuesday, flooding in Mozambique affected 2.800 people in Maputo, with authorities scrambling to pump out floodwaters to prevent their displacement. | On Wednesday, the EastAfrican relayed an April 2021 incident, revealed in the U.S. State Department’s 2021 Human Rights report, when Zimbabwean authorities repatriated 70 Congolese refugees accused of looting food supplies in the Tongogara, 15 of whom authorities in the DRC refused to re-admit, leading to their detention in Harare. | On Thursday, MSF disclosed that renewed fighting has killed dozens of civilians in South Sudan’s Unity State over the last 2 weeks, including one MSF responder. | On Sunday, residents of Durban began taking stock, as floodwaters receded, of the disaster that took 450 lives, left thousands homeless, and tens of thousands without running water, portending renewed challenges and potentially more displacement in weeks to come. | This Monday, the Guardian highlighted the challenges for refugees living in the Dzaleka camp in Malawi, on the heels of a reduction in WFP food rations undermining the sustenance of nearly 700 encampled families whom WFP assessed to have alternative income sources, with numerous families challenging the premise of that assessment.
Sources: Addis Standard, News24, the EastAfrican, the Telegraph, borkena, AFP, the Guardian
Middle East and North Africa
Asylum seeker (im)mobility in Tunisia and Turkey
Last Tuesday, a coalition of NGOs issued an open letter voicing their solidarity with asylum seekers in Tunisia protesting outside of UNHCR offices on the heels of their eviction from supporter housing, demanding to be evacuated to other countries. | On Friday, Turkish authorities disclosed they had detained over 38.000 human smugglers since 2016, with just over 2.500 such arrests taking place thus far this year, and just over half a million asylum seekers apprehended in Turkey since the beginning of 2021. On the same day, Turkish authorities announced they would suspend a longstanding program allowing Syrian refugees living in Turkey to return to Syria during Ramadan and then re-enter Turkey at the end of the holy month. | On Sunday, Turkish authorities repatriated 227 Afghans from eastern Turkey to Kabul, contributing to a total 681 such deportations in recent months.
Yemen’s civil war
Last Tuesday, Yemen’s internationally-recognized government officially inaugurated the 8-man Presidential Council set to replace outgoing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, without a clear sense of whether it would remain in Aden to govern, or govern from Riyadh. | On Wednesday, national carrier Yemmenia Airlines announced it would resume commercial flights between Sana’a and Amman Sunday, April 24, after a 6-year aerial blockade, adding that it hoped to soon resume flights to Cairo, Jeddah, Doha, and Jakarta as well. | On Thursday, the Guardian highlighted the travels of Edris, a mobile classroom based in a coach bus that offers intensive education to just under 100 children in the Mafraq IDP camp in Yemen’s eastern governorate of Hadramawat, slated to grow to a fleet of 5 buses targeting 620 children by June and eventually reach 5.000 children per academic year. | On Sunday, the first flight in 6 years meant to lift off from Sana’a International Airport failed to depart, with Ansar Allah accusing Saudi authorities for refusing to issue overflight permits, and Yemen’s internationally-recognized government accusing Ansar Allah of trying to board passengers with passports issued by de facto authorities rater than by the IRG.
Sources: ANSA, Hürriyet, Middle East Eye, Daily Sabah, al Jazeera, the New Arab, the Guardian, AP.
Maritime Migration Routes to & through the West
Gulf of Mexico
Last Monday, U.S. authorities disclosed they had repatriated 67 asylum seekers to Cuba, 34 of whom had been rescued at sea and another 33 of whom had arrived autonomously in Florida, over the previous 48 hours. | On Saturday, authorities in the Cayman Islands disclosed that 14 asylum seekers had arrived in 2 vessels over the previous 2 days.
The English Channel
Last Tuesday, UK authorities announced that just over 350 asylum seekers had reached UK soil over the previous 2 days across the English Channel, bringing total irregular arrivals thus far this year to ~6.400.
Last Wednesday, Aegean Boat Report relayed the testimony of 57 asylum seekers who attest they had been pushed back from Greek waters after nearly reaching the north shore of Lesvos, where they were intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard, had their engine disabled, and were towed back out to Turkish waters. | On Thursday, Alarm Phone relayed a distress call from a vessel carrying 35 asylum seekers in waters off of Samos, whose passengers attested the engine had been removed by Greek Coast Guard officers, and the unnavigable vessel left to drift mid-sea. On the same day, Turkish Coast Guard rescued 29 asylum seekers, retrieved 1 lifeless body, and reported 4 missing person off the coast of Samos.
Central Mediterranean Sea
Last Saturday, Tunisian authorities disclosed that they had rescued 98 asylum seekers, and recovered 17 lifeless bodies, from 4 vessels intercepted off the coast of Sfax attempting to reach European waters. On the same day, Lebanese officials announced they had rescued 45 asylum seekers, and recovered 7 lifeless bodies, from a vessel carrying between 60 and 84 people in total, intercepted in waters off of Tripoli—with survivors charging that the intervening Lebanese boat rammed their vessel and caused it to capsize. | On Sunday, InfoMigrants relayed that over the weekend, the GeoBarents had rescued 101 asylum seekers, the Ocean Viking had rescued another 70, while the Libyan Coast Guard had prevented the departures of just over 540 additional asylum seekers toward Europe.
Sources: the Miami Herald, Cayman Loop, InfoMigrants, Aegean Boat Report, Alarm Phone, EFE, AP.
Displacement within and beyond Ukraine
On Wednesday, 80 civilians were able to flee Mariupol for Ukrainian-controlled territory on 4 buses, as Mariupol’s city council accused Russian authorities of burying civilians in mass graves outside the city. | On Thursday, just over 200 civilians were able to flee Mariupol and arrive in Zaporizhzhia in 4 buses and a few private vehicles, the first few of a humanitarian corridor that managed to get across Russian checkpoints before further vehicles were held back as night fell. On the same day, Czech authorities announced they had prepared a letter to the European Commission, alongside the other Visegrad 4, as well as Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltic Republics, demanding greater flexibility in fiscal support as well as greater EU funding to cope with the estimated €2.2 billion cost of receiving Ukrainian refugees. | On Thursday, the Biden Administration announced the ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ program, which would allow displaced Ukrainians with a willing sponsor to apply for a 2-year humanitarian visa and travel regularly to the U.S., while closing the U.S.-Mexico border to spontaneous asylum seeking arrivals. | On Friday, Italian authorities disclosed that just under 98.000 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Italy since the Russian invasion on Feburary 24. | This Monday, Ukrainian authorities accused Russian forces of bombing 5 railways stations and energy infrastructre in the country’s center and east, obstructing civilian evacuation and humanitarian provision for communities caught in crossfire. On the same day, the BBC relayed the testimony of Mariupol residents who managed to evacuate, taking with them descriptions of dire conditions in the besieged city, and of harmful neglect of evacuees in Russian filtration camps—an unavoidable hurdle on the path to safety for most civilians fleeing the siege.
UK migration policymaking
Last Monday, the Guardian highlighted continuing problems in the Home Office’s unaccompanied asylum seeking minor care, revealing there are ~250 children living in improper hotel accommodation in London alone, with the national transfer scheme in place to place children into foster care in local councils in disarray. | On Wednesday, Parliament voted down an amendment inserted by the House of Lords into the Nationality and Borders Bill that would have required Parliamentary approval for any offshoring deals proposed by authorities. On the same day, the Independent surfaced evidence of dismay and signs of a potential mutiny within the Home Office staff, as civil servants react to the announcement of the externalization deal between the UK and Rwanda. | On Saturday, lawyers representing an asylum seeker set for relocation to Rwanda announced they had filed the first legal challenge against the Home Office’s UK-Rwanda deal, arguing it violates the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention, as well as domestic laws barring deportation to unsafe countries of return. On the same day, Home Secretary Priti Patel was accused to misleading Parliament this January, when she testified that, under the Nationality and Borders Bill, border forces would be allowed to turn back dinghies in the English Channel, even though clauses on turnback policies to the bill had been completed, months prior, establishing that turnbacks could not be applied to asylum seekers. Also on Saturday, the Independent revealed that the Home Office has spent ~£100,000 on a communications campaign to spread awareness of the UK-Rwanda relocation deal targeting aspiring asylum seekers considering a crossing of the English Channel. | On Sunday, the Homes for Ukraine scheme came under fire again as a Kharkiv mother denounced that the Home Office had advised her that her infant child would need to submit biometrics before her visa could be issued—a procedure that would require travel to Warsaw. On the same day, opposition leader Keir Starmer called for asylum seekers to be allowed to petition the Home Office for asylum from abroad—from France if necessary, or as close as possible to their country of origin if possible—with those receiving a positive decision then being offered safe passage. | This Monday, the Refugee Council issued data assessing that while the Home Office considers any asylum seeker who arrived from a safe country—such as France—inadmissible, it only issued official inadmissability notices to 2% of arrivals last year, revealing a substantial deficit in administrative capacity to issue enough such decisions to relocate a significant number of arrivals to Rwanda.
Med5 migration (mis)management
Last Tuesday, Cypriot authorities announced they would install electronic surveillance systems to detect and deter irregular arrivals across the Green Line, separating occupied northern Cyprus from the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus. | On Thursday, the European Commission told the EU Parliament that its support for the Libyan Coast Guard was based on the ‘do no harm’ principle, and that more than half of its €465 million financing to Libyan authorities supported refugee protection in Libya. On the same day, Greek police announced they had rescued 64 asylum seekers from an islet in the Evros river, where they had become stranded after being left there by smugglers. | On Saturday, legal advocates in Spain denounced that Spanish authorities are repatriating rejected asylum seekers from the Canary Islands to the occupied Western Sahara without allowing them proper access to legal assistance.
Asylum seeker repatriation from Europe
Last Thursday, a German Federal Administrative Court ruled that while priot to ordering a deportation, German authorities were required to assess whether the deported individual could face destitution in the short term and halt the deportation if this outcome was likely, this restriction does not extend to the deportee’s long-term livelihood prospects. | On Friday, human rights advocates in Azerbaijan who were denied asylum in Germany and repatriated earlier this year denounced they are being systematically persecuted on spurious charges as punishment for their activism and attempted flight. | On Saturday, local broadcaster VRT revealed that Belgian authorities had rejected the asylum petitions of 680 Afghans last March, arguing that conditions had improved in Afghanistan and that Taliban repression is narrowly targeted, posing minimal risk to these petitioners.
Sources: the Guardian, the Washington Post, EURACTIV, InfoMigrants, BBC, the Independent, AP, euoberserver, eldiario.es, VOA, Brussels Times.
U.S. migration policymaking
Last Monday, municipal officoials in the city of Pharr, across the Rio Grande from Reynosa and the largest transit point for Mexican agricultural exports to the U.S., estimated that Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s supplementary inspections regime over the week prior had cost in excess of $1 billion in rotten produce as a result of the traffic jams the inspections generated. | On Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office issued a report documenting serious undercounting of border deaths by the U.S. Border Patrol (see the full GAO report here). | On Thursday, human rights first issued a report condemning ICE’s detention of asylum seekers, as opposed to offering them community accommodation, documenting that on average, asylum seekers arriving in the U.S. spend 3.7 months in detention, many of them remaining detained after passing reasonable fear interviews and having identified a sponsor (see the full report here). On the same day, the Texas Tribune documented that during the course of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s supplementary border inspections spectacle in the week prior, 4.100 trucks were inspected, with 850 trucks blocked from further circulation pending equipment repairs, another 345 were cited for minor disrepairs, and no contraband of any kind was found or seized. Also on Thursday, 17 states joined a lawsuit filed by the attorneys-general of Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri demanding that the Biden Administration reverse its decision to terminate Title 42 on May 23. | On Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a separate lawsuit against the Biden Adminstration also demanding it reverse its decision on terminating Title 42.
Migration and its drivers in Latin America
Last Monday, Colombian authorities announced the launch of Integra, a capacity-building program to strengthen national and local authorities’ governance over migrant integration programming, with a $40 million in funding from USAID. | On Thursday, U.S. and Cuban officials held their first official meeting since the inauguration of the Biden Administration, with Cuban officials demanding that the U.S. live up to its commitments regarding migration, resume consular activities in La Habana, and restore the yearly issuance of 20.000 visas for Cubans to regularly emigrate to deter irregular migration through Central America and Mexico or across the Gulf of Mexico. | On Friday, U.S. authorities announced they would resume the issuance of 20.000 yearly immigrant visas to Cuban nationals, reduced and eventually suspended in recent years due to health concerns including Havana Syndrome and eventually the COVID-19 pandemic. On the same day, the latest deportation flight from the U.S. to Guatemala brought the number of these repatriations to 12.000 this year. | On Saturday, Mexican authorities dissolved an 800-strong asylum seeker caravan as it tried to depart from Tapachula, separating it into groups of 150 to enroll them in status regularization proceedings. On the same day, Pueblo sin Fronteras announced it was preparing a novel asylum seeker caravan, which would originate on U.S. soil in October and travel toward Washington, D.C., transiting through states with high asylum seeker populations to advocate against the criminalization of migration and for status regularization. | On Sunday, Mexican authorities disclosed that they have identified and retained just over 115.000 U.S.-bound asylum seekers between January 1 and April 13 of this year. On the same day, Migración Colombia announced it intended to issue another 100.000 Temporary Protection Permits to displaced Venezuelans before the end of April, bringing its totals to ~942.000 permits approved and ~763.000 issued.
Sources: Border Report, Forbes, al Jazeera, the Texas Tribune, CNN, Semana, Deutsche-Welle, EFE, la Razón, Atalayar, Valora Analitik.
Migration policy posturing ahead of Australia’s elections
Last Tuesday, Australia’s National Conference of Catholic Bishops called on authorities to create 20.000 special admission place for Afghans associated with Australia’s troop presence in Afghanistan, calling for additional admissions of displaced Ukrainians. | On Wednesday, Voice of America revealed that Australian authorities have issued 6.000 humanitarian visas to Ukrainian refugees since hostilities broke out on February 24.
Sources: the Guardian, VOA.
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