May 9-19, 2022 Mixed Migration—hebdo
This week, a quick reflection on what migration is and isn't—with a cameo from Juan—followed by an unusually lengthy MMh before I go on 1-2 weeks of digital detox. See you again—at the latest—in June!
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, along with links to all the articles you need to dig deeper.
Today’s issue is reaching you on a Thursday and is a bit longer than usual—as I explained on Monday, I’ll be taking some time off (starting now!) and figured I’d extend this issue a bit and capture as much of what’s going on as possible before I go off-grid. MMh will be back in 2 weeks at most… and I would love to welcome a solid group of new readers to the newsletter when I come back from digital detox—so please share this issue and help your friends and colleagues find this space!
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Last week, a deranged and radicalized gunman killed 10 innocent Black people in Buffalo, New York, charging in his manifesto against the great replacement theory, which posits that national elites in Western states are deliberately importing foreign migrants to dilute white majorities and their electoral power.
This is horseshit—and yet right-wing media across the West propagate this, and countless other similar forms of horseshit, every time they cover migration.
I started this space nearly a year ago to try to compile honest coverage of global migration events and policy developments, and create a reference point for those interested in understanding migration as it unfolds in reality.
Migration, as a process, is much more intricate than above-named horseshit-peddlers could understand or pass on. Properly managed, migration can even become invisible: most Europeans live in a free-movement zone made possible by the ingraining of migration to the very core of the EU project, to the point that many migrating Europeans might not see themselves as migrants.
Migration is also dynamic—the product of millions of individual decisions that sometimes converge to create the appearance of a flow, and other times diverge and create the appereance of turbulence. The notion that elites could harness it to engineer demographic change—that migration could be harnessed to that precise of an end—is insane.
Migration can, on a good day, be channeled toward certain desired outcomes—though channels will fail unless they work for migrants as well as for the states trying to do the channeling. Migration is neither the scourge that populists cry foul over, nor the silver bullet to societal problems that advocates—myself included—conjure in fantasy. Migration is little more and little less than reality, from which societies and states (receiving and sending) can benefit, alongside migrants themselves, by applying equal doses of compassion and common sense to migration policymaking.
Neither of which are to be found in horseshit.
Juan: making about as much sense as the Great Replacement Theory, since October 2020.
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On to the news…
Last Monday, the WFP and FAO issued March-November 2022 IPC forecasts for Afghanistan, tallying 19.7 million people facing acute hunger over the next 6 months, including 20.000 people facing level 5 catastrophic food insecurity between March and May in Afghanistan’s central Ghor Province. On the same day, ICRC Director Robert Mardini traveled to Tehran to discuss the plight of Afghan civilians in Iran with domestic authorities, as mistreatment of Afghan migrants in Iran continues roiling tensions on both sides of their shared border. | Last Friday, an attacker detonated a bomb at Ayuob Saber Mosque in Kabul, injuring 3 worshippers. | Last Saturday, Middle East Eye highlighted increasing enrollment in girls’ schools serving displaced Afghan communities in Iran over the last 6 weeks, as educational continuity contributes to the push factors driving Afghans to emigrate westward. |
This Monday, Taliban authorities announced their first annual budget since taking power last August, deploring a $501 million deficit, and announcing they would close 5 key government departments as a result, including Afghanistan’s Human Rights Commission and its High Council for National Reconciliation. | This Wednesday, the Taliban Ministry of Interior ordered that irregular crossing points long the border of Afghanistan and Iran be sealed, in an effort to crack down on cross-border human smuggling.
Myanmar and its neighbors
Last Thursday, Bangladeshi authorities detained 18 Rohingya refugees irregularly entering Bangladesh from India. On the same day, Bangladeshi authorities detained 3 Rohingya refugees in mainland Bangladesh for absconding from Bhasan Char, promptly returning them to the containment facility. Also last Thursday, a fire broke out in the Ukhia Rohingya refugee camp, near Cox’s Bazaar, injuring 6 camp residents, including 4 children. |
This Tuesday, a father and son caught in the previous Thursday’s fire succumbed to their injuries. On the same day, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen acknowledged increasing irregular arrivals of Rohingya refugees from India, forewarning of the policy problem this poses Bangladesh, as it may push demand on thinly-stretched local capacity past sustainability. | On Wednesday, dissenters in Myanmar denounced that the military junta had begun suspending passport issuance and renewal to striking civil servants.
Economic and environmental disaster in South Asia
Last Monday, incumbent Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his post as protests against his government’s misrule began turning violent across Sri Lanka. | Last Thursday, 5-time former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, offering known quantity to international funders as Sri Lanka begins pursuing a bailout. |
This Monday, newly-installed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that Sri Lanka had one day’s worth of petrol reserves remaining, pleading for assistance securing $75 million in foreign exchange to finance essential imports. | This Wednesday, scientists at the UK Met Office found that climate change has made heatwaves, such as the one currently decimating agricultural livelihoods in India and Pakistan, 100 times likelier than previously and on track to take place once every 3 years, as opposed to once every 3 centuries.
Sources: WFP-FAO, InfoMigrants, TOLOnews, Middle East Eye, Reuters, New Age, UNB, bdnews24, the Financial Express, the Irrawaddy, al Jazeera, the Guardian.
Ethiopia’s civil war
Last Monday, the BBC reported that fresh fighting had broken out between TPLF and Eritrean forces around the contested city of Badme. | Last Tuesday, a 99-truck carrying 3.600 tons of food aid and another 40 tons each of NFI and educational materials reached Mekelle, as UN officials continued pleading for greater humanitarian access to Tigray. On the same day, Addis Standard highlighted deteriorating conditions in Western Oromia, amid spiraling conflict that has already displaced half a million people. | Last Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus deplored that civilians in Tigray are continuing to starve and die of preventable disease, accusing Ethiopian authorities of engineering pitiful humanitarian outcomes by sustaining its blockade of Tigray. | Last Thursday, borkena signaled that the TPLF appears committed to a renewal of hostilities, reporting that it is mobilizing Tigrayans for novel fighting against Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. | Last Friday, the Amhara Regional State Security Council issued a statement indicating it is prepared to meet any novel TPLF attacks with force, portending renewed fighting in northern Ethiopia. | Last Saturday, Amharan authorities issued a report commissioned from local universities and researchers tallying ~7.000 civilian fatalities as a result of the TPLF’s partial occupation of Amhara between June and December of 2021. | Last Sunday, the first 40 of several hundred Ethiopian peacekeepers, fearful of returning home after the end of their deployment to South Sudan due to their Tigrayan origins, began arriving in Sudan where they hope to obtain asylum. |
This Monday, Reuters issued a report suggesting that the TPLF may be engaging in forced conscription to sustain its armed effort against the Ethiopian government. This Tuesday, Eritrean authorities accused the TPLF of planning to attack Eritrean soil as well as parts of Western Tigray currently occupied by Amharan militia and Ethiopian forces. | This Wednesday, 12 civil society organizations from across Africa wrote an open letter to the UN pleading that it not repeat its errors in 1994 Rwanda and act on warnings signs of further conflict and genocide before Ethiopia spirals into further conflict (see the full letter here). On the same day, Voice of America highlighted the dire state of education amid conflict in northern Ethiopia, as ~1.39 million children stand to miss on a third year of schooling if conflict flares up again.
Conflict and displacement in East Africa and the Sahel
Last Monday, 14 civilians and 1 soldier were killed in an attack against the Loda IDP camp in northeastern DRC’s Ituri Province. |
This Monday, the Guardian revealed that, in the weeks following the announcement of the UK-Rwanda refugee relocation deal, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has begun suggesting the deal gives him new leverage to demand the extradition of suspected 1994 génocidaires living in the UK.
Displacement and agricultural livelihoods in the Sahel
Last Tuesday, HumAngle relayed the difficulties faced by civilians in northern Burkina Faso, where deliberate attacks on hydraulic infrastructure—including the deliberate poisoning of 32 water treatment facilities—have left 300.000 civilians with access to only 3 liters of water per day. | Last Sunday, the ICRC announced it had distributed seeds and cash assistance to facilitate land and equipment rentals to 24.000 farmers displaced from Borno State in northeastern Nigeria.
Sources: BBC, IANS, Addis Standard, HumAngle, borkena, Bloomberg, Africanews, Reuters, the Guardian, VOA, the EastAfrican.
Middle East and North Africa
Syria’s civil war
Last Tuesday, an international donor conference raised $6.5 billion in humanitarian funding to support at-need Syrians within Syria, as well as Syrian refugees, over the next 2 years. | Last Sunday, ICRC President Peter Maurer bitterly complained about Western states’ indifference as to their own nationals held in detention in the al-Hol containment camp in northeastern Syria, where deprivation and radicalization both fester as Kurdish militias bear an outsized burden, both detaining militants of the Islamic State and sustaining their families. |
This Tuesday, the WFP issued a $10.1 million appeal to sustain its food distribution and cash assistance to ~72.000 Syrian refugees encamped in Iraqi Kurdistan, part of the ~260.000 Syrian refugees living in Iraq.
Yemen’s civil war
Last Wednesday, donors pledged the first $33 million of $144 million needed to salvage the 1.1 million barrels of oil held in the decaying FSO Safer off the coast of western Yemen. | Last Thursday, Yemeni officials announced that northern Yemen residents holding Ansar Allah-issued passports would be allowed to travel abroad through Sana’a International Airport, blockaded since the beginning of the war and re-opened in April as part of a Ramadan truce—until disputes over the travel rights of AA-issued passports were called into question. | Last Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s internationally-recognized government granted permission for 2 fuel ships to dock in Hodeidah, as the Ramadan ceasefire continues holding and delivering results, however slowly, for the Yemeni people. |
This Monday, the first commercial flight in 6 years departed from Sana’ a airport, with passengers holding dated Ansar Allah-issued passports to be issued new passports by Yemeni consular agencies upon the flight’s arrival in Amman. This Wednesday, Ansar Allah announced it was considering a possible extension of the ongoing truce with the Saudi-led coalition, beyond its 2 months of current operation.
Asylum seeker (im)mobility in North Africa, migrant labor abuse in the Gulf
Last Thursday, Algerian authorities condemned to death an army deserter and whistleblower who had been denied asylum by French and Spanish authorities, and deported from Spain to Algeria in late March. | Last Friday, Moroccan police detained 22 asylum seekers and arrested 7 suspected smugglers in Laayoune as they prepared to embark on an irregular crossing toward the Canary Islands. |
This Thursday, a global coalition of human rights groups called on FIFA to set aside $440 million—equivalent to the minimum prize awarded to each World Cup participating country—to compensate migrant workers abused in stadium construction and tourism services leading up to the 2022 World Cup (see the coalition’s full letter here).
Sources: ANSA, the Washington Post, WFP, UN News, Reuters, IANS, AFP, the New Arab, Público, Morocco World News, the Guardian.
Maritime Migration Routes to the West
Last Tuesday, Salvamento Marítimo rescued 59 asylum seekers from a distressed vessel in waters east of Lanzarote, one day after rescuing 13 asylum seekers and tallying 28 missing people from a vessel that sank ~120 kilometers south of Gran Canaria. | Last Wednesday, Salvamento Marítimo rescued another 223 asylum seekers, followed by another 318 on Thursday. | Last Sunday, Salvamento Marítimo rescued 114 asylum seekers from 4 vessels off the coasts of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. On the same day, the Moroccan Cost Guard rescued 46 asylum seekers, recovered 2 lifeless bodies, and tallied 11 missing persons from a shipwreck off the southern Moroccan coastal city of TanTan. |
This Tuesday, Spanish authorities tallied just under 1.000 irregular arrivals to the Canary Islands in the last 2 weeks alone. | This Wednesday, Salvamento Marítimo rescued 104 asylum seekers from 2 inflatable dinghies in waters 94 and 245 kilometers south of Gran Canaria.
Central and western Mediterranean
Last Wednesday, Tunisian authorities announced they had intercepted 248 asylum seekers, and retrieved 3 lifeless bodies, from 10 vessels trying to reach European waters. | Last Thursday, the GeoBarents (MSF) announced it had rescued 470 asylum seekers in multiple operations over the previous 3 days, mainly in the Maltese search-and-rescue zone. | Last Friday, Libya’s Coast Guard announced it had intercepted 673 asylum seekers from 3 vessels off of the Libyan coast. | Last Saturday, the Tunisian Coast Guard rescued 81 asylum seekers from a damaged boat taking on water 6 kilometers off of Tunisia’s northern Coast. | Last Sunday, the Sea-Eye disembarked 58 asylum seekers—34 of whom it had picked up after a cargo ship had rescued them in the week, and another 24 of whom it had rescued on Thursday—in Pozzallo. |
This Monday, the Italian Coast Guard rescued 500 asylum seekers pursuant to a distress call relayed by Alarm Phone. On the same day, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted a rubber dinghy carrying 41 asylum seekers toward European shores, returning them to Libya. | This Wednesday, Spanish authorities intercepted 40 asylum seekers sailing toward the Balearic Islands in 3 vessels. On the same day, the Astral (Open Arms) rescued 115 asylum seekers from 2 vessels, transferring all to Italian Coast Guard ships. Also this Wednesday, the Ocean Viking (SOS Méditerranée) rescued 158 asylum seekers from 2 inflatable dinghies in waters off the coast of Libya.
Gulf of Mexico
Last Tuesday, U.S. authorities tallied 58 irregular arrivals to the Florida Keys in 6 separate autonomous landings. | Last Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a vessel carrying 207 Haitian asylum seekers in waters south of the Turks and Caicos, returning them summarily to Haiti. | Last Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued 31 asylum seekers, and tallied 11 fatalities, from a boat that capsized in waters off of western Puerto Rico. |
This Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard called off its search-and-rescue efforts west of Puerto Rico, having rescued 38 shipwrecked asylum seekers in total. | This Tuesday, 28 Cuban asylum seekers arrived autonomously in 2 vessels to the Florida Keys, where they were promptly apprehended for likely repatriation. On the same day the U.S. Coast Guard repatriated to Cuba 55 asylum seekers intercepted at sea from 6 vessels between May 9 and 14.
Last Saturday, the Greek Coast Guard rescued 20 Syrian asylum seekers from a distressed vessel in waters west of Rhodes. | Last Sunday, a group of 62 asylum seekers became stranded off the coast of Kithira, as the boat in which they were trying to sail irregularly to Italy suffered engine failure off the coast of Greece’s southern Peloponnese peninsula.
The English Channel
Last Sunday, the Ministry of Defence announced that 436 asylum seekers had reached UK soil on Sunday, on the heels of another 167 arrivals on Saturday.
Sources: InfoMigrants, EFE, Morocco World News, AFP, Alarm Phone, LCNA, Majorca Daily Bulletin, the Miami Herald, CBS Miami, the Guardian, Reuters, ekathimerini, Aegean Boat Report, BBC.
Displacement within and beyond Ukraine
Last Wednesday, UNHCR tallied that just under 6.030.000 refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded in late February, roughly 90% of them comprised of women and children. | Last Thursday, the European Commission disclosed that, as of May 8, ~2.7 million displaced Ukrainians have registered for temporary protection in EU states, with the remainder either hesitating to register due to imperfect information regarding proceedings, or because they intend to return—as 1.6 million Ukrainians already have. | Last Saturday, an evacuation convoy of 500-1.000 cars reached Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol, in the largest humanitarian evacuation since the Russian siege of the port city began in March. | Last Sunday, local authorities tallied 2.000 refugee returns to Kharkiv, as UNHCR figures tally just under 1.7 million border crossings into Ukraine since February 28, though it remains unclear how many of these represent permanent returns. |
This Monday, ~260 Ukrainian soldiers were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant, where they had held out as Russian forces gained control over the rest of Mariupol, with 53 relocating to hospital in Novoazovsk and another 200+ to Olenivka—both Russian-held Ukrainian towns. | On Wednesday, Russian authorities announced that 959 soldiers had surrendered in total from the Azovstal Steel plant, 51 of whom were being treated in hospital while the remainder were being held in detention, as Ukrainian and Russian authorities issued conflicting messages as to whether or not they would be returned to government-controlled parts of Ukraine under a prisoner exchange or held indefinitely in Russian custody. On the same day, UN Secretary General António Guterres lamented that the global food crisis provoked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine could last for years if left unaddressed, as the World Bank announced $12 billion in novel funding for agro-production boosting, trade promotion, and household support, on top of $18 billion already committed to these ends.
Med5 migration (mis)management
Last Wednesday, a fire broke out at the Pournara asylum seeker reception center in Cyprus, injuring 6 residents. | Last Thursday, Greece’s National Transparency Agency released the findings of its investigation on border control practices—which according to an April 29 press release had found no evidence of pushbacks—but was forced to withdraw the report just one day later when it became clear that poor anonymization had exposed the identities of numerous informants. On the same day, Italy’s Fondazione Leone Moressa issued a report tallying a 12.2% increase in remittances from Italy to migrant worker countries of origin, with the largest outflows reaching Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines. |
This Monday, the Puglia branch of Coldiretti, Italy’s farmers association, called for the urgent acceleration in visa issuance for seasonal agricultural workers, warning that harvests could be lost if migrant workers were not invited to help collect them. On the same day, Italian authorities signed an MoU with the national builders association and sector-specific labor unions to train 3.000 refugees in construction work, with the aim of enabling to support their own livelihoods. Also this Monday, a group of 15 Turkish asylum seekers denounced that they had been brutalized and pushed back by Greek border guards in recent weeks at the Evros river, leading to their immediate apprehension by Turkish authorities. | This Wednesday, 2 asylum seekers went on trial in Samos accused of facilitating illegal entry and endangering lives, after the dinghy in which they tried to reach Europe capsized in November 2020, with the pilot and the father of a deceased child facing up to a decade’s imprisonment if found guilty. On the same day, residents of the €43 million asylum seeker containment center in Samos endured their 12th consecutive day without running water, as a broken pump and authorities’ generalized indifference in its repair have left residents with access to roughly 1 hour of running water per day, only partly compensated by bottled water distributions. Also this Wednesday, the two asylum seekers on trial in Samos were released, one acquitted of all charges and the other handed a 17-month suspended sentence.
The Home Office, never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity
Last Friday, High Court Justice Robert Jay ruled in the case of E3 and N3, two UK nationals of Bangladeshi origins who had been wrongfully stripped of their citizenship, finding that their daughter ZA, born during period of anomalous statelessness, had not been born a UK national and would thus need to apply for citizenship. | Last Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the first 50 asylum seekers to be relocated to Rwanda would be departing within the fortnight, claiming that his government was ready for any legal challenges that might stand in the way. On the same day, the Observer signaled that thousands of hosts registered with the Homes for Ukraine scheme have not yet completed background checks, revealing yet another dire safeguarding gap as visa issuances exceed 100.000 and arrivals near 50.000. | Last Sunday, the Home Office leaked its intention to commission an inquiry into the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, an independent body set up in the aftermath of the Windrush scandal, which recently called for an investigation of its own into the Home Office’s refugee relocation deal with Rwanda. On the same day, the Independent revealed that the Home Office’s habitual pursuit of legal challenges to their fullest extent even in cases where civil servants advise settlement, have cost British taxpayers dearly, as legal bills for lost cases have doubled from £17.1 to £35.2 million, and restitutive payments quadrupled from £2.1 to £9.3 million, over the last 5 years. |
This Thursday, Rwandan officials announced they expect to receive the first group of 50 refugees relocated from the UK by the end of May.
Sources: al Jazeera, euobserver, Reuters, UPI, InfoMigrants, the Guardian, Politico, ANSA, Stockholm Center for Freedom, Middle East Eye, the Telegraph, the Independent.
U.S. migration policymaking
Last Wednesday, Border Report relayed the unusual arrival in the week prior of ~3.500 Haitian asylum seekers to Nuevo Laredo—a border city whose high crime rate makes it unattractive to asylum seekers—in the apparent expectation that Title 42 would soon be lifted, and the subsequent departure of ~1.400 from the group in the hopes of finding work in Monterrey. | Last Friday, 20 suing states argued in Federal Court to have the forthcoming repeal of Title 42 reversed, pleading that the CDC had not met standard notice-and-comment requirements before announcing it would rescind the policy, with the court committing to issue a ruling by the May 23 termination date. |
This Tuesday, U.S. authorities repatriated 132 rejected asylum seekers to Guatemala, inviting press, in an unusual move, to the tarmac as deportees were boarding their expulsion flight. | This Wednesday, U.S. authorities opened near Laredo the first of 8 new asylum seeker reception centers to be brought online along the U.S.-Mexico border, consolidating law enforcement, asylum officers, and other service providers for streamlined processing ahead of an increase in arrivals expected with the repeal of Title 42. | This Thursday, U.S. authorities announced they had administered COVID-19 vaccination to 20.000 asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border since late March.
Irregular migration in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean
Last Wednesday, Guatemalan authorities announced they had detained 17 Venezuelan asylum seekers shortly after their irregular entry into Guatemala. | Last Thursday, 120 asylum seekers staged a protest after being transported there from Tapachula to Oaxaca, under the pretense that their residency permits would be processed more quickly, and then told on arrival they would be contained for 20 days before issuance. | Last Sunday, Venezuelan human rights activist Yesenia Gonzalez denounced that authorities in Trinidad and Tobago were routinely undermining the rights of Venezuelan refugees, up to and including unlawfully repatriating individual refugees to Venezuela. |
This Wednesday, Panamanian Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes disclosed that irregular crossings into Panama have plummeted, from 2.800 per day a year ago to 180 per day today, attributing the decline to effective cross-border collaboration to dismantle smuggling organizations across Central America. On the same day, Mexican authorities found the lifeless bodies of 5 asylum seekers who appeared to have mistakenly boarded a southbound cargo train, taking them away from the U.S.-Mexico border, and then succumbed to heatstroke and dehydration. | Also this Wednesday, Honduras’ Foro Social de la Deuda Externa issued a report finding that 69% of Honduran asylum seekers repatriated from the U.S. or transit countries en route hope to emigrate again.
Sources: Border Report, the Arizona Republic, CBS News, AGN, EFE, Trinidad & Tobago Guardian, Bloomberg.
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