North Africa
Libya detainee

Libya: militia accused of grave abuses against migrants

A report from Amnesty International finds that a militia funded and backed by Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Unity is responsible for a litany of crimes, including unlawful killings, torture, rape, forced labor, and the interception and return of migrants and refugees to the country’s notorious detention centers. Created by government decree in January 2021, the Stability Support Authority (SSA) is commanded by one of the most powerful militia leaders in Tripoli, Abdel Ghani al-Kikli AKA “Gheniwa.” who was appointed despite a well-documented history of crimes and other serious human rights violations committed by forces under his command. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)

Southeast Asia
detention

Malaysia: calls to end mass detention of refugees

Rights groups in Malaysia are calling for the release of thousands of detained refugees and asylum-seekers, after a deadly incident in the northern state of Penang. Six Rohingya refugees were struck by vehicles and killed when hundreds fled a detention center after breaking through barriers and attempted to escape across an adjacent highway. “There is no discernible reason as to why so many of them were cramped into a makeshift depot in the first place,” stated advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty. Malaysia has long been a destinationfor Rohingya fleeing persecution in Burma, but the government has cracked down on asylum-seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Hasnoor Hussain/TNH)

Afghanistan
Fort Lee

Afghan refugees lack path to citizenship: report

Some 36,400 Afghan refugees lack a clear path to US citizenship or permanent residency, according to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The report surveys the immigration status of more than 76,000 Afghan refugees now under the supervision of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), a DHS-coordinated program aimed at resettling Afghans within the United States. OAW, initiated last August, is the domestic counterpart to Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), the military effort to evacuate select Afghan citizens after their country fell to the Taliban that month. Those who worked with the US government or NATO in Afghanistan are eligible for Special Immigration Visas (SIVs), but their immediate and extended family members frequently are not. (Photo of evacuees arriving at Fort Lee, Va., via Homeland Security Today)

North America
Fort Bliss

SCOTUS hears cases on indefinite migrant detention

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two immigration cases that address the right of detained non-citizens to have a bond hearing after six months of detention. Both cases were brought by asylum-seekers who had been detained for extended periods without bond hearings following the issuance of a removal order. The cases re-examine the 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis, in which the Supreme Court ruled that pre-removal detention may not be extended beyond six months unless there is a realistic chance that the non-citizen could be removed. The US Constitution forbids imprisonment without due process of law and guarantees the right of habeas corpus. (Photo via Border Report)

North Africa
libya protest

Migrant protest camp broken up in Libya

More than 600 asylum-seekers and migrants were detained when Libyan security forces cleared a protest encampment in front of an aid center run by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in the capital city of Tripoli. The protesters—who were asking for protection, and evacuation from Libya—had been camped out since last October, when Libyan security forces violently rounded up more than 5,000 asylum-seekers and migrants, forcing them into notoriously grim detention centers. Before the raid on the protest camp, UNHCR permanently closed the center in Tripoli, leaving thousands without humanitarian assistance. The Norwegian Refugee Council said the most recent arrests were the “culmination of a disastrous situation,” and Médecins Sans Frontières called on the EU to “stop supporting…an unending system of detention, abuse, and violence in Libya.” The EU backs the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepted more than 32,000 asylum-seekers and migrants at sea last year, returning them to detention centers. (Photo: Kaka Fur via InfoMigrants)

Europe
syria-refugee-denmark

Denmark: ex-minister gets prison for family separation

The Danish Court of Impeachment, or Rigsretten, sentenced former immigration minister Inger Støjberg to 60 days in prison following a rare impeachment trial in which she was found to have ordered the illegal separation of married asylum-seeking partners while in office. The court determined that Støjberg’s actions were in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as general principles of Danish administrative law. (Photo: Joe Johansen/The New Humanitarian. Current immigration minister Matt Tesfaye is facing protest over his policy of detention and refoulement of asylum-seekers, and establishment of third-country “offshore asylum centers.”)

North America
border

Biden administration to restart ‘Remain in Mexico’

The US Department of Homeland Security announced that it will begin re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy forcing asylum-seekers to “Remain in Mexico” for the duration of their immigration proceedings. The announcement follows a Supreme Court order requiring re-implementation of the MPP over the objections of the Biden administration. The policy may, however, violate international law. The 1951 UN Convention & Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees requires states to grant refugees the right to seek asylum, to have free access to courts, and to be afforded movement within the country. It also prohibits expulsion (“refoulement”) to a country where their lives or freedom may be threatened. (Photo: WikiImages via Jurist)

Oceania
solomon islands

Solomon Islands uprising in the New Cold War

Australia has dispatched some 100 police and military troops to the Solomon Islands following days of rioting and looting in the capital Honiara. Calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign, protesters set the parliament building ablaze, and torched and looted shops, causing millions of dollars in damages. The looting centered on the city’s Chinatown, where three charred bodies have been found amid the ruins. Tensions between Guadalcanal and Malaita islanders have been enflamed by massive Chinese capital flows into the former island, while the latter remains comparatively impoverished. The two provincial governments are bitterly at odds over Sogavare’s recent decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic. (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

Europe
Moria

‘Absurd’ trial of Lesvos migrant helpers

The Greek trial of 24 aid volunteers accused of people-smuggling got off to a shambolic false start, with the case delayed as it was sent directly to a higher court due to jurisdictional disputes. The defendants were members of Emergency Response Center International (ECRI), an NGO that performed rescue activities in the Aegean Sea and provided humanitarian assistance to people in Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos between 2016 and 2018. Human rights groups say the accusations are part of a broader trend of governments across Europe criminalizing people providing humanitarian assistance to asylum-seekers and migrants. They have called on Greece to drop the charges, describing the case as “absurd.” (Photo: Robin Hammond/Witness Change via TNH)

Europe
poland border

Escalation on the EU’s eastern frontier

Tensions on the European Union’s eastern border escalated sharply as Polish border guards repulsed a wave of some 4,000 asylum seekers and migrants seeking to cross from Belarus. Poland has mobilized 15,000 soldiers to the region to prevent people from crossing, and Belarusian security forces are not allowing the migrants to turn back. The migrants are sleeping rough as temperatures plunge below freezing; a 14-year-old boy froze to death, becoming at least the eleventh person to have died attempting to cross the border. There are fears the situation could result in a military confrontation. (Photo: Visegrad24)

North Africa
libya

Crimes against humanity in Libya?

At least six people were killed and dozens more wounded by guards who opened fire at asylum seekers and migrants attempting to escape en masse from an overcrowded detention center in Tripoli. This came after Libyan authorities rounded up and detained at least 5,000 asylum seekers and migrants in the capital. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council said it believes “crimes against humanity” have been committed in Libya’s detention centers. So far this year, more than 26,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been intercepted by the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guard and returned to the centers, where they face a well-documented cycle of abuse. Despite human rights concerns, the EU executive body, the European Commission, is preparing to deliver new patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Central America
Darién

Danger grows on Darién Gap migrant route

The Darién Gap, a dangerous jungle route used by a growing number of migrants trying to reach the United States from South America, has become even deadlier, according to Panama’s Forensic Sciences Institute. It reports over 50 migrant deaths to date in 2021, although the figure is believed to be far higher. Towns on the Colombian side of the border are swelling with migrants waiting to cross the Gap—mostly Haitians, Cubans and Venezuelans, but some from as far as Afghanistan and Burkina Faso. Colombian authorities say 67,000 migrants have passed through the border zone so far this year, more than 15 times the number in 2020. Former paramilitaries operating in the area are now preying on the migrants, who face rape, armed violence and extortion. (Photo: David González/TNH)