Displaying items by tag: Refugees
On 27 March security forces killed over fifty protesters who defied a warning that they could be shot ‘in the head and back’ if they came out while the country's generals celebrated Armed Forces Day. ‘Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,’ said Dr Sasa, a spokesman for the anti-junta group of deposed lawmakers. Local media reported that around 3,000 people from Karen state have left the country and crossed the border into Thailand to escape the violence. Airstrikes that sent villagers fleeing into the jungle show the Myanmar situation is ‘much worse’, a humanitarian worker said. At least 114 people were killed by security forces on 29 March, including a five-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl. Despite the bloodshed, protesters returned to the streets. Citizens are living amid increasing violence. People are being beaten and shot; now they face multiple airstrikes. Myanmar has not had airstrikes there for over twenty years.
Home is a place where everyone can flourish: somewhere we can belong, feel safe, and grow. Millions of people, forced to flee their homes because of years of conflict, are having to raise their families in cramped conditions in refugee camps, lacking the basic essentials. Life is a struggle to survive. Pray for people like Tamam who used to live a quiet and comfortable life in Northern Syria, with her loving husband and children. Then IS occupied the area; no electricity or running water, crops and animals died. Her husband was killed, and they joined around 1 million Syrians living in makeshift settlements in the middle of a slum in Lebanon. Pray for the mission agencies bringing relief in dangerous situations, and for the network of churches attempting to support displaced people.
Bosnia is a transit country for migrants trying to get to the EU, but the border is currently closed. This has left thousands of migrants stranded like Salman and his brothers, sleeping rough in abandoned buildings, makeshift tents and even in old freight wagons. Winter temperatures are way below zero. Some of Salman’s fellow-travellers developed mental health problems on their journey from Pakistan to Bosnia. Middle-class families save thousands of euros to send their sons to Europe. They have been stranded for 18 months, with no way forward, no way back, crushed by the guilt of having failed their families back home. They have tried several times to cross the Bosnian-Croatian border, without success. The local authorities refuse to open a migrant camp in the region. NGOs have stepped in to offer them a place to get warm. Many are economic migrants from Pakistan or North Africa.
Recently, the situation in Hong Kong has changed dramatically. There is great fear that things are not going to settle down or be anywhere like they used to be. On 6 January, over 1,000 police officers raided 73 different locations across the city, arresting 53 politicians, pro-democracy leaders, human rights activists, and others. Chris Patten, Hong Kong's last governor, says that what is happening in the city is nothing short of China's brutal destruction of a free society. The government and the police use many different means to persecute pastors and others. Reports estimate that over 300,000 plan to flee Hong Kong in the coming months. Several pastors have already left, while others have gone underground. The UK will introduce a new visa at the end of January which will give 5.4 million Hong Kong residents the right to come and live in the UK, and eventually become citizens. See
In Cabo Delgado, most Internally Displaced People (IDPs) have lost access to their basic livelihoods due to years of conflict. Neighbouring areas that were previously classified as ‘stressed’ now face ‘crisis’ situations due to a rapid increase in IDPs. Conflict and even more IDPs has made many areas inaccessible for those distributing humanitarian aid. They are in ‘crisis’ situations. Some of the most affected families who have lost their homes and livelihoods face difficulty escaping to safe areas, and will face even worsening famine. Families in drought areas are consuming wild foods due to low income and exhausted food stocks. Unfortunately, poorly distributed rainfall through December limited planting in southern Mozambique. Please pray that food security will begin to improve in April 2021 with the start of the harvest. Pray also for the poorest households recovering from Cyclone Idai but contending with worsening economic shock due to Covid-19.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are approximately 19,600 migrants and refugees on the Aegean islands as of 8 November. A series of large blazes destroyed Greece's largest migrant camp, Moria on the island of Lesbos, back in September. The Greek authorities said that the fires were deliberately started by the camp's residents. Officials on Samos reported a similar fire at a migrant camp on 2 November, the second blaze to hit such a facility over the last ten days. The cause of this fire has not yet been determined, and the number of migrant tents destroyed by the blaze is not yet known.
Documents seen by the Guardian newspaper suggest the Government has been working on detailed proposals to build asylum detention camps on two south Atlantic islands, and also in Moldova, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea. These proposals might go further than Australia’s hard-line system, based on migrants ‘being intercepted outside Australian waters’, allowing Australia to claim no immigration obligations to them. The Financial Times reported that the home secretary has asked officials to consider processing asylum seekers at Ascension and St Helena. Home Office sources distanced Priti Patel from the proposals, and Downing Street has also played down the story.
From Morocco to Iraq there are various forms of lockdowns, strains on hospitals, food shortages, even martial law. These strains put more pressure on already-stressed communities. The potential spread of the disease among refugees and displaced populations could be catastrophic. Many are persecuted believers with no financial safety net and poor medical infrastructures. For war-torn Syria, the pandemic has taken the situation from bad to worse. ‘We are free from the armed militia in Aleppo, but prices here are soaring’, said Kareem, ‘We have all signed up to receive bread from the government, and the needs are overwhelming.’ In Turkey, many are Iranian converts from Islam who fled Iran after being imprisoned or tortured for their faith. Turkish locals now blame them for the spread of coronavirus. The government has cut off all assistance, and many Christians have lost their employment. The Bible advises to go to the Lord with trials and problems; this virus is a serious problem.
There are 9.5 million more internally displaced persons (IDPs) than last year. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) works alongside refugees who have historically fallen through the cracks of support and been ignored by their own governments. The new coronavirus challenges could result in the needs of IDPs receding further into the background, according to the JRS in Iraq. In Afghanistan there are 55,000 IDPs in over fifty informal settlements in Kabul, now fearing evacuation and the loss of daily wage jobs and whatever assets they have secured prior to the pandemic. JRS accompanies, serves, and defends IDPs in fourteen countries through education, psycho-social support, peacebuilding, pastoral activities, training in modern agricultural techniques, plus mediation to settle land disputes and other conflicts. This is part of a three-year campaign to draw attention to the current limits and challenges and call for long term solutions. See
Refugee-led organisations play important but neglected roles in providing protection and assistance to other refugees and host communities. Now they are on the front line of the COVID-19 response in camps and cities around the world as other organisations withdraw. Refugees distribute food and non-food items, provide information, serve as community health workers, take part in tracking and monitoring, and influence behavioural norms. As formal humanitarian governance struggles to respond to the direct and indirect consequences of the coronavirus in both camps and urban areas, their work is more vital than ever. In Arua, a bustling town now surrounded by three refugee camps, urban refugees also face severe food shortages. The restrictions on movement have not only affected their livelihoods but their ability to go back to the refugee camps where they are registered to receive the monthly food rations on which they depend.