Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ethiopia hosts nearly 400,000 South Sudanese refugees: UN - Sudan Tribune


Wrist-banding of newly-arrived south Sudanese refugees at the Pagak entry point, Gambella. On 4 November 2016 (UNHCR Ethiopia-Photo)

August 19, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) – The number of South Sudanese refugees living in Ethiopia as of 31 July 2017 was 382,322, a United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) official disclosed on Friday.

“The total number of arrivals since January 1 is 36,939, bringing the total number since the onset of the emergency in September 2016 to over 90,000,” Diana Diaz, UNHCR’s Associate External Relations and Reporting Officer told Anadolu.

She further added that an average of 175 persons arrive in Ethiopia daily.

65% of the total registered new arrivals since September 2016 are children, including 19,848 unaccompanied and separated children, said Diaz.

South Sudan has experienced a civil war since a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, escalated in December 2013. Tens of thousands of people have reportedly been killed and over 2 million displaced in less than five years.

A peace deal brokered by the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in August 2015, collapsed when fresh violence broke out in the South Sudanese capital, forcing Machar to flee into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He currently lives in South Africa.


Meanwhile, UNHCR said Thursday that the numbers of South Sudanese refugees currently living in Uganda exceeded one million, amid calls for urgent additional support.

Majority of the refugees, the agency said, are women and children.

“Over the past 12 months, averages of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day,” UNHCR said in a statement.

“In addition to the million there, a million or even more South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic,” it added.

According to the UN agency, however, over 85% of the refugees who have arrived in Uganda are women and children below 18 years.

“Recent arrivals continue to speak of barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls, and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription,” said UNHCR.

As of refugees arrive, it said, aid delivery is increasingly falling short.

The UN agency underscored that although $674 million is needed for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda this year, so far only a fifth of this amount, or 21%, has so far been received. But although a total of $883.5 million is needed for the South Sudan situation, only $250 million has reportedly been received.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Italy launches investigation on Eritrean priest who helps thousands of migrants cross the Mediterranean

(YouTube/Crans Montana Forum)Fr. Mussie Zerai appears in a screen capture of a video from Crans Montana Forum.

An Eritrean priest who was once nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for helping migrants cross the Mediterranean is now being investigated in Italy for aiding illegal immigration.
Fr. Mussie Zerai, who has been hailed for saving thousands of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean, is currently under investigation in Italy for allegedly aiding illegal immigration by illegally sending information about boats and landings to NGO rescue ships.
"I received a letter from the Trapani public prosecutor's office on Monday informing me of the investigation," Zerai told Agence France-Presse (AFP), insisting that he was innocent.
The priest admitted in a statement that he had passed on details of desperate migrant ships to NGOs and rescue authorities, but he maintained that his "interventions are aimed at saving human lives."
"I can assert myself that I have nothing to hide and that I have always acted in the light and in full legality," Zerai said in a statement released on Tuesday.
"Apart from the Trapani initiative, which I have already informed my lawyer so that I can see and possibly contradict it, I have not been called to any other venue to justify or in any way respond to my work in favour of refugees and migrants," he added.
According to AFP, Zerai would transmit coordinates of migrant boats to the Italian coast guard, but sometimes, he also sends out the information to privately-run rescue ships known to be in the vicinity.
His name somehow ended up in an investigation launched by Trapani prosecutors into illegal immigration which focuses mostly on the roles played in migrant rescues by privately-funded NGOs.
Zerai became known as a one-man emergency hotline for refugees after he gave his number to a journalist in 2003 to help him translate stories of Eritreans in a detention center in Libya.
The number soon spread, and it became a crisis support line for migrants who try to contact the priest from inside trucks in the Sahara desert.
The priest became a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 amid the worsening migration crisis. That same year, he was able to meet with Pope Francis, who was also nominated for the Nobel for his work on social justice and the environment.
During their meeting at a conference on human trafficking, they discussed the harrowing survivor stories that they had both heard on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. "He told me - have courage father, keep going,'" Zerai recalled.
According to UNHCR, about 5,000 Eritreans have entered Europe illegally by crossing the Mediterranean in 2017 alone, with the total of "sea arrivals" landing in Italy and Greece this year, reaching 117,000.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Up to 50 Immigrants from Somalia and Ethiopia deliberately Drowned by Smugglers off Yemen - UN

"Up to 50 Immigrants from Somalia and Ethiopia deliberately Drowned by Smugglers off Yemen - UN 0 Wednesday, August 09, 2017 - 23:49:24 in Latest News by Super Admin Visits: 132(Rating 0.0/5 Stars) Total Votes: 0 0 0 Share A boat full of migrants. ADEN – Early Wednesday morning, a human smuggler, in charge of the boat, forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the pitching sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea. The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen. Shortly after the tragedy, staff from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, during a routine patrol. The dead had been buried rapidly by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions. IOM is working closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure appropriate care for the deceased migrants’ remains. IOM’s medical staff also provided urgent care to the 27 surviving migrants, both females and males, who had remained on the beach. IOM provided initial health checks and assistance, including food, water and other emergency relief. Some of the survivors had already left the beach before being assisted. 22 migrants are reportedly still missing and unaccounted for. The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16. "The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea, when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast," explained Laurent de Boeck, the IOM Yemen Chief of Mission. "They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous. Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future," continued de Boeck. Since January 2017 to date, IOM estimates that around 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen, most with the aim of trying to find better opportunities in the Gulf countries. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under the age of 18 from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female. This journey is especially hazardous during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean. Smugglers are active in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, offering fake promises to vulnerable migrants. IOM and its partners operate across the region to support these migrants and provide life-saving assistance to those who find themselves abused or stranded along the route.  "

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