Unimaginable Brutality Displacing Millions in Lake Chad Basin
Boko Haram’s “almost unimaginable” brutality has forced 2.8 million people to flee their homes. United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said the “most heinous, barbaric and unconscionable” violence had further destabilized the Lake Chad Basin that straddles four countries: Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The crisis, which has compounded widespread poverty and climate change in the lake basin, leaves 9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Among them, O’Brien said, are 1.7 million displaced children who are at risk of abduction and recruitment by Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist militia.
“From January to June 2016, more than 50 children have been coerced to carry out suicide bombings across the four countries,” O’Brien told the Associated Press on July 27.
Pope Pleads for Polish Compassion for Refugees
Pope Francis began his first tour of eastern Europe in Poland by calling for more refugees to be welcomed there.
The pontiff said the “world is at war,” but that it was not a conflict of religions – and that “courage” and “compassion” must be shown in receiving those fleeing the violence.
Poland’s conservative government has been outspoken in its opposition to receiving Muslim refugees, whom they fear will dilute the Catholic identity of the country.
Pope Francis called instead for “a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger.”
Speaking in Krakow, with the Polish president Andrzej Duda in the audience, Francis urged Polish authorities “to overcome fear” and show wisdom and compassion in dealing with migrants.
The spiritual leader of the world’s Catholics has taken a strong stance in support of Syrian refugees, hosting a dozen of them at the Vatican after a trip to the Greek island of Lesvos (Lesbos) earlier this year.
Migrants on Serbia-Hungary Border on Hunger Strike
Dozens of migrants camped on Serbia’s border with Hungary have launched a hunger strike.
Roughly 150 men and boys, mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, say they have begun to refuse food in protest at not being allowed to enter the European Union.
“The situation is turning from bad to worse,” one of the protest leaders – Roohul Amin Afridi, 33, from Afghanistan – told the Associated Press. “We have been on hunger strike for the past four days.”
Hungary, an E.U. member, is letting in no more than 30 migrants a day under new restrictions. Some 600 migrants have set up a tented camp near the border in Horgos, Serbia, according to aid agencies.
A senior Hungarian official dismissed the hunger strike as “staged performances” designed to put pressure on the authorities and draw media attention.
- Reuters Investigates: The Migration Machine
- The Guardian: From the Cold War to Syria: Seven Decades of Refugee Stories in Britain
- UNHCR: Why I Call Dadaab Home
- Kathimerini: Tsipras: Greece to School Migrant Children From September
- The Guardian: U.S. and Mexico’s Mass Deportations Have Fueled Humanitarian Crisis, Report Says