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Executive Summary for October 24th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Save the Children’s suspension of Mediterranean rescues, the success of anti-immigration parties in the Czech election and protests in Myanmar’s Rakhine state against the return of Rohingya refugees.

Published on Oct. 24, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Save the Children Ship Suspends Rescues; Searched by Police

Save the Children suspended Mediterranean rescue operations after the number of boats from Libya dropped sharply and it became more dangerous for NGO boats to operate in the area.

The charity’s rescue ship, Vos Hestia, has rescued more than 10,000 people sailing from North Africa to Europe since last September. But Save the Children’s director in Italy, Valerio Neri, had decided to stop operations due to the “changing security and effectiveness” of sea rescues.

Several other charities have pulled their boats from the Central Mediterranean in recent months, citing security concerns after confrontations between NGO boats and the E.U.-supported Libyan coastguard.

Italian police searched Vos Hestia and seized documents onboard on October 23 as part of an investigation into NGO rescue operations in Sicily. Save the Children said the charity was not under investigation and the search “relates to alleged illicit conduct committed by third parties.” The decision to suspend rescues predates the police search, Neri said.

Italian intelligence services had infiltrated the crew of Vos Hestia, court records show. A three-person private security team reported to the Sicilian prosecutor, Italian intelligence services and Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right Northern League. The security company, IMI, was also linked by investigative journalist Andrea Palladino to the far-right activist group Defend Europe.

Far-Right May Join Czech Coalition After Election

After elections in the Czech Republic, populist billionaire Andrej Babis will be the next prime minister and is likely to form a government coalition with the far-right.

Babis’s new anti-immigration, anti-corruption party ANO won around 30 percent of the vote, with three other parties taking around 10-11 percent each – including the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD). But the other two parties have already ruled themselves out of a coalition with ANO.

The SPD campaigned on anti-foreigner sentiment despite relatively little immigration to the Czech Republic. Its leader Tomio Okamura previously called on Czechs to walk dogs and pigs near mosques in Muslim neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban said Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic could unite to stop mass migration, and hailed Central Europe as the last “migrant-free zone” on the European continent.

Protests in Myanmar Against Return of Rohingya Refugees

Hundreds of people rallied in the capital of Myanmar’s Rakhine state urging the government not to allow Rohingya refugees to return.

The protesters, including monks and civilians, marched from a Buddhist shrine through the city of Sittwe, some holding signs calling Rohingya “Bengali terrorists.” The organizers, including the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development party, said protests were held in several other townships in Rakhine, the Financial Times reported.

Almost 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since last August to escape a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine. Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi claims many will be able to return under a deal being discussed with Bangladesh, but details are murky and the repatriation plan is not supported by Myanmar’s military.

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