Executive Summary for February 5th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including deportation letters sent to African migrants in Israel, aid groups warning against forced returns to Syria and U.N. rights chief seeing potential for regional conflict in Rohingya crisis.

Published on Feb. 5, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

African Migrants in Israel Sent Deportation Letters

Thousands of African migrants in Israel have received deportation notices. In letters delivered on Sunday they have been given 60 days to leave.

Some 38,000 people, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, have been given the choice of $3,500 and a plane ticket to an African country or indefinite jail.

The deportations have been strongly opposed by civil society in Israel, with petitions opposing them from doctors, rabbis, pilots, retired diplomats and professors among others. Many of them argue that the expulsions contravene Israel’s special obligation to refugees in the wake of the Holocaust.

“As a country founded by refugees,” said a letter signed by 850 Jewish clergy and delivered to Israeli embassies and consulates in the U.S. and Canada, “and whose early leaders helped craft the 1951 International Convention on the Status of Refugees, Israel must not deport those seeking asylum within its borders.”

Those who do decide to take the money before the April 1 deadline are expected to be flown to Rwanda. Rwanda has denied having a secret deal but migrants who have agreed to leave have mainly been sent there.

Rwanda, which is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, insists that it has an open door policy but only for those who come voluntarily.

Israeli officials have said in recent days that the policy applies only to single African men who had not filed an asylum claim before January 1 this year.

Aid Groups Warn Against Forced Returns to Syria

Displacement in Syria is outstripping refugee returns by a three to one ratio, a new report says. Aid groups have warned against large numbers of Syrian refugees being pressured into returning home prematurely.

The Norwegian Refugee Council and other international aid groups said they fear Syrians are coming under pressure to return before conditions are safe.

The U.N. is quoted in the aid groups’ report as saying that an additional 1.5 million Syrians will likely be displaced in 2018.

Daniel Gorevan, from the NRC, said an “anti-refugee backlash” in the region and in the West has translated into closed borders and few resettlement options.

After seven years at war, some 5.5 million Syrians have fled the country, the majority of them to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Millions more Syrians have fled their homes but remain inside the country.

U.N. Rights Chief Says Rohingya Abuses Have Potential to Spark Regional Conflict

Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya could cause regional conflict, the U.N human rights chief warned. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein made the remarks on a trip to Indonesia.

The outgoing rights chief reiterated that acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing may have occurred in Myanmar, targeting the Muslim minority.

“Myanmar faces a very serious crisis with a potentially severe impact on the security of the region,” Zeid said. “It is sometimes said that today’s human rights violations will become tomorrow’s conflicts.”

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