Executive Summary for February 16th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including an Israeli ruling that could enable more Eritreans to receive refugee status, a deadly truck crash in Libya and the U.N. human rights office warning the U.S. over deportation of activists.

Published on Feb. 16, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

More Eritreans in Israel Could Get Refugee Status After New Ruling

An Israeli immigration tribunal ruled that an Eritrean man who deserted the military may have grounds for refugee status, in a case that could affect thousands of Eritreans in the country.

“There is a well-founded fear of persecution due to a political opinion attributed to him by the authorities of his home country as a result of his desertion from military service,” the tribunal found.

Around 40,000 African migrants have been told to leave Israel or face jail after April 1. Israel has granted refugee status to only 11 asylum seekers.

Thousands of claims based on forced conscription and the repressive regime in Eritrea have been rejected. Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority had said that desertion from the military did not automatically qualify someone for refugee status.

“We are regretful that through all these years this case was left hanging in the air, thousands of similar asylum requests of deserters from the Eritrean military were rejected,” said Anat Ben-Dor, one of the lawyers on the case. “We now expect the Population and Immigration Authority to reconsider those requests of all those rejected on the basis of its opinion.”

Deadly Truck Crash Near Libya Smuggling Hub

At least 19 migrants and refugees were killed in a truck crash near a key smuggling hub in Libya. The vehicle was crammed with around 250 people, witnesses said.

Dozens fled the scene, but 124 Somalis and Eritreans were taken to hospital, including women and children. The hospital in Bani Walid was overwhelmed by the casualties, with 78 injured and at least eight in a serious condition.

Bani Walid is a thoroughfare for smugglers transporting refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to the Libyan coast. Many are held in dire conditions in the country.

The United Nations refugee agency said this week it had evacuated more than 1,000 refugees from Libya since November, most of them to Niger where they are waiting for resettlement elsewhere.

U.N. Human Rights Office Urges U.S. Against Crackdown on Activists

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the United States not to use deportation as a way of retaliating against migrants’ rights activists.

In a statement, the U.N. office said the recent order to Mexican activist Maru Mora Villalpando, who has been in the U.S. since 1996, to appear in immigration court appeared to be linked to her political work.

“Giving people notice of deportation proceedings appears to be a part of an increasing pattern of intimidation and retaliation against people defending migrants’ rights in the U.S.,” the statement said. “People working legitimately to protect migrants’ rights must not be restricted or silenced. Their rights must be upheld so they can continue to exercise their vital role.”

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