Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mediterranean death toll reaches 2,000

Spain recovers 17 bodies, bringing Mediterranean death toll to 2,000. Spain’s maritime rescue service says it rescued 80 people and recovered 13 dead bodies from two boats in the Alboran Sea on Monday. In a separate incident, the Spanish Civil Guard said it found four bodies and 22 survivors after a wooden boat hit a reef in the Strait of Gibraltar. The number of lives lost in the Mediterranean this year has now surpassed 2,000, according to UNHCR, which said the rate of deaths has escalated sharply, even as total numbers of asylum-seekers and migrants arriving by sea have fallen to around 105,000 – a return to pre-2014 levels. The largest proportion of deaths have been reported in the Central Mediterranean, where search-and-rescue capacity has been significantly reduced by restrictions on NGO vessels.
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Thousands trapped by Al-Hudaydah fighting. According to aid groups, thousands of civilians are trapped on the southern outskirts of the Red Sea port of Al-Hudaydah as fighting between coalition forces and Houthi insurgents reached populated areas 4 kilometers from the port and close to the city’s largest hospital on Monday. The hospital is the main center for cholera and diphtheria treatment on Yemen’s western coast. Officials told the Associated Press that a total of 580 people had been killed or wounded since the coalition launched an offensive four days ago, despite mounting calls for a ceasefire from Western countries. Isaac Ooko, an area manager for the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters that Al-Hudaydah had become a ghost city as intense air strikes kept people trapped indoors.


UNHCR urges Greece to address the crisis on islands. The UN Refugee Agency today called on Greek authorities to urgently improve conditions and reduce severe overcrowding at reception centers for asylum seekers on the islands of Samos and Lesvos. More than 6,500 people have been transferred from the islands to the mainland since August, but with arrivals still outpacing departures and winter approaching, UNHCR expressed concern that transfers have recently slowed. More than 4,400 people are currently living in and around Vathy reception center on Samos, nearly seven times its capacity while Moria on Lesvos is host to around 6,500 people, over three times its capacity.

The Nauru experience. The New York Times reports that at least 92 children have been moved from the small island nation of Nauru since August, but that 27 children remain there as a result of Australia’s policy of off-shore asylum processing, as well as hundreds of adults. Meanwhile, children and families sent to Australia for medical treatment are waiting to hear if they will be sent back to Nauru. A psychiatrist with Médecins Sans Frontières said many of the refugees had been clinging to the hope of resettlement to the United States and that a batch of rejections in May had plunged them into despair. UNHCR has called for the evacuation of all refugees and asylum-seekers from Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Belgians open homes and hearts to asylum-seekers. Thousands of Belgians are volunteering with an organization that provides food and housing to refugees and migrants sleeping rough in a Brussels park. The Citizen’s Platform for the Support of Refugees, started by Mehdi Kassou, a Belgian of Moroccan ancestry, is housing about 650 people a night, some of them in a building they have permission to use and the rest in volunteers’ homes. The New York Times spoke to volunteer Anne-Catherine de Neve and her husband, Yves Hallet. They and their three children feed and house four to six migrants a night, five or six nights a week.

Emma Manton

British actress Emma Manton is challenging people to run 26.2 miles during the month of January as an act of solidarity with the refugees making epic journeys around the world. Registration fees for the “virtual marathon” will go to supporting UNHCR’s work.


Over 17,600 refugees and migrants are currently living on the Aegean islands in Greece. The majority are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and 30 percent are children.  

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   | 6 November, 2018

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