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Boris Johnson is shutting the door on child refugees

In the name of strengthening its negotiating position after Brexit, the British government is removing internationally recognized protections for unaccompanied children who were once welcomed in the U.K.

Children warm themselves around a fire.

Children warm themselves around a fire in the refugee camp of Moria, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on Nov. 26, 2019. Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

It was May 2014 when 16-year-old Tedros fled Eritrea after becoming a military target for suspicion of smuggling. Giving his parents no notice of his departure, he slipped over the border into Ethiopia, and from there traversed Sudan, Libya, Italy, and France by himself until finally settling in Britain. Of the family of six he left behind, his youngest brother, Danni—both names are pseudonyms to protect their identities—would follow the same route four years later.

Now, after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government removed child refugee protections from the European Union withdrawal bill last month prior to Britain’s Jan. 31 departure from the EU, the brothers hope other young people like them will continue to have the same chance they did.

In the final stretch of his journey, Tedros recalled living on a river’s edge in Calais, France, among strangers, dependent on a charity that provided food each day. “There’s no protection there,” Tedros said of the camp, formerly referred to as the Jungle, where children and young adults were at risk of exploitation and trafficking. Both Tedros and Danni had stayed in the camp, though years apart, prior to forging a new home in Britain. “They are young … they are desperate to join family, they will take whatever chance they get,” Tedros said.

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Danni, he said, was desperate. Tedros contacted the British Red Cross to help him reunite with his brother, who was nearly 13 when he left for the same arduous journey. From there, Safe Passage, an international organization that provides aid to unaccompanied children, reunited the brothers under the Dublin III Regulation, established by the EU in 2013 to transfer asylum claims to Britain and other member states, guaranteeing unaccompanied child refugees the right to reunification with family members.There are currently an estimated over 4,000 unaccompanied minors in Lesbos, Greece, and a few hundred in northern France.

The brothers’ story is not unique. Since 2010, Britain has granted protection to over 12,000 unaccompanied minors. There are currently an estimated 4,000 unaccompanied minors in Lesbos, Greece, and a few hundred in northern France, many living on the outskirts of formal camps. In both 2015 and 2016, over 1 million people applied for asylum in Europe—the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

After three years of political instability during which Britain sought to withdraw from the European Union, calls for sweeping immigration reform to wrest control over Britain’s borders dominated the national narrative. In the week leading up to Brexit, Johnson’s government introduced plans for a new points-based system, a new global talent visa, and the removal of protective measures for refugee children as part of the EU withdrawal bill—even as the House of Lords voted to restore the refugee protections after Brexit.

READ  Climate refugees can’t be returned home, says landmark UN human rights ruling

Despite being enshrined in British and international law, and former Prime Minister Theresa May including the Dublin Regulation in her former Brexit bill, last week members of Parliament gave a final stamp of approval, voting 348 to 252 against the Lords’ amendment, ceasing to allow unaccompanied child refugees such as Danni to be reunited with family members in Britain after Brexit.

“It is bitterly disappointing,” said Alf Dubs, a Labour Party member of the House of Lords and an ardent defender of unaccompanied child refugees given his own experience being evacuated from Czechoslovakia as part of the Kindertransport—a British effort that welcomed 10,000 children over the course of nine months beginning in 1938. “What could be more humane than arguing for child refugees to be able to join relatives in this country?” Dubs wrote in an emailed statement.Britain’s Conservative Party has long been hostile toward migrants.

As members of Parliament declared that including the amendment in the EU withdrawal bill “weakened their negotiating flexibility,” making political pawns of young people who take life-risking measures to flee to safety, a Home Office minister assured the House of Lords that the amendment would be included in the immigration bill set to be introduced later this year during the 11-month transition period.

READ  European states too focused on preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores, give little on the humanitarian, human rights aspects--Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

But the compassion extended to child refugees 80 years ago has all but faded. Even as the government says it “intends to seek a family reunion agreement with the EU for separated children,” it simultaneously withdrew all legal obligations to do so and refrained from making similar commitments for adults. In 2018, Britain transferred 209 migrants out of the country under the Dublin Regulation, while accepting 1,215—a paltry figure when compared to Germany’s acceptance of 7,580 migrants that year.

Britain’s Conservative Party has long been hostile toward migrants. But at a moment when Britain claims to be reclaiming its sovereignty and hails Brexit as a “moment of real national renewal,” the government is backtracking rather than making progress when it comes to protecting basic human rights and international obligations upheld by national and international humanitarian and refugee laws under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Source: FP

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Human trafficking: PJI  urges proper trauma management for returnees

The Pathfinder Justice Initiative (PJI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has called for proper trauma care for migrant returnees to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to subsequent trafficking.

Evon Benson-Idahosa, the Executive Director, PJI, made the call at a Rehabilitation Workshop for Providers Serving Survivors of Human Trafficking held in Benin on Thursday.

The workshop was organised by PJI and funded by INSighT- Building Capacity to deal with human trafficking and transit routes to Nigeria, Italy and Sweden.

Benson-Idahosa said that a majority of returnee-migrants usually undergo different traumatic situations and needed to be properly rehabilitated before being integrated back into the society. She noted that if the migrant returnees were not properly rehabilitated, they would not be able to put into good use any form of skills acquisition or empowerment received.

“Providers serving survivors should know how to handle traumatised victims because many of them, especially females, have been raped and have gone through horrible experiences during their trafficking journey.

READ  Climate refugees can’t be returned home, says landmark UN human rights ruling

“The providers should know that there are best practices in terms of handling trafficked victims; they need to use a survivor centred approach to prioritise the needs of the victims,” she said.

She called on the government at all levels to partner more with NGOs on providing best traumatic care for returned migrants in the country.

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How Nigerian-American police officer burst human trafficking syndicate in US

A retried Nigerian American Police officer, Samuel Balogun  narrated how he  burst a human trafficking syndicate that specialized in using minors for prostitution.

“My biggest accomplishment was bursting a human trafficking crime,” Balogun said.

Giving details of how he executed the task,  the dark skinned retired police officer said: “ There was a guy that was using minors for prostitution on the internet.  I have an accent and when I speak people know I am an African. So, I had to go undercover and had to call the guy on the internet.  I said ‘ hey! what is going on, I am in town. I am a truck driver and I want some girls.’ I asked  how old? He said the younger they are, the more money. I said about 15 to 16 years. He said ok.  I asked  how many he could bring and he replied two. He said which hotel was I and I gave the name to him. He told me to hang up and  he called back  the hotel. He subsequently called me and asked if I was there and I said yes. He said he would be there in 20 minutes.

“We were waiting for him to come but he was smart too. He dropped the girls down the street and made them walk to the room. The girls asked how much I was ready to pay and wanted to take off their clothes but I said not yet.  In the next room were officers listening to our conversation. When I make a signal, that means it is time for them to come in. but before you make the signal, you have to make sure they have mentioned the price, they have given the reason why they were there, so it doesn’t look like you are entrapping them.  When I made the signal, the officers burst in and arrested everybody including me.

Thereafter, Balogun said  the police  processed the girls and after that, “they said look, you are minors and we know somebody is pushing you to do this. Now we don’t want to arrest you but tell us how to get to the boss.  The girls cooperated and  made as if they were leaving. When the man pulled up to pick them up, and that was how we arrested  him. That stopped a lot of those crimes.”

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Balogun said he was in Nigeria to bring his wealth of experience to bear on the disturbing security situation in the country. “ I am trying to bring back  my experience as a  police officer in the states to Nigeria. When you look at the #endsars period, the performance of the police was something that hurt my feelings. How can we make it better? How can we make the police job something that people will look with respect  and want to join?”

He hinted that his  security firm is involved in training not only police officers but “ I also train private security companies. I am in touch with a lot of private security companies in Nigeria.  There is another concept which Nigeria is embracing right now.

“It is called community policing. In the states it is called neighbourhood policing or community policing. It works in a way that in every street, there would be a police officer that lives in that neighbourhood.   You get to know the people and the people know you. In some apartments, they will give you a discount just for the police officer to be there because they know once a police officer is living there, the police car is outside and the crime level will reduce. People are more likely to talk to that officer because they know him. They are more able to tell him’ hey we know who committed that crime.’  For every crime, you need people to tell you what happened. You can have all the gadgets but if people are not talking, you can’t solve the crime.”

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He further said: “I am training police officers, security companies and executive protection. What my security company is doing is to free the police officers from attachment to chiefs, politicians and all that.  We train civilians to represent those officers so that they can go back to the street and do their normal jobs.  We have what we call executive protection/training. We have people that follow the president.  We can train you on how to be efficient and sometimes using less force, description tactics.”

Further expatiating on what his security firm does, the soft spoken officer said: “What my company is trying to do is to bring people to the table.  We are trying to train companies that there is a better way of security where we can teach you how to defend yourself, how to prepare for any emergency, and how to use less force. I have a guy, a navy seal that worked for the United States of America. You will be amazed about what he can do. He can disarm you in a minute even when you come with AK 47.    I am also bringing Hostage Negotiation, people that can talk to you when ransom has to be paid. In the US, we call it Hostage Negotiation.  They can talk to these people, and know their psyche. It is a full package. When you come  to my firm, you can see the whole spectrum  and choose.”

As a vastly travelled person, Blagun said: “I travel a lot and in all the African nations is where you see officers with AK 47. They said it is more intimidating. Criminals use AK 47 in America too but we still don’t carry it.  Is that the right weapon for the police officers, I leave that question open. “

READ  Police arrest Bangladeshi, Pakistani, other irregular migrants in Turkey

On the attitude of the Nigerian authorities his plans, he said: “I have talked to a lot of people in higher positions. In some places I don’t want to mention, I have got good responses.  My firm has done some things with certain private firms and the police. I have dealt with some highly placed security firms. So, this is not my first time here.  We are   looking at having training in Sheraton around July/August this year. It is going to be a big one. I am bringing a retired FBI agent, a navy seal, a retired marine , myself and may be two other officers.

“This is my country, I am proud of it. I am sad sometimes when you look at the security aspect of it.  With my experience, I am trying to make it a better place.  It has always been my passion to come back home. I am retired and don’t really need to work again. My benefits are okay untill I die.  But why die with all this experience when I can pass it to the next person.”

 

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Hundreds of thousands of people leave Britain due to pandemic

 

Hundreds of thousands of people have left Britain as a fallout  of the pandemic on the economy, according to a study released yesterday.

There is an “unprecedented exodus” of workers born outside Britain, researchers at London’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence said.

“It seems that much of the burden of job losses during the pandemic has fallen on non-UK workers and has manifested itself in return migration, rather than unemployment,” said the authors.

The study is based on labour market data.

The trend was particularly notable in London, where one in five residents was born abroad.

The capital’s population has fallen by 700,000, the study said, adding that nationwide, the figure could be more than 1.3 million.

If these numbers are accurate, this is the largest decline in Britain’s population since World War II, according to the study.

No evidence suggests that similar numbers of British people who live abroad are returning to Britain.

However, this could be a temporary trend, the researchers said, noting that workers from abroad might return after the pandemic.

The British economy depends on workers from abroad and it is not only threatened by migration due to the pandemic.

Many industries fear the loss of skilled workers due to Britain’s departure from the European Union and stricter migration laws.

A further trend in 2021 is also causing concern, described as a “baby bust” by consultancy PwC, which said many couples were postponing having children due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

This could lead to the lowest birth rate since 1900, PwC said in early January.

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