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Refugees International Launches task force on climate change, migration

  • Expert Group Includes Former Senior U.S. Government Officials, Climate and Migration Specialists, and Leaders of Major International NGOs

 

Refugees International announced today the launch of an expert task force on climate change and migration in response to an Executive Order (EO) issued by President Biden on February 4.

The executive order, which focused in large measure on the U.S. refugee admissions program, also directs the National Security Advisor to report to the president by August 3 on “Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration,” including options for the protection and resettlement of people at risk of displacement due to climate change.

“The order presents a historic opportunity to advance U.S. policy on these critical issues,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and co-chair of the task force. “While climate change is increasingly recognized as a driver of forced migration around the world, governments, international organizations, and civil society have yet to develop comprehensive measures that effectively target at-risk communities that may want to stay and adapt, ensure that those on the move do so safely and with dignity, and enable those that need to cross borders to obtain adequate protection.”

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The Task Force will seek to develop recommendations that encourage the Biden administration to seize this opportunity and articulate a responsible plan of action designed to meet these challenges.

“It’s time for the United States to exercise leadership on an issue that communities around the world are already grappling with,” said Elizabeth Ferris, a research professor at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University and co-chair of the task force. “In order to make the administration’s report as impactful as possible, it will need to include in-depth guidance on complex issues, including on terminology and type and extent of protection. We intend to harness the expertise of this Task Force to support the Biden administration’s endeavor to find solutions to climate-related displacement.”

Task force members include:

Nisha Agarwal
Deputy Executive Director, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)

T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Director, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School
Former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees
Former General Counsel, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Department of Justice

J. Brian Atwood
Visiting Scholar Watson Institute, Brown University
Former Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
Former Under Secretary of State

Reuben Brigety
Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of the South
Former U.S. Representative to the African Union
Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa

READ  Ailing migrant dies as IOM supports 13 stranded travellers along Cote d’Ivoire –Ghana border

Elizabeth Ferris
Research Professor, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University
Expert Advisory Group Member, United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement

Lauren Herzer Risi
Director, Environmental Change and Security Program, Wilson Center

Mark Hetfield
President and CEO, HIAS (founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)

Rev. Mary Katherine Morn
President and CEO, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Kayly Ober
Senior Advocate and Program Manager, Climate Displacement Program, Refugees International

Maria Otero
Former Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights
Former Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Former President and CEO, ACCION International

Anne C. Richard
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
Former Director, Secretary of State’s Office of Resources, Plans and Policy

Alex de Sherbinin
Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director for Science Applications, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Deputy Manager, NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC)

Eric P. Schwartz
President, Refugees International
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

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Maureen White
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University
Former Senior Advisor on Humanitarian Issues, Office of the Special Representation to Afghanistan and Pakistan

ABOUT REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL

Refugees International advocates for lifesaving assistance, human rights, and protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises. We do not accept any government or UN funding, ensuring the independence and credibility of our work.

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UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

READ  Concern over worrisome trend of trafficking Nigerian ladies for domestic work, sexual pleasure 

Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  IOM Director General calls for enhanced support for Northern Mozambique

 

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UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

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“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  Ailing migrant dies as IOM supports 13 stranded travellers along Cote d’Ivoire –Ghana border

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Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

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“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

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IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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