Record 65.6m peo­ple dis­placed world­wide

Ships res­cue 730 mi­grants

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

GENEVA, June 19, (Agen­cies): Dev­as­tat­ing con­flicts, vi­o­lence and per­se­cu­tion in places like Syria and South Su­dan had left a record 65.6 mil­lion peo­ple up­rooted from their homes by the end of 2016, the UN said Mon­day.

That num­ber marks a jump of just 300,000 from the end of 2015, but is more than six mil­lion higher than at the end of 2014, ac­cord­ing to a fresh re­port pub­lished by the UN refugee agency. This is “the high­est fig­ure since we started record­ing these fig­ures,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi told re­porters ahead of the re­port launch.

“By any mea­sure, this is an un­ac­cept­able num­ber, and it speaks louder than ever to the need for sol­i­dar­ity and com­mon pur­pose in pre­vent­ing and re­solv­ing crises,” he said.

The fig­ures re­leased ahead of World Refugee Day showed that a full 10.3 mil­lion of the world’s dis­placed peo­ple fled their homes last year alone, in­clud­ing 3.4 mil­lion who crossed in­ter­na­tional bor­ders to be­come refugees.

“This equates to one per­son be­com­ing dis­placed ev­ery three sec­onds — less than the time it takes to read this sen­tence,” UNHCR pointed out in a state­ment.

Most peo­ple who have been forced from their homes flee within their own coun­try, and are de­fined as in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple, or IDPs.

At the end of 2016, there were some 40.3 mil­lion IDPs in the world, down slightly from 40.8 mil­lion a year ear­lier, with Syria, Iraq and Colom­bia ac­count­ing for the great­est num­bers.

Another 22.5 mil­lion peo­ple — half of them chil­dren — were regis­tered as refugees last year, the UNHCR re­port showed, point­ing out that this is “the high­est level ever recorded”.

Syria’s six-year con­flict alone has sent more than 5.5 mil­lion peo­ple seek­ing safety in other coun­tries, in­clud­ing 825,000 last year alone, mak­ing it the world’s big­gest pro­ducer of refugees.

Along with the 6.3 mil­lion Syr­i­ans dis­placed in­side the coun­try, these num­bers show that a nearly two thirds of all Syr­i­ans have been forced from their homes, the re­port said.

As the Syr­ian civil war rages on, des­per­ately needed fund­ing for hu­man­i­tar­ian aid in the coun­try has be­gun to dwin­dle, Grandi said, lament­ing that very lit­tle of the bil­lions promised at an in­ter­na­tional donor’s con­fer­ence in Brus­sels in April had so far ma­te­ri­alised.

The Syr­ian con­flict, which has killed more than 320,000 peo­ple, “is be­com­ing a for­got­ten cri­sis,” he warned.


Ships res­cue some 730 mi­grants:

sHu­man­i­tar­ian ships picked up about 730 mi­grants on Sun­day from rub­ber and wooden boats in the Mediter­ranean, adding to a length­en­ing list of res­cue op­er­a­tions in re­cent days.

The mi­grants were picked up in seven sep­a­rate res­cue op­er­a­tions aboard three dinghies and four wooden craft, Italy’s coast­guard said on Sun­day.

Save the Chil­dren SAR team leader Gil­lian Moyes, on­board the res­cue ves­sel Vos Hes­tia, said the past few days had been ex­tremely busy, fol­low­ing a pat­tern seen in re­cent weeks.

“We are see­ing in­creas­ing num­bers of peo­ple, large scale res­cues with mul­ti­ple boats,” she said.

She added there was in­suf­fi­cient ca­pac­ity in search and res­cues to deal with the sit­u­a­tion un­fold­ing in the Mediter­ranean.

On Satur­day, hun­dreds of mi­grants, some drift­ing in rub­ber dinghies off the coast of Libya, were picked up by Span­ish and Ital­ian ships.

A Span­ish navy ship was dis­patched to help two mi­grant boats strug­gling to stay afloat near Libya on Satur­day af­ter­noon, and at sun­down it found three other rub­ber dinghies trans­port­ing mi­grants in the area, Spain’s De­fence Min­istry said in a state­ment on Sun­day.

In to­tal 526 peo­ple, in­clud­ing eight preg­nant women and nine chil­dren, were picked up in that res­cue, aided by a ship be­long­ing to a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, the min­istry said. The mi­grants were headed to an Ital­ian port, it added.

Around 800 mi­grants were res­cued from rub­ber boats in six op­er­a­tions in the Mediter­ranean on Satur­day, the Ital­ian coast­guard said.

Italy ar­rests asy­lum seeker:

Italy on Mon­day ar­rested a 29-year-old Iraqi asy­lum seeker for sup­ply­ing news and ma­te­ri­als in sup­port of Is­lamic State and who said those who do not be­lieve in Is­lam “should have their throats cut”, po­lice said.

A south­ern Ital­ian court or­dered the man’s ar­rest for con­spir­acy to com­mit in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism and in­cit­ing oth­ers to break the law, they said in a state­ment.

The man sought to con­vince other asy­lum seek­ers liv­ing in a state-funded shel­ter in the south­ern city of Cro­tone to “per­pe­trate acts of vi­o­lence with ter­ror­ist ob­jec­tives”, the po­lice said.

“The Iraqi - con­sid­ered vi­o­lent and in­clined to­ward crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity - had cel­e­brated af­ter the re­cent ter­ror­ist at­tack in Manch­ester,” they said, re­fer­ring to a sui­cide bomb­ing last month at a pop con­cert in the north­ern English city that killed 22 peo­ple.

In a recorded tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the ar­rested man and his sis­ter, he said he had been called to join the “holy war” in his coun­try, but had de­cided in­stead to stay in Italy to “re­deem the in­fi­dels” who “should have their throats cut”.

Po­lice gave no fur­ther de­tails and said they would elab­o­rate on the case later in the day.

The case will fuel Italy’s in­creas­ingly bit­ter po­lit­i­cal de­bate over cit­i­zen­ship laws and the man­age­ment of boat mi­grant ar­rivals ahead of a na­tional elec­tion ex­pected in the first half of next year.

Over the week­end, some 1,500 mi­grants were pulled from un­safe and over­crowded boats off the coast of Libya and are now be­ing brought to Italy by res­cue ships.

Italy is on the front­line of Europe’s mi­gra­tion cri­sis, es­pe­cially af­ter an agree­ment be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Turkey last year that vir­tu­ally stopped boat cross­ings to Greece.

Half a mil­lion peo­ple, many of them Mus­lims from North Africa and the Mid­dle East, have come to Europe via Italy in the past three years, and boat ar­rivals are up more than 17 per­cent in 2017 on the pre­vi­ous year.

Al­most 200,000 asy­lum seek­ers are liv­ing in Ital­ian shel­ters as they wait to hear whether they qual­ify for in­ter­na­tional pro­tec­tion.

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