Dave Smith
Weekly Roundup of Refugee News 22.1.20

Asylum / refugees / immigration (UK)

Guardian: Legal action launched against plan to house asylum seekers at Yarl's Wood

Pressure is mounting on the Home Office over its plans to house nearly 200 asylum seekers in what campaigners have described as a “prison-style” camp on the site of an immigration jail. The construction of prefab-style accommodation at the privately run Yarl’s Wood centre in Bedfordshire follows a series of damning reports on conditions at two former army barracks sites in Kent and Pembrokeshire being used to hold up to 600 asylum-seeking men.



Independent: ‘I’m scared I will die here’: Hundreds of asylum-seekers locked in ex-military camp after Covid-19 outbreak

Hundreds of asylum-seekers have been locked in a former military barracks as part of a quarantine procedure following a coronavirus outbreak at the site, leaving many fearing for their lives. Residents at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, received a letter from Clearsprings, the private firm managing the facility, telling them that they would not be allowed to leave the premises, and that if they did they could face arrest.



Guardian: Asylum seeker housing conditions under scrutiny at third ex-military site

A third former military site being used as temporary housing for asylum seekers is facing allegations of poor conditions, poor food quality and mental health crises, it has emerged. The Home Office has been housing asylum seekers in a former officers’ mess at RAF Coltishall, north of Norwich, since April last year.



Asylum / refugees / immigration (International)

Vice: Man Allowed to Stay in France Because Pollution Could Kill Him

In what’s likely an international first, a French court overturned a man’s deportation order after ruling pollution would gravely aggravate his asthma and potentially kill him if he was sent back to Bangladesh.



Independent: Biden to propose 8-year citizenship path for immigrants

President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status, a massive reversal from the Trump administration's harsh immigration policies.



BBC: The Burundian refugee soap maker who is fighting coronavirus in Kenya

When Innocent Havyarimana started his soap-making business in Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp in early 2015, he was trying to move on from the traumatic events that had made him flee his native Burundi a year earlier. Now his cottage enterprise has become a major weapon in the fight against coronavirus in one of the world's biggest settlements of its kind - Kakuma is home to almost 200,000 people.



Relevant world news 

The New Humanitarian: Ethiopia: A partial view of the humanitarian fallout emerges in Tigray

Food shortages, widespread looting, and sexual violence were among the findings in the first on-the-ground look at the situation in Tigray by UN and Ethiopian officials. A report released last week by the UN's emergency aid department, OCHA, outlines an emerging humanitarian situation, with more than two million people in need of assistance due to recent fighting between federal government forces and troops loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).



Guardian: 'Our souls are dead': how I survived a Chinese 're-education' camp for Uighurs

After 10 years living in France, Gulbahar Haitiwaji, an ethnic Uighur, returned to China to sign some papers and was locked up. For the next two years, she was systematically dehumanised, humiliated and brainwashed in a so-called ‘re-education camp’. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/12/uighur-xinjiang-re-education-camp-china-gulbahar-haitiwaji