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11 February 2016

Syrian migrants and refugees cross the Serbian-Croatian border (File photo). © Francesco Malavolta/IOM 2015

Border Fences Will Not Stop Migrants Heading to Europe

United Kingdom - Efforts by European countries to deter migrants with border fences, teargas and asset seizures will not stem the flow of people into the continent, and European leaders should make their journeys safer, according to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a leading UK think tank, writes Emma Batha for Thomson Reuters.

A new ODI report by Jessica Hagen-Zanker and Richard Mallett, based on in-depth interviews with over 50 asylum seekers, says that Europe must act now to reduce migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, where nearly 4,000 people died last year trying to reach Greece and Italy. Over 400 have died so far this year.

The report says that European governments could open consular outposts in countries like Turkey and Libya which could grant humanitarian visas to people with a plausible asylum claim. It argues that allowing people to fly directly to Europe would be safer and cheaper than for them to pay people smugglers, and would help cripple the smuggling networks that feed off the migrant crisis.

Read on

Needed but Unwanted: Haitians in the Dominican Republic

A new IRIN film by Susan Farkas  looks at the predicament of hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic who are at risk of arbitrary deportation or of becoming stateless. Even though many were born in the Dominican Republic or have lived there for decades, thousands have either been forcibly deported or have fled the crackdown and legal uncertainty.

Needed but Unwanted tells the stories of people like Wendy Batista, a 17-year-old of Haitian descent who can't comprehend why, since he was born in the Dominican Republic and has lived there all his life, the government won't give him papers and allow him to become a citizen. Evelin Perez Matos describes how her Haitian-born husband was abruptly deported last summer, leaving her to raise six children alone. "I don't know if he'll return," she says. "I know nothing."

Others, like Edowane Pierre-Paul, fled to Haiti when the Dominican Republic began clamping down on those without formal status last June and now raise their families in tents in squalid border camps. Human rights groups say the Dominican Republic's policy amounts to a gross human rights violation, while the government says it has every right to control who is allowed to live in the country.

Haitians have been needed as workers but unwanted as citizens in the Dominican Republic for generations. Over the decades, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have entered the country's labour force, particularly on the sugar plantations or, more recently, to do menial work in DR's flourishing tourism industry. Anywhere between half a million and one million people of Haitian descent now form a large minority within the Republic's population of more than 10 million.

In 2013, the constitutional court ruled that children born to non-Dominican citizens, mostly undocumented Haitian immigrants, were not entitled to citizenship. Not only that, but it extended the ruling back to 1929, retroactively stripping many of the citizenship they thought they had. Over the past year, the government has begun deporting those without papers or who can't prove their eligibility for formal status.

Watch the film

Migration in the News

  • Washington Post cited IOM data in a report on Europe’s accelerating migration crisis, which saw over 76,000 new arrivals by sea in the first six weeks of 2016.

  • Huffington Post reported that despite winter weather and growing European efforts to deter them, refugees and migrants continue to arrive in Europe in record numbers.

  • AP reported that following a request by Turkey, NATO's defense ministers are reviewing what the alliance might do to help slow the influx of migrants into Europe by sea.

  • World Post reported on Greece’s controversial new registration centres for migrants and refugees on the Greek islands.

  • Phnom Penh Post reported that Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng has pledged to work with IOM to address the mental health needs of returning migrant workers who have suffered abuse.

  • USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has awarded its 2016 Selden Ring Award to the Associated Press for its investigative account of how seafood sold in the US was produced by slaves in Indonesia.

Trending on the Internet

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Pope Francis, who arrives in Mexico on Friday for a six-day visit, will visit the country’s fortified border with the USA to show solidarity with the migrants trying to cross it.

  • AFP reported that Thai police have broken up a major fake passport ring led by an Iranian, which sent hundreds of counterfeit passports to Middle Eastern customers trying to enter Europe.

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