Thousands protest 'inhumane' Australian asylum policies

  • Thousands of Australians protested on Thursday over government plans to deport 267 people, including 37 babies born in Australia, to the offshore detention facility on Nauru. 
  • On Wednesday, the High Court ruled that authorities could deport asylum seekers to offshore camps. 

  • The United Nations has called on the Australian government to let the asylum seekers stay, warning that transferring them to Nauru could further damage their mental and physical health and would result in Australia contravening international human rights law. *

  • A report published by the Australian Human Rights Commission said that 95% of children over the age of eight who had previously lived on Nauru were found to be at risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). *

  • Paediatricians Professor Elizabeth Elliott and Dr Hasantha Gunasekera, who helped form the report, said the children, who talked openly about self-harm and suicide, were 'among the most traumatised we have ever seen in our 50 years of combined professional experience'. 


Danish parliament approves controversial refugee measures

  • Lawmakers in Denmark have approved the government's proposed amendments to the 'Danish Aliens legislation', also known as L87. 
  • The most controversial part of the bill calls for assets worth over 10,000 kroner to be seized from asylum seekers to pay for the cost of accommodating them in Denmark. +

  • The Danish government insists the proposal, which the UN Refugee Agency described as an 'affront' to the dignity of asylum seekers, has been misunderstood and notes that 'sentimental' items will not be seized. 

  • Also included in the legislation is a measure to delay the ability of a person granted temporary subsidiary protection to apply for family reunification from one to three years. 

  • L87 passed by 81 votes to 27, with one abstention and a number of MPs not present. 

     

     

    Useful resource: UNHCR's assessment of L87

The proposals presented by the government are evidently aimed at conveying a message to make it ‘less attractive’ to seek asylum in Denmark, and is a deeply concerning response to humanitarian needs.
— UNHCR

MSF demands 'answers' as ambulance is hit by airstrikes

  • In yet another incident of its activities in Yemen being directly affected the the war in Yemen, Médecins Sans Frontières says that an ambulance from a hospital it supports in the Saada district was hit by an airstrike, killing the driver.
  • MSF said on Monday that it would ask the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to investigate an incident in January in which six people were killed in an attack on a hospital in northern Yemen. 


Another day of death in the Mediterranean

  • The Greek coast guard says that at least 42 people died in two incidents overnight off the Greek islands of Farmakonisi and Kalolimnos. *
  • The people were refugees and migrants making their way from Turkey to Greek islands in an effort to reach the European Union. 

  • 17 children were among the bodies recovered by the Greek coast guard. 

  • Also on Friday, Turkish news agency Anadolu said that the country's coast guard had recovered four bodies off Turkey. *

  • On Wednesday, three people including a five year old child died of severe hypothermia after making the journey across the Aegean Sea. SB


Ban says Syria starvations are war crimes

Let me be clear: the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime.
— Ban-Ki moon, UN Secretary General
  • The Secretary General made the comments on January 14th. +

 

  • UNICEF said on January 15th that their teams in Madaya has found 22 children under the age of five with moderate to severe malnutrition and 6 children aged between six and eighteen with severe malnutrition. +
The people we met in Madaya were exhausted and extremely frail.

Doctors were emotionally distressed and mentally drained, working round the clock with very limited resources to provide treatment to children and people in need.

It is simply unacceptable that this is happening in the 21st century.
— Hanaa Singer, UNICEF representative in Syria