This Week in Restoring Family Links News

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

Immigration and the EU: Over the past year, the number of migrants attempting dangerous journeys through the Sahara Desert and across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe has continued to increase. Conflict, instability, and lack of opportunity in countries including Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, and Nigeria continue to drive people to migrate despite the risks of human trafficking, dehydration, starvation, and drowning. This past week alone, hundreds of migrants were found stranded by smugglers in the desert just two weeks after several migrants died attempting the same trek. Those who do make it through the desert risk shipwreck due to overcrowding on boats. This is all to reach the safety of Europe, where current immigration policies and debates seek to limit migrant options.

Lying on the most eastern limits of the European Union (EU), Cyprus could have been a beacon of hope and shelter for thousands of Syrians seeking refuge from the ongoing civil war. However, those who have made the journey to the island nation have found themselves stuck in detention centers with limited options for leaving. Italy has experienced a huge influx in migrants, many of whom its coastguard has rescued from the sea. Under current EU law, asylum seekers must remain in the country in which they first arrive, which has put disproportionate pressure on southern European nations. As the nation awaits help with its immigration crisis from the EU, Italy’s government has threatened to open its borders to allow migrants to pass through to other nations. In the UK and other western European nations, anti-immigration sentiment is on the rise. However many reports have been released showing the positive impact immigrants have on the host nation’s economy. This week, the International Organization for Migration released an online project dedicated to sharing migrant stories.

South Sudan: Last week leaders from both sides of the conflict in South Sudan came together to sign a ceasefire that would allow for much needed humanitarian relief to reach those in need. Unfortunately, poor communication and a lack of cohesion between rebel groups led to continued hostilities between government and rebel troops during the days following the agreement. The South Sudanese government also announced this week via Twitter that elections scheduled for next year will be postponed one or two years to allow time for reconciliation. This decision is not likely to be taken well by those opposed to the current government, and along with the tentative ceasefire, highlights a rocky road towards peace.

Ukraine: Last weekend, it was reported that pro-Russian militants captured nine Red Cross workers, holding them hostage for seven hours and beating one of them. After their release, the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a call for all parties to the conflict in Ukraine to respect international humanitarian law and the emblem of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. Following these events, the International Federation of the Red Cross issued an appeal for over $1.5 million to increase support for the Ukrainian Red Cross and their ability to respond to crisis situations.