This week in Restoring Family Links 05/16/2016 – 05/20/2016

Sri Lankan military rescuers respond to a landslide in Bulathkohupitiya. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Sri Lankan military rescuers respond to a landslide in Bulathkohupitiya. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

SRI LANKA: 22 of Sri Lanka’s 26 districts are still recovering from landslides, mudslides, and floods that have been occurring since the beginning of the week. This has led to the displacement of over 350,000 people. The incidents occur frequently during the monsoon season, but due to the El Nino phenomenon, the heavy rains have become more fierce “for so early in the rainy season,” with signs of continuing for weeks. On May 18, two major landslides in the Kegalle disctrict, which is about 75 miles east of the country’s capital, has caused 58 deaths and buried 220 families so far.

The Sri Lankan government has sent troops to the affected areas to rescue people trapped by the landslides. However, it is expected that the death toll will increase significantly as hopes to rescue the trapped individuals dwindle. Following the landslides were torrential rains, which caused tremendous difficulties in rescue missions and created further risks of landslides. Some of the affected places areas are inaccessible, even by helicopters.

The Sri Lanka Red Cross volunteers and staff immediately responded to the landslides in Kegalle district, and coordinated and aided government authorities in rescue and shelter efforts. They have also been providing first aid, food, and psychological support to survivors. In other affected areas, the Sri Lanka Red Cross are also present to assist people in need.

To learn more about the Sri Lanka Red Cross response and how you can support their work, please click here

A dorm in the Vathi hotspot, on Samos island, Greece. At the time of Human Rights Watch’s visit, the facility was severely overcrowded, with significant shortages of basic shelter and filthy, unhygienic conditions. Photo Credit: 2016 Private/Human Rights Watch

A dorm in the Vathi hotspot, on Samos island, Greece. At the time of Human Rights Watch’s visit, the facility was severely overcrowded, with significant shortages of basic shelter and filthy, unhygienic conditions. Photo Credit: 2016 Private/Human Rights Watch

GREECE and IRREGULAR MIGRATION IN EUROPE: Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Doctors without Borders (MSF) have voiced their concerns over the unsanitary, unsafe conditions in Greek “hotspots” centers, which were established for “reception, identification, and processing of asylum seekers and migrants.”

During their visits to Samos, Lesbos, and Chios from May 9 to May 15, HRW found the centers to be severely overcrowded and chaotic, which create a heightened insecure atmosphere within the “razor wire-fenced island camps” for people, especially women and children. There is also no separation between unrelated men and women, as well as prolonged detention. It is reported that the people lack police protection as well. HRW also found that people do not have access to water, quality food, and adequate health care. MSF called for the opening of the “hotspots” with similar reasons, and noted that refugees are treated in a degrading manner.

The United Nations states that the suffering of refugees in these centers is a result of “the absence of long-term vision and the clear lack of political will of the European Union (EU),” and urges the EU state members to step-up in implementing the relocations and reunifications of refugees in a timely manner.

At the same time, the EU-Turkey agreement as well as the border closure in Greece have increased the number of migrants,  who are vulnerable to exploitation by  human traffickers and, who later put force the victims into and put into sex work, forced labor, domestic servitude, and forced begging. For instance, in January, the Europol, the EU’s criminal intelligence agency, reported that about 10,000 unaccompanied children have gone missing after arriving in Europe. It is feared that many of these children have become victims of trafficking.