This Week in Restoring Family Links 1/25/16 - 1/29/16

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.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: On Wednesday, the world came together to remember and reflect upon the Holocaust and all of its victims. The United Nations General Assembly declared on November 1, 2005 that this annual day of remembrance would occur ever January 27, the day that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945. The United Nations urges member states to observe this day every year, to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future such genocides from ever occurring again. President Obama marked the day by stating "we are all Jews", a quote told by Sergeant Roddie Edmonds to his German captors during the war; the president also encouraged the world to fight remaining antisemitism across the world, and affirmed the United States' support for the Jewish state of Israel. 

The American Red Cross conducted a campaign titled "Holocaust Remembrance Day: Lives, Legacies, and Reflection" to encourage interaction between Holocaust survivors and youth. Nine interviews were completed in Washington, DC to keep the legacy of the Holocaust in our minds, and to inspire youth to remember and stand up against such horrors in the future.  Click here to watch these amazing and humbling interviews. 

The Restoring Family Links program continues to support victims of the Second World War by offering tracing and documenting services, so that victims may reconnect or confirm the fate of their loved ones. You can learn more about these services by clicking here.

©  Reuters

© Reuters

Refugees in Europe: As the refugee crisis in Europe continues to unfold, this week saw some Northern European countries take a fortress approach toward dealing with those within their borders. Many refugees have entered Norway from Russia on bicycle, in an attempt to bypass a law that prohibits movement of refugees across borders without the necessary documents in vehicles or by foot. Up to 5,500 people are estimated to have crossed into Norway this way through the town of Kirkenes. The government this week responded by declaring mass deportations by bus back to Russia, where "what happens next is up to the Russians"

Yesterday, Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygerman announced his country would reject up to 80,000 asylum applications placed by migrants in 2015, and that charter aircraft would be used to deport them over the course of the next few years. This morning, Finland followed in Sweden's footsteps by announcing that it will reject two thirds of asylum applications made within the country in 2015, and subsequently expel those refugees in a similar manner. The two Nordic countries received among the highest numbers of arrivals per capita within the European Union in 2015. 

The United Kingdom, however, announced this week that it will take in more unaccompanied children from Syria and other conflict zones, in addition to the 20,000 refugees it had previously agreed to take in by 2020. Prime Minister Cameron maintained that he believes this is the right approach, in that it will discourage migrants from taking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. 

© UNHCR/I. Kasaman

© UNHCR/I. Kasaman

South Sudan: The world's youngest country continues to be plagued by fighting between the government and rebel groups, causing 2.3 million to flee their homes, 1.65 million of which remain displaced within the country. Though a peace deal was signed in August, it has done little to stop the fighting. Another such peace deal was supposed to have passed this past week, in which the rebel leader Riek Machar was to be ceded control of two of the country's oil-producing states. The deal collapsed, however, after president Salva Kiir declared the existence of 28 new states, jeopardizing the terms of the deal. This leaves over 200,000 in makeshift UN refugee camps, with seemingly no end in sight to the fighting. 

Yet, South Sudan also saw an easing of relations with Sudan, after Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir ordered the opening of the border between the two countries for the first time since the south's secession in 2011.