This Week in Restoring Family Links News 11/09/15 - 11/13/15

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.

Turkish Red Crescent works with kids in Istanbul Community Center, providing them a safe space.

Red Cross Unity: This week we highlighted the Red Cross Fundamental Principle of Unity on the blog. The Principle ensures that each country will only have one Red Cross Red Crescent society, which will be responsible for providing humanitarian services throughout the country’s territory in accordance with the other seven Fundamental Principles. Around the globe, Red Cross Red Crescent Societies are working to alleviate human suffering within their own cultural, historical, and current contexts. Some of the work that was highlighted this week includes distributing relief items to refugees in Serbia, reconnecting separated families in the United States, and supporting refugee children in Turkey.

A man prays after arriving on the island of Kos, Greece. Credit: Daniel Etter for The New York Times

Refugees in Europe: This week, three themes dominated the news we shared regarding refugees and migrants in Europe and the EU’s response: winter preparations, the Valletta conference, and Turkey. As winter fast approaches, many are concerned with the additional humanitarian concerns brought on by colder weather and rougher seas. Previous years have seen a decline in migration during winter months due to these factors, yet the number of those seeking the safety of European shores continues to rise. Winter brings many challenges, but the United Nations has said progress for preparing for winter is on track. One story we shared includes three testimonials from humanitarians working with refugees and preparing for winter.

This week, European and African leaders met in Valletta, Malta to discuss issues of migration, primarily addressing the root causes of migration in African nations and discussing protocol around the return of migrants if they are not granted protection in the European Union. Agreements concerning both issues were reached with European and African leaders committing to address insecurity, poverty and climate change; issues that have fueled the recent exodus. Both sides also agreed “to give preference to voluntary return and reaffirm that all returns must be carried out in full respect of human rights and human dignity.”

In addition to working with African leaders, Europe has also been very focused on reaching a deal with Turkey to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees. In addition to funds to help support refugee camps, the EU has used Turkey’s membership in the European-bloc as a bargaining tool to secure the agreement. While Turkey’s cooperation will certainly aid in relieving some of the pressure currently faced by European nations in meeting the needs of the thousands of refugees within and at their borders, there is worry that closing off this route will just encourage migrants to find more dangerous pathways to Europe. As illustrated by one refugee who took the risk of swimming from Turkey to Greece, the resolve of individuals and families to reach a safe place where they can rebuild their lives is unstoppable.