This Week in Restoring Family Links News 1/18/2016 – 1/22/2016

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.

Migration in the Americas: Following the US-Mexico border crisis in 2014, the US government took several measures to address increased migration from Central America – it ran ads in Northern Triangle discouraging migration, it increased foreign aid to address security and provide youth more in-country opportunity, and recently began increasing deportations of Central Americans. However, these efforts do little to address, and often ignore, the rampant violence and other push factors causing children and families to migrate.

Evidence from El Salvador shows gangs are becoming more organized, and more brutal. Despite aid from the United States, the government has little capacity to end gang violence. A growing drought in the region is another push factor that may lead to an increase in migration.

Despite this increase and the common rhetoric regarding migrants in the United States, recent reports show that the number of undocumented migrants in the US is at its lowest since 2003. And while the government looks to increase deportation efforts on those with a criminal background, the recent raids have primarily focused on families who have arrived since 2015, some of whom are still awaiting or contesting asylum decisions. In response, several organizations have vowed to protect women and children from the deportation raids.

Photo credit: Jesus Serrano Redondo, ICRC

Photo credit: Jesus Serrano Redondo, ICRC

Red Cross Reconnecting Families: With conflict and disaster causing historic levels of displacement, the reconnecting families work of the global Red Cross Movement is as important as ever. This week, we highlighted several reconnection stories. In Nigeria, the International Committee of the Red Cross along with the Nigerian Red Cross is working to reconnect families separated by violence inflicted by Boko Haram. In the Central African Republic (CAR), the Red Cross is working to reconnect families amid heightened insecurity. Recently, the American Red Cross was able to re-establish communication between a refugee in the United States and his family in the CARalleviating the worries he had about their well-being.

In addition the helping reconnect families, the Red Cross is sometimes able to provide documentation for individuals or families, from providing documents on the fate of loved ones to verification concerning personal experiences. When the American Red Cross was contacted by an asylum seeker from Honduras seeking evidence of the help she received from the Red Cross following a gang attack on her family, the Red Cross was able to provide documentation that may help in her claim.

Photo credit: Thomas Dworzak, Magnum for ICRC

Photo credit: Thomas Dworzak, Magnum for ICRC

Refugees in Europe: Winter continues to increase the hardships faced by refugees and migrants traveling along migratory routes in Europe. All those traveling by boat are at risk of hypothermia, with the cold claiming three lives this week. The International Federation of the Red Cross continues its call for countries to do more to prevent the loss of life. While nations across Europe continue efforts to limit the number of refugees accepted across their borders, Iceland welcomed its first Syrian refugees to help address the crisis.