This Week in Restoring Family Links News 2/29/16 - 3/4/16

This Week in Restoring Family Links News 2/29/16 - 3/4/16

On February 23, the Macedonian government tightened its immigration restrictions on those entering the country from Greece by reclassifying those coming from Afghanistan as economic migrants rather than refugees, effectively banning them from applying for asylum within Macedonia. The move came after a similar decision by the Serbian government, and the immediate result was thousands of Afghans left stranded on the Greek side of the border with nowhere to go. This further congested the flow of refugees from other countries trying to cross from Greece. 

Frustration erupted in a full-scale riot in the Greek border town of Idomeni on Friday, when Macedonia temporarily closed the border to all. Crowds of hopeful passers ran to the border and proceeded to push down a razor-wire fence on the Macedonian side, resulting in the use of violence and tear gas by Macedonian authorities. The Greek minister for migration, Ioannis Mouzalas, stated that the estimated number of people trapped in Greece "will be between 50,000 and 70,000" before the end of this month.

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

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

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.

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Restoring Communication and Hope

Restoring Communication and Hope

The chaos and confusion of conflict and disaster often separates families. In conflict-ridden nations like the Central African Republic, displacement has been a common occurrence, especially in recent years. The International Committee of the Red Cross along with the Red Cross Movement works to alleviate human suffering by reconnecting families when such separation happens.

The American Red Cross Central was able to help reconnect a local refugee with his family in the Central African Republic. Arcadius shared how he had spoken to numerous religious and humanitarian organizations, but was unsuccessful in getting assistance. He heard about the reconnecting families service of the Red Cross and came to our offices to open a case.

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This Week in Restoring Family Links News 02/21/2015 - 02/27/2015

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.

Refugee Response: This week, we shared a number of stories highlighting the variety of international responses to refugee crises around the globe. Since a terrorist attack in Peshawar, Pakistan last December, there has been a lot of pressure, both unofficial and publicly sanctioned, on Afghan refugees to return home. The United Nations has urged the Pakistan government and public to continue their generous support of Afghan refugees as Afghanistan remains largely unsafe for many to repatriate. In response, the Pakistani government has made assurances that Afghan refugees will remain welcome for as long as they continue to need refuge.

As both a brutal winter and a war continue in Syria, those who have fled the conflict continue to struggle through an ever changing international humanitarian aid landscape. At the end of last year, food aid was temporarily suspended because of a lack of funding. However, organizations including Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies continue to try and alleviate the suffering of those affected by the conflict. The international response has also included nations accepting Syrian refugees for resettlement. While the US has promised to increase the number of refugees it resettles from Syria, domestic fears of terrorism have slowed the acceptance rate. Elsewhere, humanitarian organizations continue to struggle to meet the needs of refugees and the displaced fleeing situations including Boko Haram in Nigeria and conflict in the Central African Republic.

Reconnecting Families: This week, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region shared some of the great outreach work their International Services team is doing to raise awareness of the reconnecting families services of the Red Cross. This work is a crucial piece of reconnecting families separated by conflict, disaster, migration, and other humanitarian emergencies. In addition to this amazing outreach work, several reconnection stories were shared including a mother’s reunion with her son through the Australian Red Cross and the ICRC’s successful reconnection of a mother and daughter separated by the conflict in CAR. We also shared again the story of a mother and son reconnected via Skype thanks to the ICRC.

Restoring Family Links Story Campaign: This year’s Restoring Family Links Story Campaign begins on March 16th! This is a great opportunity to share the reconnecting families work of the Red Cross as well as stories on outreach, volunteer and staff appreciation, and other topics related to the International Services work of the Red Cross Movement. All stories will be published on the Restoring Family Links Blog, and may also be considered for local and national American Red Cross blogs. For more information on prizes, submission requirements, and deadlines please contact Jon Dillon at jon.dillon@redcross.org

This Week in Restoring Family Links News 11/1/2014-11/7/2014

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.

Unaccompanied Child Migrants: This week, a number of significant news stories came out of New York concerning the work of organizations and child advocates to help unaccompanied child migrants navigate the US migration system and adjust to their new lives. Many religious organizations across the US have opened their arms to these children, providing services that include reuniting them with family, providing legal services, and ensuring they have access to education. Legal assistance is extremely important as there are several [extremely complicated] options through which unaccompanied children can gain legal status in the US. Even with the help of pro bono attorneys, the case isn’t guaranteed to be approved; without this assistance, that chance is reduced dramatically.

In other news, a former child migrant shares his story of fleeing violence in Honduras seven years ago. He is now a citizen of the US and wants to share his story with the US public to help them understand both the hardships faced by youth in Honduras and the gratitude he feels for the help he received. While all children are vulnerable to violence and exploitation while migrating to the US as well as once they arrive, a new report by the Center for American Progress highlights the experiences of LGBT migrant youth and how the US can improve its immigration systems to better account for their protection needs. And on the topic of how the US government can continue to address the situation, Presidents from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras will all be visiting the US next week to discuss ongoing strategies for how to address the root causes of child migration.

 Distribution of relief to internally displaced families, Al Dura, Baghdad, Iraq, October 2014

Distribution of relief to internally displaced families, Al Dura, Baghdad, Iraq, October 2014

International Committee of the Red Cross: Daily the ICRC engages in work around the globe to protect civilians from the ravages of war and preserve human dignity. Their work to help refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan and Central African Republic continues to provide a lifeline for many. The ICRC is also deeply engaged in protecting internally displaced persons. In 2014, eighty-eight percent of ICRC food aid went to displaced persons. They also play a critical role in reuniting families separated by violence. This work continues across the globe from Ukraine to Iraq to Nigeria.

South Sudan: Pressure continues to be applied to the armed conflict parties in South Sudan to lay down their arms and work to establish peace. In the capital city, Juba, civilians took to the streets to protest under the theme “Violence Never Gains.” The protest not only pressured the combatants to cease fighting, but also called on the mediating agency, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, to resume negotiations immediately. Internationally, many organizations have signed a petition for states bordering South Sudan and the United Nations to issue an arms embargo to limit the means for continuing violence within the state. While not mentioning an embargo, the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the violence.

The ongoing conflict continues to affect food security in the region. The food situation in tandem with the violence continues to force many to flee to surrounding nations, especially Ethiopia and Uganda. In Ethiopia, the ICRC and the Ethiopian Red Cross continue to deliver aid in refugee camps and work to ensure the protection of these refugees. Uganda’s refugee system is different in that refugees are not placed in camps, but rather settlements where refugees are encouraged to grow their own food and work to support themselves with some assistance from aid agencies.