In the UK’s biggest ever response to a humanitarian crisis, the government has committed over £600 million to help those affected by the conflict in Syria – the second highest total after the US. Aid is being allocated to help a million refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Australia will reserve more than 2,000 places in its refugee program for Syrians, at the same time as it tries to return Syrians held in offshore detention to the country the immigration minister describes as “in the midst of a terrible conflict”. Syrian refugees will have 2,200 places set aside within the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP), which takes in refugees who can prove they already have a connection to Australia.
A photo of a 4-year-old Syrian refugee in the desert and surrounded by humanitarian workers became a sensation online - as did the media covering it, after many questioned the narrative behind the photo. The picture sparked a storm of articles covering the story of a Syrian child crossing the desert alone.
This month, thousands of African migrants to Israel, many seeking asylum, marched in Tel Aviv to demand more rights and protections from the Israeli government. In an email interview, Dov Waxman, associate professor of political science at Baruch College and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), as well as the co-director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development at Northeastern University, explained Israel’s immigration policy.
Vision First, an NGO dealing with refugee issues, presents daunting statistics: of the 12,409 people who sought asylum in Hong Kong in the past 21 years, just four succeeded. Despite such enormous odds, about 800 people still flock to the city seeking refuge each year - and that's excluding 1,200 others who claim to have been tortured in their home countries.
A poster of King Abdullah II hangs, lopsided, on a peeling white wall over 34 Sudanese men crouched on the floor. Their eyes turn to Mohamedain Suliman as he enters, one hand touching his black beret in greeting. Ahlan wa sahlan. One man steps forward to welcome the 55-year-old, Darfur-born Suliman, who commands respect as the unofficial Sudanese liaison for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the oldest man in the room.
In a large tent shrouded in dust, Safia Lansar’s family gathers to drink tea. The 85-year-old’s grandson-in-law, Mohamed, rhythmically pours the steaming liquid back and forth from cup to cup. Mohamed's infant son lies sleeping on the ground, wrapped in a cloth swarming with flies. They sit on the land where Mohamed was born. His son was born here, too. But not Safia.
In a small park on the edge of old Istanbul’s Eminonu square, women sit begging, Syrian passports in their outstretched hands, “Please help in the name of God” on sheets of paper at their feet. In this bustling city, where fisherman line the shore of the Golden Horn and tourists mingle with traders in the alleyways of the spice bazaar, the war raging just over Turkey’s southern border feels very distant.