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Refugees increasingly unwelcome across the world

2 May 20240 comments

Refugees across the globe are coming under threat of expulsion by a growing number of nationalist or autocratic regimes.

Syrians who found refuge from the civil war in their homeland in Lebanon and Turkey face being sent home to uncertain futures, Afghans in Pakistan and Turkey face a new wave of deportations, the Dominican Republic has begun deporting Haitians who fled the turmoil at home and the South African government is cracking down on irregular migrants.

Also, the Indian government is sending ethnic Rohingya back to Myanmar where their lives and freedom are at risk and UK is continuing with plans to send asylum seekers in Rwanda.

Pakistan is set to begin a new phase of Afghan deportations as tensions rise between the two countries.

A first wave of deportations last year of more than half a million people increased pressure on the Taliban government and on aid agencies struggling to meet spiraling humanitarian needs.

Among those facing deportation are many girls and women who would now be unable to study beyond the sixth grade in Afghanistan.

Former members of the previous Western-backed government’s security forces – and those who worked alongside them – also fear retaliation from the Taliban.

The move comes six months after Pakistan vowed to deport “all illegal foreigners”.

Meanwhile, Lebanon is planning a nationwide survey of Syrian refugees to determine those who ‘meet the criteria of a displaced person’.

Under the plan, those deemed by the state as ‘non-displaced’ – effectively people who lack proper residency or legal status – would be forcibly evicted from their tents and shelters and deported to Syria, unless third countries agree to resettle them.

The NGO Refugees International says the move would undermine the safety and security for many of the one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and put them at greater risk of being forcible returned to Syria.

The process of obtaining legal status is arduous and difficult for Syrian refugees, with only 17 per cent of Syrians possessing valid residency due to Lebanon’s stringent immigration rules and a freeze on UNHCR’s ability to register new refugees since 2015.

Since 2022, Turkish authorities have been arbitrarily arresting, detaining and deporting hundreds of Syrian refugee men and boys to Syria, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Deported Syrians told the agency that Turkish officials arrested them in their homes, workplaces, and on the street, detained them in poor conditions, often beat or based them, forced them to sign voluntary return forms, drove them to border crossing points with northern Syria and forced them across at gunpoint.

“In violation of international law Turkish authorities have rounded up hundreds of Syrian refugees, even unaccompanied children, and forced them back to northern Syria. Although Turkey provided temporary protection to 3.6 million Syrian refugees, it now looks like Turkey is trying to make northern Syria a refugee dumping ground,” HRW said in a statement.

Also, Amnesty International and other local human rights organisations have called for an end to human rights violations in the Dominican Republic against Haitians, Dominicans of Haitian descent and Black people.

The Dominican Republic has been accused of enforcing de-facto racist migration policies, implemented on the basis of racial discrimination, and resulting in the racialised exclusion of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent.

“The Dominican government itself has informed of the deportation of more than 250,000 Haitians in 2023, including people in need of international protection. These collective expulsions are a clear violation of the Dominican Republic’s international obligations and put the lives and rights of these people at risk. Forced returns to Haiti must end,” Amnesty International said in a statement.