By Jonathan Clayton
Renewing a strong appeal to regional leaders to make peace, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has praised the “open border” policy of Uganda which is currently receiving up to 500 refugees a day.
Grandi who is currently on an official visit to the East African country, now providing sanctuary to a total of some 1.4 million refugees, upheld Uganda’s treatment of those fleeing wars and persecution as a model for the rest of the world.
“I want to thank the Ugandan government, local government and its people… despite recent influxes Uganda has the most progressive refugee policies in Africa, if not the world,” Grandi told journalists after touring this refugee settlement.
Imvepi and neighbouring Rhino Camp, both located in Arua district, now provide some 245,000 mainly South Sudanese refugees with a temporary home.
“Almost 500 people a day come to Uganda…. All are allowed to come and receive protection, to mix freely, to work, to access basic services, the borders are open; its refugee policies are among the most progressive in the world,” he said.
Most of the refugees have fled the conflict in South Sudan north of Uganda, but a steady and growing number are also fleeing increasing insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo on its western border. Uganda also hosts around 50,000 refugees from Burundi.
Uganda now has the largest refugee population in Africa, more than half of whom are children. A quarter of all the people now living in Arua district are refugees while in neighbouring Yumbe district half of the entire population is made up of refugees. This puts added strain on already stretched local resources.
Grandi highlighted that refugees in Uganda often received parcels of land to grow food, were allowed to work and access education, health and justice services, but he warned the generosity of host communities who are also facing development challenges could not be taken for granted.
“We should not overly test the patience of people… We have to make sure local communities also benefit from the refugee presence,” he said.
He explained UNHCR and the Ugandan government had adopted a comprehensive strategy which supported grass roots’ initiatives aimed at fostering harmonious relationships between nationals and refugees.
Under this policy facilities, such as health clinics and water wells, set up to support the refugee presence are available to local communities. Hosting refugees can be a “win-win” for local communities and refugees, Grandi explained after touring a new well which will provide water to everyone living in the immediate vicinity.
Later this week, UNHCR will be launching an appeal for fresh funding to support this “whole of society” approach, also known as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, with increased infrastructure investment.
Grandi met with several refugees many of whom told him they would go home if there was peace and security, but at the moment that was not the case. “We are confused, there is no peace there. We will go home if there is peace,” Sarah Utua, 24, told him who walked six weeks to Uganda with elderly parents and two children to flee fighting near her home.
“These people all want to go home… I would once again appeal to the leadership in South Sudan ‘Please make peace’,” Grandi said.
The High Commissioner was moved by the story of a man his own age who told him he had been a refugee in Uganda four times in his life.
“I want to go back and make sure my bones end their days there. This is the fourth time I have been a refugee. Uganda has been good to me but I want to go back,” Lasuba Yousto, 60, said.
Grandi also met with Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to whom he reiterated UNHCR’s thanks for his country’s approach to the refugee situation and pledged to maintain and improve cooperation with the authorities in all areas.
Published on UNHCR on January 31, 2018
The US should renew its grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to almost 7,000 Syrians living in the United States, Human Rights Watch said today. Anyone forced to return to Syria would face grave risks from the widespread conflict and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law there.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to announce a decision by the end of January 2018 about whether to extend existing TPS for Syrians.
“The brutality and violence that originally motivated the US to provide Temporary Protected Status for Syrians have not abated,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch. “Multiple armed groups, including the Syrian government, are targeting and indiscriminately attacking civilians in Syria day after day, and it is not safe for people to return there.”
More than 400,000 people have died because of the Syrian conflict since 2011, according to the World Bank, with 5 million seeking refuge abroad and more than 6 million displaced internally, according to UN agencies. As of September 2017, the UN also estimated that 420,000 people were still living in besieged areas.
The Syrian government and non-state armed groups have committed a host of violations, including attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure, using prohibited chemical weapons, employing starvation as a war tactic, and using civilians as human shields. Many armed groups have long used arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and ill-treatment against civilians in Syria.
The US first granted TPS to Syrians already in the US in 2012, finding that “extraordinary and temporary conditions” in Syria prevented “nationals from returning in safety.” The Homeland Security secretary revised the classification in 2016, making Syrians who had continually lived in the US since at least August 1 of that year eligible to register.
The US government should not only keep the program in place for Syrians who currently receive its protection, but it should expand protected status to include people who arrived after the current August 2016 cutoff date. This would make more people facing exactly the same dangers eligible for blanket protection from return to Syria. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called on all governments not to forcibly return anyone to Syria.
“As a practical matter, Temporary Protected Status would ensure that no eligible Syrian is returned to face threats to their safety from the ongoing armed conflict in their country,” Margon said. “With mounting pressure on Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey to return, terminating the protection in the United States would send a dangerous signal that could affect far larger numbers of Syrians at serious risk of forced return.”
Published on HRW on January 24, 2018
By RICK GLADSTONE
The leaders of 21 global aid organizations asked the Trump administration on Wednesday to restore withheld funds to the United Nations agency that helps Palestinians, calling the funding cut a “dangerous and striking departure” from a history of American generosity.
In a letter to top administration officials, the groups’ leaders expressed concern that the White House’s decision to withhold more than half of the planned contribution to the agency, if maintained, would disrupt Palestinian access to food, health care, education “and other critical support to vulnerable populations.”
The administration announced last week that it was withholding $65 million from a scheduled payment of $125 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which aids more than five million Palestinians in refugee camps across the Middle East.
The announcement came after Palestinian leaders had accused the administration of blatantly siding with Israel in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and dimming prospects for a Palestinian state that would exist side by side with Israel.
Administration officials said that restoration of the aid depended partly on the Palestinian aid agency’s making unspecified reforms, and that withholding the funds had not been punitive.
Many Palestinians and their supporters disputed that assertion. They pointed to statements by administration officials, including a Jan. 2 Twitter message by President Trump, who complained that “we pay the Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”
United Nations officials said the administration’s move had created the worst financial crisis in the Palestinian aid agency’s seven-decade history.
In their letter, the leaders of the aid groups said: “We are particularly alarmed that this decision impacting humanitarian aid to civilians is not based on any assessment of need, but rather designed both to punish Palestinian political leaders and to force political concessions from them.
“This is simply unacceptable as a rationale for denying civilians humanitarian assistance, and a dangerous and striking departure from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance,” the letter stated.
It was signed by top executives of prominent nongovernmental relief and advocacy organizations, including Save the Children, Oxfam America, CARE USA, Refugees International and the International Rescue Committee.
The letter was sent to Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, and Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.
Eric P. Schwartz, the president of Refugees International, said in a telephone interview that the letter was the outcome of what he described as “the deep reaction by the N.G.O. community to a very bad decision.”
Mr. Schwartz, a former assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration under the Obama administration, said the Palestinian aid decision had broken with decades of American policy.
He pointed to President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 assertion that “a hungry child knows no politics” in deciding to help famine victims in Ethiopia.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, known by the acronym Unrwa, was created in 1949 to aid Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.
Originally meant to be a temporary support for roughly one million Palestinian refugees until a political solution was reached, the agency evolved into a sprawling organization for them and their descendants, who are also classified as refugees.
Functioning almost like a government in some places, the agency is widely regarded as a critical lifeline for many Palestinians. But it also has been accused of perpetuating what critics call a culture of dependency among a population that has quintupled in size.
Many Israelis regard the agency as politically biased and inherently hostile to Israel, an assertion United Nations officials deny.
Mr. Schwartz defended the agency. “Given the pressures and challenges confronting Unrwa, a fair assessment of their work would conclude they are providing valuable services under extremely difficult conditions,” he said.
Published on The NY Times on January 24, 2018
Asylum seekers must not be subjected to psychological tests to determine whether they are homosexual, EU's top court has ruled.
Tests to determine sexual orientation are controversial, but are sometimes used when assessing asylum claims.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling is binding in all 28 EU states.
The ECJ case relates to a Nigerian man who submitted an asylum application in Hungary in April 2015. He feared persecution in Nigeria for being gay.
Hundreds of homosexuals fearing persecution in Africa, the Middle East and Chechnya have sought asylum in the EU, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reports.
The Nigerian's claim was rejected after a psychologist's report failed to confirm his homosexuality.
A court in Szeged, Hungary, must now reconsider his case in light of the ECJ ruling.
What about similar gay rights cases?In December 2014 the ECJ ruled on a similar case in the Netherlands and found that sexuality tests violated asylum seekers' human rights.
In the new ruling, the ECJ said "certain forms of expert reports may prove useful" in such cases, but added that such reports interfered with a person's privacy. Authorities must also determine the reliability of a claimant's statements, the judges said.
In 2013 the ECJ ruled that asylum could be granted in cases where people were actually jailed for homosexuality in their home country.
Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, including key Western allies such as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and Botswana.
What happens next in this case?The Hungarian court cannot appeal against the ECJ ruling, so the Nigerian man - identified only as "F" - now has a stronger claim for asylum.
The ruling means that EU countries now have no legal right to impose psychological tests to determine an asylum seeker's sexuality.
What did Hungary originally decide?The ECJ says Hungarian officials had not found F's statements to be fundamentally contradictory, but had still concluded that F lacked credibility.
Their decision was based on a psychologist's report, which included:
Psychologists have long held that personality traits can be revealed by tests such as "draw a person in the rain" and the Rorschach test, which relies on an individual's interpretation of inkblots.
What sort of tests were at issue here? They were quite general psychological tests, aimed at identifying F's personality type and emotional characteristics.
F said the tests had violated his fundamental rights and they had not provided any assessment of "the plausibility of his sexual orientation", the ECJ said.
It also said any indication of sexual orientation provided by such tests could only be "approximate in nature". They were "of only limited interest for the purpose of assessing the statements of an applicant for international protection".
In 2010 the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency condemned the Czech authorities for using "phallometric" sexual arousal tests on some asylum seekers to determine whether they were gay. Czech officials said the tests had been used in fewer than 10 cases, with the individuals' consent.
The Hungarian court handling F's case quoted him as saying that he had not undergone any physical examination and had not been required to view pornographic photographs or videos.
Is Hungary a special case?No - other EU countries also conduct psychological tests on asylum seekers, to assess whether their statements can be believed.
The UK Home Office has detailed guidance on asylum claims based on sexual orientation.
The gay rights group ILGA-Europe says there is a huge diversity in the EU in the way asylum authorities assess someone's sexual orientation.
In F's case tests were imposed on him - unlike the Dutch asylum case of 2014, when several Africans offered evidence of their homosexuality.
In the Dutch case, the ECJ ruled that it was wrong to conduct "detailed questioning as to the sexual practices of an applicant for asylum".
F's asylum claim in 2015 came during a migrant crisis for Hungary. The country faced a huge influx of migrants - many of them Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans fleeing war. Most of them moved to Germany, via Austria, and Hungary then built a formidable border fence to keep migrants out.
Published on BBC on January 25, 2018
By Maria Sacchetti, Patricia Sullivan and Ed O'Keefe
The Trump administration vowed Wednesday to fight a federal injunction that temporarily blocked its plans to rescind work permits for young undocumented immigrants, insisting that Congress must find a solution for those known as “dreamers.”
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers said a bipartisan proposal could come as early as Thursday or Friday, but such legislation would probably face fierce resistance from progressives opposed to ceding any ground on immigration rights and conservatives who feel the same on security issues.
President Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a top priority, a stance that was underlined Wednesday with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement search for undocumented workers at dozens of 7-Eleven stores nationwide. The agency said it was the largest targeting of a single employer since Trump took office.
A key part of Trump’s crackdown is the decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the president and his supporters called an egregious example of executive overreach. That effort was upended late Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the nearly 690,000 DACA recipients must retain their work permits and protection from deportation while a lawsuit challenging the decision to end the program moves forward.
Dreamers struggled to make sense of the ruling on Wednesday. Initially, they celebrated the injunction in a blitz of phone calls and text messages. But it quickly became clear that this was not the victory they wanted.
Lawyers said the lawsuit and perhaps the injunction could drag on for years, and could also be appealed by the Justice Department, which spokesman Devin O’Malley said “looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.” The Department of Homeland Security did not say whether it would begin renewing work permits, despite an order from Alsup to do so, and provided no guidance on its website, which includes a message in red letters: “DACA is ending.”
The ruling offers “a temporary window without a permanent solution,” said Missael Garcia, 27, a DACA recipient who works as a chef at a Baltimore restaurant and has been saving and building up credit with hopes of opening his own restaurant someday. “This is going to be a continual cycle of protests, marches, civil disobedience.”
Leezia Dhalla, 28, came to the United States from Canada at the age of 6. Without legal status, she took out $100,000 in student loans to get through college. Her DACA protections are set to expire May 4, and she’s worried that she won’t be able to renew her apartment lease or fulfill her dreams of attending law school.
“It’s disconcerting because it’s so chaotic,” Dhalla said. “It feels like an emotional roller coaster to wake up and not have answers about my future.”
Alsup said the government must continue to renew DACA and work authorizations for immigrants who had the status when the Trump administration ended the program on Sept. 5, though he said the federal government could deny them the right to return to the United States if they travel abroad. He also said the government did not have to accept new applicants.
The ruling said California and a host of other plaintiffs had demonstrated that they were likely to succeed on their claims that the Trump administration’s rescission of the nearly six-year-old program was “capricious,” and that the states, tech companies and other employers — and immigrants themselves — had much to lose in the meantime if the administration was wrong.
On the campaign trail, Trump had called the program an “illegal amnesty” and promised to swiftly eliminate it. But he let it linger for months after taking office, and said he’d treat dreamers with “love” and try to hammer out a deal with Congress.
In September, facing legal action from Republican attorneys general who oppose the program, Trump’s administration announced it would phase out DACA starting March 5, when an estimated 1,000 dreamers a day would lose their work permits and protection from deportation. Trump has said repeatedly since then that Congress must pass a law to protect dreamers if they are to be allowed to stay.
“An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated Wednesday. “President Trump is committed to the rule of law and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration.”
Top Democrats and Republicans met again Wednesday to begin sorting through the details of an agreement that would resolve the fate of people protected by DACA; bolster border security; make changes in legal, family-based migration; and end or revamp the diversity lottery system.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted that a solution to DACA must be part of any federal budget deal, an effort to stoke negotiations in coming days. On Twitter, he said the court ruling “in no way diminishes the urgency of resolving the DACA issue. On this, we agree with @WhiteHouse, who says the ruling doesn’t do anything to reduce Congress’ obligation.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a lead broker on immigration policy, agreed that the ruling “doesn’t change the need for us to act, and so we’re going forward.” But later he told reporters that he didn’t think the issue would be resolved by a Jan. 19 spending deadline because there still isn’t an actual agreement on spending levels.
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who joined Cornyn at the White House on Tuesday for a highly unusual televised meeting with Trump, recalled the president asking lawmakers, “Is there anybody here not for taking care of the DACA recipients?”
“Not one of them said they were against that,” Hoyer said. “Everyone agreed yes, we need to take care of DACA-protected individuals, we need to take care of them now.”
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) hosted Republican senators in his office to follow up on the meeting with Trump. The group has been in discussions for several months in hopes of brokering a deal that could earn the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles in the closely divided Senate.
The fate of dreamers is “hanging out there with great uncertainty,” Durbin told reporters. “Whether it’s by the president’s announcement or a court decision, it’s time for us to meet the president’s challenge and to create a law that solves this problem.”
But any bipartisan agreement could be derailed by lawmakers who oppose any concessions on immigration rights or security issues.
“This particular issue is one that can divide members in the House and Senate from the president if he embraces a deal that is considered too lenient on the immigration issue,” warned Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.), a strident critic of Trump’s calls for a border wall, said many lawmakers are frustrated by the scope of the negotiations. “There’s so many moving parts on this, it’s even hard to tell who’s really doing the negotiating,” he said. “It’s a mess.”
The White House called the injunction “outrageous” and the Justice Department has said it will appeal.
Kari Hong, an assistant professor at Boston College Law School who supervises a law clinic in the 9th Circuit, said Alsup’s ruling signaled the Trump administration couldn’t rescind DACA without a solid reason.
“The courts said you can’t just change your policy, you have to have facts and you have to have a reason,” Hong said.
Immigration lawyers also differed on whether dreamers should renew their status now. Some suggested that immigrants file an application to get their foot in the door while the judge’s ruling is pending. But others said they risked losing the hefty application fee and worried that some immigrants would fall prey to fraud.
“It’s urgent that we have a permanent solution with a pathway to citizenship,” said Ivonne Orozco, 26, New Mexico’s teacher of the year, who has lived in the United States since she was 12 years old, brought from Mexico by her parents. She teaches Spanish at a public school in Albuquerque and is also finishing a master’s degree at the University of New Mexico with straight A’s. Her DACA status expires in 2019.
In a joint news conference at the White House with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Trump was asked if he would support a DACA bill that did not include money for the border wall he has proposed.
“No, no, no,” he replied. “It’s got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall to stop the drugs from pouring in. I would imagine the people in the room, both Democrat and Republican — I really believe they are going to come up with a solution to the DACA problem that’s been going on for a long time, and maybe beyond that, immigration as a whole.”
Published on The Washington Post on January 10, 2018
The European Union is working with Libyan coastguards to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. But many of those intercepted end up in detention centres in Libya, where some migrants say they are used as slaves, as the BBC's Stephanie Hegarty found when she spoke to some Nigerians who have just returned home.
As evening falls on Benin City, outside the mildewed 1960s block of one of the city's many hotels, a group of men and women are sitting on a scattering of plastic chairs, under a sign advertising "exotic cocktails" and "groovy nights".
But they are not here for drinks or dancing, they are about to start the hard work of rebuilding their lives.
They have come from Libya, where most of them were held in detention centres by the Libyan authorities. And they have returned with accounts of horrifying abuse, including being leased or sold as slaves.
'They gave us to their friends'Agen Akhere has a round, baby-face but his small eyes are searing red. He is sniffling as he talks, and looks like he might well up with tears.
He was held for two months in a detention centre in a place called Gharyan. He was registered by the UN's migration agency (IOM), released from the detention centre and flown home - but his friend did not make it.
"It's because of money," he said, pleading and craning his neck to get closer to the microphone. "My friend, he's still there. His name is Samson. He's still there, in Gharyan."
Gharyan is a prison in the mountains about 100km (60 miles) south of Tripoli. And it is a place where all of the migrants we spoke to were taken before they made it home.
Again and again they tell the same story, of detainees horrifically abused by prison guards, starved, beaten, raped - and traded as slaves.
"They come to our caravans [cells], they pick six persons to do their dirty jobs to do farming, brick-laying work," says Lucky Akhanene. He returned in the same group as Mr Akhere and was held in Gharyan for four months.
"They give us out to their friends. They don't pay us. It's just hard labour, if you're not fast with your job you get beaten."
Three separate people spoke about being leased out by the prison for day labour like this. Others said they were sold.
Jackson Uwumarogie and Felix Efe were arrested "on top of the sea", off the coast of Libya and taken to Gharyan.
They said one night a prison guard came and counted out 20 men, he took them outside and blindfolded them.
Mr Uwumarogie overheard the men talking about a price - 1,000 dinars ($735; £550). They were put into a van and taken to a farm.
Mr Uwumarogie and Mr Efe were forced to work harvesting onions and feeding cattle. They slept in a plywood hut and were guarded day and night by men with guns. They were never paid.
Mr Uwumarogie's baggy tracksuit bottoms hang from his tiny waist and a tight woollen polo neck highlights his skinny frame and slightly puffy, swollen cheeks.
He is clearly not well. On the farm they were only given food every few days, he said, and sometimes given sea water to drink.
After six months they and five others were loaded into a pick-up truck and taken to the desert.
"They dumped us there," Mr Uwumarogie said. They were there for two days.
"It was with the help of God that we found the man that rescued us." The man brought them to his house and then took them to Tripoli to meet the IOM.
Stories of black slavery in Libya have been circulating for the past two years. But the number of accounts we heard from recent returnees seems to suggest it has become endemic in the detention system.
And it is tied to something that has been going on for much longer: a dark but thriving industry in which migrants are extorted for money by traffickers and prison guards.
Wrists tied with barbed wire"There was a connection man who normally has a connection to the Mudeen, that is director of the prison. He would call them and he would bail them out," Mac Agheyere said.
He left for Europe in 2015 and was arrested and taken to prison in the Libyan town of Zawiya. "I had no-one to bail me out."
He explained that the middleman would charge up to 250,000 naira ($695; £520) per person.
Mr Aghayere borrowed money from his family in Nigeria to pay for his own release but he was arrested again. This time he could not afford to pay but one day a man came, who paid it for him.
"I thought he was my Messiah," Mr Aghayere said. "I never knew he was an evil person."
The man owned a carwash and some beach huts by the sea. He said Mr Aghayere should work for a month to pay back the release money.
After that, they agreed on a salary. But two months later he refused to pay. Another month went by and he refused to work any longer.
"He beat me with an iron bar," he says. "They took barbed wire and tied my hands and my feet and threw me inside a car and took me back to prison."
Mr Aghayere was told he was being sent back to Nigeria but he was transferred to Gharyan prison and spent seven months there before he was repatriated by the IOM. He said in the time he was there he saw 20 people die.
Again and again we heard stories of horrific abuse at Gharyan prison.
Each of the Nigerian migrants we met, separately, told us that they were given very little food - a piece of bread smaller than the palm of their hand in the morning and watery pasta in the evening. Some said they drank water from the toilet. They were regularly rounded up and beaten.
"They beat boys," Fatima Atewe said. She was one of the only women who agreed to speak to us about what happened in Gharyan.
"Even in prison in Nigeria, they don't beat Nigerian people the way they beat Nigerian people there."
"Many people are dying there day and night. And their cold is not good, their cold is like inside a fridge," Ms Atewe added.
She spent just over 10 days in Gharyan before she was repatriated. She had been arrested with a friend and after three days in prison she said, her friend was sold.
The UN's migration agency, together with various African governments are working to get migrants home. But delegates from each country have to get to the detention centres before they can identify their citizens.
Libya is in the middle of a civil war. With many different militia groups vying for power, travelling beyond Tripoli is dangerous.
'Inhumane'The prison at Gharyan is run by Libya's Ministry of Interior which itself is run by two militia groups.
The Ministry of the Interior is only nominally under the UN-recognised government in Tripoli. As of yet, the Libyan Interior Ministry hasn't responded to requests for an interview.
In recent months, the situation has become increasingly lawless but also on the rise is the numbers of migrants being held in these prisons.
The EU is encouraging Libya to stop migrants from crossing the Mediterranean. It has been training the Libyan coastguard to intercept boats leaving Libyan waters.
Arrivals to Italy have fallen by 70%. But many of the migrants who are stopped end up in detention centres like Gharyan.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres says the numbers of migrants in the Libyan detention centres that it has access to have increased tenfold since July, when these policies began.
The UN's human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Hussein has described the policy as "inhumane".
As more and more migrants pile into these centres, conditions will only get worse. The stories of abuse will keep coming. Those that return come with a warning.
"I just want to plead with everyone out there," Lucky Akhanene said. "Libya is not a place to go.
"Most times I wonder if Libya is not from this earth."
Published on BBC News on January 2, 2018
German doctors have spoken out against proposals for young asylum seekers to undergo mandatory medical tests to ascertain their age.
The German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) said the checks were ethically wrong and unreliable.
Conservative politicians have called for tests such as X-rays to make sure young migrants are not lying about being under 18 to avoid deportation.
It follows outrage over the killing of a girl, allegedly by an Afghan migrant.
The 15-year-old was stabbed with a kitchen knife outside a shop in Kandel, in south-western Germany, last week.
An Afghan refugee, who says he is the same age, is accused of attacking her after she broke off their relationship.
After the killing, the girl's father said of the suspect: "There's no way he is ever only 15... We hope that through the process we will now know his true age."
'Great uncertainties'Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian allies, the CSU, wants all young asylum seekers to undergo medical tests if their age is in doubt. Methods include doing an X-ray on the hand to assess bone development, or measuring teeth.
But Frank Ulrich Montgomery, president of the German Medical Association, said the tests had a large margin of error.
"The investigations are complex, expensive and burdened with great uncertainties," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
"If you were to do this with every refugee it would be an interference in their human welfare."
German experts believe many young male migrants lie about being under 18 to get better access to housing and support.
Currently officials try to determine the age of new arrivals through verbal interviews, while medical tests are voluntary.
The CSU says it will push for the tests to become compulsory in coalition talks with the Social Democrats, who oppose such a move.
"I want everyone who comes into our country and claims to be a teenager to be medically checked for their age," said the CSU's Joachim Herrmann, Barvaria's interior minister.
"Young people cost the state more money in special care and have a lower criminal liability. The state can not basically leave it that way."
The killing of the teenage girl in Kandel is the latest case to spark calls for age testing in Germany.
An Iranian asylum seeker is already on trial for allegedly raping and killing a 19-year-old student in Freiburg in October last year. He initially claimed to be 16, but his own father told a court he was 33.
Published on BBC News on January 2, 2018
By Mark Rice-Oxley and reporters from the Guardian, El País, Der Spiegel and Le Monde
There are now more refugees and IDPs than Brits or Californians. As a new year dawns, what are their hopes and fears?
More than 65 million people are currently displaced from their homes – almost one in every 100 human beings. If refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) were a nation they would be the 21st biggest on earth.
As a new year dawns we asked 18 refugees from 18 countries that between them produce almost 90% of the world’s refugees and displaced people what they hope for in 2018.
Read the full article here.