Albania Ready To Welcome Hundreds Of Afghan Refugees

Taliban fighters and local people sit on an Afghan National Army (ANA) humvee vehicle on a street in Jalalabad province on August 15, 2021. (Photo by – / AFP)


Albania said it was ready on Sunday to temporarily host hundreds of Afghan refugees bound for the United States, including women leaders, government officials and others in danger from the Taliban.

“NATO member Albania is ready to shoulder its share of the burden,” Prime Minister Edi Rama said on his facebook page on Sunday.

“Washington has already asked Albania to consider the possibility of serving as a transit country for a number of Afghan political immigrants whose final destination would be the United States,” he said.

Rama said Tirana had already received requests for Albania to provide refuge for “hundreds of people from intellectual circles and women activists. Afghan women on the Taliban execution lists”.

“We will not say ‘no’, and not just because our great allies ask us to, but because we are Albania,” Rama said.

READ ALSO: Afghan President Flees Country As Taliban Captures Kabul

The US, Britain and other Western countries are in a race against time to evacuate their own citizens as well as vulnerable Afghans who worked for them and fear reprisals by the Taliban.

Canada has also expressed its readiness to welcome more than 20,000 refugees.

At the request of the United States, in 2006, Albania agreed to host five Chinese Uyghurs detained at Guantanamo, considered by Beijing to be terrorists.

In 2013, at the request of Washington and the UN, Albania hosted 200 members of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMPI). Their number has since increased and there are now about 3,000 in Ashraf and Manze, the largest group of PMOI exiles in the world.


Refugees Cannot Be Returned To Greece, German Court Rules

A file photo of a court gavel.


A German court said Tuesday that two refugees granted asylum in Greece could not be sent back there because of the “serious risk of inhumane and degrading treatment” they could face.

The two men from Syria and Eritrea would face “a serious risk that they would not be able to meet their most basic needs if they return”, to Greece, said the court in the western city of Muenster.

Germany had previously rejected the two men’s asylum applications because they had already been granted international protection in Greece and threatened them with deportation.

But the court ruled they would face “extreme material hardship” if they were returned, citing difficulties finding accommodation and access to the labour market.

“The applicants’ applications for asylum cannot be rejected as inadmissible because they face a serious risk of inhumane and degrading treatment if they return to Greece,” the court said.

READ ALSO: UK Unemployment Hits 5.0% On COVID-19 Fallout

Since becoming one of the main gateways into Europe for migrants and asylum-seekers in 2015, Greece has built dozens of detention centres on its islands.

But long waits in the camps and overcrowding are common.

Over 7,000 people have been living in the 32-hectare (79-acre) Kara Tepe tent camp on the island of Lesbos since September, when the permanent facility of Moria burned down.

Human rights campaigners say they are living in squalid conditions with “fewer rights than animals”.

People are supposed to apply for asylum in the first EU country they arrive in before being relocated if they are successful.

But the system has been widely derided as some countries barely accept any refugees and others like Greece and Italy bear the brunt.

Athens last year moved thousands of refugees from Lesbos and other islands to the mainland.

But many have been unable to find accommodation or jobs after leaving the camps, and the government has scaled back housing and cash benefits.

The Week in Pictures: Christmas, COVID-19 Vaccines And Refugees

This picture taken in Paris on December 22, 2020 shows a Christmas Santa Claus decoration, with a protective mask. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)



Santa in a snow globe, child choristers at St Paul’s Cathedral, An Ethiopian refugee who fled the Tigray conflict praying during Sunday Mass, and much more that happened around the world in pictures.



Norway’s Halvor Egner Granerud competes in the men’s FIS Ski Jumping World Cup competition in Engelberg, central Switzerland, on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)


Lebanese launch lanterns in Beirut’s Gemmayzeh neighbourhood on December 20, 2020, during the lighting of a Christmas tree in memory of the victims of the devastating port blast in that took place in the capital’s port in August. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)


Members of the Afghan security forces stand at the site of an attack, in Kabul on December 20, 2020. – A car bomb killed eight people and wounded more than 15 others in Kabul on December 20, officials said, the latest attack to rock the Afghan capital. (Photo by Zakeria HASHIMI / AFP)


Syrian-Armenian potter Misak Antranik Petros uses an ancient pottery wheel to churn different types of pots at his workshop located inside an ancient mud-brick house near the city of Qamishli in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province, on December 19, 2020. – Petros was only a teenager when he had to take over for his sick father and become the main potter of the family. He has since become a master of the craft and is keen to pass his skills on. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)


A medical worker tends to a patient in the sub-intensice care unit of the Tor Vergata hospital in Rome on December 21, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)


A woman pays respects to a victim of the war over Karabakh, during a gathering for a memorial ceremony, at the Yerablur Military Memorial Cemetery in Yerevan, on December 19, 2020. – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan led, on December 19, 2020, thousands in a march in memory of those killed in a six-week war with Azerbaijan as the Caucasus country began three days of mourning. Pashinyan has been under huge pressure from the opposition to step down after nearly 3,000 Armenians were killed in the clashes with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. (Photo by Karen MINASYAN / AFP)


A protester from the Nepalese Students Union, which is affiliated with the opposition Congress party shouts slogans during a demonstration after the parliament was abruptly dissolved in Kathmandu on December 20, 2020. (Photo by Prakash MATHEMA / AFP)


This photo taken on December 21, 2020 shows people watching a performer during a pole dancing competition amid temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius in Mohe, in northeastern China’s Henglongjiang province. (Photo by STR / AFP) 


A man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, wearing a face shield and kneeling behind a transparent barrier amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, gestures to a girl at a shopping mall with Christmas decorations in Kuala Lumpur on December 22, 2020. (Photo by Mohd RASFAN / AFP)


This picture taken in Paris on December 22, 2020 shows a Christmas Santa Claus decoration, with a protective mask. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)


Maryland Cremation Services transporter Reggie Elliott brings the remains of a Covid-19 victim to his van from the hospital’s morgue in Baltimore, Maryland on December 24, 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.  (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)


US President-elect Joe Biden receives a Covid-19 vaccination from Tabe Mase, Nurse Practitioner and Head of Employee Health Services, at the Christiana Care campus in Newark, Delaware on December 21, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)


The Eiffel Tower is reflected in a puddle as a man runs, on December 24, 2020 in Paris. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)


A surfer wipes out at Pipeline on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii, on December 24, 2020. (Photo by Brian Bielmann / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE


An Ethiopian refugee who fled the Tigray conflict prays during Sunday Mass at an Ethiopian Orthodox church built by former Ethiopian refugees near the Um Raquba refugee camp in Gedaref, eastern Sudan, on Dec. 6. Thousands of Tigrayan refugees from Ethiopia have fled across the border into Sudan with stories of atrocities committed during a spiraling conflict. — Tasuyoshi Chiba / AFP



Santa chats with a child in Seattle. Known as the Seattle Santa, he is usually booked for private events but is set up this year in a socially-distanced snow globe. — David Ryder


A guard holds his pistol while transferring a bag of cash to an armored vehicle in Johannesburg on Dec. 8.  — Michele Spatari / AFP



Santa Claus waves at visitors as he hangs from the cable car on Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro on Dec. 5. — Mauro Pimentel / AFP



This photograph taken in December 11, 2020 shows a health worker statute placed in front of Basilica of St Francis in Assisi. – Each evening during Christmas in addition a statue of a nurse will be placed in a crib in front of the Basilica, homage to Italy’s health workers for their heroic efforts during the Covid-19 emergency. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)


Choristers from the St. Paul’s Choir pose for photographers during a photo call at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, on December 14, 2020. (PHOTO: Leon Neal)

Zulum Seeks UN Support On Return Of Nigerian Refugees In Neighbouring Countries

A file photo of Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum. Photo: [email protected]


Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum has called for support from the United Nations for over 200,000 refugees from his state who are in neighbouring countries to return home.

The governor urged UNHCR, a UN refugee agency, to support in returning Borno residents taking refuge in neighbouring Cameroon and the Niger Republic.

Zulum made the call on Thursday at a stakeholders’ implementation meeting on the Global Compact of Refugees in Abuja.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

READ ALSO: Kaduna Govt, Police Say 16 Kano Indigenes Not Killed By Gunmen

He noted that most of the refugees have been agitating to return to their communities to pick up the pieces of their lives.

“We need to follow up commitment with action, which is very important. One of the importance of this Global Compact of Refugees is to support citizens of countries of origin for the return of refugees back to their home country,

“I am of the view that we should first look at how we can help to support Nigerians who are taking refuge in another country, especially those who are living in the neighbouring Niger Republic as well as the Republic of Cameroon who have been agitating in the past.

“This is very important because we have over 200,000 from Borno State who are now refugees in countries like Cameroon, Republic of Niger and Chad.

“The government of Borno is willing to support and work with the humanitarian sector to ensure the return of Nigerian refugees in other countries,” Zulum said.

The Governor added that many communities have been resettled in the last couple of months and the state government is not forcing anyone to return but people are going back to their communities voluntarily.

Also at the event, UNHCR country representative to Nigeria, Chansa Kapaya said, the global compact on refugees has four key objectives they are; ease the pressures on host countries; enhance refugee self-reliance; expand access to third-country solutions, and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

Other speakers at the meeting include the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hajjia Sadiya Umar Farouq.

The UN country director also said despite Nigeria’s complex humanitarian challenges, the country has been host country to over 61,000 Cameroonian refugees and asylum-seekers in Cross River, Benue and Taraba since 2017.

She added that Nigeria has also hosted about 4,300 urban refugees from the DRC, CAR, Syria, Turkey, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire and others.

Pope Francis Calls For World To Push For End To Libya Violence

Pope Francis leaves at the end of a Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, on June 14, 2020 at St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican, as the city-state eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)


Pope Francis on Sunday urged international bodies as well as political and military leaders to stop the violence in Libya and to also end the plight of migrants, refugees and others trapped there.

Speaking from a window at his Vatican residence on St Peter’s Square, the pope told the faithful he included his concerns in his prayers over recent days.

“I am following the dramatic situation in Libya with great apprehension,” he said.

“I urge international bodies and those who have political and military responsibilities to recommence with conviction and resolve the search for a path towards an end to the violence, leading to peace, stability and unity in the country.”

The pope also said he prayed for “the thousands of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons in Libya”.

Alluding apparently to the coronavirus pandemic also hitting Libya, he said “the health situation has aggravated the already precarious conditions in which they find themselves, making them more vulnerable to forms of exploitation and violence.”

He added “there is cruelty”, urging the international community to take “their plight to heart” and find ways and means “to provide them with the protection they need, a dignified condition and a future of hope.”

READ ALSO: Second Wave Fears As China Reports More New Infections

The oil-rich North African nation has been mired in chaos and violence since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) controls the west, including the capital Tripoli, while military strongman Khalifa Haftar holds the east and some of the far-flung oases and oilfields that dot the south.

War and division are now weakening Libya’s fight against the novel coronavirus, with the government struggling to deal with an outbreak deep in the desert south.


COVID-19: Cameroonian Refugees In Cross River Receive Relief Items

A UNHCR official inspects a scene.
A UNHCR official inspects a scene.


Cameroonian refugees seeking asylum in Cross River State on Tuesday received relief items aimed at cushioning the harsh economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The items, which were said to worth millions of naira, were distributed by the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) in collaboration with the National Commissioner for Refugees, Migrants, And Internally displaced persons.

The refugee settlement located at Adagom and Ukende/Akpakpanga in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State serves as a home for thousands of refugees.

According to the UNHCR, Cross River State plays host to over 70 thousand refugees and the agency intends to strengthen COVID-19 awareness within the camp.

The refugees were also presented with cleaning agents and other products to encourage proper hygiene and prevent COVID-19 spread in the camp.

23,000 Refugees Flee Into Niger Over Violence In North West Of Nigeria – UN

File photo: IDP cams in the north of Nigeria.



The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that an estimated 23,000 persons in the northwestern part of Nigeria, have been forced to seek safety and security in Niger in the last one month (April) due to the violence in the region.

According to a statement issued by the UNHCR on Tuesday, this takes the total number of refugees fleeing that part of the country to take sanctuary in neighbouring Niger, to more than 60,000 since the first influx, in April last year.

“Since April 2019, people have fled relentless attacks by armed groups in the Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states of Nigeria. Most found refuge in Niger’s Maradi region,” the statement read.

“Fearing and fleeing the same insecurity in the border areas, an additional 19,000 Niger nationals have become displaced inside their own country”.

The UNHCR further explained that the latest influx of refugees, which involves mainly desperate women and children, follows attacks in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states during the month of April.

“Several villages in several Local Government Areas were attacked by gunmen.

“The deadliest attack claimed 47 lives in Kankara, Danmusa and Dusi-ma Local Government Areas in Katsina State and prompted airstrikes by the Nigerian Armed Forces,” the statement added.

According to the UNHCR, those fleeing speak of extreme violence unleashed against civilians, murders, kidnappings for ransom and pillaging and looting of villages and despite border closures due to COVID-19,  they are still being allowed to seek protection in Niger.

Meanwhile, there’s now an urgent need for water, food and access to health services, as well as shelter and clothing.

But the agency says it is working closely with authorities in Niger to relocate at least 7,000 refugees to safety, in villages 20 kilometres away from the border, where water, food, shelter, access to health and other essential assistance can be provided.

This, according to them, will also ease the pressure on host communities in border areas, where basic infrastructure and services are lacking.

At Least 15 Refugees Drown After Boat Sinks Off Bangladesh


At least 15 women and children drowned and more than 50 others were missing after a boat overloaded with Rohingya refugees sank off southern Bangladesh as it tried to reach Malaysia Tuesday, officials said.

Some 138 people — mainly women and children — were packed on a trawler barely 13 metres (40 feet) long, trying to cross the Bay of Bengal, a coast guard spokesman told AFP.

“It sank because of overloading. The boat was meant to carry a maximum of 50 people. The boat was also loaded with some cargo,” another coast guard spokesman, Hamidul Islam, added.

Seventy-one people have been rescued including 46 women. Among the dead, 11 were women and the rest children.

Anwara Begum said two of her sons, aged six and seven, drowned in the tragedy.

“We were four of us in the boat… Another child (son, aged 10) is very sick,” the 40-year-old told AFP.

Fishermen tipped off the coast guard after they saw survivors swimming and crying for help in the sea.

The boat’s keel hit an undersea coral in shallow water off Saint Martin’s island, Bangladesh’s southernmost territory, before it sank, survivors said.

“We swam in the sea before boats came and rescued us,” said survivor Mohammad Hossain, 20.

Coast guard commander Sohel Rana said three survivors, including a Bangladeshi, were detained over human trafficking allegations.

Nearly one million Rohingya live in squalid camps near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, many fleeing the neighbouring country after a 2017 brutal military crackdown.

With few opportunities for jobs and education in the camps, thousands have tried to reach other countries like Malaysia and Thailand by attempting the hazardous 2,000-kilometre journey.

An estimated 25,000 Rohingya left Bangladesh and Myanmar on boats in 2015 trying to get to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Hundreds drowned when overloaded boats sank.

 ‘Tragedy waiting to happen’ 

Begum said her family paid a Bangladeshi trafficker $450 per head to be taken to Malaysia.

“We’re first taken to a hill where we stayed for five days. Then they used three small trawlers to take us to a large trawler, which sank,” she said.

Shakirul Islam, a migration expert whose group works with Rohingya to raise awareness against trafficking, said desperation in the camps was making refugees want to leave.

“It was a tragedy waiting to happen,” he said.

“They just want to get out, and fall victim to traffickers who are very active in the camps.”

Islam said in the past two months dozens of Rohingya reported approaches from traffickers to his OKUP migration rights group.

“Human smuggling and trafficking in the Bay of Bengal is particularly difficult to address as it requires concerted effort from multiple states,” the Bangladesh head of UN agency the International Organisation for Migration, Giorgi Gigauri, told AFP.

“The gaps in coordination are easily exploited by criminal networks.”

Since last year, Bangladesh authorities have picked up over 500 Rohingya from rickety fishing trawlers or coastal villages as they waited to board boats.

Trafficking often increases during the November-March period when the sea is safest for the small trawlers used by traffickers.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal to send back some Rohingya to their homeland, but none have agreed to return because of safety fears.

Save the Children called on Myanmar to “take all necessary steps to ensure the Rohingya community can return to their homes in a safe and dignified manner”.

“The tragic drowning of women and children… should be a wake-up call for us all,” Athena Rayburn of Save the Children said in a statement.


UN: Nigeria Has 218,000 Refugees In Cameroon, Chad, Niger Republic


The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has said that there are about 218,000 Nigeria refugees in Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the UNHCR country representative, Mr Anthonio Canhandula, urged the Federal Government to create conditions that would facilitate the return of the refugees to the country.

Mr Canhandula added that Nigeria is currently housing 46,000 refugees from Cameroon, which is spread across Benue, Cross River and Taraba States.

He also noted that only 1.2 million of the 1.8 million accessible Internally Displaced Persons are receiving assistance – a situation which he believes requires urgent attention.

133 Nigerian Refugees Return From Cameroon

Source: Nigerian Air Force



About 133 Nigerian refugees comprising mostly women and children who fled Nigeria for Cameroon in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgence in the northeast have returned to the country.

The returnees touched down at the Yola International Airport aboard the Nigerian Air Force C130 at about 5:00 pm on Thursday.

They were accompanied by officials of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, UNHCR, IOM, NAPTIP, security agencies and other humanitarian organisations.

Upon their arrival, they were taken to a facility within the Yola International Airport where food was provided for them before going through a screening process.

According to the UNHCR Representative, Roger Volo, the exercise is a voluntary repatriation because the refugees voluntarily signed to return to their ancestral homes.

Also speaking on the repatriation, the newly sworn in Minister for Humanitarian Services, Disaster Management and Internally Displaced Persons, Sadiya Faruk who was on ground to receive the refugees, assured them that government will take care of their welfare.

There are about 97,000 Nigerians taking refuge in Cameroon out of which 8,000 are from Adamawa state while the rest are indigenes of Borno and Yobe State.

According to the Minister, the evacuation of the refugees will continue until all those who are willing to return are brought back home.

Narrating her ordeal, one of the returnees, Amina Saidu, lamented that while in Cameroon, she and her family had to endure so much hardship.

“We were in Cameroon for five years but I left my husband there because he wanted to harvest his farm before returning home in the next batch.

“While in Cameroon we suffered, we didn’t have water and we suffered a lot to fetch fire wood for our cooking. Whenever they give us food, we eat half of it while we sell the other half to meet our other needs. We were not given other condiments except salt, so we need money to buy other food items.

“We are very happy to be back home. We thank God and also the government for bringing us back home,” she said.

The Adamawa State Governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Basir Ahmed, said he was delighted about their return.

Bangladesh Ready To Repatriate 3,500 Rohingya Refugees To Myanmar

This file photo shows Myanmar Navy personnel escorting a group of Rohingya Muslims back to their camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State after they were caught fleeing on a boat.


Some 3,500 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have been cleared to return home to Myanmar beginning this week, a top official said Monday, nearly two years after a military crackdown sparked their exodus.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in August 2017 from a military offensive in Myanmar – joining 200,000 already there – but virtually none have volunteered to return despite the countries signing a repatriation deal.

Bangladesh refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam, however, said he was “optimistic” about a new repatriation process scheduled to start on Thursday.

A previous attempt in November 2018 to return 2,260 Rohingya failed after they refused to leave the camp without guarantees for their safety.

“Everything is ready… the land transit point has been prepared,” Kalam told reporters after a meeting with Myanmar officials in Cox’s Bazar, southeast Bangladesh, where the refugees live in vast camps.

“Nobody will be forced to return unless they volunteer,” he said.

Bangladesh and Myanmar officials plan to repatriate 300 Rohingya each day, with some 3,500 refugees cleared to make the journey home, Kalam said.

The new push follows a visit last month to the camps by high-ranking officials from Myanmar led by Permanent Foreign Secretary Myint Thu.

Sunday will mark the second anniversary of the crackdown that sparked the mass exodus to the Bangladesh camps.

Kalam said Myanmar and United Nations officials were meeting with selected refugees on Tuesday to encourage them to return to Rakhine State.

The Rohingya, who are mostly Muslim, are not recognised as an official minority by the Myanmar government which considers them Bengali interlopers despite many families having lived in Rakhine for generations.

UNHCR Calls For More Efforts To Alleviate Suffering Of IDPs

UN To Help 40,000 Cameroonian Refugees In Nigeria


The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) has called for additional efforts from states and the Federal Government to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries as well as Internally Displaced Persons living in camps across Nigeria.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the 2019 International Day for Refugees in Abuja, the country’s representative for the UN agency, Antonio Canhandula, noted that recent crisis in Zamfara and Sokoto States have swelled the numbers of Nigerian refugees in Niger and Cameroon.

According to him, there is an urgent need to improve the quality of response to the IDPs.

He also maintained that its time for countries that are a signatory to the Kampala Convention to domesticate the terms of 2009 agreement, which seeks to protect the rights of refugees and IDPs.