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New Resources 5-11-2010

May 11, 2010

World Refugee Survey 2009:
Surviving the Worst

From the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, this is the latest edition of USCRI’s annual “Report Card” on how well – or more often badly – the countries of the world respond to  the needs of the refugees within their borders, and for whom they are responsible.
          According to the organization, among those receiving failing grades, Thailand, Malaysia, Kenya, Egypt, and Turkey were singled out for particularly egregious assaults on refugee rights: 

  • The Thai navy was dragging disabled boats full of refugees from Myanmar out to sea and abandoning them,
  • Malaysian officials continued to sell deported refugees into slavery,
  • Kenya forced hundreds of Somali refugees back across the border, beating many and demanding bribes,
  • Turkey deported hundreds of asylum seekers back to their countries and, in one incident, drowned four Iraqis by forcing them to try to swim across a swift river.

USCRI’s website notes that “Nearly 8.5 million refugees have been trapped in camps or otherwise denied their rights for more than 10 years. Eritrean refugees have been stuck in camps in Sudan for 40 years, Tibetans stranded in Nepal for 50, and Palestinians warehoused in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank for 60 years.”
          But some countries also got good grades from USCRI: “Brazil’s refugee system provides excellent protection to those seeking it, and even resettles many Palestinian refugees fleeing the violence in Iraq. Costa Rica has an excellent record of integrating refugees into the economic life of the country. Ecuador launched a massive registration program to try to register and protect Colombian refugees, allowing them to work legally and travel the country without fear of arrest and deportation.”
          The current Survey and earlier editions can be ordered for $25 each, but a wide variety of related information is also available at no cost at USCRI’s website. This includes issue-by-issue Report Cards. Check out the one for the United States.

The Experiences of 100 Torture Surviving
Women of Seeking Justice and Rehabilitation   

Medical Foundation photo by Robert Hammond

Justice Denied

In this recent report (December, 2009), the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture focuses on the increasing targeting of women for acts of torture, and highlights the need for greater support for women torture survivors in rebuilding their lives. The study presents case studies of more than 100 women from 24 countries, who sought refuge in the United Kingdom.
          “Women continue to be targeted for torture,” notes the MF’s Leanne MacMillan. “They are then hampered in their pursuit of redress and even access to basic healthcare in societies where underlying and pervasive gender inequalities and disparities persist. Denying them access to justice and rehabilitation perpetuates a climate in which torturers are able to act with impunity.”
            Some findings of special importance for healthcare and mental health clinicians dealing with refugee populations (quoted from the report’s Executive Summary): “Resort to healthcare in the immediate aftermath of torture was surprisingly low given the brutality of the violence inflicted. Treatment was often sought informally or in secret to avoid public or community knowledge of sexual violation…Many women seeking medical assistance failed to report rape, and none reported that they accessed specific care for sexual violence. One client was referred for psychiatric support following her abuse, compared with two others who were forcibly detained in psychiatric facilities as a result of filing a complaint…The inability of women to report abuse either to security personnel or clinical staff…combined with the difficulties generated by an individual’s response to trauma, the impact of fragmented recall, emotional numbing and late disclosure, are powerful factors that militate against women accessing justice.”

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