In this last article of the year, it is time to look back at some of the events of the past year in the context of forced movement along the Central Mediterranean Route. In 2019, approximately 1,246 people died in the Mediterranean Sea, and even more on land, during their journey to safety. It was a year in which the European Union secured and externalised its borders, making it harder for asylum seekers to enter Europe. It was also another year in which migrants and refugees in Libya were facing inhumane conditions that continue to be unaddressed. Responsibility sharing was a main topic of discussion among EU member states. In addition, a new relocation system was put in place, Salvini made his exit as Italian deputy Prime Minister, and the criminalization of rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea did not stop NGOs from saving lives.
In this week’s news highlights: Eritrean organisations urge UNHCR and authorities to address roundups in Sudan; US sanctions South Sudan officials; PM Abiy Ahmed wants to work on peace with Eritrean President; Protection for human rights defenders in Ethiopia; Missing ministers in Eritrea; First Global Refugee Forum launced to improve conditions for refugees; Greece urges EU to “share the burden”; Children suicidal in Moria refugee camp, Greece; Teenagers accused of terrorism after interception at sea; Red cross argues EU should adress needs refugees and host communities instead of keeping them out; Turkey to support UN-backed government in Libya; Libyan coast guard and Europe critized by Ocean Viking coordinator; Personal experiences of conditions in Libya; And World Bank recalculates refugee data is needed.
On December 10, on International Human Rights Day, the European Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) co-hosted an event addressing the issue of trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in conflict situations. The event marked the end of the global campaign ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’. Trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in conflict zones is particularly important to address as key challenges remain that make it difficult for women to gain protection; prosecution rates are low, protection laws are poorly implemented and extremist groups use sexual exploitation as a weapon of war. Representative of the UNODC at the event, Yatta Dakowah, stated that 72% of victims are female, indicating the need to address this issue from a gendered perspective.