Daily World News Digest, 18 June 2015

Number of displaced people worldwide hits record high – UN report

The BBC reports today that the number of people displaced by war, conflict or persecution reached a record high of nearly 60 million in 2014, according to a UNHCR report that says the number of people forced to flee their homes rose by 8.3 million from the previous year. The continuing conflict in Syria is seen as a major factor behind the record numbers. UNHCR head Antonio Guterres told the BBC the “world is a mess” and that humanitarian agencies do not have the capacity “to pick up the pieces”. The report says that 59.5 million people were displaced by the end of 2014. This included 19.5 million refugees, 38.2 million internally displaced people and 1.8 million still awaiting the outcome of asylum claims. More than 50 percent of the refugees were children. In Syria alone, there were 3.9 million refugees and 7.6 million internally displaced persons. The authors of the report say their findings mean that one in every 122 people on the planet was either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum. http://bbc.in/1Rbmc21

Serbian PM “shocked” at Hungary’s plan for migrant fence

The BBC reports today that Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is “shocked” by Hungary’s plan to erect a border fence to keep out migrants. Vucic said the four-metre high fence was “not the solution” to migrants entering Hungary from Serbia. Hungarian authorities announced the plan on Wednesday, saying the fence would run the length of the 175km (109-mile) border between the countries. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Hungary could not wait for the EU to find a solution to immigration. Speaking on TV during a visit to Oslo, Mr Vucic said: “Building walls is not the solution. Serbia can’t be responsible for the situation created by the migrants, we are just a transit country. Is Serbia responsible for the crisis in Syria?” There was also criticism from the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, who described the planned fence as “ill-advised.” There has been a sharp rise in the number of migrants and asylum seekers entering Hungary in 2015. The government said about 54,000 migrants entered the country so far this year, compared to 43,000 people in 2014. Police registered 10,000 people illegally going over the border in January alone. http://bbc.in/1d0RFGD

Ukraine joins Convention on Protection from Enforced Disappearance

Interfax-Ukraine reported on 17 June that Ukraine has joined the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The relevant bill was passed by 265 votes in the Ukrainian Parliament on Wednesday. So far, the Convention has been signed by 94 states, according to an explanatory note to the bill. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted at the 61st session of the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006. The convention came into force on 23 December 2010. http://bit.ly/1TwiyU9

Secret police detentions of activists on the rise in Egypt

The SunHerald from the US state of Mississippi carried an AP story on 17 June reporting that Egyptian security agencies are increasingly detaining activists and students in secret, snatching them from homes or the street and holding them without official record of their arrest, as their families scramble to find them. Activists have tracked more than 160 such suspected disappearances in police custody during the past two months, the report says, describing this as a return to past practices under autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, when detainees were held, sometimes for years, without trial under notorious emergency laws in effect for decades and lifted after his 2011 ouster. Government officials, including Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, have repeatedly denied there are any extra-legal detainees in Egypt, saying those in custody are held either on a prosecutor’s order or were arrested during the act of a crime. http://bit.ly/1Lk30gQ

Russia: abusive counterinsurgency tactics in Southern Republic

Human Rights Watch has issued a report today that finds the Russian government’s response to a decade-long insurgency in Dagestan, the southern Russian republic, has been marked by serious human rights violations. Insurgents have also attacked civilians the report says. It documents human rights violations in counterinsurgency efforts as well as crimes by insurgents in Dagestan from 2012 through 2014. Human Rights Watch found that authorities in some cases used excessive force in detaining suspects, forcibly disappeared people, or held them incommunicado in undisclosed locations without access to family or lawyers. In some of these cases, police beat suspects to compel them to confess or to provide information. Local officials and security forces frequently place serious obstacles in the way of lawyers and human rights advocates who defend people targeted in counterinsurgency efforts and journalists who investigate the issues, and in some cases have threatened their lives and well-being. http://bit.ly/1IQkAIV

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.