Rohingya Refugees Have A Hard Time Finding Reason For Hope : Goats and Soda : ASHLEY WESTERMAN NPR April 23, 2017 7:00 AM ET

Some 2,000 Rohingya refugee families live in the Balukhali camp in southern Bangladesh, according to the camp’s leader.
Michael Sullivan/for NPR

Can all hope be lost?

I used to think not.

I used to think that no matter how tough life gets for people, they always have hope to cling to – to get them through it. 

Then I met some Rohingya refugees on a trip to Bangladesh last month. Reporter Michael Sullivan and I were there to report on the latest wave of the Muslim minority group to flee over the border from Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

We spoke with Rohingya living both inside and outside of the refugee camps that have taken root in southern Bangladesh. Working through interpreters, they told us the stories of how they’d fled from their homeland late last year during the latest Myanmar military crackdown against them. How their villages had been sacked and their homes burnt to the ground. How they’d faced a brutal military campaign of torture and mass rape. Tens of thousands of them had been displaced.

After hearing these distressing accounts, I wanted to know: Given all that they had been through, what were their hopes for the future?

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Source: Rohingya Refugees Have A Hard Time Finding Reason For Hope : Goats and Soda : NPR

POTUS to Unveil Plans for Mexico Border Wall and Limiting Refugees’ Entry – by Margaret TalevJanuary 24, 2017, 8:28 PM PST

People hold signs that read, ‘ Build that Wall’ in Tampa, Florida.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

POTUS plans to unveil actions on national security starting Wednesday that are expected to include steps toward building a wall on the Mexican border and limiting refugee inflows to the U.S., moving to fulfill key promises he made during his election campaign.

“Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!” the president wrote Tuesday night in a message on his personal Twitter feed.w

The announcement on the border wall is expected during a Wednesday afternoon visit by the president to the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency that has primary jurisdiction over securing the border and would carry out most of the other immigration-related steps that Trump talked about in his run for office.

The Mexican peso reversed early gains to drop to a session low against the U.S. dollar after news of Trump’s plan emerged.

One of the hallmarks of POTUS’ presidential run was his pledge to build an impenetrable wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out the people “taking our jobs” and to immediately round up and deport “criminal aliens.” He repeatedly said he will make the Mexican government pay for it, but may tap existing appropriations for border security at DHS to get the process started. Mexico’s government has rejected the notion that they will ever pay for the wall.

Refugee Freeze

POTUS’sa tweet presaged what’s expected to be broader moves in the coming days to curb immigration that would include limits on government programs to settle refugees in the U.S. The POTUS administration is considering a 120-day suspension on refugee admissions and a reduction in the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. this fiscal year to 50,000 from 110,000, according to a person familiar with the plan.

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On refugees, we must do better: Trump’s rhetoric is worse, but both parties have failed – DANIEL DENVIR SUNDAY, SEP 4, 2016 03:00 AM PDT

The number of refugees being allowed into the U.S. is woefully inadequate to meet the scale of human suffering

On refugees, we must do better: Trump's rhetoric is worse,  but both parties have failed

Donald Trump’s immigration speech on Wednesday predictably offered more of the same, including a warning that Syrian refugees pose a grave danger to American national security.

“We have no idea who these people are, where they come from,” Trump said. “I always say ‘Trojan Horse.’ Watch what’s going to happen, folks. It’s not going to be pretty.”

This is a running refrain of the Trump campaign. arlier this summer, Trump claimed that Obama was “letting tens of thousands of people come in from Syria, and nobody knows who these people are, and a lot of those people are ISIS.”

Nobody knows who they are, apparently, except Trump, who somehow knows that they “are ISIS.” Unsurprisingly, Trump was wrong about three factual assertions in just one sentence: Roughly 12,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled, they are subject to intensive screening and they are fleeing ISIS and the Assad regime — not fighting on their behalf.

The resettlement of actual refugees, however, has garnered far less attention than Trump’s insults. Last week, the Obama administration met its pledge to resettle 10,000 Syrians over the past year. Given the toxic political environment, that’s a noteworthy achievement. Yet that number, say advocates, is woefully inadequate to meet the scale of human suffering unfolding across the Middle East. Refugee advocates are now calling on Obama to allow a far larger number into the U.S. in the coming year.

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Clashes Between Police and Migrants on Greek Border: VICE News Quick Hit – Published on Apr 7, 2016

Dozens of stranded refugees confronted riot police on Greece’s border with Macedonia on Thursday. They’re demanding authorities reopen the border following a controversial agreement that ends their journey to Western Europe and sends them back to Turkey.

Watch more Quick Hits at VICE News –

The Deadly Journey From Libya’s Migrant Jails – Vice News Published on Mar 30, 2016

Desperate to escape conflict and poverty, thousands of migrants and refugees attempt the perilous journey to Europe each year, with many crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa in rubber dinghies and wooden boats.

In the wake of the decommissioning of Mare Nostrum, a search and rescue operation run by Italy, the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), launched their own vessel, named the Bourbon Argos, to find those stranded at sea and save those in trouble on one of the deadliest routes to Europe.

On board the vessel, refugees and migrants are provided with medical aid, food, and shelter, then brought safely to Italian shores. Having survived life in Libya, ruthless treatment by smugglers, and horrific conditions aboard flimsy boats, once aboard the Bourbon Argos they face yet more uncertainty as they approach Europe.

VICE News teamed up with MSF to document these missions in the Mediterranean. In this extra scene, we speak with rescued refugees and migrants, where they describe the situation in Libya before embarking on one of the deadliest routes to Europe.

Watch “Surviving One of the Deadliest Routes to Europe: Refugees at Sea” –

Clashes as Calais Migrant Camp Demolished: VICE News Quick Hit – Vice News Published on Mar 1, 2016

French police have started demolishing the makeshift migrant camp in Calais after a court order granted them permission to gradually remove the southern area. Several thousand people live in the camp, known as “the Jungle.” French authorities have offered metal containers for the migrants and refugees to move into, however many people feel they’re inadequate and that there aren’t nearly enough for the people there.

Around 100 shelters were destroyed yesterday, with migrants and refugees setting fires in protest. Clashes broke out between them and the police, which went on into the night.

​Read “Violent Demolition of the ‘Jungle’ Refugee Camp in France Set to Resume” –

Greek Police Round Up Migrants on Macedonian Border: VICE News Quick Hit – Vice News – Published on Feb 23, 2016

Greek police on Tuesday rounded up dozens of Afghan and Iranian migrants and refugees near the country’s northern border and put them on buses bound for the capital Athens. Macedonia has tightened border controls, refusing entry to Afghans and making it more difficult for Iraqis and Syrians to reach Western Europe without the appropriate documentation.

The Elephant in the Room – By Alexander Betts February 2016

Europe is still struggling to cope with a massive influx of refugees, with over a million asylum seekers arriving across the Mediterranean Sea. Nearly all of them are Muslims. This fact has shaped public and political opinion but has rarely been openly and honestly discussed. Can a Europe of 28 member states share responsibility for a smaller number of refugees than is currently in Lebanon alone? Of course it can. In fact, most European countries need the labor.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at Feb 6, 2016 1.50

The elephant in the room is an underlying Islamophobia. The simple fact is that European member states don’t really want to welcome Muslim migrants. This has been explicit in the case of countries with vocal far-right parties and in central European countries with Christian nationalist governments. But the liberal political elites of western Europe have steered clear of admitting that the biggest single barrier to coherent asylum and immigration policies is public anxiety about Islam. Far-right parties have pandered to these fears, stoking xenophobia. For the most part, though, people across the rest of the political spectrum have remained silent on the topic.

After all, the problem can’t be that Europe believes it is unable to deal with the flow of migrants. It has historically been able to cope well with large influxes of refugees. Throughout the Cold War, for example, millions of people moved from eastern Europe to western Europe, fleeing communism. Europe then resettled hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s and 1990s.

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German far-right protests against refugees turn violent – January 9, 2016 12:00PM ET

Riot police broke up far-right protesters in Cologne on Saturday as they marched against Germany’s open-door migration policy after asylum seekers were identified as suspects in mass assaults on women on New Year’s Eve.Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at Jan 10, 2016 4.48

The attacks, ranging from sexual molestation to theft, shocked Germany, which took in 1.1 million migrants and refugees in 2015 under asylum laws championed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite fervent opposition.

Shortly before Saturday’s protest began, Merkel hardened her stance toward refugees, promising expulsion for criminals and a longer-term reduction in refugee numbers to Germany.

Police said around 1,700 people attended the rally organized by the far-right anti-Islam PEGIDA movement, which has seized on the alleged involvement of refugees in the New Year attacks in Cologne as proof Merkel’s policy is flawed.

Demonstrators, some of whom bore tattoos with far-right symbols such as a skull in a German soldier’s helmet, had chanted “Merkel must go” and “this is the march of the national resistance”. “Rapefugees not welcome,” one banner read.

A police spokesman said roughly half of those at the PEGIDA protest were from the ‘hooligan scene’. Some in the crowd threw bottles and firecrackers at officers, and riot police used water cannons to disperse the protesters.

Two people were injured in the clash, and police detained a number of demonstrators.

PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, almost fizzled out last year when its leader resigned after a photo was published of him posing as Adolf Hitler.

But its ranks have swelled as resentment spread of Merkel’s welcoming stance to refugees.

In all, about 1,700 police officers were on the streets of Cologne, dwarfing the number on duty during the chaotic scenes of New Year’s Eve when at least 120 women were robbed or sexually molested.

“The events on New Year’s Eve led to a lot of emotion,” said a police spokesman. “We had feared that emotions would boil over.”

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Six fights set to erupt in Congress – By Jordain Carney January 03, 2016, 02:30 pm

Lawmakers will be facing several divisive policy fights when they return to Washington in January.

Republican leaders in both chambers will be put to the test as they seek to protect their vulnerable incumbents and put forward a legislative agenda that helps their party’s nominee win the White House.

The challenge will be particularly acute for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is trying to protect his 54-seat majority on an election year map that favors Democrats.
Here are six big fights awaiting lawmakers in the New Year.


The Senate is headed toward round two in the battle over refugees after conservatives voiced frustrated that the issue wasn’t addressed in the year-end spending bill.

Republican lawmakers have called for blocking President Obama’s plan to resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refugees, fearing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could use the program to slip fighters into the United States.

McConnell has pledged to take up legislation dealing with the refugee acceptance program during the first quarter of 2016, though it’s unclear what the proposal will contain.

The GOP leader has already put a House-passed bill on the Senate calendar that would restrict Syrian and Iraqi refugees, meaning it could come up for a vote.

But the House bill has received fierce pushback from Senate Democrats.

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the Democratic whip, suggested that the “fevered pitch” that surrounded the bill when it passed in November has subsided.

“It doesn’t stand up to reason that we’re focusing on 70,000 people that are vetted for two years,” Durbin said.

While Durbin said he hasn’t done an official vote count, he thinks Senate Democrats would be able to block the refugee bill from getting the 60 votes needed to move forward.


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