Uzbek Religious Students Recalled From Egypt, Turkey In New Crackdown

Uzbekistan is once again worrying about where some of its citizens are studying Islam and officials in the country and its embassies in Egypt and Turkey are taking measures to ease these concerns.
The Uzbek government has apparently recalled some 1,500 young people studying at religious schools in Egypt in recent months.
The reasons are still vague, but Uzbek authorities are not only working to bring back some of their citizens studying Islam in Egypt and Turkey, they are also tightening control over who leaves the country to study religion abroad.
RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service, known locally as Ozodlik, said a representative from the Uzbek Embassy in Egypt confirmed in a June 9 phone call that the prestigious Al-Azhar University would now only accept an Uzbek student of religion after Uzbekistan’s Committee for Religious Affairs of the Cabinet of Ministers had given an official recommendation for that particular student.
The embassy claimed that according to the administration at Al-Azhar, hundreds of students from Uzbekistan had not been attending their courses or taking exams. The Uzbek Embassy representative in Cairo called this an “alarming fact.”
RFE/RL spoke with a person connected to Uzbekistan’s State Security Service (DXX). Speaking under condition of anonymity, this person said most of the approximately 1,500 Uzbek students who were brought back from Egypt in recent months were from the Ferghana, Andijon, and Namangan provinces in Uzbekistan’s section of the Ferghana Valley, one of the most conservative religious regions in Central Asia.
The embassy in Egypt posted a statement on its website expressing concern that “most citizens” were being taught at dubious “establishments and centers” in Cairo. The source close to the DXX said in many cases these students had flown to Dubai on one-week visas and from there traveled to Egypt.
Ozodlik also noted that in Turkey, at least three madrasahs where Uzbek students were studying were recently closed by the Turkish security service.
Additionally, the source connected to the DXX said that in the first five months of 2021, some 1,800 minors had been stopped at Uzbekistan’s borders as they attempted to travel to Egypt to study at religious schools.
Ozodlik’s sources said these young people and many of the students in Egypt and Turkey were being sent there, but the sources did not say who was sending them abroad for religious education.
Mubashshir Ahmad is the founder of the Zon.uz website. He studied at Al-Azhar in the 1990s. Ahmad called the Uzbek government’s actions “interference” in people’s constitutional right to education.
Ahmad has helped arrange for Uzbek citizens to attend madrasahs in Egypt and he claimed that about one month ago, the Foreign Ministry declared “hundreds” of Uzbek citizens in Egypt to be on a “wanted list,” including some who were teaching at madrasahs.
Ahmad said an acquaintance had recently returned to Uzbekistan from the Middle East and was questioned about religious schools. He said others had also been questioned upon return to their homeland.
This is not the first time Uzbekistan has recalled religious students studying at foreign schools. In 1997, the Uzbek authorities brought back some 2,000 students from Turkey after hearing that Islamic clerics from fundamentalist sects had been trying to recruit them.
Some were studying the works of the late Kurdish Sunni Muslim theologian Said Nursi, and for more than 10 years after this recall there were arrests and prosecutions in Uzbekistan of people for distributing or teaching the well-known Nursi’s works.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Voices from the Venezuelan Migration in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – Regional report

Adolescent Venezuelan girls feel unsafe in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

For World Refugee Day, Plan International launches a research study on the situation of refugee and migrant girls and adolescents from Venezuela, living in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The majority of girls who have fled Venezuela’s political and economic crisis do not feel safe in their new country, a study has found.

A study – conducted by the girls’ rights organization Plan International – has revealed that rape, sexual abuse, harassment, and commercial sexual exploitation are the main concerns for refugee and migrant girls in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia.

Of the 452 girls who were interviewed, all of whom are aged between 10-19, 50% say they feel unsafe in the streets, while 21% of girls and 13% of adolescents have witnessed violence, sexual abuse or verbal aggression against their peers.

BEING A MIGRANT PLACES GIRLS AT RISK OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

The study, called “Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Voices from the Venezuelan Migration in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – Regional Report”, shows how being a migrant places girl at risk of gender-based violence.

The reasons for this are many, but include a lack of official documents (20%), a shortage of school spaces (20%), early pregnancy (15%), and other factors such as lack of economic resources and having to work.

“When I first entered school they called me ‘veneca’, [a derogatory way of referring to Venezuelan migrant] they bullied me and told me I was a starving person”. (15 year-old adolescent, Soledad, Colombia)

40% of girls also don’t have access to basic health services, and of those aged 15 and older, one in five (19%) told Plan International that they are or have been pregnant. The average age of pregnancy was 16 years old. This contrasts with the expectations to become a mother, set by themselves at around 25 years of age.

GIRLS FACE BARRIERS AS THEY TRY TO REBUILD LIVES

Debora Cobar, Executive Director of Plan International in the Americas, said: “Migrant girls have the right to a life free of violence and we are all responsible for making this a reality. Our report shows that having already endured so much, girls are facing unimaginable barriers as they try to build a new life outside of Venezuela. States, however, must guarantee girls’ access to social services and justice systems”.

“Plan International calls on the states of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to make adjustments in public policies, legal protection and systems for the restoration of rights, so that as signatories of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, they can fully protect each one of them without distinction of nationality, race or migratory condition.”

More than half (52%) of the girls have been worried about not having food, with nearly half (44%) saying they have sometimes gone to bed hungry and had to resort to begging or asking for discarded food.

Plan International has been supporting Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and works through partners in Venezuela. The organisation’s programmes reach 385,000 people, 35% of them children and adolescents, promoting child protection, access to quality education and youth empowerment.

Source: Plan International

UNICEF Ghana COVID-19 Situation Report No.18 – May 2021

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
In May, Ghana recorded 1,360 additional COVID-19 cases and three more deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the total number stood a little over 94,000 cases with the total death toll at 785. The Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions continued to record the highest number of cases.
As of 31 st May, Ghana retains its position as the country in the West and Central Africa Region with the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases, after Nigeria.
On 7 th May, Ghana received additional 350,000 Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines from the Democratic Republic of Congo, through the COVAX facility. This brought the total number of vaccines from the facility to 950,000. As of 26th May, over 95 per cent of those vaccines had been administered to beneficiaries.
H.E. the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, in his 25th COVID-19 televised update, announced a plan to deploy the second round of vaccines. Priority groupsincluded frontline workers, people with medical conditions and the elderly. Ghana Health Service (GHS) delivered these vaccines to 43 worst affected districts in the three regions.
Global solidarity and further support are needed to secure additional doses for Ghana, which has demonstrated an excellent absorption capacity and ability to use doses in a timely and effective manner.

Source: UN Children’s Fund

Yemen: UNHCR Operational Update, 8 June – 15 June 2021

KEY FIGURES
20.7 million people in need
Over 4 million internally displaced
Over 80 per cent have been displaced for more than a year
36,726 individuals (6,121 families) newly displaced in 2021
Children and women represent up to 79 per cent of the total IDP population
128,603 refugees 11,543 asylum-seekers
FUNDING
USD 271 M required for 2021 operations
IDP Response
During the reporting period, UNHCR provided a range of protection services to some 2,000 internally displaced Yemenis including psychosocial support, legal assistance, emergency cash assistance, child protection and prevention of gender-based violence (GBV). Most beneficiaries reached were in Al Hudaydah, Ibb, Sana’a, Sa’ada, Amran, Marib and Aden governorates. In addition, UNHCR provided referral services for persons with specific needs. A total of nine cases were identified in Hudaydah alone for referral to specialized medical services, including two children and one woman. In Amran, legal assistance helped 40 families secure necessary documentation to avoid eviction. UNHCR further conducted household assessments and protection monitoring covering 680 families in Marib to better understand the protection environment, causes of displacement, and identify the most critical needs and protection risks requiring immediate action.
Heavy rains were observed in Hudaydah, affecting IDPs living in 23 hosting sites. Initial field observations revealed significant damage to shelters and loss of property, leaving affected families in dire need of shelter assistance and core relief items (CRIs). UNHCR distributed shelter kits and NFIs to support the families, while UNHCR partners conducted community awareness-raising campaigns targeting some 2,700 individuals living in the sites where flood hazards are higher in order to improve awareness on disaster risk reduction.
During the reporting period, UNHCR provided some additional 2,000 families (12,000 individuals) with CRIs and emergency shelter kits, primarily in Marib and other areas in Hudaydah governorate. Partners are further working on the completion of 880 tehama emergency shelters in Hudaydah, and have finalized excavation works for an additional 750 shelters.
Refugee Response
UNHCR is dismayed to learn of yet another boat carrying migrants and asylum- seekers capsizing off the coast of Yemen on 14 June. The boat left Djibouti earlier in the week and sank off Yemen’s southern Lahj governorate, with 25 bodies retrieved so far. The Operation is currently verifying the identities of those who perished and is joining efforts to assist the survivors. Boat crossings in the Gulf of Aden typically involve a mix of migrants in search of better opportunities, as well as asylum-seekers fleeing war and persecution—mostly from the Horn of Africa—who continue to embark on these perilous journeys. UNHCR continues to urge countries and governments to work together to reduce the loss of life among persons attempting dangerous sea crossings through the creation of legal pathways to safety in third countries for those who have no choice but to flee their homes.

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Displacement Tracking Matrix – Regional Snapshot – Middle East & North Africa: Quarterly Report January 1 – March 31, 2021 – Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Yemen

The DTM Regional snapshot contains consolidated summary updates and highlights from DTM field operations. This document covers updates from the regional network of flow monitoring of migrants and the tracking and monitoring of internal displacement in the countries. It is published every quarter and covers the Middle East and North Africa Region.

Source: International Organization for Migration