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TOPIC: migration


Turkey: The Blind Spot Between Racial And Religious Discrimination

Before the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war, a social media campaign in Turkey aimed to take on anti-Arab and anti-refugee sentiment. But the campaign ultimately just swapped one type of discrimination for another.


ISTANBUL — In late September, several pro-government journalists in Turkey promoted a social media campaign centered around a video against those in the country who are considered anti-Arab. The campaign was built around the idea of being “siblings in religion,” and the “union of the ummah,” or global Muslim community.

(In a very different context, such sentiments were repeated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Israel-Hamas war erupted.)

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While the goal is understandable, these themes are highly disconnected from reality.

First, let's look at the goal of the campaign. Our country has a serious problem of irregular migrants and refugees, and the administration isn’t paying adequate attention to this. On the contrary, they encourage the flow of refugees with policies such as selling citizenship.

Worries about irregular migrants and refugees naturally create tension in the society. The anger that targets not the government but the refugees has come to a point which both threatens the social peace and brought the issue to hostility towards the Arabs, even the tourists. The actual goal of this campaign by the pro-government journalists is obvious if you consider how an anti-tourist movement would hurt Turkey’s economy.

However, as mentioned above, while the goal is understandable, the themes of the “union of the ummah” and “siblings in religion” are problematic. The campaign offers the idea of being siblings in religion as an argument against the rising racism towards irregular migrants and refugees; a different form of racism or discrimination.

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Netanyahu’s Gaza Plan, EU Toughens Asylum Stance, Gold Toilet Theft

👋 Manao ahoana!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where the world marks one month since Hamas’ attack on Israel, Italy signs a deal to build migrant centers in Albania, and charges have been filed in the UK’s gold toilet heist of 2019. Meanwhile, Gabriel Grésillon in French business daily Les Echos looks at whether Paris’ aging and emptying La Défense business center can reinvent itself.

[*Malagasy, Madagascar]

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Two-Way Street: Iran Faces Simultaneous Crises Of Immigration And Emigration

Many Iranians fear unchecked immigration, mostly by Afghans but also Iraqis, will overwhelm a fragile economy that is weakened by the many qualified employees leaving Iran.

The irregular, uncontrolled entry of migrants into Iran from neighboring countries is a problem for a country already mired in economic and environmental woes, and thousands of Iranians have signed a petition urging authorities to restrict their entry.

Iran can barely meet the needs of its own people, many of whom have migrated to flee the misery of their lives inside Iran. But the regime has adopted a confused or lackadaisical approach to managing the presence of several million migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Some observers in Iran fear this is a time-bomb situation in big cities.

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Beginning decades ago, soon after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Iran has been hosting Afghans crossing the eastern border. Many have settled, though today others use Iran as a route into Turkey, as they seek to reach Europe or the United States. Migration into Iran is believed to have risen sharply in the past two years, though numbers are difficult to come by as nobody is really checking.

There are no figures, for example, for the Afghans who have entered or returned to Iran, after the Taliban takeover of power two years ago. Estimates ranging from 8 million to 15 million have been floated, although the top estimate seems implausible as it represents around 25% of Afghanistan's population.

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They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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Migrant Lives
Alejandra Pataro

Latin America's Migrants Trying To Reach The U.S.: Risk It All, Fail, Repeat

Searching for a safe home, many Latin American migrants are forced to try, time after time, getting turned away, and then risk everything again.

BUENOS AIRES — With gangsters breathing down his neck, Maynor sold all of his possessions in Honduras, took his wife and three kids aged 11, 8 and 5, and set out northwards. He was leaving home for good, for the third time.

"I had to leave my country several times," he said, "but was deported." He was now trying to enter the U.S. again, but the family had become stuck in Mexico: "Things are really, really bad for us right now."

Migration in Latin America is no longer a linear process, taking migrants from one place to another. It goes in several directions. Certain routes will take you to one country as a stopover to another, but really, it's more a lengthy ordeal than a layover, and the winners are those who can find that receptive, welcoming community offering work and a better life.

The aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls this an international, multidirectional phenomenon that may include recurring trips to and from a home country.

Marisol Quiceno, MSF's Advocacy chief for Latin America, told Clarín that migrants "are constantly looking for opportunities and for food security, dignified work opportunities (and) healthcare access." These are the "minimum basics of survival," she said, adding that people will keep looking if they did not find them the first time around.

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Migrant Lives
Yam Kumari Kandel

How Nepal’s “Left-Behind” Children Of Migrants Hold Families Together

Children left to fend for themselves when their parents seek work abroad often suffer emotional struggles and educational setbacks. Now, psychologists are raising alarms about the quiet but building crisis.

BARDIYA — It was the Nepali New Year and the sun was bright and strong. The fields appeared desolate, except the luxuriantly growing green corn. After fetching water from a nearby hand pump, Prakash Jaisi, 18, walked back to the home he shares with his three siblings in Bardiya district’s Banbir area, more than 500 kilometers (over 300 miles) from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. As it was a public holiday in the country, all his friends had gone out to have fun. “I’d like to spend time with my friends, but I don’t have the time,” he says. Instead, Jaisi did the dishes and completed all the pending housework. Even though his exams are approaching, he has not been able to prepare. There is no time.

Jaisi’s parents left for India in December 2021, intending to work in the neighboring country to repay their house loan of 800,000 Nepali rupees (6,089 United States dollars). As they left, the responsibility of the house and his siblings was handed over to Jaisi, who is the oldest.

Just like Jaisi’s parents, 2.2 million people belonging to 1.5 million Nepali households are absent and living abroad. Of these, over 80% are men, according to the 2021 census on population and housing. The reasons for migration include the desire for a better future and financial status.

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Migrant Lives
Adrià Salido

With The Migrants Forced To Face The Perils Of The Darién Gap Journey

The number of migrants and refugees who have passed through the Darien Gap reaches historic figures. So far this year, it is estimated that 250,000 migrants and refugees have crossed through the dangerous Darién jungle, mainly from countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador and Haiti.

NECOCLÍ — It is 7 in the morning at the Necoclí pier. Hundreds of migrants and refugees pack their goods in garbage bags. Then, they wait for their name to be called by the company that organizes the boats that will take them to Capurganá or Acandí.

Necoclí, a small Colombian fishing town on the Caribbean coast, has become the hub from where daily masses of people fleeing their countries set out for the Darién Gap — a tropical jungle route beset with wild animals and criminal gangs that connects Colombia to Panama. The journey to the UN camps in Panama can take up to seven days, depending on the conditions along the way.

In May this year, the US revoked Title 42, an emergency restriction imposed during the Trump administration. While on paper the order was meant to stop the spread of Covid-19, in practice it served to block the flow of migrants by allowing border officials to expel them without the opportunity to request asylum.

The termination of Title 42 has seen a dramatic increase in the number of migrants and refugees seeking the "American dream". According to the UN, more than 250,000 people have used the Darién Gap this year, over half of them Venezuelans.

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Migrant Lives
Basile Dekonink

Albania, The Brutal Demographics Of A Neverending Exodus

Since the fall of communism in 1991, the small Balkan state has been slowly but inexorably emptying itself, at the pace of incessant waves of emigration. With an aging and declining population and a birth rate in free fall, it is facing all kinds of challenges.

MEMALIAJ — It is 1 p.m. on a summer Saturday, and only the barking of a dog breaks the silence in the street of this small Albanian town. The sun illuminating Minatori Square doesn’t change a thing: there’s not a soul to be seen in this former mining town in Southern Albania. On the steps leading up to the cultural “palace," there is no one. Behind the drawn curtain of the old kepuce italiane ("Italian shoe") store, no one. In the red-brick buildings that threaten to crumble into ruin: no one.

“There’s nothing here anymore. No work, no money, no bread. Everyone left after the end of the dictatorship," says Stefan Arian, a 60-year-old man who speaks rusty Greek, sitting at the Café Qazimi, one of the few businesses still open. It’s hard to picture that, not so long ago, this abandoned town was one of Communist Albania’s great working-class centers. Built from scratch in 1946 to exploit the nearby coal mine, the city counted up to 12,000 inhabitants in its heyday. Barely more than 1,000 remain.

Memaliaj isn't the only one: Kukës, Zogaj, Përmet, Narta — there are dozens of such towns and villages in Albania. From North to South, the small Balkan state is criss-crossed by semi-ghost towns, with few or no inhabitants. It is the mark of a unique demographic phenomenon: since the fall of the communist regime 30 years ago, the country has been slowly but inexorably emptying itself through incessant waves of emigration.

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Stefan Wolff

Two Years On, A Dangerous Temptation To Recognize The Taliban

After taking control of Kabul two years ago, the Taliban has continued to present a threat to human rights in the region. But the Taliban's takeover, now slowly nearing official recognition by some governments, has also posed challenges for the country's neighbors, including Iran and Pakistan.


The dramatic and rapid Taliban offensive in the spring of 2021 culminated in its takeover of Kabul on August 15. The chaos of the western withdrawal that surrounded the return of the Taliban represented a sad endpoint of two decades of failed US-led attempts to impose a liberal democratic system on a country that had hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and facilitated his masterminding of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

For Afghanistan, the return of the Taliban marked the beginning of a deeply illiberal regime that is particularly hostile to women and minorities.

The swiftness of the Taliban takeover confounded more optimistic U.S. and UK predictions about the survival of the Afghan government. But most of its consequences were entirely predictable, and indeed predicted – from the worsening human rights situation to an economic crisis.

Five million Afghans fled the country and over three million were internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency’s update in July 2023. The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is now at an unprecedented critical level: more than 18 million people – just under half the Afghan population – face acute food-insecurity.

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In The News

Worldcrunch Magazine #41 — Death Trap At Sea: An Exclusive Die Welt Investigation Into The Migrant Tragedy In Greek Waters

July 10 - July 16, 2023

This is the latest edition of Worldcrunch Magazine, a selection of our best articles of the week from the best international journalists, produced exclusively in English for Worldcrunch readers.


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Katarzyna Skiba

Polish Woman Killed On Greek Island: A Textbook Case Of How Racism And Sexism Are Triggered

The death of a 27-year-old hotel worker on the island of Kos, and the arrest of a suspect from Bangladesh, has set off a firestorm back in Poland that mixes anti-immigrant contempt with victim blaming against the murdered woman for "asking for it."

KOS — It's the kind of tragic story that, sadly, regularly fills the criminal ledgers of local police precincts around the world.

Anastazja Rubińska, 27, went missing on June 12 on the Greek island of Kos, after she'd gone to get a drink during a day off from the local hotel where she worked. She never made it home alive.

A seasonal tourism worker from the southwestern Polish city of Wrocław, Rubińska had sent a message to her longtime live-in boyfriend, asking him to pick her up because she didn’t feel safe, and shared her location. But soon after, she sent a message that everything instead was under control, that she had drunk too much, and that someone would drive her home.

When she didn't return home by the next morning, the boyfriend alerted the local Greek authorities, who launched an investigation. Police confirmed that Rubińska had last been seen at a bar with a group of five men. One of them, a 32 year-old from Bangladesh, now identified as Salahuddin S., who would later confess that he had sexually assaulted Rubińska. At his home, police say they discovered a shirt with blond hair and blood stains belonging to Rubińska, and noted that the man was covered in scratches.

On June 18th, six days after the victim had gone missing, her body was found, about a kilometer from the residence of Salahuddin S. The presumed cause of her death was asphyxiation, and there were also signs pointing to sexual assault.

The murder was bound to quickly turn into a cause célèbre back in Poland.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Joanna Klimowicz, Ekaterina Lemonjava

How Prigozhin's Presence Is Feeding Tensions At Belarus-Poland Border

Described as everything from a "migrant invasion" to a "hybrid attack", the crisis along Poland's border with Belarus has been heating up for the past two months. But the conflict has now been made worse by the arrival of the Wagner mercenary grouop in Belarus. This leaves migrants, many fleeing conflict elsewhere, stuck between the two borders.

This article has been updated on July 3, 2023 at 12:00

BIAŁYSTOK — Polish authorities had already been arming themselves for months in preparation for provocations and hybrid attacks from across the Belarusian border. But for the past week,tensions have multiplied since the Russian owner of the Wagner group — Yevgeny Prigozhin — arrived in Belarus after his aborted coup attempt.

On Sunday, Poland decided to send 500 more police from its counter-terrorism and riot control divisions to the border, citing the increased level of border crossing attempts, as well as the relocation of Wagner Group members.

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Prigozhin's presence in Belarus followed negotiations with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, which provided that he would be exiled from Russia, rather than prosecuted for his attempted armed rebellion last week. Other members of the Wagner group are also reportedly settling in Belarus, though none have appeared in public for the past 10 days.

The increased geopolitical tensions in Belarus “could mark a new phase of hybrid warfare, a phase much more difficult than the one we have faced so far,” Poland's deputy prime minister and longtime ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński told audiences at a press conference last week. "Decisions have been made to strengthen our defense on the eastern border.”

Kaczyński's sentiments were echoed by Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, who told Polish state broadcaster TVP that Poland "can expect hybrid attacks with the participation of these people", leading him and other senior government officials to reinforce security along the Polish border.

Polish inhabitants along the border fear that the zone may be closed once again, as it was when the crisis began, and Poland declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, refugees, many from the war-torn areas of the Middle East, are stuck between two armies, fighting to survive.

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