Weekly Review Mar21

HOW TO GET HOME

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Thousands of Americans, caught by surprise, find themselves “still stranded overseas after flights were canceled and borders shut,” reports ABC News.

Event:

“The State Department says it is working overtime to get them home — even as many of those Americans grow frustrated and angry at the slow U.S. response or the unresponsiveness of local U.S. embassies.”

Impact:

“The State Department is urging all Americans stranded overseas to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at step.state.gov,” reports ABC News.  That way they’ll be able to receive “information on repatriation flights from the local embassy.”

“Approximately 5,700 Americans have been repatriated from 17 countries to the U.S., according to a senior State Department official. That total includes more than 800 from Wuhan, China — the original hot zone of the novel coronavirus.”

“The virus has caused more than 11,000 deaths around the world,” reports US News, “but the figure goes up every day and Americans in Morocco, Ecuador and other nations…  feel abandoned by the State Department.”

Outlook:

But the situation varies from country to country.  Responses by respective foreign services also vary greatly.

“A State Department official said in an email,” reports The NY Times, the department “has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.”

However, reports ABC News: “Making matters more confusing for so many is the unresponsiveness of the local U.S. embassy or consulate in many of the countries where Americans are stranded.”

“They urged Americans  to travel immediately or be prepared to hunker down where they are — but for thousands, it’s already too late.”

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MIGRANT SAFETY

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European navies no longer search for migrants cast adrift at sea.  No longer are they trying to rescue them.  The task has been out sourced to volunteers and the private sector.

Event:

“The EU should protect people in need rather than support forces who beat, rob, strip, and dump asylum seekers and migrants back across the river,” states Nadia Hardman of the Human Rights Watch.

Impact:

“Greece, the European Union, and Turkey should take a number of urgent steps to address the abuses at the Greece-Turkey border, Human Rights Watch said.

“Greece should allow people seeking protection at Greece’s borders to enter and have their asylum claims assessed fairly and efficiently. It should also reverse its decision to summarily return asylum seekers to Turkey without registering their asylum applications.

“Members of Greece’s parliament should urgently establish an inquiry into all allegations of collective expulsions, pushbacks, and violence on Greece’s land borders with Turkey.”

“Turkey should not compel anyone to cross the border irregularly into Greece.”

Outlook:

“Since 1951,” explains the NY Times,  “international refugee law has stipulated that migrants should not be returned without due process to the countries they fled. But in cases involving merchant ships, migrants are often rescued in international waters, before reaching Europe’s maritime borders.

These migrants should not randomly be sent back to where a horrible fate most likely awaits them.

Recently, however, in the Mediterranean, according to the NY Times, it has been shown that the Libyan Coast Guard still works closely and coordinates with their Italian counterparts to the detriment of refugees.

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OVERWHELMED

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Even if the U.S. “cut its rate of transmission in half – a tall order,” reports the NY Times, some 650,000 people might become infected in the next two months.

Event:

When the pandemic spreads south, states the Washington Post, “income losses in the developing world are expected to exceed $220 billion, the U.N. warned on Monday. Nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost.”

Impact:

“New York hospitals and Italian villages are the current front lines of the global pandemic,” per the Washington Post.  “But ­epidemiologists and other public health experts say the coronavirus is poised to spread dangerously south, engulfing… impoverished populations in which social distancing can be practically impossible.”

“They warned of an amplified global crisis… striking nations that can least handle it at a time when wealthy countries are likely to be too preoccupied… to offer the kind of assistance they’ve extended… to the developing world.”

“There is no doubt the center will move to places like Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and Monrovia.”

Outlook:

“We have gone through a lot of big disasters, and this will be the biggest yet,” according to Rollcall.com. “The biggest civil legal aid crisis, the biggest economic crisis, the biggest public health crisis, sort of all rolled into one.

“Often overlooked and already short on resources… are the first responders for Americans who need help navigating the legal system to fight unfair evictions and foreclosures, get domestic abuse protective orders, obtain unemployment or unpaid wages, access health care or respond to scammers.

“These groups now face an unprecedented crunch from all sides as the nation’s poor take the brunt of the faltering economy and skyrocketing unemployment numbers.”

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