Interpol disrupts Uruguay-Spain sex-trafficking highway but Montevideo remains a busy hub to Europe

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Six simultaneous raids in both countries resulted in several arrests in both jurisdictions and the conclusion by authorities that the small South American country is still a large source of origin, transit, and destination of women trafficked to Europe.

Uruguay’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a press release that the Interpol operation liberated four women and dismantled what it qualified as “an important human trafficking network.”

Three residencies in Montevideo yielded three arrests. Two raids in the city of Guadalajara, and one at an estate in Alcalá de Henares, a suburb of Madrid, in Spain yielded another five arrests. Seven of the eight arrested were of Uruguayan nationality and four were women. The group lured women in difficult financial situations with offers of well-paying job offers, only to force them into street and club prostitution in Europe under precarious conditions, said the announcement.

Structural inequalities and discrimination, says a report by Uruguayan NGO El Paso, are the main factors that make women in the country vulnerable to victimization. The country’s location on the Atlantic Coast naval corridors makes it ideal for international human traffickers, according to a report by Interpol. Around 17% of Uruguay’s trafficking victims leave the country, mostly bound for Spain and Italy, reported El Paso.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Mexico tightens its southern border ‘to protect minors’ and to keep them from reaching US

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Mexico’s National Migration Institute, INM, says the aim is to protect migrant children who are “exploited by criminal networks” that tell migrants to bring their children to facilitate their entry into Mexico and the United States.

Mexico’s protection of minors is centered in stopping them from entering the country to prevent them from becoming “victims of human trafficking,” according to INM, which announced “various new measures,” including reinforced National Guard troops, drones, and militarized police will be deployed to monitor points of entry on its southern border.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Immigrants climb 30-foot Trump-built border wall and suffer serious injuries, some charge CBP ignores the hurt and returns them to Mexico without treatment

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A pregnant woman who fell off the wall west of El Paso died last year, and Border Patrol, CBP, takes many badly injured people to clinics near the border, reported the Texas Standard, but their report also interviewed several people who were sent back across the border in trauma without medical treatment. It is negligence, charged Pastor Rosalio Sosa, a director of Mexican shelters helping the injured immigrants. “They just pick them up and send them over here. No wheelchair, nothing. Not even a Tylenol.”

When it is apparent that someone is hurt we will administer first aid and request assistance as needed,” responded El Paso Sector CBP Chief Gloria Chavez in an email to Texas Standard.

Fall trauma ranges from multiple leg fractures, broken ankles, hips, pelvises, ribs, and “a good number of spinal injures,” according to the director of Annunciation House, an organization that provides temporary shelter for migrants and refugees in El Paso,

CBP’s own standards on transport and detention say, “Any observed or reported injury or illness must be reported, and appropriate medical care must be provided or sought in a timely manner.” CBP says they have no record the immigrants were injured when they were expelled back to Mexico.

By Milan Sime Martinic

US to allow temporary residence to Venezuelan refugees

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The Biden administration says Temporary Protection Status is necessary due to extraordinary conditions that make it unsafe to return to the South American country. The decision will affect some 320k people, said the government. TPS will allow a work permit, and a residence for at least 18 months.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Refugee crisis on Brazil-Peru border expands to a third country

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Territorial incursions, bridge blockades, and now an ongoing encampment of mostly Haitian refugees that blocks passage over the Friendship Bridge that connects the two nations are growing into an unsustainable impasse, and the situation is fast-turning into a 3-country crisis, say authorities in Brazil’s far west state of Acre.

More than 400 refugees are stranded near the Brazil-Peru-Bolivia border creating a humanitarian crisis of its own, with lack of resources and even proper sanitation facilities for them, but some 60 Haitians have been demanding passage into Peru so they may make their way north, and they have set up camp on the bridge itself. Authorities in both countries have been unable to find a solution to the problem.

The crisis is made worse by “coyotes,” food shortages, health issues, and some 60 trucks on each side, loaded with food and fuel stalled along the borders, a situation that compromises the transport of goods to communities in all 3 countries, but crucial to the city of Cobija in Bolivia, a regional capital mostly unconnected to the rest of Bolivia by road. Authorities there are concerned about shortages at gas stations and food suppliers. The area also supplies the cities of Brasilea and Epitaciolandia in Brazil.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Malaysia defies court order and deports 1086 Myanmar nationals

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Despite a Kuala Lumpur high court’s temporary stay barring the removal of some 1,200 refugees, the country’s director-general of immigration said in a statement that those sent back on Myanmar Navy ships left voluntarily, adding that no persecuted Rohingya or asylum-seekers were included in the group. The court’s stay was issued at the request of Amnesty International who argued the lives of people would be at risk in deteriorating conditions under a regime with a track record of cruelty.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Bangladesh relocating Rohingyas to isolated Bhasan Char island

Bhasan Char
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The government of Bangladesh has started a controversial program to relocate Muslim Rohingya refugees who escaped from persecution in Myanmar to the small isolated island Bhasan Char that is particularly vulnerable to storms and has never been permanently inhabited.

Despite claims by the government in Dhaka that the resettlement is voluntary, refugees interviewed by CNN said they were being forced and beaten when refused.

The sedimentary 40-sq. kilometer island was discovered 18 years ago and has only ever occasionally served as a shelter for smugglers and pirates. Although the island has been considered unsafe for living due to its constant shape-changing as sand deposits shift, Bangladesh has build flood barriers and insists the island is safe.

Rohingyas say they are descendants of Muslim traders who have lived in the region for generations; Myanmar says they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, making them stateless people.

Nearly one-million Rohingyas have escaped discrimination and persecution in Myanmar, and Bangladesh plans on resettling as many as 100,000 to the island. Once there, they will have little chance of leaving, say human rights groups, fearing the island will flood and they will die.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Standoff as migrant caravan closes Brazil-Peru International Bridge

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SAO PAULO – A humanitarian crisis is escalating in the far west Brazilian state of Acre as about 300 Haitians, Indians, Pakistanis have taken over the Friendship Bridge connecting Assis, Brazil with Peru at the Brazil-Peru-Bolivia border. Peruvian authorities are refusing entry and the immigrants are demanding to be allowed to return home through the Andean country.

The area has been a popular entry point for immigrants from many parts of the world seeking asylum in Brazil. Having failed in their quest to obtain legal papers but unable to be deported due to Brazilian laws and international treaties that prevent deportation into potential harm’s way, the immigrants have been staying in empty schools in the area, but hygienic and toilet facilities are not sufficient and the municipality of 7500 is stressing its resources providing food baskets and help for the immigrants. Described as hungry and exhausted, the immigrants say they want to return home by way of Peru but are suspected of really wanting to make their way to the United States. Brazilian authorities say they have been in the area for months, under precarious conditions, sleeping in open barracks, living off state help and charity, and bathing in the Acre River.

By Milan Sime Martinić