UN says Algerian security move has stranded vulnerable Syrians in desert

Landscape view dated May 2003 shows the Saharan desert in southern Algeria. 9File photo: AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019

UN says Algerian security move has stranded vulnerable Syrians in desert

  • Algeria’s interior ministry said that Syrians who had arrived overland recently were members of defeated militant groups

ALGIERS: The United Nations said on Thursday it feared for the safety of Syrians barred from entering Algeria from the south, saying some of those turned back were refugees left stranded in the desert and not suspected militants as Algiers maintains.
The official overseeing migrant policy at Algeria’s interior ministry said on Wednesday that Syrians who had arrived overland from the south recently were members of defeated militant groups from Syria’s civil war who would pose a security threat.
But the UN High Commissioner for Refugees criticized the decision, saying that some of the Syrians mentioned by the Algerian official were known to be registered refugees.
“(They) have fled conflict and persecution or claim to have attempted to seek international protection in Algeria,” a UNHCR statement said.
“According to information made available to UNHCR, 20 individuals from this group currently remain stranded in the desert, three kilometers from the Guezzam border post where they are exposed to the elements. The other 100 individuals who were taken to the border are unaccounted for,” the statement said.
Citing an “urgent humanitarian imperative,” UNHCR said it had appealed to Algerian authorities for access to Syrians affected by the ban to identify those in need of international protection and ensure their safety.
Hassen Kacimi, the interior ministry officials, said around 100 Syrians had reached the southern border with the help of local armed escorts in recent weeks but were intercepted and expelled shortly after they slipped into Algeria.
He said these Syrians had transited Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and Niger or Mali using fake Sudanese passports.
Algeria has taken in around 50,000 Syrians on humanitarian grounds in recent years, Kacimi added.
Algeria went through years of devastating civil war with Islamist militant groups in the 1990s. While violence is now greatly diminished, sporadic attacks continue in isolated areas.
In Algeria’s south and southeast, largely desolate areas with few inhabitants, the government has beefed up its security presence after neighboring Libya and northern Mali and Niger descended into lawlessness with various armed groups active.


Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

Updated 28 May 2020

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

  • Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley will remain in what he described as an “enclave” after Israel annexes the territory and will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, a process that could begin as early as July 1.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley and the far-flung settlements would make it virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the decades-old conflict.
In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, Netanyahu said Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, including residents of the city of Jericho, would remain under limited Palestinian self-rule, with Israel having overall security control.
“They will remain a Palestinian enclave,” he said. “You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them. They will remain Palestinian subjects, if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli military rule since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the territory, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state.
The Trump plan would grant the Palestinians limited statehood over scattered enclaves surrounded by Israel if they meet a long list of conditions. Israel has embraced the plan, while the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, has angrily rejected it and cut ties with the US and Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians accept all the conditions in the plan, including Israel maintaining overall security control, “then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
Under a coalition agreement reached last month, Netanyahu can bring his annexation plans before the government as early as July 1.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is no longer bound by any agreements signed with Israel and the US, and says it has cut off security coordination with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel, has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with annexation.