Earthquakes devastate area with the world’s largest refugee population
Early Monday morning two large earthquakes rocked southern Turkey and northern Syria, causing mass destruction with the death toll rising to over 5,000 people. Tens of thousands of people are left homeless or injured in the midst of harsh winter weather. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world as Syria has been devastated by civil war for almost 12 years, making recovery efforts even more difficult. Many in Syria are living in tents, flimsy shelters, and damaged buildings. “The refugees and those who have been displaced within Syria itself are already suffering from an economic crisis. We’re in the depths of winter. We’ve been seeing snowstorms.” stated UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh. Countries around the world have committed to sending aid and several organizations are serving the area in a variety of ways on the ground.
The end of pandemic emergency declarations also signals the end of Title 42
The Biden administration announced that it will end COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11. The declarations were put in place in 2020 by former President Trump and have been extended on a number of occasions by President Biden. The end of the health emergency would also mean the end of Title 42, a public health policy used by the Trump administration to close the southern border, giving border officials the authority to expel migrants from the U.S. without the opportunity to seek asylum. Federal courts have blocked the Biden administration’s attempts to end Title 42 and the Supreme Court’s ruling on a case to keep the policy in place is expected in June. However, ending the emergency declarations could lead to the case’s dismissal.
Nearly 1,000 migrant children separated at the border have yet to be reunited with their parents
The Department of Homeland Security has been working to reunite the 998 children with their parents and report that 148 of them are in the process of reunification. In January 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that established a task force to reunify the children who had been separated from their families under a Trump administration policy established in 2018 aimed at prosecuting every person who crossed the border without authorization. According to the most recent DHS report, the task force has reunited 599 children with their families since its inception.