Islamophobic hate crimes increased by 40 percent in London last year

London mayor Sadiq Khan has said there will be a "zero tolerance" approach to those committing hate crimes. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 February 2018
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Islamophobic hate crimes increased by 40 percent in London last year

LONDON: Islamophobic hate crimes rose by almost 40 percent in London in 2017, new figures have revealed.
According to figures released by the UK capital’s Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, there were 1,678 anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in the year up to January 2018, up from 1,205 from the year before.
Scotland Yard has warned that the numbers do not show the “full scale of hugely under-reported hate crimes” in the city.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said those committing the crimes would face arrest and prosecution under a “zero tolerance” approach.
“London is a place where we celebrate, cherish and embrace diversity,” he said. “I’m calling on all Londoners to pull together, and send a clear message around the world that our city will never be divided by individuals who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.”
Muslim community leaders and senior police figures said the rise can be linked to the terror attacks on London Bridge and the Manchester Arena last year.
Speaking to London’s Evening Standard, Iman Atta, director of campaign group Tell Mama which aims to combat Islamophobia, said the rise of anti-Muslim hate crime had “created a heightened sense of tension in Muslim communities.”
“These attacks had ripple effects, triggering Islamophobic attacks and the large increment rise you have seen,” he added.
In the days immediately after eight people were killed in the London Bridge attack in June, figures showed a 40 percent increase on the daily average number of reported Islamophobic attacks in the capital.
Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, Scotland Yard’s head of community engagement said: “The Met has seen a steady increase in the reporting of all hate crime, particularly racist and religious hate crime.
“Despite this rise, hate crime is hugely under-reported and no one should suffer in silence.”
He added: “London is such a diverse and tolerant city, but too many still feel marginalized, or worse intimidated to go about their daily lives due to their race, faith, sexual orientation, gender or disability.”
According to the police, hate crimes include physical attacks, damage to property, bullying and abuse.


UN: Nearly 71 million now displaced by war, violence at home

Updated 19 June 2019
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UN: Nearly 71 million now displaced by war, violence at home

  • The figures are bound to add fuel to a debate at the intersection of international law, human rights and domestic politics
  • UNHCR said 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of last year, up from about 68.5 million in 2017

GENEVA: A record 71 million people have been displaced worldwide from war, persecution and other violence, the UN refugee agency said Wednesday, an increase of more than 2 million from last year and an overall total that would amount to the world’s 20th most populous country.
The annual “Global Trends” report released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees counts the number of the world’s refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people at the end of 2018, in some cases following decades of living away from home.
The figures, coming on the eve of World Refugee Day on Thursday, are bound to add fuel to a debate at the intersection of international law, human rights and domestic politics, especially the movement in some countries, including the US, against immigrants and refugees.
Launching the report, the high commissioner, Filippo Grandi, had a message for US President Donald Trump and other world leaders, calling it “damaging” to depict migrants and refugees as threats to jobs and security in host countries. Often, they are fleeing insecurity and danger themselves, he said.
The report also puts a statistical skeleton onto often-poignant individual stories of people struggling to survive by crossing rivers, deserts, seas, fences and other barriers, natural and man-made, to escape government oppression, gang killings, sexual abuse, militia murders and other such violence at home.
UNHCR said 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of last year, up from about 68.5 million in 2017 — and nearly a 65 percent increase from a decade ago. Among them, nearly three in five people — or more than 41 million people — have been displaced within their home countries.
“The global trends, once again unfortunately, go in what I would say is the wrong direction,” Grandi told reporters in Geneva. “There are new conflicts, new situations, producing refugees, adding themselves to the old ones. The old ones never get resolved.”
The phenomenon is both growing in size and duration. Some four-fifths of the “displacement situations” have lasted more than five years. After eight years of war in Syria, for instance, its people continue to make up the largest population of forcibly displaced people, at some 13 million.
Amid runaway inflation and political turmoil at home, Venezuelans for the first time accounted for the largest number of new asylum-seekers in 2018, with more than 340,000 — or more than one in five worldwide last year. Asylum-seekers receive international protection as they await acceptance or rejection of their requests for refugee status.
UNHCR said that its figures are “conservative” and that Venezuela masks a potentially longer-term trend.
Some 4 million people are known to have left the South American country in recent years. Many of those have traveled freely to Peru, Colombia and Brazil, but only about one-eighth have sought formal international protection, and the outflow continues, suggesting the strains on the welcoming countries could worsen.
Grandi predicted a continued “exodus” from Venezuela and appealed for donors to provide more development assistance to the region.
“Otherwise these countries will not bear the pressure anymore and then they have to resort to measures that will damage refugees,” he said. “We are in a very dangerous situation.”
The United States, meanwhile, remains the “largest supporter of refugees” in the world, Grandi said in an interview. The US is the biggest single donor to UNHCR. He also credited local communities and advocacy groups in the United States for helping refugees and asylum-seekers in the country.
But the refugee agency chief noted long-term administrative shortcomings that have given the United States the world’s biggest backlog of asylum claims, at nearly 719,000. More than a quarter-million claims were added last year.
He also decried recent rhetoric that has been hostile to migrants and refugees.
“In America, just like in Europe actually and in other parts of the world, what we are witnessing is an identification of refugees — but not just refugees, migrants as well — with people that come take away jobs that threaten our security, our values,” Grandi said. “And I want to say to the US administration — to the president — but also to the leaders around the world: This is damaging.”
He said many people leaving Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador through Mexico have faced violence by gangs and suffered from “the inability of these governments to protect their own citizens.”
The UNHCR report noted that by far, the most refugees are taken in in the developing world, not wealthy countries.
The figures marked the seventh consecutive year in which the numbers of forcibly displaced rose.
“Yet another year, another dreadful record has been beaten,” said Jon Cerezo of British charity Oxfam. “Behind these figures, people like you and me are making dangerous trips that they never wanted to make, because of threats to their safety and most basic rights.”