Growing numbers of Chinese citizens set their sights on the US – via the deadly Darién Gap

Surge in number of disillusioned Chinese citizens fleeing to the US by trekking through the dangerous jungle between Colombia and Panama

On the first day of 2023, Xu was in no mood to celebrate the new year. He had just arrived in the Colombian beach town of Necoclí along with dozens of other Chinese citizens, weary from a two-day bus trip from Ecuador. Their goal was the US via the Darién Gap, a roadless, lawless and extremely dangerous stretch of rainforest connecting South and Central America. He wanted to leave China far behind him.

“After I leave the country [China], I have no plans to go back alive,” says Xu later, speaking to the Guardian in a Necoclí hotel room. “I feel like this country has been deceiving us, persecuting us. I have to do something.”

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Pakistan crackdown on Afghan refugees leaves ‘four dead’ and thousands in cells

Asylum seekers in Karachi tell of terror of being sent back to the Taliban and despair at being shackled and held in Pakistani jails

Refugees are reportedly dying in Pakistani prisons, and children are being arrested and tied together with ropes, as a wave of detentions and deportations spreads fearamong the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have crossed the border since the Taliban took power.

According to lawyers representing Afghans in detention, at least four people have died in custody, and thousands more, including children, are being held in prisons as Pakistan hardens its stance against Afghan citizens.

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Speaking a mother tongue fosters a sense of cultural identity | Letters

Shakeel Suleman, Penny Salter, Jamila Begum and Richard Lamsdale respond to an article by Saima Mir on how language can become lost through generations of immigrants

Saima Mir (My children don’t speak my mother tongue – as a second-generation migrant, it fills me with sadness, 21 February) elegantly highlights the predicament of many parents across the UK, particularly in extended families, where grandparents might as well not be living with family, such is the communication divide. As someone who was lucky enough to learn Urdu in the 1980s, it saddens me also that my children will never be able to understand the language and have no interest in doing so.

As a nation, we are not very advanced when it comes to learning other languages. Yet there is a sense of achievement, even of freedom, that comes with knowing, understanding and appreciating the text of another language, especially when as different as English and Urdu are.
Shakeel Suleman

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‘A disease’: Caste discrimination in Australia is on the rise – but some are fighting back

As migration from south Asia booms, Australia’s human rights commission is looking at stronger measures against caste-based discrimination

When Rakesh Kumar migrated to Australia from Punjab in India 16 years ago, the discrimination followed him. Before he could even enter the house he would be staying in he was asked: “What is your caste?”

“I said I’m Chamar,” Kumar says. The term is a Punjabi equivalent of the Dalit caste.

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‘Red flags’ raised over scheme to allow families of Pacific Island workers to join them in Australia

Families who relocate under federal scheme would not have access to Medicare, or relocation or housing costs, making move unviable for many, experts warn

Guest workers from Pacific Island countries will soon be able to relocate their families to Australia, but there are already concerns over “red flags” in the current design of the scheme that may make it unviable.

The federal scheme will pilot bringing up to 200 families on one- to four-year contracts starting this year, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. This comes after years of the workers – who fill the gaps in Australia’s agriculture, meat-works and aged care workforces under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme – being separated from their families.

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Sea ‘a graveyard’ as number of Rohingya fleeing Bangladesh by boat soars

UN figures show number of those attempting to escape horrendous conditions in refugee camps increased from 700 in 2021 to over 3,500 in 2022

The number of Rohingya refugees taking dangerous sea journeys in the hope of reaching Malaysia or Indonesia has surged by 360%, the UN has announced after hundreds of refugees were left stranded at the end of last year.

Rohingya in Bangladesh refugee camps have warned that human smugglers have ramped up operations and are constantly searching for people to fill boats from Myanmar and Bangladesh headed for Malaysia, where people believe they can live more freely.

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British Council workers ‘hunted’ in Afghanistan allowed to come to UK

Contractors forced to move between safe houses given green light to leave but others remain in the country

Nearly 100 British Council contractors forced to live in hiding since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan have been given the green light to come to the UK.

After 18 months of moving between safe houses while they were “hunted” by soldiers of the new regime, about half the contractors who worked for the council had their final security checks signed off.

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Doha fashion Fridays: migrant workers show off their style – a photo essay

Blue boilersuits symbolise their low-wage jobs, but an Instagram account celebrates the culture and individuality of Qatar’s workers in their leisure time

Every day Bisho Sahani would start his work shift at 5am, constructing roads for hours in Qatar’s ferocious summer heat. And every night when he returned to his labour camp, he would get out his phone and make TikTok videos for his 60,000 followers.

Most of his videos are songs and poems about love, romance and the trials of life, but among them are stories of the hardships he faced in Qatar. “I wanted to show that foreign land is the land of trouble … Nepal is always better for us,” says Sahani, who is now back in his home country.

Images from Bisho Sahani’s TikTok account, where he posts videos about his life in Qatar. Photos: Bisho Sahani

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From one place to another: images of migration – in pictures

Photographer Olgaç Bozalp talks through a selection of images from his project Leaving One for Another, published by Void. Combining documentary style with constructed imagery he explores the journeys and disparate causes of migration, drawing on his own experience.

People’s desire to move from one place to another has always fascinated me, both on a political and personal level. I started this series to explore the reasons why and see how they measure to those of my own’

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Hong Kong exiles in UK unnerved by ‘weak’ response to beating of protester

Activists fear for their safety after limited UK riposte to assault on demonstrator outside Chinese consulate

Hong Kong migrants who fled repression by China said they fear for their safety and are calling on the UK government to take a bolder stance after a pro-democracy protester was beaten in the grounds of a Chinese consulate two weeks ago.

The assault in Manchester drew swift condemnation from activists and politicians across the Commons as videos circulated showing a senior Chinese diplomat forcefully grabbing a pro-democracy protester’s hair before the protester was wrestled to the ground and beaten by a group of men.

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Sunak’s rise is thanks to the Tory Hindu revolution. Labour, look and learn | Mihir Bose

There is a complex story behind his arrival at No 10. The Conservatives worked hard to erase a hatred that went back to the era of Churchill

Rishi Sunak’s arrival in No 10 is a more complex story than that of the first brown man to hold the highest office in the land advertising the diversity of our country. It is the result of a remarkable revolution in the Tory party’s attitude to the Hindus, which illustrates the complex nature of postwar Asian migration to this country. It should also ring loud alarm bells for Labour. The Tory Hindu revolution has seen it convert from a party that, historically, hated Hindus – and that is not too strong a word – to one that has pivoted enough towards the Hindus for the community to lose its old fear of the Tories.

The Tories may not like being reminded of their hatred for Hindus, but inside No 10 Sunak will be unable to miss the portrait of the man who articulated it: Winston Churchill. As recorded in the diaries of Churchill’s Downing Street secretary, John Colville, on returning from Yalta in February 1945, “the PM said the Hindus were a foul race, ‘protected by their mere pullulation from the doom that is their due’. And he wished Bert Harris [head of the RAF Bomber Command] could send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them”.

Mihir Bose is an author whose books include The Spirit of the Game, How Sport Made the Modern World, and From Midnight to Glorious Morning? India Since Independence

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Australia-New Zealand refugee deal: UN blames mental health toll after just 36 people take up offer

UN refugee agency says many refugees have been traumatised by years in Australian detention camps, hampering uptake of the offer

In nearly six months, just 36 people have taken up New Zealand’s offer to resettle refugees held in Australian detention camps such as Nauru, with UN’s refugee agency saying the brutality of Australia’s immigration regime is partly to blame.

In March 2022, Australia’s government accepted a longstanding offer from New Zealand to resettle up to 450 refugees from Australia’s regional processing centres over the next three years, at a rate of up to 150 per year. But after nearly six months, uptake has been slow – stymied by the dire mental health of prospective applicants.

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Two years after the fire, Moria refugee camp’s legacy still leaves its mark

Many of those housed in the notorious refugee camp remain on Lesbos, while others have managed to rebuild new lives

Two years have elapsed since the huge Moria fire gutted what became known as Europe’s most notorious refugee camp. Squalid, gargantuan and rat-infested, the barbed wire-enclosed facility was established in a former military base below a hilltop village on the Greek island of Lesbos at the height of the migrant crisis.

By the night of 8 September 2020, when the first of a series of blazes tore through the camp, it was housing more than 12,000 men, women and children – three times its capacity – and had become a stain on the conscience of a continent keen to flaunt its democratic credentials.

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‘I will reach Europe or die’: three stories of Afghan refugees in Turkey

Having paid smugglers to organise a dangerous escape, those fleeing the Taliban face persistent hostility

Shukriya and her husband huddled together at the bottom of a deep trench on the Turkish-Iranian border. It was summer and the days were hot. Around them were other Afghan families and their children, some of whom had improvised tents out of shawls and scarves to stave off the punishing glare of the sun.

Water was scarce and the stench of excrement and bodies packed close together had made Shukriya, three months pregnant, nauseous and sick. Everyone, infant babies included, crouched in silence as they waited for the smugglers to return. They had led the scared families to the trench four days earlier, promising to come back soon and take them across a heavily fortified border wall built to deter people like them from entering Turkey.

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Letters from those left behind: Afghans who worked for Australia describe desperation as they hide from Taliban

These are the stories of interpreters, embassy staff, guards and aid workers still trying to get to Australia a year after the fall of Kabul

Afghan nationals who worked for the Australian military and government in Afghanistan before the fall of Kabul have pleaded for help to find safety, a year after the Taliban violently reclaimed power.

The Guardian has spoken with more than a dozen Afghan nationals trying to get to Australia, many of whom hold valid visas or are still waiting on applications, as Australia faces an overwhelming demand for humanitarian places.

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