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Migrations: plastic gatherers in Pakistan and firefighters in Mauritania

Since mid-September 2023, the Pakistani authorities have deported approximately 20,000 Afghans to their homeland. According to Human Rights Watch, threats of detention and deportation forced another 355,000 people to leave Pakistan. It created a massive problem for the country’s recycling and plastics industry, which relied heavily on Afghan workers. Since the government decided to deport Afghans, Pakistan’s plastic collection has dropped by 43% and polyester production by 50%. Environmentalists warn that the weakening recycling industry may further deepen environmental degradation in a neglected country.

In Mauritania, before the annual bushfire season, a brigade of firefighters made up of Malian residents from the M’bera refugee camp helps the local community extinguish the flames and save livestock pastures. Due to the lack of water, firefighters use evergreen, inedible shrubs to extinguish the flames. The firefighting unit was formed by a handful of refugees and, in 2018, received support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Approximately 100,000 Malian people currently live in the M’bera camp.

In 2022, foreign-born workers comprised 25% of the U.S. construction workforce. Immigrants are also more likely to be injured or killed at work. In 2021, Latino immigrants – both documented and undocumented – made up 8% of the U.S. workforce but accounted for 14% of work-related deaths and 27% of construction deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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