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Australia and Malaysia signed a refugee-swapping agreement on Monday that aims to stem the flow of asylum seekers to Australia’s shores. The agreement has failed to satisfy refugee advocates, who accuse Australia of abandoning its international obligations. The people Australia sends to Malaysia will enjoy rights denied to the more than 94,000 registered asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, including the right to work and have access to education and health care. Most of the asylum seekers who arrive in Australia are from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka and usually travel to Australia via Malaysia or Indonesia. [New York Times]

Last week, the U.N. said famine had struck in two provinces of southern Somalia where nearly four million people are “in crisis.” Over 135,000 have left the country for camps in Ethiopia and Kenya as drought is widespread throughout the country and hunger is growing. Kenya has built three camps for Somali refugees in Dadaab but has refused to expand them or build more. The government contends the camps lead to environmental degradation. [Voice of America and NPR]

The UNHCR released a press release condemning the recent deportation of Eritrean asylum-seekers by Sudan after a recent death. The incident on Monday occurred in eastern Sudan during a deportation exercise when two asylum-seekers jumped off the truck carrying them to the border with Eritrea. The asylum-seekers had been convicted on charges of illegal entry to Sudan under national immigration laws. They had at no time been provided with access to asylum procedures, a serious violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention as well as the 1974 Sudanese Asylum Act. [UNHCR]


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