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The UNHCR has begun moving displaced Somalis to a new camp extension at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya to relieve overcrowding. Relief groups are struggling with an influx of mainly Somali refugees fleeing drought and conflict that has left more than 12 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Some 70,000 refugees have arrived in Kenya in the last two months. The International Rescue Committee is reporting an increase in rapes and attempted rapes in the complex. [Guardian and Associated Press]

In related news, The Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. The group is widely blamed for causing a famine in Somalia by forcing out many Western aid organizations, depriving drought victims of desperately needed food. Tens of thousands of Somalis already dead and more than 500,000 children on the brink of starvation.  [New York Times]

Australian immigration officials say they have a new plan to deter asylum seekers from making the trip to Australia by boat.  The immigration department says it will film the first group of asylum seekers processed under the new refugee swap deal with Malaysia and post the video on YouTube. Immigration officials hope Australian diaspora communities including Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan and Sri Lankans will watch the film and discourage family and friends who are considering making the journey. [Voice of America]

Last week marked the 60th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, the article that stipulates that a refugee has the right to practice his or her religion, the right to work,  the right to acquire an education, has access to travel documents, and should be allowed freedom of movement while making it very clear that a refugee may not be repatriated involuntarily to a country where he or she fears persecution. The UN Refugee Convention began as a way to help the hundreds of thousands of Europeans who were still homeless six years after World War II ended.  In 1967, it was expanded to include all refugees everywhere.  Around the world, there are over 15 million refugees who have been uprooted from their homes. [Voice of America]



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