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UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that relief groups should increase aid to war-battered and drought-hit Somalis to reduce the exodus to neighbouring countries. Many displaced Somalis have found refuge in Doolow, a dusty town of some 30,000, as relief agencies provide food, health care and shelter to them. Tens of thousands of Somalis have in recent months fled to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya due to the drought, the Horn of Africa’s worst in decades. [AFP]

Australia’s highest court on Wednesday rejected the government’s plans to ship asylum seekers to Malaysia as part of a refugee swap deal, ruling that the program violated both Australian law and its international commitments. Under the deal, 800 migrants who have arrived in Australia by boat would have been sent to Malaysia, where their refugee claims would have been processed by the United Nations. In return, Australia would have accepted 4,000 United Nations-certified refugees from Malaysia over the next four years. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen called Wednesday’s ruling “profoundly disappointing,” but insisted that the government had not ruled out the possibility of similar deals with Australia’s neighbors in the Pacific region. [NYTimes]

United Nations officials said Tuesday that as many as 10,000 residents of a Palestinian refugee neighborhood in the Syrian port city of Latakia had fled during a four-day assault, as security forces carried out more arrests and intimidation in what residents said was a government attempt to rebuild a wall of fear in one of Syria’s largest cities. The violence has provoked international condemnations that have grown sharper, but still stopped short of demanding that President Bashar al-Assad step down. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees, said that it had no information on the whereabouts of the Latakia Palestinians. Activists have said many of the displaced have left for the countryside or Aleppo, Syrian’s second-largest city, to the northeast. [NYTimes]

LOCAL Two Bhutanese refugees were shot, one of them fatally, in an apparent robbery in Northeast Baltimore, one of two double-shootings investigated by Baltimore police Tuesday night. Big Bahadur Gurung, 20, had immigrated here from Nepal two months ago, after being given sanctuary following years of persecution in his home country. The incident is the latest in a series of crimes that have sparked concern for members of Baltimore’s Nepalese and Bhutanese community, which officials say is centered in Northeast Baltimore’s Frankford neighborhood and has been growing in recent years. [Baltimore Sun

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