HEADLINES: Refugees

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A record 1,500 migrants, mainly from Somalia and other parts of Africa, died trying to reach European shores in 2011 and the deadly odyssey continues from Libya, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. Popular uprisings in Tunisia and Libya prompted more people to flee last year, including sub-Saharan migrants working in North Africa, after tighter border measures sharply reduced arrivals in Europe in 2009 and 2010. The UNHCR toll is an estimate that includes people of 15 nationalities known to have drowned or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea, which divides Europe and Africa. [Reuters]

Humanitarian workers in northern Burma have expressed deep concern about the health conditions of thousands of war refugees in Kachin State who have been displaced along the Sino-Burmese border for eight months. Aid workers said that preventable illnesses caused by unsanitary conditions and cold weather are taking their toll on more than 45,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) in two dozen camps as sporadic fighting between the Burmese government army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continues. Speaking with The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Mai Li Awng, a spokesperson for a local Kachin relief group known as Wun Tawng Ningtwey (Light for Kachin People), said that refugee children in temporary shelters suffer from diarrhea as they must use dirty water and do not have enough toilets. Local humanitarian aid workers reported just five latrines for more than 1,200 people in one camp, according to a report released on Tuesday by Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)—a news analysis service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs. [Irrawaddy]

One thousand asylum seekers from South Sudan are losing their collective protection, and those who do not leave by the end of March will be deported, the Population and Immigration Authority announced on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Petah Tikva District Court stayed a deportation order against 130 families from the Ivory Coast. A month ago, the authority announced that they also would be deported. The Ivorians were given a month to leave voluntarily, after the Israeli authorities said that they could return home safely because the civil war there had ended. Following South Sudan’s declaration of independence in July, the Population Authority decided that these citizens could safely return home too. [Haaretz]

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