HEADLINES: Refugees

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The World’s biggest refugee camp, Dadaab, in northeastern Kenya marks its 20th anniversary this year. The camp, which was set up to host 90,000 people, now shelters nearly one-half million refugees. The UNHCR set up the first camps in Dadaab between October 1991 and June 1992, following a civil war that continues to this day.  UNHCR spokesman, Andrei Mahecic, said the 20th anniversary of the Dadaab refugee camp is nothing to celebrate.  The Dadaab refugee complex came under particular strain during last year’s famine in Somalia. The UNHCR says more than 100,000 Somalis fled to the camp in Kenya between June and August. [Voice of America]

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Italy violated the rights of Eritrean and Somali migrants by sending them back to Libya. The 13 Eritreans and 11 Somalis were among a group of about 200 people who left Libya on three boats in 2009. The court ordered Italy to pay each migrant in the case 15,000 euros (£13,000; $20,000) in damages. That was a violation of Article Three of the European Convention on Human Rights – prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. The judgment was welcomed by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which called it “a turning point regarding state responsibilities and the management of mixed migration flows”. [BBC]

The issue of North Korean human rights doesn’t get much attention in South Korea, but there are signs that this might be changing. On Tuesday, dozens of celebrities, social figures, and students turned up in front of the Chinese embassy in Seoul to call for more attention to the plight of more than 30 North Korean defectors who are on the verge of repatriation by China. Actor Cha In-pyo was among those calling for the Chinese government to treat the defectors on humanitarian grounds and not send them back to North Korea. Young North Koreans stood with the actor and other celebrities, wearing masks and holding up signs that read “Save My Friend,” and “Save My Family.”  [Wall Street Journal]

A huge fire swept through a crowded Thai border camp home to thousands of refugees from neighboring Myanmar on Thursday, destroying hundreds of homes. The blaze started at about midday and quickly spread around the Umpiem Mai refugee camp. More than 1,000 houses, three mosques and two nursery schools were destroyed. Camp manager Khetthai Wongsuwan said the fire had been extinguished and food was being distributed for those affected.  [AFP]

 

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