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As the Syrian army clears the final remnants of resistance in Babr Amr, residents have reported that the brutal offensive is turning its focus on surrounding villages and the border town of Al Qusayr. A growing wave of violence has seen a fearful hysteria grip the population who are swapping rumours of daily acts of human atrocities being committed around them. “They would rape my wife and my children if they caught us,” one refugee told the Daily Telegraph. More than a quarter of Abu Hassan’s village has already fled into Lebanon in the last two weeks and families in neighboring towns are doing the same. [The Telegraph]

North Korean defectors warned that some 30 refugees in China risked severe retribution if they are sent back, as they joined U.S. lawmakers in urging Beijing to halt plans for repatriation. Activists fear that China will soon send North Koreans who recently fled the impoverished state back over the border and say that they could suffer abuse or even execution for leaving during mourning for late leader Kim Jong-Il. Hoping to step up pressure on Beijing, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China invited two North Koreans who resettled in the United States. They gave accounts of beatings, forced labor and food deprivation when China earlier repatriated them. “I know that these 30-some refugees are feeling the same dread and terror,” said Han Song-Hwa, who recalled how five members of her family of eight died of starvation and abuse. “The United States government should forcefully raise this issue and pressure the involved people of the Chinese government so that repatriation will not occur.” [AFP]

The UN Security Council has expressed grave concern about reports of renewed cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan. The Council, in a presidential statement, demanded that “all parties cease military operations in the border areas and put an end to the cycle of violence,” and that both Governments “take no action that would undermine the security and stability of the other.” Tensions between the two countries over unresolved border disagreements have continued to simmer and heavy fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has led to a humanitarian crisis and triggered massive displacement. Last week, UNHCR registered 2,287 new arrivals in the Doro and Jammam refugee sites in Upper Nile, bringing to more than 80,000 the total number of registered refugees in this region. [UN News Centre]

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