HEADLINES: Refugees

Published On: Donate

The UNHCR said Tuesday it is boosting assistance to the thousands of Malians who have been uprooted by fighting between Tuareg rebels and Malian forces since mid-January. Continuing instability in northern Mali was forcing tens of thousands of people to flee into Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, as well as to other parts of Mali. Sixty tonnes of relief, including blankets, mats, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting, are currently being trucked from our warehouse in Accra, Ghana, to Niger as well as 52 tonnes to Burkina Faso. Last week, 35 tonnes of relief assistance items were delivered to Niger and 10 tonnes to Burkina Faso from our stockpile in Douala Cameroon. However, the most pressing needs remain shelter, clean water, health care and basic household items. In Mauritania on Monday, UNHCR completed the relocation of 39,390 refugees from the border to Mbera camp. Relocation is under way in Burkina Faso and in Niger, where over the weekend the refugee agency organized the transfer of more than 2,000 Malian refugees from the volatile Niger-Mali border to a safer refugee camp further inland at Abala. [Reuters AlertNet]

Refugees and aid workers say the Syrian government has closed its official border crossing with Jordan to anyone with a new passport and to families, women and children, allowing only those who already have Jordanian stamps in their passports, or young men who come individually, to cross. The Syrian uprising that has forced many to flee their homes began peacefully in March 2011 demanding democratic reforms. However, the opposition has become increasingly armed in the face of a violent crackdown by the Syrian government. The UNHCR says more than 7,500 people have been killed – mostly civilians in what has become a near civil-war. Up to 200,000 people are displaced within Syria, aid groups say, and tens of thousands of others have fled to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. [IRIN]

Rights groups say Burmese military abuses continue in northern Kachin state including torture, rape, and deliberate attacks on civilians. Fighting between Burma’s military and ethnic Kachin rebels has displaced tens of thousands of civilians, but authorities are refusing to allow humanitarian aid to rebel-controlled areas. Human Rights Watch says that, despite Burma’s recent political reforms that have won widespread international praise, there has been no significant change in abuses committed by the country’s military. In a report released Tuesday, the New York-based group details numerous rights violations it says were committed in the last year in northern Kachin state. Fighting broke out in June between the army and Kachin rebels, ending a 17-year ceasefire. Human Rights Watch says both sides are guilty of recruiting child soldiers, some as young as 14. [Voice of America]

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