HEADLINES: Refugees

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The conflict in Syria burst over the borders into Lebanon and Turkey on Monday, as Syrian troops pursuing rebel fighters killed at least two people in a refugee camp in Turkey as well as a TV cameraman in Lebanon. The violence, on the eve of the deadline of a fading UN-backed deal for Syrian troops to withdraw from cities and cease hostilities against a widespread uprising, provoked strong responses from Lebanese and Turkish officials and heightened already tense regional relations. The episode came less than two weeks after heavy fighting on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon threatened to spill into the Qaa area of Lebanon. With the populations in both Lebanon and Turkey deeply divided between those who support the opposition in Syria and those who still hope embattled President Bashar Assad will remain in power, some fear that such violence could prove a spark that draws Syria’s neighbors into a regional conflict. Activists have reported heavy casualties in recent days, with 84 civilians killed Monday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, along with 19 members of the security forces, and eight defectors. [The Boston Globe]

Wendy R. Sherman, an American under secretary of state, met with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Thursday to express concern over Nepal’s treatment of Tibetan refugees and the refugees’ demands for documents that would entitle them to rights. Many of the thousands of Tibetan refugees who live in Nepal say they have not been issued proper papers to allow them to travel, seek employment or have their children attend public schools. [Associated Press]

Around 120 asylum seekers demanded Tuesday that Indonesia provide a vessel to allow them to continue to Australia, refusing to leave a tanker that rescued them at sea, an official said. The tanker sailing from Australia to Singapore picked up the asylum seekers, all males and mostly Afghans and some Iranians, in Indonesian waters on Sunday. “Until now, the asylum seekers are still refusing to get off the tanker before their requests are fulfilled,” said Yanuar, an immigration official in Indonesia’s Cilegon city, where the boat is docked at the port of Merak. “They requested that Indonesia facilitate their journey to Australia, and provide a vessel to get there,” the official who goes by one name told AFP Tuesday morning. “We gave them food last night (Monday), but we haven’t assessed their health condition yet,” Banten province maritime police chief Budi Hermawan said. The Singapore-flagged MT Hermia rescued the asylum seekers from a sinking wooden vessel in the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands, and took them to Merak. [AFP]

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