HEADLINES: Refugees

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More than 4,000 people fleeing violence in Syria have entered neighboring Turkey in the past three days, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees there to 59,710, Turkish authorities said on Monday. While battles rage in the northern city of Aleppo, where tanks, artillery and snipers attacked rebels in the Saif al-Dawla district next to the devastated area of Salaheddine, the conflict has created a refugee crisis in Turkey and other neighboring countries. Opposition sources say at least 18,000 people have been killed since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. [Reuters]

The United Nations said on Tuesday it had started airdrops to deliver emergency food to a camp in South Sudan packed with people fleeing fighting on the Sudan side of the joint border. Fighting broke out between the Sudanese army and rebels of the SPLM-North in South Kordofan state around the time of South Sudan’s independence in July 2011. It then spread to nearby Blue Nile state in September. More than 170,000 people have fled to South Sudan, where they stay in crowded makeshift camps near the border, the U.N. World Food Program said. [Reuters]

Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia endorsed a set of sweeping changes to immigration policy on Monday that would increase the number of refugees the country accepts by nearly half while reopening remote offshore detention centers that have been criticized by human rights groups as inhumane and ineffective. Thousands of people try to reach the country each year on rickety, overcrowded vessels, leading to a growing number of accidents at sea that have killed more than 600 people since late 2009. Ms. Gillard had proposed sending asylum seekers to Malaysia for processing, but the plan was rejected by Australia’s highest court and negotiations over a replacement plan broke down. Along with other human rights advocacy groups, Amnesty International denounced the proposals, saying that “sending asylum seekers to places like Malaysia, Nauru and Papua New Guinea is unacceptable and a complete outsourcing of Australia’s human rights obligations.” [NYTimes]

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