Headlines: Refugees

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Turkish authorities rushed to open three more camps for those who fled a Syrian government crackdown that bombarded villages and burned fields to put down an armed uprising. An estimated 7,000 refugees fled the military crackdown, with about 5,000 making it to camps set up in Turkey, leaving thousands more to improvise shelter in open fields, some on this side of the border, others still on the Syrian side. According to one witness, 10,000 people are camping outside the refugee camps with only minimal supplies. [New York Times]

Human Rights Watch says the UNHCR should withdraw from the Australia and Malaysia refugee pact which would allow for 800 asylum seekers to be transferred to Malaysia for processing in exchange for Australia taking 4000 certified refugees from Malaysia over a four-year period.  In Malaysia, the UNHCR determines the refugee status of those sent from Australia and those arriving from elsewhere. HRW says if the UNHCR approves the agreement it would effectively be allowing Australia to devolve its refugee status determination and resettlement responsibilities to the UNHCR in Malaysia and violating the UN’s protection mandate. [Herald Sun]

The UN refugee agency pleaded Tuesday for access to Sudan’s volatile oil-producing border state of South Kordofan, where some premises of UN aid agencies had been looted. According to the UNHCR, aid planes have been denied authorization to land and roadblocks were hampering access by land. [AFP]

About 100 refugees around Springfield remain homeless in the wake of the severe weather and tornadoes that stuck central western Massachusetts last week. According to the Lutheran Social Services in Worcester,  most of those in shelters are mainly refugee families from  Somalia, Nepal, Burma, Iraq and countries in the former Soviet Union. [Associated Press]

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