HEADLINES: Refugees

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About 2,500 people fleeing violence in Syria have entered Turkey over the past 24 hours, a Turkish official and Syrian opposition sources said on Tuesday, one of the highest daily refugee flows of recent weeks. Most of the refugees crossed into the southeastern Turkish province of Hatay, which juts into Syrian territory. Turkey is now sheltering close to 70,000 Syrian refugees and is struggling to accommodate the influx. Hundreds more refugees, mostly from Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo provinces, were stuck on the Syrian side of the border and had been told to wait until tomorrow to cross because of the large numbers, Syrian opposition sources said. Turkey’s foreign minister said on Monday that the country would be able to accommodate no more than 100,000 refugees and that the United Nations may need to create a “safe zone” within Syria to shelter any beyond that number. [Reuters]

Children in a refugee camp in South Sudan are dying at more than twice the rate internationally recognized as an emergency, according to new figures released by Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). The overall mortality rate, which takes into account adults and older children, is also substantially above the emergency threshold, according to a survey conducted at the camp last month by MSF. About 58% of the camp’s reported deaths have been children under five, while more than 25% have been people over 50. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, reported last month that the Yusuf Batil refugee camp was already close to reaching its capacity of 34,500 people, adding that water supplies, hygiene and sanitation needed to be increased. [Guardian]

Sri Lanka’s navy on Monday stopped two Australia-bound trawlers carrying 83 would-be asylum seekers in the first detection since Canberra tightened restrictions on boat people, officials said. The detection was the first since Australia’s parliament last week decided to send asylum-seekers arriving by boat to holding centers on Pacific islands before considering their application for refugee status. After months of political wrangling, the Australian government won its battle to send boat people to Papua New Guinea and tiny Nauru to have their refugee claims processed. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s administration has struggled to cope with a record influx of boat people this year, many originally from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq who make their way to Australia via Asia. Sri Lankan authorities say they have arrested nearly 900 people who have tried to leave for Australia illegally this year. [New York Daily News]

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