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Conflict between the Burmese government and Ethnic Kachin rebels continues over the lucrative and plentiful jade resources in the Kachin State, leading to a continued outpoor of refugees into neighboring states.  The conflict has already resulted in over 100,000 refugees fleeing the state of Myanmar.  About “two months ago, the rebels managed to gain control over nearly 100 major jade mines in Hpakant and restored to the locals their indigenous right to dig for jade themselves.”  This has only fueled more conflict, however, as companies dependent on these jade resources are pushing for a government crackdown on the rebels activities.  In the words of one Kachin businessman, however, the continued conflict and refugee crisis can only be addressed through a “proper resource-sharing scheme.” [NYTimes]

The UNHCR said last week that the number of refugees currently seeking safety in Egypt has risen to 150,000, up from 95,000 just last month.  A current U.N official “suggested that Syria’s neighbors who have taken in refugees – Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan – are ‘reaching the saturation point,’ prompting an influx into Egypt where the cost of living is cheaper.”  While the influx of refugees had generally stayed within Syria’s immediate neighbors, countries throughout North Africa are now seeing increases in Syrian refugees arriving at their borders.  The United Nations is “urging Egypt to maintain an ‘open door policy’ not only for Syrians, but also for Palestinian refugees in Syria who are also fleeing the civil war.” [Washington Post]

The violence in Syria spilled over the border into both Lebanon and Jordan, as “a Jordanian soldier was killed in clashes with armed militants trying to cross the border into Syria Monday and sectarian clashes overnight in Lebanon left four dead.”  Jordan has quickly responded to the incident, detaining those suspected to be involved, but Beirut continues to be very wary of the violence in neighboring Syria, as Lebanon is “already tense and deeply divided over the civil war next door, the assassination has threatened to drag the country back into the kind of sectarian strife that plagued it for decades, much of it linked to Syria.” [Saudi Gazette]

In Orange County, California, St. Anslem’s Cross-Cultural Community Center has offered critical services to newcomers for almost forty years, and is now able to expand its work in a new $3.7 million dollar building, spanning nearly 30,000 feet.  Vicki  Connely, the director of the center, was thrilled by the new space, and said, “we can concentrate on the real reward and work of resettlement.”  The center provides a wide range of programs varying from transportation services for seniors to computer classes in Spanish.  [LATimes]


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