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button_icon_refugee_headlinesA new report by the International Rescue Committee finds that sexual violence is rampant in Syrian conflict zones, citing that “Syrian refugees interviewed in Lebanon and Jordan gave sexual violence as a primary reason for their flight, saying that gang rapes often occur in front of family members.”  More than 600,000 Syrians have fled the country, and aid workers warn that the situation could worsen even further, and that “preparations should be made for an exodus of refugees, should there be a sudden escalation of the crisis.”  [Reuters]

Winter has been extremely harsh for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled conflict in Syria.  In fact, according to the BBC, “not a single Syrian child we met in northern Lebanon was dressed for winter.  None had warm coats, or mittens.  Some didn’t even have shoes.”  There is a dire need for aid and resources, but the urgent appeal for international aid has only been about 25 percent funded.  [BBC]

Liberians who fled two civil wars more than a decade ago lost their refugee status last year, but many are wary of repatriation to their home country.  The UNHCR has repatriated over 150,000 Liberians over the past 8 years, but many more have become accustomed to their life in Ghana, and have nothing to return to in Liberia.  Former Liberian refugees in the Ivory Coast are much more likely to return, however, primarily because of the recent violence there.  Over 250,000 Liberians fled during the height of the violence there.  Liberia remains one of the least developed countries in the world, with more than 64 percent of the population living on less than a dollar a day.  [Christian Science Monitor]

Pakistan has extended refugee status for Afghans living within its borders continually, but it is now announced that “Pakistani authorities are planning to cancel the refugee status of the over 1.66 million Afghan refugees living in the country at the end of June this year.”  This is troubling for many Afghans “whose families have been in Pakistan for generations,” many fleeing after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan over 20 years ago.  The UNHCR responded by saying “it will continue to treat them as refugees and has been providing incentives to encourage the refugees to return home.”  Many however, are reluctant to do so.  [BBC]

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