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Sixteen people drowned attempting to cross the Evros river border between Turkey and Greece

Press Releases, 1 July 2010

Athens, 1 July The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has heard from the Police Chief in Orestiada in northern Greece that sixteen people drowned while trying to cross the Evros River on 29 June. Eleven of the bodies were recovered on the Greek side of the river, while a further five were found on the Turkish side. The majority are believed to be Somalis, including three women.

"We express our deep sorrow and our solidarity to the families of the people who perished. We regret the loss of life which once again underlines the vulnerability of people who are forced to flee and are trying to reach safety," said Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, Head of the UNHCR Office in Greece.

This is the second tragic incident in the same region in one month, with three young people drowning while trying to cross the same river in late May. The flow of irregular arrivals through the Evros River has seen a three fold increase this year compared to the same period in 2009, while the arrivals through the Eastern Aegean islands have considerably decreased. According to available statistics at least 287 people lost their lives trying to reach the EU in 2009.

"Sixteen people lost their lives because they felt they had no other option than to enter the EU through the clandestine services of smugglers," noted Tsarbopoulos. "We have every reason to believe that the majority had a legitimate need to seek international protection in the EU. This tragic incident highlights the need for states to protect people at sea and crossing rivers, regardless of their motivation for doing so."

In view of ongoing conflict and dramatic humanitarian situation in Somalia, UNHCR encourages governments to assess applications for refugee status by persons from central and southern Somalia in the broadest possible way, and to extend complementary forms of international protection, where refugee status is not granted.

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Somalia Emergency: Urgent Appeal

Widespread malnutrition among Somali refugees requires immediate action.

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Crisis in Horn of Africa

Tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing conflict and drought into Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

A Family of Somali Artists Continue to Create in Exile

During two decades of conflict and chaos in Somalia, Mohammed Ousman stayed in Mogadishu and taught art as others fled the country. But life became impossible after Al Shabaab militants killed his brother for continuing to practise art. Four of the man's nine children were also murdered. Mohammed closed his own "Picasso Art School" and married his brother's widow, in accordance with Somali custom. But without a job, the 57-year-old struggled to support two families and eventually this cost him his first family. Mohammed decided to leave, flying to Berbera in Somaliland in late 2011 and then crossing to Aw-Barre refugee camp in Ethiopia, where he joined his second wife and her five children. UNHCR transferred Mohammed and his family to Addis Ababa on protection grounds, and in the belief that he could make a living there from his art. But he's discovering that selling paintings and drawings can be tough - he relies on UNHCR support. The following images of the artist and his family were taken by UNHCR's Kisut Gebre Egziabher.

A Family of Somali Artists Continue to Create in Exile

From Paris With Love, Toys for Syrian Children

Every year, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris organizes a collection of toys from schoolchildren in Paris and, with a little help from UNHCR and other key partners, sends them to refugee children who have lost so much.

The beneficiaries this year were scores of Syrian children living in two camps in Turkey, one of the major host countries for the more than 1.4 million Syrians who have fled their country with or without their families. Most of these traumatized young people have lost their own belongings in the rubble of Syria.

Last week, staff from the museum, UNHCR and the Fédération des Associations d'Anciens du Scoutisme gathered up the toys and packed them into 60 boxes. They were then flown to Turkey by Aviation Sans Frontières (Aviation without Borders) and taken to the kindergarten and nursery schools in Nizip-1 and Nizip-2 camps near the city of Gaziantep.

A gift from more fortunate children in the French capital, the toys brought a ray of sunshine into the lives of some young Syrian refugees and reminded them that their peers in the outside world do care.

These images of the toy distribution were taken by photographer Aytac Akad and UNHCR's Selin Unal.

From Paris With Love, Toys for Syrian Children

Keeping Occupied in Turkey's Adiyaman camp for Syrian Refugees

Since the conflict in Syria erupted in April 2011, the government of neighbouring Turkey has established 17 camps in eight provinces to provide safety and shelter to tens of thousands of refugees - three-quarters of them women and children. The camps, including Adiyaman depicted here, provide a place to live and address the basic physical needs of the residents, but they also provide access to health care, education, vocational training and other forms of psychosocial support.

UNHCR teams are present on a regular basis in all the refugee camps and provide technical assistance to the Turkish authorities on all protection-related concerns, including registration, camp management, specific needs and vulnerabilities, and voluntary repatriation. UNHCR has contributed tents, cooking facilities and other relief items. The refugee agency is also working with the government to help an estimated 100,000 Syrian urban refugees. It will continue its material and technical support to help the authorities cope with an increase in arrivals. The following images of camp life were taken by American photographer, Brian Sokol, in Adiyaman camp, located in Turkey's Gaziantep province. At the start of February 2013, nearly 10,000 Syrian refugees were living in the camp.

Keeping Occupied in Turkey's Adiyaman camp for Syrian Refugees

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