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By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  2 February, 2018

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

South Sudan set to become Africa’s largest refugee crisis. South Sudan’s conflict, now in its fifth year, has already forced a third of the population to flee their homes and is set to become Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwanda genocide by the end of the year, according to UNHCR. After visiting Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock launched a US$3.2 billion appeal to support South Sudan’s 2.5 million refugees and 7 million people in need of aid inside the country. Earlier this week, the UN warned that 1.5 million South Sudanese are on the brink of famine , while 20,000 are already experiencing famine conditions.

At least 100,000 Rohingya refugees threatened by landslides and flooding. The findings of a risk analysis of Kutapalong and Balukhali refugee settlements suggest that a third of the area could be flooded during the upcoming monsoon season. More than 85,000 refugees could lose their shelters while another 23,000 living on steep slopes are at risk from landslides. UNICEF has warned that the monsoon rains will also bring an increased risk of diseases associated with dirty water, poor sanitation and malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The first of Bangladesh’s two cyclone seasons begins in March, while monsoon rains typically start in June. Engineering projects are underway to build reinforced footpaths, stairs, bridges and drainage networks. Work is scheduled in the coming weeks to level some of the steep hilltops and to relocate families living in the most precarious areas of the camp.


WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR

At least 90 people feared dead in shipwreck off Libya. A smugglers’ boat capsized early on Friday, leaving only three known survivors and 10 bodies washed up on shore, according to the International Organization for Migration. Survivors told aid workers that most of those on board were from Pakistan while some were Libyan. So far in 2018, 246 migrants and refugees have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

Winter’s toll on Lebanon’s Syrian refugees. An estimated 250,000 Syrians live in tent camps across Lebanon, many of them in Bekaa Valley, where winter temperatures can drop below freezing and a storm last week flooded many tents. After years in exile, many of the refugees can no longer afford fuel to heat their tents and aid agencies are struggling to assist them with dwindling donor funds. UNHCR has received just US$143 million of a requested $228 million for its regional winter program.

Asylum applications in EU drop by nearly half in 2017. EU member states plus Norway and Switzerland recorded 707,000 asylum claims in 2017, a 43 per cent drop compared to the previous year, according to the EU Asylum Support Office (EASO). Syria was the top country of origin for the fifth year in a row, followed by Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria. One million asylum decisions were made, with 40 per cent resulting in a positive decision granting refugee status or subsidiary protection.

The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees, it’s about us.In this commentary for The Guardian, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei explains how his childhood experiences have helped him identify with the experience of refugees. In his recently released film Human Flow, Ai documented the global refugee situation. He argues that instead of building walls to damn the flow of people seeking safety and freedom, we need to find ways to address the source of the flow.


GET INSPIRED

Mohamed and his younger brother Issam have been deaf since birth. As Syrian refugees in Lebanon, their parents barely scrape by on monthly food vouchers. There was no way they could afford to pay for costly cochlear implant surgery. But thanks to a chance encounter with Lebanese journalist Rima Maktabi and a video of her meeting with the two boys that went viral, the Kuwaiti Red Crescent offered to pay for the surgery.


DID YOU KNOW?

Ninety per cent of people forced to flee the conflict in South Sudan are women and children.