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The Refugee Brief – 21 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 21 October, 2019


More than 3,000 refugees cross into Iraq from Syria. The announcement of a five-day pause in fighting in north-east Syria on Thursday evening has not stopped refugees from continuing to cross into Iraq. By Saturday, some 3,100 people had arrived in northern Iraq after fleeing towns in northern Syria, including Kobani, Amoda and Qamishly. The new arrivals are being transported to the recently reactivated Bardarash camp. Many more are expected to arrive, especially if fighting resumes on Tuesday evening, when the ceasefire could end. The UN estimates that more than 176,000 people have been displaced by the latest escalation of violence in north-east Syria. Most are seeking refuge in communal shelters, camps and makeshift sites in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Raqqa.

Libya’s coastguard intercepts dozens of refugees and migrants. A spokesperson for Libya’s coastguard said a rubber boat carrying 89 African people, including 16 women and two children, was stopped on Saturday off Libya’s western town of Khoms and returned to shore. Another 107 people were reportedly intercepted on Sunday. Both groups were sent to a detention centre in the capital, Tripoli, according to officials. UNHCR has repeatedly warned of appalling conditions and human rights abuses inside Libyan detention centres. Meanwhile, the Ocean Viking NGO rescue boat is currently in international waters, awaiting to be assigned a safe port to disembark 104 rescued people, including 40 children.


Mexican asylum-seekers outnumber Central Americans crossing US border. Mexico resumed its position in August as the top country of origin for people crossing the US southern border, surpassing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, according to US Customs and Border Protection figures. Mexican asylum-seekers are exempt from a policy that requires many Central Americans to wait in Mexico while their claims wind through US immigration courts, although many wait months at the border for their turn to make initial claims. They are also exempt from a policy, introduced last month, to deny asylum to most people who travel through another country to reach the US border without applying there first. People travelling as families accounted for 23 per cent of all Mexicans stopped at the border in August, with many saying they fled criminal gangs.

Heavy flooding affects thousands of locals and refugees in South Sudan. Unusually heavy flooding in South Sudan’s Maban County has affected nearly 200,000 people, including Sudanese refugees. UNHCR said on Friday it was working with partners and local authorities to rush emergency relief to the affected area near the town of Bunj, Maban’s capital. The flood waters have submerged large areas, forcing people to seek safety wherever they can find islands of dry land. They have also submerged major roads, making it difficult for aid groups to access camps that are home to 150,000 refugees. There are fears that the flooding may cause a resurgence of cholera and other diseases.

Uganda’s fight to educate the most marginalized. Photojournalist Paddy Dowling reports for the Independent on the challenges facing Uganda as it seeks to achieve universal access to basic education. While primary school enrolment has grown, so have class sizes, and now the education system is struggling to absorb a new influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some refugee families and poor Ugandans must choose between paying for food or school fees.

Riot at reception centre in Malta. Several vehicles and buildings were set on fire on Sunday evening at the over-crowded Hal Far reception centre in Malta as asylum-seekers staying there demanded better conditions. A police spokesperson said the situation was brought under control in the early hours of Monday. Malta’s reception and detention centres are under pressure with the arrival of 2,7000 refugees and migrants between January and September, up from 800 during the same period last year. Some 1,300 asylum-seekers are staying at Hal Far.


Safaa Sukarria, a dual Jordanian/Syrian national who was living in Damascus until the war forced her and her husband back to Jordan, became a plumber by accident when she signed up for what she thought was a jewellery-making workshop but turned out to be a plumbing course. Now she has a nationwide plumbing business and has trained her own team of mostly Syrian refugee women.


So far this year, over 7,400 refugees and migrants have been intercepted or rescued by the Libyan coastguard and returned to Libya.

The Refugee Brief – 17 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 17 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Fighting in north-east Syria sends over 1,000 refugees into Iraq. Aid groups said Wednesday that more than a thousand Syrians have crossed the Iraqi border since the weekend, including about 800 who arrived...

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The Refugee Brief – 16 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 16 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Civilian casualties grow as fighting continues in northeast Syria. UN agencies on Tuesday reported civilian deaths on both sides of the border between northeast Syria and Turkey. While the exact death toll...

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The Refugee Brief – 15 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 15 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Aid agencies scramble to respond to civilian exodus in north-east Syria. With tens of thousands of people fleeing an air and ground offensive in northeast Syria that started last week, aid workers are...

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The Refugee Brief – 14 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 14 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Europe urged to do more to protect child refugees. European States must step up their efforts to protect child refugees and migrants who made up more than a quarter of 80,800 arrivals to Europe via the...

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The Refugee Brief – 11 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 11 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Unfolding humanitarian and displacement crisis in Burkina Faso. Escalating armed violence in Burkina Faso’s central and northern regions has forced nearly half a million people to flee their homes, 267,000...

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The Refugee Brief – 10 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 10 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Civilians flee air and ground offensive in north-eastern Syria. Turkish troops advanced into north-eastern Syria on Wednesday evening following airstrikes and artillery shelling that hit in or near at...

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The Refugee Brief – 9 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 9 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Civilians in northeast Syria brace for Turkish offensive. As the Turkish military prepares to begin an operation in northeast Syria “shortly”, some residents close to the Syria-Turkey border are already...

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The Refugee Brief – 8 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 8 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Thirteen bodies recovered from capsized boat. Italian coastguards recovered the bodies of 13 women who died in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa on Monday. They said 22 people had survived the sinking of...

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The Refugee Brief – 7 October 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 7 October, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW UN refugee chief warns that fight to end statelessness is at risk. Ahead of the opening today of a high-level intergovernmental meeting on statelessness in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo...

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