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By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   | 22 March, 2018


“Race against time” to protect Rohingya refugees from monsoon disaster. Aid agencies are working around the clock to avert an emergency within an emergency in Bangladesh as monsoon season approaches. This infographic by UNCHR shows how overcrowding in the mega-settlement called Kutupalong-Balukhali, which has gained a population of more than 600,000 in just five months, increases the risks posted by landslides and flooding. A report by ACAPS on the potential impacts of monsoon rains on the Rohingya camps predicts that they will have a significantly hamper the delivery of aid and life-saving services to the refugees. Roads and footpaths are likely to become impassable and access to many parts of the camps severely reduced. Health facilities and distribution points constructed from bamboo and tarpaulins are also likely to be damaged while water contamination resulting from flooded latrines presents a health risk. UNHCR is appealing for increased international support to help Bangladesh manage the threat.

Arbitrary detention and torture persist in Libya. The UN Human Rights Council reported on Wednesday that serious violations of the human rights of refugees and migrants in Libya continue. Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights told a Geneva forum that detainees are often held arbitrarily , subjected to forced labour and subjected to torture, including by officials with the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration. NPR spoke to some of those who escaped forced labour and detention in Libya and are now being sheltered by the Red Crescent in southern Tunisia. They described Libya’s detention centres as places where they were “bought” and “sold” . The Red Crescent’s Tunisia director said accounts of slavery by migrants arriving from Libya had become commonplace since mid-2016, long before CNN footage of a slave auction sparked international outrage.


EU weighs impact of its deal with Turkey. On the two-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey agreement and as European leaders prepare to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Bulgaria on Monday, the Financial Times considers the political and humanitarian fallout  of the deal. While the accord contributed to a dramatic decrease in sea arrivals to Greece and secured funding for Syrian refugees in Turkey, critics have described it as a betrayal of European values that has been politically counterproductive. Experts describe the deal as a sticking plaster rather than a solution and warn that huge questions remain about the long-term future of refugees in Turkey.

Asylum-seekers suffer mental illness on Greek islands. ABC News reports that many of those stranded on the Greek island of Lesvos waiting for their asylum claims to be processed are suffering from psychological trauma . The demand for treatment for mental health issues is now so great that aid organizations are struggling to keep up. According to a clinical psychologist who works with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), many arrive with trauma resulting from what they experienced back home. Symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia are often made worse by the “shocking conditions” on Lesvos.

Yemeni refugees find refuge in Djibouti. Although the vast majority of those displaced by the conflict in Yemen remain in the country, more than 38,000 have fled to Djibouti. Most have moved on to other countries, but 4,000 remain , 1,700 of them in a camp near Obock where conditions are harsh but safe. Others live independently in Djibouti City. The government of Djibouti recently amended legislation to allow refugees to work and UNHCR is now finalizing a strategy to help refugees develop skills that will make them more competitive in the local job market.

Canadian’s attitudes towards refugees remain positive. Six in 10 Canadians disagree that immigration levels are too high and eight in 10 said immigrants had a positive impact on the economy, according a survey carried out by the Environics Institute last month. Opinion was more divided about the legitimacy of asylum claims with people from Albert and Quebec expressing more doubt than those from other provinces. Nearly 50,000 people claimed asylum in Canada in 2017, including 20,600 who crossed the border with the US irregularly, mostly in Quebec.


After fleeing Syria in 2012, Razan Alsous and her family arrived in the UK with next to nothing. What Razan did possess was a knowledge of English, an entrepreneurial spirit and a love of cheese. Unable to find her favourite Syrian delicacy —Halloumi cheese, otherwise known as “squeaky cheese”— in local shops in Yorkshire, she decided to try her hand at making it herself and has since built a profitable business selling her cheese at farm shops across Yorkshire. “We’ve taken a beloved tradition from our homeland and combined it with part of our new home to create something [our kids] can be proud of,” she writes in the Huffington Post.


More than 100,000 refugees living in Kutupalong-Balukhali settlement in Bangladesh are directly at risk from floods and landslides.