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By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  9 February, 2018


Surge in Yemen violence creates new displacement. More than 85,000 Yemenis have been forced to flee their homes since 1 December, according to figures released on Friday by UNHCR. Most of the new displacement is the result of military escalations in Al Hudaydah and Taizz governorates on Yemen’s west coast. More than 21,000 people have fled east to Abyan while others are seeking refuge within Taizz and Hudaydah. UNHCR expressed particular concern about those still in areas close to the fighting where basic services have been cut off and conditions are rapidly worsening. Many remain trapped inside homes or in caves as aerial bombardment and sniper fire rages around them. Funding for the humanitarian response is yet to trickle in, said UNHCR, which is appealing for nearly US$200 million to respond to the crisis but is starting the year with only 3 per cent of that amount.

Colombia, Brazil tighten borders in response to Venezuelan crisis. Both countries announced they would deploy more troops to their border regions on Thursday as they each grapple with an influx of Venezuelans fleeing economic and political tensions. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he would suspend the daily entry cards for Venezuelans that allowed them to move back and forth across the border, usually to purchase food. Brazil announced plans to relocate some of the estimated 40,000 Venezuelans putting a strain on public services in the city of Boa Vista. With shelters in Boa Visa overflowing, and hundreds of Venezuelans sleeping rough, resentment of the newcomers is growing, reports Reuters. Brazil’s Minister of Defense, Raul Jungmann, described the situation as “a humanitarian drama”. Santos blamed the crisis on the policies of Venezuela’s increasingly authoritarian president, Nicolás Maduro, and his refusal to accept international humanitarian aid.


Ugandan aid officials suspended over alleged fraud. The Ugandan government has suspended five officials, including its commissioner for refugees, over allegations that they inflated refugee numbers to defraud donors. Uganda said it had started investigating the allegations and plans to introduce a biometric registration system, with support from UNHCR. In a statement on Friday, UNHCR said it welcomes the steps taken by the Ugandan government and is working with them to review and strengthen procedures and monitoring across all refugee operations. “Corrupt acts of individuals should not be attributed to the integrity of all” noted the statement, which commended Uganda for its open-door refugee policy.

Refugees and migrants living on margins of society in Italy.Around 10,000 refugees and migrants are living in makeshift settlements in Italy, according to a new report by Médecins Sans Frontières. Just over half of the refugees and migrants surveyed were living in occupied buildings while 28 per cent were living in the open. The rest were living in tents, shacks and containers. MSF attributed the high rates of homelessness to a shortage of places at reception centres caused by lengthy asylum processing times and a lack of services to promote social inclusion.

Bangladeshi town feels strain of Rohingya influx. In the market town of Ukhia, some locals are complaining that the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees is causing shortages of food and firewood, pushing up prices and undercutting wages. The Wall Street Journal reports that local residents in this poor town are increasingly resentful of the convoys of aid passing through their streets on their way to the camps.

Women face “heightened risk” of sexual violence at Greek reception centres. Of the 622 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence recorded by UNHCR on the Greek Aegean islands in 2017, 28 per cent had experienced the violence after arriving in Greece . UNHCR said the situation was particularly worrying at the Moria and Vathy reception centres on Lesvos and Samos, where severe overcrowding and inadequate security have made bathrooms and latrines no-go zones for women and children after dark.


In Damascus, Selim Al Nazer was a pharmacist, but after arriving in Brazil several years ago he had to do other jobs to survive. That changed three months ago when a Brazilian NGO, Compassiva, helped him to get his Syrian pharmacy degree legally recognized. With funding from UNHCR, Compassiva is helping other refugees with the complex process of getting their skills and qualifications recognized. For Selim, it means more than just a job, it means a future in Brazil for him and his family.


In the second half of 2017, the number of Venezuelans fleeing to Colombia jumped by 62 per cent to about 550,000, according to immigration officials.