By Kristy Siegfried | 11 February, 2020
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Worsening conditions for more than 100,000 forced to flee eastern DR Congo. Attacks by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern Beni Territory have forced more than 100,000 people from their homes over the past two months, according to UNHCR. Many of those escaping attacks in the Watalinga Chiefdom, near the border with Uganda, had only recently returned to their villages after fleeing a previous wave of violence last April. An estimated 252 civilians have been killed in Beni Territory since December, according to local authorities. A militia attack in Mangina commune left eight people dead on Friday, with another 20 reported missing, according to police, who said 12 more bodies had been discovered on Sunday. The majority of those displaced by the latest violence are being sheltered by local people in the town of Nobili. Others have taken refuge in overcrowded schools and churches and in makeshift settlements where they are exposed to the elements. UNHCR said there was an urgent need for basic assistance such as food, shelter, water, sanitation and access to education for children.
Nearly 700,000 newly displaced Syrians in urgent need of shelter. Some 100,000 people have fled violence in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo governorates in less than a week, bringing to nearly 700,000 the number of people displaced in the region since the beginning of December, according to the latest UN estimate. With so many people on the move and night-time temperatures dropping below freezing, the need for more shelter is “critical”, said UNHCR today. “Many schools and mosques are filled with displaced families, and even finding a place in an unfinished building has become close to impossible,” said spokesperson Andrej Mahecic. While UNHCR and other aid agencies are distributing tents, blankets and other essentials, Mahecic said the recent displacement had “outstripped capacity” and would only meet a small part of the total needs. “More resources and funding are urgently required,” he said.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Hospital attacks in Yemen disrupt health care for thousands. Attacks on several health facilities in Yemen’s Marib province, east of the capital, Sana’a, have left some 15,000 people – many of them displaced by recent fighting – without medical services. In a statement on Monday, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said that both Al Jafra Hospital and Al Saudi field hospital had been hit during clashes on Friday and were now closed. Fighting escalated in Marib and neighbouring governorates in mid-January, scattering more than 4,670 families, many of whom were already displaced. Separately, the BBC reports that major donors and international aid agencies will meet in Brussels on Thursday to forge a collective response to constraints on humanitarian access in Yemen that are affecting some 6.7 million people in need.
Spain searches for 67 missing at sea, rescues 119 others. Spain on Tuesday resumed a search for 67 people missing from a boat a day after maritime authorities rescued 119 others from the water. A rescue charity alerted Spanish authorities on Monday that a boat carrying 184 people, including five children, had departed from Morocco. Also on Monday, rescuers found two other rubber boats in the area known as the Alborán Sea carrying 119 people. Some 26,000 refugees and migrants arrived by sea to Spain last year, down from over 58,000 in 2018.
Why humanitarians must not abandon Libya. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, writes for the Telegraph about the challenges his agency faces assisting refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya as the conflict in Tripoli intensifies and UNHCR staff have only sporadic access to government-run detention centres. Efforts to evacuate some of the most vulnerable people out of Libya have been constrained by the limited offers of resettlement places in third countries. Meanwhile, well-intentioned plans have often had unintended consequences. Grandi cites the example of the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli, which was designed as a safe place for released detainees awaiting evacuation and became overcrowded and a potential military target as the conflict worsened. UNHCR was recently forced to suspend its work there and has instead expanded its support to refugees living in urban areas.
At least 15 Rohingya die, dozens missing after boat capsizes. At least 15 Rohingya refugees have drowned and dozens more were missing early this morning after a boat carrying some 130 people capsized in the Bay of Bengal. A Bangladesh coast guard official said about 70 people had been rescued from the packed fishing trawler, which was carrying nearly three times its capacity. Most of the passengers were from refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar and were thought to be trying to reach Malaysia. The official said a second boat that was attempting the journey had not yet been found. AFP reports that since last year, Bangladesh police have picked up over 500 Rohingya as they waited to board boats organized by smugglers and traffickers.
Syrian refugees living in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp have joined the recycling movement in a big way. Every day, volunteers collect 4.2 tonnes of recyclable materials like plastics, cardboard and metals that are then sold to Jordanian companies for cash.
DID YOU KNOW?
With more than 5 million people displaced within its borders, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has Africa’s largest population of internally displaced people.