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By Kristy Siegfried | 15 November, 2019


Bosnian authorities impose lockdown on refugee and migrant reception centres. Authorities in Una-Sana canton in north-west Bosnia and Herzegovina have imposed a 24-hour curfew on two reception centres for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. The canton’s interior minister told reporters on Wednesday that only those individuals wanting to leave the Bira and Miral centres permanently would be allowed out. About 2,200 of some 7,000 refugees and migrants in the canton are housed in the two centres. Local authorities have been forcibly transferring those staying in abandoned buildings and makeshift shelters to Vucjak camp, where the UN describes conditions as “inhumane” and “rapidly deteriorating”. In a statement on Thursday, the UN urged authorities to lift the lockdown on the two reception centres and to find alternative accommodation for those staying at the Vucjak camp. EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday joined calls for alternative accommodation to be found, pointing out that the EU has provided over €36 million in aid to the country to address the needs of refugees and migrants.

UN relief chief appeals for renewal of cross-border aid operation. The head of the UN’s humanitarian coordination agency on Wednesday appealed to the Security Council to renew a cross-border operation that delivers aid to 4 million people across northern Syria. With the resolution authorizing the cross-border aid due to expire at the end of the year, Mark Lowcock stressed that its renewal was “critical” and that an end to the operation “would cause a rapid increase in hunger and disease” and many more people moving across the border. Lowcock also said he was very concerned about the situation in Idlib, in north-west Syria, where there has been an increase in air- and ground-based strikes in recent weeks, including over 100 in the last two days. Noting that more than half of people in Idlib have had to move to other parts of the country, he said “there is little space left to absorb additional displacement” and emphasized that the onset of winter was likely to compound the dire humanitarian situation.


Health risks grow at makeshift camp on US-Mexico border. AP reports from a makeshift camp in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, where more than 2,000 asylum-seekers are waiting for US court hearings amid deteriorating medical and sanitary conditions. Aid groups struggling to provide health care and other basic services describe the situation at the camp as a worsening “humanitarian crisis”. Officials in Matamoros and Brownsville are working with NGOs to get flu vaccines, more medicines and new tents as winter approaches. Local authorities have also tried to move asylum-seekers to a new shelter the government recently opened, but most have refused to go, saying they fear missing their court dates or being deported.

Winter warnings for asylum-seekers on Greek islands. The New Humanitarian reports from the Greek island of Lesvos, where aid workers and refugee advocates are worried about inadequate preparations at Moria reception centre for the cold weather winter will bring. Moria was built to house fewer than 3,000 people but, due to an increase in sea arrivals since July, is now housing around 15,000, many of them in flimsy tents in an olive grove outside the perimeter of the centre. Transfers to the mainland have not been able to keep pace with new arrivals. Aid workers said the severe overcrowding is likely to make the situation in Moria more miserable and dangerous than previous winters.

Bangladesh coastguard rescue Rohingya refugees from sinking boat. Bangladesh coast guards intercepted a wooden boat carrying around 120 Rohingya refugees bound for Malaysia as it was about to sink, officials said on Thursday. The vessel was found in the Bay of Bengal after a tip-off by a fisherman. A spokesperson for the coastguard said that so far this year, over 500 Rohingya have been intercepted from coastal villages and smugglers’ boats as they attempted to reach Malaysia. According to UNHCR, nearly 1,600 refugees and asylum-seekers embarked on dangerous sea journeys in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea between January 2018 and June 2019. At least 15 drowned or went missing.


CBS News reports from Jordan, where a new Arabic-language version of the famous children’s programme “Sesame Street” is being filmed. “Ahlan Simsim”, meaning “Welcome Sesame”, features a boy muppet called Jad, voiced by a Syrian refugee, who has just moved into the neighbourhood and is sad about leaving his favourite toy behind in his old home. The show will air in 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf starting in February.


After eight-and-a-half years of war, more than 11 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance – over half the country’s estimated population.