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By Kristy Siegfried  | 16 August, 2019


Insecurity and underfunding see needs rise in DR Congo’s Ituri. Two months after violence forced more than 350,000 people to flee their homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern Ituri province, severe underfunding and growing insecurity mean rising numbers are in need of aid and unable to return home, the UN Refugee Agency said today. Many of those displaced are still sleeping in the open while local schools and churches have been turned into large, squalid shelters where a lack of clean water and latrines is increasing the risk of diseases spreading. UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley said some people who had tried to return home to retrieve food and belongings were killed by armed groups as a warning to others not to return. New shelters are urgently needed so that schools can reopen next month. Yaxley said funding for the humanitarian response to the crisis was critically low with UNHCR receiving just under a third of the US$150 million needed for its operations.

Myanmar and Bangladesh to start fresh attempt at Rohingya repatriations. AP reports that Myanmar and Bangladesh are to make a second attempt to start repatriating Rohingya refugees. UNHCR spokesperson Caroline Gluck said the Bangladesh government has asked for the agency’s help in verifying 3,450 refugees who have signed up for voluntary repatriation. There were part of a list of more than 22,000 names that Bangladesh had sent to Myanmar for verification. Gluck said it was unclear when any repatriations might begin given the need to check all the individuals. “It’s very hard to say whether people will accept voluntary repatriation this time round,” she told AP. “They tell us very clearly we want to go back with … full rights. They are not willing to go back if nothing on the ground has changed.”


Italy says six EU countries ready to take Open Arms passengers. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that six EU countries had agreed to take in some 150 people from the Open Arms rescue ship currently anchored off the island of Lampedusa. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini issued an emergency order on Thursday to prevent the Open Arms from docking in Lampedusa, but defence minister, Elisabetta Trenta, said she had decided not to sign off on it. “Politics must never lose sight of humanity,” she said in a statement. Reuters reports that five seriously traumatized people were moved off the Open Arms on Thursday, accompanied by four relatives and that three more requiring urgent medical attention were taken ashore during the night with one companion.

UNHCR chief urges Chile to streamline documentation process for Venezuelans. Following a visit to Chile this week, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he had been impressed by the government’s willingness to take in more than 400,000 Venezuelans. Grandi highlighted a recent government resolution granting safe passage to Venezuelans for humanitarian reasons and urged authorities to speed up the process for them to gain documentation so they could more quickly integrate into society. Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday that Chile is among several countries that have begun requiring Venezuelans to present valid passports and visas in order to gain entry to the country. The restriction has reportedly left hundreds of Venezuelan families stranded at the Peru-Chile border in precarious conditions. Grandi said it was crucial that the countries of the region delivered a coordinated response to the exodus from Venezuela.

Three aid workers killed in Syria’s Idlib and civilian death toll “rising every day”. A series of airstrikes on an ambulance centre in the Ma’arat Humeh area of southern Idlib province killed a paramedic, an ambulance driver and a rescue worker on Wednesday. Condemning the attacks, Mark Cutts, the UN’s deputy humanitarian coordinator for Syria, said their deaths added to the more than 500 civilian deaths that the UN has documented since fighting in the region escalated three and a half months ago. He said that humanitarians and rescue workers were risking their lives every day to help civilians trapped in the area, even as they themselves were coming under attack. Since the end of April, 36 healthcare facilities and seven ambulances have been attacked, killing a total of at least 17 health workers and patients.

Sole survivor of Mediterranean crossing describes ordeal. Mohammed Adam Oga was one of 15 people, including a pregnant woman, who set off in a dinghy from Libya’s coast on 1 August and the only one who survived 11 days at sea. He spoke to the Times of Malta from his hospital bed after being rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta on Monday. He recalled how the group ran out of food, water and fuel, and that the first two people died after five days. Every day, two more people died until only Oga, who is from Ethiopia, and his Somalian friend, Ismail, were left. He said he saw many boats and helicopters, but that none of them stopped to help. A Frontex plane eventually spotted the boat and alerted the Armed Forces of Malta, but by the time a helicopter arrived, Ismail was dead.


Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp is located in a desert where water and soil are in short supply, but scientists have developed innovative solutions to make it possible for the camp’s residents to grow some of their own food. Children at the camp recently learned how to use the foam from old mattresses to grow seedlings.


It is never a crime to seek asylum in another country even if the individual requesting it entered the country irregularly. The right to seek asylum is enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was made a binding obligation by the 1951 Refugee Convention.