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By Kristy Siegfried | 17 October, 2019


Fighting in north-east Syria sends over 1,000 refugees into Iraq. Aid groups said Wednesday that more than a thousand Syrians have crossed the Iraqi border since the weekend, including about 800 who arrived on Wednesday. Some of the new arrivals told Reuters that Syrian Kurdish forces had tried to prevent them from crossing via official checkpoints. The new arrivals were transported to a camp in Bardarash, Dohuk Governorate, three hours’ drive from the border, where authorities have been scrambling to erect more tents and fix latrines. Iraq is already home to nearly 230,000 Syrian refugees and tens of thousands of Iraqis remain displaced by the fight to reclaim territory from the Islamic State. The Kurdistan Regional Government, which administers Iraq’s northern province, has called on the international community to provide fresh support as the area prepares to receive more refugees.

UNHCR commits to help South Africa strengthen asylum system. At the end of a two-day visit to South Africa, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said that UNHCR was ready to support the government’s efforts to streamline the country’s asylum system. He met with refugees and asylum-seekers in Johannesburg and Pretoria who described problems accessing and renewing documentation and concerns about their safety following a spate of violence against foreigners last month. Local media report that hundreds of asylum-seekers and refugees have been participating in a sit-in outside UNHCR’s offices in Cape Town since last week, demanding to be relocated from South Africa because they no longer feel safe there. Grandi noted that resettlement to third countries was a very limited option for refugees worldwide. “We will continue to support the government in its efforts to build social cohesion, and appreciate the President’s call for tolerance and dialogue,” he said.


Italian coastguard recovers more bodies from shipwreck off Lampedusa. Italian authorities have found the bodies of 12 people who drowned in a shipwreck last week off the island of Lampedusa. The discovery, using a remotely operated vehicle, brings to at least 25 the number of people who died on 7 October when the overloaded boat capsized as an Italian rescue boat approached. The bodies of 13 women were found at the time while 22 others survived. Among those found was a woman who drowned holding her eight-month-old child. As many as five people are still missing.

Displaced people in desperate need in DR Congo’s Ituri. More than 360,000 people forced to flee attacks by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern Ituri province five months ago are in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medicine, according to a joint statement released by 11 aid agencies on Thursday. The majority of the displaced are staying with host families, stretching already poor communities to breaking point. Others are living in cramped conditions in churches and schools or in makeshift camps. The agencies warned that the situation is deteriorating with the approach of the lean season and the spread of preventable diseases. This year’s aid response in the DR Congo is currently only 35 per cent funded.

Bosnian police move 1,500 refugees and migrants to temporary camp. Police in north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina have rounded up 1,500 refugees and migrants living in abandoned buildings and public spaces in the town of Bihac and moved them to a camp that has been criticized by rights groups, EU and UN officials for its location on top of a former landfill site and for inhumane living conditions. Vucjak camp, near the border with Croatia, has no toilets, running water or electricity. The mayor of Bihac warned this week that his city can no longer cope with thousands of people staying there in hopes of moving towards Western Europe and threatened to cut off funding to the camp next week. In a statement on Thursday, the UN urged authorities to find alternative accommodation for the refugees and migrants.

On the run from violence in Nigeria’s Zamfara state. Criminal groups and extreme violence in the northwest Nigerian state of Zamfara have caused thousands of people to flee their villages and seek safety in the town of Anka, according to Médecins Sans Frontières, which warned this week that the rainy season is bringing a peak of malaria cases and that with farms abandoned, a nutrition crisis is also looming. By the end of last month, 40,000 people from Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina states had crossed into neighbouring Niger to escape an upsurge in violent attacks on civilians, according to UNHCR.


92-year-old former refugee is offering his artwork in exchange for donations to support refugees.


Of nearly 230,000 Syrian refugees already living in Iraq, most are concentrated in the northern Kurdistan region.