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By Kristy Siegfried | 18 June, 2019


Massive new displacement in north-eastern DRC. Inter-ethnic violence between Hema herder and Lendu farming communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s north-eastern Ituri province has displaced more than 300,000 people since early June, according to UNHCR. In a briefing in Geneva today, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said that people were fleeing attacks and counter-attacks as both communities formed self-defense groups and carried out revenge killings. UNHCR does not yet have access to most of the affected areas, but is receiving reports of killings, kidnappings and sexual violence being unleashed against civilians. Local officials told Reuters on Monday that at least 161 people had been killed by ethnic clashes in Ituri in the past week. Baloch said many of the displaced were sleeping in the open or in public buildings with little or no assistance. Nearly 20,000 have reached the provincial capital, Bunia, where efforts are underway to find suitable sites for them. Others are trying to cross Lake Albert to reach Uganda.

Flooding increases humanitarian needs across Yemen. Torrential rains and widespread flooding across 12 of Yemen’s governorates in recent weeks have worsened the humanitarian situation, according to UNHCR, which estimates that 80,000 people have been affected, including large numbers of internally displaced people in Hajjah governorate. The floods have also impacted health facilities and increased the risks of diseases such as cholera spreading further. More than 364,000 suspected cases of cholera and 639 deaths have already been reported across Yemen since the beginning of the year. Separately, the head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, warned on Monday that a phased suspension of food aid was likely to begin later this week unless agreements with authorities are honoured to stop aid obstruction. Beasley told the UN Security Council that 18 months after WFP first uncovered evidence of that “some food was going to the wrong people”, the agency continued to face “fierce resistance to simply just doing our job to keep people alive”. UN relief chief Mark Lowcock told the Council that the conflict in Yemen “is getting worse, not better” and had displaced 250,000 people so far this year.


At least 12 dead after boat sinks off Turkish coast. Turkey’s coast guard said the boat sank on Monday in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Bodrum and a few kilometres from the Greek island of Kos. They recovered 12 bodies from inside the wreck of the sunken vessel and rescued another 31 people. Those rescued were from Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. The incident comes a week after seven people, including two children, died when another boat capsized off the coast of Greece. Meanwhile, Spain’s maritime rescue service said it rescued 292 refugees and migrants from five boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean on Monday. More rescues and disembarkations have been carried out today, bringing the total to about 434 in the last 24 hours.

UK to resettle at least 5,000 more refugees. The Home Office has said that the UK will welcome between 5,000 and 6,000 refugees in 2020-2021 after its Syria-focused resettlement programme expires next year. The Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme has brought 16,000 Syrian refugees to the UK since 2015 and is on track to meet its target of 20,000 by May 2020. The new initiative will resettle refugees from “wherever the need is most acute”, said Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UNHCR’s representative in the UK. The government said it would create a new process for emergency resettlement that would allow it to react quickly when lives are at risk. A community sponsorship scheme, which has brought about 300 refugees to the UK since 2016, will continue.

Global study of attitudes towards refugees finds most believe in right to seek refuge. A new Ipsos study of attitudes towards refugees in 26 countries, released just ahead of World Refugee Day this Thursday, found majority support in most countries for people’s right to seek refuge from war or persecution. Those surveyed were more split on whether their country should keep its borders open to refugees at this time, with respondents in India, Turkey, Sweden and Serbia most likely to agree that their country’s borders should be closed to refugees. Overall, 54 per cent of respondents were sceptical about whether people seeking refuge in their countries were truly refugees. Since the last survey in 2017, people have become less convinced about the ability of refugees to successfully integrate into their new countries.

Australia’s onshore immigration detention system increasingly “like prison” says rights body. Australia’s Human Rights Commission has urged the Australian government to “take very seriously” its latest report released today, which found that the country’s onshore immigration detention system is becoming “more and more like prison”. People are being held for an average of about 500 days and there is an increasing use of restraints, according to the report, which found that all detainees, including young female asylum-seekers, were being subject to harsher treatment. Based on its findings, the Commission has made a number of recommendations to the Australian government, including releasing more people into community detention, increasing the provision of social and education services, and reducing the severity of restrictions on detainees.


In this latest episode from UNHCR’s Awake at Night podcast series, Shahrzad Tadjbakhsh, a lawyer who works on refugee protection at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, talks to Melissa Fleming about her own experience of becoming a refugee when she was 10 years old. She and her family had to flee Delhi, where her father was serving as the Iranian ambassador, in the wake of the revolution in Iran. “Since childhood,” she says in the interview, “I grew up with my mother telling me: ‘You were born to help people.’ It was something that was impounded in my brain from the time I was born.”


The Democratic Republic of the Congo has an estimated 4.5 million internally displaced people. It is also host to more than 530,000 refugees.