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By Kate Bond  | 28 August, 2019


Scores dead in latest Mediterranean shipwreck. At least 40 people are estimated to have drowned off the coast of Libya in the latest boat disaster on the Mediterranean Sea. A rescue operation, carried out by the Libyan Coast Guard and local fishermen, began yesterday morning, with around 60 survivors rescued and brought to shore in the coastal town of Al-Khoms. UNHCR has renewed its “urgent” call for action to save lives. “We must not simply accept these tragedies as inevitable,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean. “Sympathies must now become actions that prevent loss of life at sea, and prevent the loss of hope that motivates people to risk their lives in the first place.” The incident came as UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly Clements, visited Libya to assess the country’s rising humanitarian needs. Meanwhile, Italy has grounded two planes used by NGOs to search for refugee boats in distress in the Mediterranean. The planes are operated by the German NGO Sea-Watch and the French NGO Pilotes Volontaires.

Burundi plans to bring home refugees who fled to Tanzania. Burundi has announced that it will start repatriating 200,000 of its refugees from neighbouring Tanzania in October, sparking fear among those who have crossed the border to escape persecution and violence. However, UNHCR said on Tuesday that conditions in Burundi are not “conducive to promote returns” and noted that it is assisting refugees who indicate they have made a voluntary choice to return home. In a statement to Al Jazeera, Dana Hughes, the UNHCR spokesperson for Eastern Horn and Great Lakes region, said that while around 75,000 Burundians had returned home in the past two years, hundreds still flee Burundi each month. UNHCR urged governments in the region to maintain open borders and access to asylum for those who need it. Since April 2015, the majority of Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries following political unrest at home.


Oxfam: Raising Australia’s refugee intake would boost economy. A new report from Oxfam Australia claims that increasing Australia’s annual refugee intake to 44,000 by 2023 would bring an extra AU$37.7 billion to the economy over the next 50 years. The report suggests that the increase, up from Australia’s current intake of 18,750 a year, would also sustain an average of 35,000 jobs a year, and increase demand for goods and services by AU$18.2 billion.

ICDF, Columbia to use health app with refugees. Taiwan’s International Cooperation and Development Fund has partnered with Columbia University in New York City to develop a mobile health-care app which will offer Syrian refugees in Turkey better access to health-care information. The project aims to raise awareness about refugee health by fostering dialogue and cooperation among refugee youth, locals, the government, academic institutions and other groups and individuals.

Three in every ten asylum-seekers in Mexico are children. Mexico’s representative to UNHCR has told reporters that three in every ten asylum-seekers in Mexico are minors. “In this context, we appeal to Mexico’s long-standing asylum tradition, which sets down that the doors must be opened to individuals who are fleeing from violence and persecution in their nations,” said Mark Manly, UNHCR’s Representative in Mexico. During the first seven months of this year, the number of people seeking asylum in Mexico reached 42,849.


A cash assistance programme in Kenya’s Kalobeyei settlement allows refugees to build their own homes with materials bought from the local community.


Following yesterday’s tragedy off the coast of Libya, it is estimated that some 900 people have lost their lives while trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2019.