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By Kristy Siegfried | 28 October, 2019


Shots fired at NGO rescue ship. A German NGO, the Sea-Eye, said one of its vessels was threatened during a rescue operation on Saturday by heavily armed Libyan patrol boats. The Alan Kurdi ship was rescuing 90 people from a deflating rubber dinghy off the coast of Libya when it was reportedly surrounded by three speedboats flying a Libyan flag. Sea-Eye spokesperson Gorden Isler told AFP that masked men then fired “warning shots” into the air and water where several people had fallen in. The crew managed to complete the rescue. The Libyan Navy has denied that its forces or coastguard had any role in the incident and it’s not yet clear who the patrol boats belonged to. Meanwhile, the Ocean Viking rescue ship remains at sea waiting to be assigned a safe port after rescuing 104 people off the coast of Libya 10 days ago. Today, SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières, which operate the ship, called on a broad coalition of EU States to urgently facilitate the assignment of a port.

Nearly one million people in South Sudan affected by severe flooding. Abnormally heavy seasonal flooding has affected an estimated 908,000 people in South Sudan, including internally displaced people, refugees and their host communities, the UN said on Friday. Many affected areas were already facing high humanitarian needs before the flooding started, and the UN warned that the crisis would not be over when the water levels recede because of the expected damage to crops and livestock. UNHCR said the flooding has submerged roads and air strips in Maban County, hampering aid delivery to more than 150,000 refugees and 70,000 members of the host community. The agency warned last week that Maban is “on the verge of a health emergency”.


How did rescued refugees’ lives turn out in Europe? During his time aboard the NGO rescue ship the Aquarius last summer, Italian photographer Nicoló Lanfranchi got to know some of the people the boat had rescued while they waited for permission to dock in Malta. Several European governments agreed to take them in and Lanfranchi decided to follow their stories to find out how they were faring several months later. After visiting some of the group in France, Germany Luxembourg, he found that their living situations and amount of support they had received varied widely depending on where they had ended up.

Aid groups fear impact of ongoing suspension of activities in north-east Nigeria. The international aid group Mercy Corps said on Friday that the suspension of its operations in two north-eastern Nigerian states for the past month has left “hundreds of thousands of people at risk”, including 150,000 displaced people who rely on the organization for food assistance. Mercy Corps’ offices in Yobe and Borno states were closed by the army in September. Following a visit to Borno last week, UN relief chief Mark Lowcock expressed concern about the “deteriorating humanitarian situation”, noting that 140,000 people had been displaced by renewed violence in Borno this year alone. He said authorities had assured him the suspension on the activities of Mercy Corps and another aid group, Action Against Hunger, would be lifted in the coming days.

Solidarity conference for displaced Venezuelans opens in Brussels. An International Solidarity Conference to raise awareness and support for Venezuelan refugees and migrants opens in Brussels today. Ministers and senior officials from Latin American, the Caribbean and the European Union, as well as UN agencies, NGOs and private sector companies are expected to attend. In a joint article, European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini, IOM chief Antonio Vitorino and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the exodus from Venezuela was “the most severe and fastest-growing refugee and migrant crisis in Latin American history” and was stretching the capacities of host communities to breaking point.


Over the past two years, Marta Duque has opened her home in the Colombian town of Pamplona to thousands of Venezuelan women and children making the long trek from the border. At first she sheltered them in her garage, but now her entire two-bedroom house has become a shelter. “I don’t see this as a sacrifice of any kind,” she says. “I really do it out of love, and I’m sure that if one day they’re no longer here, I’ll feel lonely.”


Nearly 80 per cent of the approximately 4.5 million Venezuelans who have left their country have remained in Latin America or the Caribbean.