By Kristy Siegfried | 3 December, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
UN condemns attack on aid workers in South Sudan. Armed men broke into an NGO compound in Bunj town in Maban County early on Sunday morning. They severely assaulted several staff members and took their belongings. UNHCR today said it was “outraged” by the senseless act against people trying to improve the lives of refugees and vulnerable South Sudanese and called for increased protection for humanitarians. The past few months have seen an increase in attacks on aid workers in South Sudan. Sunday’s incident comes only a month after three IOM volunteers were killed in the country’s Central Equatoria region.
At least 20 civilians killed in one day in northern Syria. Air strikes and shelling in several locations in northern Syria killed between 20 and 30 people on Monday, including at least 8 children. One of the air strikes hit a popular market in the opposition-held town of Maaret al-Noumaan in north-western Idlib killing 13 people, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, put the death toll at nine. The strike came amid an uptick in violence in Idlib, where fighting between government forces and opposition fighters claimed dozens of lives on both sides over the weekend. Another nine people were killed on Monday when artillery shells landed near a school in the town of Tal Rifaat in northern Aleppo Province. Most of the victims were reportedly displaced people from the Afrin region. UNICEF said Monday’s deaths had brought the number of children killed in northern Syria to at least 34 in the past four weeks.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
High levels of gender-based violence seen in Rohingya refugee camps. Many Rohingya women who experienced rape and torture as they fled Myanmar report facing sexual violence again in overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh. UN agencies and NGOs have reported high levels of sexual assault and domestic violence in the camps, with nearly a quarter of women surveyed by Oxfam last year saying they did not feel safe in their living spaces. UNICEF operates four women-only safe spaces in the camps and other organizations provide similar services, but The Guardian reports that sexual violence often goes unreported due to cultural and religious sensitivities. In domestic violence cases, aid agencies often intervene to offer a mediation process that involves camp officials and religious and community leaders.
The high cost of Australia’s off-shore asylum system. Advocacy groups in Australia have released new figures showing that off-shore processing will cost AU$1.3 billion (US$889.4 billion) over the next three years. The report – released on Tuesday by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Save the Children and GetUp – found that the cost to Australian taxpayers of keeping each asylum-seeker offshore was AU$537,000 (US$367,000) per year. The report comes as the government prepares to have the Senate vote this week on repealing medevac laws, which allow doctors to oversee medical transfers of refugees and asylum-seekers to Australia.
Pope to bring 43 asylum-seekers from Lesvos to Rome. The Vatican said on Monday that Pope Francis has dispatched an aide to the Greek island of Lesvos to identify 33 asylum-seekers who will be brought to Italy on Wednesday. Another 10 asylum-seekers will travel from Lesvos to Italy later this month. They will be cared for by the Sant’Egidio community, a Catholic charity. When Pope Francis visited Lesvos in April 2016, he brought three Syrian families back to Italy with him.
Living with a disability when you’re displaced. Bawk Ra lost the ability to walk when she was five and has been living in a camp for displaced people in northern Myanmar for the past seven years. With a smartphone, some training and help from her family, she produced this photo essay showing what her life is like. “I cannot move much because someone always has to carry me,” she writes. Much of her time is spent at home reading and writing and helping with childcare and domestic chores. Her life changed when UNHCR provided her with a wheelchair and she was able to go shopping with her sister for the first time and visit a river near the camp.
Maryam, an Afghan refugee living in Iran, was born blind, but she has never let that hold her back. The lack of braille books at school meant she had to memorize her lessons and create her own braille summaries by punching holes in her notebook. Later, she learned to play guitar and now weaves traditional Persian rugs to support herself and her family. “I like to do things that others say I cannot do,” she says.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since hostilities broke out in South Sudan six years ago, 115 aid workers have been killed there.