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By Kristy Siegfried | 31 January, 2020


UNHCR halts operations at Tripoli facility over safety fears. The UN refugee agency said on Thursday it was suspending its operations at a centre for refugees and asylum-seekers over safety concerns as fighting near the Libyan capital intensifies. Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in Libya, said the agency had learned that military and police training exercises were being held just outside the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF). “We fear that the entire area could become a military target,” he said. The agency said it had started moving dozens of refugees, who have been staying at the facility ahead of being resettled, to safer locations. Hundreds of others are being evacuated to urban areas where they will receive assistance. The GDF was established as a transit centre for refugees identified for resettlement or evacuation, but became increasingly overcrowded as refugees and asylum-seekers headed there after fleeing or being released from detention centres. Meanwhile, the UN’s top official in Libya, Ghassan Salamé, on Thursday expressed his “deep anger and disappointment” over the intensifying conflict in the country, despite a high-level summit in Berlin earlier this month that set out measures to de-escalate fighting. With increased shelling and artillery fire in recent days, Salamé said a truce was holding “only in name”.


Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram find uncertain refuge in Niger. This long-read from Time magazine reports on increasing insecurity in Niger, a country that hosts over 200,000 refugees, most of whom have fled violence at the hands of Boko Harm and its offshoots in northern Nigeria. Niger itself is now facing a series of insurgencies that, combined with the impacts of climate change, are causing increasing levels of internal displacement. In the Diffa region alone, 260,000 refugees and internally displaced people live in informal settlements where conditions are difficult despite help from UN agencies. Cross-border movements, drought and recent flooding have all combined to put pressure on a country that ranks last on the UN’s development index.

Syrian refugee hailed as hero in Turkey after rescuing earthquake survivors. Following a powerful earthquake that struck central Turkey last week, Mahmoud Othman, a 22-year-old Syrian refugee, plunged into the debris of a collapsed building to save a couple trapped underneath. Othman was quickly hailed as a hero and, earlier this week, Turkey’s interior minister announced that he and his family would be given Turkish citizenship. The Washington Post reports that the celebrations of Othman’s bravery have earned temporary relief for his fellow Syrian refugees whose welcome has waned in Turkey amid a worsening economy. Othman was reunited with the couple he rescued in an encounter captured and widely shared on social media.

“Sesame Street” opens up to Syrian refugee children. A new version of the well-known educational children’s show will begin airing in Arabic and Kurdish next week with the aim of reaching children displaced by the Syrian conflict and their neighbours in host communities. The New York Times reports on how the project, launched with the International Rescue Committee and educators in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, is an effort to rethink the short-term focus of much humanitarian aid, and target longer term needs, including education. The show will focus on helping displaced children identify and manage their emotions through two new main characters – Basma and Jad – who become friends when Jad moves to Basma’s neighbourhood after having to leave his home.


A new scholarship programme is giving refugees living in Jordan the opportunity to study for diplomas alongside young Jordanians.


Since December 2018, nearly 1,700 formerly detained refugees have been evacuated out of Libya through the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli.