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By Kristy Siegfried | 5 November, 2019


Greek police find 41 people alive in refrigerated truck. The discovery of the 35 men and six boys was made at a motorway toll station outside the city of Xanthi in north-east Greece on Monday. Seven of the group were rushed to a nearby hospital with respiratory problems. The group were all from Afghanistan with the exception of an Iranian and a Syrian. The discovery came 10 days after the bodies of 39 people were found in the back of a refrigerated truck in the UK. Greece has seen an increase in asylum-seeker arrivals since the start of the summer. Arrivals peaked in September with 10,550 asylum seekers reaching the Greek Aegean islands, most of them Syrian and Afghan families. But nearly 12,000 have arrived via Greece’s northern land border with Turkey. Last Thursday, the Greek government passed a new asylum law aimed at speeding up procedures and facilitating more returns to Turkey. The New Humanitarian looks at why rights groups are concerned about the new legislation, which refugee advocates say could be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.

Aid flown in for Somalis cut off by flooding. Severe flooding across large parts of Somalia has displaced more than 270,000 people in the last two weeks, submerging villages and trapping hundreds of families in their homes. The majority – some 230,000 people – have taken shelter in Belet Weyne town in Somalia’s Hiirshabelle state, where they are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Flights carrying humanitarian supplies provided by UN refugee agency began landing in Belet Weyne on Monday and UNHCR said it was scheduling up to 10 flights to airlift a total of 60 metric tons of aid. Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said the floods highlight Somalia’s increasing vulnerability to climate change. Prior to the heavy rains, Somalia was experiencing one of its driest rainy seasons in three decades and humanitarian agencies had launched a drought response plan. More than 2.5 million people have been affected by heavy rainfall and flooding across eastern Africa since July. South Sudan has been particularly hard hit, with an estimated 420,000 displaced, including refugees and communities hosting them.


EU rights agency warns of overcrowding at asylum centres and violence at borders. In its latest quarterly report on migration, the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights highlights overcrowding at reception centres on the Greek islands and reports of violent pushbacks of refugees and migrants at the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as several other European borders. The report, which covers the period from July through September, notes that access to asylum systems remained “very difficult” in many EU countries and that unaccompanied children lacked secure accommodation and were vulnerable to exploitation.

Refugee surgeon named Australian of the Year. Orthopaedic surgeon, human rights activist and Iraqi refugee Munjed Al Muderis was named New South Wales’s 2020 Australian of the Year at a ceremony in Sydney on Monday night. The award organizers said he had overcome “extraordinary” obstacles to become a surgeon and an advocate for refugees and asylum-seekers. Muderis was detained on Christmas Island after fleeing Iraq and arriving by boat to Australia. He has taken a surgical team to his home country seven times to help conflict victims.

The teacher who helps refugee children turn pain into poetry. The Guardian profiles UK-based author, poet and teacher Kate Clanchy, who has helped to publish several prize-winning collections of poetry by children she taught during 10 years working at a multicultural public school in Oxford. Many of them were refugees and migrants who Clanchy helped tune into their inner voices. Instead of viewing their often-traumatic memories, sense of dislocation and struggles with a new language as “disadvantages” to “compensate” for, Clanchy found it gave them a heightened awareness and forced them to listen to their inner voice.


These Iraqi and Syrian refugee barbers have come to Bardarash camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq to offer free haircuts to refugees arriving from north-east Syria. “Each one of us can help in his own way,” says Sulaiman Shaker, one of the barbers. “We give them new looks to start afresh with their new lives.”


Since the start of military action in north-east Syria last month, some 14,000 people have crossed into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Most of the new arrivals are staying at Bardarash camp.