By Kristy Siegfried | 8 April, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Concern for detained refugees as clashes rage near Tripoli.As fighting between rival forces on the outskirts of the Libyan capital continued over the weekend, the UN refugee agency said it was “very concerned” about some 1,300 refugees and migrants held at Ain Zara and Qaser Ben Gashir detention centres, close to the frontlines. Some of the refugees and migrants at the two detention centres who spoke to Al Jazeera using hidden phones said they had been left without food and water for two days. A detainee at another Tripoli detention centre said dozens of male refugees and migrants had been forced to carry and load weapons at a nearby military base. The fighting, which flared up on Thursday, had displaced some 2,800 people by Sunday, according to the UN, which said that civilians in some of the affected areas were unable to flee and could not be reached by emergency services.
Thousands displaced by intensified fighting in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The UN expressed alarm on Friday about an escalation in the conflict between Myanmar’s military and the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army in recent weeks and condemned recent attacks on civilians that have led to the displacement of more than 20,000 people in northern Rakhine State. At a press briefing on Friday, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said the attacks against civilians could constitute war crimes. Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani described an incident on 3 April that left seven people dead when two military helicopters fired on civilians tending cows and rice paddies in south Buthidaung township. UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said there had been no reports of civilians fleeing across the border to Bangladesh.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Last refugees and migrants leave makeshift encampment at Greek border. AP reports that the last 60 holdouts from among nearly 1,000 refugees and migrants who had gathered in a field next to the Diavata camp, near Greece’s border with North Macedonia, left their makeshift encampment on Sunday. Spurred by false rumours about the border opening, which spread on social media, refugees and migrants began arriving at the field and pitching tents on Thursday. Scuffles broke out on Friday and Saturday, and riot police fired tear gas to disperse a group of refugees and migrants who tried to breach a cordon blocking off access to the border crossing. In Athens, some 200 refugees and migrants occupied the central Larissi train station on Friday and demanded transport to northern Greece, but were then persuaded by Greek authorities and UNHCR to return to their accommodation.
Second group of Rohingya found on Malaysian beach. Reuters reports that 41 people believed to be Rohingya refugees were found near a beach in northern Malaysia on Monday. Last month, 35 Rohingya were found on the same beach, according to local police who said more boats carrying about 200 Rohingya are believed to still be at sea. Meanwhile, AFP reported that Bangladeshi police had stopped a group of 115 Rohingya refugees from boarding a boat to Malaysia late on Friday. The group was reportedly the third prevented from heading to Malaysia last week alone. Bangladeshi security forces said they had stopped more than 300 Rohingya from attempting the journey since the start of the year.
25 years on from Rwandan genocide, UN chief warns of rising xenophobia. Sunday marked 25 years since the start of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, where 800,000 people were systematically killed in less than three months. UN Secretary-General António Guterres commemorated the day with a message warning of the dangers of rising xenophobia, racism and intolerance in many parts of the world. He said he was particularly troubled by the proliferation of hate speech and incitement to violence. The UN is commemorating an International Day of Reflection with events around the world, including a memorial ceremony at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Peru border hotel welcomes Venezuelans. Deutsche Welle reports from the Peruvian border town of Tumbes, where the Toloa and Toloa 2 hotels have become the first port of call for many Venezuelan refugees and migrants arriving via Ecuador. According to the manager of the hotels, Venezuelans used to be able to pay for rooms, but for many more recent arrivals even US$9 a night was unaffordable. The UN refugee agency stepped in and offered to pay the hotels’ owner 75 per cent of the usual price for rooms to shelter vulnerable Venezuelans. The hotels forego the remaining 25 per cent but make up for it due to the number of Venezuelans sent there by UNHCR.
Nineteen years after arriving in Britain as a 21-year-old Kurdish asylum-seeker, Caucher Birkar won the 2018 Fields Medal – the most prestigious mathematics prize in the world. The Times tells his incredible story.
DID YOU KNOW?
Rwandans are marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide with 100 days of mourning – the time it took in 1994 for about a tenth of the country’s population to be massacred.