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By Kristy Siegfried | 8 November, 2019


South Sudan rival leaders delay forming unity government. South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have agreed to postpone the formation of a coalition government for 100 days beyond a 12 November deadline. After meeting in Uganda on Thursday, they said security and governance issues needed to be resolved before they could form a government together. It is the second time that the formation of a unity government has been delayed. Five years of fighting in South Sudan have displaced millions of people from their homes, including 2.2 million living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Since the signing of a peace agreement in September 2018, the conflict has largely subsided, but uncertainty about the peace process means most displaced people are still reluctant to return to their homes. Severe flooding since July has compounded an already dire humanitarian situation, affecting almost 1 million people and displacing more than 400,000 from their homes. An aid group, the International Rescue Committee, called on the government to use the extension to focus on meeting humanitarian needs.

Majority of UK’s asylum-seekers and refugees housed in poorer areas. Figures reported by The Independent show that more than half of 63,512 people seeking asylum in Britain or brought to the country for resettlement are accommodated in just 6 per cent of local councils, all of which have below average household income. The Home Office is being urged to rethink its dispersal system, which campaigners argue is putting “unfair” pressure on cities like Glasgow, which is home to nearly 4,500 refugees and asylum-seekers and is struggling to provide them with adequate housing and support. Meanwhile, 24 local authorities have not taken in any asylum-seekers or refugees.


Sadako Ogata: “the diminutive giant” who transformed UNHCR. In this obituary of Sadako Ogata, the first female head of the UN refugee agency, who died on 22 October, The Guardian reports that, soon after taking up the post of UN High Commissioner for Refugees in February 1991, Ogata flew to the mountains of northern Iraq to hear first-hand accounts of people trying to escape to Turkey or Iran during the first Gulf War. On her return to Geneva, she said that in the future UNHCR would help not only refugees, but also those internally displaced by conflict. Filippo Grandi, UNHCR’s current head, who served as Ogata’s chief of staff, remembers her as someone who moved UNHCR “into the thick of it”. “She understood immediately she had to get off the pedestal and into the battle,” he told The Guardian.

Cameroon’s forgotten conflict. The Economist reports from Cameroon, where fighting between security forces and separatists in the north-west and south-west regions of the country has forced more than 500,000 people to flee their homes, leaving villages deserted and many people hiding in the bush. The mass displacement has had grave effects on public health, with plummeting vaccination rates causing outbreaks of measles and monkey pox and more women and babies dying during childbirth. Meanwhile, almost 90 per cent of children in the two affected regions have not gone to school for three years as a result of forced displacements and the enforcement of a boycott by separatists.

Aid convoy reaches eastern Ukraine. A convoy of 18 trucks carrying humanitarian assistance and building materials arrived in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region throughout the day on Thursday. The building materials will be used to repair homes damaged during five years of conflict as winter approaches. Pablo Mateu, UNHCR’s representative in Ukraine, said communities on both sides of the contact line would benefit from the aid. UN officials said the truck convoy was part of wider efforts aimed at relieving a worsening humanitarian situation in Donbas.


Suaad Alshleh came to Ireland with her mother at the age of 14, seeking refuge from the war in Syria. Now a first-year student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, she just became the first recipient of a new State scholarship for medical students. She told RTÉ News she has never felt anything but welcomed and supported in Ireland.


To date, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has uprooted around 1.4 million people. In all, 3.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.