Fifty-four Somalis trying to escape Libya are dead or presumed dead after an overcrowded boat with hundreds on board capsized off the coast of Tripoli. The boat was carrying more than 600 asylum seekers of various Arab and African nationalities. Since the end of March, two vessels departing from Libya have disappeared — one carrying 320 people and the other 160. Since the crisis in Libya started, more than 10,371 migrants of various nationalities have arrived on Lampedusa or the neighboring island of Linosa from Libya. Muammar Gaddafi’s officials have admitted that unseaworthy migrant ships are being allowed to sail as a protest against NATO air strikes.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said that it had suspended operations for 50,000 people in central and southern Syria in the face of the persistent violence sweeping the country. A UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman said the organization had stopped providing services in a refugee camp in the central city of Homs, a hub of anti-regime protests, and had also closed down its operations in and around the southern city of Daraa. For almost two months, near-daily protests have railed against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Since the start of the protests in mid-March, between 600 and 700 people have been killed and at least 8,000 arrested, human rights groups say.
Julia Gillard, Australia’s prime minister, launched her latest plan to stop asylum-seekers reaching the country by boat. She’s promised that the next 800 people to land on Australia’s shores will be sent to join the thousands of asylum-seekers who are already waiting to have their claims processed in Malaysia. In return, Australia will admit 4,000 of a group stuck in Malaysia who have already been assessed as refugees, taking them in over a period of four years. According to the UN, Australia received 8,250 asylum-seeking applications in the last year, putting it at 15th among asylum-receiving industrialized countries.
A UN report on the cholera outbreak that has sickened 300,000 Haitians since last fall, killing nearly 5,000, finds evidence to suggest that the disease may have originated at a United Nations military camp north of the capital, which spilled raw sewage into a tributary of the Artibonite River. Even as relief agencies are winding down their presence in Haiti, about 680,000 people are still living in camps and waiting for permanent shelter, according to this recent NYTimes article.
During the six weeks leading up to World Refugee Day held on June 20th, the UNHCR is asking 6,000 Americans to get their own Blue Key as part of their Blue Key campaign to represent participation in a growing community that supports the world’s most vulnerable people. Click here for more information.