Kentucky Senator Rand Paul blocked a bill renewing support for elderly and disabled refugees. The bill was up for a voice vote on Monday, and was renewing funding that ran out at the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Politico interviewed LIRS Director for Advocacy, Eric Sigmon:
The United States is a world leader in protecting refugees and other vulnerable migrants like victims of persecution and human trafficking. We hope that Congress will immediately pass legislation that continues to provide support to this small but extremely vulnerable population.
Sen. Paul claimed he was concerned about the risk of the funds ending up in the hands of potential terrorists after two Iraqi refugees who were receiving welfare benefits were arrested on alleged terrorism related charges in his hometown. [Politico] [Think Progress]
As many as 3,800 refugees have fled to Lebanon from the conflict in Syria as government crack-down on protestors has remained constant over the last six months. Many are staying just across the border from Syria, and many are afraid to live in Lebanon as well, concerned that Syrian government officials are infiltrating into Lebanon:
A 42-year-old woman who would be identified only as Khadeeja, has been staying in a former classroom with her eight sons for several weeks.
Mattresses were spread on the floor and a washing-line hung from the walls. A refrigerator whirred in the corner – a gift from the community, she said. Many of those who fled have relatives on the Lebanese side of the border.
“Arida [Syria] is full of army and mukhabarat [secret police] now,” Khadeeja said. “Every 100 metres there’s a checkpoint. We’re afraid to go back now – maybe they’ll take the children or the men.”
Khadeeja said she was particularly afraid for the safety of her eldest son, Alaa. The 27-year-old electrician said it would be impossible for his family to return to Syria while President Bashar Al Assad remained in power.
“Of course, we want to go back, but we can’t. At the same time, we are scared to be here [in Lebanon] too,” Alaa said.
According to the UNHCR, relief agencies have temporarily suspended aid in the town of Dhobley, on the Somali-Kenyan border because of fierce clashes between armed groups. The agency warns the renewed fighting is worsening an already terrible humanitarian situation. Dhobley is the main transit point for Somalis heading to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. An estimated 1,000 new Somali refugees fleeing conflict and starvation continue to arrive in Dadaab camps everyday. [Voice of America]