HEADLINES: Refugees

A hunger strike in Nauru continues, as asylum seekers in a camp on the island have refused to accept food.  In a controversial decision, Australia decided to renew its policy of moving asylum seekers to Nauru while their cases are being processed, thus erasing the guarantee that they would be accepted into Australia even if their asylum status is granted.  The majority of the asylum seekers are from the countries of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.  Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, said last week that “such a move amounted to arbitrary detention for asylum seekers, something she called unacceptable and an egregious breach of refugee law.”  Currently 300 asylum seekers are participating in the hunger strike.  [BBC]

As violence continues in Myanmar, International NGO Doctors Without Borders is finding difficulty in providing medical aid to Rohingya (minority Muslims) who are affected by the violence.  The operations manager for DWB, Joe Belliveau, said “I have never experienced this level of intolerance before.  What we really need is for people to understand that giving medical aid is not a political act.”  Tens of thousands have been forced from their homes and are either in camps in neighboring countries or displaced internally, but “there is a huge group of people who have not been displaced but are cut off from health care, said Mr. Belliveau.  Buddhist religious nationalism continues to fuel hatred of the Rohingya throughout the country. [NYTimes]

As the Syrian uprising continues, refugees living as Turkey’s “guests” have had to plan long-term for their stay in Turkey, creating makeshift schools and finding part-time work, as prospects for returning to a peaceful Syria are far out of reach.  There are currently more than 135,000 Syrian refugees living within Turkish borders.  In the camps, “as weeks have turned into months and, for some, months into more than a year, children ages 5 to 16 have enrolled in makeshift schools, learning the native Turkish of their host nation and striving for a sense of normalcy in art and math classes.”  In response to the unprecedented number of refugees already in Turkey, the government has severely tightened the border, but unauthorized refugees continue to flow over the porous border.  [Washington Post]

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