HEADLINES: Refugees

Last Thursday, an unprecedented 11,000 refugees fled Syria in a single night, due to an increase in fighting between the regime and the rebels.  While the number of refugees fleeing has continued to rise over the past few months, this was still a shocking occurrence. Over 9,000 of the Syrians crossed into Turkey, a country already rapidly reaching its saturation point for receiving new refugees.  Syrian President Bashar Assad still refuses to acknowledge the severity of the situation, saying last week in “an interview with Russian television that there was no civil war in Syria, insisting that he was protecting Syrians against ‘terrorism’ supported from abroad.” [Washington Post]

After news broke that Amnesty International will soon be allowed to visit their camp, the mass hunger strike undergone by would-be-refugees being processed on the island of Nauru was largely called off.  Only a few of the participants are still refusing meals.  The hunger strike was called off in the hopes “that the Amnesty International visit is going to provide some remedy, some relief, some answers.”  Earlier this year, Australia reinstated a program where asylum seekers would be processed in the island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea, thus eliminating the promise that the asylees would be allowed into Australia, even if granted asylum status.  Critics of the Australian program claim that it leads to cruelty and dehumanization in the detention process, and that their needs to be greater transparency in the system. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Syria’s conflict has certainly been more than just a Syrian problem, as enormous numbers of refugees have fled to almost every country in the region.  Along with the migration of people, though, violence too has steadily followed.  Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey have all experienced shelling and bombings from neighboring Syria.  Turkey especially has been hit repeatedly and has responded with military action.  Turkey has called for a buffer zone to be created as a safe haven for refugees, but international cooperation for the no-fly zone this would require has been difficult to come by, as both China and Russia continue to oppose U.N. support for the Syrian rebel cause. [Washington Post]

As Turkey has tightened restrictions on refugee arrival, many of those left waiting on the Syrian-Turkish border are children.  Many have lost their parents in the war that has left over 36,000 dead in the past 18 months.  The makeshift border camps are administered by the Syrian rebels, who have received a smattering of food and other supplies from aid organizations.  New refugees are arriving every day, though, and as Turkey is rapidly reaching its saturation point for new refugees, it remains unlikely that many of these vulnerable children will be granted entry soon. [Washington Post]

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