Fears for Iraqis Fleeing Mosul as Offensive Begins
The U.N. and aid agencies urged fighters to allow civilians to safely escape Mosul as Iraqi forces launched a major assault on the ISIS-held city.
Iraq announced the start of the long-anticipated assault on Mosul on October 17, saying it could take weeks to recapture the city, held by the so-called Islamic State since 2014.
U.N. officials said they were “extremely concerned” about the safety of around 1.5 million civilians, warning that up to 1 million people could be forced to flee for their lives, with 100,000 expected to head over Iraq’s borders into Syria and Turkey.
The Norwegian Refugee Council urged all sides to ensure civilians had genuinely safe routes out of the fighting.
The International Rescue Committee said there are only 60,000 tents in seven emergency camps available to house people fleeing Mosul. The aid group expects 200,000 people to flee in the first weeks of the offensive.
The U.N. refugee agency has appealed for $61 million in additional funds to make tents and emergency supplies available to the displaced.
Amnesty: Australia’s Offshore Detention of Refugees ‘Amounts to Torture’
Human rights group Amnesty International has published a damning report on Australia’s detention of refugees on the Pacific island of Nauru.
Australia sends refugees attempting to reach the country by boat to offshore detention centers it operates on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, forbidding them from settling in Australia.
Amnesty official Anna Neistat gained access to the secretive detention center on Nauru in July and interviewed over 100 people, including refugees and staff.
She found that 58 detainees had either attempted suicide or had thoughts about harming themselves. The investigation also found that no Nauruan has ever been prosecuted for assaulting refugees despite dozens of allegations – a finding contested by Australian officials.
Amnesty said Australia’s use of detention as a deterrent fits the international definition of torture.
“The Australian government runs an open-air prison designed to inflict as much suffering as necessary to stop some of the world’s most vulnerable people from trying to find safety in Australia,” Neistat said.
Children From ‘Jungle’ Camp Arrive in U.K.
A group of unaccompanied children who were living in a squalid migrant camp in northern France known as “the Jungle,” has arrived in the U.K. to be placed with relatives.
Fourteen children aged between 14 to 17 years old, coming from countries such as Syria and Sudan, arrived in the U.K. on October 17; the government said dozens more would follow.
France has vowed to permanently dismantle the Calais camp by the end of the year, raising concerns for 1,300 children among the thousands living there, many of whom arrived without their families.
The British Red Cross has identified at least 178 unaccompanied children in the camp as having relatives in Britain, therefore granting them the right to claim asylum in the U.K. French officials and aid groups have slammed Britain for delays in accepting the children.
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