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Executive Summary for February 14th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including figures showing South Sudan is Africa’s largest refugee crisis, German protests against deportations to Afghanistan and a petition to the International Criminal Court over Australia’s offshore detention camps.

Published on Feb. 14, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Number of South Sudanese Refugees Tops 1.5 Million

The number of people who have fled South Sudan’s three-year civil war has topped 1.5 million, making it the largest refugee crisis in Africa, the United Nations said.

A further 7.5 million people need aid and protection inside the country, which has a population of 12 million, according to the U.N.

Recent outbreaks of violence between the regime and rebel forces in the Upper Nile forced humanitarian agencies to pull out of the region. Renewed fighting also broke out in Central Equatoria, near the Ugandan border, late last month.

The U.N.’s peacekeeping department told the Security Council in a confidential note obtained by the Associated Press that the violence is having “devastating consequences” for civilians.

Most civilians – around 20,400 people – fled the Upper Nile’s Wau Shilluk this month and at least 30,000 others have fled Kajo Keji in Central Equatoria, the note said.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have poured into neighboring Uganda. Many described the devastation of their communities and indiscriminate killing and sexual violence in South Sudan.

Germans Protest Afghan Deportations

Thousands protested in German cities this weekend against the deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan.

Protests were held in 13 cities on Feb. 12, with some 2,000 people attending the demonstration in the western city of Dusseldorf and around 1,500 in Hamburg, Deutsche Welle reported.

Berlin says nearly 12,000 Afghan asylum-seekers must leave the country and signed a deal with Kabul last year to facilitate returns. Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to further speed up expulsions of rejected asylum-seekers.

Lawyers Petition ICC Over Australia’s Offshore Refugee Detention

Human rights lawyers have a filed a petition to the International Criminal Court urging prosecutors to investigate possible crimes against humanity in Australia’s offshore detention of refugees, the Guardian reported.

The petition by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and the Stanford International Human Rights Clinic details allegations of abuse at the Australian-run camps on the Pacific island of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus island.

They urge accountability for Australian officials and private contractors who run the camps in order to prevent the system being replicated elsewhere, such as the U.S. and Denmark.

“The Australian situation will result in the normalization of criminality; the perception that a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population may be seen as normal, banal, and potentially acceptable,” the legal submission says.

Last year, Papua New Guinea’s high court ruled that the Australian detention center on its territory is unconstitutional, and Australia made a deal with the U.S. to take in some of the refugees. That deal hangs in the balance since Donald Trump took office.

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