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Executive Summary for September 11th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Bangladesh’s response to the mass exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar, a German aid group sending rescue boats back to the Mediterranean and Congolese returning from Angola to find their villages have vanished.

Published on Sep. 11, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Bangladesh Grapples With Mass Influx of Rohingya

Bangladesh agreed to set up a new refugee camp to house nearly 300,000 people who have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in the past two weeks, but insisted their stay would only be temporary.

Existing refugee camps in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar are “beyond overcrowded,” said U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan. Bangladeshi officials said refugees would be fingerprinted and confined to the new camp.

Bangladesh, which was already hosting 400,000 Rohingya refugees before the latest influx began in August, initially refused to accept any more refugees and turned away thousands at the border – before quickly becoming overwhelmed by the scale of the exodus from Rakhine.

In recent days, Bangladeshi officials have reiterated plans to send refugees to a remote, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal and have floated proposals for “safe zones” run by aid groups inside Myanmar or a buffer zone along the border.

German Rescue NGO Returns to Mediterranean

German NGO Sea-Eye said it was sending its two rescue ships back to the Mediterranean after suspending operations there last month.

Citing threats from the E.U.-backed Libyan coast guard, several humanitarian groups have recently pulled their rescue boats out of the Mediterranean.

Sea-Eye said it will now conduct rescues in a perimeter of 70 to 90 nautical miles from the Libyan coast, “to take account of the constant threat from the Libyan coast guard and to not compromise the safety of the crews.”

Despite a recent drop in boats leaving Libya, the need for rescues has not stopped, Sea-Eye said, citing a September 2 incident when they were called to help rescue a boat off Libya.

Returning Congolese Refugees Find Home Area Devastated

The U.N. refugee agency said Congolese refugees are returning from Angola to the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of Congo only to find it devastated by fighting.

An estimated 1.4 million people have been displaced by fighting that erupted in the Kasai region last year.

UNHCR warned that the conflict has wiped many villages off the map and decimated public services, while recent progress toward stability remains fragile.

“Many of the returnees have found their homes destroyed and are forced to live in internal displacement-like conditions,” UNHCR spokesperson Cecile Pouilly.

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