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Executive Summary for October 27th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including a rise in Anglophone Cameroonians fleeing to Nigeria, fears for asylum seekers’ safety ahead of the closure of the Manus Island center and reports of a prostitution ring run from Berlin’s refugee shelters.

Published on Oct. 27, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

UNHCR Prepares for 40,000 Refugees From Anglophone Cameroon

More than 2,000 people have fled from Cameroon into Nigeria in the past two weeks amid growing repression of Anglophone Cameroonians, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said.

Cameroon has cracked down on protests in its western English-speaking regions over the past year; at least eight people were shot dead by security forces at rallies on Oct. 1. Anglophone lawyers and teachers began protests last year over being forced to work in French. The linguistic division is a legacy of World War I.

The UNHCR is preparing a “very conservative” contingency plan for 40,000 people to flee Cameroon, Antonio Jose Canhandula, its representative in Nigeria, told Reuters.

He warned that both countries were already grappling with massive displacement as a result of Boko Haram’s insurgency. “Can you imagine having another refugee situation in a country where we are hardly coping with IDPs [internally displaced persons]?” he said.

HRW: Closing Manus Center Endangers Refugees

As Australia prepares to close its offshore migrant center on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, hundreds of asylum seekers are too afraid to live elsewhere on the island, Human Rights Watch said.

Australia is committed to closing the center by Oct. 31 and is trying to persuade the more than 700 asylum seekers living there to move to a transit center or other housing on the island. The United States has agreed to take in refugees it holds offshore, but only 24 people from Manus have been resettled so far.

Asylum seekers on Manus told Human Rights Watch they had experienced frequent attacks and robberies by groups of local young men, some armed with sticks, knives and screwdrivers, and local police had done little about it. Many now refuse to leave the center except in large groups.

“The tragic irony is that moving these men from their squalid, guarded center and settling them elsewhere in PNG will actually put them at greater danger,” said HRW’s Australia director Elaine Pearson, calling on the country to resettle refugees from Manus, which it has refused to do as part of a policy of deterring boat arrivals.

German Security Guards ‘Recruit Refugees Into Prostitution’

Security guards at refugee centers in Berlin have been recruiting asylum seekers into prostitution, German broadcaster ZDF reported.

Authorities said they were investigating the allegations after a ZDF program described a prostitution ring run out of the centers, based on testimony from refugees, social workers and guards themselves.

One security firm employee said he earned $24 for each asylum seeker who took up sex work. “They need to be of a certain age, attractive. From 16 years and up; the younger they are, the more expensive they are,” one guard said.

Aid groups in Germany reported a rise in young asylum seekers engaging in sex work earlier this year.

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