Executive Summary for November 1st

We review the latest news related to refugees, including the deaths of seven Rohingya taking boats to Bangladesh, the standoff between authorities and asylum seekers on Manus Island, and Ethiopia’s opening of civil registration for refugees.

Published on Nov. 1, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Rohingya Refugees Drown While Fleeing to Bangladesh

Seven Rohingya refugees drowned while fleeing Myanmar by boat to the coast of Bangladesh.

In one boat, three babies aged between three and 10 months slipped out of their mothers’ arms as the vessel reached the shore of Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district and were swept out to sea.

A day later, a boat carrying more than 40 refugees capsized in rough seas off the coast and a man, woman and two children drowned. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Some 600,000 refugees have fled the brutal military campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August, bringing the number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar to more than 820,000. Aid groups are struggling to establish basic shelter and sanitary conditions amid the rapid influx. At least 200 refugees are known to have drowned while escaping by boat.

Standoff Over Manus Center Closure Continues

Despite the loss of power, food and water, refugees stayed put at the Australian-run offshore center on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

Authorities are trying to close the facility and relocate some 600 asylum seekers living there to other accommodation centers, but they have refused to go, citing fear of violence against refugees elsewhere on the island.

Staff left the center on October 31 and all services were shut off later in the day. The refugees, who set up rainwater buckets and shared out stockpiles of food, held a vigil overnight after reports of looting.

UNHCR representative Nat Jit Lam told the Guardian he inspected two of the three accommodation centers to which refugees are meant to move, and they are still under construction. “I’m not an expert on engineering but, as a UNHCR officer who’s been working with refugees, I would not be bringing any refugees to stay there, not in that state,” he said.

Ethiopia Allows Refugees to Register Births

Ethiopia began allowing refugees to register births, deaths, marriages and divorces with national authorities, as well as retroactively issuing birth certificates for 70,000 refugee children born in the country in the past decade.

Civil registration offices were set up in the country’s 26 refugee camps and other areas with high numbers of refugees. More than 880,000 refugees live in Ethiopia, many from Eritrea and South Sudan.

Ethiopia had pledged to amend its laws to allow civil registration for refugees at last year’s Leaders’ Summit, as well as to socially and economically integrate refugees. UNHCR praised the move as “a ground-breaking development for refugee protection in Ethiopia.”

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