Executive Summary for February 23rd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the killing of five protesters in a police crackdown in Rwanda, Venezuela’s neighbors contending with a growing exodus and a Rohingya child trampled by an elephant in Bangladesh.

Published on Feb. 23, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Five Refugees Killed After Police Crackdown on Protest in Rwanda

At least five refugees were killed in Rwanda as they protested against a cut in basic food aid. Images from the scene showed panicked and wounded refugees taking casualties away.

The protest began earlier this week in Kiziba camp, home to 17,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Tuesday, around 700 of them began a 10-mile (16km) march from Kiziba to the United Nations refugee agency office in Karongi.

The protesters were met with tear gas and live ammunition fired by Rwandan police on Thursday. In a statement, police said they had warned refugees they would use force to disperse the protest and accused refugees of throwing stones.

In addition to the five deaths, 20 refugees and seven police officers were injured and 15 refugees were arrested, according to police.

The World Food Program reduced food rations to the camp by 25 percent in January. The UNHCR said it has received only 2 percent of the $98.8 million it needs for refugees in Rwanda.

The agency said it was “shocked and disturbed” by the deaths: “This tragedy should have been avoided and disproportionate use of force against desperate refugees is not acceptable.”

Latin America Contends With Growing Venezuela Crisis

Guyana became the latest country to tighten its border with Venezuela as the region contends with the growing exodus from the crisis-hit nation.

Guyana set up two army bases along the border following reports of an influx of civilians and soldiers searching for food or access to markets. Venezuela’s political crisis has caused severe shortages of basic goods.

Colombia and Brazil tightened their borders with Venezuela earlier this month as the number of Venezuelans fleeing unrest and hunger grows.

Colombia said the number of Venezuelans crossing into the country through official borders had dropped by 30 percent since it restricted the availability of daily entrance passes. Brazil started relocating Venezuelans pouring into the north to other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, Argentina made it easier for Venezuelans to obtain residence in the country by extending the time to get required documents from Venezuela amid an administrative breakdown in the country.

Rohingya Refugee Trampled by Elephant in Bangladesh

At least one child was killed and dozens of Rohingya refugees were hurt when an elephant trampled through a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

The makeshift camp sprang up along along an elephant migration route after refugees poured into the area when violence broke out in Myanmar last August. Some 585,000 Rohingya now live in and around the Kutupalong-Balukhali camp.

The U.N. refugee agency said it was helping to create safe corridors for elephants migrating between Myanmar and Bangladesh after a series of such deadly incidents.

The approaching monsoon rains, expected late April, also threaten the crowded refugee camps in the area. Reuters reported that Bangladesh has expedited efforts to turn an uninhabited island into a relocation site for the refugees, with the help of British and Chinese engineers.

The plan to turn the flood-prone, remote island into a refugee compound has been criticized by humanitarians and the UNHCR urged any relocation to be voluntary.

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