Executive Summary for February 28th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including a survey of displaced Iraqis showing most fear returning home, Rohingya fleeing a ‘no man’s land’ into Bangladesh amid pressure to return to Myanmar, and a cholera outbreak hits Congolese refugees in Uganda.

Published on Feb. 28, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Most Displaced Iraqis Afraid to Return Home

Despite increasing pressure to return, the majority of displaced Iraqis surveyed by aid groups said they felt safer staying in camps than returning home.

More than 2 million Iraqis remain displaced and Iraqi officials are urging them to return to their home neighborhoods in order to vote in national elections set for May. Iraq declared victory over the so-called Islamic State militant group in December.

Yet 84 percent said they felt safer in the camps and only 1 percent knew that they had homes to go back to, according to a survey of displaced Iraqis in Anbar province by the Norwegian Refugees Council, Danish Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee.

The aid groups said around 9,000 people were forced from displacement camps back to their homes between November and December 2017. In one camp, called Kilo 18, one in five people forced to leave eventually came back after receiving threats back home.

An aid worker told Reuters that hundreds of Iraqi families with a relative who had joined the so-called Islamic State were facing difficulty returning home or retribution from the local community, including the withholding of aid or having “ISIS family” marked on their homes.

Rohingya Flee No Man’s Land Fearing Return to Myanmar

Thousands of Rohingya stuck in a no man’s land on Myanmar’s border have fled into Bangladesh over fears they would be sent back to Myanmar.

Around 5,300 people were sheltering in the stretch of land between the borders, having fled Myanmar’s brutal military crackdown in Rakhine state since August. Around half have crossed into Bangladesh in the past week, according to Bangladeshi officials.

Bangladesh and Myanmar recently stepped up pressure on the Rohingya to return to Myanmar, but the refugees say they need guarantees for their safety. “We are in constant fear. We are not going to the camps,” said community leader Dil Mohammad, in reference to the camps Myanmar is building to house repatriated refugees.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay said the refugees in the border zone included “terrorists” and that they remained in the area in order to goad the military into removing them. “It is a trap to put more pressure on Myanmar, to make more criticism of Myanmar,” he said.

Deadly Cholera Outbreak Hits Congolese Refugees in Uganda

Uganda is facing a cholera outbreak amid a wave of refugees arriving from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

At least 26 refugees have died since cholera hit the Kyangwali settlement camp last week. The water-borne disease has since spread to neighboring areas. The high fatality rate – around 4 percent – was particular concerning, U.N. officials said.

Officials believe that the wave of arrivals from DRC, where militia fighting has spiked in recent months, may have contributed to the outbreak. Some 42,000 Congolese have taken boats across Lake Albert into Uganda this year.

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