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Failed EU Relocation Plan Leaves Refugees in Limbo


Aral Kakl (right), a Kurdish Iraqi journalist, his Syrian wife Shevin, his brother Rewan and some other refugees who have applied for the relocation programme, kill time in the cafeteria of their Athens hotel.  Photo: Nicola Zolin/IRIN - by Andrew Connelly

ATHENS, 18 January 2016 (IRIN) - “Relocation does not work.”

With these words on Thursday, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos finally admitted that the bloc’s September agreement to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from the frontline states of Greece and Italy to other EU states over two years has been a dismal failure. After the Commission revealed recently that only 272 asylum seekers had been relocated in the past four months, few could deny it.



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Aid Convoys Reach 3 Syria Communities Besieged for Months


Madaya Syria: Aid convoy reaches besieged town - - Associated Press - January 11, 2016

Aid convoys delivered long-awaited food, medicine and other supplies to three besieged communities Monday, part of a U.N.-supported operation to help tens of thousands of civilians cut off for months by the war in Syria.

Reports of starvation and images of emaciated children have raised global concerns and underscored the urgency for new peace talks that the U.N. is hoping to host in Geneva on Jan. 25.

The U.N. Security Council took up the issue Monday. The U.N. says 4.5 million Syrians are living in besieged or hard-to-reach areas and desperately need humanitarian aid, with civilians prevented from leaving and aid workers blocked from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other supplies.

It will take several days to distribute the aid in the town of Madaya, near Damascus, and the Shiite villages of Foua and Kfarya in northern Syria, and the supplies are probably enough to last for a month, aid agencies said.



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Madaya: Syria Allows Aid to Reach City Facing Starvation, Says U.N.

PHOTO: A boy in Madaya is heard saying he has not eaten properly for seven days during the video.  ABC News

U.N. to send food to Syria's town facing starvation

CLICK HERE - UNOCHA - Joint Statement on hard-to-reach and besieged communities in Syria

CLICK HERE - MSF - Syria: Siege and starvation in Madaya; immediate medical evacuations and medical resupply essential to save lives - Khushbu Shah, Nick Paton Walsh and Peter Wilkinson
January 7, 2016

Children and skeletal old men drinking soup made from leaves and grass. A kilo of rice costing more than $100. People said to be dying from starvation. The accounts could be of a World War II death camp, but they are not. This is Syria in 2016.

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A Cold Wind Blows for Nigerians Made Homeless by Boko Haram


A small girl feeds her parents cows in Kaduna State, where thousands of people displaced by Boko Haram are now shivering through the seasonal Harmattan winds.  Photo: Mohammad Ibrahim/IRIN - BY Mohammad Ibrahim

KADUNA, 5 January 2016 (IRIN) - The temperature is dropping across northern Nigeria as the seasonal Harmattan winds blow in a haze of dust from the Sahara, blotting out the sun for days on end. It’s miserable at the best of times, worse still if you’ve been made homeless by Boko Haram violence and don’t have decent shelter.

“It has not been easy since we came to this camp 11 months ago,” said Mama Aisha, who fled Maiduguri, the main city in the northeast, and now lives 800 kilometres away in north-central Kaduna State. “We don’t have blankets to keep us warm.”

Aisha is just one of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have set up informal camps throughout the northern region, with little to no protection from the low temperatures.





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Five Key Challenges for New UN Refugee Chief

The UN's new High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.  
Photo: Amanda Voisard/UNHCR - BY Kristy Siegfried

OXFORD, 5 January 2016 (IRIN) - Getting back to work following the end-of-year break can be tough. But spare a thought for Filippo Grandi, who arrived in Geneva this week to begin his five-year term as head of the UN’s refugee agency.

Not only is he replacing António Guterres, who held the office of High Commissioner for the past 10 years and was widely revered, but he is doing so at a time when record numbers of people around the world are fleeing persecution and conflict and in need of UNHCR’s protection and support. . . .

. . . Here are five of the greatest challenges likely to preoccupy him in the coming months:



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Quantifying Poverty as a Driver of Ebola Transmission

                                           - Fallah MP, Skrip LA, Gertler S, Yamin D, Galvani AP (2015) Quantifying Poverty as a Driver of Ebola Transmission.
December 31, 2015 - PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(12): e0004260. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004260



Poverty has been implicated as a challenge in the control of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Although disparities between affected countries have been appreciated, disparities within West African countries have not been investigated as drivers of Ebola transmission. To quantify the role that poverty plays in the transmission of Ebola, we analyzed heterogeneity of Ebola incidence and transmission factors among over 300 communities, categorized by socioeconomic status (SES), within Montserrado County, Liberia.

CLICK HERE - Quantifying Poverty as a Driver of Ebola Transmission


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NGOs Speak: Their Most Pressing Humanitarian Priorities for 2016


South Sudan tops many aid agencies' humanitarian priority lists. as a three-year civil war exacts a heavy toll on the citizens of the country.  (Nichole Sobecki, AFP)

Following a call from the UN for a record $20.1 billion, 15 of the world's leading aid agencies were polled on their top humanitarian concerns. - by Tom Esslemont - December 28, 2015

There’s one prediction for 2016 that most aid workers can make with confidence – that the new year will usher in rising humanitarian needs.

Besides displacement caused by long-term conflicts in places like Syria and South Sudan, there is also the threat of more violence in Central African Republic and hunger caused by El Nino, which is expected to bring more drought to already-parched southern regions in Africa and potential flooding in the east. . . .

. . . A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll asked 15 of the world’s leading aid agencies to name their top three humanitarian priorities for 2016. Not surprisingly, Syria topped the list of concerns. But what were the others?



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Social Vulnerability and Ebola Virus Disease in Rural Liberia


Clusters of social vulnerability in rural Liberia, by district. Social vulnerability of each cluster of districts can be loosely ranked from most to least vulnerable as: Cluster 1, food quality, displaced persons, disabled, dependent populations; Cluster 3, food quantity, food quality, lack of access to land/free medical care; Cluster 4, food quantity, disabled dependent populations and Cluster 5, water quality/proximity to medical care; and finally, Cluster 2, no strong vulnerability scores.

CLICK HERE - Social Vulnerability and Ebola Virus Disease in Rural Liberia

CLICK HERE - Social Vulnerability and Ebola Virus Disease in Rural Liberia (14 page .PDF file) - by Zoe Hoyle - September 15, 2015

A newly published research study by U.S. Forest Service researchers demonstrates that the social vulnerability indices used in climate change and natural hazards research can also be used in other contexts such as disease outbreaks.

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Budapest Migrant Standoff Enters Second Night


Hundreds of families have set up camp underneath Budapest's eastern station

Hundreds of migrants are in a standoff with police for a second night outside a Budapest railway station. - September 2, 2015

Earlier, scuffles broke out between the two sides as frustration among migrants boiled over outside Keleti station.

Many of the migrants have tickets and are insisting they be allowed to travel on to Germany and other countries, but Hungary says it is enforcing EU rules.

Meanwhile, Germany, Italy and France have called for "fair distribution" of refugees throughout the EU.

In a joint declaration, the country's three foreign ministers also called for Europe's asylum laws to be revised, the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement (in Italian).


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422,000 Besieged Syrians Didn't Get Food Aid In July, It's World's 'Largest Humanitarian Crisis:' UN


BARAA AL-HALABI via Getty Images

There were challenges due to conflict, insecurity and deliberate obstructions. - AP - by Edith M. Lederer - August 26, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused all parties in the Syrian conflict of "indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks" on civilians and said the U.N. and its partners couldn't deliver food to 422,000 people in besieged areas in July.

Ban said in his monthly report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Tuesday that access to the 4.6 million Syrians in hard-to-reach areas - most controlled by Islamic State extremists - remains a critical concern with extremely limited humanitarian access.

He said U.N. agencies and their partners reached only 29 of the 127 hard-to-reach locations last month, and in the besieged areas, the only aid that arrived was a trickle of health assistance to 1.8 percent of the population.


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