News in Brief 11 November 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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A family displaced by fighting in the village of Shora, 25 kilometres south of Mosul, wait by the roadside at an army checkpoint on the outskirts of Qayyarah. Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Mosul civilians "fleeing to Syria over fears of Iraqi army retribution"

Evidence is growing that more families are fleeing the ISIL stronghold of Mosul and crossing into Syria, fearing reprisals from Iraqi soldiers and their allies.

The UN Human Rights Office OHCHR said that several hundred Iraqi civilians now faced a dire humanitarian situation in Syria's north-eastern Al Hasakah governorate.

Here's OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani:

"We have received reports that Iraqi civilians from rural areas around Mosul city have been arriving in the Syrian governorates of Raqqa, Deir Ez Zour, and Al Hasakah. And they reportedly left after the Iraqi Security Forces, the ISF, and their allied groups captured the area, fearing that they would be seen to be affiliated with ISIL."

In ISIL-controlled Raqqah in Syria, newly arrived families from Mosul are said to have been housed in the homes of former residents who had fled, and at the entrance to the city.

The development comes amid allegations of so-called revenge killings by civilians or by forces under the control of the Iraqi army, as it continues its offensive to retake Mosul.

Plight of Yemen migrants deported or stranded amid ongoing fighting

The alarm has been raised for thousands of migrants in Yemen, where many of them are said to have become trapped and "highly exposed" to conflict and airstrikes.

Issuing the warning, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), also said that Yemen has deported hundreds of Ethiopians and Somalis back to Horn of Africa nation Djibouti, where reception capacities are "overwhelmed".Here's IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle:

"I mean the big, big concern is that migrants from Africa, from the Horn of Africa, continue to travel into Yemen looking for work. They seem to believe they can get to Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. They're not getting there they're in appalling condition, they've been trapped by the fighting, quite often they've been detained, many are being deported and quite a number have died subsequent to deportation."

Migrants from the Horn of Africa continue to cross the short stretch of sea from Djibouti to Yemen in a bid to find work in Gulf states to the north.

This is despite the vicious conflict between government forces and Houthi rebels which has claimed more than 4,000 civilian lives since March 2015, according to recent UN figures.

Border checks "are not a green light to ignore asylum-seekers' rights"

The European Union's support for extended temporary border controls in five Member States does not alter the fact that asylum-seekers still have rights, the UN has said.

The comments by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), come after the EU executive's recent decision to keep checks in place in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, amid a huge influx of migrants and refugees via Greece.

In practice, the move does away with passport-free travel to those countries, which are part of the so-called Schengen area.

UNHCR's William Spindler said that the agency recognized the need for border controls for security reasons.

But he said that the development did not change states' responsibilities and obligations under international and European law, to give asylum seekers the chance to apply for shelter:

"To claim asylum is a fundamental human right, it's enshrined in national and European law and needs to be ensured. So any border controls whether they are internal in the EU or external need to allow that right to be effective."

The EU has recommended that border checks are extended for a further three months in the five countries that requested them.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 3’36″

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