News in Brief 29 November 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Asylum-seekers play in front of a reception and integration centre in Bulgaria. Photo: UNHCR/B.Szandelszky

Refugee centre protest "requires action from Bulgarian government"

In Bulgaria, concerns are growing about poor conditions in reception facilities for migrants which the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has described as "deplorable".

At the country's largest migrant centre in Harmanli last week, residents threw rocks and burned tyres to protest at overcrowding and restrictions on when they could enter and leave the facility.

Police used rubber bullets and water cannon to contain protesters, UNHCR said.

The agency's William Spindler told journalists in Geneva that the incident has prompted calls for asylum-seekers to be expelled on security grounds.

"Harmanli is seriously overcrowded, since it is hosting 3,100 asylum-seekers, of whom one third are children, when its official capacity is 2,710…Reception conditions are also substandard at other reception centres and detention facilities in Bulgaria. The temporary detention facility of Elhovo, near the border with Turkey, is occupied at nearly 130 per cent of its capacity in deplorable conditions."

UNHCR is calling for the Bulgarian authorities to establish a dialogue with frustrated asylum-seekers and says it will continue to support efforts to defuse community tensions.

ISIL "shooting residents" and children in Mosul

In the city of Mosul in Iraq, concern is growing for residents amid reports that ISIL extremists have shot people who have refused to let them into their houses to fight the Iraqi army.

According to the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, ISIL has been installing rocket launchers and placing snipers on the rooftops of civilian houses.

On 11 November, the terrorist group reportedly shot and killed 12 civilians in Bakir neighbourhood in eastern Mosul city for refusing to allow ISIL into their homes.

Here's OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani:

"These families are effectively used as human shields, placed squarely in harm's way, caught between ISIL and Iraqi Security Force fire responding to rocket and sniper attacks.

Ms Shamdasani cited further reports that ISIL killed 27 civilians in a public execution in Muhandiseen Park in the north of Mosul city.

The extremists have also allegedly shot at fleeing civilians, including a seven-year-old child who was running towards the Iraqi army.

According to latest UN figures, nearly 74,000 people have been displaced since the offensive to retake Mosul began in October.

Yemen-bound migrants face torture and sexual abuse, says UNHCR

Escalating conflict in Yemen and sexual abuse have not stopped huge numbers of migrants from travelling to the country from East Africa so far in 2016, latest UN figures show.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 105,000 mainly Ethiopians and Somalis have set sail from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian peninsula country in the first 11 months of the year.

In 2006, a quarter of that number made the crossing, in search of work in the Gulf States to the north of Yemen.

UNHCR says travellers have been physically and sexually abused by smugglers in Yemen, where Houthi militants have been waging an insurgency for 20 months.

In a bid to warn people of the risks, UNHCR is launching a campaign to tell those thinking of travelling to Yemen that they face hardship, danger and death.

The agency is also calling for more support to encourage people to stay in their country of origin, as well as urgently needed funding to help refugees stranded in Yemen.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'25"


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