News in Brief 17 March 2017 (AM)

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Refugees from South Sudan arrive in Elegu, northern Uganda Photo: UNHCR/Will Swanson

South Sudan refugee crisis "world's fastest growing": UN Refugee Agency

South Sudan is now the world's fastest growing refugee crisis and no neighbouring country is immune, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has warned.

People are fleeing into Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), the agency says.

Meanwhile, an average of 2,800 South Sudanese are crossing into Uganda every day.

UNHCR's Babar Baloch explains why.

"Eight months after fresh violence erupted in South Sudan, a famine produced by the vicious combination of fighting and drought is now driving the world's fastest growing refugee crisis. Total displacement from South Sudan into the surrounding region is now 1.6 million people. The rate of new displacement is alarming, representing an impossible burden on a region that is significantly poorer and which is fast running short of resources to cope."

Transit facilities in the northern part of the country set up to deal with the newly arriving refugees from South Sudan are becoming overwhelmed.

Funding for South Sudanese refugees in the region is at just 8 per cent out of the required US$781.8 million.

UNHCR's own funding appeal for Uganda is short by more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

Children face greater risks a year after refugee route to Europe closed: UNICEF

Children seeking asylum in Europe are facing greater risks of deportation, detention, exploitation and deprivation a year after a main refugee route was closed and a deal over migration between the European Union (EU) and Turkey was passed, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

The so-called "Balkan border" includes countries like Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia that lie between Greece and northern Europe.

The official EU-Turkey Statement states that all irregular new migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands will be forcibly returned to Turkey.

The agreement was reached in March last year.

Lucio Melandri, UNICEF senior emergency manager for refugee and migrant crisis, recently visited a number of refugee sites in Greece.

"There are many unseen scars. The psychological distress of these children that are remaining stranded. They do not see an opportunity… a perspective to join their families. It is having a huge impact over their psychological status. That will have consequences for a long lifetime."

Instead of stemming the migrant and refugee flow, border closures in the Balkans and the EU-Turkey deal, have led to children and families taking matters into their own hands and embarking on even more dangerous and irregular routes with smugglers.

This year, nearly 3,000 refugees and migrants – about a third of them children –arrived in Greece despite the full implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and strict border control.

Many continue to slip through into countries like Bulgaria and Hungary.

Relocation of asylum seekers from Greece under EU plan "milestone": IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has welcomed the relocation of over 10,000 asylum seekers within Europe, describing it as a "milestone".

The agency has been charged with implementing the European Union's (EU) relocation programme since it began.

However, it acknowledges that the number is "far too low" and is calling for a more robust effort to meet the goals of the two-year programme.

EU Member States are expected to relocate and resettle 106,000 eligible asylum seekers stranded in their first countries of arrival in the EU.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’47″

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