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June 26, 2019  

Two new flags will be flying high at the Olympic Games in Rio.

For the first time, South Sudan and Kosovo have been recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Kosovo, which was a province of the former Yugoslavia, will have 8 athletes competing; and a good shot for a medal in women's judo: Majlinda Kelmendi is considered a favorite. She's ranked first in the world in her weight class.

(South Sudan's James Chiengjiek, Yiech Biel & coach Joe Domongole, © AFP) South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, will have three runners competing in the country's first Olympic Games.

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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« African Asylum-Seekers Among 1000s Stranded in North Africa (Report) | Main | (TRAVEL) - `A Trip to Adjara, Georgia’ »
Wednesday
Mar022011

Displacement of Migrants From Libya Now Full-Blown Humanitarian Crisis (Report)

(HN, March 2, 2011) - UPDATED 1440 GMT - The situation at the Libya-Tunisia border is at a crisis point, with as many as 15,000 people crossing a day from Libya.

"We can see acres of people waiting to cross the border. Many have been waiting for three to four days in the freezing cold, with no shelter or food," said Ayman Gharaibeh, head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) emergency response team at the border. "Usually the first three days of the crisis are the worst. This seems to be getting worse by the day," he added.

More than 75,000 people have crossed the Tunisian border since 19 February, the vast majority Egyptian nationals. An estimated 40,000 more are waiting to enter from the Libyan side of the border. The majority are from developing countries such as Niger, Chad, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, and Vietnam.

There are also sizeable populations of migrant workers stuck in Tripoli, which is becoming increasingly tense and dangerous.

Some 2,500 Somali migrants are holed up in the violence-affected city and unsure what to do, say Somali migrants there.

“We have not left our house in the last 12 days. If we go out we are liable to be attacked," one of the Somalis, Mohamed Aweys, told IRIN by phone from Tripoli. "A friend who went out on 1 March to get some supplies has not returned. We have not seen or heard of him since; his mobile is switched off."

Humanitarian presence in Libya as well as numbers of people crossing into neighbouring countries. CREDIT: ReliefWebThere are also another 500 Somali migrants in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, Aweys said, had been targeted as suspected pro-Gaddafi mercenaries. "We spoke to some of them on the phone in Benghazi and they are hiding in their homes."

Another Somali in Tripoli, Mahamud Ahmed, told IRIN: "We have nothing to do with their [Libyans'] problems. Most of us came here to escape our own problems and look for a better life and now we are caught up in a life-and-death situation."

In a sign of the increasing scope of the humanitarian crisis on the borders, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR are urgently appealing to governments for a massive humanitarian evacuation of tens of thousands of Egyptians and other third country nationals who have fled Libya. They want a supply of massive financial and logistical assets to a joint humanitarian programme they established today - including planes, boats and expert personnel.

With tens of thousands of them stuck at the border, and more expected, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told journalists in Geneva that it was "becoming critically important that onwards transport becomes quickly available to avoid a humanitarian crisis."

Many of the people fleeing Libya are vulnerable women and children according to UNICEFBy last night, shelter with tents was expected to have been given to a total of about 12,000 people. Two airlifts are planned for Thursday with tents and supplies for up to 10,000 people.

The water and hygiene situation at the border remains precarious. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has been asked to help with improving these facilities - providing relief to over-stretched Tunisian civilians, the Tunisian Red Crescent and the military.

There are huge numbers of migrants stranded on the Libyan side. Fleming in Geneva said the refugee agency was particularly concerned "that a large number of sub-Saharan Africans are not being allowed entry into Tunisia at this point. UNHCR is in negotiations with self-appointed volunteers from the local community who are guarding the border."

The emergency response leader Gharaibeh said most of those crossing the border were fit young men. "This is the only reason why the situation has not degenerated into a huge crisis so far."

Migrants from sub-Sahara Africa are seen as particularly vulnerable, as they may be targeted as suspected mercenaries. "We have heard several accounts from refugees who tell us their compatriots have been targeted and killed. Others tell us about forced evictions and attacks on their homes," Fleming said in Geneva.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Libya, the Egyptian government reported that some 69,000 people had crossed into Egypt from Libya since February 19.Lack of public facilities are border crossing makes the transit excruciating

"The majority of those who have crossed are Egyptians, most of whom have already been transported to other towns and cities. Around 3,000 people remain in the arrival/departure area awaiting onward transportation," Fleming said.

Today, the Egyptian Red Crescent was due to transport a consignment of UNHCR medical supplies and food into eastern Libya. The food and medicine is being sent in response to requests from tribal leaders who UNHCR met over the weekend, and is expected to arrive tomorrow. Further convoys are being prepared.

On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called for immediate and safe access to western Libya.

It has an emergency team that includes surgeons and nurses, as well as medical supplies, on the Tunisian border waiting to enter western Libya as soon as security conditions permit.

Another emergency team, which also includes medical staff, is already at work in hospitals in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

"This crisis has been going on for 14 days. It's high time, and absolutely vital, that the needs of people affected are met. We call on everyone taking part in the violence to respect the right of the wounded and sick to seek medical care, and to ensure that humanitarian assistance is able to reach those in need," said the ICRC's director general, Yves Daccord.

"Right now, the situation is far too unstable and insecure to enable much-needed help to enter western parts of the country," he added. "Health and aid workers must be allowed to do their jobs safely. Patients must not be attacked, and ambulances and hospitals must not be misused. It's a matter of life and death."

- HUMNEWS staff, UN

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