United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Press Releases 2010

Thousands of southerners head south ahead of Sudan’s referendum

21 December 2010

With the Sudan referendum just weeks away, thousands of southerners living in the North are heading back to southern Sudan. Their movement by road, rail, barge and plane is both organized by the South Sudan government and spontaneous.

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UNHCR beefing up Cote d’Ivoire preparedness, as emergency deepens

21 December 2010

Over the past days UNHCR has been beefing up its contingency arrangements for Cote d’Ivoire in light of the continued instability there. Ahead of the weekend we airlifted additional supplies to Liberia and Guinea from our emergency stockpile in Copenhagen. We currently stand ready to cope with the needs of up to 30,000 refugees.

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UNHCR reports increase in flight of Iraqi Christians; reiterates advice on protection needs

17 December 2010

UNHCR is dismayed that on 15th December Sweden once again forcibly returned a group of some 20 Iraqis to Baghdad. Among this group – sent back on the eve of Ashura – were five Christians originally from Baghdad.

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UN refugee agency marks its 60th anniversary with appeal for renewed international commitment to helping the world’s forcibly displaced

14 December 2010

60th anniversary

The head of the UN refugee agency, António Guterres, marked today’s 60th anniversary of the organization he heads by appealing for strengthened global impetus in tackling the world’s new and fast-evolving displacement and statelessness problems.

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UNHCR urges EU and FRONTEX to ensure access to asylum procedures, amid sharp drop in arrivals via the Mediterranean

10 December 2010

UNHCR is urging EU member states, and FRONTEX as the EU’s external border agency, to ensure that asylum in Europe is not being threatened in the drive for tighter policing of the continent’s external borders. Our concern is that in its efforts to stem illegal migration, Europe should not forget that among those seeking to enter the EU are people who need international protection and are at risk of their lives.

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Post-electoral tensions drive Ivorians into Liberia and Guinea

10 December 2010

UNHCR is closely following the post-electoral crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, which has already led some 2,000 Ivorians, mostly women and children, to seek safety in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea, according to local authorities in the two countries. To date, an estimated 1,700 people have crossed into Nimba county, north-eastern Liberia. Another 200 arrived exhausted in Guinea's Nzerekore region after having walked for two days.

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UN refugee chief says global refugee picture changing fast, new approaches needed now

Press Release  08 December 2010

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, warned on Wednesday of growing gaps in the global framework for protecting the world’s millions of forcibly displaced and stateless people, and appealed to the international community to urgently adapt and respond.

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Emergency shelter completed in southern Kyrgyzstan, focus turns to protection and peace-building

Press Release  03 December 2010

This week UNHCR has wrapped up its emergency shelter programme in southern Kyrgyzstan, providing temporary homes for all of the more than 13,400 people whose houses were damaged or destroyed during June’s violence there.

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UNHCR urges more time for ensuring safety of refugees returning after Myanmar fighting

Press Release  29 November 2010


 As of today most of the 15,000 Myanmar refugees who fled into Thailand earlier this week, have returned across the border. Sites in northern Thailand’s Tak province have been empty since Wednesday and further south in Sanghklaburi all 3,000 refugees were gone as of this morning. 


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Thailand - UNHCR assisting some 15,000 new refugees from Myanmar

Press Release  09 November 2010

UNHCR mobilized quickly on Monday to come to the aid of more than 15,000 refugees who fled into northern Thailand after fighting broke out between ethnic Karen rebels and government troops in the Myawaddy area of eastern Myanmar the day after elections. At the request of Thai authorities, we are coordinating the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others to provide shelter, food and water to refugees in the town of Mae Sot.

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UNHCR urges EU investment in asylum support for Greece

Press Release  26 October 2010

It was announced yesterday (Monday) by the European Commission that the Greek Government has requested the deployment of Rapid Border Intervention Teams from FRONTEX, the EU's Border Management Agency, to assist at the land border between Turkey and Greece.

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Iraqi refugees regret returning to Iraq, amid insecurity

Press Release, UNHCR poll  19 October 2010

A poll of Iraqis who have returned to Baghdad from neighbouring countries found that physical insecurity, economic hardship and a lack of basic public services has led the majority to regret their decision to return to Iraq.

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UNHCR seeing new displacement caused by Lord’s Resistance Army

Press Release  15 October 2010

UNHCR is very concerned at new displacement arising out of continuing attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army, whose latest ambush on Sunday in the northern Central African Republic town of Birao, is reported to have resulted in abductions of young girls, looting, and shops being set afire.

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Iraqi refugees reluctant to return to Iraq permanently

UNHCR poll  08 October 2010

A recent UNHCR survey of Iraqi refugees living in Syria has found that most are still reluctant to return home on a permanent basis.

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ExCom: UN refugee chief says protracted major conflicts creating new 'global refugee' populations

Press Release  04 October 2010

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres warned today that a rise in drawn-out conflict was creating new semi-permanent global refugee situations. He said this requires broader and better protection for the world’s 43 million forcibly displaced people.

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2010 Nansen Refugee Award

Press Release, UNHCR MEDIA ADVISORY  04 October 2010

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) annual Nansen Refugee Award ceremony will be held at 19:30 on Monday 4 October at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, Geneva. This year’s winner is British photo-journalist Alixandra Fazzina.

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UNHCR says asylum situation in Greece is 'a humanitarian crisis'

Press Release  21 September 2010

UNHCR is today calling on Greece to urgently accelerate implementation of its planned asylum reform. This is in light of the continued absence in Greece of a functioning asylum system, an issue with important implications for the wider EU.

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Deadly incidents mark the start of the sailing season in the Gulf of Aden

Press Release  17 September 2010

This week we have received reports of a killing and drownings in the Gulf of Aden, indicating that the autumn mixed-migration sailing season has resumed.

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Angelina Jolie warns against turning attention away from Pakistan as flood waters recede

Press Release  09 September 2010

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has been in Pakistan today, highlighting the suffering of millions of flood victims and the need for continuing aid for the displaced.

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Deadly fortnight in Mogadishu drives more Somalis to displacement

Press Release  07 September 2010

UNHCR is alarmed by the further deterioration we are seeing in the situation in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Our partners report that fighting over the past two weeks between the transitional government and al-Shabaab has cost more than 230 civilian lives with at least 400 people wounded and 23,000 displaced.

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UNHCR warns of grave conditions in Balochistan

Press Releases  03 September 2010

Despite flood waters receding in some parts of Pakistan and more people returning home, the overall humanitarian situation is still very grave.

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UNHCR concerned at ongoing deportations of Iraqis from Europe

Press Release  03 September 2010

UNHCR is very concerned by on-going forced returns of Iraqi citizens from Western European countries. On September 1st, a chartered flight with 61 people on board, mainly Iraqis who had been residing in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom, landed at Baghdad airport. UNHCR has so far not been able to confirm reports that three Iranians were among those on board.

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Voluntary returns to Afghanistan exceed 100,000 this year

Press Release  10 August 2010

The number of people returning voluntarily to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran so far this year has exceeded 100,000, almost twice as many as last year. Some 95,000 of these are from Pakistan.

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UNHCR concerned about Afghan refugees as Pakistan crisis deepens

Press Release, Pakistan Flood Emergency  20 August 2010

UNHCR is increasingly concerned about the plight of flood-affected Afghan refugees in Pakistan, some of whom are now under pressure to repatriate by speculators around Peshawar seeking to develop land that until now has been occupied by refugee settlements.

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UNHCR releases interview with former hostage Vincent Cochetel to mark World Humanitarian Day 2010

Press Release  19 August 2010

To mark World Humanitarian Day 2010, on August 19th, UNHCR is making available to interested media a rare interview with one of its staff members, Vincent Cochetel, who was kidnapped in 1998 in the Northern Caucasus and held hostage for almost a year.

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UNHCR launches $41 million appeal to help victims of Pakistans flooding

Press Release  12 August 2010

With over 160,000 people having so far received UNHCR emergency shelter and relief assistance across flood-affected areas of Pakistan, the agency appealed on Wednesday for $41 million to help meet the urgent needs of a further 560,000 people, amounting to 80,000 families.

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UNHCR says huge scale of Pakistan flooding making it difficult to meet needs

Press Release, Pakistan Flood Emergency  10 August 2010

Pakistan’s flooding is testing the limits of the country’s emergency response capacity, as well as that of UNHCR and other UN and international agencies to respond.

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Pakistan faces further flooding as UNHCR works to aid displaced

Press Release, Pakistan Flood Emergency  06 August 2010

Monsoon rain continues to sweep across parts of Pakistan. According to UNHCR implementing partners on the ground, it has been raining today in northern areas of the Swat Valley in flood-affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

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Pakistan flood displaced need shelter as more rains hit northwest Pakistan

Press Release, Pakistan Flood Emergency  03 August 2010

UNHCR, as part of a coordinated UN response, is stepping up its assistance to provide shelter to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the worst floods and landslides northwest Pakistan has seen in decades.

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Kyrgyzstan: UNHCR calls for better return conditions, appeals for more funds before winter

Press Release, Crisis in Kyrgyzstan  28 July 2010

UNHCR is calling on local and central authorities in Kyrgyzstan to improve the situation and the return conditions for some 75,000 remaining internally displaced people (IDPs) who were uprooted by the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan during June.

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UNHCR awards the 2010 Nansen Refugee Award to Alixandra Fazzina

Press Release, 2010 Nansen Award  09 July 2010

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today announced the winner of its annual Nansen Refugee Award, British photo-journalist Alixandra Fazzina. Ms. Fazzina was chosen for her tireless dedication to uncovering and portraying the overlooked human consequences of war.

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UNHCR highlights shortage of resettlement places

Press Release  06 July 2010

UNHCR has called for a significant increase in resettlement opportunities, estimating that over the next three to five years more than 805,000 refugees will need resettling in third countries.

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Sixteen people drowned attempting to cross the Evros river border between Turkey and Greece

Press Release  02 July 2010

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has heard from the Police Chief in Orestiada in northern Greece that sixteen people drowned while trying to cross the Evros River on 29 June. Eleven of the bodies were recovered on the Greek side of the river, while a further five were found on the Turkish side. The majority are believed to be Somalis, including three women.

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UNHCR chief urges continued help for Kyrgyzstan’s displaced

Press Release, Crisis in Kyrgyzstan  30 June 2010

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres today appealed to the international community not to forget the tens of thousands of people faced with having to rebuild lives and overcome trauma following the violence in mid-June in and around Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan.

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New UNHCR study on Afghan children in Sweden

Press Release  18 June 2010

The UNHCR Regional Office for the Baltic and Nordic countries today releases a new study that is based on in-depth interviews with unaccompanied Afghan refugee minors in Sweden.

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UN chief announces 100,000 landmark in resettlement of Iraqi refugees

Press Release, World Refugee Day  18 June 2010

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, announced today a major landmark in resettlement of Iraqi refugees, with 100,000 people having been referred for resettlement from the Middle East to third countries since 2007. Guterres made the announcement during his visit to Syria, which according to government estimates, hosts over 1 million refugees, the majority from Iraq.

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Displacement inside Kyrgyzstan reaches 300,000

Press Release, Crisis in Kyrgyzstan  17 June 2010

Some 300,000 people are now estimated to be internally displaced in Kyrgyzstan, according to information from the Kyrgyz Interim Government and non-governmental organizations on the ground.

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UNHCR airlifting aid to Uzbekistan

Press Release, Crisis in Kyrgyzstan  16 June 2010

A UNHCR emergency airlift to Uzbekistan carrying humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of people fleeing the violence southern Kyrgyzstan began early Wednesday morning (16 June). The first two UNHCR flights, loaded with humanitarian aid from agency's central stockpiles in Dubai, landed at Andijan airport at 1110 and 1400 today local time.

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UNHCR launches emergency airlift to Uzbekistan

Press Release, Crisis in Kyrgyzstan  15 June 2010

The first of six planned Ilyushin-76 cargo planes, each carrying 40 tonnes of UNHCR relief supplies for refugees fleeing violence in southern Kyrgystan, is scheduled to take off from Dubai tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 16 June) at 0100 hrs GMT and is expected to land at Andijan airport in Uzbekistan at 0500 hrs GMT.

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UNHCR chief says 2009 "worst" year for voluntary repatriation in two decades

Press Release, Global Trends Report 2009  15 June 2010

Some 43.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2009, the highest number of people uprooted by conflict and persecution since the mid-1990s, according to UNHCR's annual 2009 Global Trends report, released today. At the same time, the number of refugees voluntarily returning to their home countries has fallen to its lowest level in twenty years.

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UNHCR deploying emergency aid to refugees fleeing into Uzbekistan

Press Release, Crisis in Kyrgyzstan  14 June 2010

UNHCR is preparing to deploy emergency team and aid to Uzbekistan where thousands of refugees have crossed fleeing violent clashes in Osh and other cities in south Kyrgyzstan.

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UNHCR says more attention needed for Afghan children on the move

Press Release  14 June 2010

Growing numbers of Afghan children are making a difficult and dangerous overland journey to Europe, travelling without their parents and exposed to dangers and human rights abuses, a new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report has found. The report presents recommendations on how governments, including the government of Afghanistan, should respond to this complex issue.

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UNHCR cautions against European deportations to Iraq

Press Releases  08 June 2010

UNHCR understands that four governments - the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK - are arranging an enforced removal of Iraqi citizens to Baghdad, Iraq later this week. We have not received confirmed information of the number and profile of those individuals and whether some have requested protection.

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UNHCR seeks US$18 million to plug funding gap for Afghan refugees in Iran

Press Release  01 June 2010

UNHCR is calling for US$18 million to meet an anticipated shortfall this year in its requested funding for Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Heavy clashes continue to kill and displace thousands of civilians in Mogadishu

Press Release  28 May 2010

More than 17,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the Somali capital Mogadishu in May. Over 14,300 fled in the past two weeks alone, following renewed, heavy fighting between the Transitional Federal Government troops, supported by the African Union Peace Keeping Force (AMISOM), and armed opposition groups.

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UNHCR appeals on Somalia for international obligations on non-refoulement to be observed

Press Release  21 May 2010

On May 11th, UNHCR issued new eligibility guidelines on the protection needs of Somali asylum seekers. On May 12th, we notified donors of our concerns over the deteriorating situation in Somalia.

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UNHCR sounds alert on deteriorating Somalia situation

Press Release  12 May 2010

Prompted by a rapidly deteriorating situation and growing displacement in Somalia UNHCR is seeking additional funds to ease the plight of Somali refugees in neighbouring Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti and those forcibly displaced inside their country.

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Sri Lanka: returns and shelter grants restart

Press Release  27 April 2010

We welcome last week’s resumption of Government-led return movements in northern Sri Lanka, following a three week temporary pause due to parliamentary elections and Tamil New Year. Following this, some 7,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have returned to the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.

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Statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres

Press Release  22 April 2010

I am humbled by today’s decision of the UN General Assembly to renew my mandate as High Commissioner for a further five years. It is a privilege and an honour to go on dedicating my life to supporting one of the world’s most vulnerable groups.

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Angelina Jolie appeals for safety of civilians in Somali capital

Press Release  19 April 2010

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie today expressed her concern for the lives and the well-being of thousands of displaced people who are trapped in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

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UNHCR condemns victimization of civilians in Somalia

Press Release  16 April 2010

UNHCR is shocked by the further loss of civilian lives we’ve seen from fighting in Mogadishu earlier this week. More than 30 people are reported killed, many of them civilians including children. From local sources we understand that medical facilities are having difficulties coping with the many wounded. Residents have described this week’s shelling as among the worst in months.

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Gulf of Aden - Somali refugee flow slows down despite ongoing violence

Press Release  09 April 2010

The number of people crossing the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in the mixed migration flow from the Horn of Africa has nearly halved during the first quarter of the year in comparison with the same period in 2009. Since the beginning of the year, some 9,400 people reached the shores of Yemen in contrast to nearly 17,000 between January and March 2009.

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Statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres

Press Release  30 March 2010

It is with great sadness that I learned yesterday of the bomb attacks on subway stations in Moscow and the many deaths and injuries that have resulted.

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UNHCR study shows uneven examination of asylum claims in the EU

Press Release  25 March 2010

In-depth research by the UN Refugee Agency in 12 EU Member States has found numerous differences in the way asylum applications are assessed. UNHCR calls for practical measures and amendments to EU legislation to ensure fair and effective asylum procedures across the Union. The UNHCR study entitled “Improving Asylum Procedures” was presented today in Brussels.

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Upsurge in asylum seekers in industrialized world a myth, says UNHCR Chief

Press Release, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries  23 March 2010

The overall number of asylum seekers in industrialized nations was stable in 2009, according to the UNHCR provisional statistical report that measures asylum levels and trends in industrialized nations.

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Somalia - Thousands fleeing deadly clashes in Mogadishu

Press Release  12 March 2010

UNHCR is extremely worried about the worsening situation for the civilian population in Somalia which is, once again, exposed to relentless and indiscriminate fighting in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country. We estimate that since the beginning of the year more than 100,000 Somali civilians have been forced to flee their homes across the country.

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UNHCR and the situation of internally displaced Roma in Cesmin Lug and Osterode camps in Kosovo

Press Release  01 March 2010

NRK Søndagsrevyen’s reportage yesterday on the situation of internally displaced Roma in the lead polluted Cesmin Lug and Osterode camps in Kosovo is very disturbing.

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UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Haitian quake survivors

Press Release, Haiti Earthquake  10 February 2010

Angelina Jolie, who said she was in Haiti to "listen and to learn," visited medical centres, the UN mission and met with vulnerable children. On her arrival in the Haitian capital, Jolie was briefed by the United Nations Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Edmond Mulet on the scale of the humanitarian operation to date and the challenges that remain.

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UNHCR welcomes establishment of Spain's resettlement programme

Press Release  02 February 2010

UNHCR welcomes the approval by the Council of Ministers of Spain on 29 January of the establishment of an annual refugee resettlement programme, in accordance with the recently amended asylum law.

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Internal displacement in Yemen passes 250,000 mark

Press Release  29 January 2010

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is deepening and we now estimate that 250,000 civilians have been displaced since the countrys internal conflict flared in 2004. This represents a more than doubling of the number displaced as of August 2009 when the latest round of fighting erupted.

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UNHCR commits to help humanitarian effort in Haiti

Press Releases, Haiti Earthquake  19 January 2010

UNHCR reiterates its strong commitment to back up and support the broader humanitarian effort to address the massive and urgent needs in Haiti, which is under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes.

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More than 60,000 Somalis displaced in the first weeks of 2010

Press Release  19 January 2010

The number of Somali casualties and displaced civilians continues to grow as fighting in central areas of Somalia rages on. Since the beginning of the year, fighting and general insecurity have displaced an estimated 63,000 people in Somalia.

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Somalia: Widening strife causing increased displacement

Press Release  12 January 2010

The widening strife in Somalia is having a devastating effect on the civilian population and sparking increasing displacement.

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More than 200,000 displaced by the conflict in Yemen

Press Release  12 January 2010

There is no lull in the fierce fighting between the government troops and Al Houti forces in Saada province in northern Yemen as the conflict enters the sixth month. Thousands of Yemeni civilians continue to flee to neighbouring provinces, desperately seeking safety, shelter and assistance.

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