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News in Brief 11 August 2020

News in Brief 11 August 2020

Dozens of refugees killed in Beirut blast 

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said on Tuesday that at least 34 refugees were among the more than 200 reported deaths due to the deadly explosion that rocked Beirut a week ago.

Although information is still being verified, the UN agency fears that the death toll among Beirut’s 200,000-strong refugee population could rise further. 

UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists that seven refugees were still missing and that 124 had been hurt in the blast – 20 seriously.

UNHCR is mobilizing $12 million for its emergency response to help those hardest-hit. This includes $9.6 million for emergency shelter, and nearly $2.5 million to enhance protection for refugees over the next three months.

Mr. Baloch said UNHCR’s “aid stockpile had not been affected”, and that the UN agency had offered its shelter kits, blankets and other critical items to the Lebanese Red Cross and humanitarian partners on the ground.

Sudan: Violence in Western Darfur force 2,500 into Chad

Moving to Africa, UNHCR has said that recent clashes in Sudan’s Western Darfur region have driven more than 2,500 people across the border into neighbouring Chad, since the end of July.

The agency reported that more than 80 per cent of those arriving in the Chadian border town of Adré, were women, children and elderly, many of them having witnessed extreme violence.

Attacks, said to have been carried out by armed nomads on 25 July in the Western Darfur town of Masteri, killed 61 people and injured at least 88 others. Houses were also reported to have been burned to the ground there as well as in surrounding villages.

Spokesperson Baloch said that in collaboration with the Government of Chad, UNHCR is relocating these latest exiles to a refugee camp further inland, to join some 6,000 others who arrived in February. 

Polio campaigns ramp up in Afghanistan and Pakistan

And finally, to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, announced that polio immunization campaigns have resumed, after being halted in March, due to COVID-19.
Newly recorded polio cases consequently reached 34 in Afghanistan and 63 in Pakistan, including in some previously polio-free parts of the country.
UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gough, explained that these life-saving vaccinations were critical for children to avoid yet another health emergency
She pointed out that “viruses know no borders and no child is safe from polio until every child is safe”.
Here's Dr. Paul Rutter, Regional Health Adviser for UNICEF in South Asia:

“It’s very good news that polio vaccination campaigns have started again in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And these are the last two countries in the world where the polio virus is still circulating and, unfortunately, paralyzing children. It’s very good news beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan too because the goal here is to completely eradicate the polio virus from the world, which is really an amazing thing”. 

Liz Scaffidi, UN News. 

  • Dozens of refugees killed in Beirut blast 

  • Sudan: Violence in Western Darfur force 2,500 into Chad

  • Polio campaigns ramp up in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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Liz Scaffidi, UN News
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