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Migrants detained in Greece face 'devastating' conditions

Migrants detained in Greece face inhuman conditions that are having "devastating" consequences on their health, Medecins sans Frontieres warned on Tuesday, demanding that the Greek government and EU stop turning a blind eye to the situation. Overcrowding, poor ventilation, and a lack of heating and natural light are among the factors severely impacting the health and dignity of migrants and asylum seekers locked up in Greece, the aid agency said as it launched a new report entitled "Invisible Suffering" in Athens.

Ship rescues refugees off Italy, finds two bodies

A Greek cargo ship rescued over 120 refugees believed to be Somalis and recovered two bodies from a boat off Italy's Lampedusa island, the site of two deadly shipwrecks last year, the coast guard said Tuesday. The refugees were picked up by the Rizopon, which is taking them to the Sicilian port of Augusta, where they are expected to arrive later Tuesday. "A boat with 123 refugees, including 16 women, was rescued late Monday. Two bodies were found on board," the press office at the coast guard headquarters in Rome told AFP, saying those aboard claimed to be Somalis.

Asylum seekers injured in incident at PNG centre: Australia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A group of people seeking asylum in Australia rioted and breached fences at a Papua New Guinea processing centre, the second serious incident in two days, Australia's immigration minister said on Tuesday. An unspecified number of detainees were injured, some seriously, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement. "The extent and nature of the subsequent events and perimeter breaches is still being verified," he said.

Australia says Indonesia free to raise asylum policy with US

Australia said Jakarta was free to bring up Canberra's hardline asylum-seeker policy with the United States after the Indonesian foreign minister was reported as saying he would raise the issue with the visiting US Secretary of State. Australia's "Operation Sovereign Borders" -- which sees asylum-seeker boats turned back as a deterrent to people-smugglers -- has tested ties between Canberra and Indonesia, a major transit hub for would-be refugees from countries including Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Court hears legal challenge to Ottawa's health-care cuts for refugees

TORONTO - Ottawa's cutbacks to health-care coverage for refugee claimants may leave some of them dependent on the charity of provincial officials, a judge said Thursday. Justice Anne Mactavish raised the issue on the last day of a legal challenge launched by Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. The groups argue the changes announced 18 months ago are unlawful and inhumane, and want the court to strike them down.

More than 65,000 fled Iraqi fighting in past week, UNHCR says

GENEVA (Reuters) - More than 65,000 people have fled fighting in the Iraqi cities of Falluja and Ramadi during the past week, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday. More than 140,000 have been made homeless since fighting broke out at the end of last year, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva. (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Australia says no 'stepping back' from asylum policy

Australia said Friday that asylum-seeker arrivals had dropped to their lowest level in almost five years and there would be no "stepping back" from its hardline policy, despite tensions with Jakarta. Canberra's military-run Operation Sovereign Borders policy, which sees asylum-seeker boats turned back when it is safe to do so, has angered Indonesia due to several incursions, despite an official apology.

Greece denies blame in migrant drownings

Greece on Thursday rejected claims that its coastguard was responsible for the deaths of at least two migrants in the Aegean Sea when the boat carrying them to Europe capsized. The UN refugee agency said Tuesday it has received eyewitness testimony that the boat carrying Afghan and Syrian migrants had capsized whilst being towed "at high speed" by a Greek coastguard vessel towards Turkish waters. It has also urged Athens to investigate the weekend tragedy near the Greek island of Farmakonissi in which a woman and child were found dead, and nine others are still missing.

Pope evokes refugee 'suffering' on Migrants Day

Pope Francis on Sunday spoke out about the plight of refugees and the traffickers who want to "enslave" them before visiting a parish near Rome's main railway station that cares for immigrants and homeless people. "Let us think of the many migrants, the many refugees and their suffering," Francis, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, said on a day the Catholic Church marks as the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Indonesia bristles over 'deplorable' Australian sea incursions

By Rieka Rahadiana and Matt Siegel JAKARTA/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Indonesia will increase maritime patrols after what it called deplorable territorial violations by Australia's navy as it tried to turn back asylum seekers, worsening an already bitter dispute between the two neighbors over the issue. Earlier on Friday, Australia apologized for a number of recent incursions into Indonesian waters as part of Canberra's controversial policy of pushing back boats carrying would-be asylum seekers entering its side of the sea.
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