Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – January 22

Each week, we highlight the latest news related to the humanitarian and health crises in our countries of operation: Bangladesh/ Myanmar, Colombia/ Venezuela, Gaza/ Palestinan Territories, Greece, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. For more frequent updates, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Latest News for January 15 – January 22, 2021

Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

Bangladesh plans to restart return efforts for Rohingya refugees in June as part of an agreement with Myanmar.Bangladesh hosts hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017. Previous repatriation efforts in 2018 and 2019 failed due to fears among refugees of renewed violence and persecution in Myanmar. (Voice of America)

Colombia/ Venezuela 

Colombia will keep its land and river borders closed until March in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. International flights will not be affected and goods will continue to cross the border. More than 1.7 million Venezuelans live in Colombia after fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and more are expected to enter once the borders reopen. Colombia has reported 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 and 47,000 deaths. (Reuters)

Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

The Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that it expects to receive 5,000 doses of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine within a week. The PA plans to purchase a total of 100,000 doses from Russia, which will allow for 50,000 people to be vaccinated. Palestinian health officials have said that health workers, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions will receive the first vaccinations. (Reuters)


The Greek coastguard rescued 27 migrants and recovered the body of one man from a beach on Lesbos. The surviving migrants are reportedly in good health and are believed to have made the trip by boat from Turkey. The arrival of refugees and migrants to Greece in 2020 fell by 80% compared to 2019. Greece hosts more than 90,000 refugees and migrants, many living in overcrowded camps on its islands. (Reuters)


Lebanon has extended its 24-hour lockdowns for an additional two weeks in response to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases. The restrictions will remain in place until February 8 and are intended to relieve pressure on hospitals. Lebanon has reported over 250,000 cases of COVID-19. (Reuters)


Pakistan will receive 500,000 free doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine later this month. An additional 1.1 million doses of the vaccine will arrive by the end of February. The first batch of doses will be used to vaccinate frontline workers. Pakistan has reported more than 527,000 cases of COVID-19 and 11,000 deaths since the pandemic began. (Voice of America)


Violence in West Darfur has displaced 50,000 people. At least 83 people have died and 160 were wounded by clashes between local groups. The Darfur region is one of the poorest in Sudan and has limited health services due to a lack of funding and staff for medical facilities. (UN News)


Thousands of families have been displaced in northwest Syria due to flooding caused by heavy rains. At least one child was killed and an estimated 41,200 people were affected across 169 camps in Aleppo and Idlib. Many of the displaced are without shelter as temperatures continue to drop and snow is forecasted. (Al Jazeera)


The U.S. designation of Ansar Allah as a terrorist group went into effect on Tuesday, heightening concerns of famine in Yemen. Special exemptions will exist for aid organizations, food, medicine, and medical devices, but the sanctions are expected to severely cripple the ability of the private sector to import critical supplies. Members of the Biden administration have said they plan on reviewing the designation immediately. (Al Jazeera)