HEADLINES: Refugees

Rebels from the Somali militant group al-Shabab have banned 16 international aid organizations and raided their offices in central and southern Somalia. In a statement Monday, the al-Qaida-linked group accused the agencies of promoting secularism, immorality and what it described as “the degrading values of democracy in an Islamic country.” Among the forbidden agencies are six United Nations organizations, including the World Health Organization, the U.N. Children’s Fund and the U.N. refugee agency. In towns under rebel control, armed militants seized the agencies’ offices and looted equipment. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks, calling them “brazen.” He also called for the militants’ ban to be immediately lifted. [Voice of America]

Over the past decade, California has resettled more Middle Eastern refugees than any other state in the country. In Northern California, Santa Clara County in the South Bay is a resettlement hub for Middle Eastern refugees – more than 1,300 moved there since 2006. About one out of three of those refugees are from Iraq. And most have seen or suffered through violence related to the war, many being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, Iraqi culture often considers mental health problems shameful causing many sufferers to be ostracized from their small community. [KALW News]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sets off for Asia Monday, and part of her trip will see her as the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Myanmar – formerly known as Burma. Secretary Clinton says she’s going to Myanmar to test the waters to see how committed the country’s new leader is to reforms. She’ll also meet with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is rejoining the political process in the country and who has been guiding U.S. policy, according to activist Aung Din. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent years in prison and under house arrest, has made it clear that she’s ready to work with Myanmar’s new president, Thein Sein, who has begun to open up the country in recent months. However, Aung Din, a former student activist who spent more than four years in jail before fleeing the country and starting up an advocacy group called U.S. Campaign for Burma, is skeptical. He calls Clinton’s trip risky, but hopes she will deliver a tough message to the regime. [NPR]

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