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Executive Summary for March 18th

We review the latest developments on refugee issues, including tentative progress in refugee resettlement talks between the E.U. and Turkey, a rise linked to recent good weather in boat crossings from Libya and mental health issues for refugees in Sweden.

Published on March 18, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

E.U.–Turkey Talks Continue Over Refugee Resettlement Deal

E.U. leaders in Brussels are expected to present a tentative plan to Turkey to resettle thousands of refugees there, according to AFP. Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu flew to Brussels late Thursday ahead of today’s crunch talks.

“The E.U.’s controversial plans to halt the flood of migrants … would see Turkey take back all those landing in Greece in return for key concessions, including speeding up Ankara’s long-stalled E.U. membership bid,” AFP reports.

Under the deal, Turkey would be declared a “safe country” and would have to take back the vast majority of refugees attempting to cross the Aegean sea into Greece, as well as others in need of international protection – including Syrians fleeing conflict.

“The deal is also contingent on one big promise that Europeans may not be able to keep: that for every Syrian sent back to Turkey, Europe would fly in and resettle another Syrian directly from a refugee camp in Turkey,” the Washington Post reports.

The E.U’s original plan is believed to have been watered down during talks between leaders on Thursday, after humanitarian agencies voiced major concerns.

Iverna McGowan, head of the European institutions office for Amnesty International, called the refugee exchange component “abhorrent.” It shows that “this deal remains at its core both legally and morally unsound,” she told the New York Times.

Negotiations are likely to continue well into Friday. Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades has said he will veto any plans to speed up Turkey’s E.U. membership bid as long as the country’s airports and ports remain closed to traffic from Cyprus.

Cameron Pushes for Tougher Measures in Libyan Waters as Crossings Rise

British prime minister David Cameron has pushed for a tougher refugee deterrent strategy in Libyan waters, including more international patrol ships to turn back boats, the Guardian reports.

During Thursday’s E.U. talks, Cameron called for the E.U’s Mediterranean rescue mission to be expanded, working with coastguards to send boats of refugees back to Libya. He has also asked for the deployment of British vessel HMS Enterprise, engaged in anti-trafficking operations, to be extended.

A spell of recent good weather has prompted a spike in boat crossings from Libya. More than 3,000 people were picked up by Italian ships this week. Three dead bodies were also found.

E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told Bloomberg that more than 450,000 refugees “could be potential candidates for migration to Europe” from North Africa, as a result of turmoil in Libya and the rise of attacks by the Islamic State group on the African continent.

Human rights groups have expressed outrage at Cameron’s calls for hardline measures on refugees. Professor Brad Blitz, a migration expert, told the Guardian that “if the concern is to prevent deaths … then really he should be promoting safe passage, rather than diverting people so that they have to seek longer and more dangerous routes.”

Cameron has faced questions about whether he plans to send troops to fractured Libya, Bloomberg reports. He has also been asked to give testimony about Britain’s intervention in Libya in 2011.

Study: High Mental Health Risk for Refugees in Sweden

Refugees in Sweden are 66 percent more likely to develop a nonaffective psychotic disorder than other immigrants there, according to a study published this week in the British Medical Journal.

The study found that refugees from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa have a higher incidence of psychosis than other migrants. Out of 100,000 refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, 112 suffered from psychosis. However, rates were high for both migrants and refugees from subSaharan Africa.

“By distinguising between refugees and nonrefugee migrants, this study shows that although being a refugee doesn’t explain it all, traumatic experiences or stress is part of the etiology of nonaffective psychosis,” Anna-Clara Hollander, the study’s lead author, told Scientific American.

Nonaffective psychotic disorders include those not directly tied to emotions, such as schizophrenia.

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Top image: A boy shouts slogans as he holds a placard during a protest by refugees and migrants in front of the wire fence that separates the Greek side from the Macedonian one at the northern Greek border station of Idomeni. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

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