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Executive Summary for May 4th

We review the latest issues related to refugees including the E.U.’s threat to fine any member that refuses asylum seekers, the U.S. resettling more than 400 Syrian refugees last month and the U.N.’s plea for $80m to ensure school for 500,000 Palestinian refugees.

Published on May 4, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

E.U to Penalize Member Countries Refusing Refugees

European Union member states could face harsh financial penalties if they refuse to take their share of asylum seekers, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The proposal is an amendment to the current E.U. asylum legislation and part of a plan to distribute 160,000 refugees between the 28 member states. Countries that refuse their share could be fined €250,000 ($290,000) per asylum seeker it denies.

The new plan states that if any country receives more than 150 percent of its yearly “fair share” of asylum seekers, the additional refugees would be redistributed to another EU state.

“There’s simply no way around it: whenever a member state is overwhelmed, there must be solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibility within the E.U.,” said Frans Timmerman, the Commission’s vice-president.

The European Commission’s new plan came a day after Hungary announced it would hold a referendum debating whether or not the country would adhere to the E.U.-enforced resettlement quotas.

The U.K. and Ireland are exempt from the E.U.’s asylum policies and Britain and Denmark have decided they would not participate. Both Hungary and Slovakia have already begun court challenges against the proposal.

U.S. Took In More Than 400 Syrian Refugees In April

The United States resettled 451 Syrian refugees last month, according to new data released by the State Department. The recent resettlements bring the total number of Syrian refugees in the U.S. to 1,736 – roughly 17 percent of the 10,000 Syrians President Barack Obama said the U.S. would take by September of this year.

The State Department reported that, as of March 2016, the U.S. had taken only 1,285 Syrians since the conflict began in 2011. This number pales in comparison to Syria’s neighboring countries such as Turkey and Lebanon, that have taken 2.7 million and 1.2 million respectively.

Eleanor Acer, the senior director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection program implored the U.S. to not only meet their current goal but to also set an even higher one for next year.

U.S. agencies should enhance efforts to address the backlogs and delays that are hampering the country’s ability to meet its goals,” she said. ” As the world leader in refugee resettlement, the United States has the capacity and security processes in place to lead a comprehensive global effort to address the refugee crisis and resettle far beyond 10,000 Syrian refugees.”

Last week, Obama said the U.S. had implemented better administration procedures to speed up the lengthy process of resettlement, which can take up to two years, and requires a detailed interview, three background checks, three fingerprint screenings and a complete biographic and biometric investigation.

Aid Cut Could Force 500,000 Palestinian Refugees Out Of School

The U.N. agency dedicated to helping Palestinian refugees needs $80 million in donations to avoid delays to the start of the school year in August for roughly 500,000 Palestinian children, Pierre Krahenbuhl, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Krahenbuhl was particularly speaking to the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, whose donations were able to solve a similar education crisis faced by UNRWA last year.

There are 700 UNRWA-run schools for Palestinian refugees across the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The agency is funded almost entirely from voluntary contributions, and since the crisis began in Syria, donors have had to split their funds with other organizations dedicated to humanitarian relief for refugees.

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