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Executive Summary for May 5th

We review the latest issues related to refugees including the U.K.’s change of heart on accepting migrant children, a U.N. warning that a further 400,000 people will soon flee Syria and the rapid increase in child migrants detained at the Mexican border.

Published on May 5, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

U.K. Overturns Ruling on Accepting Syrian Children

On Wednesday, Britain agreed to accept some unaccompanied Syrian minors. But the government did not specify how many the country would take and the new resettlement policy does not come without conditions.

Only children who are registered in Greece, Italy or France will be eligible to go to the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said. What’s more, children must have been registered in these countries prior to March 20, the day the European Union and Turkey struck a deal to attempt to stem the flow of migrants traveling to Europe.

Last week, British Parliament voted against accepting 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian children who had already reached Europe. The government said the decision was made in order to discourage others from making the “lethal” journey, according to the BBC.

The policy’s conditions “will avoid creating a perverse incentive for families to entrust their children to people traffickers,” the government said, adding that the deal will allow the U.K. to focus on helping the “most vulnerable children already in Europe without encouraging more to make the journey.”

400,000 Syrians Could Flee If Aleppo Truce Doesn’t Hold

A temporary halt in fighting for Syria’s Aleppo province reportedly began at midnight on Thursday, and the terms of the partial cease-fire are expected to be formally announced later today, according to the Associated Press. Earlier this week, the United Nations warned that if fighting does not halt in Aleppo, hundreds of thousands of Syrians could be forced to flee to the Turkish border.

“The alternative is truly quite catastrophic, because we could see 400,000 people moving towards the Turkish border,” U.N. special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said after talks in Berlin with France and Germany’s foreign ministers.

The talks, which also included Syria’s main opposition leader Riad Hijab, are a last-minute effort to save the crumbling cessation of hostilities.

Syria’s commercial capital Aleppo has been in near-constant conflict since the war began in 2011. When the Syrian regime began a new offensive in the province in February, roughly 110,000 Syrians were forced to flee to the Turkish border.

“They want to kill as many civilians as they can to raise fear and force the survivors to flee the area,”an Aleppo-based activist told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

Fighting has severely escalated over the last month, effectively destroying the partial cease-fire implemented in February. Opposition-held areas of Aleppo have seen hundreds of airstrikes in the past two weeks, and regime-held areas have been repeatedly hit by rebel fire. The renewed fighting has killed nearly 300 people.

Child Migration on the Rise at the Mexican Border

The number of migrant children and their families caught trying to enter the United States at the Mexican border has doubled in the last year, according to the Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

Apprehensions of unaccompanied minors increased by 78 percent in the 2016 fiscal year, and the number of families detained at the border doubled. Some 32,000 children travelling with at least one parent were apprehended at the border from October 2015 to March 2016, roughly 4,300 more than the previous year.

The majority (90 percent) of these migrants are fleeing violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The report predicted that the U.S. would see an increase in child migration from Central American countries this summer.

The U.S. has already begun preparing for the surge. The Department of Health and Human Services has asked Congress for additional funding to house apprehended minors and in December, Texas deployed its National Guard to the state’s Mexican border crossing.


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