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Executive Summary for May 10th

We review the latest issues related to refugees including an uptick in violence against refugees in Slovakia, France and Germany, Panama’s decision to close its border with Colombia to stem migrant flow and the U.N.’s call to reframe the refugee crisis.

Published on May 10, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Uptick in Violence Against Refugees in European Countries

Monday was a violent day for migrants hoping to cross various European borders.

Slovakian security forces on the border with Hungary shot and wounded a 26-year-old Syrian woman who was entering the country by car on Monday. This is the first incident where live ammunition was used against migrants in Europe’s visa-free Schengen zone, according to Reuters.

Officials said the car, in which two other refugees were passengers, was driving recklessly and did not stop after border guards fired warning shots.

“It is outrageous that Slovak authorities are shooting at innocent people fleeing war,” Andrew Stroehlein, European media director for Human Rights Watch, said to the Telegraph. “There have to be ways of giving chase to a car without resorting to shooting at it.”

In France, a 24-year-old Pakistani migrant was killed in a hit-and-run attack on the road leading to the French port city of Calais. French police said the car had a British license plate. Calais is home to a makeshift migrant camp, also known as the “Jungle,” that houses thousands of people hoping to reach the U.K. from France.

This is the fourth migrant death in the area around Calais this year, including a similar hit-and-run attack on March 31 that killed a 22-year-old Afghan migrant, according to the Associated Press.

In Germany, officials are investigating the cause of a devastating fire on Monday night in an inflatable refugee tent designed to house roughly 90 people. All inhabitants were rescued without injury, but the camp was burnt to the ground.

If the fire was planned, this would be one of more than 1,000 attacks on refugees in the country this year, according to federal investigators.

Panama Closes Its Border With Colombia

Panama has decided to close its border with Colombia to stem the flow of undocumented migrants entering the country from Cuba and African countries, the Panamanian president said on Monday.

“We’ve taken the difficult decision to close the border with Colombia in the Puerto Obaldia area and in other parts of the border to prevent the trafficking of illegal immigrants,” President Juan Carlos Varela said during the launch of a new anti-drug trafficking operation.

Port Obaldia has been a transit hub for migrants from Cuba and Africa hoping to reach the United States through various Central American countries. For Cubans, residency in the U.S. is relatively easy under the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act of 1996, according to Reuters.

The U.N. Wants to Reshape the Way We Think About Refugees

The United Nations published a report on Monday aiming to “change the narrative” on the refugee and migrant crises and create an international infrastructure for dealing with the recent wave of migration, according to the Associated Press.

The report aimed to reshape discussions, particularly in Europe and North America, that are plagued with xenophobic remarks and fear. The U.N. has recommended that member nations adopt two pacts: the first to share the responsibility of resettling 10 percent of the world’s refugee population and the second to launch their own campaigns countering xenophobic rhetoric against these displaced populations.

“Part of what’s happening now is that people are afraid they’re terrorists or they’re criminals or they’re taking their jobs,” said U.N. special adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, Karen AbuZyad. “The goal of the report is to create a better response to large movements of refugees and migrants for the benefit not only of those on the move but for those who accept them.”

The report was issued ahead of the United Nations General Assembly meeting scheduled for this September, where world leaders will discuss the situation of migrants and refugees across the globe.

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