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Executive Summary for May 11th

We review the recent issues related to refugees including the latest statistics on IDPs and migrant crossings, accusations that Turkish border guards have killed five refugees in the past two months and the E.U.’s decision to begin migrant-return talks with Nigeria.

Published on May 11, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

The Latest Numbers on the Global Refugee Crisis

Wars, violence and poverty around the world have led to last year having one of the highest number of internally displaced people on record, and, in the first few months of 2016, one of the steepest increases in migrant movement that the world has seen in decades.

A report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) released on Wednesday said that 27.8 million people were internally displaced by both conflict and natural disasters in 2015. On average, this means roughly 66,000 fled their homes every day of last year.

“This is the equivalent of the combined populations of New York City, London, Paris and Cairo grabbing what they can carry, often in a state of panic, and setting out on a journey filled with uncertainty,” said Jan Egeland, the NRC’s secretary general.

According to the NRC, disaster-related displacements in 2015 spanned 117 countries and accounted for nearly 70 percent of the total number of people displaced.

There were 8.6 million new displacements because of conflict and violence in 2015, more than half of which were in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. By the end of last year, more than 6.6 million people in Syria had been displaced since the start of the conflict in 2011, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

“While richer, stable countries have been scheming to keep asylum seekers out of their borders and deny them protection, millions remain trapped in their own countries with death … just around the corner,” Carsten Hansen, NRC’s Middle East director, told the Associated Press.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that, so far this year, 187,631 migrants and refugees have entered Europe. The majority of migrants arrived in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, predominantly through three perilous Mediterranean sea routes that connect North Africa and the Middle East to Europe. As of May 8, the IOM recorded 1,357 deaths on these routes.

Since the first week of May, roughly 2,800 new migrants have crossed the Mediterranean en route to Europe, nearly all of them have arriving in Italy.

Turkish Border Guards Accused of Killing Five Syrians Fleeing War

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report on Tuesday claiming that Turkish border guards have killed at least five Syrian refugees, including one child, who were attempting to cross the border in the past two months. At least 14 others were injured from “excessive force by border guards,” the report said.

“While senior Turkish officials claim they are welcoming Syrian refugees with open borders and open arms, their border guards are killing and beating them,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling.”

The Turkish government said HRW’s claims “do not reflect the reality under any circumstances.”

Turkey has taken in more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees since the start of the crisis in 2011. Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has repeatedly touted the country’s “open-door policy” regarding Syrians fleeing the conflict next door, but in recent months, Turkish officials have closed the main border crossings from Syria, leaving thousands stranded in the war-torn country.

E.U. to Begin Migrant-Return Talks With Nigeria

The European Commission announced on Wednesday that it was ready to begin negotiations with the Nigerian government over the return of Nigerian migrants who do not qualify for asylum.

The talks will ensure that the returns are done “rapidly and efficiently” and the agreement will respect international law, the E.U. said in a statement. E.U. member states still need to agree to the talks before they can commence.

Roughly 22,000 Nigerians have entered Europe over the last year, the majority using perilous Mediterranean sea routes, according to the Associated Press.

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