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Executive Summary for May 18th

We review the most recent refugee-related issues, including the latest developments on the crumbling deal between the E.U. and Turkey, smugglers making billions from displaced people and Doctors Without Borders criticizing Europe’s response to the migrant crisis.

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

E.U. Deal With Turkey Under Threat

The European Union said on Tuesday that it remains committed to upholding the deal between its 28 member states and Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees to Europe.

However, Turkey must stay within the original framework of negotiation for the deal to remain in place, European Council president Donald Tusk said on Twitter.

“The E.U. stands ready to fulfil its part of E.U.-Turkey deal as long as Turkey agrees to play by the rules, and not with the rules,” Tusk wrote.

Last week, Turkey threatened to walk away from the deal if its demand for visa-free travel to all E.U. member states was not met. The E.U. considered Turkey’s request but would only pass the legislation if Turkey met all 72 criteria necessary for visa-free travel.

At that point, Turkey had only five benchmarks left to pass, but the policy change hit a wall when Turkey refused to make amendments to its terror laws – a major requirement for visa-free travel approval.

The E.U. has required that Turkey narrow its definition of the terms “terrorist” and “terrorist act” so that activists, dissenters and journalists could not run the risk of being hit with these labels. Turkey’s European affairs minister Volkan Bozkir said the change was “completely impossible.”

Smugglers Made Billions From Displaced People In 2015

Smugglers made at least $5 billion last year from transporting refugees to Europe, according to a new report from Europol.

Roughly 90 percent of the 1 million migrants who entered Europe in 2015 paid a “facilitation service” that was part of a “criminal network,” the report said. Most of the smugglers lived in the departure countries, but some also had residency or citizenship in the E.U., and the majority of networks had ties to other types of crime, NBC News reported.

“The basic structure of migrant smuggling networks includes leaders who coordinate activities along a given route, organizers who manage activities locally through personal contacts and opportunistic low-level facilitators who mostly assist organizers and may assist in recruitment activities,” the report said.

Each person paid 3,000-6,000 euros ($3,400-$6,800) to the smuggler who organized the clandestine journey to Europe – a hefty price for many, particularly those fleeing conflict zones.

“Migrants who travel to the E.U. are vulnerable to labour or sexual exploitation as they need to repay their debt to smugglers,” the report said.

MSF Criticizes Europe’s Handling of the Refugee Health Crisis

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) issued a statement this week condemning the European Union’s response to the growing health crisis among displaced people.

The situation, particularly in Greece, remains “chaotic and inhumane,” MSF said.

“Some of these children were born on European soil, others have been displaced for months, some for years and most of them have not received all of the routine childhood vaccination that they need,” said Emmanuel Massart, field coordinator for MSF in Idomeni. “Europe has decided to stop thousands of people from moving through Greece but did not properly plan to address their basic needs. This is a fully predictable crisis, caused by the deliberate neglect of European governments and institutions.”

In Idomeni, a camp in Greece housing roughly 10,000 refugees, MSF staff have treated infants, some as young as six weeks old, for exposure to tear gas, and children as young as 10 years old for wounds from rubber bullets.

MSF also called for the immediate opening of refugee “hot spots” in Greece. Since the E.U. and Turkey signed the refugee deal on March 20, all new arrivals in Greece have been sent to processing centers, where they are kept on lockdown. MSF claimed that many of those being held in these detention centers have been kept longer than the legal 25-day period.

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