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Executive Summary for July 8th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including pressure on the E.U. to reverse ‘stop migration’ policies, English councils saying they are too poor to house refugees and Hungary slashing asylum claims.

Published on July 8, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

MSF Calls on E.U. Not to Repeat Turkey Pact in Africa

The head of a high-profile medical charity has appealed to the European Union not to replicate its migrant pact with Turkey across African countries.

Joanne Liu, head of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) last month announced that it would no longer seek E.U. funding, despite relying on the bloc last year for nearly 8 percent of its funds, or $51 million. The move followed a sharp turn by the E.U. toward policies designed to stop migration with little or no regard for human rights.

The controversial pact with Turkey has seen authorities there stem the flow of refugees across the Aegean and into Greece in return for nearly $7 billion in conditional aid from the E.U. before 2018.

European Commission proposals have since been revealed calling for similar pacts with a number of African countries, several of which have appalling human rights records. Under new plans released on July 5, some development aid will be used as military support for countries such as Sudan, whose president Omar al-Bashir is under indictment for crimes against humanity. The money will finance army-led border controls and other measures to prevent people fleeing for Europe.

English Councils ‘Too Poor’ to House Syrian Refugees

Local authorities in England cannot afford to house Syrian refugees after years of spending cuts. One-third of local councils have avoided a refugee resettlement program, while others have committed themselves to accommodate only 8,000 of the government target of 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

Britain’s pledge had already been criticized as miserly in comparison with Swedish and German efforts but austerity cuts may threaten even this level of assistance. Some 53 councils have not offered any places, citing budget constraints, according to the Local Government Chronicle, a trade magazine.

A government scheme to resettle some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees living in camps in neighboring countries has housed 1,800 refugees since last September.

“Some councils were worried that funding offered by government would not be adequate to cover costs to cope with the new arrivals,” a local government spokesman said.

New Hungary Policy Practically Eliminates Asylum Claims

Hungary’s new border policies have slashed asylum claims for new arrivals, according to official data.

The country, which has been a staging post in the westward journey of migrants, has begun to intercept new entrants found within 5 miles (8km) of the border with Serbia and send them to a “no man’s land” on the other side of the fence that Hungary built there.

Government and police data released on July 7 showed that around 130 migrants had been detained each day near the Serbian border over the 10 days up to July 4.

On July 5, however, under the new border controls, police detained no migrants but escorted 190 back to the Serbian side of the fence – thus denying them a chance to apply for asylum, according to the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

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