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Executive Summary for July 22nd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including an anti-terrorism rally in Germany, the rescue from the sea of 1,700 refugees in two days and Italian prosecutors investigating witnesses in the case against people smuggler Medhanie Mered

Published on July 22, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Refugees Denounce Terrorism in Germany Demonstration

Refugees have rallied in Germany after an ax attack on train passengers on July 18. Carrying banners reading “Not in my name” and “We love peace,” some 50 demonstrators, mainly young Syrian and Afghan men, gathered Wednesday in Würzburg, northern Bavaria.

“We are all sad and are concerned that people will avoid us on the streets,” Adnan, a 19-year-old Syrian, told Die Welt. He said that so far, locals have been accepting asylum seekers during his ten months in Germany. He had seen the attacker but did not know him.

German police shot dead the 17-year-old asylum seeker who launched a knife and ax attack aboard the train, leaving two people critically injured. The incident has prompted fears that German attitudes to refugees entering their country in record numbers will harden.

“Of course [the attack] has made some of us fearful that terrorism is now coming to Germany,” a volunteer who works with asylum seekers told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He stressed the need to act “rationally” and echoed concerns that the attack could lead to a backlash against foreigners.

Almost 1,700 Migrants Rescued in Two Days

Nearly 1,700 migrants were rescued at sea in the two days to July 22.

Some 39 people were found dead in smugglers’ boats in two separate incidents as the volume of human traffic on the Mediterranean passage to Italy continues to rise.

The Italian coast guard, which co-ordinated the July 21 rescues, recovered the bodies of 17 migrants and rescued 1,700 survivors south of Sicily. The operation took on survivors from five motorized rubber dinghies, a larger boat and two small boats.

Meanwhile, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières said 21 women and one man were found dead in a pool of fuel at the bottom of another smugglers’ boat. Some 209 survivors were recovered from two rubber dinghies in the same operation.

Italian Prosecutors Investigate Their Accusers

Witnesses who said Italian prosecutors arrested the wrong man in a people smuggling trial are being investigated. The trial in Sicily of one of the world’s most wanted people smugglers, Medhanie Mered, has been shrouded in doubt since a man was arrested to great fanfare last month.

Two of Mered’s former victims testified that the man detained in an Anglo-Italian operation was not the 35-year-old Eritrean. Separately, a family of Eritrean exiles said the man on trial was, in fact, Medhanie Berhe, a relative of theirs and the victim of mistaken identity.

Facing potentially considerable embarrassment, prosecutors said they were investigating the back stories of the two former smuggling victims and monitoring their lawyer. The trial continues.

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