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Executive Summary for August 9th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including hundreds of Kurdish asylum seekers in limbo in Japan, former ICC prosecutor seeks to build Yazidi genocide case and Hungary state TV blanks refugee Olympic team.

Published on Aug. 9, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Asylum Seekers Lay Japan’s Roads as They Wait in Limbo

Japan’s shrinking, aging population is testing the limits of its anti-immigration policies. It has also created a black market for labor where asylum seekers are digging roads and laying pipes.

Mazlum Balibay, a 24-year-old Kurd who sought asylum in Japan after fleeing persecution in Turkey, told Reuters that he was on conditional release from immigration detention and working illegally.

“Japan bans us from working, but everyone knows that without foreigners this country’s in trouble. Construction jobs won’t get done. There aren’t enough workers and young Japanese can’t do these jobs. The government knows that better than anyone.”

Balibay is one of 1,200 Kurds living in a single neighborhood outside Tokyo, locked in lengthy struggles with an immigration system where 13,831 asylum applications are under review. Separately, Japan recognized just 27 people as refugees last year.

Despite working on public projects, the asylum seekers are referred to by the government as “undesirables”. Masahiko Shibayama, a special adviser to the president, Shinzo Abe, told Reuters that Japan has “an allergy toward the word immigration.”

Ocampo Visits Yazidis in Greece to Build Genocide Case

The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has visited Yazidi refugee women in Greece. Luis Moreno Ocampo said he wanted to help them build a case for the Hague court.

“Since I was in Iraq (last year) I (have been) trying to help them, so they can find justice,” he told the Associated Press.

The court’s controversial former prosecutor, Ocampo, said on August 8 that it was important that the world recognised the minority Yazidis as victims of genocide. He has been criticized in the past for overreaching in trying to build genocide cases.

Some 1,300 Yazidis live in a camp near Greece’s Mount Olympus. Another 425 are at a separate facility further north. The Yazidis fled attacks by ISIS that killed thousands and enslaved many women and children.

Hungary State TV Ignores Olympic Refugee Team

While millions of people were delighted by the exploits of refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini, Hungarian viewers were none the wiser. The state broadcaster omitted mention of her name or the status of the refugee team.

In a reflection of the anti-refugee stance of Hungary’s president, Viktor Orban, state broadcaster MTV did not mention the Syrian swimmer’s special status after she won a heat in the women’s 100m butterfly. The Hungarian opposition accused the government of censorship.

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