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Executive Summary for August 10th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including leaked documents from Australia’s offshore detention center, a statement agreed by U.N. members ahead of a September refugee summit and Cubans risking the Darien Gap to reach the U.S.

Published on Aug. 10, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Leaked Reports Reveal Routine Abuse on Nauru Detention Camp

A huge cache of incident reports from Australia’s Nauru detention center for asylum seekers has been leaked. The 2,000 documents, published in the Guardian, paint a picture of “routine dysfunction and cruelty” at the Pacific island facility.

More than half of the leaked reports relate to children, while fewer than one in five of the inmates at the facilities are children. Harrowing stories emerged, including a young girl who sewed her mouth shut and a pregnant woman who talked about giving her baby away.

The files contain reports of physical and sexual assaults of children, as well as incidents of self-harm involving children. Some children have been kept for up to three years on Nauru.

It is one of Australia’s two off-shore detention centers, which have been used to deter refugees and migrants from trying to reach Australia by sea.

Australia gives aid, pays rent and buys services from Nauru, the world’s smallest island state, in return for it hosting the center. Rights groups recently published evidence of Australia ignoring the abuse and mistreatment of asylum seekers.

The U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, which has observed deteriorating conditions during visits since 2012, said, “solutions are now urgently needed.”

Jane Willey, a former Save the Children teacher at Nauru, said, “what you are seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg.”

U.N. Agrees Non-Binding Statement Ahead of September Refugees Summit

The U.N. has reached agreement on a political statement ahead of a September summit on refugees. The meeting would agree a framework for handling every new large outflow of refugees, officials said.

“Refugees, migrants, those who assist them and their host communities and countries will all benefit if the commitments in this document are met,” said Karen AbuZayd, the U.N.’s special adviser on the summit.

Expectations for the gathering, which comes 65 years after the U.N. convention on refugees, have been muted after specific targets were removed from draft statements.

It is one of two refugee-related summits in September, with the Obama administration convening a world leaders meeting.

Cubans Risk Darien Gap to Avoid Deportation

Hundreds of Cuban asylum seekers, stranded for months on the border between Colombia and Panama, have headed on foot for the Panama Canal.

They are among the thousands of Cubans who have been stuck in various Latin American countries this year as borders have been closed to them.

A spokesman for the Cuban migrants told the AP that most of his compatriots walked toward the Darien Gap, a lawless and roadless expanse of jungle, rather than risk deportation.

“They took the dirt path into the jungle,” said Alex Artiles. “I calculate there were more than 1,000.”

Cubans who fear a recent thaw in relations with the U.S. will end their preferential treatment once they reach American soil have headed in large numbers for North America.

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