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Executive Summary for August 12th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including German plans to search refugees’ phones, delays to U.S. aid to Central America and France’s appeal for citizens to host refugees.

Published on Aug. 12, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Germany Proposes to Search Refugees’ Phones, Social Media

Germany is considering giving police authority to check the phones and social media profiles of refugees who want to live in the country.

The proposal aims to help authorities establish the identity of refugees arriving without documentation.

“If you want to come to Germany, we have to make safety checks on you,” said interior minister Thomas de Maizière. “We frequently encounter cases where refugees don’t carry identity documents, but do nearly all carry their smartphones.”

German border guards will pilot the scheme and assess whether it is worth the time and effort to roll out more broadly, de Maizière said.

Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands already allow authorities to seize migrants’ phones. The practice recently attracted controversy in Denmark after Politiken newspaper revealed that some immigration officials were confiscating the phones of unaccompanied migrant children.

The latest initiative is part of a raft of security measures announced on August 11 following a series of violent attacks in Germany, some carried out by its citizens and others by migrants, which fueled critics of government policies toward refugees and migrants.

U.S. Aid to Central America Delayed by Paperwork, Human Rights Concerns

Some $750 million in U.S. aid for Central American nations where thousands of people have been displaced by violence and poverty has been held up for months, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Congress approved the funds to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras last December, on condition that the three countries improved human rights and the rule of law, and curbed migration and human trafficking.

The U.S. State Department has yet to outline a plan for the funds and the countries have not met the conditions, congressional staff told the news agency. The funds are budgeted for the fiscal year ending September 30.

The number of Central Americans fleeing to the U.S. has risen sharply over the last year, many of them unaccompanied children. The U.S. last month expanded its program to admit people from the region as refugees.

Let refugees into your home, French are urged

France hopes to provide shelter for refugees arriving in the country by encouraging ordinary citizens to host them in their homes.

The French housing ministry appealed to organizations to coordinate the initiative, and will pay 1,500 euros ($1,670) for each refugee they help place in people’s homes.

“It’s an excellent way to build relationships and create a network, but safeguards are necessary, to ensure the accommodation is in good condition, that it’s free and that it’s not overly burdensome for the families,” housing minister Emmanuelle Cosse told Le Monde newspaper.

France has pledged to take in 30,000 refugees over two years, requiring the government to step up refugee accommodation.

The ministry plans to expand spaces at government-run shelters from 2,000 to 5,000 by next month, and hopes citizens will shelter an additional 1,000 refugees.

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