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Executive Summary for March 10th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including a rebuke to European leaders from the U.N. rights chief, the suspension of U.S. visa interviews for Afghan interpreters and increasing displacement in Colombia.

Published on March 10, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

U.S. Visas for Afghan Translators Running Out

The United States embassy in Kabul has stopped scheduling visa interviews for Afghans who worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan, according to the International Refugee Assistance Project.

The U.S. State Department confirmed that it will soon run out of special immigrant visas (SIV) for Afghans.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen said more than 10,000 Afghans have applications pending under the SIV program, which was designed to provide refuge to translators and others who come under threat thanks to their work with the Americans.

In December, Congress renewed the program but restricted eligibility and added just 1,500 new visas, which advocates warned was far too few.

Shaheen pledged to introduce legislation to increase the number of visas.

E.U. Leaders Show ‘Chilling Indifference’ to Refugees

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, slammed European politicians for their response to refugees and migrants.

“Many ordinary people in Europe have welcomed and supported migrants, but political leaders increasingly demonstrate a chilling indifference to their fate,” al-Hussein told a meeting of the U.N. human rights council.

“I am particularly disturbed by lurid public narratives which appear deliberately aimed at stirring up public fear and panic, by depicting these vulnerable people as criminal invading hordes,” he said.

Al-Hussein singled out the anti-immigration politics of U.S. president Donald Trump and Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban for particular concern.

He urged the European Union to pay heed to human rights as it tries to stop migration from North Africa and push migrant boats back to Libya, warning that people must not be sent back to places where they face torture or death.

Fighting Displaces 3,500 in Colombia, Despite Peace Deal

The U.N. refugee agency said it was “deeply concerned at the increasing levels of internal displacement” in Colombia.

Fighting in the country’s Pacific coast region has displaced 3,549 people this year, despite a November peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to bring an end to the 52-year-old war. The U.N. agency said there has been increased violence by new armed groups since the deal was signed.

Some 11,363 people were displaced in the same areas throughout last year, according to UNHCR figures.

The agency said Afro-Colombian communities and Indigenous people were “particularly affected by the violence, which is endangering their survival.”

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