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Executive Summary for November 6th

We review the latest refugee-related issues, including a Papua New Guinea court preparing to rule on restoring power to the Manus Island detention center, 26 bodies and 60 rescued migrants landing in Italy and Harvard students meeting Syrian refugees virtually.

Published on Nov. 6, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Manus Standoff Continues as Australia Turns Down New Zealand Offer

A court will rule on Tuesday whether to restore power and water to the Manus Island detention center. Some 600 men are barricaded inside the defunct facility on Papua New Guinea.

The Australian-run camp was closed after a PNG court ruled it illegal and set an end of October deadline. The inmates have refused to move to alternative transit centers, citing security fears, and hope to have Manus restored to operation.

“The men really need food and water. They are severely dehydrated and a number of them have pretty serious health problems such as heart issues,” Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch told Reuters.

Australia, which has used offshore detention centers to deter refugees trying to reach the country by boat, turned down an offer from New Zealand to take some of the Manus holdouts.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand could take up to 150 men from Manus and another island prison, Nauru. However, her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull declined the offer. He said Australia preferred to pursue an existing refugee swap with the U.S.

The deal, negotiated with former U.S. president Barack Obama, has been criticized by his replacement, Donald Trump. Under the agreement, which foresees Central American asylum seekers moving to Australia, only a handful of people have so far relocated.

The Manus standoff comes after Australia committed $195 million to meet the costs of the 600 remaining Manus inmates over the next year.

Bodies of Drowned Women Arrive in Italy as Central Mediterranean Rescues Continue

The bodies of 26 women who drowned off Libya while trying to reach Europe have been brought to Italy. Twenty-three of the dead were on a rubber boat that sank two days ago.

Marco Rotunno, a spokesman in Italy for the U.N. refugee agency said that the 26 women had died in two shipwrecks. Another 60 people were pulled to safety but more may have perished at sea, Rotunno added.

Rescue charities said that 2,500 migrants have been rescued at sea over the last five days in what seems to be an end to the recent lull in crossings.

There has been heavy fighting in the north Libyan port of Sabratha during the last two months as rival factions, including smuggling networks, have vied for control. Italy has been accused of making payments to militias involved in smuggling, while the E.U.-recognized government has folded known smugglers into its security forces.

These murky deals saw sea crossings drop by two-thirds during July and August but they have started to climb back towards 2016 levels since October. The UNHCR and the U.N. migration agency have appealed for emergency funds to assist tens of thousands of migrants who emerged from detention centers during the fighting in Sabratha.

Despite claims that the main flows through Libya are of economic migrants, U.N. figures released on Friday showed more than 21,000 Syrians – who would qualify for refugee protection – had been registered in Libya.

Refugees Around the World to Connect to Students Through Portal

Harvard students are being given an opportunity to connect with Syrian refugees. Shipping containers with communications technology will connect students in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with refugees in several countries.

The scheme is known as “the Portal.” Organizers say refugees in Berlin, Amman (Jordan), Gaza City (Palestine) and Erbil (Iraq) will use the containers to share their stories.

Using audio and video technology, the Portal containers are meant to make refugees and students feel as though they are in the same space.

The project by Shared Studios, from Brooklyn, has previously visited Havana, Tehran, Nairobi, Mexico City and Kigali in Rwanda.

This summary has been updated to correct the number of bodies brought to shore.

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