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Executive Summary for April 10th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including a dip in rich countries’ spending on refugees in 2017, Orban allies planning to pass a ‘Stop Soros’ bill after their election win and the U.S. deploying the National Guard to the Mexico border.

Published on April 10, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Spending on Asylum Cases in Rich World Dropped in 2017

Rich countries’ spending on refugees and migrants saw a 14 percent drop in 2017. The dip in spending is mainly accounted for by reduced costs of processing asylum seekers.

The report from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed the reduced refugee costs brought down overall international aid spending from 2016 levels.

Aid groups who had criticized wealthy countries for switching budgets from aid to poor countries to paying for refugees at home gave a muted welcome to the figures.

“Unfortunately, this decline does not mark a deliberate move away from using aid to cover these costs – but rather a fall in the number of asylum applications,” Julie Seghers, OECD adviser at international charity Oxfam, said in a statement.

Roughly 186,000 migrants reached Europe in 2017, less than half the number that arrived in 2016 and lower still than in 2015 when roughly 1 million refugees and migrants reached Europe, according to the U.N. migration agency (IOM).

Despite the dip in refugee spending, overall bilateral aid to the world’s poorest countries rose by 4 percent to $26 billion. This bump followed years of decline, and humanitarian aid for emergencies increased by 6.1 percent to $15.5 billion.

The OECD said the largest donor in 2017 remained the U.S. with $35.3 billion, followed by Germany, the U.K., Japan and France.

Triumphant Hungarian Nationalists to Pass ‘Stop Soros’ Law

Hungary intends to pass a new “Stop Soros” law targeting NGOs. The bill will be aimed at organizations helping refugees and migrants.

The new law – which could be voted on in May, according to junior coalition party the Christian Democrats – would make it difficult for Hungarian NGOs working with asylum seekers to continue to function. The bill would tax foreign financial support to NGOs, force them to obtain a government permit and ban them from going within 5 miles (8km) of Hungary’s borders. It would also prevent international staff from working with them.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which campaigns for human rights and works with asylum seekers, is expected to be among the groups most strongly targeted.

“Our association will continue its activities for as long as people in dire straits ask us for help,” the group responded. “We are the same age as Hungarian democracy, established in 1989, of which there is less and less left.”

The Helsinki Committee said it was clear that the party of prime minister Viktor Orban “considers its power interests more important than the values of the state of law and democracy, human rights and the Constitution.”

Provisional results from the March 8 election show Orban’s Fidesz party gaining 134 of Hungary’s 199 parliamentary seats, a super majority that would allow it to change the constitution.

National Guard Arrives at U.S. Border With Mexico

U.S. National Guard members have begun deployment to the border with Mexico. Some 1,600 personnel have arrived in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico in response to White House claims of a border crisis.

President Donald Trump said last week he wants 2,000–4,000 guard members deployed to fight “the lawlessness that continues at our southern border.”

The proclamation followed reports of a migrant “caravan” – a group of individual asylum seekers and migrants walking from Honduras through Mexico. The caravan broke up last week and organizers said they never intended to march to the U.S. border.

So far the state of California has held out on the National Guard, with Governor Jerry Brown having repeatedly fought with Trump over immigration.

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