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Executive Summary for April 17th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Israel’s release of refugees after failing to reach a deal with Uganda, Italian authorities releasing an impounded NGO rescue ship and a Syrian man stuck in a Malaysian airport for over a month.

Published on April 17, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Israel Frees More Refugees After Failing to Reach Deal With Uganda

Israel released 207 Eritreans and Sudanese who were set to be transferred to Uganda, the latest setback to the government’s deportation plan.

The Israeli High Court ordered their release after the government failed to reach a deal with Uganda to accept the refugees by the court’s deadline. Uganda said it was “positively considering” such a deal last week.

Earlier this month, 58 other refugees intended for transfer to Rwanda were also freed after another deal collapsed.

The Israeli government said in January thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese living in the country would have to leave for “third countries” or face indefinite detention. The deportation plan is on hold amid a high court injunction.

Italy Releases Open Arms NGO Rescue Boat

Italian authorities released an NGO rescue ship they had impounded last month after it transported 218 people rescued at sea to Italy.

Spanish aid group Proactiva Open Arms said the boat was not seaworthy after it was damaged during the confiscation, but they would continue rescues in the Mediterranean with a sailboat.

An Italian judge ordered the boat’s release, finding that the crew acted in “a state of necessity” during the rescue last month, when humanitarian workers refused to hand over the passengers to the Libyan coast guard. Their boat was seized by authorities shortly after reaching Sicily.

Proactiva Open Arms said their crew were still under investigation after authorities accused them of “aiding illegal immigration.”

Syrian Stuck in Kuala Lumpur Airport for Over a Month

Syrian refugee Hassan al-Kontar has spent over a month in an airport terminal in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, posting regular videos and updates about his plight.

The 36-year-old was working in the UAE when conflict broke out in Syria and he was unable to renew his passport. Kontar says he was deported to Malaysia, where Syrians can enter without a visa but face difficulty getting residency. He tried to travel to Ecuador but was barred from flying and then attempted to travel to neighboring Cambodia but was sent back to Kuala Lumpur.

Kontar says he is now stuck in the airport terminal, unable to enter the country or board a flight elsewhere. He fears returning to Syria because young men are subject to military service. “I’m not a killing machine and I don’t want any part in destroying Syria. I don’t want blood on my hands,” he told the BBC.

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