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Executive Summary for April 23rd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Rohingya refugees found after 9 days adrift at sea, far-right attacks protesting refugees on Lesbos and increasing number of Swedes want fewer refugees.

Published on April 23, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Rohingya Refugees Rescued off Indonesia After Nine Days Adrift at Sea

Rohingya Muslims have been rescued in waters off Indonesia after nine days at sea. Some 76 people were found on a wooden boat and had been hoping to reach Malaysia.

Eight children, 25 women and 43 men were brought ashore on April 20 in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra. It is the third known attempt by members of the persecuted minority to escape Myanmar by sea this month.

Fariq Muhammad told the Associated Press that he paid $150 for a place on the boat that left Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The state has seen a military crackdown on the Rohingya that has prompted 700,000 refugees to flee since last summer, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh.

The group were dismayed to realize that they had been landed in Indonesia after being intercepted by a Thai navy vessel. They had thought the Thais understood they wanted to reach Malaysia.

“We were forced to leave because we could not stay, could not work so our lives became difficult in Myanmar. Our identity card was not given so we were forced to go,” Fariq Muhammad told the Associated Press.

The U.N. migration agency said it has sent a team including Rohingya interpreters to help local officials provide humanitarian assistance.

Far-Right Attack Asylum Seekers on Greek Island of Lesbos

Asylum seekers staging a protest on Lesbos have been attacked by far-right activists. Police used tear gas to break up the demonstration and scatter the attackers.

A group of mainly Afghan asylum seekers had been staging a sit-in at a square in the island’s capital Mytilene since last week. They were protesting a recent ruling that will see new arrivals in Greece free to move to the mainland while those who arrived prior to the judgment remain on the islands.

By the evening of April 22 a local counter-demonstration assembled with some far-right activists chanting anti-migrant slogans. Flares and other objects were thrown at the asylum seekers, including women and children with them. Nearby dumpsters were set alight and clashes began between police and hooligans trying to harass the refugees.

Video footage from the night shows young men chanting “burn them alive” in Greek.

After several hours of clashes between police and the anti-migrant protesters, the asylum seekers were forced to leave the square by police. They were rounded up and pushed onto buses which took them to the refugee camp at Moria.

Growing Number of Swedes Want Fewer Refugees

An increasing number of Swedes think the country should take fewer refugees. Sixty percent of those surveyed want either a significantly or slightly lower intake.

The survey by the leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter found 41 percent of respondents wanted far fewer refugees accepted while 19 percent said slightly fewer. Some 12 percent answered that they think Sweden should accept more refugees.

A similar survey done in 2015, prior to a surge in arrivals of asylum seekers, found 26 percent of Swedes wanted more refugees and 36 percent wanting fewer.

“This is a dramatic change, not least because it has happened so quickly,” Marie Demker, professor in political science at the University of Gothenburg, told Dagens Nyheter.

The proportion of Swedes who have an overall positive impression of the effects of immigration shrank from 63 percent in the 2015 survey to 44 percent in the latest one. Those who oppose immigration, to lesser or greater extents, rose from 13 to 31 percent in the same time period.

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