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Executive Summary for May 7th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including a Spanish rescue highlighting increased sea arrivals, Viktor Orban saying the E.U. should not give money to support states taking in refugees and a quilt exhibition honoring migrants who died in the Arizona desert.

Published on May 7, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Spain Rescue Highlights Uptick in Migrant Crossings From North Africa

Spain’s maritime rescue service saved 476 people from 15 small boats on May 4–5, with no reported casualties.

The service has seen a surge in migrant crossings. So far this year refugee and migrant crossings to Europe are down by more than half on the same period last year, but a higher proportion than normal are reaching Spain.

Some 4,409 of the 22,439 refugees and migrants who have reached European shores have come to Spain – partly a reflection of reduced arrivals from Libya to Italy.

Separately a Spanish nonprofit, Proactiva Open Arms, rescued 105 people found drifting in a motorless boat outside of Libyan waters. The migrants were from Bangladesh, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and other countries.

The rescued people said that smugglers had removed their engine halfway through the journey across the Mediterranean and left them adrift. They were later brought ashore in Italy.

Proactiva recently had one of its boats seized by Italian authorities, but the vessel was returned after a judge threw out a case accusing the NGO of breaking the law by bringing rescued refugees and migrants to Italy.

The U.N. reports that 615 refugees and migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year.

Orban Says E.U. Should Not Give ‘a Single Cent’ to Refugees

Hungarian prime minster Viktor Orban has said the European Union should not give a cent to states receiving migrants. The comments, made to state radio, come in advance of budget discussions with other member states.

Orban, whose anti-refugee rhetoric has been a hallmark of his repeat election wins in Hungary, was staking out a position on spending discussions ahead of the 2021–27 budget.

He said he would “not support an E.U. budget in which funds are taken away from farmers, research and development and regional developments, and are given instead to countries which have let in migrants.”

Hungary faces possible sanctions from the European Commission over its refusal to participate in a quota scheme to share out asylum seekers equitably across the 28-member bloc.

As one of the poorer members of the E.U., Hungary is a massive net beneficiary of its budget. Orban may face pressure in the form of budget cuts and took an aggressive position that appeared to ignore E.U. spending on Hungary: “Migrants should not be given ‘a single cent’ and every country should take care of themselves from its own budget,” he said.

Quilt Exhibition Records the Migrant Death Toll in Arizona Desert

Quilts recording the death of migrants in the Arizona desert are featured in a new exhibition. The project records, where possible, the names of all who have died in the last 20 years.

“My hope is to show the enormity of this humanitarian crisis,” project founder Jody Ipsen said. “I don’t think people understand. I want people to look at these quilts and feel compelled to act and to support humanitarian immigration reform.”

The exhibition at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, takes its cue from the AIDS Memorial Quilt. One quilt is made each year by volunteers. The project leaders said it aimed to take the debate beyond statistics to highlight the human stories.

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