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Executive Summary for May 30th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including France evacuating hundreds of people from a canal-side migrant camp, Israel giving humanitarian visas to Darfuris, and the U.N. refugee agency warning over Hungary’s proposed anti-migrant laws.

Published on May 30, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

France Evacuates Canal-Side Migrant Camp

French police evacuated a makeshift migrant camp along the banks of a Paris canal, breaking a political impasse over where to house its hundreds of residents.

The “Millennaire” camp in northeast Paris, named after a nearby shopping center, was torn down and 1,500 people living there transported to temporary accommodation.

Conditions in the camp were squalid, and two residents have drowned in the canal in the past month.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo requested alternative accommodation for the camp inhabitants, but interior minister Gerard Collomb argued she needed to first request permission for their evacuation.

Some refugee advocates say the government wants to use the squalid camps to deter more migrant arrivals. Other observers point to a political battle between Hidalgo and the ruling party, with migrants caught in the middle.

France’s official “welcome and orientation centers” are 98 percent occupied, after the number of spaces shrank from 10,000 to 6,000 this year.

Israel Gives Humanitarian Visas to Darfuris

Israel will give temporary humanitarian visas to 300 asylum seekers from the violence-wracked regions of Darfur, Nuba and Blue Nile in Sudan.

African asylum seekers rarely receive refugee status in Israel, leaving many in limbo or under pressure to go to Uganda and Rwanda under secret deals that recently fell apart once subjected to public scrutiny.

Around 2,500 Sudanese from Darfur have applied for asylum since 2009. One person has received refugee status.

According to the Israeli press, some 1,000 Sudanese have instead received temporary humanitarian status already, which allows holders to work and get health insurance but must be renewed each year.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that some Israeli officials are considering sending other Sudanese back to Sudan if areas of the country can be deemed safe.

U.N. Refugee Agency Warns Hungary Over Anti-Immigration Bills

The U.N. refugee agency urged Hungary’s government to withdraw proposed new laws that would further restrict the right to asylum in the country.

The government proposed a constitutional amendment that says “foreign populations cannot be settled in Hungary.” The amendment would also effectively bar people who enter by land via Serbia from seeking asylum. Hungary already turns away most asylum seekers at the border.

Another new law submitted to parliament would make promoting or facilitating “illegal migration” punishable by up to a year in prison.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban won an April election by a landslide, and his Fidesz party won a two-thirds majority in parliament, enabling it to pass constitutional amendments. Orban has fueled anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, as well as a campaign accusing Hungarian-American financier George Soros of trying to destroy Hungary through immigration. The government calls the new bills the “Stop Soros” law.

UNHCR warned the laws “would deprive people who are forced to flee their homes of critical aid and services, and further inflame tense public discourse and rising xenophobic attitudes.”

Pascale Moreau, director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau, said, “Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right, it is not a crime.” Moreau added, “We are particularly concerned that the government is targeting those who, in a purely humanitarian role, help people who are seeking asylum.”

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