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Executive Summary for June 15th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the difficulty of fleeing the battle in the Yemeni port Hodeidah, Colombian figures showing the scale of Venezuela’s exodus, and Pope Francis urging a “change in mindset” in response to refugees and migrants.

Published on June 15, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Yemenis Attempt to Escape Major Battle for Port City

Yemenis tried to flee the port of Hodeidah as the Saudi-led alliance battled to recapture the port from Houthi forces.

Coalition forces destroyed the road connecting Hodeidah to the capital Sanaa to stop Houthi reinforcements, but also making it harder to escape.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, warned of a possible refugee exodus as the battle for the city of 600,000 people began. “It’s actually surprising that an exodus has not happened yet,” he told Reuters. Millions are internally displaced in Yemen, but fewer have been able to escape the country.

Aid agencies had warned that the battle for Hodeidah could cut access to critical humanitarian supplies through the port. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also said it had suspended evacuation of migrants trapped in Yemen due to the fighting.

More Than 1 Million Leave Venezuela for Colombia

Colombia announced that more than 1 million people have entered the country from Venezuela in the last 15 months.

The official count includes 440,000 undocumented Venezuelans, 376,000 more with legal status and 160,000 Colombian residents of Venezuela who have returned home.

The figures suggest that Venezuela’s refugee crisis may be larger than previously understood; the IOM said earlier that 1.6 million Venezuelans were exiled worldwide, while unofficial estimates range up to 4 million.

Pope Urges ‘Change in Mindset’ Over Refugees and Migrants

Pope Francis rebuked political leaders who treat refugees and migrants as numbers rather than people, amid a fight over a migrant boat in Europe and alarm over separated migrant children in the United States.

“I would like to point out that the issue of migration is not simply one of numbers, but of persons, each with his or her own history, culture, feelings and aspirations,” the Pope said at a meeting on immigration in the Vatican. “These persons, our brothers and sisters, need ‘ongoing protection,’ independently of whatever migrant status they may have.”

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, called the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from parents who cross the border unofficially “immoral.”

The Italian government also stirred outcry from European leaders and refugee advocates this week when it refused to take in an NGO boat carrying 629 people rescued at sea. After calling Italy’s response cynical and irresponsible, French president Emmanuel Macron called Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte to say he meant no offense to Italians.

Pope Francis urged leaders to “ground responsibility for the shared global management of international migration in the values of justice, solidarity and compassion.”

“This demands a change in mindset,” he said. “We must move from considering others as threats to our comfort to valuing them as persons whose life experience and values can contribute greatly to the enrichment of our society.”

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