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Executive Summary for July 11th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the U.S. demanding credit for UNHCR work in return for funding, negative attitudes to migrants falling sharply in the U.K., and a judge threatening to fine the government over U.S. border separations.

Published on July 11, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

The U.S. Wants All the Credit From UNHCR to Continue Funding

The U.S. has demanded that it be credited for its funding in all U.N. Refugee Agency communications. The largest funder of UNHCR has not made it clear whether this will mean branded tents or name-checking in press releases.

The U.S. supplies a quarter of all UNHCR funds – more than the E.U. or any other funder. Last year’s U.S. contributions totaled $1.45 billion, but a new framework being negotiated for this year does not yet have a total in place. The Refugee Agency has already agreed to a “visibility strategy,” but it will now need to go further to publicly credit the U.S. Eric Schwartz, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), told the news site PassBlue that the new demands were both “transactional” and “unreasonable.”

Negative Attitudes to Migration Fall Sharply in the U.K.

Britons’ views on migrants have taken a sharp turn for the positive. Only 17 percent of Britons view immigrants as a drag on the economy. The British Social Attitudes survey, seen as the country’s most rigorous polling exercise, found less than a quarter of Britons thought immigrants undermined British culture.

The attitudes are far more positive than a previous survey in 2011, which found that about 40 percent of people thought immigrants were bad for the economy and British cultural life.

A Deeper Look

The Guardian: Toxic Narrative’ on Migration Endangers Lives, Report Finds

“Research, published ahead of the first round of negotiations on the U.N.’s global compact on migration, cites examples of the ‘criminalization’ of individuals and organizations delivering humanitarian assistance. Examples given include the mayor of Calais, who in 2017 banned ‘repeated prolonged’ large gatherings on the site of the Calais refugee camp, effectively making food distribution illegal. The report also cited new Italian government rules for rescue operations in the Mediterranean, which limit aid organizations’ activities in Libyan waters.”

U.S. Faces Fines From Its Own Courts Over Family Separations

The U.S. and Mexico will work with Central American nations to reunite separated migrant families “as quickly as possible.” The vow came after a U.S. judge said 63 children must be reunited with their families or the government will face penalties.

Since the U.S. would be paying the fine to itself, the threat has been dismissed as a slap on the wrist, but some experts said it would be embarrassing for the administration to be in contempt of court. Lawyers for civil rights groups have accused the authorities of delaying family reunifications with unnecessary DNA tests.

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The Guardian: I’m a Doctor in Lampedusa. We Can’t Let These Migrant Deaths Go On

“An operation of ‘mass distraction’ is under way. And it is entirely underpinned by skilful, rhetorical artifice. Pay attention to this: Instead of people – a term that is never used – we hear about migrants, refugees, asylum seekers. The difference is enormous. Because that’s how we omit to see we’re playing with the lives of human beings, of women, men and children, people like ourselves, with our same feelings, our same plans, our same dreams.”

Open Democracy: Who Is a Refugee?

“At the beginning, like every optimistic refugee, I was confronted with social isolation. It is painful. This makes me feel deeply the pain of today’s refugees. I suffer with them. With my poor German, it was hard to integrate into the social structures I encountered. Inadequate language skills were the main obstacle to settling in as I sought to do (I am reluctant to speak of so-called integration). Then love proved to be the best strategy for settling in.”

NPR: New Kids’ Books Put a Human Face on the Refugee Crisis

“More than a dozen books are due out this fall, from picture books for toddlers to complex novels for the teen audience. The new crop adds to a growing list of titles that present a positive image of refugees, humanizing and personalizing the ongoing conflicts, says Vicky Smith, children’s editor at Kirkus Reviews. ‘It is a real desire on the part of authors, illustrators and publishers to respond to the crisis in a way that is proactive and helpful,’ she says.”

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