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Executive Summary for August 15th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Russia and Lebanon pushing a Syrian returns agenda, an ad hoc deal allowing the Aquarius to dock in Malta and an Australian senator invoking the ‘final solution’ in call for a plebiscite on Muslims.

Published on Aug. 15, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Lebanon and Russia Question West and U.N. Reluctance on Syrian Returns

Lebanon and Russia have said that Syria is ready to receive returning refugees. The U.N. has said the conditions do not yet exist for the mass return of Syrians. Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said during a trip to Turkey on August 14 that the conditions were there for Syrian refugees to start returning home. He also expressed surprise at what he said was the West’s reluctance on returns. Lebanon’s foreign ministry released a statement saying that many Syrian cities and provinces are now stable.

Russia is leading a coordinated effort with the Assad regime in Damascus to take charge of repatriations, some of which have already begun from Lebanon. The head of the U.N. refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, is due to visit Syria this week to assess the situation for displaced people.

A Deeper Look

AP: The U.N. Says 2.3 Million Venezuelans, or 7 Percent of the Population, Have Fled

“Hyperinflation and chronic food and medicine shortages have debilitated the country, while the International Monetary Fund projects inflation could top 1 million percent by year’s end.”


Latest One-Off Deal Sees Aquarius Allowed to Dock in Malta

Malta has agreed to disembark a rescue ship with 141 migrants. The latest ad hoc deal will see the rescued people divided among five E.U. member states. The latest haggling over lives saved in the Mediterranean was billed as a “responsibility-sharing exercise.”

The Aquarius, jointly operated by SOS Mediterranee and the medical charity MSF, is one of only two rescue ships currently active off Libya, where the death toll has soared over the past two months.

Australian Senator Invokes ‘Final Solution’ in Call for Muslim Ban

An Australian senator used the term “final solution” in a speech calling for a Muslim immigration ban. Fraser Anning demanded a plebiscite, saying Australia should return to the “white Australia policy” ditched in the 1960s.

Anning, formerly of the far-right Pauline Hanson One Nation party, has been roundly criticized for invoking the final solution. The senator refused to apologize but said he was not referring to the Holocaust.

Recommended #MustReads

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“Like other immigrants, our family’s welcome to the USA was not always a warm one, but we largely had the protection of the law, there was no state-sponsored violence against us, no kidnapping of our male children, and we enjoyed good relations with our neighbors … As in past generations there were hate mongers who regarded the most recent groups of poor immigrants as scum, rapists, gangsters, drunks and terrorists, but largely the Glosser family was left alone to live our lives and build the American dream. Children were born, synagogues founded, and we thrived.”

“This is Ambae, one of 83 islands comprising Vanuatu. The island is home to Monaro Voui, an active volcano that has sent plumes of thick smoke and ash into the air over the past 11 months, prompting a complete evacuation of the island last September. Residents returned a month later when the activity settled but the authorities have this month ordered another mandatory evacuation when monitoring revealed the chance of an eruption.”

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