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Executive Summary for April 27th

We review the latest refugee-related issues, including the planned closure of Australia’s detention center in Papua New Guinea, clashes in a Lesbos refugee camp and the arrival of the Olympic flame at an Athens refugee center.

Published on April 27, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Australia’s Detention Center in Papua New Guinea to Close

A detention center used by Australia on the Papua New Guinea island of Manus is set to close, according to Australia’s prime minister Peter O’Neill.

O’Neill’s statement came after Papua New Guinea’s supreme court ruled on Tuesday that the detention of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island is unconstitutional, the BBC reports. All five judges on the court’s bench ruled that the camp breached section 42 of Papua New Guinea’s constitution – which guarantees personal liberty – and said that “all steps” must be taken to end such detention.

The detention center, a former Australian military base, currently houses some 850 asylum seekers. At least two people have died in detention there, and there have been allegations of mental torture.

In an editorial published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Madeline Gleeson – a refugee law expert and the author of a book about asylum seekers on Manus Island – called the judgment “a scathing indictment of how the governments of Australia and PNG have conducted themselves.

She added that “asylum seekers, staff and international experts have all appealed to Australia to bring its immigration policies into line with international law, but their cries have fallen on deaf ears. In the end it took the PNG Supreme Court to step up and address the issue.”

Clashes Break Out at a Lesbos Refugee Camp

Clashes erupted inside the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on Tuesday, after a group of Syrian and Afghan teenagers approached police asking for freedom.

As ABC News reports, Greek migration affairs minister Ioannis Mouzalas and Dutch junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff were visiting the camp when refugees began shouting “freedom” and “open the borders.”

According to Middle East Eye, “the minors kept saying to the police ‘give us freedom, give us freedom,’ but the police were saying ‘no’. Then one policeman kicked a Syrian minor, and then older guys [refugees] came and attacked the policeman. Then police came and started using tear gas and then it just increased and increased.”

Last September hundreds of refugees were caught in clashes on Lesbos, after about 200 unregistered refugees were pushed back by police after trying to board a ferry.

Syrian Athlete Carries Olympic Torch Through Athens Refugee Center

A Syrian refugee and athlete carried the Olympic flame through an Athens refugee center, as part of the relay ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil.

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Ibrahim al-Hussein “resumed swimming and basketball last year in Greece after his promising sports career in Syria was cut short by war – and a 2012 bombing that led to the amputation of his right leg below the knee.”

As Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports, Hussein – who has been granted asylum in Greece – was nominated for the Olympic torch relay by the Greek Council for Refugees, the U.N. refugee agency’s local implementation partner.

“From the start the aim was to have a refugee who has secured asylum,” a UNHCR source told AFP, adding that “we had asked if there is a refugee who is also a star athlete.”

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