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Executive Summary for April 29th

We review the recent issues related to refugees, including the U.S’s commitment to receiving 10,000 Syrian refugees, protests against Australia’s offshore migrant detention centers and France’s looming decision on whether it will evict migrants occupying a high school.

Published on April 29, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

U.S. To Take 10,000 Syrian Refugees By September

President Barack Obama, speaking at the White House during a news conference with college journalists, said on Thursday that the U.S. would “keep pushing” to uphold its commitment to take 10,000 Syrian refugees by September, despite the low number that had been admitted so far this year.

The State Department reported that, as of March 2016, the U.S. had taken only 1,285 Syrians, which is less than 15 percent of its goal. This number is dwarfed by those of Syria’s neighboring countries such as Turkey and Lebanon, who have taken in 2.7 million and 1.2 million respectively.

Resettlement for anyone seeking to enter the U.S. is a lengthy process that can take up to two years, and requires a detailed interview, three background checks, three fingerprint screenings and a complete biographic and biometric investigation. This has become an even more arduous process for refugees fleeing war-torn Syria without proper documentation. The U.S. only considers applicants who have been referred to the program by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

However, Obama said that “administratively” the U.S. has “the process to speed it up.”

Aside from the time frame, one of the major setbacks for Syrian refugees hoping to reach the U.S. has been political, not logistical. More than 30 governors have tried to pass legislation preventing refugees from settling in their states, but the Attorney General has said that screening and resettling refugees would remain a federal, not state, issue.

“Our goal is to continue to try to make the case to Congress and the American people [that] this is the right thing to do,” Obama said. “We believe that we can hit those marks before the end of the year.”

Hundreds Protest In Brisbane Over Treatment Of Refugees

Hours after the death of Omid, a 23-year-old Iranian refugee who set himself on fire in an Australian-run refugee processing center, hundreds of protestors took the streets in Brisbane on Friday demanding better treatment for refugees.

Omid had been living in the Pacific’s Nauru Detention Center for three years, waiting to apply for asylum in Australia. After a meeting with UNHCR on Wednesday, he grew “angry and “distressed” and proceeded to set himself on fire, according to the Australia Broadcast Corporation (ABC).

Nauru Detention Center is one of several Australian offshore processing centers that are currently housing hundreds of asylum seekers in desperate conditions. On Tuesday, the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled that Australia’s detention of at least 850 people, half of them refugees, on Manus Island was illegal.

In Brisbane, activists and the general public blamed the government for Omid’s death, and criticised the detention of so many other refugees fleeing conflict and poverty.

“I say to people, ‘If your family was in a situation where they were going be killed or the house burned down, you’d pick them up and you’d get out of there as quick as you could and if you had the opportunity to get on a boat and go somewhere else, you would,” Refugee Action Collective’s Margaret McPherson told ABC Australia. “We have to remember these people are not doing anything except trying to get away from terrible situations.”

France to Evict Migrants Occupying Paris High School

On Friday, French justice authorities will examine a request to immediately evict roughly 150 migrants who took over a Parisian high school last week, according to Le Monde. On Tuesday, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that the evacuation could take place “within hours,” after a decision was made.

The migrants entered Jean-Jaurès High School, which is currently undergoing renovations, last Friday, demanding water, gas, electricity and “respect.”

“You have seen the conditions in which we live,” Moussa, a Sudanese migrant currently living in the school, told France 24. “It’s not human. We only ask for a bit of consideration and respect.”

Police chief Jean-François Carenco described the situation as a “savage occupation,” and said that he rejected the actions of “groups who seek only worsen the situation of illegal immigrants, for which the state is responsible.”

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