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Executive Summary for May 23rd

We review the most recent issues related to refugees, including the Turkish president’s call for Europe to take more Syrian refugees, Iraq’s decision to reopen its border with Jordan and the start in Istanbul, Turkey, of the first World Humanitarian Summit.

Published on May 23, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Erdogan and Europe Face off Over Refugee Deal

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Europe to take more Syrian refugees, as German chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Istanbul to salvage the shaky refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union.

In an op-ed published in the Guardian over the weekend, Erdogan called Turkey the “world’s most generous country” and pointed out it had provided “a safe haven for people escaping war, destruction and oppression for centuries.” He also underlined the importance of Turkey working with the E.U. to create “legal mechanisms” for Syrian refugee resettlement that would quell illegal immigration.

One such legal mechanism is the deal between Turkey and the E.U. agreed in March. Under the deal’s terms, refugees who braved the dangerous sea route and arrived in Europe after March 20, will be returned to Turkey if they are not able to apply successfully for asylum. In exchange, the E.U. has pledged $6.85 billion to help Turkey deal with the refugee crisis.

However, over the last few weeks the deal has been on shaky ground. Merkel is set to arrive on Monday in Turkey, where she will meet Erdogan to thrash out the recent problems with the refugee deal. Erdogan has threatened to walk away from negotiations if his demand of visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish nationals is not met.

However, sources in the German government told Berlin newspaper Bild on Monday that they do not expect the visa liberalization legislation to go into effect before 2017 because the Turks have yet to pass all 27 benchmarks required by the E.U., according to Reuters.

Iraq to Reopen Border With Jordan for the First Time in Nearly a Year

The border between Jordan and Iraq is set to open in the next two weeks for the first time in nearly a year.

The reopening will allow the return of thousands of Iraqi refugees who fled Iraq’s Anbar province when it fell to the Islamic State group in 2014.

“We are expecting the opening of the borders in no longer than two weeks’ time,” the Iraqi ambassador to Jordan, Safia al-Souhail, told the Associated Press. “It might be less, it might be a little bit more, but this is the time frame that we have been informed about.”

Some 54,586 Iraqi refugees are registered with the U.N. in Jordan, many of them fleeing violence in Anbar province after it fell to ISIS, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

World Humanitarian Summit Kicks Off In Istanbul

The first World Humanitarian Summit began in Istanbul on Monday, bringing together thousands of stakeholders in the global-aid sphere to reform the international community’s response to today’s humanitarian crises.

At the summit’s opening ceremony, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon addressed participants alongside Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, several aid activists and international celebrities including Ashley Judd and Daniel Craig, best known for his portrayal of James Bond.

“We are here to shape a different future,” Ban said at the opening of the summit, according to the Associated Press. “Let us resolve ourselves here and now not only to keep people alive but to give people a chance at life in dignity.”

Thousands of aid organizations, world leaders, heads of states, private sector companies and humanitarian organizations convened in Istanbul for what the U.N. under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs Stephen O’Brien called a “once in a generation opportunity to set in motion an ambitious and far-reaching agenda,” the BBC reports.

Representatives of 175 countries are expected to attend the summit, but only 57 of them will have delegations led by their heads of states or governments, according to the Guardian. German chancellor Angela Merkel is the only participating G7 leader.

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