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Executive Summary for May 24th

We review the most recent issues related to refugees including Greece evacuating thousands from the country’s largest informal refugee camp, the drop in migrant deaths crossing the Mediterranean and the latest from the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

Published on May 24, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Greece Evacuating Largest Makeshift Refugee Camp

More than 700 Greek police began evacuating thousands of refugees from the country’s largest makeshift camp on Monday.

Residents of the camp will be dispersed to smaller, newly organized camps, and the evacuation is expected to take anywhere from a week to 10 days, a government spokesperson told Reuters.

Some 8,400 people have been living in the camp at Idomeni, on the border with Macedonia, since the neighboring country closed its border in March, just before the E.U. and Turkey struck a deal to halt the influx of refugees to Europe.

“There are a lot of people patting themselves on the shoulder and saying the deal worked, the people have stopped coming; but there’s more to it than that,” Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UNHCR, told reporters at the World Humanitarian Summit. “It has pushed the problem backwards and the problem is not yet solved.”

Many of those stranded in the camp were hoping to cross into Macedonia and travel on to other European countries before applying for asylum.

“If we knew what was going to happen to us, we wouldn’t have come,” Abdul Hadid, 50, from Homs, Syria, told Reuters. “Our destination is Germany. We came according to the maps we have got with us, but they stopped us in the middle [of our journey].”

Number of Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Drops

The first five months of this year have seen a significant drop in the number of migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Some 191,000 migrants and refugees have arrived by boat in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain so far this year, with 1,370 dying at sea during the same period. The number of those who lost their lives at sea is 24 percent lower than during the first five months of last year.

The drop in numbers is believed to be a result of a slower influx of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean and “stepped-up vigilance on both the North African and Turkish coasts,” the IOM statement said.

Over the last month, Italian search and rescue teams have saved thousands of migrants whose boats capsized on the Mediterranean. In the past two days alone, various vessels rescued around 2,700 migrants who were attempting to reach Europe from Libya. In the first two weeks of May, at least 2,800 new migrants crossed the Mediterranean en route to Europe, with nearly all of them arriving in Italy.

Of the 13 migrant deaths recorded so far in May, none were from incidents between Turkey and Greece, a significant change from last year.

“Obviously now that the Turkey-Greece route appears suspended for the time being, we hope that this is the beginning of a sound management policy of refugees and migrants who wish to make the crossing and don’t take these enormous risks,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a news briefing.

Education, Rules of War In the Spotlight: World Humanitarian Summit Day 2

The major education deficit in humanitarian aid and reforms needed for International Humanitarian Law were at the forefront of discussions on day two of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS).

Global humanitarian funds are deeply unbalanced: more than 80 percent of total humanitarian aid is allocated to conflict situations, whereas education gets only 2 percent.

UNESCO hosted a WHS event on Tuesday centered around the need for a much larger global humanitarian budget devoted to education. The conference also underlined the importance of each state committing to the Safe Schools Declaration, an international pledge to protect teachers, students and educational facilities during armed conflict.

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