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Executive Summary for May 30th

We review the most recent issues related to refugees, including thousands of migrants rescued from the Mediterranean over the last week, clashes at the migrant camp in Calais and more than 150,000 Syrians stranded at the Turkish border.

Published on May 30, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Thousands of Migrants Shipwrecked in the Mediterranean

Around 700 migrants are feared to have drowned and at least 13,000 more were rescued from several shipwrecks in the Mediterranean over the last week, according to the United Nations.

The death toll from shipwrecks last week could be as high as 900, according to MSF Sea – a feed containing information provided by Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), told the BBC that one of the most worrying things about the recent incidents “is that all these ships have left together in just the last few days … it has put rescuers under severe pressure.”

On Saturday, the Italian navy, aided by German and Irish ships and humanitarian groups, was able to rescue 668 migrants near the coast of Libya after several boats capsized, according to the Guardian.

On Wednesday, a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized in the Mediterranean, leaving at least seven people dead and roughly 100 still missing at sea. The Italian navy said it was about to rescue 562 people from the water.

At least 550 people are still missing from a migrant boat that capsized Thursday morning and some 45 bodies were recovered and 135 people rescued from a third shipwreck on Friday, the BBC reported.

UNICEF said it expected an increase in the number of children crossing the Mediterranean going from Libya to Italy in the coming months. The humanitarian agency announced on Monday that it will “shortly begin” an operation with the Italian government and “partners” providing assistance to unaccompanied minors making the journey.

“The vast majority of children using the crossing are unaccompanied adolescents and they have faced appalling abuses, exploitation and the possibility of death at every step of their journey,” UNICEF said in a statement.

So far this year, at least 1,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived in Italy, but UNICEF expects a spike in that number during the summer months.

Violent Clashes Break out in Calais Migrant Camp

Clashes between Sudanese and Afghan migrants took place last week in the migrant camp in Calais, France, leaving at least 40 people injured.

Between 300 and 400 migrants were involved in the clashes that broke out near a food distribution point on Thursday, police official Steve Barbet told the Associated Press. None of the injuries were critical but dozens of huts in the camp were set on fire shortly after clashes began. French authorities have launched an official investigation into the incident.

Calais is home to a makeshift migrant camp housing 4,000–5,000 people, many of them hoping to reach the U.K. from France.

On Saturday, an Afghan migrant was killed near Calais. The 25-year-old was killed by a lorry after he and roughly 50 others had set up camp near the motorway hoping to flag down trucks headed to England, according to the Local.

He is just one of 26 migrants killed in similar incidents near Calais this year. Earlier this month, a 24-year-old Pakistani immigrant was killed in a hit-and-run incident on the road leading to Calais. French police said the car had a British license plate.

More Than 150,000 Syrians Trapped at the Turkish Border: HRW

The latest fighting in northern Syria has left 165,000 Syrian civilians trapped at the closed border with Turkey, according to Human Rights Watch.

Syrians are stranded in makeshift settlements near the Turkish Bab al-Salameh border crossing near the Syrian town of Azaz. Roughly 30,000 have been stranded in the area since April when militants from the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) advanced in northern Syria. However, another 45,000 Syrians fled between May 24 and 27 after the recent ISIS push.

“While the world speaks about fighting ISIS, their silence is deafening when it comes to the basic rights of those fleeing ISIS,” Gerry Simpson, a senior researcher and advocate for HRW’s refugee program, said in a statement. “The fact Turkey is generously hosting more than 2.5 million Syrians does not give it a right to shut its border to other endangered Syrians.”

Turkey’s Bab al-Salameh border crossing has been closed for the past 15 months, preventing thousands of Syrians fleeing the increasing violence in northern Syria from seeking asylum in the country.

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