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Executive Summary for June 10th

We review recent issues related to refugees, including growing tension in migrant camps on Lesbos, suspicion that the wrong man may have been extradited to Italy on trafficking charges and the rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean by an American company.

Published on June 10, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Tensions Growing in Greek Migrant Camp

Tensions are increasing between locals and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. Residents of the village of Moria claim there has been an increase in crime and are demanding a permanent police presence on the island.

Some 3,000 migrants are living in a makeshift camp on Lesbos, waiting to hear about the status of their asylum applications.

“There have been thefts and vandalism and there is a sense of insecurity because of the presence of thousands of refugees in a small village,” Lesbos mayor Spyros Galinos told E. Kathimerini News.

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon announced on Thursday that on June 18 he would visit the migrant camp on Lesbos, according to the Associated Press.

“I have listened to the stories, hopes and fears of many refugees in recent months, to understand this challenge based on their first-hand experience … I will visit Lesbos to assess the situation and express my solidarity,” Ban said in a press conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

“Hundreds of Syrians and other refugees and migrants continue to die in the Mediterranean trying to escape war and persecution,” he added.

Also on Thursday, Greece returned 13 Syrian refugees – three women, six men and four children – to Turkey under the recent deal between the European Union and Ankara, AP reported.

Since the deal came into effect in March, the number of migrants and refugees in Greece who have been returned to Turkey has fallen short of the E.U.’s expectations. At least 8,500 people have arrived in Greece in the last three months but fewer than 500 have been returned to Turkey.

Italy May Have Arrested the Wrong Man for Being a Migrant-Trafficking Kingpin

Italian authorities are investigating mistaken-identity claims about an Eritrean man extradited to Italy on migrant-trafficking charges, according to AP.

A man believed to be 35-year-old Medhanie Yehdego Mered was extradited from Sudan to Italy on Thursday after he was arrested on suspicion of being the mastermind behind a migrant-smuggling ring operating in several European and African countries.

However, shortly after his arrival, two women came forward claiming the man who arrived in Italy was not Mered, but 27-year-old Medhanie Tesfarmariam Berhe, according to the BBC. The women said Berhe is their brother.

Italian prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi told Italy’s Ansa news agency that authorities were conducting checks to verify the man’s identity.

“The identification of the suspect, his arrest, his handing over and his extradition to Italy were communicated to us in an official manner by the NCA [the British National Crime Agency] and the Sudanese authorities through Interpol,” Lo Voi said.

Mered, also known as “The General” had a “senior position in a criminal network operating in several continents,” Italian police said in statement released on Wednesday.

“He directed operations not only in Africa, but also kept fellow operators in Italy up-to-date on the arrival of boats, to enable the migrants to continue to their final destinations [in Europe],” the statement added.

Mered was also charged with being responsible for the deaths of 359 migrants whose boat capsized in the Mediterranean in October 2013, the BBC reported.

The American Millionaire Saving Migrants in the Mediterranean

An American search-and-rescue company launched an operation on Monday to save migrants at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) partnered with medical aid organization EMERGENCY NGO and the Italian Red Cross in its latest operation in the Mediterranean. The organization said it had rescued 466 people from shipwrecks in the ocean since June 6.

Two MOAS vessels are part of the new initiative, both equipped with rescue boats, a team of professional rescuers, doctors, paramedics and a fully stocked clinic, according to ABC News.

“No one deserves to die at sea, and yet last month was one of the deadliest on record, with as many as 1,000 perishing in the Mediterranean,” entrepreneur Christopher Catrambone, MOAS founder, said in a statement. Since it began operating in 2014, MOAS is believed to have rescued 13,000 people.

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