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Executive Summary for July 4th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including reports of a record number of deaths in the Mediterranean this year, attempts to smuggle Sri Lankan refugees to New Zealand, and Erdogan’s announcement that Syrian refugees could become Turkish citizens.

Published on July 4, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

IOM: Record Number of Migrant Death in the Mediterranean in 2016

During the first six months of 2016, 2,899 EU-bound migrants went missing or drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean, making it the deadliest period on record, according to a recent report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

This is around a 50 percent increase compared to 1,838 deaths at sea during the same period in 2015. In the first six months of 2014, there were 743 deaths at sea.

“We’ve had almost 3,000 people dead which is really alarming,” Joel Millman, spokesman for the IOM, told Reuters.

“Europe’s done a remarkable job, they’ve saved thousands of lives this year alone. But almost 3,000 people dead means they’re not doing everything that needs to be done,” he added.

Alleged Traffickers Arrested for Trying to Smuggle Refugees to New Zealand

Indian authorities have arrested two men for trying to smuggle over 100 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to New Zealand by boat, reported a Sri Lankan newspaper.

Sources from India’s coastguard told The Hindu that the alleged traffickers planned to ferry the refugees from the coastal city of Muttom to New Zealand—a journey of about 11,000 km. The men charged each refugee a fee of about US$3000.

Authorities seized a boat loaded with 9000 liters of diesel and 4000 liters of water and three vans, meant for transporting the refugees.

New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse told the New Zealand Herald he was not surprised to learn of foiled plan.

“We’ve been aware that people-smugglers continue to market New Zealand as a destination, particularly in the wake of efforts Australia has gone to prevent boats arriving there, and I think we can expect more of it,” he said.

Syrian Refugees in Turkey Could be Granted Citizenship

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that Syrian refugees in Turkey could be granted citizenship, reported the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“I want to announce some good news,” Erdogan said to refugees in Kilis province on the Syrian border.

“We will give the chance to [acquire] citizenship by helping out these brothers and sisters by monitoring through offices set up by the ministry,” he said.

Erdogan added the interior ministry would shortly announce how the citizenship procedure would work, though he did not provide a time period or eligibility criteria, reported France 24. It is unclear if all 2.7 million Syrians currently residing in Turkey would be able to apply.

Some critics have denounced Erdogan’s plan, saying it would not be easy to implement. Others argue it is a way for the Turkish president to “import voters” in order to “strengthen his grip on power.”

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