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Executive Summary for July 27th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including an IOM report on migrant deaths in the Mediterranean this year, the UNHCR’s request for additional funds to repatriate Somali refugees and the U.S. government’s decision to admit more Central American refugees.

Published on July 27, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

More Than 3,000 Migrants Drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016

More than 3,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2016, while almost 250,000 have reached Europe via sea, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.

The number of casualties as of late July was “significantly higher” compared to the same period last year, when 1,917 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean. The total number of arrivals by sea was “only slightly higher” than the same period in 2015.

More than 2,600 migrants have died on the central Mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy, making it the deadliest route, the IOM said.

“Despite the constant and increased patrolling of the Mediterranean, it has proved extremely difficult to reduce the number of victims,” IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said in the statement.

The IOM added that a series of shipwrecks involving “bigger vessels with hundreds of people on board” – unlike the usual dinghies that carry only about 100 people – have contributed to the higher death toll.

UNHCR Requests Additional $115 Million for Closure of Dadaab

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has asked donors for an additional $115.4 million to help the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Somali refugees from Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp.

The Kenyan government announced its decision in May to close the camp.

UNHCR said funding is also necessary for the “relocation of refugees from Dadaab to Kakuma refugee camp, as well as related projects and infrastructure in Kenya and Somalia.”

UNHCR is committed to ensuring that all returns to Somalia are voluntary and carried out in dignity, safety and with the protection of refugees paramount at all times,” said Valentin Tapsoba, director of UNHCR’s Africa Bureau.

“In order to do this, we are requesting the international donor community to support this additional appeal so that returning Somalis can go back to their home country with the best possible opportunities to re-establish themselves and their families in peace and stability,” he added.

The UNHCR had earlier asked for $369.4 million for what it calls the “Somalia situation.” The total revised requirements for 2016 are now $484.8 million.

U.S. To Expand Central American Refugee Program

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday it is expanding a program to help refugees fleeing violence in Central America to come to the U.S., Reuters reported.

“Our current efforts to date have been insufficient to address the number of people who may have legitimate refugee claims,” said Amy Pope, White House deputy homeland security adviser.

“There are insufficient pathways for those people to present their claims for adjudication,” said Pope. The changes announced today will, she said, help insure the “safe and orderly processing” of asylum claims.

The expanded program will not apply to all Central American migrants. It will broaden the Central American minors program that allows unaccompanied children to enter the U.S. as refugees, by expanding eligibility to certain qualified family members and caregivers.

The U.S. is partnering with Costa Rica, which has agreed to offer temporary shelter to Central American migrants at risk of persecution in their home country, reported the Guardian. Costa Rica will host up to 200 migrants at a time while the U.S. government reviews their asylum applications.

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