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Executive Summary for August 5th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the U.N.’s use of a crane to get aid to Syrians on the Jordanian border, the U.S. reaching its Syrian refugee target and a German psychiatrist’s plan to scan refugees’ brains.

Published on Aug. 5, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

U.N. Resorts to Crane to Deliver Aid Across Jordan Border

The first aid in weeks has been delivered to Syrian refugees in a no-man’s land on the border with Jordan. U.N. agencies took the unusual step of using a crane to deliver food, medicine and other basics across the sealed border.

Some 75,000 refugees have been living for months in makeshift tented camps after fleeing fighting in central and eastern Syria. They have been largely cut off from aid since Jordan closed the border on June 22 in response to a car-bomb attack on one of its military posts.

Conditions on the Syrian side of the berm, as the desert border is called, have deteriorated badly. Some of the camp’s residents have been sleeping in holes dug in the sand after selling their tents for food and water, a Syrian told Reuters.

“Unable either to cross the border or turn back, the situation facing these women, men and children has grown more dire by the day,” warned a joint statement from U.N. agencies.

“Sheltering in makeshift tents in harsh desert conditions with temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius [122F] and sudden sandstorms, they are without sufficient food and have barely enough water to survive.”

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, the charity, has estimated that half the population in the berm camps are children.

U.S. on Course to Reach Refugee Target

The U.S. is on course to reach its target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of September. The State Department said 2,340 Syrians arrived in the U.S. last month.

Failure to hit the modest target would have been a major embarrassment for the Obama administration ahead of September meetings in which President Obama is expected to urge world leaders to do more to alleviate the record numbers of globally displaced people.

The scheme has attracted strong criticism from U.S. Republicans, including the party’s presidential nominee, who insists it is a security threat. The popular conservative news aggregator, the Drudge Report, featured the headline “Obama Hits Target of Muslim Refugees” over an image of a woman with a niqab covering her face.

German Psychiatrist Plans to Scan Refugees’ Brains

A prominent German psychiatrist has applied for funding to study the mental state of refugees. Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg plans to recruit up to 400 refugees who will agree to be put in a brain scanner.

The researcher from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, will also give them smartphones loaded with special software that tracks their movements and sends them 10 questions a day.

“The point would be to discover whether refugees experience their environment differently from the general population,” he told the journal, Nature, “in a way that puts them at higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder.”

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