Executive Summary for August 16th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including reports of disease spreading among Syrians stranded at the Jordanian border, U.S. agents vetting African and Asian migrants in Latin America and Serbia tightening its border with Bulgaria.

Published on Aug. 16, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Diseases Spreading Among Syrians Stranded on Jordanian Border

Infectious diseases have begun to spread among the 75,000 Syrians stranded on the closed border with Jordan, known as the berm.

Refugee medics are seeing about 30 cases of jaundice a day in the camps, likely indicating hepatitis, as well as diarrhea and respiratory problems, Doctors Without Borders’ Natalie Thurtle told the Associated Press.

Jordan sealed its border with Syria in June after militants launched a deadly cross-border attack.

This left thousands of refugees stranded on the Syrian side of the border with little food, water or shelter in the desert heat.

Jordan barred cross-border aid deliveries on security grounds. Last week, aid reached the camp for the first time in months when humanitarian agencies dropped food and supplies over the border using a crane, but Jordan opposes further aid drops.

U.S. Working With Latin America to Monitor Growing Refugee Route

U.S. agents have deployed to Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala to help vet a growing number of migrants and refugees making the journey from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The agents are training their Mexican counterparts to do security checks of migrants, and also began a similar pilot program in Panama earlier this year, Reuters reports.

The number of migrants and refugees from countries around the world traveling via Latin America has risen sharply in recent years.

Mexican border officials apprehended 6,342 people from Africa, Asia and the Middle East in the first six months of 2016, compared to 4,261 for all of 2015 and 1,831 in all of 2014.

Many migrants, including Afghans, Syrians and Pakistanis, first fly into Brazil where they obtain fake passports and continue overland through Central America, according to U.S. department of homeland security documents reviewed by Reuters.

U.S. officials say they are likely destined for the U.S. via its southern border with Mexico, and they are working with Latin American countries to allay any security risks.

Serbia Tightens Bulgaria Border to Stop Migrants’ Passage

Serbia has further tightened its border with Bulgaria in recent weeks in an effort to keep migrants and refugees from passing through the country.

Since Serbia launched joint army and police patrols along the border on July 22, it has stopped 2,275 people from entering the country from Bulgaria, most of them Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis, according to the Serbian military.

“They are trying to cross over mountain passes, through thick forests, along river beds,” said military spokesperson Jovan Krivokapic, adding that people smugglers increasingly used children to help migrants cross the border.

Last year, more than 1 million migrants and refugees traveled through Balkan nations, including Serbia, headed for northern Europe. But the route has been mostly blocked since March, when countries across the region shut their borders.

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