Executive Summary for August 31st

We review the latest news related to refugees, including the highest recorded number of migrant arrivals in Greece for months, Somalia blocking the repatriation of refugees from Kenya and an IOM report warning that authorities are failing to identify missing migrants.

Published on Aug. 31, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Spike in Arrivals in Greece

Greece has seen a spike in the number of migrants arriving from Turkey, with 2,808 arrivals through August 28, the largest monthly number since April, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

More than 300 migrants from Turkey reached the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Kos on Monday, according to local Greek media. That number jumped to 462 by Tuesday morning, the highest in several weeks.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has noted the increase in arrivals, but cautioned it was too early to say whether this indicated a new trend.

“So far it doesn’t look like that, but we are following the situation very closely,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said at a U.N. briefing in Geneva.

The Lesbos Port Authority has demanded immediate government action to address the surge in migrants, insisting that the island does not have the infrastructure to cope.

Somalia Blocks the Return of its Refugees

Authorities in southern Somalia have stopped repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya due to inadequate humanitarian support, Jubbaland’s interior minister told Voice of America.

Some 1,200 Somali refugees were prevented from entering Jubbaland after arriving at the Kenyan-Somali border town of Dhobley on Tuesday, according to local Somali media.

“We have decided to suspend the returnees’ movement because thousands, who are already in the cities like Kismayo port town, the region’s main city, are facing severe humanitarian challenges,” Gen. Mohamed Warsmae Darwish said.

The Tripartite Agreement signed in 2013 between the UNHCR and the governments of Kenya and Somalia governs the voluntary return of Somali refugees.

But Darwish said the Tripartite Agreement “did not fulfill the expectations of the refugees” because it failed to help them once they return. He has demanded a better deal with the UNHCR.

IOM: Authorities Are Failing to Identify Missing Migrants

A report by U.K. academics and the IOM warns of an “invisible catastrophe” resulting from a failure to identify migrants who are thought to have drowned in the Mediterranean.

More than 6,600 migrants drowned or went missing in 2015 and the first half of 2016.

Researchers found that only a minority of the bodies of drowned migrants are identified by authorities, meaning that many families never find out if missing relatives are dead or alive.

“Behind the visible catastrophe of shipwrecks and deaths in the Mediterranean is an invisible catastrophe in which bodies are found and not enough is done to identify them and inform their families,” said Dr. Simon Robins, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York and lead author of the report.

“This is devastating for their families back home,” he said.

The report recommends a more coordinated and systematic approach among different state agencies as well as a greater outreach effort to find the families of missing migrants.

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