Executive Summary for September 7th

We review the latest news related to refugees, including plans to open two refugee camps in Paris, the arrests of suspected people smugglers in Italy and the recent spike in repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.

Published on Sep. 7, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Paris to Construct Its First Refugee Camps

Paris is to open two temporary camps that will eventually house nearly 1,000 refugees in order to take asylum seekers off the city’s streets, mayor Anne Hidalgo announced on Tuesday.

These official camps will replace the makeshift settlements in the city. The first center, located in northern Paris and set to open in mid-October, will house 400 men while the second center for women and children will open in the suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine by the end of the year.

“We have to come up with new ways of overcoming the situation. Things are saturated,” she said at a press conference. “These migrant camps reflect our values.”

Refugees will be provided with temporary shelter and medical care for “five to 10 days,” she added.

Setting up the camps will cost $7.3 million (6.5 million euros) and the Paris municipality will cover 80 percent of the cost.

The announcement comes amid mounting pressure to dismantle the Calais “Jungle” camp.

Italy Arrests Members of People-Smuggling Network

Italian police announced the arrests of 21 people suspected of smuggling mainly Syrian refugees along the Balkan route to Austria, Germany and France, Reuters reported.

Most of the suspects were Syrian, while some others were Algerian, Egyptian, Lebanese and Tunisian.

The Italy-based smuggling network used a taxi service as a front and allegedly charged $560 per passenger. It transported 200 migrants between December 2014 and May 2016, according to police statements.

“The suspects used around 300 vehicles registered to dummy companies, and a vast network of smugglers of various nationalities, including Italian,” police in the city of Como, northern Italy, told local Italian media.

Prosecutors began investigating last September when police arrested an Italian in Hungary “while driving in a vehicle with several illegal migrants,” according to Eurojust.

Increased Restrictions in Pakistan Push Out Afghan Refugees

Some 67,057 Afghan refugees voluntarily returned home from Pakistan in August, more than five times the number who repatriated in July, the UNHCR said on Tuesday.

Many are trying to get away from harassment in Pakistan and increased restrictions on visits home.

Afghan refugees were not previously required to have passports or visas to cross the permeable border and to visit family members back home.

But Pakistan increased border restrictions for refugees after clashes broke out between Afghan and Pakistani forces in June at the main Torkham border crossing.

“The main reason for this [repatriation increase] is the closing of the Torkham border gate, because these people want to be able to go back and forth across the border, and that has completely stopped,” Baryali Miankhel, president of the Supreme Council of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told Reuters.

Another reason for increased repatriation is the rise in police harassment of refugees for bribes, he added.

More than 100,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan through the ongoing voluntary repatriation program this year, United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan told APP.

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