Executive Summary for October 3rd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Hungary’s referendum result, a new E.U. deal to return migrants to Afghanistan and the U.N. appointing its first envoy for Somali refugees.

Published on Oct. 3, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Hungary’s Refugee Referendum Result Invalid Due to Low Turnout

Voters in Hungary rejected European Union quotas for resettling refugees in a referendum on October 2, but the result was invalidated by low turnout.

Election authorities said 98.3 percent of voters rejected mandatory E.U. quotas; however, turnout was only 43.9 percent, and around 4 percent of voters spoiled their ballots. The referendum result is only valid with over 50 percent turnout.

Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orban, nevertheless celebrated the outcome and pledged to amend the constitution to write the result into law, according to Reuters.

Orban’s government had vigorously campaigned for voters to reject refugee quotas, as part of its stark opposition to allowing migrants into the country or accepting refugees resettled from elsewhere in Europe.

Hungarian opposition politicians were, however, quick to call the result a “fiasco” for Orban and his ruling Fidesz party. Several opposition parties had urged voters not to take part in the referendum.

Analysts say Orban may have been frustrated in his effort to strengthen his bargaining position with the E.U. by the low turnout, but his wider project of stoking anti-migrant sentiment among nationalist supporters is by no means over.

E.U. Reaches Deal to Return Migrants to Afghanistan

The European Union has agreed a deal with Afghanistan to return more Afghan migrants to the country.

Under the new arrangement, Afghanistan will take back any of its nationals not granted asylum in Europe and provide them with travel documents, while the E.U. will pay for their return, according to the Associated Press. Afghans were the second largest group arriving in Europe last year after Syrians.

The deal was announced two days before a major donor conference on Afghanistan, which is intended to raise $1.1 billion in aid per year. Last week, a leaked E.U. memo published by the Guardian detailed plans to make the aid conditional on Afghanistan’s acceptance of deported asylum seekers.

U.N. Appoints First Special Envoy for Somali Refugees

The United Nations appointed its first ever special envoy for Somali refugees, amid pressure from neighboring countries to return refugees to the country.

Mohamed Abdi Affey, a former Kenyan ambassador to Somalia, was appointed special envoy for an initial period of six months.

The U.N. refugee agency said the purpose of the new role is to advocate for the protection of Somali refugees, while corralling more international funds for the reintegration of those who wish to return home.

Kenya, which hosts the most Somali refugees in the region, has repeatedly threatened to shut down Dadaab camp, home to 300,000 mostly Somali refugees. Human Rights Watch says Dadaab residents are being forced to return to unsafe situations in Somalia.

There are some 1 million Somali refugees in the region, and another 1.1 million people displaced inside the country.

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