Executive Summary for October 19th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including new U.N. figures on Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan, a protest at a migrant detention center in Spain and the failure of a legal bid to stop the demolition of the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais.

Published on Oct. 19, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

800,000 Afghans Expected to Return from Pakistan, says U.N.

The U.N. expects 800,000 Afghan refugees to return to Afghanistan from Pakistan this year after releasing updated figures that show 350,000 have already travelled back to their country of origin.

To date, 207,236 registered refugees and 162,186 undocumented refugees have returned from Pakistan to Afghanistan this year, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. “If that sounds like a lot, it is,” OCHA said in a statement.

Around 1.4 million Afghan refugees and an estimated 1 million other unregistered Afghans live in Pakistan. They fled from neighboring Afghanistan during decades of war and unrest since the 1979 Soviet invasion.

Pakistan has repeatedly set deadlines for Afghans to return to their home country, and pressure has intensified in recent months amid heightened rhetoric and a crackdown on undocumented migrants.

Most of the returning Afghans – 330,000 – have left Pakistan since July. If current trends continue, the U.N. says a further 446,000 Afghans may leave before the end of the year.

Algerian Migrants Stage Rooftop Protest at Madrid Detention Center

Around 40 migrants held in a detention center outside Madrid staged an overnight protest, demanding action over their treatment by authorities.

The group of mostly Algerians climbed on to the roof and held up a banner reading: “Freedom.” They agreed to come down 12 hours later following negotiations with officials, the BBC reported.

The network of centers used by Spanish authorities to detain undocumented migrants set for deportation have been criticised by human rights groups for their squalid conditions and by prison officials for their lack of security. A Madrid council official has condemned the centers, saying they were “failed institutions.”

Earlier this month, dozens of migrants broke out of a detention center near Murcia, in southeastern Spain, following a “mutiny.”

French Court Rejects Bid to Halt ‘Jungle’ Camp Demolition

French authorities have vowed to demolish “the Jungle,” the notorious Calais refugee camp, within days, after a court rejected a legal appeal to block such a move.

A group of charities attempted to halt the demolition, arguing that they needed more time to rehouse the thousands of people living in the sprawling camp on the outskirts of the French port.

A court in Lille rejected their petition, saying the evacuation was necessary to end the camp’s “inhumane and degrading” conditions, Agence France-Presse reported.

Following the ruling, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the demolition would take place in a “matter of days.”

“We are now nearing the moment when the operation will begin,” he told the French parliament.

French authorities are scrambling to rehouse the camp’s residents in migrant shelters around the country, but have faced local resistance in some areas. Meanwhile, the U.K. has slowly begun to accept unaccompanied children from the camp who have been identified as having relatives in Britain.

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