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Executive Summary for March 23rd

We review key refugee-related issues, including the Polish prime minister linking refugee relocation to the London terror attack, the U.S. pledging safe zones for refugees from the Iraq and Syria conflicts and Australia announcing it has rejected 500 Syrians in vetting.

Published on March 23, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Polish Prime Minister Connects London Terror Attack to Refugee Resettlement

Poland’s prime minister has linked a London terror attack with Europe’s refugee resettlement program. Beata Szydlo said it was “impossible not to connect them.”

The U.K. prime minister later confirmed that an attacker who ran over pedestrians on a London bridge before stabbing a policeman to death was British-born. Police said the attack, which left five people including the attacker dead, was “Islamist-related.”

“I hear in Europe very often: Do not connect the migration policy with terrorism, but it is impossible not to connect them,” Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo told private broadcaster TVN24.

Poland has refused to take in any refugees under the E.U.’s relocation scheme and has worked with other member states, such as Hungary, to undermine it. Poland was warned this week by a European commissioner that there would be consequences if it refused to fulfill its responsibilities to the bloc.

“The commissioner is coming to Warsaw and trying to tell us: You have to do what the E.U. decided, you have to take these migrants … Two days later another terrorist attack in London occurs,” she said.

“The commissioner should concentrate on what to do to avoid such acts as yesterday in London … Poland will not succumb to blackmail such as that expressed by the commissioner,” Szydlo said.

U.S. Says Interim Safe Zones Will be Used to Return Refugees

The U.S. will move ahead with setting up “interim zones of stability” for refugees from conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the safe zones would also be used to return refugees.

“The United States will increase our pressure on ISIS and al-Qaida and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through cease-fires, to allow refugees to return home,” Tillerson said this week in Washington, D.C.

The comments were made in a meeting of 68 countries and organizations meant to accelerate the fight against ISIS. It has not been made clear where the safe zones will be located or how they will be secured. U.S. military officials said they have received no direction to establish safe zones.

The establishment of U.S.-protected safe havens in either Iraq or Syria would mean a significant ratcheting up of its military presence on the ground.

Australia Says 500 Syrians Rejected During Refugee Vetting

Australia has turned down 500 Syrian refugees during vetting for its resettlement program since 2015. Some 10,000 Syrians and Iraqis have moved to Australia under the program, with another 2,000 to follow.

Australia’s immigration and border protection minister Peter Dutton referred to the March 22 terror attack in London in saying his country was right to be cautious.

While Australia, along with the U.S. and Canada, resettles more refugees than any other country, it has taken draconian steps to ensure asylum seekers cannot reach the country by boat. It has used controversial offshore Pacific island prisons to hold asylum seekers intercepted en route.

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