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Executive Summary for June 23rd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the first “solidarity summit” in Uganda, warnings over a U.S.-led initiative to curb migration from Central America and European leaders dodging disputes over resettlement.

Published on June 23, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

First ‘Solidarity Summit’ Held in Uganda

The United Nations chief and African leaders gathered in Uganda for the first Solidarity Summit on Refugees, which aims to raise $2 billion for the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

Uganda is sheltering some 1.3 million displaced people, including 950,000 from neighboring South Sudan. Civil war in the young country left 3.3 million people displaced by the end of 2016, the U.N. warned this week.

Ahead of the summit in Kampala, U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres visited a reception center in northern Uganda for South Sudanese refugees streaming across the border.

“In a world where so many people are selfishly closing their doors, closing their borders, not allowing refugees to come, this example deserves praise [and] admiration from the whole international community,” he said.

The summit, co-hosted by the Ugandan government and the U.N., aims to plug major budget shortfalls for refugee support in Uganda. The European Union pledged 85 million euros ($95 million) for relief operations on the eve of the gathering.

U.S. Initiative in Central America ‘Will Fuel Displacement’

Advocacy organizations are warning that a U.S.-led initiative to curb migration from Central America could have the opposite effect, by displacing more people.

Homeland Security secretary John Kelly relaunched the Obama-era “Alliance for Prosperity” initiative at a conference in Miami last week. Under the scheme, originally launched in 2014, the U.S. committed $750 million over five years for job creation and security assistance.

Yet rights groups warn that the alliance helps to cut regulation while funding infrastructure mega-projects that displace Indigenous and marginalized communities.

Global Witness’s Billy Kyte said: “At the moment the plan is a recipe for increased poverty and insecurity, and will likely cause further forced displacement,” the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.

Yolanda Gonzalez Cerdeira, from the Jesuit Migrant Service for Central America, noted that projects portrayed as a success often have disastrous results for local communities, citing the displacement of the Indigenous Garifuna Barra Vieja community to build the Indura tourist resort in Honduras.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) urged the U.S. and Mexico, co-hosts of the Miami conference, to focus on protecting the lives and respecting the rights of large numbers of people fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, known as the Northern Triangle. Some 500,000 people flee the violence-wracked region every year, and most experience violence on their journey north, according to MSF research.

European Leaders Avoid Relocation Dispute, Focus on Libya Controls

European leaders meeting in Brussels chose to avoid confrontation over the bloc’s failed refugee relocation scheme, instead focusing on returning asylum seekers and reforming their asylum systems, Reuters reports.

The two-day summit on June 22-23 marked the first European gathering since the European Commission launched legal procedures against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for refusing to take part in a 2015 scheme to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, where most refugees first arrive on the continent. The summit may push for alternative ways to help Italy and Greece, Reuters reported.

“Germany has been pushing for relocation [of asylum seekers] for a long time. Now they have said we’d better focus on where we can agree and come back to this in October,” after the German election in September, a senior E.U. diplomat told Reuters.

“There is an effort to play it down. There is no way to get an agreement, so let’s avoid another bad quarrel,” another diplomat said. “But we want solidarity. It’s very tricky.”

Instead, the summit focused on Europe’s commitment to step up funds for the Libyan coast guard to stop people taking boats to Europe. Fayez Sarraj, the head of the U.N.-backed unity government in Libya, was in Brussels lobbying for more aid to cut off the flow of migrants at the country’s southern border, as well.

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