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Executive Summary for August 2nd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Malaysia’s refusal to assimilate Rohingya refugees, the transfer of Syrian refugees from Lebanon, and a rise in the number of unaccompanied migrant children detained by Greek police.

Published on Aug. 2, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Malaysia Refuses to Integrate Rohingya Refugees

Children of Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia will not receive “special status” or assimilation services to integrate the ethnic minority into local communities, said Malaysian minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.

Rohingya refugees in Malaysia are typically provided with registration cards by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), which gives freedom of movement and allows them to practice their religion. Additionally, they receive a 50 percent discount on healthcare. Education is mostly facilitated by NGOs, the private sector and UNHCR support programs.

Responding to a question on the government’s plans for social cohesion between refugees and the host communities, Shahidan said, “If we introduce [assimilation programs], it means that we have the intention to give them citizenship. And if we open the floodgates, I am sure others will also want [to] come here.”

Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and therefore does not recognize Rohingya as refugees.

Transfer of Syrian Refugees From Lebanon to Resume

Plans to transfer thousands of Syrian fighters and civilian refugees from Lebanon to rebel-held territories in Syria will resume on Wednesday following a prisoner exchange between Hezbollah and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, Reuters reported.

More than 100 buses have been stationed at the border to transfer around 10,000 “militants” and refugees from Lebanon’s Arsal region to the Syrian areas of Idlib and Qalamoun.

The transfer is part of a cease-fire deal brokered last Thursday between Lebanon, Syria, Iran-backed Hezbollah and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have chosen to stay in Lebanon, rather than travel to Idlib, despite facing multiple legal restrictions, Khaled Raad, a member of the Arsal Refugees’ Coordination Committee of the Lebanese government, told the Associated Press (AP).

Figures from the UNHCR and the AP estimate there to be between 50,000 and 80,000 refugees around Arsal alone.

Rise in Number of Unaccompanied Migrant Children Detained in Greece

In an open letter to Greek migration policy minister Yiannis Mouzalas, Human Rights Watch urged an end to the arbitrary detention of minors.

The number of unaccompanied migrant children in police custody in Greece has risen steadily, according to HRW reports.

Some 117 unaccompanied children were being held in police cells or detention centers while waiting to be transferred to a shelter in July, compared to only two cases in November 2016, according to the rights group.

The number has risen primarily because of the lack of suitable shelters for unaccompanied children in the country. Shortages in funding and support from the E.U. could exacerbate the situation in the coming months.

“Instead of being cared for, dozens of vulnerable children are locked in dirty, crowded police cells and other detention facilities across Greece, in some cases with unrelated adults,” said HRW researcher for Greece Eva Cosse.

HRW called on Mouzalas to transfer unaccompanied children to safer “transitional” accommodation and amend Greek law to restrict the detainment of children.

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