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Executive Summary for August 4th

We review the latest refugee-related issues, as Chakma communities are hit by floods in India, telephone transcripts indicate that President Trump feared looking weak on refugees and the Austrian chancellor attacks the opposition’s “immigrant fixation.”

Published on Aug. 4, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Chakmas Bear Brunt of Deadly Floods in Northeast India

Tens of thousands of undocumented refugees are at risk from severe flooding in India. The Chakma communities in the remote northeast have been disproportionately affected, charities warn.

Monsoon rains have burst rivers, affecting an area of 2 million people. Many have taken shelter in relief camps in states such as Gujarat, Assam and Rajasthan.

“The floods have affected some of the most vulnerable – migrant workers, farmers and children … The people who live along the river banks are mostly refugees and live in abject poverty,” said Kunal Shah from the charity, World Vision.

“Without identification papers, they receive no state support,” Shah added. “These people are stuck in a no-man’s land invisible to the media and government. They are not recognized by either the Indian or Bangladeshi governments and therefore do not qualify for assistance.”

The Chakmas, also known as the Daingnet people, are an ethnic group who fled to northeast India in waves during the 1960s from what was eastern Pakistan and is now Bangladesh. They are not registered with the United Nations refugee agency.

“These isolated communities live in densely forested areas. The scant roads that existed before the floods were washed away by landslides. As we floated along the river to the reach the Chakma communities, we saw their houses smashed to bits,” said Shah.

‘World’s Greatest Person for Not Letting People in the Country’

Transcripts of a January phone call between Donald Trump and the Australian prime minister show the United States president feared looking weak on refugees.

The two leaders discussed a deal under which the U.S. was due to take 2,000 asylum seekers who had attempted to reach Australia by boat. Trump, who inherited the agreement, urged premier Malcolm Turnbull to scrap it.

“Boy, that will make us look awfully bad. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country,” Trump said. “And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people, and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position.”

As the conversation between the two former businessmen goes back and forth, Trump makes clear his concern over the way the deal will make him look.

“This deal will make me look terrible … I am going to get killed on this thing … I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.”

“Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want – and I do not blame you by the way – but the U.S. has become like a dumping ground.”

Austrian Chancellor Denounces Opposition Fixation with Refugees

Austria’s ruling Social Democrats have attacked the populist opposition’s fixation with refugees. Opinion polls show Chancellor Christian Kern’s SPO trailing the People’s Party (OVP), whose leader Sebastian Kurz has gained ground by heightening fears over immigration.

Austria votes in October in snap parliamentary elections. The country previously took two rounds to choose between a green and a far-right candidate for president.

“They [the OVP] want to talk about refugees all day long,” said Kern. “Not about how we will create jobs, affordable apartments, secure pensions or the best education for our children.”

Austrian politics has been turned on its head by the foreign minister, Kurz. The 30-year-old has renamed the conservatives as a movement and threatened to send tanks to the border with Italy to defend Austria against migrants.

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