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Executive Summary for August 7th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the death of an Iranian asylum seeker held in an Australian offshore camp, a wave of Haitians crossing the border into Canada and a top U.N. refugee agency official urging the U.K. to step up resettlement.

Published on Aug. 7, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Iranian Asylum Seeker Found Dead on Manus Island

An Iranian asylum seeker held in Australia’s refugee center on Papua New Guinea has been found dead in a nearby forest. Local police said the cause of death was being investigated.

Staff and fellow refugees at the Manus island center had warned for months that Hamed Shamshiripour, 31, had severe mental health problems and was not receiving proper treatment, the Guardian reports.

Shamshiripour was initially rejected for refugee status, but his case was under review, the newspaper reported.

Australia has pledged to shut the center by October, but with a deal for the U.S. to take in refugees held in Australian offshore camps stalled under the Trump administration’s restrictions on refugee admissions, the Manus residents are stuck in limbo. Some are resisting authorities’ effort to move them out of the center, fearing violent attacks if housed elsewhere on the island.

“It is not yet clear if his death was a result of self-harm or violence,” said Amnesty International’s Graham Thom. “Irrespective of the cause, Australia must accept liability for the damage its cruel policies are causing refugees.”

“This was a man who came seeking Australia’s protection. Amnesty International is gravely concerned that he was provided inadequate healthcare and that his safety was not the paramount consideration.”

Haitians Seek Refuge in Canada

Between 400 and 500 Haitian asylum seekers crossed from the U.S. into Canada’s Quebec province on foot last week, local activists said.

Quebec is receiving around 150 asylum claims a day, with new arrivals sheltering in 10 sites around Montreal, including the Olympic stadium.

Haitians’ temporary protected status (TPS) in the U.S. is set to expire in January 2018 and U.S. officials have urged people to return to Haiti. CBC News reported that misleading WhatsApp and social media messages encouraging Haitians to come to Canada may have contributed to the recent increase in crossings.

The wave of Haitians crossing to Canada is the latest impact of Trump administration policies on the northern U.S. border. Some 4,300 people of many nationalities crossed the border to seek asylum in Canada in the first six months of the year, Reuters reports, noting that the country has received the highest number of asylum claims in almost a decade.

UNHCR’s Turk Urges U.K. to Step Up Resettlement

A top official at the U.N. refugee agency has urged the U.K. to step up its resettlement of refugees in coming years.

Volker Turk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, was in London for talks with British officials on resettlement plans after the current scheme to admit 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 expires.

“We hope very much that there will be a regular resettlement programme by Britain past 2020 in significant numbers,” Turk told the Press Association, saying he hoped the U.K. would offer 10,000 resettlement places per year.

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