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Executive Summary for August 10th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including 50 teenagers drowned by a smuggler off Yemen, Jordan issuing construction work permits to Syrian refugees, and the E.U. seeing forced labor conditions worsening in member states.

Published on Aug. 10, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

50 African Teenagers Drowned by Smuggler off Yemen, Says IOM

Fifty Somali and Ethiopian teenagers have been “deliberately drowned” off Yemen. They were pushed off a smuggler’s boat, the U.N. migration agency reported.

The smuggler, fearing arrest, forced an estimated 120 African migrants into the water on August 9.

“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” said the IOM’s Laurent de Boeck.

“They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route.”

IOM officials found the shallow graves of 29 of the dead on a beach in Yemen, dug by survivors. The average age of those drowned was 16, the agency said.

The IOM says about 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa headed for Yemen since January, despite the continued fighting in the war-torn Arab country, which lacks a central authority.

“Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future,” said de Boeck.

Jordan Issues First Work Permits to Refugees Under New Rules

Jordan has issued the first construction sector work permits to Syrian refugees. The new type of permit allows workers to be hired in specific sectors, the International Labor Organization said.

“The construction sector has a significant number of people working informally – without the necessary paperwork – which didn’t give them the proper protection for payment and possible employer abuse,” said Elias Jourdi from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an international aid agency.

There are more than 1 million Syrians in neighboring Jordan. Some 660,000 of them are registered with the U.N. refugee agency.

Jordan is at the center of international efforts to integrate refugees into formal employment. The E.U. has relaxed trade rules with the kingdom in return for it issuing work permits to Syrian refugees under special rules.

“They are able to work anywhere in the kingdom and they will be able to access better jobs and therefore better income and provide better for their family,” Jourdi told Reuters.

New Index Shows Higher Levels of Forced Labor in E.U.

E.U. countries have seen the sharpest rise in forced labor anywhere in the world. A new index showed slavery conditions worsening in 20 E.U. countries.

Forced labor in farming, construction and other sectors saw the E.U. score worse than in 2016 in an annual global slavery index by British analytics company Verisk Maplecroft.

Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria are the worst of the 28 member states for slave labor. Countries of entry have become black spots for exploitative labor practices.

“The migrant crisis has increased the risk of slavery incidents appearing in company supply chains across Europe,” said Sam Haynes from Verisk Maplecroft.

“Many illegal migrants entering the E.U. are so in debt to a trafficking gang or unscrupulous agents that they have no hope of paying that cost,” said another of the company’s analysts.

The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor is worth around $150 billion a year globally and sees 21 million people exploited.

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