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Executive Summary for August 15th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including thousands of refugees leaving Lebanon under a political deal, India’s plans to deport Rohingya Muslims and a U.N. expert report on immigration detention in the U.S.

Published on Aug. 15, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Thousands of Refugees Leave Lebanon Under Political Deal

Around 3,100 Syrian refugees and 350 fighters from the Syrian rebel group Saraya Ahl al-Sham returned to Syria on August 15 under the latest Lebanese-Syrian deal over returns.

The Lebanese political group – and Bashar al-Assad ally – Hezbollah has been fighting to oust Syrian rebels from the border zone and brokered several arrangements for fighters and civilians to return to Syria.

The convoy of approximately 30-40 buses took refugees from Arsal over the border to regime-held Assal al-Ward, Lebanese officials said. The fighters and their families were transferred elsewhere in Syria, identified by Hezbollah media as the rebel-held town of al-Ruhaiba in the Eastern Qalamoun region.

The U.N. said it was not involved in the returns and senior officials told the Guardian they believe many returnees had little choice in their departure.

India Plans to Deport 40,000 Rohingya

A senior Indian official said the country plans to deport all Rohingya Muslims in the country regardless of whether they have refugee status.

There are an estimated 40,000 Rohingya in India, many of whom fled persecution in Myanmar. The U.N. refugee agency has issued identity cards to around 16,500 of them.

Junior interior minister Kiren Rijiju outlined a plan last week to deport all Rohingya to Myanmar and said India is not beholden to the U.N. convention on refugees.

“We can’t stop them from registering. But we are not signatory to the accord on refugees,” he said. “As far as we are concerned they are all illegal immigrants. They have no basis to live here. Anybody who is an illegal migrant will be deported.”

India said it was holding talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar about the deportations, but it is likely Myanmar will resist the plan. Many Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar, where they are commonly referred to as “Bengalis.”

U.N. Experts Criticize Immigration Detention in U.S.

U.N. experts criticized the U.S. for increasingly detaining immigrants, including asylum seekers, in “punitive conditions” and for “unreasonable” periods of time.

The U.N. working group on arbitrary detention called on the U.S. to only use detention as a last resort in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The report found that an estimated 352,850 people are detained pending immigration proceedings each year, costing the U.S. around $2 billion.

The experts conducted their U.S. mission during the Obama administration but voiced concern about the expansion of immigration detention and separation of migrant children under Trump.

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