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Executive Summary for August 29th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including an E.U.-Africa summit on migration, rising displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a U.N. refugee agency warning about xenophobic debates in pre-election Austria.

Published on Aug. 29, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

E.U. Deal With Chad, Libya, Niger to Curb Irregular Migration

The leaders of four European countries and three African states said they had agreed a plan to curb irregular migration to Europe, after meeting in Paris.

The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain met with their counterparts in Niger, Chad and Libya’s U.N.-backed government in a summit hosted by France on August 28.

In a statement after the meeting, the European nations said they agreed to carry out “protection missions” in Niger and Chad to resettle “particularly vulnerable” migrants in Europe as determined by the U.N. refugee agency.

The statement provided few further details about the cost, timeframe and scope. A French diplomat told the Associated Press the pre-asylum centers in the two countries would receive European financing. France had earlier touted the idea of setting up hotspots in North Africa, but soon abandoned the plan.

The European leaders also reiterated support for stabilization and strengthened border controls in Libya, the main departure point for refugee boats to Europe.

In recent days, the E.U. commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said the bloc is considering withholding development aid and placing trade and visa restrictions on African and Asian countries to force them to take back rejected asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, Germany agreed a deal on August 28 to provide Egypt with more support in order to stem irregular migration to Europe.

Number of Displaced in Congo Almost Doubled in Six Months

The number of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo has nearly doubled in the past six months.

Some 3.8 million people have fled various conflicts across the country, including 1.4 million in the Kasai region where violence broke out after a local chieftain was killed last September, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said. There have also been clashes in the southeastern province of Tanganyika and the Kivu region.

UNHCR assistant high commissioner George Okoth-Obbo urged “immediate protection” for the displaced on a visit to the country, telling Agence France-Presse that children “are sleeping in conditions that are difficult to imagine.”

U.N. Concerned About Xenophobic Debates Ahead of Austria Election

UNHCR has expressed concern about “xenophobic debates and exclusionary tendencies” in Austria ahead of October parliamentary elections.

Issues of immigration and Islam have dominated political debates in recent months. The far-right Freedom Party came close to winning the presidency last year, but has since been overtaken in the polls by the conservative People’s Party, which has also made hard-line immigration policies a campaign issue.

“Political debates that are conducted at refugees’ expense reinforce xenophobic tendencies,” a statement from UNHCR’s Austria office said, adding that “some people confuse the refugee issue with a security debate.”

“We call on all democratic parties to carry out political debates thoughtfully and to put what unites above what divides,” the statement said.

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