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Executive Summary for August 31st

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including a German minister seeking a longer ban on reuniting Syrian families, refugee haven Jordan facing severe water shortages, and the E.U. looking to blockchain to provide digital IDs for refugees.

Published on Aug. 31, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

German Ban on Refugee Family Reunification Needs Extending, Says Minister

A German minister wants to extend a ban on Syrian refugees bringing relatives to the country. The interior minister favors a continued block on family reunification.

Thomas de Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, warned that a “huge” number of Syrians were waiting to enter Germany. The country goes to the polls on September 24 and refugee policy is expected to be a leading issue.

The current, temporary ban on reunifications lasts until March 2018 and the minister is seeking to extend it further, warning that every Syrian refugee wants to bring at least one relative.

A survey this week showed that a majority of Germans oppose family reunification for Syrian refugees. Merkel has sought to tighten Germany’s asylum laws since bruising defeats in regional elections. She is now expected to be returned as chancellor in September’s federal election.

Leading German newspaper Bild reported that internal government estimates showed some 390,000 Syrians registered asylum seekers could seek to reunite with family when the two-year ban on reunifications expires.

Richard Hilmer, head of the Berlin-based Policy Matters think-tank, warned against an indefinite block on reuniting families: “Otherwise you wind up with single men who are not integrated into the social fabric, and in the worst cases, even a sort of ghettoization.”

Refugee Haven Jordan to Face Severe Water Shortages, Report Says

Jordan faces severe water shortages in the future, a new report has revealed. The kingdom is home to an estimated 1.4 million Syrians.

Due to climate change, Jordan will experience an 8.1F (4.5C) rise in temperatures during this century and a one-third drop in rainfall. The Stanford University study said that more droughts will exacerbate social tensions.

“Jordan is currently one of the most water-poor countries in the world,” the report’s author, Steven Gorelick, told Reuters.

“Beyond 2100, in the absence of additional fresh water supplies – a likely scenario is … groundwater is depleted, agriculture depends solely on treated waste water and rapid population growth through future adoption of refugees becomes an enormous challenge,” he said.

The U.N. regards countries with less than 17,600 cubic ft (500 cubic meters) of annual water supply as facing “absolute scarcity.” Jordan already has only 5,300 cubic ft (150 cubic meters).

As well as the arrival of Syrians, some 660,000 of whom are registered with the U.N. Refugee Agency, the war across the border has disrupted water management infrastructure in the Yarmouk-Jordan River system.

E.U. Spending to Develop Blockchain Digital IDs for Refugees

The European Parliament is considering digital identities for refugees and asylum seekers. MEPs want to use blockchain encryption technology to provide documents.

Budget amendments reveal that half a million dollars has already been spent exploring the use of blockchain – an encrypted digital ledger that automatically updates all entries – to offer digital ID documents.

“One specific use case that ought to be explored is the potential of [distributed ledger tech] based solutions for the management of the situation of refugees,” MEP Jakob von Weizsacker wrote in a budget amendment. “Many refugees, and people in refugee-like situations, are unable to prove their identity or access essential services.”

The experimental tech is already being used by the U.N. in Jordan in a pilot to make payments to Syrian refugees.

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