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Executive Summary for October 12th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Myanmar’s top general saying Rohingya are not natives, a dip in Germany’s asylum claims allowing a new cap to be met, and Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram unready to return.

Published on Oct. 12, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

General: Myanmar Refugees in Bangladesh are Not Native and Crisis Overhyped

Myanmar’s army chief said the Rohingya are not native to the country. The most powerful man in the country blamed the media for hyping the refugee crisis.

Senior general Min Aung Hlaing made the comments in a meeting with the U.S. ambassador Scot Marciel and apparently did not address accusations of abuse.

The general used the term “Bengali,” which is considered derogatory, to refer to the Rohingya religious minority. He also emphasized the term in order to blame their presence on Britain, Myanmar’s former colonial power.

“The Bengalis were not taken into the country by Myanmar, but by the colonialists,” he told Marciel, according to an account on the ambassador’s Facebook page.

“They are not the natives, and the records prove that they were not even called Rohingya but just Bengalis during the colonial period.”

The comments followed a statement by the U.N. Human Rights office accusing the Myanmar regime of acting to prevent the return of Rohingya refugees.

The U.N.’s Jyoti Sanghera said she feared stateless Rohingya refugees may be interned if they return from Bangladesh.

“If villages have been completely destroyed and livelihood possibilities have been destroyed, what we fear is that they may be incarcerated or detained in camps,” she said.

A U.N. team stopped short of accusing the Myanmar military of genocide: “We are not in a position to make a finding of genocide or not, but this should in no way detract from the seriousness of the situation which the Rohingya population is currently facing,” said Thomas Hunecke, who led the U.N. team at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which has been at the epicenter of the crisis.

Germany Set to Finish Year Below New Migrant Cap

Germany will remain within its recently announced annual refugee cap. A drop in registered asylum seekers in September is expected to keep the number under 200,000 for the year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to a cap – after years of opposing the limit – with her Bavarian allies following recent elections that weakened her party. She is trying to negotiate a new coalition with the left-leaning Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, who are expected to be junior partners in government.

Merkel’s open-door policy in 2015 has been blamed for her Christian Democrat party losing seats in last month’s election. Their conservative allies, the CSU, have used the setback to push for a tougher line on asylum. The outcome was a deal on Sunday to cap the number of individuals allowed into Germany on humanitarian grounds at 200,000 per year.

A total of 139,635 people have applied for asylum in Germany so far this year. The month-on-month figures showed a 10 percent drop in September, according to the federal interior ministry. Germany received 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015 and 280,000 in 2016.

Nationals from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be the three main groups seeking asylum, although there has been a recent surge in applications from Turkey after political upheaval in the country.

Refugees Fleeing Boko Haram Cannot Return Home Yet

Nigerians who have fled the extremist militia Boko Haram say they are not ready to return home. A survey carried out by an aid group found 84 percent of respondents were too afraid to return.

Fighting between Boko Haram and government forces has driven almost 2 million Nigerians from their homes. The vast majority of those displaced have remained inside the borders, while some 200,000 are sheltering in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The report by the Norwegian Refugee Council found 60 percent of respondents wanted to return home but could not yet do so. In many cases, interviewees said they had tried to return but had been driven out again because of Boko Haram attacks.

The fallout from the Boko Haram conflict has created a humanitarian emergency that the U.N. says will require $1 billion in aid during 2017.

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