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Executive Summary for October 16th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Austria set to be led by an anti-migrant populist, Sydney marchers demanding Manus detainees be brought to Australia and the Rohingya refugee drowning death toll close to 185.

Published on Oct. 16, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Anti-Refugee Populist Set to Lead Austria

A 31-year-old who exploits immigration fears is set to be chancellor of Austria. Sebastian Kurz was the big winner of elections on Sunday and now faces coalition talks.

Currently the foreign minister, Kurz soared in the polls after feeding anti-refugee sentiment, picking fights over border security with Italy and campaigning for tough integration policies.

In the process he took the leadership of the formerly centrist People’s Party and has steered the party to the right, winning voters from the far-right Freedom Party.

Kurz has repeatedly called for Europe to follow Australia in warehousing refugees and migrants in offshore detention centers to prevent them reaching the continent.

The youngest diplomat of his rank in Europe, he called on Italy to strand arriving migrants on Sicily, saying “rescue missions in the Mediterranean cannot be seen as a ticket to central Europe.”

He has been a leading critic of charity search-and-rescue missions in the central Mediterranean.

The election victor plans to cap benefits for refugees at well below the level received by Austrians and make other foreigners wait until they have been in the country for five years to qualify.

Kurz has managed to take the People’s Party from a distant third in the polls to 31.4 percent of the vote, a result he called “historic.” The center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria, which now governs in coalition with the People’s Party, got 26.7 percent.

Sydney Protesters Call for Manus Detainees to be Brought to Australia

Hundreds marched in Australia calling for detained refugees to be allowed to resettle in the country. The protest marches in Sydney were staged as a resettlement deadline approaches.

The demonstrators ranged from asylum center volunteers to left-wingers critical of Australia’s hardline migration approach known as the “Pacific Solution.”

All migrants trying to reach Australia by sea are sent to detention centers on two remote islands: the Micronesian island nation of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, where they are told they will never be settled in Australia.

Manus is due to be closed at the end of October and Australia plans to resettle any of its inmates who have not qualified for refugee status elsewhere in the world to be resettled in PNG. There were still 742 people at Manus and 369 on Nauru at the end of September.

A Kurdish journalist detained on Manus, whose Facebook posts have given a window into the harsh reality there, said on Friday that the detainees do not want to be resettled in PNG. Behrouz Boochani said there is no security and they cannot work or provide for their families.

The U.S. agreed to resettle detainees from Manus under a deal that has since been questioned by U.S. president Donald Trump. So far only around 20 Manus refugees have been resettled in the U.S.

Rohingya Refugees Drown in Bay of Bengal

A boat carrying Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh sank, killing 12 people. The overcrowded vessel capsized in the Bay of Bengal on October 16 and six children were thought to be among the dead.

Some 570,000 Rohingya people have fled a military onslaught in Myanmar, crossing into Bangladesh. Including the capsizing, at least 184 Rohingya have drowned trying to reach Bangladesh.

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