Executive Summary for January 16th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the deaths of seven men taking a boat from Morocco to Europe, Myanmar’s building of a camp to house returnees and a German memo detailing concerns over E.U. asylum reform.

Published on Jan. 16, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Seven Die on Boat From Morocco to Spain

Seven men died after taking a boat from Morocco to the Spanish Canary Islands. Rescuers found the small inflatable dinghy with five dead bodies inside.

Another two men drowned trying to swim to shore on Lanzarote, while 20 others reached the island and received medical treatment for hypothermia.

The number of migrants taking boats from North Africa to Spain nearly tripled last year, from more than 8,000 in 2016 to some 21,600 in 2017.

Myanmar Readies Camp for Returnees

Myanmar authorities say they are nearing completion of a camp to house returning refugees from Bangladesh.

Some 650,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since late August after militant attacks prompted a vicious military crackdown. Myanmar and Bangladesh inked a deal to repatriate refugees in November, but many doubt that the Rohingya will feel safe enough to return.

The U.N. refugee agency has not been involved in the planning but has offered to play a “constructive role” in the process by checking that refugees are returning voluntarily.

Myanmar and Bangladesh insist the repatriation process is on track to begin next week. A smaller number of Hindu refugees who also fled the violence are expected to be the first group repatriated.

Myanmar is building a 124-acre (50-hectare) camp to house 30,000 returnees. Around 100 of the 625 buildings will be ready this month, state media reported.

German Memo Warns E.U. Reform Could Undermine Refugee Compromise

German government officials expressed concern that a European parliament proposal to reform E.U. asylum rules could undermine the new government’s compromise over refugees, Der Spiegel reported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed on the outline for coalition negotiations last week. Talks have dragged for months after the September election amid deep disagreements, including over refugees.

The CDU-SPD agreement caps the number of family reunifications at 1,000 per month and limits the number of asylum seekers admitted to between 180,000 and 220,000 per year.

In a German interior ministry memo, officials expressed concern that the cap would be invalidated and many times more family members would be able to enter Germany under proposed E.U. reforms.

The parliamentary proposal seeks to change the Dublin regulation, which requires asylum seekers to apply for refugee status in the first country they reach, creating huge bottlenecks in southern Europe.

Under the proposed reform, asylum seekers could apply in countries where their relatives live, likely creating many more claims in Germany – which has accepted more than 1 million refugees since 2015.

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