Executive Summary for January 19th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Rohingya leaders’ list of demands before repatriation, a new treaty between the U.K. and France on their border and family reunification and a Hungarian proposal to clamp down on groups helping ‘illegal migration.’

Published on Jan. 19, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Rohingya Leaders List Demands Before Repatriation

A group of Rohingya elders in a camp in Bangladesh have drawn up a list of demands to be put to Myanmar before refugees are willing to return.

The elders told Reuters they represented 40 villages from Myanmar’s Rakhine state and had discussed the petition with the refugee community.

The petition says no Rohingya will return until Myanmar’s government gives them citizenship and adds them to a list of recognized ethnic groups. It also called for the return of their land, rebuilding of homes, mosques and schools, accountability for atrocities and release of detainees.

Myanmar and Bangladesh say the repatriation of some of the 655,000 refugees who have fled since late August will begin next week, even as people continue to flee and report ongoing violence in Rakhine.

About 100 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh in recent days, with many more waiting on the banks of the Naf river for boats to Bangladesh. Newly arrived refugees told Reuters they had been in hiding since young men were rounded up in military operations in their villages.

U.K., France Reach Deal on Calais Border

The United Kingdom and France signed a treaty to improve security at their border and speed up family reunification for migrants in Calais.

French president Emmanuel Macron signed the Sandhurst Treaty on Thursday during his first visit to the U.K., saying it would introduce a more humane and more efficient approach at the border.

British prime minister Theresa May said both countries remain committed to the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which moved British border controls to the French port of Calais. Macron had campaigned against the agreement, saying it placed an unfair burden on France to shelter migrants and refugees hoping to reach the U.K.

May announced an additional $62 million of U.K. funds to manage the border in Calais, including spending on fences, cameras and other security controls.

The treaty also contained a British pledge to make family reunification faster for migrants in Calais who have relatives in the U.K. – reducing the processing time to one month for adults and 25 days for children. NGO Safe Passage welcomed the commitment, saying it was currently working with children who had been waiting more than 10 months.

Hungarian Government Proposes ‘Stop Soros’ NGO Laws

Hungary’s government has proposed a package of laws to curb groups that “assist illegal migration.”

Under the proposal, Hungarian organizations are required to declare assisting “illegal migration” and register with the courts. If they receive more foreign than domestic funding, they will be taxed up to 25 percent on the funds from abroad.

Another measure could bar foreign nationals from the country and issue restraining orders for Hungarians preventing them from going within 5 miles (8 km) of the nation’s borders with countries outside the European Union.

The government dubbed the laws – which will go to public consultation before a parliamentary vote – “Stop Soros.” The government of Viktor Orban, which faces an election in April, has made Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist George Soros the bogeyman of its anti-immigration campaigning.

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