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Executive Summary for January 29th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including monsoon rains threatening Rohingya camps, German coalition talks edging toward a deal over refugees and a new project to see how politics has shaped the public’s view of refugees.

Published on Jan. 29, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Monsoon Threatens Mudslides at Rohingya Camps in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are at risk from landslides, a report said. With monsoon season set to begin, facilities are “completely inadequate” the U.N. study revealed.

There are some 900,000 Rohingya in the Cox’s Bazar area, near the border with Myanmar, nearly 700,000 of whom have fled there since August 2017.

“A high percentage of the land is unsuitable for human settlement as risks of flooding and landslides are high and are further aggravated by the congestion and extensive terracing of the hills,” the U.N. report said.

“The anticipated flooding and landslides in the upcoming monsoon season will make a bad situation much worse.”

At least 100,000 of the refugees are at risk from the mud, the U.N. report said: “Landslide and flood risk hazard mapping reveal that at least 100,000 people are in grave danger from these risks and require relocation to new areas or within the neighborhoods that they live in.”

“The lack of space remains the main challenge for the sector as sites are highly congested, leading to extremely hard living conditions with no space for service provisions and facilities. In addition, congestion brings increased protections risks and favors disease outbreaks such as the diphtheria outbreak currently escalating in most of the sites.”

While a full-scale cholera epidemic has so far been averted, there have been diphtheria deaths and mumps has become a concern. Refugees and host communities have not been vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, which can cause complications such as meningitis.

German Parties in ‘Final Stages’ of Refugee Deal to Settle Coalition

Germany’s main parties will compromise on refugee policy and expect a coalition to be formed. The conservatives and Social Democrats have been divided over family reunification for asylum seekers.

The standoff has left Europe’s largest economy without a government for four months. Talks overnight Sunday ended without a deal but a Social Democrat (SPD) official told reporters that an agreement was in its final stages.

Malu Dreyer, an SPD deputy leader, told Deutschlandfunk radio that negotiators were determined “that we really reach an agreement today (Monday).”

The two parties governed Germany for four years from 2013 but their “grand coalition” is blamed for eroding the support base of the SPD. Election late last year saw big gains for critics of Angela Merkel’s decision to allow in 1 million migrants and refugees. After losing ground in the poll she tried and failed to form a government with two smaller parties.

The conservatives want a cap of 1,000 on the number of people who can join immediate family who already have protection status. The SPD wants a “hardship” clause inserted that could see the number of entrants raised for some families already granted protection.

Study to See How Politicians’ Language Shapes Public View of Refugees

Scottish academics will study how politicians’ language shapes public perception of refugees. The Respond Project, funded by the E.U., will also see Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers travel to Turkey.

Dr Umut Korkut of GCU said: “We are going to see what politicians talk about in terms of European integration, how they appeal to their domestic audience and what kind of ideas they introduce to the public.

“Our researchers will concentrate on three types of newspapers in each country, conservative, liberal and middle ground, and see how the politicians’ speeches are put into context.”

The project will also establish legal aid, educational aid, employment aid and public health clinics in Istanbul and Baghdad.

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