Executive Summary for February 2nd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including reports of a deadly shipwreck in the Mediterranean, the U.S. extending temporary protected status for Syrians and Germany’s extension of a block on family reunification.

Published on Feb. 2, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Mediterranean Shipwreck: 90 Feared Dead

The U.N. migration agency said at least 90 people are thought to have drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya.

The bodies of two Libyans and eight Pakistanis washed ashore in Libya, while two survivors were able to swim to safety and another was rescued by fishermen, according to IOM.

More Pakistanis are taking boats to Europe via North Africa this year, with 240 Pakistanis reaching Italy by boat this January compared to nine people the same month last year, the agency said.

Meanwhile, E.U. border agency Frontex launched a new naval operation in the Central Mediterranean, removing the obligation to bring those rescued to Italy and with more focus on law enforcement.

The year-long Operation Themis replaces Frontex’s Triton. Both focus on border control rather than sea rescue, but have picked up boats of refugees and migrants during operations. Themis further limits the area that E.U. vessels will patrol to 24 miles (39km) from the Italian coast.

Further, while Triton required those rescued to be brought to Italy, the new mission allows the country coordinating the rescue to decide where to disembark. A Frontex spokesperson said migrants would not be taken to non-E.U. countries such as Libya and Tunisia.

U.S. Extends Stay for Syrians Who Have Temporary Protected Status

Around 7,000 Syrians who have temporary protected status (TPS) in the U.S. will be able to stay until September 2019.

The U.S. renewed TPS for Syrians for another 18 months ahead of its expiry in March, but did not redesignate Syria, meaning that Syrians who arrived since August 2016 will not be able to apply for the status.

Around 86,000 Syrians live in the U.S., including refugees, those with TPS and other migrants.

TPS temporarily protects people from countries wracked by wars and disasters from being returned to their countries. The Trump administration has declined to renew TPS for several countries in recent months, including El Salvador and Haiti.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she was renewing TPS for Syria because the “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions” under which it was granted still continue.

Germany Extends Block on Family Reunification

Germany extended a block on asylum seekers with subsidiary protection bringing relatives to the country ahead of an expected coalition deal this summer.

Since 2016, most Syrians in Germany have received this form of temporary protection rather than full refugee status, and were barred from family reunification under rules that expire in March.

German lawmakers voted to extend the ban until August when a coalition deal between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and the Social Democrats is expected to be in place.

The parties recently agreed on a compromise over family reunification – a major sticking point of talks – of 1,000 relatives per month in addition to hardship cases. Once they reach a final coalition deal, it still needs to be approved by the two parties.

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