Executive Summary for February 6th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including deaths at sea off the Spanish enclave in North Africa, Colombia opening a shelter for refugees at the Venezuelan border and a Human Rights Watch report documenting Turkish border guards firing at refugees.

Published on Feb. 6, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

At Least 20 Found Dead at Sea Near Spanish Enclave

The bodies of at least 20 people were found off the coast of the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa.

They were spotted by a Spanish passenger ship that alerted Spanish and Moroccan authorities who recovered the bodies. Rescuers did not find a boat or any survivors and fear there might be more bodies scattered by strong winds.

The number of refugees and migrants taking boats from North Africa to Spain nearly tripled in 2017, although the route remains less busy and less deadly than the recently curtailed Libya–Italy passage.

Colombia Opens Shelter for Venezuelans Pouring Over Border

Colombia opened a refugee shelter on its border with Venezuela as the number of people fleeing the crisis-hit nation surged.

An estimated 35,000 Venezuelans cross the border to Colombia every day, with many now seeking refuge in the country. Colombia has offered a special two-year residence permit for Venezuelans, while cracking down on undocumented migrants. Some 130 Venezuelans were deported last week.

The political unrest and economic collapse in Venezuela has pushed many to seek survival elsewhere in the region. Colombia estimates there are around half a million Venezuelans in the country.

Many new arrivals have been sleeping rough in the border city of Cucuta. The new shelter, run by the Red Cross, will house 120 people, with priority for pregnant women, the elderly and children.

HRW: Refugees Shot, Killed at Turkish Border

Syrians fleeing violence into Turkey have been shot at and abused by Turkish border guards, according to Human Rights Watch.

The rights group said refugees who tried to reach Turkey between May and December last year reported beatings, detention, denial of medical help and use of warning shots and live fire by border guards. At least 10 refugees were shot dead at the border, including a child, according to survivors.

Now, with a renewed Syrian regime offensive in Idlib, refugees are massing at the Turkish border, which is mostly closed to Syrians. At least 247,000 people fled to the border area in the month leading up to January 15.

Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey would investigate the reports, claiming it was “unlikely” Turkish forces would shoot at refugees.

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