Executive Summary for February 9th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Colombia and Brazil tightening their borders, U.N. experts detailing smugglers’ connections to security services in Libya and a report on migrant homelessness in Italy.

Published on Feb. 9, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Colombia, Brazil Tighten Borders as Venezuelans Flee

Colombia and Brazil tightened their borders amid a growing wave of Venezuelans fleeing political and economic turmoil in their country.

Colombia will deploy 3,000 more troops to its border and set up a new migration patrol unit. Venezuelans will no longer be able to obtain temporary border crossing cards, and those already in the country must register with authorities.

There are an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans in Colombia, around half of whom are undocumented. Many Venezuelans have had trouble renewing their official documents due to ink and paper shortages amid the economic strife at home.

“Colombia has never lived a situation like the one we are encountering today,” its president Juan Manuel Santos said. He pledged Colombia would still try to help Venezuelan refugees who arrive legally and blamed the crisis on Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s policies and refusal to accept aid.

Brazil also announced it would send more troops to the Venezuelan border and introduce a census of Venezuelans in the country.

U.N. Report: Smuggling Gangs Work With Security Services in Libya

A United Nations report found that most armed groups involved in trafficking and smuggling in Libya are “nominally affiliated to official security institutions.”

The confidential report by experts monitoring sanctions on Libya was submitted to the U.N. Security Council committee and obtained by Reuters.

Eritreans told the experts that the Special Deterrence Force (SDF), a militia affiliated to the internationally recognized government in Libya, arrested them and handed them over to smugglers. The report also found that the government has no control over official detention centers for migrants, which are instead run by various militias.

“The panel is concerned over the possible use of state facilities and state funds by armed groups and traffickers to enhance their control of migration routes,” it said.

The SDF denied the allegations in a statement to Reuters, saying the force is “fighting illegal immigration and has arrested many smugglers.”

Around 10,000 Migrants and Refugees Are Homeless in Italy

Some 10,000 migrants and asylum seekers are homeless in Italy because of a lack of shelter and their eviction from informal settlements, according to Medecins sans Frontieres.

The survey by the humanitarian group found about half of them are squatting in abandoned buildings, one-third are living on the streets and the remainder live in tents or containers.

Homeless migrants are now living in smaller groups and are more spread out since their last survey in 2016 after the eviction of several informal settlements. This makes it harder for them to access medical and social services, the group warned.

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