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Executive Summary for March 13th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Israel’s closure of Holot detention center, an Austrian court ruling against welfare cuts for new arrivals and the arrest of Nigerian officials for trafficking underage girls.

Published on March 13, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Israel Shuts Migrant Detention Center

Israel closed its main detention center for asylum seekers and migrants, moving hundreds of people to another prison and freeing others on strict terms.

Holot, located in Israel’s southern desert, has held 10,000 asylum seekers since it was built in 2013. In January, Israel announced plans to imprison or deport thousands of refugees and migrants in the country.

The closure of Holot saw around 300 inmates transferred to the nearby Saharonim prison if they refuse “voluntary” deportation to third countries. More than 400 others with asylum claims submitted before January 1 were freed with temporary visas but restricted from living or working in Israel’s main cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“It is time to close Holot – the sooner the better,” a group of Israeli rights organizations said in a statement. “However, conditioning its closure on forced deportation to Rwanda or Uganda and incarceration indefinitely is adding insult to injury.”

Austria Court Rules Against Welfare Cuts for Refugees

Austria’s constitutional court ruled against government plans to cut welfare payments to new arrivals, including refugees.

The conservative-far right coalition government wants to roll out benefit cuts nationwide that have already been implemented in some provinces for new arrivals.

The court struck down the five-year residency requirement introduced in some provinces – under which benefit payments are restricted for those who have lived in Austria for fewer than five of the past six years – and also ruled that asylum seekers cannot receive worse treatment than other foreigners, including E.U. citizens, who unlike refugees have the ability to return home.

The ruling implies that the benefits E.U. citizens receive in Austria under E.U. rules should be the minimum granted to asylum seekers.

Nigerian Officials Arrested for Trafficking Young Girls

Two Nigerian immigration officials have been arrested on suspicion of trafficking underage girls.

Nigeria’s immigration service said it was launching an investigation after the arrests at Lagos airport, without providing further details.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated last year that 80 percent of Nigerian girls taking boats to Italy are victims of trafficking. Experts say IOM returns from Libya to Nigeria are doing little to protect them from being trafficked again.

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