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Executive Summary for May 24th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Toronto planning emergency shelters for asylum seekers, a widening scandal at Germany’s asylum and refugee authority, and a U.S. vote opening the way for sanctions on Myanmar military.

Published on May 24, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Canada’s Biggest City to Open Emergency Shelters for Refugees

Toronto is to open emergency shelters for asylum seekers. The move by Canada’s biggest city comes in expectation of a summer influx.

More than 27,000 asylum seekers have crossed the U.S.-Canada border since Donald Trump entered the White House last year. The number of irregular arrivals is expected to climb as the weather improves.

The Toronto plan foresees 800 people being housed in college dorms, with community centers also being put into action.

Refugee agencies said they were surprised by the rare move to open emergency facilities and had expected to see a longer-term solution.

“It’s a bandage,” said Francisco Rico, codirector of Toronto’s FCJ Refugee Centre. “Of course a bandage doesn’t help in the long term, particularly if people continue coming in (at) this level.”

Refugees cross illegally into Canada to avoid being turned back at the border under a bilateral agreement with the U.S. Canada has recently sought to expand this agreement to allow it to turn back more asylum seekers.

Refugee claimants in Toronto now occupy 40 percent of available shelter beds, up from 25 percent in May 2017. The new Red Cross-operated centers are expected to be majority refugee-occupied before the end of the year.

Germany Punishes Regional Asylum Body in Widening Refugee Status Scandal

Germany has banned a regional asylum authority from granting asylum status. The move comes amid a highly politicized inquiry into the alleged wrongful granting of asylum status in Bremen.

The allegations have been leaped upon by conservative politicians and the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Horst Seehofer, Germany’s conservative interior minister, has led the criticism of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF): “Trust in the quality of the asylum procedures and the integrity of the welcome center in Bremen has been massively damaged,” he said.

Jutta Cordt, the head of BAMF, is under pressure and another 10 local offices with above-average rates of refugee recognition face a review.

U.S. Vote Opens Way for Sanctions Against Myanmar Over Rohingya Crisis

The U.S. has opened the way for sanctions against the Myanmar military. A vote in the House of Representatives could see the U.S. increase pressure on the regime over Rohingya abuses.

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, called on Myanmar to improve its human rights record. When the bill is passed it would bar U.S. security assistance until progress is made on human rights and impose sanctions on current or former military figures accused of rights abuses.

The U.S. has called Myanmar’s military operations in Rohingya areas “ethnic cleansing.”

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