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Daily Brief: Thousands of Migrants Rescued off Libyan Coast

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August 30, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Thousands of Migrants Rescued off Libyan Coast

Rescue missions in the Mediterranean saved thousands of migrants at sea on Monday, including many Somali and Eritrean asylum seekers trying to reach Europe. The Italian coastguard said (AFP) that 6,500 migrants were rescued from overflowing wooden boats Monday. The roughly forty rescue missions took place about twelve miles from the Libyan coastal town of Sabratha (BBC) and also involved the EU border agency Frontex and nongovernmental organizations Proactiva Open Arms and Medecins Sans Frontieres. Meanwhile, the U.S. government said that it will reach its target this week of resettling ten thousand Syrian refugees (AP) as several hundred Syrians leave Jordan to be flown to the United States.


"While the numbers migrating between Turkey and Greece have fallen substantially since March, after the completion of an agreement between the EU and Turkey, crossings between Libya and Italy remain at near-record levels. More than 100,000 people have left north Africa for Italy so far this year, on a par with last year’s rate, and only slightly less than the record figures in 2014. Most of the migrants this year are fleeing war and poverty in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, or dictatorships in Eritrea and Gambia. Others are migrant workers who hoped to make a living in Libya, but were forced to flee the country due to the civil war there," Patrick Kingsley writes for the Guardian.

"We can expect to hear a lot of talk in New York next month about the international community’s responsibility to do more to help existing refugees and address the conditions driving them to flee their homelands. But the cold truth is that there is little 'community' at the international level. So long as that remains the case, millions of men, women, and children will face a dangerous present and a future of little prospect," CFR's President Richard N. Haass writes for Project Syndicate.

"As Oxfam recently revealed, the world's six richest countries host fewer than 9 percent of refugees and asylum seekers: the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, many developing nations are shouldering the duty of protecting refugees: Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, South Africa and the Occupied Palestinian Territory host more than 50 percent of the world's refugees and asylum seekers, but account for fewer than 2 percent of the world's economy," Winnie Byanyima writes for Al Jazeera.


Philippine Foreign Minister Urges China to Respect Sea Ruling

Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay told a congressional hearing that China would be "losers at the end of the day" if Beijing does not respect a July maritime ruling from an international tribunal at the Hague (Reuters). China has indicated it will ignore the ruling against its vast maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Euan Graham examines the policy implications of the ruling in this article for the Council of Councils.

CHINA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began his first official visit to China on Tuesday (SCMP). Trudeau said the trip would focus on trade, human rights, and democracy (Globe and Mail).


Suicide Bomber Attacks Chinese Embassy in Bishkek

A suicide bomber rammed a van through the entrance to the Chinese embassy in the Kyrgyz capital (AFP), injuring three people and killing the assailant. A Kyrgyz official said the three people injured were local employees of the embassy.

INDIA: The United States and India signed a landmark defense cooperation deal more than a decade in the making (WaPo). U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said (Reuters) the accord will "make the logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient."

CFR's Alyssa Ayres examines the U.S. relationship with India in this testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.


Report: UN Contracts Worth Millions Go to Assad Associates

An investigative report (Guardian) found that millions of dollars in UN contracts are paid to people close to the Assad regime. Recipients include government departments, charities set up by prominent political figures, and businesses who are under sanctions by the United States and the European Union. Separately, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called on U.S.-allied Turkish and Kurdish forces in Syria to not fight each other and focus on the self-proclaimed Islamic State (Al Jazeera).

CFR's Stephen Biddle discusses the problems that would come after a defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in this article for the Atlantic.

ISRAEL: A new report (NYT) says the Israeli government has retroactively legalized many so-called "pirate outposts" of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Approximately one hundred outposts were constructed over the past two decades without government authorization.


Somalia Blocks Refugees Returning from Kenya

Somali security forces in the border town of Dobley are blocking (VOA) Somali refugees who are attempting to return from Kenya in line with a 2013 UN agreement. Somali officials say returning refugees do not receive the humanitarian support they need once they reach major cities.

NIGERIA: A militant group that has attacked oil infrastructure in Nigeria announced online (Reuters) that it had halted hostilities and was ready to negotiate with the government (Africa News).


French Trade Minister Calls on Brussels to Halt Transatlantic Trade Talks

French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl called on the EU commission to end talks (FT) with the United States over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

This CFR workshop analyzed the ways the TTIP could advance noneconomic foreign policy interests of the United States.

EU: An EU commission announced it would fine Apple $14.5 billion for an illegal tax arrangement with the government of Ireland. Apple bases its European headquarters in Ireland, where it pays less than 1 percent in taxes on its European sales. Apple and Ireland are expected to appeal the decision (IBTimes).


Brazilian Mining Company Releases Report on Dam Disaster

The mining giants responsible for a dam that burst last year, releasing mining waste and killing nineteen people, published a report analyzing the dam's failings (WSJ). The environmental disaster is believed to be the largest accident of its kind.

UN: Portugal's former prime minister and a former head of the UN refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, leads the race to become the next secretary-general of the United Nations (Guardian). A Monday poll showed that eleven of fifteen Security Council members voted to "encourage" Guterres for the job.

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