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October 24, 2016

Daily News Brief

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France Begins Dismantling Calais Migrant Camp

French authorities began to dismantle the Calais migrant camp on Monday in an operation that will see migrants bused to reception centers throughout the country. The estimated eight thousand migrants and refugees living there hoped to reach England through the channel tunnel (NYT), and the camp has strained relations between the two countries and been a point of tensions with local residents (Middle East Eye). The French government said it was closing the camp, which has attracted migrants for fifteen years (Guardian), due to its squalid conditions (WaPo). Also on Monday, asylum-seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos threw rocks and petrol bombs at an EU office responsible for processing asylum claims (Reuters), authorities said.


"At its peak, 100 people a day were arriving, with as many as 30 a day coming in recent weeks. From countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan, they had crossed vast distances—including, for many, a perilous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea—before making their way to this northern port city that overlooks the Strait of Dover, clinging to a hope that they might be able to leave for Britain by hitching a ride on one of the cargo trucks that use the Channel Tunnel, or even by walking through it. It was largely a false hope," Adam Nossiter writes for the New York Times.

"The camp has been seen as a symbol of the failure of President Francois Hollande’s government to deal with the migrant crisis roiling all of Europe. Human rights activists decry miserable living conditions in the camp, and inhabitants are often injured or killed trying to make their way to Britain aboard trains or trucks heading into the Eurotunnel under the English Channel," Laura King writes for the Los Angeles Times.

"Dispersing refugees to welcome centres around the country does not constitute a long-term solution to the crisis. The centres will only process asylum claims for France, but many refugees have strong and just reasons for wanting to reach the UK. It is estimated that at least a third of the camp’s residents have family in the UK; others served with the British army in Afghanistan," Clare Moseley of Care4Calais said in the Guardian.


South Korea’s Park Proposes Term Limits Amendment

President Park Geun-hye said the country's single-term restriction on presidents is outdated (NYT) and proposed amending the constitution before she leaves office in 2018 (Korea Times).

CHINA: The Chinese government said it has punished one million officials for corruption over the past three years (BBC). The announcement comes as top officials gather in Beijing for a party plenum (Economist).


Suspected Maoist Militants Killed in India

Indian police said they killed at least twenty-one alleged leftist militants (Hindustan Times) in Odisha state in a raid on a camp. Maoist militants in India's east accuse the central government of plundering the mineral-rich region (Al Jazeera).

AFGHANISTAN: Opium production in Afghanistan rose 43 percent in the past year (BBC) as better farming conditions improved harvests, the UN drug agency said.

Christopher D. Kolenda discusses challenges facing the Afghan government.


Migrant Boat Attacked Off Libya

A German NGO operating in the Mediterranean said it recovered four bodies after men on a vessel bearing the markings of the Libyan coast guard attacked (WSJ) dozens of migrants on a rubber boat. The NGO said as many as thirty others may have drowned.

This CFR Backgrounder discusses Europe's migration crisis.

TUNISIA: Parliament is debating legislation that would broaden the definition of gender-based violence to include psychological and economic harm, ban marital rape, and increase penalties for sexual harassment at workplaces (Guardian). The bill is backed by the conservative Ennahda party. 


EU, Nigeria Begin Talks on Returning Migrants

EU officials will begin formal talks in Abuja this week on returning Nigerian migrants from Europe, as well as spurring European private investment in Nigeria’s infrastructure (FT). Nigerians constitute the largest group of migrants arriving in Italy by sea.

CAMEROON: President Paul Biya declared a national day of mourning after an overcrowded train derailed (AP), killing at least seventy people and wounding more than six hundred.


Spain Political Impasse Ends After Socialist Concession

Conservative Mariano Rajoy was guaranteed reelection as prime minister in Spain after his socialist rivals conceded defeat (WSJ). The move ends a ten-month political impasse that had left Rajoy in charge of a caretaker government.


Venezuelan Crude Production Shrinks

The number of working oil rigs in Venezuela dropped by a quarter in the year leading up to September (WSJ) as crude production shrank 11 percent to 2.3 million barrels a day.

This CFR Backgrounder explores Venezuela's economic fractures and political turmoil.

MEXICO: A former police chief in the town of Iguala, where forty-three college students disappeared two years ago, was arrested (WSJ) in what may be a breakthrough in a case that had sparked national outrage. A total of 130 people, including local authorities, police, and drug gang members, are under investigation (LAHT) in the case.