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No refuge: Developed nations take steps to seal borders to migrants

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse: increasing number of developed nations taking legal steps to shut out migrants; how a 'new wave' of Indigenous film is affecting culture; Sepp Blatter is back in the soccer spotlight at the World Cup

Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories

Rohingya refugees are gathered behind a barbed-wire fence in a temporary settlement set up in a 'no man's land' border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh in Myanmar's Rakhine State on April 25. There are worries that many migrant camps are in danger of flooding and landslides as monsoon season begins. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.


  • An increasing number of developed nations are taking legal steps to shut out migrants
  • Duncan McCue sits down with 'three of the smartest people in Canada's Indigenous filmmaking scene' about the new wave of Indigenous film
  • Controversial former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter is back in the soccer spotlight at the World Cup
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here

Refugees not welcome

Donald Trump is not an outlier.

The U.S. president's hardline stance on immigration, and controversial policy of jailing illegal migrants and separating parents and children, reflects a larger trend happening around the world as many developed nations move to seal off their borders.

This morning, Hungary's parliament marked World Refugee Day by passing a number of new measures aimed at migrants, and making it a criminal offence to try and help them settle in the country or make an asylum claim.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, and his deputy Zsolt Semjen vote on the amendment of the constitution concerning migration during a parliamentary session in Budapest on Wednesday. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)
The "STOP Soros" law, as Prime MInister Viktor Orban has labelled it — a reference to his government's unproven claim that U.S. billionaire George Soros is trying to undermine Europe by encouraging mass migration — includes a constitutional amendment. It spells out that an "alien population" can't be settled in Hungary, an effort to thwart any European Union effort to institute a migrant resettlement quota system.

"We want to use the bills to stop Hungary from becoming a country of immigrants," Interior Minister Sandor Pinter wrote in a preamble to the legislation.

The Hungarian government's own statistics, however, suggest that isn't an imminent danger.  There are only 3,500 refugees living in Hungary, and just 342 people registered for asylum during the first four months of 2018.

Another right-wing populist, Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini, has been making headlines for his refusal to let a migrant rescue ship dock in Sicily.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini during a news conference in Rome on Wednesday. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters)
Now, he has made a chilling proposal to create a registry of the Roma community, expressing hopes that he will be able to deport many of them. (Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, has rejected the idea as unconstitutional, noting that it is "clearly discriminatory.")

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure to stem the flow of migrants into her country, with her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer demanding strict new border controls. If she doesn't agree, he has threatened to pull his Christian Socialist Union party out of the coalition government.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer attend a World Refugee Day event on Wednesday in Berlin. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Bulgaria and representatives of the EU will stage a mini summit on immigration and asylum this weekend to try and hammer out a deal to limit the number of migrants amid growing pressure for pan-European border controls.

One of the ideas being floated is the creation of "regional disembarkment platforms" in north Africa. These are effectively camps where would-be migrants could be processed and accepted or turned away before they try to cross the Mediterranean.

Austria's Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz endorsed the idea today. "In Europe we face a choice," he told reporters. "Either we return to internal borders, or we secure our external borders."

Border fences in the Balkans, as well as political deals with Turkey and various factions in Libya, have already dramatically reduced the flow of migrants.

Migrants disembark from the Italian Coast Guard vessel Diciotti at the port of Pozzallo, Sicily, on Tuesday following a rescue operation of migrants and refugees at sea. (Fiovanni Isolino/AFP/Getty Images)
So far this year 51,150 migrants have arrived in Europe — more than 40,000 of them by sea. The pace of arrivals is far slower than in 2017, when a total of 186,768 migrants landed, or 2016 during the height of the migration crisis when 390,432 people flooded into Europe.

(Today, the Guardian newspaper published "Europe's migrant body count," a list of names and a visual representation of all 34,361 migrants known to have died in their attempts to reach the continent.)

Globally, more than 16 million people — a rate of 44,000 a day — were displaced from their homes last year by war, violence and persecution, according to a new United Nations report. It marked the fifth straight year of record increases, bringing the total number of exiles and refugees to 68.5 million worldwide.

Refugees from Afghanistan, who fled their villages due to war and famine, fetch water near their mud houses in a suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday. (B.K. Bangash/Associated Press)
And for all the attention on the problems that wealthy nations are having coping with the influx of asylum seekers, the real burden of caring for refugees rests on developing nations, where

85 per cent of all migrants live — often in extreme poverty.

Others who've fled dangers in their home nations have ended up facing new threats. In Bangladesh, where 720,000 Rohingya have sought refuge from persecution in Myanmar, authorities today admitted that they have fallen far behind in their efforts to prepare the sprawling camps for the coming monsoon rains.

Syrian refugee children wait in front of their school at the Al-Basma Syrian refugee camp in eastern Lebanon on Tuesday. UNHCR estimates over 1.5 million Syrian refugees are currently living in Lebanon. (Nabil Mounzer/EPA-EFE)
About 200,000 people in camps in Bangladesh are thought to be at risk of being swept away by landslides and floods.

So far, aid groups have managed to relocate only 15,000 of them, with hopes of moving 7,000 more by the time the rains intensify at the end of the month.

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The new wave of Indigenous cinema

Duncan McCue hosts a panel discussion tonight on The National about the state of Indigenous film, and the cultural impact of the new wave of creative material reaching screens in Canada and around the world.

I'm pretty sure Tonto was the first Indian I ever saw on TV.

The Lone Ranger's sidekick was a lousy role model for a little Indigenous lad. Tonto wore buckskin, spoke in pidgin English, and existed to serve the needs of "Kemo Sabe." Adding insult to injury, his name translates into "dummy" in Spanish.

As a journalist, I've spent a career working to change misrepresentations of Indigenous people in the news.

That's why I was geeking out when I got to talk to three of the smartest people in Canada's Indigenous filmmaking scene: Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe), Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Inuk), and Jesse Wente (Ojibwe).

The National's Duncan McCue with three of the leading voices in Indigenous cinema: (from left) Lisa Jackson, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, and Jesse Wente. (David Donnelly/CBC)

They're part of the "new wave" of Indigenous cinema in Canada — Indigenous filmmakers who are tired of seeing the same old stories about Indigenous cultures on screen, and are taking matters into their own hands.

The panel was candid with concerns about who gets to tell stories in this country and the barriers Indigenous filmmakers still face.

But we also shared excitement over the explosion of new Indigenous filmmakers in recent years — Adam Garnet Jones, Jeff Barnaby, and Zoe Hopkins to name a few — and how their dramas and documentaries are changing the narrative of Canada.

We even discussed the multigazillion-dollar superhero flick Thor: Ragnarok, and how it became a tale about the bloody history of colonialism in the hands of Maori director Taika Waititi.

I hope you can grab a bowl of popcorn tonight and join us for some intelligent talk about Indigenous peoples and narrative sovereignty.

- Duncan McCue

  • WATCH: Duncan McCue's panel discussion on Indigenous film tonight on The National on CBC Television and streamed online

Blatter's back

Every great sporting event needs its villain — although the organizers of the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia might have preferred it be someone on the field.

Yesterday, Sepp Blatter arrived in Moscow.

Suspended former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, right, arrives at a hotel in Moscow Tuesday for a World Cup visit at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Dmitry Serebryakov/Associated Press)
The ex-FIFA president is currently serving a six-year ban from the sport for "unethical conduct" — to whit, an unauthorized 2 million Swiss Franc payment to one of his friends, Michel Platini, the former head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

Blatter's ban was imposed in 2015 amid a global soccer corruption scandal and as Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into alleged financial misconduct. The 82-year-old denies any wrongdoing and has never been charged, but his attempts to have his period of football exile reduced have all failed.

Blatter isn't supposed to have anything to do with the organization he ran for 17 years, but that prohibition apparently doesn't extend to attending its matches.

He says that Vladimir Putin — a longtime friend — personally invited him to attend this morning's Portugal vs. Morocco game, and Friday's contest between Brazil and Costa Rica. He is also scheduled to have a meeting with the Russian president.

Hope Solo, left, and former FIFA president Joseph Blatter announce the winner of the womens player of the year trophy during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland. Solo has accused Blatter of grabbing her buttocks just before the two walked onto the stage, which he denies. (Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
The trip is Blatter's first foray outside his native Switzerland in almost three years. He seems to be enjoying it, posing for selfies with soccer fans at his luxury Moscow hotel and chatting amiably with reporters.

"I'm here to enjoy the World Cup," he said.

That can't make Gianni Infantino, the current FIFA president, particularly happy. He has spent the past couple of years trying to clean up what he calls soccer's "tarnished brand."

Blatter was last in the news in November, when former U.S. soccer star Hope Solo told a Portuguese newspaper that he had sexually assaulted her, grabbing her buttocks just before the two walked onto the stage together at a 2013 awards ceremony. Blatter called the allegation "ridiculous."

A few words on …

The survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash:

Quote of the moment

"The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean, it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it. Toddlers are being detained."

- Kay Bellor, vice-president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, reacts to the news that the Trump administration is placing babies and young children, who are being separated from their migrant parents, in three "tender age" shelters in South Texas.

A view inside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention facility at the Centralized Processing Center in Rio Grande City, Texas, on Sunday shows children sleeping on pads on the floor, under foil emergency blankets. (CBP/Reuters)

What The National is reading

  • Ottawa to sports organizations: report abuse allegations immediately or lose funding (CBC)
  • Trump's Homeland Security czar jeered by protesters at Mexican restaurant (CNN)
  • Close to 200 feared dead in Indonesian ferry disaster (CBC)
  • South Sudan rebel leader arrives in Ethiopia for talks to end civil war (AfricaNews)
  • Catholic Church in Mexico issues 'How Not to Get Murdered' advice (Telesur)
  • How the Koch brothers are killing public transit projects across America (NY Times)
  • Canadian winemaker Norman Hardie accused of sexual misconduct (Globe and Mail)
  • The world's 50 best restaurants, ranked (Irish Times)

Today in history

June 20, 1996: Mordecai Richler creates the Prix Parizeau

Smoke in hand and a drink before him, Mordecai Richler unveils Quebec's newest literary prize for "ethnic" writers, dedicating it to the eternal mockery of the province's then-premier and his infamous suggestion that the 1996 sovereignty referendum was lost due to "money and the ethnic vote." Richler adds, "I think ridicule is much more appropriate than anger."

Mordecai Richler invents "Le Prix Parizeau"

26 years ago
Duration 1:57
Richler unveils a new literary award courtesy of the "impur laine" society.

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Jonathon Gatehouse

CBC Investigative Journalist

Jonathon Gatehouse has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, covering seven Olympic Games and authoring a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey. He works for the national investigative unit in Toronto.