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Statewatch Observatory
The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

This Observatory covers the arrival of refugees and migrants, the reactions and failures within the EU (both governmental and within communities). Edited by Tony Bunyan. See: "We are ashamed": Statement on Mediterranean: "The EU is behaving shamefully"

January 2016



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.1.16)

UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted

The Council of the European Union is preparing plans to equate the concept of migrant "smuggling" with migrant "trafficking" and potentially criminalise or marginalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who for months have been welcoming and helping refugees and migrants arriving in the EU.

See: The
Draft Council conclusions on migrant smuggling (LIMITE doc no 5481-rev-2-15, pdf)

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, comments:

"'This document fails to acknowledge the crucial role played by Greek islanders and volunteers in rescuing and caring for migrants who cross the Mediterranean in unsafe vessels. The EU should amend its anti-smuggling laws as soon as possible to confirm that no-one giving such vital humanitarian assistance should ever be penalised for it'.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate NGOs and volunteers who will have to "register" with the police and work within state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to "register" to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.

Civil society, volunteers and all those throughout the EU who are seeking to help refugees as they arrive having fled from war, persecution and poverty should unite to oppose the Council's plans. Criminalising NGOs and volunteers working to help refugees has no place in a democracy worthy of the name."

LESVOS, GREECE: On the ground in Lesvos NGOs and volunteer groups - who have been working to help refugees from this time last year - are facing increasing hostility from reactionary local forces on the island and in some instances from large IGOs seeking to take over their role of helping refugees on the landing beaches and giving immediate help and aid. Yesterday the following message was posted on Facebook from a local group::

"The medical station at Eftalou has been attacked for the third time (post Philippa Kempson 30 January 2016). Will the people who did this be punished? Or just those offering humanitarian help on the beaches?" and a second post: "Last night the medical tent in Eftalou was attacked for the third time this week but this time they finished the job and burnt it to the ground!!!!!!" and see: Decency And Respect! 30/01/2016 (Eric Kempson. link): On the Hope Centre, the attack.and the EU's shameful role.

HUNGARY CASE IN CJEU AGAINST THE RELOCATION OF REFUGEES IN THE EU MEASURE: Council of the European Union: Case before the Court of Justice Case C-647/15 (Hungary v Council of the European Union) (LIMITE doc no 5490-15, pdf): "By application lodged with the Court on 3 December 2015 and notified to the Council on 8 December 2015, Hungary brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union an action for annulment of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece."

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex coments:

'Some of Hungary's legal arguments can only be described as chutzpah. One argument Is that relocation of asylum-seekers is disproportionate for Hungary. But the EU Decision - at Hungary's own request - neither moves asylum-seekers to Hungary nor takes them away from that country. Secondly, Hungary complains that the text was amended after the European Parliament voted. But these were mainly amendments to take account of Hungary's own demands.

Finally, Hungary - having built fences against refugees, and criminalised and expelled them - criticizes the EU for breaching the UN (Geneva) Convention on Refugees. This is surely the most hypocritical legal argument in the EU's history.'

Greeks worry threatened closure of EU border would be the definition of dystopia (The Observer, link):

"For hundreds of thousands of refugees Greece was seen as just a transit point. Now, as walls go up across Europe they risk being trapped there...

The prospect of migrants being trapped in a member state that financially is also Europes most fragile may once have seemed extreme, even absurd. Its economy ravaged by six years of internationally mandated austerity and record levels of unemployment, Greeces coping strategies are markedly strained. But as EU policymakers seek ever more desperate ways to deal with what has become the largest mass movement of people since the second world war, it is an action plan being actively worked on by mandarins at the highest level. Like so much else in the great existential crisis facing Europe, a proposed policy that was once seen as bizarre now looks like it could become real.....

It would place a timebomb under the foundations of Greece, says Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist at the National Centre of Social Research. Hundreds of thousands of refugees trapped in a country that is bankrupt, that has serious administrative and organisational weaknesses, with a state that is unable to provide for their basic needs? The question hangs in the air while she searches for the right word. What we would witness, she adds, would be the definition of dystopia.

EU: The EU must reassert humane control over chaos around the Mediterranean (The Observer, link) by Peter Sutherland:

"The idea of expelling Greece from the Schengen area violates EU principles... The EU is hurtling towards disintegration, not due to some insurmountable challenge or outside force. It is instead succumbing to a self-induced panic that has paralysed its common sense. It is time to end the nightmare.!

Greece calls Commissions Schengen report 'politicised' (euractiv, link): "A high ranking Greek government source told EurActiv that the process that had been followed raised both political and legal issues. The source added that the first version of the report was on 9 December, and the Greek side had the opportunity to comment on the findings, which was not the case for the second version.

The second and final version of 12 January (that) was discussed in the College of Commissioners on Wednesday (27 January) had not been formally notified to the Greek side, but only after the College meeting. Between the two texts, which are based on the same evaluation report, there are changes in phraseology, the source emphasised."

and see: EU migration commissioner plays down threat of Schengen exit (ekathimerini.com, link): "The Commission has given Athens three months to rectify the failures in the screening of migrants and refugees.Earlier on Friday, Alternate Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said he believes there is a real possibility of Greece being excluded from Schengen....

"The exit of a country from the Schengen zone has not been requested, nor discussed, said Avramopoulos at a gala dinner in Athens organized by the Economist." when accordingto the story above this has been discussed in the Commission.

Berlin leads plan to ferry migrants from Greece into Turkey (The Times, link):

"Every migrant entering Greece across the Aegean Sea would be returned to Turkey under plans being drawn up by European countries. In exchange, the EU would accept up to 250,000 documented asylum seekers each year from Turkish camps.

If the German-led resettlement programme can be agreed, ferries would begin returning to Turkey all migrants, including refugees, from the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios and Kos. A coalition of countries supporting the plans including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden..." in return for accepting 200,000 Syrians direct from camps in Turkey.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "In desperation 12 EU Member States are considering a plan to simply send back all the refugees arriving in Greece. According to the UNHCR 78% of those who have arrived this year are from Syria (48%), Afghanistan (21%) and Iraq (9%). The EU recognises that refugees from these three countries, where there are ongoing conflicts, should be considered in need of international protection and "relocation" within the EU. All refugees, under international law, have the right to ask for asylum - such a plan would constitute mass refoulement."

HUMAN RIGHTS AT SEA: Dedicated News Site: Migrants Die After Confusion over SAR Laws (humanrightsatsea-news.org, link): "The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has raised concerns over reports that some would-be rescuers may have been deterred from helping people in distress by concerns about territorial waters."

News (30-31.1.16)

Greece football protest: Players sit on the pitch after kick-off (BBC News, link): "Footballers in Greece staged a sit-in protest at the start of a game over the death toll of migrants trying to reach the country by sea.AEL Larissa and Acharnaikos players observed two minutes' silence after kick-off in Friday's second-tier game. In the latest incident, at least 39 migrants drowned trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece. "It is in memory of the hundreds of children losing their lives every day," said a AEL Larissa statement."

EU: La Unión Europea contempla criminalizar la asistencia personal humanitaria a los refugiados, según ONG (telecinco.es, link) [The European Union planing to criminalize humanitarian assistance to refugees, according to NGOs]

German vice chancellor: Monitor AfD after call to shoot at refugees (DW, link):"Sigmar Gabriel has called for the right-leaning Alternative for Germany party to be watched by intelligence services. AfD's leader Frauke Petry said police should have the right to shoot at migrants."

Sweden: Masked marchers beat immigrants in Stockholm (The Local.se, link): "A gang of up to a hundred black-clad masked men marched in central Stockholm on Friday evening, singling out and beating up immigrants, and handing out leaflets threatening further violent attacks against unaccompanied refugee youth".

Germany: Report: Five times more attacks on refugee homes in Germany in 2015 (DW, link): "German press and local governments have reported that violent acts targeting asylum-seeker housing increased by five times last year. The news came on the heels of a grenade attack in the south of the country."

Germany pays African states to take asylum rejects (The Local.de, link): "If Germany cant deport a refugee back to the country they claim to be from, it gives financial incentives to other countries to take them in, a refugee organization claims."

Danes in 'historic' flight from Social Democrats over asylum (The Local.dk, link): "The reason for the drop in support was clear. Voters rejected the partys hard lurch to the right on immigration and asylum policies."

Almost 40 dead after migrant boat sinks off Turkey (Reuters, link): "Almost 40 people drowned and 75 were rescued after a boat carrying migrants to Greece sank off Turkey's western coast on Saturday, according to local officials and the Turkish Dogan news agency..... The Turkish coast guard was continuing search and rescue efforts where the 17-metre boat carrying at least 120 people sank off the coast of Ayvacik, a town across from the Greek island of Lesvos"

British Volunteer Ends Up Burying Refugees on Greek Island of Lesbos (Greek Reporter, link): "The refugee crisis has become a significant issue over the last few months. The volunteers who travel to Greece all have their own stories to tell about the situations they faced during their service."

Germany's Merkel says refugees must return home once war over (hurriyetdailynews.com, link)

Analysis - Wanted: a grand bargain to rescue EU from 'polycrisis' (Reuters, link)

EU Value shoppers - Europe promised a principled foreign policy. Now it is desperate for quick deal (The Economist, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.1.16)
Migrant Arrivals in Europe in 2016 Top 55,000, Over 200 Deaths (IOM, link): "IOM estimates that 55,528 migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to enter Europe during the first 28 days of 2016 a rate of nearly 2,000 per day. The daily average is nearly equivalent to the total numbers for the month of January as recently as two years ago.

During the same period IOM has recorded some 244 deaths at sea, as well as at least a dozen more deaths of migrants and refugees who died either after reaching Europe or traveling to a launch point in Turkey. By comparison, total deaths on Mediterranean Sea routes were 12 in 2014 and 82 last year."

Greece: Arrivals: 52,055; Deaths: 218 (Eastern Mediterranean route)

Italy: Arrivals: 3,473; Deaths: 26 (Central Mediterranean route).

The UNHCR provides similar figures. on 29 January the agency records a total of 54,518 arrivals by sea since 1 January 2016, and 236 dead or missing in the same period. See: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (UNCHR, link)

Meanwhile: "Timmermans was quoted in Dutch media as saying some 60 percent of the arrivals in December come from countries where there is no conflict.

...However, recent figures provided by both the EU's border agency, Frontex, and the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) paint a much more nuanced picture... almost 90 percent the people who arrived by sea in the EU in December came from countries gripped by war or emerged from a wider regional conflict."

See: Timmermans blunders on migrant figures (EUobserver, link)

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Monthly data collection on the current migration situation in the EU: December 2015 monthly report (pdf)

Covers main developments ("highlights") and the specific situation in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and Sweden.

The sections on each country are divided into the following:

EU: ECRE: Case Law Fact Sheet: Prevention of Dublin Transfers to Hungary (pdf): "This fact sheet is devoted to jurisprudence preventing transfers under Regulation 604/2013 (Dublin III Regulation) to Hungary. Its scope is limited to case law from European Union Member States supported by policy and non-governmental material to illustrate the grounds on which the judiciary are suspending transfers to Hungary. In light of the substantial amount of case law on the topic, the note in no way purports to be a fully comprehensive review of Member State practice, nonetheless the jurisprudence included serves as a unique tool for practitioners to consult and use in their own respective litigation. It is to be seen against the backdrop of the Commissions infringement proceedings against Hungary and the new systematic monitoring process outlined in the European Agenda on Migration, as well as several cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights and an urgent preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union lodged by Debrecen Administrative and Labour Court in the context of asylum law. The note therefore provides a further layer of examination and analysis, one which is jurisprudential in nature and which should be borne in mind when evaluating the adherence of Hungary to European and international legal obligations."

EU/Greece: Share Responsibility for Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link): "Calls to quarantine Greece and to prevent the onward movement of asylum seekers put their rights at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. Asylum seekers and migrants in Greece face chaotic registration procedures, serious obstacles to applying for asylum, and inadequate reception conditions.

Its deeply troubling to hear EU leaders discuss plans to trap people in Greece by sealing the countrys northern border while people continue to risk their lives to reach Europe, and thousands more are suffering in Greece, said Eva Cossé, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch. Greece has its fair share of responsibility for the situation on the ground, but turning the country into a warehouse is no solution to Europes refugee crisis."

Big, bad Visegrad (The Economist, link): "The newfound unity between the four countries delights populist politicians. Probably the only good thing in the whole migration crisis is that the V4 [Visegrad group] has found a common voice and strategy, says Marton Gyongyosi of Jobbik. The group allows three small countries to punch above their weight, says Gyorgy Schopflin, a Fidesz MEP."

The 'Visegrad Group' or 'V4' is made up of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

News (29.1.16)

EASO launches online tool to help identify asylum seekers with special needs (EIN, link): "The EU's European Asylum Support Office (EASO) yesterday announced the launch of a new online tool which helps identify asylum seekers with special needs.

The new EASO tool for identification of persons with special needs (IPSN tool) has its own website here.

EASO says the tool can be used by anyone who is in contact with applicants for international protection in their daily work and who may have a role in the identification of special needs in the asylum procedure and the reception context.

It may be used at any stage of the asylum procedure and at any stage of the reception process."

Germany tightens refugee policy as Finland joins Sweden in deportations (The Guardian, link): "Germany has moved to toughen its asylum policies as Finland and Sweden announced plans to deport tens of thousands of people in a bid to contain the migrant crisis.

Sigmar Gabriel, the vice chancellor, announced that Germany would place Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on a list of safe countries of origin meaning that migrants from those countries would have little chance of winning asylum.

Some migrants would also be blocked from bringing their families to join them in Germany for two years, Gabriel said."

GERMANY: Wary of culture clash, Germans teach refugees their rules (The Washington Post, link): "First impressions are important in any culture, and Germany is keen that even refugees from conservative Muslim countries get it right.

Men and women say hello and goodbye by shaking hands and looking each other in the eyes, an online brochure earnestly instructs refugees, many of whom come from places where unrelated men and women are not supposed to touch one another. It also addresses more sensitive issues: In Germany, homosexuals are allowed to show their sexual preference in public."

Greece's Refugee Ring-Fence Will Be Europe's Noose (Telesur, link): "In a desperate bid to halt the influx of refugees from the islands of the Aegean to the heartland of the European continent, EU leaders are currently debating plans to help Macedonia shut its southern border to new arrivals. If it goes through, the move will effectively ring-fence Greece and trap hundreds of thousands of refugees in one of the EU's most fragile member states.

With the backing of Brussels and Berlin, this double exclusion of refugees and of Greece would finally formalize what many have been observing for years now: the fact that the process of European integration, once considered irreversible, has already gone into a headlong retreat."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch Hotline Sees Doubling of Internet Discrimination Reports (Liberties.eu, link): "The Dutch hotline for Internet discrimination MiND received twice as many reports in 2015 as it did in 2014. Most reports related to discrimination based on race (44 percent) and religion (22 percent). More than half of the utterances (64 percent) were made on social media. Reports that MiND received included "Burn all asylum seekers' centers down" and "Kick Muslims into cattle wagons for deportation." MiND's director states, "Unfortunately, this sort of despicable utterance happens on a daily basis. We see the civic discussions also cause digital derailment.""

OECD and UNHCR call for scaling up integration policies in favour of refugees (UNHCR, link): "The heads of the OECD and UNHCR, at a joint high-level Conference on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in Paris today, have called on governments to scale up their efforts to help refugees integrate and contribute to the societies and economies of Europe.

In 2015, more than 1 million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea to look for international protection in Europe. In total, about 1.5 million claimed asylum in OECD countries in 2015. This is almost twice the number recorded in 2014 and the highest number ever. At the same time, asylum seekers represent only about 0.1% of the total OECD population, and, even in Europe, they represent less than 0.3% of the total EU population.

The OECD and UNHCR stressed not only the moral imperative but also the clear economic incentive to help the millions of refugees living in OECD countries to develop the skills they need to work productively and safely in the jobs of tomorrow."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.1.16)
Huge camp in Greece planned? (UNHCR Daily Report, 27.1.16)

"According to Greek media, the Alternate Minister for Migration Policy reported that during the Amsterdam EU Interior Ministers meeting, the creation of a camp with the capacity to host for 300,000- 400,000 refugees was discussed. It is unclear whether this measure is related to the scenario of potential border closers."

and Greek "Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, requested support from Frontex to return people to Turkey as they were ineligible for asylum in Europe as those of North African nationality." (UNHCR Faily Report, 25.1.16)

Belgium to Greece: Just push them back to sea to solve the migrant crisis (BBC video): "Greek migration minister Ioannis Mouzalas has revealed that a Belgian minister suggested Greece should push refugee boats back into the sea to help solve the migration crisis on the countrys shores during a meeting in Amsterdam.... An unbelievable minister proposed setting up a camp for 400,000 refugees in Athens and offered the possibility of leaving the Schengen zone and pushing [refugees] back into the sea."

European Parliament Study: Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants (pdf):

"With renewed efforts to counter people smuggling in the context of an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees into the EU, it assesses existing EU legislation in the area the 2002 Facilitators Package and how it deals with those providing humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants. The study maps EU legislation against the international legal framework and explores the effects both direct and indirect of the law and policy practice in selected Member States. It finds significant inconsistencies, divergences and grey areas, such that humanitarian actors are often deterred from providing assistance. The study calls for a review of the legislative framework, greater legal certainty and improved data collection on the effects of the legislation." [emphasis added]

"There is widespread confusion among civil society practitioners around how the Facilitation Directive is implemented in their Member State, which can lead to misinformation and erring on the side of caution, thereby compromising migrants access to vital services. This is especially true in the context of the current migration crisis, where everyday citizens are obliged to volunteer vital services in the absence of sufficient state provision."

See: Council Directive 2002/90/EC of 28 November 2002 defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence (pdf): See Article 1.

Moving Towards Plan B: the Rejection of Refugees at the Border (EAFSJ, link):

"Plan B: Loss of Trust in a European Solution

The activation of a Plan B presupposes the failure of a Plan A. That is why the renewed emphasis on national solutions should start alarm bells ringing in Brussels and across Europe. As described earlier on this blog, the Plan A focuses on a pan-European solution through hotspots, relocation, enhanced external border controls and cooperation with Turkey and the EU institutions have done their best to move in this direction. New policies have been set up, often within weeks. But what worked well on paper all but flopped in practice. "

Sweden may expel up to 80,000 failed asylum-seekers (BBC News, link): "The authorities in Sweden are making plans to expel as many as 80,000 failed asylum-seekers, the interior minister has been quoted as saying. Anders Ygeman said charter aircraft would be used to deport the migrants but it would take several years. Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe."

News (28.1.16)

Czech extremists' activity on the rise (Prague Daily Monitot, link): "Extremists staged 323 events in the Czech Republic in 2015, which is 44 more than the year before and they mainly focused on migration, according to the latest report on extremism that the Interior Ministry's security policy section released yesterday. Representatives of the ultra right and populists tried to attract new followers by abusing migration issues, the report says."

Norway's rules 'stricter' than Denmark's controversial bill (The Local.no, link): "Denmark's bill allowing the confiscation of migrants' valuables has been heavily criticized, but both Norway and Germany have even stricter rules on how much money asylum seekers can bring in."

Tsipras: Greece will be fully prepared to deal with refugee crisis in February (ANAmpa, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday said his government will be fully prepared, as of next month, to deal with the refugee flows targeting various Greek islands in the eastern Aegean, while he added that it remains to be seen if Europe, too, will live up to its commitments"

Greece: Tension grows between Brussels and Athens over Schengen rules (euractiv, link): "The European Commission said Greece could face border controls with the rest of the EU's passport-free Schengen zone if it fails to acts.

"The draft report concludes that Greece seriously neglected its obligations and that there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by Greek authorities," Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told a press conference."

Greece: Athens confident it will have hot spots ready in time (ekathimerini.com, lkink): "Greek officials gave assurances on Wednesday that the country will live up to its commitments on the refugee crisis after the European Commission warned that authorities are not abiding by Schengen zone rules and this could lead to border controls being reimposed by neighboring countries in three months. We will be absolutely ready next month, said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras regarding Athenss pledge to have at least another three hot spots on Samos, Leros and Chios up and running before the end of February. It is likely that Greece will have to show significant progress in preparing the registration centers by the EU leaders summit on February 17-18.....

Since the scheme to relocate a total of 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy was launched in September, Athens has only been offered places for 595 people, of whom 414 have been transferred abroad so far. Athens says 12 EU countries have not enlisted in the program at all."

Germany: Refugees: 'No evidence' of Syrian refugee's death, say Berlin police - Berlin police say reports a migrant from Syria died outside the city's refugee authority are false. An aid group had earlier reported that an asylum seeker had died while waiting to get registered. (DW, link)

Denmark: China's Ai Weiwei pulls art from Danish exhibitions over asylum law (DW, link): "Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei says he'll withdraw his works from two museums in Denmark to protest against a new immigration law. The controversial bill allows authorities to seize valuables from migrants."

Greece-Macedonia: Confusion over claims Greece-Macedonia refugee crossing has closed (DW, link): "Refugees bound for western Europe have faced a confusing open-shut day at a key border crossing from Greece into non-EU Macedonia. Police in Skopje have contradicted reports of a night-time closure." and see: Macedonia 'Closes Border with Greece to Migrants' (novinite.com, link)

The ever-expanding list of European policies that target refugees (Washington Post, link): "It's safe to say that the dramatic surge in the number of refugees has changed Europe. Across the continent, many governments including those initially sympathetic to the plight of refugees have adopted unusual and, in some cases, controversial policies to help deal with the flow of refugees. Here's a list of some of the European policies that could affect many refugees and migrants."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.1.16)
Greece targeted by Commission - Schengen suspension process started : European Commission: Commission discusses draft Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece (pdf)

Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The draft Schengen evaluation report on Greece looks at the management of the external border during an evaluation visit of Member States and Commission experts in Greece in November. The report shows that there are serious deficiencies in the management of the external border in Greece. We know that in the meantime Greece has started undertaking efforts towards rectifying and complying with the Schengen rules. Substantial improvements are needed to ensure the proper reception, registration, relocation or return of migrants in order to bring Schengen functioning back to normal, without internal border controls...."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is seeking to make a scapegoat out of Greece when nearly all the other Schengen Member States have failed to act on pledges for aid funds, pursued legally dubious reception procedures, registration, relocation or return of migrants - and the Commission has failed to act" See: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing: Latest Commission figures, published 25.1.16. Very little has changed:

The Schengen suspension process will be started if:

"If a Schengen Evaluation Report concludes that the evaluated Member State is "seriously neglecting its obligations under the Schengen rules" and if there are "serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border control", the Commission can propose recommendations, to be adopted by the Council, for remedial action to address any deficiencies identified during the evaluation...

under Article 19a of the Schengen Borders Code, recommend that the evaluated Member State take certain specific measures, which may include the deployment of European border guard teams or the submission of a strategic plan setting out how the Member State will deploy its own personnel and equipment to address the concerns....

Under Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code, if the measures under Article 19a have not been effective, the Council may, based on a proposal from Commission, recommend that one or more Member States reintroduce border controls at all or at specific parts if their internal borders as a matter of last resort, to protect the common interest of the Schengen area. The Council recommendation needs to be adopted by qualified majority. Under Article 26, and in the exceptional circumstances described above, controls can be reintroduced for a period of up to six months. This measure can be prolonged for additional six month periods up to a maximum duration of two years." [emphasis added]

Article 29 would mean that Schengen states bordering Greece could "legally" close their borders to refugees and migrants seeking to enter their country.

EU: Human Rights Watch: European Union: Refugee Response Falls Short: Migration, Security Crisis Challenge Divided Union on Rights (link):

"The European Union struggled to develop an effective and principled response to the 1 million asylum seekers and migrants who reached Europe by sea during 2015, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2016. Human Rights Watch highlights developments in 10 EU member states and union-wide developments on migration and asylum, discrimination and intolerance, and counterterrorism, a major concern during the year in light of horrific attacks in Paris.

The disjointed beggar-thy-neighbor responses of EU governments to 1 million arrivals this year has turned a manageable challenge into a full-blown political crisis, said Benjamin Ward, deputy Europe and Central Asia division director at Human Rights Watch. Asylum seekers and migrants in Greece and along the Western Balkans route have paid the price of a divided EU."

The EUs core values are at stake in the migration crisis (euractiv, link): "Our governments failure to act on the migration crisis is destroying the European Union and undermining our core values. This is not the Europe we dreamed of, writes Madi Sharma" (Madi Sharma is a UK member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

EU: Visegrad group calls migration mini-summit, seeks plan B (euractiv, link): "Prague will host an extraordinary summit of the Visegrad group, three days ahead of the February EU summit, to discuss the migration crisis and a possible plan B in case of a widening divide with the older Schengen members.

The Czech Republic will convene an extraordinary summit of the Visegrad Four (V4: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) on 15 February, in order to seek solutions to the migration crisis."

see also: Central European countries push for back-up EU border plans over migrants (Reuters, link)

News (27.1.16)

Opinion: EU levels empty Schengen threat at Greece (DW, link): "The EU's current plan is to protect external borders and, if necessary, expel Greece - not from the eurozone, but from the Schengen Area. That will not keep people from moving to Europe, DW's Bernd Riegert writes."

Greece-European Commission: Juncker drops Greece, bets on Macedonia - Refugees should stay in Greece rather than making their way to Germany.(politico, link): "European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to put the EUs southern frontier in all but name in Macedonia, not Greece. In a letter sent Monday, Juncker backed Slovenias proposal for EU support to reinforce the Macedonian border with Greece to stem the northward flow of migrants. Under this plan, most migrants who got to Greece would stay in place, taking pressure off transfer countries but eventually also from Austria and Germany."

Fortress Europe: Brussels shuts borders and calls for refugee camp for 300,000 to be built in Greece in last-ditch bid to stop a flood of migrants (Mail Online, link)

"- EU ministers met yesterday in a bid to get a grip on the migrant crisis
- Belgium called for 'closed facilities' to be set up in Greece
- Commission boss Juncker backed a new 'second line of defence' for EU
- Czech president has called for troops from every country to patrol borders "

With Schengen going to pieces, EU is isolating Greece (New Europe, link): "

"The European Union nations edged closer on Monday to accepting that its Schengen open-borders area may technically be suspended for up to two years if it fails in the next few weeks to curb the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

Article 26 of the Schengen code says that countries can re-impose controls on documents for six months, renewable three times, until May 2018. EU officials acknowledged, however, that no one knows what would happen after that if governments were not prepared to return to the status quo before last year.

EU also took a step toward isolating Greece amid acrimony over Athens failure to stem the flow of migrants at its Mediterranean island borders."

Italy-EU-Schengen: Only weeks to save Schengen says Alfano - Alfano urges hotspots and repatriation irregular migrants (ANSA link): "Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Tuesday that Europe "only has a few weeks" to save the Schengen accords, urging the establishment of hotspots and repatriation of illegal migrants "The Amsterdam summit allowed us to say that Schengen is saved, for today," he told Radio Capital, "but it remains under attack because of an enormous flux of of irregular refugees and the European incapacity to carry out decisions taken"."

Germany:
Merkel faces court action threat over refugee policy (euobserver, link): "On Tuesday (26 January), Horst Seehofer, state premier of Bavaria and leader of Merkel's closest coalition partner, sent her a letter asking her to limit the annual intake of refugees to 200,000 per year, or face a possible legal case at the constitutional court."

Sweden: Deadly attack at Swedish refugee center, police calls for more recruits (New Europe, link): "A young man between 14 and 17 year-old, who lives in a refugee center, fatally attacked a volunteer working at the asylum accommodation."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.16)

EU: Commission: Schengen suspension could be extended, 60% of migrants should be sent back (euractiv, link)

!The European Commission today (26 January) said it could agree to a suspension of border-free travel in the Schengen zone of up to two years, and that nearly two thirds of migrants entering the EU in December were not eligible for asylum because they did not come from conflict zones."

and: 60% of refugees are economic migrants: Dutch EU commissioner (dutchnews.nl, link):

"More than half the asylum seekers coming to Europe are not fleeing from war and northern Africans in particular are leaving their home countries for economic reasons, the Netherlands European Commissioner has told Nos. Frans Timmermans, who is the commissions first vice president, told the broadcaster in an interview: More than half of the people now coming to Europe come from countries where you can assume they have no reason whatsoever to ask for refugee status. More than half, 60%.....

In the main they are people from Morocco and Tunisia who want to travel to Europe via Turkey, Nos quoted him as saying. Timmermans bases his claim on the latest figures from European border agency Frontex which have not yet been officially published."

EU: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Press Conference after the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Home Affairs (pdf)

"Important decisions were taken in September last year, and promises to implement were made, in line with European values of solidarity and responsibility.
But months later, we find ourselves with more internal border controls, questionable legislative decisions towards asylum seekers or refugees, less solidarity, less responsibility and more individual and uncoordinated decisions.....

What we need is the full implementation of the agreed measures
:
- We need fully operational hotspots all of them.
- We need to properly register everyone.
- We need to go full-speed ahead with relocation.
- We need more reception capacities in Greece and along the Western Balkans route.
- We need to return people that have no right to stay.
- We need to strengthen the control and management of our external borders"
[emphasis added].

See below for the latest Commission statistics showing little change or failure on most fronts.

UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing

Latest Commission figures, published 25.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation small increase. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid pledges compete standstill.

EU:: Europol report: Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacks Review held by experts from Member States and Europol on 29 November and 1 December 2015 (pdf):

"There is no concrete evidence that terrorist travellers systematically use the flow of refugees to enter Europe unnoticed. A real and imminent danger, however, is the possibility of elements of the (Sunni Muslim) Syrian refugee diaspora becoming vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe and being specifically targeted by Islamic extremist recruiters.... " [emphasis added]

Once Refugees Reach Europe, How Much Farther Should They Go? OSI, link): "Most asylum seekers arriving in the European Union come by irregular means, via land or sea, transiting several other countries along the way. In at least some of these transit countries, they might have had the opportunity to stay in relative safety. Such onward movement throws into sharp relief the question of where responsibility should lie among states for assessing a claim and providing protection where needed."

Migrant Arrivals in Greece Top 45,000 through January 25: IOM (link):

"Since the beginning of 2016, IOM estimates that 45,361 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece by sea. This is roughly 31 times as many as the 1,472 recorded by the Greek Coast Guard for the whole of January 2015.

Some 90 per cent of the new arrivals are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan the three countries whose nationals are allowed to pass freely from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) en route to Western Europe."

Arrivals as at: 26 January 2016:: 47,214, with 45,361 to Greece, 1,853 to Ialy and 177 dead/missing (IOM)

Denmark passes controversial bill to take migrants' valuables (The Local.dk, link):

"Despite widespread condemnation, Denmark's parliament is expected to vote Tuesday in favour of drastic reforms curbing asylum seekers' rights, including delaying family reunifications and confiscating migrants' valuables.

The bill presented by the right-wing minority government of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen was approved by a huge majority of 81 of the 109 lawmakers present, as members of the opposition Social Democrats backed the measures."

News (26.1.16)

Austrian MPs approve tough new migrant bill (The Local.at, link): "Austrian government ministers have approved new legislation which will reform asylum seekers rights, including delaying family reunification."

Sweden: Refugee centre worker stabbed to death in Sweden (Guardian, link): "Fifteen-year-old boy arrested after woman killed at home for young asylum seekers in Molndal."

EU exerts pressure on Greece via Schengen threat (ekathimerini.com, link): "Ahead of an informal meeting of EU interior ministers in Amsterdam, Germany, Austria and Belgium were among the countries that criticized Greece for not doing enough to prevent migrants from traveling to Central Europe and only having completed one of the five hot spots for registering refugees."

Greece hits back at lies as Europes refugee crisis simmers (ekathimerini.com, link): "Yiannis Mouzalas, the Greek minister for migration, said the fault rests with other European governments for failing to help settle refugees in Turkey and for refusing to house those who hazard the journey toward the continents wealthier west.

Theres a big and unfair blame game against Greece, Mouzalas told reporters at a meeting of European Union interior ministers in Amsterdam on Monday. Europe, he said, has shortchanged Greece by providing smaller-than-promised numbers of everything from cots and fingerprinting machines to border guards."

EU: Two year Schengen suspension edges closer (euractiv, link): "The European Union edged closer yesterday (25 January) to accepting that its Schengen open-borders area may be suspended for up to two years if it fails in the next few weeks to curb the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

Shorter-term dispensations for border controls end in May. EU migration ministers meeting in Amsterdam decided they may be extended for two years - an unprecedented extension - because the migrant crisis probably will not be brought under control by then, according to the Dutch migration minister, who chaired the meeting."

Denmark's daylight robbery of refugees (DW, link): "Denmark is defying international outrage and pressing ahead with plans to force refugees to hand over valuables in return for providing sanctuary. Trine Villemann reports from Copenhagen... Systematic robbery? The measures, compared by some critics as comparable to systematic Nazi robbery from Jews, and designed to dissuade migrants from seeking asylum in Denmark, are due to be ratified by parliament in Copenhagen on Tuesday. Danish politicians have been unmoved by fierce criticism.. "

Greece-Turkey: Central European countries push for back-up EU border plans over migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union should be ready with alternative plans to reinforce its borders until Turkey and Greece do more to reduce the number of refugees streaming into the bloc, the Czech and Slovak prime ministers said on Tuesday.Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a meeting of the Visegrad group of central European countries for February 15, three days before an EU summit that will tackle the migration crisis."

Greece lashes out at EU as interior ministers discuss migration (New Europe, link): "Greek Immigration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas has angrily blamed European Union member states for failing to send Athens enough manpower and ships to help it tackle the migrant crisis and for not living up to pledges to relocate migrants. Mouzalas told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting in Amsterdam that sending officers from the EU border protection force known as Frontex to neighbouring Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia in an attempt to halt migrants there would be illegal."

Denmark: GUE/NGL MEPs condemn Denmarks proposal to delay family reunification and seize assets from refugees (Press release, link)



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.1.16)

EU: Joint Statement following the High-Level Political Dialogue between the EU and Turkey (pdf)

"Turkey and the EU believe that there is a need to exert huge effort to address the refugee crisis and irregular migration. They discussed the implementation of the Joint Action Plan which was activated at the 29 November EU-Turkey Summit. Measures by Turkey to further improve the socio-economic situation of Syrians under temporary protection, such as the adoption of legislation on granting them legal access to the labor market, were welcomed. Turkey exerts outstanding efforts so far to accommodate the more than two and a half million Syrians currently in Turkey. The need to achieve further results in stemming the influx of irregular migrants and in fighting criminal smuggling networks was underlined. Turkey and the EU agreed to step up their cooperation to reinforce the interception capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard and acknowledged the importance of maintaining a system of coordinated reporting on migration and refugee flows."

EU: Humanity adrift - On the frontlines of Europes refugee crisis in Lesvos, Hazel Healy finds tragedy, hope and answers (New Internationalist, link): "In a taverna overlooking Molyvos harbour, exhausted Greek coastguards have come off shift and are drinking in a huddle. They have just pulled 242 refugees out of the water, in the worst shipwreck off the shores of Lesvos since the refugee crisis began last year.

By 1.30am there is only one man left in the bar, Yanis Stipsanos, the vice-mayor of Molyvos. Too many people have died at my place, he says, his face like thunder. I didnt kill them. Turkey killed them. He thinks for a moment. Europe killed them. Pauses. Fuck you, Europe, and take them. This is not Lesvoss problem, its humanitys problem."

EU: Moving On: One Year Alarmphone (pdf, 7MB)

"Everything is possible, everything can be transformed by strong social movements! Through our Alarm Phone project and during this incredible year of successful struggles for the freedom of movement, we learned this lesson once again. (...)

The different contributions in this brochure reflect on many remarkable experiences made by Alarm Phone members in the projects first year of existence. Most of its articles were composed by working groups or individual members of our transnational network and are thus reflective of the decentralised character of the Alarm Phone and its collaborative approach. We have grown into a network of more than 100 activists who belong to various groups, have multiple backgrounds, and live in cities all over Europe, northern Africa and elsewhere."

Protesters march against Greece-Turkey border fence (Ekathimerini, link): "Hundreds of people protested in northeast Greece Sunday against the security fence along the Turkish border, demanding the opening of safe routes for migrants, two days after 45 died making the risky Aegean Sea crossing.

Demonstrators, some wearing life jackets as a symbol of the flow of thousands of people making the perilous sea journey from Turkey to Greece, marched from the village of Kastanies, which lies close to the frontier.

Police stopped the marchers a few hundred meters (yards) away from the border fence, located in a restricted-access military zone."

See also: Despite patrols, sealing Greek sea border is near impossible (AP, link): "In the inky nighttime blackness, a small red dot appears on the radar screen, moving fast.

"That's a smuggler," the captain of the coast guard's lifeboat says, swinging the vessel around and opening up the throttle, the boat cutting through the water on a frigid January night.

But the lifeboat, designed for search-and-rescue operations rather than high-speed chases, is no match for the smuggler's speedboat. The smuggler ignores the searchlight, the shouts and the warning shots fired by the Greek coast guard, deftly navigating his small white vessel onto a tiny patch of beach among rocks."

European Commission: Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting: Thirteenth Contact Points Video Conference (press release, pdf): "Today, a thirteenth video conference was held between the contact points nominated after the Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting held on 25 October. The objective was to follow up on the agreement reached at the meeting and set out in the Leaders' Statement. Senior officials from the countries and agencies present at the meeting had a detailed discussion on recent trends concerning external borders and reception capacity:"

See: Leaders' Statement (October 2015) And on the current situation: Balkan countries fear becoming buffer zone for refugees (EurActiv, link): "Fearing that Western countries will close their borders, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia are only letting refugees whose registration papers say that they will apply for asylum in Austria and Germany pass through.

Some 2,000 asylum seekers began crossing into Macedonia yesterday (21 January) in freezing temperatures as the country conditionally reopened its border with Greece after closing it temporarily."

EU: Can Member States seize asylum-seekers assets? (EU Law Analysis, link): "In recent days, several EU and non-EU countries have been in the news for taking asylum-seekers' assets upon arrival. Is this compatible with EU law? We examine first of all national practice, then the legislative history of the relevant EU rules, then reach our conclusions."

NGO monitoring of immigration detention: Tips, examples and positive practices (International Detention Coalition, pdf): "This briefing note captures the outcome of a workshop on monitoring immigration detention for European NGOs which took place in Brussels on 26 and 27 of March 2015, organised by the Flemish Refugee Action and the International Detention Coalition (IDC) with support of EPIM. The aim of the workshop was to strengthen civil society monitoring of immigration detention by sharing experiences, challenges and positive practices.

All the workshop participants work in immigration detention context, and this briefing note brings together tips, examples and positive practices of monitoring, based on the participants unique experiences and expertise, gathered during the workshop.

The briefing note summarises key information from the workshop sessions, which involved presentations, sharing examples and thematic group discussions. Please see the appendix 2 for the workshop agenda."

News (25.1.16)

Belgian mayor proposes banning male asylum seekers from a swimming pool (The Telegraph, link): "After complaints from female bathers about being stared at and selfies taken of them, the mayor decided to act but was soon criticised as making as ill-advised move"

EU mantra of 'solidarity' lost on asylum (EUobserver, link): "The EU mantras of values and inter-state cooperation have lost all meaning in the face of a refugee crisis which has cost the lives of thousands. Few people believe Europe's migration and refugee plans can work.

Some may cling to an ever-fleeting hope, while the most desperate issue warnings that Europe's borderless Schengen zone is fast approaching its end. The threat is real."

EU: Greece risks Schengen expulsion (EUobserver, link): "Threats are mounting to expel Greece from the EU's border-free Schengen zone, as interior ministers meet on Monday (25 January) in Amsterdam to discuss extending border controls for two years.

Austrias interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said on her way into the informal meeting in the Dutch city: It's clear that that if we can't secure the Greek-Turkish border, the Schengen border will move to central Europe. "

German proposal for border centres on the table (New Europe, link): "To speed up the repatriation of asylum seekers deemed unqualified to stay Germany, a senior figure in Chancellor Angela Merkels conservative party has proposed setting up border centres along the frontier with Austria.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Julia Kloeckner, leader of Merkels Christian Democrats in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said she thought the chancellors push for a European solution to a large influx of asylum seekers into Europe was still the right decision, adding that her proposal was meant to complement it."

POLAND: Minister Mariusz Blaszczak at a Visegrád Group meeting (Ministry of the Interior and Administration, link): "All Visegrád Group countries are against the automatic refugee relocation mechanism, said Minister Mariusz Blaszczak after the meeting of Ministers of Internal Affairs of Visegrád Group countries and Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia."

EU: FAR RIGHT: Germanys controversial far-right group Pegida signed a declaration with similar groups from 14 European countries claiming that Islam is conquering Europe (New Europe, link): "Far-right groups from all around Europe signed a xenophobic anti-EU statement claiming that Islam is conquering Europe.

On Saturday, Germanys anti-immigration movement Pegida has signed a declaration with like-minded groups from 9 European countries, at a conference in Roztoky, Czech Republic. The statement claims that Western civilization could soon come to an end through Islam conquering Europe. Groups from Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Estonia, signed the far-right declaration."

Greek islanders to be nominated for Nobel peace prize (The Guardian, link): "Greek islanders who have been on the frontline of the refugee crisis are to be nominated for the Nobel peace prize with the support of their national government.

Of the 900,000 refugees who entered Europe last year most were received scared, soaked and travelling in rickety boats by those who live on the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea."

Hungary to block passage for migrants, calls for fences (Detusche Welle, link): " Refugees will no longer be allowed to cross into Hungary, even if they are just passing through, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an interview on Friday.

"The best migrant is the migrant who does not come. The best number is zero," Orban asserted during a state radio interview on Friday."

HUNGARY: PM Orbán In Slovenia: Fences Must Be Built On Greek Borders To Stop Migrant Influx And Save Schengen Zone (Hungary Today, link): "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called for anti-immigration border barriers to be erected on Greeces frontier with Macedonia and Bulgaria to stop the influx of migrants and save the Schengen zone, which allows for uncontrolled travel across most of Europe."

SPAIN: Barcelona En Comú expresses its support for the volunteers from Spain and Denmark who have been detained in Lesbos while performing humanitarian work (Barcelona en Comú, link): "Barcelona En Comú expresses its support for the volunteers from Spain and Denmark who have been detained in Lesbos while performing humanitarian work.

José, Julio, Manuel, Mo, and Salam risk their lives every day rescuing refugees in distress at sea. They moved to Lesbos to volunteer to collaborate and contribute to the rescue of those fleeing violence and war, working in two non-profit initiatives, ProEmAid and Team Humanity Denmark."

The children who need to play (BBC News, link): "Thirty percent of the migrants and refugees who reached Europe last year were children. Despite their long and dangerous journey, the youngsters still need to find ways to play."

UK: Asylum seeker wristbands to be removed (The Guardian, link): "The government will face questions in the House of Commons on Monday about why asylum seekers in Cardiff have been forced to wear brightly coloured wristbands.

Jo Stevens, the shadow justice minister and Labour MP for Cardiff Central, said on Sunday she had spoken with Clearsprings Ready Homes, the private company contracted by the Home Office to accommodate newly arrived asylum seekers, and voiced grave concerns."


Statewatch Observatory on the refugee crisis: in the Med and inside the EU: 9 December 2015 24 January 2016 (pdf)

New official documents and decisions by EU institutions: Council of the European Union, European Commission, Agencies and European Parliament plus Commentaries and critiques and Daily News Digests (in chronological order)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.1.16)
Arrivals this year in the Med: UNHCR (23.1.16): So far this year 36,528 refugees have arrived. 35,455 in Greece (of which 26,617 have arrived in Lesvos) and : 1,073 in Italy.and 149 dead/missing.

UNHCR: Report highlights ongoing issues

The UNHCR Winter Operations Cell report (pdf) contains an up-to-date round-up on changing policies, practices and crises including 1) Filtering by intended destination country 2) "Bottlenecks" are created as Greece and Macedonia on let refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan cross the border to go north 3) The Mayor of Kos has set strict conditions before agreeing to the location of a "hotspot" on the island.

EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, Amsterdam, 25-26 January 2015: Programme (pdf) Discussion Paper European Border and Coast Guard (pdf):

"Border control is necessary to prevent illegal immigration and crossing of the borders by persons who pose a threat to the public order or security of MS or the Schengen area."

The paper puts on the table key issues in the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency: a) the power of the Agency to carry out "vulnerability assessments" and require a Member State to undertake improvements - this Decision would be binding and b) "The right to intervene in case of a situation at the external border requiring urgent action".

UK: Home Affairs Select Committee: Evidence session on the migration crisis with Italian and Hungarian parliamentarians. - Tuesday 26 January 2016, Grimond Room , Portcullis House:

Witnesses: At 2.45pm: Mr Khalid Chaouki, Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Chair of the Culture Committee, Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean At 3.30pm: Mr Gergely Gulyás, Deputy-Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly and General Director, Foundation for a Civic Hungary

Joint Communiqué - German-Turkish intergovernmental consultations, 22nd January 2016 (link):

"On 22 January 2016, Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the first bilateral German-Turkish intergovernmental consultations in Berlin.....

Both sides also agreed that substantially increased cooperation between the EU border agency Frontex and the Turkish authorities is in both countries interest. The important activities by the Turkish Coast Guard were noted, and it was agreed that further technical and financial cooperation will be required to meet the urgent need to increase capacity. "

Swedish volunteers rescue 1000 refugees (The Local.se, link):

"A Swedish project to help rescue refugees stranded in the Mediterranean has saved 1000 lives since October, the organisation leading the initiative revealed on Friday.... The Yellow Boats project, known as Gula Båtarna in Swedish, was launched last autumn, at the height of Europe's refugee crisis.

Part-funded by media company Schibsted and run by the non-profit Swedish Sea Rescue Society (Sjöräddningssällskapet), the initiative involves trained volunteers travelling to waters around the Greek island of Samos, a popular arrival point in Europe for people fleeing violence in Syria and other war-torn nations.

News (23-24.1.10)

Austria: Proposed cap could be reached 'by Summer' (The Local.at, link): "Austria's interior minister said Sunday that a new national cap on the number of asylum seekers it takes in this year could be reached by the summer, as Europe grapples with its worst migrant crisis since World War II."

Slovenia: Refugees in Slovenia face long waits, short-tempered police (DW, link): "For migrants coming to Europe, the arduous trek does not end after they put foot on European soil. As new border controls are introduced, each frontier is another hurdle to cross, as Alison Langley reports from Slovenia..... Last summer, migrants were greeted with applause, smiles and cheerful greetings. Now, with more than a million people passing through, the families are ushered along by border police and army personnel who shiver on the sidelines and do not smile."

Greece: Austrian minister speaks of temporary exclusion from Schengen (.ekathimerini.com, link):"Greece may have to be temporarily excluded from the European Unions passport-free Schengen zone because it is not controlling the flow of migrants, Austrias Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said on Saturday.If the Athens government does not finally do more to secure the [EUs] external borders then one must openly discuss Greeces temporary exclusion from the Schengen zone, Mikl-Leitner said in an interview with German daily Die Welt." and see: Germany scolds Austria for Greek Schengen threats (The Local.de, link): "European powerhouse Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier lashed out meanwhile at Austria's warning, branding it a "pseudo-solution"."

How the EU plans to overhaul Dublin regulation on asylum claims (FT, link): "Brussels is set to do away with rules making the first country in which a refugee arrives responsible for any asylum claim, in a major shake-up of its refugee system."

Turkey: Seized 2.500 monkey life jackets (Athens Times, link): "The seizure of more than 2,500 monkey life rescue, which was intended for refugees and immigrants, proceeded to the Turkish police."

Norway suspends return of migrants from Russia (The Local.no, link):"Norway on Saturday announced it was temporarily suspending its controversial return of migrants from Arctic Russia, following a request from Moscow."

Greece: Greek police, EU and Frontex meeting on readmission and repatriation of migrants (protothema.gr, link): "Forced repatriation to third countries, financing issues and cooperation with Frontex, Erin and Eurin were also discussed"

Refugee role play stuns world leaders at WEF (The Local.ch, link): "WEF participants were given a taste of the daily challenges faced by migrants, thanks to a roleplay workshop offered by Hong Kong NGO Crossroads Foundation."

EU Needs Fence on Bulgaria, Macedonia Borders with Greece to Stop Migrants, Orban Says (novinite.com, link): "Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that the EU needs a fence along Greeces borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria to cope with the ongoing migrant influx and save the blocs Schengen area of passport-free travel."

Greece: Echelons of the Greek Red Cross in support of the homeless and immigrants who live in the streets of Athens (Athens Times, link): "the first three days of the action (18, 19 & 20 January 2016), funds were 379 homeless (357 men, 16 women & 6 children). The beneficiaries in the majority of them were foreigners from Algeria, Morocco, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Greeks."

Germany faces massive shortfall in refugee housing (euractiv, link): "Accommodation for asylum seekers is increasingly hard to come by, and the refugees who arrived last year will soon need tens of thousands of additional homes, warned experts."

Greece: Migrant crisis: Dozens drown in shipwrecks off Greece (BBC News, link) and Death toll from latest refugee shipwrecks rises to 42 (ANA-mpa, link): "The death toll from the two latest shipwrecks involving refugees in the Aegean had risen to 42 by Friday afternoon, despite the enormous efforts of the Greek coast guard to find and rescue as many as possible on board the two vessels that sank, starting at dawn."

EU: Commission mulls Juncker Plan for the EUs southern neighbours (euractiv, link): "EXCLUSIVE / The European Commission is considering a Juncker Plan to support the Southern Mediterranean region, in order to cut the high number of refugees arriving in Europe, the First Vice-President Frans Timmermans told EurActiv."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.1.16)
EU Netherlands Council Presidency:
Dutch Presidency debate: "counter growing scepticism with visible results, refugee crisis top priority (pdf) "

"We must achieve concrete results and make sure they are visible to counter growing scepticism throughout Europe. (..) Keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal in Europe. A deal is a deal", said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the kick-off debate of the Dutch Presidency in Strasbourg on Wednesday."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte may want to tell the authorities in the Netherlands that "keeping promises and sticking to agreement should be the new normal". The country still has to make available nearly 6,000 places for the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy. So far the Netherlands has made 100 places available and has relocated 50 people: See: Member State relocation pledges (pdf)

The Dublin Regulation: Is the End Nigh? Where should unaccompanied children apply for asylum? (EU Law Analysis, link): "Two recent developments have raised controversy as regards the EUs Dublin III Regulation, the set of rules which determines in which Member State asylum-seekers must make their asylum application. First of all, a British judgment yesterday stated that the UK was responsible for the asylum claims by unaccompanied children in France (in particular the Calais Jungle), who have a family member in the UK. Secondly, a press report indicated that the Commission is planning to propose a fundamental overhaul of the Dublin rules in the near future. Both developments have alarmed some commentators, but thrilled others. I will examine the legal and political context of each of them in turn. "

The British court case regarding Calais: Syrian teenagers in Calais win UK asylum ruling (BBC News, link) and: Four Syrian refugees must be brought from Calais camp to Britain, judges rule (The Guardian, link)

Changes to the Dublin rules: How the EU plans to overhaul Dublin regulation on asylum claims (Financial Times, link) and: UK lobbies against plan to scrap EU's Dublin regulations (The Guardian, link)

HUNGARY: Council of Europe human rights commissioner warning: Risk of human rights violations for asylum seekers returned to Hungary (Council of Europe, link): "Due to sweeping changes introduced in Hungary in asylum law and practice over recent months, asylum seekers returned there run a considerable risk of being subject to human rights violations said today Commissioner Mui~nieks while publishing the written observations he submitted on 17 December to the European Court of Human Rights in relation to two complaints against Austria concerning the transfer of the applicants from Austria to Hungary under the Dublin III Regulation."

See: ECHR: Third Party Intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights under Article 36 of the European Convention on Human Rights - Applications No. 44825/15 and No. 44944/15 S.O. v. Austria and A.A. v. Austria (pdf)

And: November 2015: Hungarys response to refugee challenge falls short on human rights (CoE, link)

UNHCR: Information and statistics

Europe Refugees and Migrants Emergency Response - Daily Estimated Arrivals per Country - Flows through Western Balkans Route: 1 October 2015-21 January 2016 (pdf)

Winter Operations Cell report: information on arrivals/departures, bottlenecks, conditions, developments and statistics (pdf)

News (22.1.16)

Bulgaria's FM Urges Stricter EU Measures on Economic Migrants (Novinite, link): "Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov has opined that the EU should treat economic migrants with the same attitude it had to current member states from Central and Eastern Europe that were accession candidates back in the 2000s."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Zeman calls for NATO to guard EU borders (Prague Post, link): "Czech President Miloa Zeman said NATO would do a better job of protection European borders from immigrants than the proposed European Border and Coast Guard.

I favor a joint NATO command to protect the EU borders, similar to what exists in Afghanistan, Zeman told news server Parlamentní listy."

Danish lawmakers back seizing migrant valuables (EUobserver, link): "Denmark is moving ahead with plans to seize refugees' valuables despite a growing international backlash over its legislative proposal."

EU: Under pressure, Merkel looks to Turkey for help in refugee crisis (Middle East Eye, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel will press Turkey to step up to its "key role" in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe, when she hosts Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for talks on Friday.

Germany and Turkey have emerged as key players in the biggest migration crisis to rock Europe since World War II, and both parties will seek to drive a hard bargain at the talks between the two countries' cabinets."

FINLAND: Niinistö concerned about reports from eastern border (Helsinki Times, link): "President Sauli Niinistö called attention to what is seemingly an isolated incident that may reflect the refugee situation on the border between Finland and Russia while meeting with members of the media on Tuesday.

I'm talking about the Indian man who reportedly froze to death close to the border, he began."

GERMANY: Police 'can't keep up border controls': union (The Local, link): " Police union GdP warned on Friday that overstretched federal officers can't keep up controls on Germany's southern borders indefinitely.

"We can manage it for about three weeks, but we don't have enough personnel strength to last longer," deputy head of the GdP union Jörg Radek told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ) newspaper."

GREECE: At least eight migrants drown in sinking off Greek island (Reuters, link): " At least eight migrants including two children drowned when a wooden boat carrying them capsized north of the Greek island of Kalolimnos early on Friday, a coastguard official said, as the refugee flow towards Europe continues despite the winter cold."

GREECE: Dozens of refugees missing in deadly sinkings off Greek islands (Middle East Eye, link): "At least 21 people including eight children died and dozens of other people were reported missing early on Friday after their boats sank off the Greek islands of Farmakonisi and Kalolimnos while trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey, the Greek coastguard said."

Hungarian FM Reaffirms Support for Bulgaria's Schengen Accession (Novinite, link): "During his visit to Sofia on Thursday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reaffirmed his country's support for the accession of Bulgaria to the Schengen Area.

At a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Daniel Mitov, Szijjarto highlighted the need for reliable guarding of the external borders of the EU.

The Hungarian prime minister pointed to Bulgaria as being a good example in this respect. In his words, the country has been successful in imposing stricter control and meeting the challenges posed by the refugee flows."

Migrant crisis: EU at grave risk, warns France PM Valls (BBC News, link):

"French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that Europe's migration crisis is putting the EU at grave risk.

Mr Valls told the BBC Europe could not take all the refugees fleeing what he called terrible wars in Iraq or Syria.

"Otherwise," he said, "our societies will be totally destabilised.""

NETHERLANDS: Anti-refugee campaigners send bullet to council and Police threaten anti-refugee rioters with naming and shaming (Dutch News, links)

NETHERLANDS: Police set up team to stop pimps, drugs lords recruiting refugees (Dutch News, link): "The police have set up a special programme in an effort to keep criminals away from refugee centres where they are trying to recruit people to become prostitutes or get involved in the drugs trade, the Volkskrant says on Friday.

There are currently 47 ongoing investigations into human trafficking around refugee centres, the paper says. In total, 100 police officers have been allocated to the programme and will on Friday begin patrols at refugee centres where problems have been reported."

POLAND: Ambassador denies there are 1 million Ukrainian refugees in Poland (Radio Poland, link): "The prime minister made the claim during her address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

However, Ambassador Andrii Deshchytsia has stated that the majority of Ukrainians seeking refugee status in Poland have been refused.

Only two people received such a status last year, he said of the 4,000 Ukrainians who had sought asylum in Poland."

Polish party seeking support for referendum on refugees (Radio Poland, link): "Party leader and veteran rock star Pawel Kukiz said on Thursday that the asylum seekers are culturally foreign. He has launched a website via which the signatures for the referendum are being collected.

His recently formed faction, which includes MPs of various political colours, counts among its ranks members of the nationalist group the National Movement."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.1.16)
Germany announces indefinite border checks (euobserver, link): " Domestic pressure is mounting for Germany to extend border control checks amid further rifts within Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition. Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told German radio MDR info on Wednesday (20 January) the border control checks, first introduced last September, would not be lifted for the foreseeable future. "I don't foresee a moment when we can end it," he said.

German border controls could cost economy billions (euractiv, link): "As the refugee crisis continues, Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière wants to extend border controls through February and beyond. However, the move could cost the country ¬10 billion a year."

Austrian politicians backpedal on refugee limits (DW, link): "Wednesday Austria's top politicians announced a cap on the number of asylum-seekers entering the Alpine country in 2016. By evening, they were already pulling back on that bold statement. By Thursday, they abandoned it. "

Austria introduces cap on refugees, will deport 'surplus' (euractiv, link): "The Austrian government announced yesterday (20 January) that it would cap the number of people allowed to claim asylum this year, and that it would send excess refugees back, or deport them to the neighbouring countries through which they came."

GERMANY-AUSTRIA:
Merkel says Austria refugee cap 'not helpful' (DW, link): "Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly criticized a decision by neighboring Austria to limit the number of asylum cases it registers. Merkel is under pressure in at home to introduce a similar cap."

Migrants: change Dublin rules to save Schengen, Italian FM (ANSA, link): "''An influx of this size,'' Gentiloni said, ''must be managed together in the EU and repatriation must have shared organizational and economic burdens, as should border management. Otherwise, there is the risk of a domino effect and decision by (individual, Ed.) countries, and this will put in question Schengen'', an agreement to abolish border controls among the European nations that have joined."

Germany takes refugees' valuables 'to pay for their stay' (The Local.de, link):

"Germany's southern states are confiscating cash and valuables from refugees after they arrive, authorities in Bavaria confirmed on Thursday.

"Cash holdings and valuables can be secured [by the authorities] if they are over ¬750 and if the person has an outstanding bill, or is expected to have one." Authorities in Baden-Württemberg have a tougher regime, where police confiscate cash and valuables above ¬350. The average amount per person confiscated by authorities in the southern states was "in the four figures," Bild reported.

By confiscating valuables, the states are implementing federal laws, which require asylum seekers to use up their own resources before receiving state aid."

See also: Under fire, Denmark moves ahead on hard-line migrant bill (The Local.dk, link): "Spurning scathing international criticism, Danish lawmakers will on Thursday give a final nod to drastic reforms curbing asylum rights as legal and human rights experts castigate Copenhagen for turning its back on its international commitments."

News (21.1.16)

Greece demands that migrants declare final EU destination (.ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migrants and refugees arriving in Greece must state their final destination to travel further into the European Union, a Greek police source told Reuters on Thursday, following moves by neighbouring states to quell migrant flows.

Serbia on Wednesday said it would deny migrants access to its territory unless they planned to seek asylum in Austria or Germany. "As of today, the final destination - as stated by the migrants - will be registered in the official documents," the official said without disclosing the reason for the decision."

Macedonia temporarily closes its Greek border to migrants (euractiv, link): "Macedonia has closed its border with Greece to migrants, police in Skopje said yesterday (20 January), blocking the path of hundreds trying to reach northern Europe. "The border is closed," a senior Macedonian police official told AFP, while a police spokesman in northern Greece said it had been closed since Tuesday evening, leaving about 600 migrants stranded at the frontier."

Swedish police suppress refugee data (euobserver, link) : "Swedish police hold back information about resources spent on managing the influx of refugees and the increasingly tense situation in many asylum accommodation centres. "Nothing should be out," an internal directive seen by Dagens Nyheter reads. Investigations related to refugees are coded with the number "291" and kept secret."

Italy sees huge rise in number of African migrants (The Local.it, link): "The number of migrants heading to Italy from sub-Saharan Africa surged last year, while Syrians headed for Greece instead, new figures show.... Almost 20,000 fewer migrants arrived in Italy in 2015 compared to the previous year, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).The IOM estimates that 153,842 migrants reached Italy last year compared to 170,100 in 2014. The drop is mainly due to Syrians fleeing conflict entering Europe via Greece instead of Italy, Flavio Di Giacomo, the spokeperson in Italy for the IOM, said in a statement."

Final days of the EUs refugee strategy (politico, link) "Ultimatums keep coming, and so do the refugees No matter how hard the EU tries to resuscitate efforts to deal with the refugee crisis, its strategy is flatlining. And after months of missed deadlines, mixed messages, pushback from countries, and resistance from refugees themselves, European officials are now grasping desperately for alternatives."

Denmark to explain controversial proposal at the EU Parliament (http://cphpost.dk, link): "The European Parliament has requested that Denmark come to Brussels to explain its proposal for tighter immigration laws, reports DR. The new austerity measures are to be debated at Folketinget next Tuesday, and include a controversial plan to seize refugees valuables to pay for their stay in the country."

FYROM closes border with Greece: Hundreds of refugees left stranded in freezing conditions (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "Macedonia has closed its border with Greece to migrants and refugees in order to stem the flow of people trying to pass through the country, police in Skopje said Wednesday. The drastic move left some 650 asylum-seekers stranded at a border camp overnight as temperatures dropped to -8 Celsius."

At least 12 migrants killed in new tragedy off Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): "At least 12 migrants were killed and several more went missing Thursday when their boat sank while trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to EU member Greece, Turkish media reports said. The boat, carrying some 50 migrants, struck trouble after leaving the western Turkish resort of Foca in the Izmir region for the Greek island of Lesvos."

SWEDEN: Border ID checks are costing one million kronor a day (The Local.se, link): "Photo identification checks introduced for people travelling between southern Sweden and Denmark by train earlier this month are costing millions of kronor a week."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.1.16)


UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing

 

Latest Commission figures, published 19.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation is at a standstill. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid budgets and "trust funds", and civil protection requirements.

EU: Fresh battle awaits Cameron as EU plans to scrap 'Dublin regulation' (Guardian, link):

"The rule, which means refugees must claim asylum in the first country they arrive in, could leave northern EU countries more open to migration flows.. Abandoning the so-called Dublin regulation could leave the UK and other northern European countries more open to migration flows, as the majority of refugees have been arriving in the south and trying to continue their journey overland."

Bulgaria: Pushbacks, Abuse at Borders - Halt Summary Returns, Beatings, Robbery of Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Bulgarian law enforcement officials summarily return asylum seekers and migrants to Turkey, often after stealing their belongings and subjecting them to violence.

In research in six countries between October and December 2015, Human Rights Watch interviewed 45 asylum seekers and migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq who described 59 incidents of summary returns from Bulgaria to Turkey between March and November. Twenty-six people said they had been beaten by police or bitten by police dogs. All but one said they were stripped of their possessions, in some cases at gunpoint by people they described as Bulgarian law enforcement officials, then pushed back across the border to Turkey."

News (20.1.16)

FYROM closes border with Greece to migrants, says police (ekathimerini.com, link): "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has closed its border with Greece to migrants, police in Skopje said Wednesday, blocking the path of hundreds trying to reach northern Europe.. The border is closed, a senior FYROM police official told AFP, while a police spokesman in northern Greece said it had been closed since Tuesday evening, leaving about 600 migrants stranded at the frontier."

Serbia will refuse entry to returning migrants (euobserver, link): "Serbia will not allow migrants returning from nearby countries to re-enter its territory, foreign minister Ivica Dacic told journalists after meeting his Slovenian counterpart Karl Erjavec on Tuesday. Dacic explained that Serbia would be forced to act if Croatia, Slovenia and Austria resort to unilateral solutions such as closing borders."

UN: Harsh winter poses additional hazards to child refugees and migrants arriving in Europe UN (link): "With children now accounting for more than one in three of the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants flooding into Europe, the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) today voiced concern at the impact recent sub-zero temperatures and snowy conditions were having on them. The children arriving into a harsh winter in south-eastern Europe are physically exhausted, scared, distressed and often in need of medical assistance, UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told the regular bi-weekly news briefing in Geneva." and Concern over health of children on the move during harsh winter - UNICEF (link)

Hungary ready to erect anti-migrant fence on Romanian border (Reuters, link)

Greece: Two refugees die from hypothermia during their trip to Greece (ANAmpa, link)

EU: Migration report calls for strengthening of border controls, integration, relocation, and overhaul of Dublin system (Times of Malta, link) See: Draft Report on The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf).

Slovenia May Deploy Troops to Manage Migrant Flow - Schengen agreement is temporarily suspended, says Austrian chancellor as military announces troops will be deployed to the borders (tol.org, link): ""If Germany or Austria adopt certain measures for stricter controls then of course we will adopt similar strict measures with our southern border with Croatia," Cerar said.".

Germany-Switzerland: European border checks would cost German trade billions (swissinfo.ch, link): "Reinstating border controls within Europe's passport-free Schengen zone because of the migrant crisis would significantly increase costs for Germany's foreign trade, national trade organisations told German media on Wednesday. "About 70 percent of German foreign trade takes place within Europe, particularly with countries of the euro zone," Anton Boerner, head of the BGA trade federation, told newspaper Tagesspiegel."

EU: The People Who Made 2015 a Safer Year for Migrants to Cross the Mediterranean (VICE, link): "Migration in 2015 was actually safer than the previous year. Although the number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean was the highest ever recorded in a single year, the percentage who made it ashore safely was also a record-high. That's due in part to efforts by volunteers who risked their own safety, and sometimes criminal charges, to save over 8,000 migrants from drowning at sea last year.... What accounts for all these lives saved? IOM spokesperson Kelly Namia attributes it in part to smaller boats and a shorter route to Greece, rather than the longer and more dangerous trip from North Africa to Lampedusa, Italy."

Greece-Turkey: Mouzalas slams Turkish failure to curb migrant flow as EU calls for completion of hotspots (ekathimerini.com, link): "mmigration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Tuesday criticized Turkey for failing to take any serious measures to cut the flow of migrants into Europe as Brussels called on Greece to complete construction of five hot spots on its territory..... Greek authorities had carried out 130 deportations in the past 15 days, he said, while some 30,000 people had arrived from Turkey over the same period."

Tusk: EU has two months to control the migrant crisis, or go bust (euractiv, link): "European Council President Donald Tusk issued a stark warning yesterday (19 January) that the European Union had "no more than two months" to tackle the migration crisis engulfing the 28-nation bloc, or else face the collapse of its passport-free Schengen zone....

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently warned today that a collapse of Schengen could kill off the EUs internal market and make the euro irrelevant. The European Council summit on 17-18 March will focus mainly on the migrant crisis. The Schengen system has already been suspended in some countries like Denmark, Germany and Sweden, which have introduced controls at their borders in order to stem the flow of migrant and refugee arrivals.."

Avramopoulos claims hotspots will be ready in one month (tovima.gr, link): "The European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos announced that the hotspots in Greece and Italy will be operational within a month." and He also warned of increased refugee flows in the coming months (protothema.gr, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.16)


EU: PERMANENT RELOCATION MEASURE: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 5312-15, 18.1.16, pdf) Includes 47 Member State positions:

 

"The present note sets out the outcome of the discussions on the abovementioned proposal at the Asylum Working Party meeting on 7 December 2015 as well as at previous meetings of Friends of Presidency (Asylum) and JHA Counsellors.

The following delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the text appearing in the Annex: AT, BE, BG, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI. CZ, ES, FR, HU, LT, PL, RO, SI and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU and SI have also parliamentary scrutiny reservations."

MSF: Obstacle Course to Europe: A policy-made humanitarian crisis at EU borders (pdf)

"The report spells out that Europe cannot continue to count on the deadly sea crossing, fences and poor reception conditions to act as a filter of deterrence. The current narrative and policies cannot hold. As instability continues to rage across Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the EU and European governments must shift their current policies and provide a humane and humanitarianresponse to refugees and migrants desperately seeking its protection and assistance."

European Parliament: Draft Report on The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf). The rapporteurs will be taking amendment suggestions until 27 January. It is due for adoption in the LIBE Committee in March. and then during the Plenary vote in April.

European Commission: Commission Recommendation for a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey (COM 9490-15, pdf)

"When deciding on the number of persons to be admitted under the scheme the overall numbers of displaced persons staying in Turkey, including the impact on these numbers of the sustainable reduction of numbers of persons irregularly crossing the border from Turkey into the European Union should be taken into account, alongside the processing capacity of the UNHCR."

Ireland asked to take only 20 asylum seekers under EU plan - Government acknowledges very low number of applications (Irish Times, link):

"Ireland has been asked to take in just 20 asylum seekers under a stuttering European Union scheme aimed at relocating 160,000 people from war-torn states such as Syria and Iraq.

The Government agreed to accept 2,600 asylum seekers under the initiative, which was designed to ease pressure on Greece and Italy by dispersing new arrivals across EU states. But political and logistical obstacles, as well as low take-up, have resulted in just 322 people being relocated to date across the 28-country EU. "

News (19.1.16)

GREECE: Migrant Arrivals in Greece in January Spike 2,100 Percent from a Year Ago (IOM, link):

"Since the beginning of 2016, IOM estimates that 31,244 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece by sea. This is some 21 times as many as the 1,472 recorded by the Greek Coast Guard for the whole of January 2015. The number suggests that the number of maritime arrivals in Greece in 2016 may significantly exceed the record 853,650 migrants who arrived in Greece by sea in 2015.

Some 48 per cent of Greeces 2016 arrivals have been Syrians, 29 per cent Afghans, 12 per cent Iraqis, 3 per cent Pakistanis and 2 per cent Iranians. Other nationalities have included Algerians, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Eritreans, Lebanese and Moroccans." and see: Mediterranean Update: Migration Flows Europe: Arrivals and Fatalities (15.1.16, pdf)

UK-FRABNCE: One-third of Calais 'Jungle' to be demolished (DW, link): "Bulldozers are clearing one-third of Europe's largest refugee camp as a new 18 milllion euro camp opens next door and independent volunteers provide vital assistance. Diego Cupolo reports from Calais."

Germany seeks to limit migration from North Africa (euractiv, link): "Germany wants to limit migration from North Africa by declaring Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia 'safe countries', officials from the ruling coalition said yesterday (18 January), cutting their citizens' chance of being granted asylum to virtually zero."

Eastern Europes first black mayor: 'If we're Schengen, then why the fences?' (euractiv, link): "Are we Schengen or not? the Ghana-born mayor of Slovenian border-town Piran has asked in an interview with EurActiv. And if we are, why is the government putting up fences?, he said, before warning that a German decision to close its borders would kill the passport-free zone forever."

Austria temporarily suspends Schengen (euractiv, link): "The Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann said on Sunday that (17 January) that the Schengen agreement, which permits the free movement of persons between most EU countries without identity checks, has been 'temporarily suspended.'"

Slovenia threatens to follow Austria with border checks (euuobserver, link): "Slovenia may impose more border controls after Austria issued over the weekend temporary measures to stem the flow of migrants. Slovenia's prime minister Miro Cerar said in Ljubljana on Monday (18 January) that an EU-level solution needed to be found on securing external borders, with more help for Western Balkan states.

"If Germany or Austria adopt certain measures for stricter controls then of course we will adopt similar strict measures with our southern border with Croatia", he said. "Slovenia may impose more border controls after Austria issued over the weekend temporary measures to stem the flow of migrants. Slovenia's prime minister Miro Cerar said in Ljubljana on Monday (18 January) that an EU-level solution needed to be found on securing external borders, with more help for Western Balkan states.

"If Germany or Austria adopt certain measures for stricter controls then of course we will adopt similar strict measures with our southern border with Croatia", he said."

Germany: Asylum applications from Algeria and Morocco nationals on special track (DW, link): "Conservative politicians are calling for Algeria and Morocco to be treated as safe countries of origin. How realistic is this? "

Germany must soon close borders to refugees, transport minister tells Merkel (Guardiasn, link): "Alexander Dobrindt says country can no longer show a friendly face and must act unilaterally if fresh arrivals continue"

Germany plans 'expulsion centres' for rejected asylum seekers (Daily Telegraph, link): "Rejected asylum seekers from Algeria and Morocco will be housed in deportation centres.... Asylum seekers from the north African countries will be placed in combined reception and deportation centres to accelerate the process. "

GREECE: Refugee hotspots need to be ready in four weeks, says EUs migration commissioner (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece and Italy must have set up hotspots for registering and processing migrants and refugees within the next four weeks if they are to honor their commitments, European Union Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said.... We have no more than four weeks in order to achieve results at the borders, Avramopoulos said, amid growing concerns of a social backlash to the uncontrolled influx in countries such as Germany."

GREECE: NGOs ask for migrant camp to open again as cold sets in (ekathimerini.com, link): "As temperatures in northern Greece plunge below zero, a number of nongovernmental organizations have asked the government to reopen a camp for refugees and migrants at the village of Idomeni on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Doctors of the World, the Greek Council for Refugees, Praksis, Arsis and the International Autonomous Volunteers in Idomeni wrote an open letter to the government calling for the camp to reopen so that migrants are not forced to stay outside in the freezing weather."

SLOVAKIA: Slovaks oppose accepting refugees (Slovak Spectator, link): FOR some reason some East European countries feel treated badly, and I need to understand why they react so strongly and are so tough on migrants, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel on October 16.... When it comes to Slovakia the latest EU poll showed that citizens remain unwilling to share the refugee burden with other member states and are unhappy that Brussels decided about it. The governments policy comes as a reaction to such opinions in the lead-up to parliamentary elections in March 2016, according to analysts approached by The Slovak Spectator."

EU migration crisis: will refugees acquire full free movement rights? (Open Europe, link)

Goodbye Schengen: List Grows of EU States Applying Internal Border Controls (sputniknews.com/europe, link): "Norway, Sweden and Denmark introduced controls of border controls along the internal borders of the Schengen Area, Austria, Germany, France and Malta have plans to introduce border controls, according to European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.1.16)


UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing

 

Latest Commission figures, published 18.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation is practically at a standstill as is Member State support for hotspots, aid budgets and "trust funds", and civil protection requirements.

Press release by Roma Thüringen concerning the group deportation of December 16, 2015 - Every deportation is a crime (The Voice, link): "For several weeks, mass deportations of Romanies and other refugees from so-called 'safe countries of origin' have been taking place. The fact that these countries are not safe, in particular for Romanies and other minorities, which been proven by Romany organisation as well as other NGOs many times. Even the notification of a violent abduction to other countries that people have fled from is a threat to their very existence. This holds true all the more for the actual execution of such a violent deportation by the German police. Every deportation is a crime and not tolerable."

EU: FENCES: Bulgaria and Macedonia

Bulgarian IntMin Hopes Fence at Border with Turkey to be Completed in March (Novinite, link): "She reminded that the fence has a length of 132.6 kilometres and is situated at the territories of three regions Haskovo, Yambol and Burgas

The cost of the fence is BGN 60 M, with half of the sum having been absorbed until now.

According to her, the new facility is better than the one which had been constructed by the army during the government of Plamen Oresharski.

The barbed wire of the new facility is thicker, it has three rows instead of the existing two and the fence has warranty service of five years."

European refugee crisis: Macedonia builds 10ft-high razor-topped fence along Greek border (International Business Times, link):

"The Republic of Macedonia is just weeks away from completing a 10ft-high razor-topped fence along its border with Greece to stop refugees and migrants entering the Balkans. (...)

Armed security teams from six other Eastern European nations will help Macedonia patrol its southern border. This underpins the idea that Macedonia's fence would operate as a bottleneck to slow the refugees down..."

EU: MEDITERRANEAN: 23,664 arrivals by sea in 2016, 59 dead/missing this year as of 15 January

50 people have died or are missing in the sea between Greece and Turkey, and nine in the sea between Italy and North Africa.

See: IOM: Mediterranean Update: Migration Flows Europe: Arrivals and Fatalities (pdf)

UNHCR: Lesvos island snapshot - 17 Jan 2016 (pdf)

GERMANY: CONFERENCE: 3-5 March 2016: Civil Society 4.0 Refugees and Digital Self Organization (HKW, link): "Refugees are also digital trailblazers; the use of smartphones and social media are essential both for their escape and for everyday life in their new homes. For voluntary refugee aids, digital tools are also of great importance. Recently projects such as the platform www.arriving-in-berlin.de have demonstrated how important the web is for the self-organization of refugees. The Civil Society 4.0 conference aims to network the many initiatives and projects."

ITALY: CONFERENCE: 22-27 April 2016, Torino: Moving Stories: Narratives of Migration Crossing Europe (UNITED, link): "We are pleased to announce the dates and host city for the next UNITED conference. Entitled Moving Stories: Narratives of Migration Crossing Europe, the conference will take place from 22-27 April 2016 at a venue near Torino, Italy. Representatives of NGOs and grassroots organisations from all over Europe will spend five days reviewing different perspectives on the situation of migration and asylum in Europe, exploring various tools and methods for challenging narratives on migrants and refugees, sharing best practices and getting to know other activists and organisations."

UN: The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Migrants in an Irregular Situation (pdf): "Migrants in an irregular situation are not criminals. The evidence shows that they do not migrate with the objective of cheating the social security system or misusing the services of the country of destination. They are more likely to be working in a hospital than unfairly using its facilities. They tend to work in sectors that are dirty and dangerous, often doing jobs that local workers are unwilling to do. Indeed, Governments have an interest in promoting and protecting the human rights of all migrants, including irregular migrants, because no society can develop to its true potential when legal, social or political barriers prevent entire sectors of that society from contributing to it.

This publication offers a rich resource for policymakers in Governments, national human rights institutions, civil society, lawyers, judges and migrants themselves to understand the scope and content of the human rights of migrants in an irregular situation. Through a specific focus on economic, social and cultural rights, it seeks to challenge common assumptions about the entitlement of migrants in an irregular situation to such fundamental human rights as the right to health, to education, to an adequate standard of living, to social security, and to just and favourable conditions of work. Irregular migrants are human beings and as human beings they are protected by international human rights law."

See: Launch of the Publication 'The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Migrants in an Irregular Situation' (UN Human Rights, link): "All persons must have access, without discrimination, to their fundamental human rights. This includes migrants, regardless of their administrative status. "

News (18.1.16)

BELGIUM-DENMARK: "It's a stupid idea" (Flanders News, link): "That's how the Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon labelled the measure from Denmark's liberal government that sees asylum seekers being parted from their cash and their valuables in return for their welcome."

CENTRAL EUROPE: V4 interior ministers to debate migration in Prague (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The interior ministers of the Visegrad Four (V4) Group, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, will meet in Prague on Tuesday to discuss migration with representatives of the Balkan countries that refugees are crossing, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told CTK yesterday."

EU: About 1,700 Migrants per Day Reached Europe by Sea Jan 1-14 - IOM (Novinite, link): "A total of 23,664 migrants arrived in Europe by sea in the first 14 days of the year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has announced."

EU: End of Europe? Berlin, Brussels' shock tactic on migrants (Reuters, link): "The Germans, founders and funders of the postwar union, shut their borders to refugees in a bid for political survival by the chancellor who let in a million migrants. And then -- why not? -- they decide to revive the Deutschmark while they're at it.

That is not the fantasy of diehard Eurosceptics but a real fear articulated at the highest levels in Berlin and Brussels.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, her ratings hit by crimes blamed on asylum seekers at New Year parties in Cologne, and EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker both said as much last week.

Juncker echoed Merkel in warning that the central economic achievements of the common market and the euro are at risk from incoherent, nationalistic reactions to migration and other crises. He renewed warnings that Europe is on its "last chance", even if he still hoped it was not "at the beginning of the end"."

EU: Is this the next migration crisis? (World Economic Forum, link): "Migration was the defining story of 2015, as an unprecedented number of people sought to escape war, poverty and persecution. Faced with a crisis on a scale not seen since the Second World War, policy-makers struggled to know how to respond.

As winter approached, the flows of migrants slowed down. But as one crisis ends, another one could yet begin: a crisis of integration.

When migrants are successfully integrated into their new communities and instilled with a sense of belonging, everyone reaps the benefits. Unfortunately, the tendency of some to focus on the negative aspects of migration mainly in the hope of political gains could complicate the integration process, paving the way for a second crisis."

EU: Less Schengen? No, more integration! (European Green Party, link): "It was another tough week for the Schengen acquis, one of the most important and historical achievements of the European Union."

Female refugees heading to Europe face violence (Al Jazeera, link): "Women and girl refugees coming into Europe face violence and sexual harassment at every stage of their journey, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

The report released Monday by the human rights group was based on interviews with 40 women and girls in Germany and Norway last month who had traveled from Turkey to Greece and then across the Balkans.

Women and girls traveling alone or accompanied only by children said they felt particularly under threat in Hungary, Croatia and Greece, where they were forced to sleep alongside hundreds of male refugees. Those interviewed included female refugees from Iraq and Syria."

Germans and refugees protest sexism and racism in wake of Cologne attacks (Deutsche Welle, link): "Germans, Syrians and others have protested in Cologne against the sexual assaults of New Years Eve. As the backlash against refugees grows, some people with migrant backgrounds feel they're becoming public enemies."

Germany eyes expulsion hubs for North African migrants (The Local, link): "The proposals came after a sharp rise in new arrivals from the two countries and public outrage over a rash of attacks on women on New Year's Eve in the western city of Cologne blamed on North African and Arab migrants."

GERMANY: Crimes at refugee homes on the rise, say German Criminal Police (Deutsche Welle, link): "Germany's Criminal Police Office have registered a growing number of crimes in refugee and asylum centers. Now the interior minister wants to keep track of crimes committed by, and targeted at, migrants."

GERMANY: How Syrian refugees helped an American student during the Cologne attacks (Deutsche Welle, link): "An American student and a Syrian man have described their harrowing experience in Cologne on New Years Eve. After the student was assaulted by several men, the Syrian and his friends protected her."

GERMANY: Take back migrants or lose aid cash, Berlin tells North Africa (The Local, link): "Germanys Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has threatened to withdraw aid from north African countries if they dont cooperate on taking back rejected asylum seekers."

NETHERLANDS: Human traffickers operate near refugee centres, target young girls (Dutch News, link): "There are clear signs that human traffickers are active close to refugee centres in the Netherlands and attempting to recruit young women as prostitutes, the Volkskrant said at the weekend."

NETHERLANDS: Iraqi refugee commits suicide after long wait for assessment (Dutch News, link): "Questions are to be raised in parliament following the suicide of an Iraqi refugee at the Alphen aan den Rijn asylum seekers centre on Saturday. The 30-year-old man hung himself after becoming frustrated at the amount of time it was taking for his case to be processed, according to a local foundation which is supporting the 1,200 refugees living in the former prison."

Refugee Trail Fame: A Trip, a Fall and a Whole New Life (Der Spiegel, link): "One kick was all it took to make Osama Mohsen, a professional soccer coach from Syria, into one of the most famous refugees to arrive in Europe last year. After a Hungarian camerawoman sent Mohsen tumbling, his life took an unexpected turn."

Turkish Police Detain Bulgarian Truck with 106 Syrian Migrants (Novinite, link): "As many as 106 migrants from Syria have been found in a TIR truck with a Bulgarian license plate en route from Turkey to Bulgaria, Cihan News Agency Reports citing Turkish authorities."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-17.1.16)


GREECE: Lesovos: Arrested lifeguards: It is reported by Platanos Refugee Solidarity, Lesvos (Facebook, link) that:

 

"All 5 arrested rescuers have just been released after being questioned by both the prosecutor and the investigator. Restrictive measures and bail of 10.000 euros was imposed on the owner of the rescue boat. And bail of 5.000 euros was set for the other four rescuers. A trial date was set with charges of facilitation of illegal entry into the country of refugees and immigrants, and illegal possession of a weapon for one knife that was found on the boat "

Another report from: the Network for the Social Support of Refugess and Migrants says:

"Pre-trial proceedings underway against three Spanish fire-fighters who decided to take leave from work to help refugees on the Aegean and two Danish. The Danish NGO made a speedboat available for rescuing purposes where the 5 were aboard. They towed a refugee rubber boat to the Greek coast. Now they are accused of supporting the entry of "illegal migrants" which is a severe crime (felony) in Greece. The prosecutor has charged them because a Coast Guard boat was not far away and thus there was allegedly no need for immediate rescue).

Yesterday (16 January) they were brought before the investigating judge who released them on bail of 5.000 euro each and 10, 000 euro for the Dane who owns the boat....

The Dodecanese prefecture decided to check every NGO acting on the Southern Aegean islands as well as all the doctors; they would have to provide proof that they are doctors and get a relevant certificate. The Syriza government decided on 31 December 2015, that the operation of the closed detention centers will be prolonged until the end of 2018."

Greece holds Spanish lifeguards over migrant trafficking (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Five Spaniards claiming to be NGO staff on the Greek island of Lesvos have been arrested on suspicion of migrant trafficking, Greek coastguard sources said Thursday."A preliminary investigation has been opened," a coastguard spokeswoman said, adding that the suspects were likely to be charged with "attempting to facilitate the entry of illegal migrants."....

The five suspects claim to be working for Basque lifeguard group DYA, one of dozens of non-government aid groups helping thousands of refugees and migrants arriving from the neighboring Turkish coast on a weekly basis. Two of the suspects were arrested on Wednesday on board a speedboat where coastguards found an unregistered wireless radio which could be used to tap into official frequencies."

Background: Criminal charges have been brought against three Spanish (Proem-Aid) and two Danish (Team Humanity) NGO volunteers - they were arrested on suspicion of helping migrants to enter Greece illegally. If convicted they could face five years in prison. They deny the charges and will appear in court on Saturday. The five are trained lifeguards.

The Spanish volunteers are from Proem-Aid release and See: website: PROEM-AID: Professional emergency aid (link)

IOM: Migrant Arrivals in Europe by Sea Reached 23,664 in First 14 Days of 2016 (link): 23.302 to Greece, 362 to Italy. 59 deaths/missing

The system would allocate "quasi-automatically" asylum applicants to member states. It is a big departure from the current Dublin rule. Today, Dublin says the country through which asylum seekers first entered the EU have to handle applications for asylum on behalf of all other member states." [emphasis added]

EU-Turkey ¬3 billion migrant deal blocked by Italy (euractiv, link)

"Italy is blocking a European Union plan to provide Turkey with ¬3 billion in aid in exchange for a commitment to stem the flow of migrants into Europe, two European officials said yesterday..."

Welcome to Europe (Greece, link) and Organizations for Refugees (Greece, link)

News (16-17.1.16)

Crossing No More (Red Pepper, link) "Samir Dathi & Marienna Pope-Weidemann report from the Greek-Turkish border and the deadly fence forcing refugees to cross the perilous Aegean sea"

Czech leader says Muslims 'impossible to integrate' in Europe (hurriyetdailynews.com, link)

EU: Juncker: Restoring borders will kill internal market (euractiv, link)

Dozens of migrants stopped at Romanias border with Serbia (Sofia Globe, link) and

SWEDEN: Western Sweden mosque hit by possible arson attack (The Local.se, link): "Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the blaze, with arson a probable avenue of enquiry."

GREECE: Five bodies wash up on shore of Samos (ekathimerini.com, link):"Five people, most likely migrants, have been found dead off the eastern Greek island of Samos, Greek authorities report. The Greek coast guard has recovered the bodies of two men and three women, and are trying to recover the sixth in rough seas, a coast guard spokeswoman told The Associated Press." and Baby found dead on Greece migrant boat (link): "Greek authorities say a baby has been found dead after a boat full of migrants reached the small eastern Aegean Sea island of Farmakonissi, while 63 people were picked up alive."

EU asylum law to include 'distribution key' (euobserver, link): "On Thursday (14 January), EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos announced the revamp would be based on a distribution key system.

EU Commission promises Dublin mechanism overhaul (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link): "European migration Commissioner has told MEPs Dublin reforms would be presented in March, amid ongoing refugee crisis and mounting pressure on Schengen....

GUE/NGL group MEP Cornelia Ernst urged Avramopoulos, "not to mix terrorists up with refugees - that is extremely dangerous." She also slammed the Commission for its cooperation with Turkey, and asked him why he had not protested the statements by the Slovakian and Polish governments saying they would not accept any Muslim refugees.

On laws currently under discussion in Denmark that demand refugees to hand over their valuables as compensation for housing. These were "unacceptable," said Ernst, adding that, "such a debate should not be happening in Europe.""

Turkey 'acting illegally' over Syria refugees deportations (BBC News, link):

""They drove us to the border and forced us to sign a piece of paper on which was written 'I want to go back to Syria'," he told me. "They were shouting at us and said they would send us back to Erzurum (detention centre) if we didn't sign. "I didn't want to go back to Syria. Some of my friends have now been put in prison there, and many people were afraid of returning to a war zone.""....

"This is absolutely illegal, both under Turkish and international law, because you cannot forcibly return someone to a place where their lives and rights are in danger," said Andrew Gardner, the head of Amnesty in Turkey. "The EU needs to wake up to the fact that on its own borders, international law is being broken on a regular basis. "And the EU needs to wake up to the fact that its gatekeeper in Turkey is violating the rights of refugees in detaining them secretly and arbitrarily - and returning them to Syria.""

Danish family man slapped with fine for helping refugees (The Local.dk, link): "The first of several cases against Danes who gave rides to refugees ended in a fine on Friday, while two Danish citizens await a trial on human smuggling charges on the Greek island of Lesbos."

FINLAND: Finns want fewer refugees (DW, link): "Finland last year received the largest number of refugees in its history, which has lead to growing anti-immigration sentiments. Politicians outside the conservative True Finns party have also turned against refugees."

Austria takes tougher stance on migrants (The Local.at, link): "Austria's interior minister signalled a tougher line on migrants on Friday, saying that from next weekend it will follow Germany's lead and turn back any new arrivals seeking to claim asylum in Scandinavia.... "Right now on the Austrian-German border only those seeking asylum in Germany are being allowed in. Those who want to go further are being turned back," "

Norway extends border controls once again (The Local.no, link): "The Norwegian government said on Friday it would extend border checks for an additional 30 days."

SWITZERLAND: Revealed: Switzerland already strips refugees of cash (The Local.ch, link): "As Denmark faces a barrage of criticism over its controversial plan to seize refugees' valuables, Switzerland has already been doing so for years, Swiss authorities said on Friday. Swiss asylum law has since the 1990s required asylum seekers to contribute to the costs of hosting them in the wealthy Alpine country. The country is permitted to confiscate from people seeking asylum in the country amounts over 1,000 Swiss francs ($995, ¬913 euros), Celine Kohlprath, a spokeswoman for Swiss migration authorities, told the AFP news agency" and see: Switzerland seizing assets from refugees to cover costs (Guardian, link): "Information sheet given to Syrian refugee shows seizure of assets of over 1,000 Swiss francs, says TV news programme."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.1.16)


EU: Refugee crisis: "If Schengen collapses, it'll be start of end European project" (European Parliament article, pdf): "Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned MEPs the refugee crisis was "getting worse" during a meeting organised by the civil liberties committee on 14 January. He said the EU's unity was at stake amid an increase of "populism and nationalism". The commissioner also called on member states to deliver on their own promises and show solidarity to each other: "If Schengen collapses, it will be the beginning of the end of the European project".

 

See: Speaking points of Commissioner Avramopoulos from the meeting with the LIBE committee (European Commission press release, pdf)

And: Cash Crisis: If Schengen Goes, the Euro is Finished, Warns Merkel (Sputnik, link): "The success of Europe's single market and currency is dependent on the survival of the Schengen Area, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday, remarking that the EU is "vulnerable" due to a lack of control of migration."

News (15.1.16)

EU: Juncker: border checks comes with ¬3bn bill (EUobserver, link): "European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday said that reimposing border checks throughout Europe, aside from the hour-long waiting times, would cost billions. "If it continues like this, it means that the overall additional costs for border checks in Europe could amount to ¬3 billion," he told reporters."

GERMANY: Anti-refugee right-wingers go on rampage in Leipzig (Al Arabiya, link): "Over 200 masked right-wing supporters, carrying placards with racist overtones, went on a rampage in the eastern city of Leipzig on Monday night, throwing fireworks, breaking windows and vandalising buildings, police said."

GREECE: From refugee life vest to sleeping aid (UNHCR, link): "Vast piles of lifejackets clogging the idyllic beaches of the Greek island of Lesvos are testimony to an often harrowing journey made by thousands of refugees and migrants crossing to Europe."

Norway tells refugees who used cycling loophole to enter to return to Russia (The Guardian, link): "Norway has said it will send back refugees who had taken advantage of a legal loophole to cross its Arctic border with Russia on bicycles.

About 5,500 people, most of them Syrians, cycled through the Arctic Circle Storskog crossing in 2015 to take advantage of a loophole in border rules: while Russia does not allow people to cross on foot and Norway does not let in drivers carrying people without documents, bicycles are permitted at both ends."

Slovakias PM vows never to settle Muslim refugees (New Europe, link): "Muslim migrants and refugees are not welcome in Slovakia, according to the countrys Prime Minister Robert Fico. He vowed not to allow refugees from the Middle East to establish a united Muslim community in Slovakia.

Not only are we refusing mandatory quotas, we will never make a voluntary decision that would lead to the formation of a united Muslim community in Slovakia, This is the only way to eliminate the risks, Fico said last week, rejecting a European Union plan to resettle 120,000 refugees among 26 of the EUs 28 member states."

UK: Migrant communities think more like non-migrants after just one generation, study suggests (The Conversation, link): "A common fear among the general public in many Western countries is that immigrants have ways of thinking or social values that are fundamentally different to them, and that these differences prevent them from integrating into Western societies."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-14.1.16)


EU: European Commission: Press Release: Refugee crisis: Commission reviews 2015 actions and sets 2016 priorities (pdf). Notes the failures of 2015: Relocation is failing - only 272 in 2015 - with very few offers to meet the need for 160,000; only three hotspots set up out of 11, and neither is the returns programme happening. In 2016 the Commission wants the quick adoption of the European Border and Coast Guard, reform the Dublin System, introduce measures on legal migration and migrant smuggling.

 

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

EU migration chief says refugee response is not working (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union's top migration official says efforts to manage the refugee emergency are not working and that more countries are tightening border security to cope with the influx. Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Thursday that the situation is getting worse as thousands of people fleeing conflict or poverty continue to arrive in Europe daily. He told EU lawmakers in Brussels that more and more member states are reintroducing border controls in response.... Avramopoulos said that these schemes have not delivered the expected results.

EU-GREECE: 90 new finger-printing machines ordered: Commission provides additional support for fingerprinting of migrants in Greece (2nd item in Press Release, pdf):

"The European Commission has informed Greece of its decision to award ¬1.36 million in emergency funding for the acquisition of 90 fingerprinting devices. These devices will be used to ensure proper identification and registration of migrants at Greek border crossings. This emergency funding comes from the Internal Security Fund (ISF). The 90 fingerprinting devices and workstations will be connected to the central EURODAC system to ensure sharing of information, and will be installed at border crossing points throughout the country, including on the Eastern Aegean islands."

Greece said to propose return trips for illegal migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A senior Greek official has said the government will ask Europe's border protection agency Frontex to help set up a sea deportation route to send migrants who reach the country illegally back to Turkey.

The official told AP the plan would involve chartering boats on Lesvos and other Greek islands to send back migrants who were not considered eligible for asylum in the European Union. the official spoke on condition of anonymity because Athens hasn't yet formally raised the issue with other European governments."

Netherlands Council Presidency: Promote the multidisciplinary approach in addressing migrant smuggling (link): "The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice is organising the conference in collaboration with the European Migration Network." .

It appears the Presdiency does not know the legal difference between "smuggling" and "trafficking" nor btween migrants and refugees.

And aims to trace: "the entire route travelled by migrants makes it possible to identify where barriers can be erected to deter human trafficking."

Commission forced to top up Turkey migration money - EU states unhappy at Turkeys efforts on migration, and want to reduce their share of money promised to Ankara (politico, link).

GREECE: Talks on hot spot for migrants inconclusive (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greeces minister for immigration policy, Yiannis Mouzalas, on Wednesday met with mayors from different parts of the country but the talks failed to determine a timetable for the creation of screening centers for migrants, or hot spots, that Athens has promised the European Union it will set up by the end of the month."

and: Battle lines drawn over migrant crossings (BBC News, link): "A range of measures, from stepped-up patrols, visa restrictions and rule changes designed to make deportation easier seem to have changed the atmosphere."

News (13-14.1.16)

UNHCR reports that 18,384 refugees have arrived in Greece this year, and 49 dead/missing.

AUSTRIA: Doctor in spotlight after refusing to treat refugees (The Local.at, link): "A Viennese doctor who put up a sign on the door to his practise saying that he wouldn't accept asylum seekers as patients may face disciplinary action. He also announced his decision on Facebook, causing a storm of protest on the social networking site."

GERNANY: Maddened local leader sends bus full of refugees to Merkel (The Local.de, link)

FRANCE: Briton spared jail for trying to smuggle Calais refugee girl (The Local.fr, link): "British man Rob Lawrie was fined ¬1,000 by a French court on Thursday after he tried to smuggle a four-year-old Afghan girl out of the Calais jungle camp into the UK. Lawrie however escaped jail."

FRANCE: Calais camp refugees defy relocation efforts (The Local.fr, link): "Tensions were high at the Calais migrant camp on Thursday as hundreds of refugees defied efforts to move them to a more permanent encampment as the winter cold kicks in.... nstead of moving into the containers, many migrants were on Thursday picking up their ramshackle tents and shelters and, with the help of activists, moving them deeper into the camp .."

HUNGARY: Migrants in Hungary: CoE human rights commissioner rings alarm (China-Europe, link): "STRASBOURG, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CoE), Nils Muiznieks, sounded the alarm on Wednesday in Strasbourg regarding the treatment of migrants returned to Hungary following recent changes made to asylum legislation. "Due to sweeping changes introduced in Hungary in asylum law and practice over recent months, asylum seekers returned there run a considerable risk of being subject to human rights violations," Muiznieks declared."

Opinion: Razor wire on the Schengen border: Obstruction or self-destruction? (euractiv, link): "Closing borders and building fences is the wrong response to the migrant crisis. Allowing our actions to be governed by fear and xenophobia will only strengthen the hand of the extremists, argues Bruno Nikolic."

GREECE-BULGARIA: As refugee exodus to Greece continues, some take Bulgarian route (euractiv, link): "From Greece, some of the migrants take the Bulgarian route. Yesterday the Bulgarian police announced it had saved 118 migrants from drowning in the Maritsa river (Evros in Greece). It is still unclear if they are of Syrian or Iraqi origin. All are without identity documents."

Migrant influx to Greece continues unabated through winter (ekathimerini.com, link): "More than 1,000 migrants and refugees arrived at Greece's biggest port of Piraeus near Athens on Wednesday as the influx of people fleeing conflict zones for Europe continued unabated into the winter months."

GERMANY-AUSTRIA: Refugees caught in quagmire as Germany reinstates rules (DW, link): "Confusion reigns once again on Austria's border as hundreds of migrants seeking refuge in other countries are being rejected by Germany, which once welcomed them with open arms. Alison Langley reports from Schärding."

UN: The human rights of migrants in transit (link): "Last year the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) developed and promulgated a set of Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders, including respect for the right to freedom of movement, on which we made recommendations at the invitation of the OHCHR. As a follow-up, and in response to ongoing refugee crises in Europe and elsewhere, the OHCHR has been tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with preparing further recommendations in relation to the rights of migrants in transit, including, [e]xit restrictions & and the externalisation of border controls which could have an impact on the human rights of migrants in transit.

Swedish border control becomes a privacy nightmare for travellers (EDRI, link): "Sweden and Denmark have passed national legislations which gives train, bus and ship operators the responsibility of checking if their passengers have valid travel documents before they are transported through the border zone where state border guards officially check passports or identification documents. This is similar to the obligations imposed on carriers in the EU Directive 2001/51/EC, except that the new Swedish and Danish obligations apply to passengers transported within the Schengen area."

EU failing to deliver on migration plans (euobserver, link): "Member states and EU institutions lag far behind on promises to better manage refugee flows, amid a growing public backlash. By contrast to the slow pace of joint measures, EU countries have taken snap unilateral measures, including border lockdowns in the heart of the Schengen free-travel zone, and tighter asylum laws in places such as Denmark, Germany, and Sweden. With migrants increasingly stranded in Greece, the main point of entry to the EU, the European Commission has repeatedly voiced frustration."

DENMARK: Govt gets backing for bill on taking migrants' cash (The Local.dk, link): "A controversial Danish bill to seize migrants' valuables to pay for their stay in asylum centres looks set to pass in parliament after the government on Tuesday secured a parliamentary majority. Parliament will on Wednesday begin a series of debates on the bill, ahead of a vote on January 26." and see: Denmark to seize refugees valuables - Move defies international criticism as Denmark continues to toughen stance on asylum seekers.(politico. link)

Italy tells EU: Choose Schengen or asylum accord (Yahoo News, link): "Europe must choose between its Schengen open borders and its Dublin rules on asylum procedures because the migrant crisis means the two are no longer compatible, Italy said Tuesday."

EU: Cash Crisis: If Schengen Goes, the Euro is Finished, Warns Merkel (sputniknews.com/europe, link): "Europe has to control its outer, not internal borders, and the very existence of the single currency depends on the survival of Schengen, the German chancellor said.

Germany to relax migrant deportation rules (euobserver, link): "Germany is amending laws to ease the deportation of foreigners with criminal offences amid an on-going backlash over mass sexual assaults on women during New Year's Eve festivities."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.1.16)


European Commission: HOW DO YOU TRY AND HIDE CONTINUING BAD NEWS - YOU PUT A WEEK OLD DATE ON THE PRESS RELEASE:

European Commission:
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels ( pdf) This This Commission Press Release is dated 5 September 2016, and list under this date on the Commission website but contains data dated 12 January 2016 - which made it quite hard to find.

 

Comment on the current situation: The relocation plan is simply not working, "returns" are at a standstill as are Member State pledges of finance for the Africa Trust Fund, Syria Trust Fund, Humanitarian aid to World Food Programme and UNHCR.

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (pdf): 17 Member States with 4,237 places offered - up 20 - out of 160,000 needed. Actual relocation: 190 from Italy and 82 from Greece: a total of 272, up 11 from 22 December.

- Returns updated on 4 January 2016 since September (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 683 no change from December, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as three weeks ago.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Frontex: 165 officers - up 34 (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams - Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hotspots" are planned but only three - Lampedusa (17 Frontex offcials) and Trapani (8 Frontex officials - up 4) in Italy and Lesvos - are operational.

- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, ¬ million (pdf) Unmet pledges total: 2,224,890 euro unchanged since December.

- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 12 January 2016) (pdf) Still many unmet needs

.See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

UNHCR: Lesvos island snapshot - 11 Jan 2016 (pdf)

- Total arrivals in Lesvos (01 Jan 2015 - 11 Jan 2016): 512,470
- Total arrivals in Lesvos during Jan 2016 12,452
- Average daily arrivals during Jan 2016 1,132

and Serbia: Inter-Agency operational Update: 21 December 2015 - 3 January 2016 (pdf)

"According to official statistics, 577,995 refugees and migrants expressed intention to seek asylum in the Republic of Serbia in 2015 as at 31 December.... The practice of denying entry to refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq continued. As of 01 January, maximum 940 asylum-seekers are allowed to board per train, and a maximum of four train departures daily are provided from `id in Serbia to Slavonski Brod in Croatia.".

- Recorded daily arrivals in West Balkans (1 October - 7 January, pdf). It is notable that arrivals in Hungary greatly decrease in mid-October 2015

IOM: Migrant Arrivals in Europe by Sea Reached 18,872 in First 11 Days of 2016 (link): "Migrant arrivals in Europe by sea averaged over 1,700 a day during the first 11 days of 2016, according to IOM. The period also saw the years first fatalities in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy, a route that took the lives of almost 3,000 migrants and refugees in 2015."

Arrivals by Sea and Deaths in the Mediterranean 1 - 11 January 2016: Italy: 257. Greece 18,615 Deaths/missing 53

EU refugee crisis: History repeating (euobserver, link): "Refugees and hostile public reactions are nothing new in Europe. People like Nobel Prize laureate Fridtjof Nansen, who helped over 1 million people find shelter after WWI, should be a model."

News (12.1.16)

ITALY: Migrants missing after being thrown into sea (The Local.it, link)

GREECE: Tighter Border Checks Leave Migrants Trapped in Greece (AP, link): "Syed Mohammad Jamil, head of the Pakistani-Hellenic Cultural Society, says about 4,000 Pakistanis could be stuck in Greece, mostly still on the islands, and about as many Bangladeshis."

GERMANY: German police arrest 211 after far-right riot in Leipzig (Guardian, link): "Hundreds of extremists break away from anti-refugee Pegida rally to smash windows and set fires in leftwing area of city"

EU migrant crisis: Germany sends migrants back to Austria (BBC News, link): "Germany has been sending an increasing number of migrants back to Austria every day since the beginning of the month, Austrian police say. Many had no valid documents, whilst others did not want to apply for asylum in Germany but in other countries, notably in Scandinavia, police said.... Most of those sent back to Austria are not Syrians, who usually get asylum. Instead, they are migrants mostly from Afghanistan as well as Morocco and Algeria, Austrian police said."

and see: Germany sends hundreds of migrants back to Austria every day (DW, link): "Germany has been refusing an increasing number of migrants at its southern border, Austrian authorities say. Hundreds of migrants have been sent back to Austria, from where many are trying to find new routes to Germany.... "The daily number of migrants being turned back has risen from 60 in December to 200 since the start of the year," David Furtner, police spokesman in the province of Upper Austria, told the news agency AFP."

FRANCE: Calais 'Jungle' residents defy bulldozers as police issue ultimatum to leave (Guardian, link): "Asylum seekers resist attempts by French government to move them from makeshift settlement to new prison-like facility... the affected asylum-seekers are frightened by the new site, which they say resembles a prison and contains no communal areas in contrast to the informal settlement, which has makeshift churches, mosques and kitchens." and Authorities Open Semi-Permanent Section Of Calais Migrant Camp (Sky News, video link): "Authorities in Calais have opened a semi-permanent section of the migrant camp known as the Jungle. It comes as both the Jungle camp - and another in Dunkirk - have significantly expanded in recent months. Sky's Europe Correspondent Mark Stone has visited both camps and sent this report."

FRANCE: France's asylum figures pale beside Germany's (The Local.fr, link): "Nearly 80,000 people applied for asylum in France in 2015, a rise of a fifth compared with a year earlier but far fewer than the 1.1 million requests in Germany, figures showed Tuesday... Just under a third -- 31.5 percent -- of the 79,130 applications were successful, said Pascal Brice, the director general of the French agency for the protection of refugees. The highest number came from people from war-wracked Syria and from Sudan and Kosovo."

GREECE: LESVOS: Seven foreign NGO workers arrested on Lesvos for theft (ekathimerini.com, link): "Seven foreign nationals (three Britons, two Americans, a Dutchman and a Cypriot) working for nongovernmental organizations that are providing assistance for migrants and refugees on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos were arrested on Monday, the Athens-Macedonian New Agency has reported. According to the AMNA, the seven suspects face charges of allegedly stealing 335 life vests from a facility belonging to the Municipality of Lesvos. They are reported to have told police they wanted the life vests in order to construct mattresses for refugees staying at the registration camp in Morias."

Greece and Turkey to step up talks on refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece and Turkey are planning a series of high-level bilateral meetings to discuss coordination of the ongoing migration and refugee crisis, as trilateral talks between Greece, Turkey and Germany, which were set for some time in early 2016, are likely to be called off, Kathimerini understands." and EU urges Turkey to do more, amid fresh talk of mini-Schengen (euobserver, link)

SWEDEN: Refugee influx weighs on Swedish towns (DW, link): "Sweden is struggling to cope with the arrival last year of one asylum-seeker for every 60 Swedes. Unease and support for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are growing, as Richard Orange reports from Revingeby. "

GREECE-TURKEY: Greek coast guard detains two Turkish captains over refugee trafficking (hurriyetdailynews.com, link)

SWITZERLAND: Proposal 'would expel 18,000 foreigners a year' (The Local.ch, .

HUNGARY-GREECE: The right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said the EU should build a fence on the Northern Greek borders with Turkey, to stop refugees from entering the EU (New Europe, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.1.16)


EU-TURKEY: Implementing the joint October 2015 "action plan" on refugees: visa restrictions and work permits

 

VISA RESTRICTIONS: Turkeys new visa law for Syrians enters into force (Hurriyet Daily News, link): "Turkey has started implementing visa restrictions for Syrians entering the country by air or by sea as part of its efforts to stem the flow of migrants into Europe.

As Ankara has reversed a six-year agreement that allows visa-free entry to citizens of both Syria and Turkey, Syrians arriving in Turkey by air and sea from other countries need visas as of Jan. 8, 2016.

The visa restrictions wont apply to Syrian refugees who cross the Syrian-Turkish border by land to flee the conflict in Syria. The move aims to stop Syrians from flying into Turkey from other countries and illegally trying to reach Greece and other European nations."

See: Hundreds of Syrians Are Turned Back at Beirut Airport (The New York Times, link): " Four hundred Syrians who were trying to fly to Turkey were stopped at the Beirut airport on Friday and were being forced to return to Damascus instead, in a chaotic episode that illustrated how options are narrowing for those trying to flee the war in Syria."

WORK PERMITS: Turkey plans to introduce work permits for Syrian refugees, minister says (Reuters, link): "Turkey plans to offer Syrian refugees work permits in order to encourage fewer of them to migrate, Volkan Bozkir, Turkey's minister for European Affairs, said on Monday, amid EU pressure to reduce the flow of migrants.

Bozkir was speaking after meeting European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who last week said the European Union was far from satisfied with Turkey's efforts to prevent migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece."

And: overview: The EU and Turkeys Action Plan: a bad deal for the worlds most desperate (Rory O'Keeffe, link): "On 29th November, when the EU was just eleven months into its year of failure, it struck a deal with Turkey in an attempt to address part of the international refugee crisis.

It is remarkable and flawed."

Agreed in October 2015: EU-Turkey joint action plan (pdf)

EU: European Commission: Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting: Eleventh Contact Points Video Conference (press release, 8.1.16, pdf): "Today, an eleventh video conference was held between the contact points nominated after the Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting held on 25 October. The objective was to follow up on the agreement reached at the meeting and set out in the Leaders' Statement."

See: Leaders' Statement, 25 October 2015: Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans Route: Leaders Statement (pdf): Greece to build camps to hold 30,000 refugees plus 20,000 in rented homes and UNHCR a further 50,000 further north:

"Under the current circumstances, we will discourage the movement of refugees or migrants to the border of another country of the region. A policy of waving through refugees without informing a neighbouring country is not acceptable. This should apply to all countries along the route..."

News (11.1.16)

BALKANS: Tighter Balkan borders drive migrants into smugglers arms (Irish Times, link): "Lamine Buasida placed his sodden shoes in the weak winter sunshine, peeled off his soaking socks and gingerly rubbed his painful feet. Their soles were a sickly white and the waterlogged skin sloughed off in his fingers.

His three fellow Algerians werent fairing much better, their clothes soggy and spattered with mud after another failed attempt to sneak from Greece into Macedonia and move a little closer to their dream of a future in western Europe. "

EU: The big thing missing from Europes solution to the refugee crisis? Refugees. (The Washington Post, link): "The solution to Hamaameens dilemma was also supposed to be the key to unlocking Europes struggle with an unparalleled flow of refugees. By taking people off the migrant trail and distributing them more evenly across the continent, the E.U. could bring order to a process marked by chaos.

But four months after European leaders agreed to the plan following long and bitter negotiations, the program has been crippled by a lack of cooperation from countries and the refugees themselves. Out of an intended total of 160,000 asylum seekers, the E.U. has relocated a paltry 272."

FRANCE: Armoured vehicles in Calais for improved "protection of the security forces": Un véhicule blindé à Calais pour renforcer les dispositifs (Nord Littoral, link)

GERMANY: Oettinger: Europe has more lifeguards than border guards (Politico, link): "Günther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for digital economy and society, warned on Sunday that Germany cannot handle another million refugees.

We should help the people with dignity and keep our welcome culture, but neither the district administration nor volunteers at reception centers can cope with another million of refugees. Oettinger said."

ITALY: The City of Milan Will Pay You 350 Euros to Host a Refugee (Vice News, link): "The second-biggest Italian city is offering a monthly payment of 350 euros ($376) to every resident willing to host a refugee, or an asylum seeker, in their home."

SLOVENIA-CROATIA: Heavy Rains in Slovenia Flood Parts of the Border Fence with Croatia (Total Croatia News, link): "Slovenian forecasters have announced that on Monday there will be an increase in heavy precipitation which will cause high water levels of Slovenian rivers. The people living in the valley of the Kupa river are afraid of the potential damage which could be done by the river if the floods begin to take away the razor wire fence which the Slovenian government has put on the left bank of the river in order to prevent migrants and refugees from entering the country, reports Vecernji List and Index.hr on January 11, 2016."

SPAIN: Dozens of Migrants Abused Trying to Cross Spanish Border - Reports (Sputnik News, link): "Six migrants have been killed, three drowned and some 19 others hospitalized trying to enter the Spanish territory by sea, according to The Local, citing the Moroccan Association for the Integration of Immigrants."

TURKEY: 8 Killed As A Refugee Bus Crashes In Western Turkey (haberler.com, link): "At least eight people were reported to have been killed and 42 others injured Friday when a bus carrying illegal refugees overturned in western Turkish province of Balikesir"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9-10.1.16)


Council of the European Union: Refugee crisis inside the EU: Relocation mechanism:

 

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 14951-15, pdf):

Lots of Member State reservations including from Greece: "The number of persons to be relocated shall not exceed 40% of the number of applications lodged with that Member State in the six months preceding the adoption of the delegated act." and:

"The delegations having general or scrutiny reservations reiterated their positions and underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation. Some delegations recalled their preference for addressing this proposal as part of a broader package on asylum.

The following delegations entered or confirmed their general scrutiny reservations: AT, BE, BG, DE, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI.

CZ, ES, HU, LT, PL and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal"

- As above: Relocation: State of play (14513-15, pdf)

"During these discussions, a number of delegations raised general scrutiny reservations and reiterated their positions according to which they consider that it would be preferable to evaluate the functioning of the temporary emergency relocation schemes, adopted by the Council on 14 and 22 September3, before the discussion on the proposal on the crisis relocation mechanism continues. They are of the view that shortcomings in the implementation of the relocation decisions, including the functioning of the hotspots and the prevention of secondary movements, should be addressed as a matter of urgency." [emphasis added]

UPDATE: Frontex tweeted to Statewatch (9.1.16): "Frontex categorically denies this report. Officers deployed by Frontex do not conduct checks of volunteers, NGOs." See: Statewatch Twitter (link)

WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH FRONTEX? POLICING VOLUNTEERS: Greek Police, Frontex to 'check' volunteers on islands receiving migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "The Greek Police and Frontex are to carry out checks on non-governmental organizations and volunteers on islands of the northern Aegean which have been receiving large numbers of migrants, sources have told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency.... The broader checks will seek to determine that people declaring themselves as volunteers are working for an accredited organization. The aim is to restore a sense of security on the islands, police source said, not to prevent the work of the NGOs."

and see: Greek police and Frontex to begin ID checks of NGOs, volunteers in North Aegean islands (amna, link): "08/ 01/ 2016 Last update: 18:43: Greek Police on Friday announced the launch, in collaboration with the EU border agency Frontex, of round-the-clock ID checks of volunteers and members of non-governmental organisations currently operating on various eastern Aegean islands as part of efforts to assist Middle Eastern refugees landing on the isles after leaving Turkey.... [a sourrce said] that volunteers working on the coast will be asked to produce a police ID card and to name the organisation they are with, at which point police officers will check to see if the specific NGO is accredited.:" [emphasis added]

Also: Greek Police to do ID Checks on Volunteers Helping Refugees (Greek Reporter, link) which adds: "It is not our intention to offend the volunteers or the NGO staff and their work but only to stress the presence of the police along the coast and at the points where migrants and refugees generally alight, a senior police officer told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency..... The entire process, if everything checks out, will end there, he added, saying the aim was to bolster a sense of security among island residents, who had become alarmed by recent reports concerning the hundreds of NGO workers and volunteers who were currently on the islands and were interfering in refugee management issues without any kind of monitoring or control." [emphasis added]

Comment: "working for an accredited organization" means working for an organisation which the state (whether EU or Greek) approves of.

News (9-10.1.16)

Volunteers lend a hand at migrant camps in Slovenia (DW, link): "Last year, Slovenia became a flashpoint in Europe's migration crisis. The government there tried to limit the flow to 2,500 people a day. But many more have flooded into the country and migrant camps are overflowing. The authorities have been overwhelmed by the crisis. But some individual citizens have been doing what they can to help out, as Lauren Frayer reports from a migrant camp in Slovenia."

UN backlash against call to scale back Geneva convention on refugees (Guardian, link) "Senior officials warn against Danish prime ministers proposal to revise 1951 UN treaty, saying it risks the destruction of a milestone of humanity"

New Dutch EU presidency vows tough line on refugees (Politico, link):"Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the numbers of migrants have to come down."

Italy: League slams plan to decriminalize illegal immigration (ANSA, link):"A decree depenalising illegal immigration is expected to go before cabinet on January 15, government sources said Friday. Being an undocumented immigrant became a crime in 2009 under Silvio Berlusconi, and talk of abolishing that law sparked an outcry from his erstwhile governing coalition partner - the rightwing anti-immigrant Northern League."

Reuniting refugee families not a priority for Berlin (euractiv, link)

Calais Jungle: anger over fate of child refugees denied UK asylum hearing (Guardian, link): "Masud, 15, died on a lorry after losing hope that his claim to live with his sister in Britain would ever be heard"

Swedish police hold man for smuggling refugee (The Local.se, link): "Swedish police arrested a man early Sunday as he allegedly tried to smuggle a migrant into the country aboard a rubber dinghy, the first such case since Sweden imposed systematic ID checks, police said."

Denmark eases plans to strip migrants' jewellery (The Local.dk, link): "The Danish government on Friday announced it is modifying a proposed law to make migrants pay for their stay under its generous welfare state, plans which had drawn international criticism."

Greece denies role in Aegean migrant deaths (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Greek authorities have denied any involvement in the Jan. 5 migrant tragedy in the Aegean Sea, citing reports in several Turkish media outlets to that end. ... Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy head and spokesperson Ömer Çelik told a press conference in Ankara on Jan. 6 that the Greek naval authorities directed boats carrying a total of 55 migrants back to Turkey, triggering the tragedy."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.1.16)


UNHCR: GREECE: Daily estimates arrivals per location (29 Oct 2015 06 Jan 2016) (pdf) and Total arrivals in Greece (Jan 2015 - 06 Jan 2016 (pdf): 861,354. Total arrivals in Greece during January 2016: 10,035.

 

IOM Counts Latest Mediterranean Arrivals in 2016, German 2015 Asylum Statistics (link): Arrivals in Greece: 1 January 6 January 2016: 9,930 and 1 January 31 December 2015: 847,084

News (8.1.16)

Italy set to decriminalize illegal immigration (The Local.it, link): "The Italian government is set scrap a law criminalizing those entering the country without proper documents, a move which has been condemned by political opponents amid the ongoing refugee crisis. The bill, which will reach the Council of Ministers next week, stipulates that those entering the country illegally or overstaying their visa will no longer be tried or fined up to ¬10,000."

Asylum cases yo-yo after Danish border checks (The Local.dk, link): "After the first three days of new border controls led to a sharp increase in the number of asylum applications, the figures plummeted on the fourth day."

Migrants struggle in sub-zero temperatures (BBC News, link): "Medics working at refugee aid camps in the Balkans say they are seeing a spike in the number of migrants falling ill as freezing temperatures arrive. It has fallen to as low as -11C in the region. The medical charities International Medical Corps and Medecins Sans Frontieres say most patients are suffering with respiratory problems such as bronchitis and flu."

Greece: A letter from Lesvos by Dimitris Ballas: "The inspiring humanity of many ordinary European citizens in the face of the refugee crisis contrasts shockingly with the limited actions of European governments.... As one of the local volunteers put it, even if Greece is bankrupt and we have no money, we will still have our bodies and we will help the people who need us. The vast majority of work has been done by the islanders themselves, but they have also been joined by NGOs and people coming here from all over the world,... However, all these amazing manifestations of humanity and solidarity have not so far been matched by adequate government policies and actions at the national, European and global levels."

Slovak PM: Its impossible to integrate Muslims(euractiv, link): "Challenging the EUs political correctness, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he will not allow a large Muslim community in his country. Ficos anti-immigration rhetoric has boosted his Direction-Social Democracy party (SMER-SD) ahead of the 5 March elections."

International aid efforts dwarfed by scale of refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "European countries are diverting development and humanitarian aid to tackle the refugee crisis. But a severe lack of funding and restrictions on aid donations undermine the efficiency of their efforts."

Greece: Turkey not challenging traffickers, says minister (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey has not taken any action to clamp down on human traffickers and between 3,000 and 4,000 migrants and refugees are reaching Greece every day, Immigration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said Thursday..... The high rate has to do with refugees fear that the borders will close for everyone, he said, adding that he though this possibility is very likely. [emphasis added]

'We must save Schengen' says Juncker - 'Protect our outer borders' says Timmerman (ANSA, link): " "We have much to gain by identifying - at a very preliminary stage - who has a right to international protection and who doesn't, allowing for fast repatriations," he added. "We must take these steps in the next two weeks," Timmermans said." [emphasis added]

Croatia: There are no problems with management of migrant crisis in Croatia (dalje.com, link): "Persons without papers are issued with an ID document and they must leave the country, the minister said."

Timmermans travels to Turkey as plan to stem migrant flow flops (euobserver, link): "The European Commissions first vice-president Frans Timmermans is to fly to Turkey this weekend to discuss with Turkish authorities why the number of refugees arriving in the EU from Turkey has not dropped significantly since the EU agreed in November to pay ¬3bn in aid in return for a crackdown." and EU 'long way from satisfied' with Turkish migrant cooperation (euobserver, link): "The EU is far from satisfied with Turkey's cooperation in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe after a deal clinched late last year, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said today "

EU should erect new Greek frontier to stop migrants, Hungarian PM says (TRF, link): "The European Union should establish a new frontier on the northern border of Greece, because an agreement with Turkey will not be enough to stop hundreds of thousands of migrants from coming to Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-7.1.16)


Less democracy, xenophobia, resentment: bad times for refugees. OM interviews Zygmunt Bauman: Bauman: Walls against migrants are a victory of terrorism (thanks to Open Migration, pdf)

 

"To win their war, fundamentalist terrorists can safely count on the collaboration of their shortsighted enemies. Suspension of the basic rules of democracy, resentment towards foreigners, the vicious circle between political propaganda and xenophobia, nation-states unable to face a significant phenomenon as migrations. The refugee crisis, before and after the attacks in Paris, is the litmus test of a global crisis of the West, explains the great sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in this interview with Open Migration. An emergency that will last long and to which Europe has yet to find the proper arguments to answer."

See also: Migrants arriving in Italy are mostly economic Incorrect (openmigration.org, link)

Lesvos, Greece: Who Made These Decisions? (Eric Kempson video, link) Remove NGOs and you will get fewer refugees...

EU: SAFE COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN: European Economic and Social Committee: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin for the purposes of Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and amending Directive 2013/32/EU (pdf): Excellent critique:

"The EESC considers that the specific criteria for determining that a country is safe for the purposes of Directive 2011/95/EU and, in particular, Annex I of Directive 2013/32/EU, must be established in a more practical and secure way that provides guarantees.

Similarly, while welcoming the Commission's initiative, the EESC considers that at this juncture it may be premature to draw up a specific list of countries considered to be safe for these purposes."

See: Proposal for a Regulation: establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin for the purposes of Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and amending Directive 2013/32/EU (pdf) and Annex (pdf)

and see: ECRE Comments on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin and amending the recast Asylum Procedures Directive (COM(2015) 452) (pdf)

EU: European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, (Dated 4 January, 2016, pdf)

Comment on current situation: The only change since 23 December is that another "hotspot" has opened in Trapani, Italy. There are now three out of a planned 11 "hotspots"

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (pdf): 17 Member States with 4,207 places offered - up 380 - out of 160,000 needed. No change from December.

- Returns updated on 4 January 2016 since September (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 683 no change from December, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as two weeks ago.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Frontex: 131 officers (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams - althougth it appears from reports that quite a few are away for a Xmas break - Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hotspots" are planned but only three - Lampedusa (17 Frontex offcials) and Trapani (4 Frontex officials) in Italy and Lesvos - are operational.

- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, ¬ million ((pdf) Unmet pledges total: 2,224,890 euro unchanged since December.

- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 4 January 2016) (pdf) Still many unmet needs.

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

UK: House of Commons Select Committee: International Development Committee report: Syrian refugee crisis (pdf): "we are very concerned about the plight of unaccompanied refugee children in Europe, particularly as reports suggest they are falling prey to people traffickers. We urge the Government to come to a quick decision on the proposal by Save the Children as this is a matter of utmost urgency. We would welcome a decision by the Government in favour of resettling 3,000 unaccompanied children, as recommended by Save the Children, and in addition to the current commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees from the region."

The report which shows a terrible flaw in Cameron's refugee policy (link): " The problem is that neither of these policies helping in the region and relocating especially vulnerable refugees at home are being properly delivered. It's a classic example of simplistic political messaging crashing into complex political realities. Today's international development select committee report lays it out in black and white. Behind the rhetoric and the bluster, it offers a very good account of why Cameron's promises on refugees are running into problems..... Now that the UK is participating in airstrikes in Syria, those access challenges are obviously heightened. As the parliamentary report says:

"The recent escalation of military efforts will have an impact on conditions faced by civilians in Syria, and may well make it more difficult for DfID and other agencies to deliver humanitarian aid.""

News (6-7.1.16)

New Dutch EU presidency plans tough line on refugees - Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the numbers of migrants have to come down. (Politico, link)

Greece:
Drop in migrants caused by weather, not Turkey's crackdown, Germany says (ekathimerini.com, link) : "Migrant arrivals in Germany dropped significantly last month, but the reason was rough seas, not efforts by Turkey to crack down on illegal departures to Greece, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday.... The huge influx has forced authorities to register migrants upon entering Germany and have them wait in temporary accommodation centers before they can officially file asylum applications. Just over 476,000 migrants applied for asylum last year, the highest number ever recorded in Germany, the Interior Ministry said. That number will rise when the asylum applications of the remaining 600,000 registered migrants are collected."

Sweden keen to slow Europe's 'refugee highway' (euobserver, link): "Sweden is demanding measures to block "the highway" of migrants traversing across Europe, as the inflow of refugees to Germany has not slowed since September."

As Schengen crumbles, Orban becomes the face of Europe (New Europe, link): "Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Greece& what freedom of movement?"

Schengen is dead? Long live Schengen (euractiv, link): "Schengen needs to be safeguarded in the face of international crises, write Jacques Delors, António Vitorino, Yves Bertoncini and the participants of the Jacques Delors Institute 2015 European steering committee." and Avramopoulos gets Sweden and Denmark to speak over border controls (euractiv, link): "Danish and Swedish migration ministers met in Brussels on Wednesday (6 January) to discuss the border controls, which the two countries introduced earlier this week in response to the refugee crisis, creating unprecedented tensions between the two countries."

EU fails to defuse passport-free clash in Northern Europe (ekathimerini.com, link)

Don't Let 2016 Be the Year We Forgot About Migrants (Huffingtom Post, link): "Imagine bodies washing up on the beach in town popular with British tourists. Imagine corpses becoming a regular feature, in a resort which people usually visit to relax and enjoy themselves. Imagine men, women, and children in lines on the sand. No-one knows who they are, but they are becoming a common sight, close by to where holidaymakers eat, drink and swim. It's like something from a horror movie, but it's happening."

Forced Migration Review: The Mediterranean challenge within a world of humanitarian crises (link)

Greece: Government mulls army camps for hosting migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday chaired a meeting to assess his administrations progress in responding to the migration crisis, with sources indicating that military facilities are among the venues being considered for accommodating thousands of migrants.."

Medical charity MSF ends Mediterranean rescues, appeals to EU Yahoo News, link): "The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has ended its sea rescue operation aimed at reducing the number of migrants and asylum seekers killed while trying to cross the Mediterranean from north Africa to Europe, it said on Tuesday. MSF said its three ships had rescued more than 20,000 people in over 120 search and rescue operations during eight months at sea."

WHITHER SCHENGEN?

Forget Schengen: Italy to reintroduce controls along its border (link) and

From Slovenia to Italy: Schengen Slowly Shutting Down (Sputnink News, link):

"The decision by Denmark to tighten border controls with Sweden and Germany is having a domino effect on the rest of Europe, piling more pressure on countries already receiving the majority of refugees. Sweden has imposed strict identification checks for all rail passengers arriving from Denmark while Austria, Germany and Norway ramp up border controls to prevent an influx of refugees entering their territory.

The knock-on effect from the Nordic countries has now reached Italy. According to newspaper Corriere della Sera, Italy is to increase controls along its border with Slovenia following an increase in the number of migrants crossing the border into the Mediterranean county."

Danes unmoved by border checks as refugees caught in the middle (DW, link): "Experts call it "political theater," while many Danes consider it a necessary step. But the border dispute in Scandinavia could leave thousands of refugees in a limbo on the German border, reports DW's Peter Dahl."

EU to hold emergency Schengen talks (euobserver, link): "The European Commission is holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday (6 January) following the snap introduction of border control checks in northern Europe. EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos convened the talks after Sweden introduced ID checks with Denmark, followed by a similar move by the Danes, who began border controls with Germany."

TURKEY: 4-month-old Syrian baby freezes to death in a tent (todayszaman.com, link):

"A 4-month-old Syrian baby, whose family fled the war in Syria to enter Turkey, froze to death in a tent in the eastern city of Batman.

The Cihan news agency reported on Tuesday that the baby's family is living without fuel or electricity in a tent in the Balpinar neighborhood of Batman and suffering from the bitterly cold weather. The baby, named Faris Khidr Ali, could not resist the cold any longer and died on Tuesday."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.1.16)
Migrant arrivals and deaths in the Mediterranean: what do the data really tell us? (Forced Migration Review, link):

 

"When looking at numbers of arrivals and deaths in the Mediterranean, it is important to ask how robust the data are and what they represent. If we are to frame and inform more accurately the policy challenges facing Europe, it is crucial that data are of good quality and as complete as possible and that their limitations are fully understood."

Article by Frank Laczko, Ann Singleton, Tara Brian and Marzia Rango (pdf)

At least 34 migrants die in worst tragedy of 2016 on Aegean Sea (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "The bodies of at least 34 migrants who were attempting to cross to Greece have washed up in the Aegean districts of Ayvalik and Dikili after two boats overturned in stormy weather, amid fears that the death toll could rise... Twenty-four were discovered on the shoreline in the district of Ayvalik, the Turkish Coast Guard command told Reuters. Ten others were found in the district of Dikili, a gendarmerie official in the local headquarters said. The bodies began washing up on the shore of a housing development, Marti Site, in Ayvaliks Altinova Neighborhood.."

SCHENGEN IN TROUBLE: Is the Schengen dream of Europe without borders becoming a thing of the past? (Guardian, link): "With Sweden and Denmark reintroducing border controls in a new Europe of razor-wire fences, fear of mass immigration and homegrown terror, obituaries are already being written"

European Union To Host Schengen Talks With Sweden, Denmark (NDTV, link): " The European Union (EU) said it will host emergency talks on Wednesday with Denmark, Sweden and Germany about new migrant border checks that have sparked fresh concerns about Europe's Schengen passport-free zone. EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called the meeting in Brussels after Denmark implemented spot checks on its border with Germany, and Sweden imposed its own controls on travellers from Denmark."

Domino effect: Denmark follows Sweden on EU border checks (euobserver, link) and Sweden sees sharp drop in new refugee arrivals (The Local.se, link)

Denmark and Sweden step up border checks - Denmark and Sweden bring back passport checks at the border to stem the migrant flow. (politico.eu, link)

IOM: 31 December 2015: 1,003,124 arrivals in the Med: Greece: 845,852. Italy: 153,032. 3,771 deaths/missing

News (5.1.16)

Greece: Vanessa Redgrave in Athens to highlight plight of refugees (ANAMPA, link): "Noted actress, activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Redgrave on Tuesday paid a visit to an open reception centre for refugees and migrants in the Elaionas district of inner city Athens.... She particularly praised the residents of the eastern Aegean islands and volunteers arriving from all parts of the world to help the refugees, urging people everywhere to exert pressure on their governments for a more positive approach to the refugees issue."

Merkel's Bavarian allies reignite refugee row with call for cap (Reuters, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel's allies in Bavaria stepped up criticism of her open-door refugee policy on Sunday, with their leader demanding a cap of 200,000 migrants a year, about a fifth of last year's level." and see: Merkel rejects eehofers call for refugee limit - Chancellor gives her Bavarian ally the cold shoulder.(politico.eu, link)

Nine drowned refugees wash up on Turkish beach (ekathimerini.com, link) :"A Turkish news agency says the bodies of nine drowned migrants, including children, have washed up on a beach on Turkey's Aegean coast after their boat capsized in rough seas. The Dogan news agency says the bodies were discovered early on Tuesday in the resort town of Ayvalik, from where migrants set off on boats to reach the Greek island of Lesvos"

Berlin warns Schengen is in danger (euractiv, link): "Germany has warned that the EUs border-free zone is in danger, after countries that didnt have border controls before Schengen was set up reintroduced checks for the first time since the 1950s. Sweden on Monday (4 January) imposed controls on travellers arriving from Denmark to try to curb an influx of refugees, prompting knock-on measures from Denmark that triggered fresh concern for Europe's passport-free Schengen zone."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-4.1.16)


Statwatch Analysis: The Reform of Frontex: Saving Schengen at Refugees' Expense? (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex:

 

"Overall, the proposals are flawed, in two contradictory ways: they simultaneously seek to do too much in the area of border controls (where the Frontex proposal exceeds EU powers and is politically unprincipled) and too little in the area of asylum (since there is no significant attempt to address humanitarian or protection needs within the EU). In short, they seek to save the Schengen system, at the expense of refugees."

Denmark Introduces Border Controls with Germany to Curb Migrant Flow (novinite.com, link): "Denmark has announced it is closing its border with Germany, daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The development is a reaction to Sweden's move, hours earlier, to introduce passport control with Denmark, the newspaper quotes the country's PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen. The measures is in force "starting immediately"."

Refugee fears prompt Swedish border clampdown (euobserver, link): "Sweden on Monday (4 January) launched identity checks on its border with Denmark, in a move which unravels over 60 years of free travel between the two EU states."

New Swedish border controls: A blow to Schengen? (DW, link): "Sweden has reinstated new controls on the border with Denmark as it tries to cope with a big migrant influx. Another nail in the coffin of the Schengen zone? Malcolm Brabant reports from Copenhagen."

Norway to send up to 5,000 refugees to EU (The Local.no, link): "Norway plans to send between 4,000 and 5,000 refugees back to other EU countries, including some 860 to Hungary"

News (3-4.1.16)

Spain-Ceuta: At least three migrants reported dead during clashes at Ceuta border (The Local.es, link): " The deaths, which have been reported by NGOs working with migrants at the border, occurred on the Moroccan side of the border as some 200 people attempted to cross into Spain. Witnesses said that they had seen at least three corpses floating in the water as Moroccan police attempted to prevent a group of around 200 people scaling the fences to reach Spain's north African enclave"

Man who walked to UK from France gets asylum (The Local.fr, link):"A Sudanese man accused of walking almost the entire length of the undersea Channel Tunnel from France to Britain has been granted asylum, his representative said on Monday. Abdul Rahman Haroun, 40, was arrested in Kent, southeast England, in August on suspicion of passing through the 31-mile (50 km) tunnel. Shortly after his arrest Haroun applied for asylum, which was granted on December 24th, though he only got the news Monday in Canterbury Crown Court.... His legal team previously argued that their client qualified for protection under Article 31 of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, of which Britain is a signatory. This states that members "shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened... enter or are present in their territory without authorisation."

Scottish Government Announces 75,000 GBP Grant for Refugees in Greece (Greek Reporter, link): "The Scottish government has approved a 75,000 GBP grant to support the refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos every day. The funds will be allocated to the British Red Cross medical response team located on the island. The 75,000 GBP was added to a previous donation of 140,000 GBP, allocated for the same cause."

Greece: Two hundred migrants rescued off Greece so far in 2016; 1 dead (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece's coast guard says 217 migrants have been rescued by authorities since the start of the new year in four separate incidents."

Toddler becomes first refugee to drown in 2016 (aljazeera.com, link): "Child dies and 39 people are rescued after rubber dinghy which set off from Turkey hits rocks off Greek islands.... The charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which helps save people at sea, deployed its fast-rescue Responder boat to help bring the stranded passengers to safety in a joint operation with the Hellenic coastguard."

David Miliband earns £425,000-a-year as head of refugee charity International Rescue (Yahoo News, link): "Former foreign secretary David Miliband is paid a staggering $600,000 (£425,000) a year by the refugee charity International Rescue, it has been claimed. The huge sum is understood to have been declared publicly for the first time by the Charities Bureau and also reveals that Miliband's income is the reward for working 37.5 hours a week as head of the charity."

Bavarian leader Seehofer says Germany can take in maximum of 200,000 refugees (DW, link): "A leading Bavarian politician has suggested Germany can take in no more than 200,000 refugees per year. Political allies, Horst Seehofer's CSU and Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats are at odds over refugee policy"

Fear and few answers as Turkish police round up Syrian refugees (Reuters, link): "The family of seven from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo was among a group of refugees rounded up two weeks ago and sent to a detention center on the Asian side of Istanbul, where they passed several days guarded by police and surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire.""

IOM: Since January 2015, 1,000,064 migrants, including refugees are reported to have arrived to Europe by sea out of a total 1,034,745 by both land and sea routes.(link)Tragically 3,760 migrants are known to have drowned or remain missing.

UK: David Cameron must do more for refugees this year, charities say (Guardian, link): "In joint letter, Oxfam, Refugee Council, Amnesty and others call on prime minister to approach 2016 with new resolve to address refugee crisis"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (31.12.15-2.1.16)


Syrian Two-Year-Old is First Refugee Victim of 2016 (MIgrant Report, link):"Two-year-old Khalid, a Syrian boy who was travelling to Greece with his mother became the first refugee to die in the Mediterranean this year when the rubber raft he was on was slammed against the rocks on the Aegean island of Nera, early on Saturday morning."

 

EU: Frontex: Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting: Tenth Contact Points Video Conference (pdf):

"Frontex informed the group of the launch on 28 December of the new operation "Poseidon Rapid Intervention" with the deployment of 293 officers and 15 vessels to the Greek islands. An additional 200 officers are expected to be deployed by mid-January."

And see: Frontex launches rapid operational assistance in Greece (link):

"Frontex initiated yesterday the deployment of 293 officers and 15 vessels to the Greek islands as part of a new operation called Poseidon Rapid Intervention after Greece requested additional assistance at its external borders in the Aegean earlier this month.

Poseidon Rapid Intervention replaces the Joint Operation Poseidon Sea with a higher number of officers who will assist in identifying and fingerprinting of arriving migrants, along with interpreters and forged document experts. Poseidon Rapid Intervention aims to provide Greece with additional technical assistance aiming to strengthen its border surveillance, registration and identification capacity." [emphasis added]

Information against the fear: Fingerprints in Bulgaria - how to stop a deportation (w2eu.info, link): "If you have given your fingerprints to authorities in Bulgaria and you dont stay there but continue your journey, you might get threatened to be deported back to Bulgaria. This is based on the so-called Dublin-regulation. So far there is a general (temporary) deportation stop to Greece (that means no deportation to Greece because of the fingerprints) but not to any other EU-countries (like Bulgaria for example)."

IOM: Med: Arrivals and fatalities (dated 28.12.15, pdf): 996,645 arrivals with 839,561 in Greece and 152.864 in Italy. 3,771 dead/missing. And see: Over 3,770 Migrants Have Died Trying to Cross the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015 (link)

Germany: Change of asylum policy: Case-by-case reviews return for all refugees to Germany (DW, link):

"From 2016, Germany will re-introduce individual assessments for refugees seeking asylum. Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans had been subject to a simpler procedure in recent months.... Procedures had been simplified for refugees from Syria and Iraq in November 2014, and from Eritrea in mid-2015, meaning that asylum-seekers from these countries had only to fill out a questionnaire detailing the reasons why they had fled their homelands. With the case-by-case system that is to be re-introduced, they will now face a comprehensive personal hearing."

and see: Germany to increase scrutiny of Syrian asylum applicants (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Germany will start holding personal hearings for asylum seekers from Syria as of Jan. 1, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman told Reuters on Dec. 31, reversing a policy of granting almost automatic refugee status for Syrians."

News (31.12.15 - 2.1.16)

Greece: As 2016 dawns, refugee, migrant flows look set to continue (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Bitter cold, biting winds and rough winter seas have done little to stem the seemingly endless flow of desperate people fleeing war or poverty for what they hope will be a brighter, safer future in Europe. As 2016 dawns, boatloads continue to reach Greek shores and thousands trudge across Balkan fields and country roads heading north... The European Union has pledged to bolster patrols on its external borders and quickly deport economic migrants, while Turkey has agreed to crack down on smugglers operating from its coastline. But those on the front lines of the crisis say the coming year promises to be difficult unless there is a dramatic change"

Greece: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sets up studio on Lesvos to highlight plight of refugees (ekathimerini.com, link) As an artist, I have to relate to humanitys struggles... I never separate these situations from my art, he said. The artist is as well-known for his clashes with the Chinese authorities as for his work.... The border is not in Lesbos, it really [is] in our minds and in our hearts , Ai said."

"France: Dunkirk migrant camp to get million-euro upgrade (The Local.fr, link): "France is to build a huge refugee camp near Dunkirk to improve conditions for thousands of migrants trying to reach Britain. The camp, with heated tents, will be the first of its kind in France. The camp, in the town of Grande-Synthe, close to the Channel port of Dunkirk, will be built in January, according to Le Monde. It will provide sanitary conditions for all of the nearly 3,000 refugees and migrants currently living in tents and makeshift shelters on the site, which has been referred to as Frances forgotten refugee camp."

Spain: Record-breaking 13,000 asylum seekers arrive in Spain in 2015 (The Local.es, link): "A record 13,000 asylum seekers were expected to arrive in Spain in 2015 but that figure is still less than 1 percent of the European Union total.As of mid-December, Spain had received some 12,500 applications for asylum, with that figure expected to surpass 13,000 by the end of the year. That figure is more than twice the 2014 number of 5,895.The majority of the new arrivals, around 7,0000, were Syrians arriving in Spains North African enclave of Melilla, according to the UNs refugee agency UNHCR."

Greece: 3,600 Refugees Arrive at Piraeus Port on Thursday (Greek Reporter, link)

Norway turns back migrants without visas (euobserver, link): "Norway proposed on Tuesday (29 December) to tighten the country's asylum rules, including turning back asylum seekers without visas arriving from the passport-free Schengen zone, especially from Sweden. The draft law, still to be adopted by the parliament, is meant to be "one of Europe's toughest" immigration rules, according to the right leaning government. The measures, aimed at making Norway less attractive for refugees and migrants, include making it more difficult for refugees to bring family members to Norway, by only allowing family reunifications after the applicant has acquired four years of work or education in the country."

Refugee baby dies at Greek island registration center (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek authorities say a seven-month-old Syrian baby temporarily staying with its family in a refugee registration camp on the island of Lesvos has died, apparently of natural causes. Health officials will try to determine the precise causes of the baby's death later Wednesday."

Germany: Nearly 1.1 million migrants arrived in Germany in 2015 (DW, link): "Merkel and the CDU have said the number of refugees in Germany would be reduced through smart policies. But Germany's doors remain open despite the huge influx this year."

Observations at the Campsite of Moria on Lesvos, October 22nd and 24th, 2015 (link): "I am an accredited journalist and member of the German association of journalists DFJV. Also, I am a member of the Berlin House of Representatives, working in the field of refugees and asylum. I arrived on the Greek island of Lesvos on October 20th, 2015 in order to gain an overview of the situation of arriving migrants and to talk to people involved."


The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

Statewatch home page | Observatory home page | Archives: 2016: Mar, Feb, Jan | 2015: Oct-Dec, Jan-Sep


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