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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"

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Archives: December 2018


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.12.18-2.1.19)
Are You Syrious (29-30.12.18, link):

FEATURE: The French state “deliberately endangers” people on the move

"14 associations signed an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron denouncing the failure of the state in the protection and sheltering of migrants.

In the letter they reminded Macron of his public commitment not to have people sleeping on the streets (...)

Despite the efforts of the police, who every morning evict as many makeshift camps as they can, these camps grow day after day, “in basketball courts, under highway bridges and in parks.”

Migrants keep heading for Aegean islands despite bad weather (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Despite the bad weather, dozens of undocumented migrants made the short but perilous crossing to the Aegean islands from Turkey in the last few days of the year.

A total of 75 migrants reached Farmakonisi in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, according to the Greek Coast Guard, which intercepted two vessels carrying 38 and 37 migrants respectively. All 75 migrants were transferred to nearby Leros for identification.

Over the weekend, another 55 migrants reached Lesvos and Chios. Samos had no arrivals over the same period but authorities remain concerned following an increase last month."

December 2018

UNHCR (31.12.18): 112,852 refugees arrived in the EU by sea and 6,782 by land. 31,867 arrived in Greece, 676 in Cyprus, 1,182 in Malta, 62,479 in Spain and 23,371 in Italy. 2,262 dead/missing in the year.

AYS SPECIAL: When governments turn against volunteers - the case of AYS (link)

"During the 2018, we’ve witnessed unprecedented backlash against human rights defenders who’ve been advocating legal access to asylum system in the EU. Volunteers and NGOs have been threatened, attacked and legally persecuted for the crimes they didn’t commit. AYS is one of them. For the first time we’re publicly disclosing our own case to paint the full picture of the events on Europe’s largest terrestrial border." (...)

UK migrant ‘crisis’ bears no comparison to EU's 2015 influx (Guardian, link):

"About 220 people have tried to cross Channel in two months, compared with 10,000 arrivals in Greece in a single day."

Are You Syrious (27.12.18, link):

32 people left at sea for over six days - the odyssey of Sea-Watch

"Since Saturday, Sea-Watch has been stranded at sea, without a safe port to disembark the 32 people on board, among them four women, four unaccompanied minors, and three children. Conditions at sea are becoming more and more harsh, and people are starting to suffer from the deprivation of a week at sea.

Five countries: Italy, Malta, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands refused to allow the vessel to disembark in their territories, pushing Phillip Hahn, head of the mission, to call out to Germany and Europe to take on their responsibilities and “show the good example.”"

‘It’s an Act of Murder’: How Europe Outsources Suffering as Migrants Drown (NYT, link):

"This short film, produced by The Times's Opinion Video team and the research groups Forensic Architecture and Forensic Oceanography, reconstructs a tragedy at sea that left at least 20 migrants dead. Combining footage from more than 10 cameras, 3-D modeling and interviews with rescuers and survivors, the documentary shows Europe’s role in the migrant crisis at sea."

Are You Syrious (22-23.12.18, link):

Italy and Malta = “Pure Cruelty”

"A two day old baby was rescued along with its young mother from a boat carrying 311 people 57 nautical miles from Malta. As Malta refused to allow a safe port to the other people at risk, as did Italy, they are now bound for Spain on the Open Arms vessel which has enough food for two days and is on a journey which will take 4-5 days. Malta stated that they rescued the baby for humanitarian reasons, but then refused to provide the provisions needed to keep the hundreds they had refused safe from hunger, including pregnant women, children and other small babies. Hypocrisy doesn’t cover it.

Luckily another rescue vessel, the Astral, will bring them supplies of medicines, blankets and food, but the situation remains difficult and neither boat will reach Spain until the 28th of December.":

Asylum seeker to sue UK for funding Libyan detention centres - Ethiopian teenager says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour in centres part-funded by UK (Guardian, link):

"A teenage asylum seeker from Ethiopia is planning to sue the government for its role in funding detention centres in Libya, where he says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour.

The teenager, who turned 18 a few weeks ago, cannot be named. He lives in London and is waiting for the Home Office to determine his asylum claim. His legal action against the government’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its contribution to funding these overseas centres is thought to be the first of its kind."

Are You Syrious (21.12.18, link):

Italian authorities leave refugees to drown or be returned to Libyan hell

"Italian rescue coordination centers (MRCC) are increasingly ignoring refugee’s SOS calls, either ignoring them or turning them over to the criminal Libyan “coast guard”.

Towards midnight on 20/12/18 the Alarm Phone rescue coordination group received a call from a boat that had left from Libya. The rudder was broken so the boat could not move, and the people aboard were in fear of sinking. The rescue line was in regular coordination with the people on the boat, passing off the information, including GPS coordinates to MRCC Rome.(...)"

Sea - "There is no Christmas in the Mediterranean”

"25 people drowned in the Western Mediterranean while trying to reach Spain today. 783 people have drowned this year trying to reach Spain, according to figures from the UNHCR. That is already three times the number of people who died last year. In spite of dangerous conditions, the crossings from Morocco to Spain have continued uninterrupted."

GREECE: Suspended sentence for Spanish activist is "decisive" for decriminalising solidarity with migrants and refugees

The lawyer for a Spanish trade unionist given a suspended sentence of 17 months' imprisonment for trying to help a Kurdish refugee leave Greece has said the ruling is a "positive step" and "decisive to decriminalise solidarity" with migrants and refugees.

Italy's 'yellow vests': Thousands march on Rome over new anti-migrants laws (SBS News, link):

"Several thousand people marched in Rome Saturday in protest at Italy's tough new anti-migrant law which makes it easier to expel new arrivals.

The protesters waved flags and donned yellow vests emblazoned with the slogan "Get up! Stand Up! for your right" in a reference to the famous Bob Marley song.

The new law would "only increase the number of people without papers in Italy and force people underground", protester Kone Brahima, originally from Ivory Coast, told AFP.

Another, Tony Scardamaglia, from Palermo, said: "We are still building more walls, more barriers," adding that the anti-migrant and security degree adopted last month would just cause more "difficulties"."

UK: The use of anti-terror laws to convict the Stansted 15 will chill public dissent (New Statesman, link):

"Between us, we observed every day of the trial. Far from deliberating on serious armed attacks at airports, it has often felt over the last three months that the jury was being asked to consider breaches of health and safety regulations, with Judge Morgan emphasising in his summing up to the jury that being airside whilst unauthorised could inherently be seen to be risky.

It is important, therefore, to look at what differentiates this case from the previous protests mentioned above. Because this protest was not like the others: it expressly challenged the detention and deportation practices of the Home Office."

Police Chief: No Abuse of Migrants by Croatian Police (Total Croatia News, link):

"ZAGREB, December 17, 2018 - The national chief of police, Nikola Milina, has dismissed accusations against Croatian police over their treatment of migrants, saying that no cases of beating have been found.

"Police guard the state border in accordance with the law and their professional standards. We have checked all recent reports of illegalities and have found no cases of beating," Milina told public broadcaster HRT in a prime-time news programme on Sunday evening.

He commended the police for their outstanding performance, saying that over 547 smugglers had been processed to date, the largest number on record."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-17.12.18)
EU: Future EU security budgets: working documents shed light on Member State concerns and priorities

From 2021 onwards, the EU will have a number of multi-billion euro budgets for internal security, border security and asylum and migration policy at its disposal. These budgets will likely be larger than any previous funds in these areas, but there has been little transparency over the discussions on the proposals in the Council. The documents provided here, obtained by Statewatch through an access to documents request to the Council, shed some light on different Member States' priorities.

EU-LIBYA: EUBAM Libya becomes a fully-fledged civilian CSDP mission (EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya, link):

"Today, the Council adopted a decision mandating the EU integrated border management assistance mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) to actively support the Libyan authorities in contributing to efforts to disrupt organised criminal networks involved in smuggling migrants, human trafficking and terrorism. The mission was previously mandated to plan for a future EU civilian mission while engaging with the Libyan authorities.

The mission's revised mandate will run until 30 June 2020. The Council also allocated a budget of € 61.6 million for the period from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020."

And see: Concrete Actions on Border Security in Libya (EUBAM Libya, link)

Futile debates around the Global Compact for Migration are a missed opportunity for all, EU migrants included (Migration News Sheet, link):

"The political turmoil around the Global Compact should serve as a warning that nationalist politics are not fading... the way in which far-right politicians were able to take advantage of the Global Compact as a tool for political posturing can also be instructive. The public heard little about the compact (and even less about the separate Global Compact on Refugees) during the negotiation and drafting stage. Thus, far-right politicians were able to say anything they wanted when the final draft was revealed. This left supporters of the compact on the defensive and forced debate to revolve around whether the compact was legally binding or infringed on national sovereignty."

MOROCCO: Statement issued by the People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees

"The People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees... announce our proposal to agree upon an International Pact of Solidarity and Unity of Action for the Full Rights of All Migrants and Refugees, women and men, based on the following considerations..."

UK: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Asylum accommodation: replacing COMPASS (pdf):

"We have returned to the subject of asylum accommodation due to concerns raised in recent months about the Government’s handling of the process to replace COMPASS. This report focuses upon three main issues: the contracts and the strategic relationship between the Government and local authorities; the standards of accommodation provided for asylum seekers; and the question of fairness in the dispersal process.

Nearly two years after our previous report, very little has improved and mistrust by local authorities of central government has deepened."

EU: The Role of Technology in the Criminalization of Migration (Border Criminologies, link):

"Despite the novelty of passengers directly interacting with virtual border agents, iBorderCtrl is in fact representative of a broader trend of technologizing border controls through the deployment of automated security technologies. The deployment of these systems to collect and analyze vast quantities of personal data is not simply envisaged as a tool for border management, but also as a key component of contemporary transnational surveillance and security practices carried out within and beyond those borders.

So, aside from their potential strengths or limitations, what do these border control technologies tell us about crime, control, and justice in the twenty-first century? And, importantly, what might we gain from taking a deeper look at the technologies themselves, in addition to the legal and political environment in which they are deployed? Drawing on recent fieldwork conducted at EU institutions in Brussels, this post explores these questions."

EU: Asylum: Reducing Rights by Stealth (ECRE, link):

"... it is important to resist some of the new plans over the next few months, while continuing to work on positive alternatives... What is coalescing is a model whereby whenever a person crosses an external border they would be detained in a “controlled centre”, subject to a rapid process without adequate safeguards (i.e. without their rights being respected), and then returned. It continues the trend already in place in some Member States of operating parallel and substandard procedures at borders. The proposals include expanding, increasing support for, or even making mandatory such an approach."

UK: Attack on refugee family highlights rising hate crime in Bolton (The Guardian, link):

"High on a hill above Bolton on a sunny Sunday in June, a mother and three children were rushing for a bus on their way to church when they encountered an angry local man, Dale Hart.

They had not been in Bolton long, having arrived on the UN’s Gateway Protection programme, which offers a legal route for up to 750 long-term refugees to settle in the UK each year via camps in Africa and the Middle East.

The children – a boy aged 15 and two girls, 13 and 15 – had not yet learned much English, which proved a problem when the boy had to call an ambulance and explain where his mother had collapsed after Hart hit her.

Most local authorities don’t accept any Gateway refugees. But since the scheme started in 2004, Bolton has welcomed 2,307, including 255 in the last year alone."

Europol to "disrupt smuggling networks‘ online communications" (link):

"To combat terrorism, the EU police agency reports Internet content to providers for removal. These finds are not necessarily punishable. Now the Internet Referral Unit at Europol is to take stronger action against „smuggling networks“".

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees" (March 2016, pdf)

‘Unverifiable information from unknown migrants’? – First footage of push-backs on the Croatian-Bosnian border (Border Violence Monitoring, link):

"By now our database contains more than 150 push-back reports from the Bosnian-Croatian border. In light of this figure it seems hard to deny this illegal practice of collective expulsions of people seeking protection, perpetrated by the Croatian police and often accompanied by violence. The people returning from the border with broken arms or legs, or showing bloodshot eyes and marks of beatings with batons on their backs, are no isolated cases. Their injuries and testimonies prove irrefutably institutionalised and systematically applied practices – even if the Croatian Minister of the Interior [1] continues to deny these accusations and instead prefers to accuse refugees of self-injury [2]. Meanwhile, various large international media have taken up the topic and report on developments at the Bosnian-Croatian border. The Guardian, for example, recently published a video showing a refugee bleeding from several wounds just after a pushback [3]. Yet, for some reason, up to now the available evidence has not been enough to hold the responsible persons and institutions accountable. New video material provided to BVM by an anonymous group should now close this gap in evidence."

GREECE: Shit for the Refugees and Shit for Samos. How Much Longer? (Samos Chronicles, link):

"The coverage on Samos of the visit inevitably highlighted the problems which were threatening to ‘overwhelm’ Samos and made life ‘unbearable’ for the residents of Samos town who had to live with the Hot Spot. With over 4,000 refugees on the island all of whom are either in the Camp (1,895), in tents around the Camp (2000) or in rooms and houses in the town(235), the situation was unanimously seen by the delegation as untenable.

Now that the rains have started the squalor of the camp has deepened. There is no escaping the reality of the Samos camp as a place of nightmares. According to Vivi Michou, Director-General of the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs, the camp on Samos is now worse than Moria on Lesvos."

REFUGEE CRISIS: Investigations and prosecutions for crimes of solidarity escalate in 2018 (IRR News, link):

"At least 99 humanitarian volunteers and anti-deportation activists have been placed under criminal investigation or prosecuted so far in 2018."

UK: Review of ‘The UK border regime’ – a goldmine for activists (IRR, link):

"In the overcrowded market of books on immigration control, Corporate Watch’s 331-page book, The UK border regime: a critical guide, is one which will not only be read, but will be an indispensible resource for activists. My initial doubts that yet another book on immigration could tell me anything new were quickly dispelled: it is a goldmine of basic, vital information about how the UK’s immigration control system works and to whose benefit."

EU: Humanitarian visas to avoid deaths and improve management of refugee flows (EP press release, link):

"EU countries should be able to issue humanitarian visas at embassies and consulates abroad, so that people seeking protection can access Europe without risking their lives.

The European Parliament requested on Tuesday that the European Commission tables, by 31 March 2019, a legislative proposal establishing a European Humanitarian Visa, giving access to European territory - exclusively to the member state issuing the visa - for the sole purpose of submitting an application for international protection.

The legislative initiative report was backed by 429 MEPs, 194 voted against and 41 abstained."

See: European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2018 with recommendations to the Commission on Humanitarian Visas (2018/2271(INL)) and Annex (pdf)

EU: 160+ Academics request MEPs to vote in favour of Humanitarian Visas Motion Today - And it gets Approved! (link):

"Fernando López Aguilar, is the result of a long process of consultation with many stakeholders, including civil society actors and organisations as well as academics, adopted with the agreement of the Political Groups represented in the LIBE Committee."

Council of Europe: Special Representative on migration and refugees supports UN Global Compact at conference in Morocco (link):

"The Council of Europe, with its system for human rights protection, is ready to engage in the implementation of the Global Compact. The initiatives undertaken in the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children represent some of the most ambitious and successful actions of our organisation in the migration field. In particular they can offer a valuable contribution to our member states, but also to other regions and the international community as a whole seeking to secure the practical implementation of the laudable objectives of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.(...)

Read: Statement in full (link)

Marrakesh UN forum adopts migration pact despite withdrawals (euractiv, link):

"A United Nations conference adopted a migration pact in front of leaders and representatives from over 160 countries in Morocco on Monday (10 December), despite a string of withdrawals, including several EU countries, driven by anti-immigrant populism.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — finalised at the UN in July after 18 months of talks — was formally approved with the bang of a gavel in Marrakesh at the start of a two-day conference.

But the United States and at least 16 other countries either opted out or expressed concerns, with some claiming the pact infringes national sovereignty."

And see: Why the hysterical reaction to the UN migration and refugee compacts matters (euractiv, link): "Right-wing leaders are guilty of an hysterical reaction to the UN migration compact, writes Udo Bullman MEP."

Italian priests vow to open church doors to evictees from immigration centres (Guardian, link):

"Italian priests have declared their willingness to “open the church doors of every single parish” to people expelled from reception centres as an anti-immigration law from Italy’s rightwing government threatens to make thousands homeless.

The so-called “Salvini decree” – named after Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League – left hundreds in legal limbo when its removal of humanitarian protection for those not eligible for refugee status but otherwise unable to return home was applied by several Italian cities soon after its approval by parliament earlier this month.

The Catholic church expressed its profound disapproval immediately after the vote."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-10.12.18)
UK: Stansted 15: Activists who stopped deportation flight found guilty of 'endangering' airport (The Independent, link):

"A group of activists who stopped a deportation flight leaving Stansted Airport have been convicted of disrupting flights and “endangering an aerodrome”.

The defendants, who have become known as the Stansted 15, said they were “guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm”.

But a judge at Chelmsford Crown Court had told the jury that their intentions were not a defence."

See: The Home Office is guilty of harm, not us: Stansted 15 respond to guilty verdict (End Deportations, link)

The rise of hipster colonialism (Al Jazeera, link) by Nanjala Nyabola:

"Last week, Germany's Africa Commissioner Gunter Nooke said that European countries should be allowed to lease land and to build and run cities in Africa as a means of stemming what he views as the unchecked expansion of migration from Africa to Europe. For Nooke, allowing the "free development" of these areas would stimulate African economies and create "growth and prosperity" and therefore, reduce the attractiveness of Europe as a destination for migration.

...The easiest way to get to the heart of what's wrong with this proposal is to go back to basics - what is colonialism and why is it bad? The dictionary defines colonialism as "a policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically". Ultimately, it's about exploiting a power differential in order to reorganise one society for the economic and social benefit of another: saying that one society's economic and social imperatives are more important than the other's.

So, Nooke's proposal is fundamentally hipster colonialism - attempting to reclaim colonialism by couching it in neoliberal trends or ideology while advocating for a return to an essentially exploitative system of social and economic organisation."

AFRICA: Appeal by African civil society organisations to their states: ‘’Let us move in our continent’’ (Statewatch translation, pdf):

"This is the heartfelt cry that we, organisations of African civil society, wish to raise at the margins of the week on migration in Marrakech that will witness a gathering of states, international organisations and civil society organisations from 4 to 11 December 2018. After the difficulties which have obstructed the acquisition of visas for Morocco for numerous African civil society organisations wishing to participate in this migration week, we cannot keep silent about the discrimination that Africans continue to suffer affecting their right to mobility in their own continent.(....)

EU to process "confidential security information" with Libyan Coast Guard (link)

"The EU Border Agency has massively strengthened its surveillance capabilities. To make better use of this information, it will now be passed to the Libyan Coast Guard. This is legally impossible, now Frontex is pressing for the relevant regulations to be renewed. The navy in Libya, however, is using a Gmail address."

Host migrants or pay, France and Germany propose (euractiv, link):

"European Union governments that refuse to host refugees could instead pay to be excused from the bloc’s system of sharing out migrants, France and Germany proposed on Thursday (6 December) as they sought to end a long-running EU feud over migration.

The move reflects impatience with progress on reforming EU asylum rules ahead of EU parliament elections in May, diplomats said."

Syrian aid worker who swam refugees to safety freed from Greek jail (Guardian, link):

"Sarah Mardini had been held since August on people-smuggling charges criticised by rights groups.

After 107 days of incarceration, Sarah Mardini – the Syrian human rights worker who saved 18 refugees in 2015 by swimming their waterlogged dinghy to the shores of Lesbos with her Olympian sister – has been freed from Greece’s toughest jail.

The 23-year-old was released late on Wednesday from the high-security Koryallos prison in Athens, where she was being held in pre-trial detention on charges of people-smuggling.

She was allowed to walk free after her lawyers posted €5,000 (£4,450) in bail."

Greece, EU: Move Asylum Seekers to Safety: End Containment Policy, Organize Transfers Now (HRW, link):

"The Greek government and its European Union partners should urgently ensure that all asylum seekers on the Aegean islands are transferred to suitable accommodation on the mainland or relocated to other EU countries as winter approaches, 20 human rights and other organizations said today."

Statewatch comment: The official Greek Ministry figures shows that as of 5 December there are 15,790 refugees on the Greek islands with 7,825 on Lesvos, 4,182 on Samos and 1,476 on Kos,.

UK: Country returns guide: Guidance on returning immigration offenders to their country of origin (gov.uk, link):

"Home Office guidance on the documents required and processes for returning immigration offenders to their country of origin."

EU: Accountability of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency: Recent developments, legal standards and existing mechanisms (Refugee Law Initiative, link to pdf):

"The paper assesses the political, administrative, professional and social accountability of Frontex, including parliamentary oversight and the newly introduced individual complaints mechanism.

The final part of the paper focuses on legal accountability, a strong, yet highly complex, form of accountability. There, we introduce the concept of systemic accountability and investigate possible courses of legal action against Frontex. In sum, Frontex is subject to moderately increased scrutiny under its renewed founding Regulation and to various EU accountability mechanisms of general application. But several procedural and practical hurdles could render legal accountability difficult to achieve in practice."

Malta says Spain will accept migrants rescued by fishing vessel near Libya (El País, link)

"Spain will accept at least 11 of the 12 migrants rescued several weeks ago by the Spanish fishing vessel Nuestra Madre Loreto off the coast of Libya, according to Maltese authorities. The migrants were rescued by the fishermen while fleeing the Libyan Coast Guard on a rubber dinghy. Three of them scrambled on board while another eight threw themselves into the water and were picked up by the ship.”

See: The humanitarian fleet #United4Med calls on Europe to open its ports to the people rescued by the fishing boat Nuestra Madre de Loreto and condemns the negotiations between Spain and Libya (Statewatch News, 28 November 2018)

European Parliament: Humanitarian visas would reduce refugees’ death toll (link):

"Asylum-seekers should be able to request humanitarian visas at EU embassies and consulates abroad, allowing them to access Europe safely, say Civil Liberties MEPs.

With 37 votes to 10 and 3 abstentions, the Civil Liberties Committee agreed on Monday to ask the European Commission to table, by 31 March 2019, a legislative proposal establishing a European Humanitarian Visa. Holders would be allowed into Europe - only to the member state issuing the visa - for the sole purpose of submitting an application for international protection."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice & Home Affairs Council 6-7 December 2018: Background Note (pdf) includes:

"On Thursday, ministers will aim to reach a partial general approach on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) proposal and a general approach on the proposed regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The Council is expected to approve a comprehensive and operational set of measures to fight against people smuggling networks."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.11-3.12.18)
European Council meeting, 13-14 December 2018: Draft guidelines for conclusions (CO EUR-PREP 50, LIMITE, 26 November 2018, pdf) covering multiannual financial framework (MFF), single market, migration, disinformation, external relations, racism and xenophobia, citizens' dialogues and strategic agenda:

"With a view to the forthcoming meeting of the European Council, delegations will find below the state of progress regarding the various topics on its agenda. Where possible, first indications are given on the elements the President of the European Council intends to include in the draft of the conclusions.

Member States are invited to provide their reactions, in order to help guide the preparations for the draft European Council conclusions which will be submitted in one week."

ITALY: Legal changes and climate of hatred threaten migrants’ rights in Italy, say UN experts

Italy’s proposed tightening of immigration rules will have a serious impact on migrants’ lives, and are of grave concern, UN human rights experts said today, urging the Government to reverse course.

BELGIUM: Crimes of solidarity: In Belgium, an increasingly brutal crackdown on migrant workers' collectives

"Muscular searches, preventive detention lasting for weeks, legal proceedings... For several months, the Belgian authorities have been particularly severe towards people who help migrants. A first correctional trial was held in early November in Brussels. Several Belgian citizens are accused of having participated in human smuggling after having aided and accommodated migrants, being charged and designated as smugglers. Faced with these increasingly repressive policies, a collective was created to highlight that 'solidarity is not a crime'."

EU-MED: Sea Rescue: A trade union statement (English, pdf) and Sauvetage en mer: Déclaration syndicale (French, pdf):

"We, the trade unions and seafarers from various European countries, hereby emphasise our attachment to the tradition and age-old ideals of our profession: rescue is a fundamental obligation, regardless of the person and his/her circumstances. We take pride in rescuing whoever is in distress in the vicinity of our ships. Rescue, being an obligation, is not part of migration policy and must not be fashioned by it.

We refuse any criminalisation of the masters and crews of ships acting so. On the contrary,we insist upon the fact that they are acting pursuant to the obligations of international Law.Those violating International Law are the governments which refuse to provide sufficient resources to rescue people."

Signatories: La CGT (France), Ver.di (Germany), BTB.FGTB (Belgium), FSC.CC.OO. (Spain), CGIL, UIL, CISL (Italy), CGTP.IN (Portugal), PCS, Nautilus International (Great Britain), International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA).

Refugee situation in Samos worse than Moria, says top EU official (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A high-ranking EU official warns that, despite some improvements, the situation in refugee camps in Moria, on the island of Lesbos, and, even more so, in Samos is still dire and Greece could face sanctions in 2019.

Vivi Michou, Director-General of the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs department since last March, tells Kathimerini that Greek authorities should accelerate preparations for the coming winter.".

Are You Syrious (30.11.18, link):

Denmark unveils plan for Nauru-style deportation center on Lindholm island

"As part of their yearly budget, the Danish government has unveiled a new plan, seemingly modelled on Australia’s offshore detention centers, to house asylum seekers in removal centers on the isolated island of Lindholm. The center will be established over the course of the next three years and will eventually house asylum seekers from the controversial Kærshovedgård deportation center.(...)


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

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