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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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October 2019


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-28.10.19) including:

- EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues
- Greek asylum proposal "blatantly undermines" rights
- UNHCR probes Libya-Malta interception in migrant rescue


UK-EU: Migrant deaths: Britain faces exclusion from elite EU policing unit (The Guardian, link):

"The UK faces being excluded from Europe’s anti-trafficking unit after Brexit, senior MPs and experts warned last night. The unit is coordinating international investigations into the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found in the back of a lorry in Essex last week.

...The anti-trafficking unit involved in the case, the European Migrant Smuggling Centre, is part of the EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, and has been at the heart of a global inquiry into the tragedy. A Europol source said investigators at the centre were “working around the clock trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle”."

EU migration agenda highlights its shortcomings

"This can mean the application of more broad policy leverage. In this respect, the revised EU Visa Code, in force from February 2020, will be one important additional tool, providing the EU the possibility to adopt restrictive visa measures for third countries which do not cooperate sufficiently on readmission."

EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues (euobserver, link):

"Centre-right and liberal MEPs joined forces with the far right to weaken European Parliament's political pressure on member states when it comes to NGO search and rescue at sea.

The move is part of a larger resolution to be voted on Thursday (24 October) and comes amid internal efforts to kill off a progressive-led draft agreed earlier this week by the European Parliament's civil liberty committee (Libe)."

GREECE: The asylum draft bill violates international, EU and national law and exposes thousands of asylum seekers and refugees, the majority of whom are women and children, in high risk (Greek Council for Refugees, press release, link):

"Athens, October 23, 2019 - On the evening of October 21, and mere hours after the just 5 day-long public consultations were concluded, the draft bill “on International Protection” was submitted to Parliament through the urgency procedure.

The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) underlines that the proposed draft bill leads to the blatant undermining of fundamental guarantees and rights of refugees and asylum seekers, in violation of international, EU and national law, as well as the principle of non-refoulement."

See: GCR’s comments onthe draft bill “On International Protection” (pdf)

UN refugee agency expresses concern at Greek asylum plans (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The United Nations refugees agency UNHCR expressed concern on Thursday about Greek proposals to overhaul laws affecting asylum seekers, saying they could weaken the protection of refugees.

Greece has adopted a tougher stance on migration since the conservative government led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power in July. The country is currently struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee arrivals since 2015, when more than a million people crossed into Europe.

Greece is proposing to streamline a lengthy asylum process and deport rejected asylum seekers."

‘It’s the jungle’: Bosnian migrant camp in crisis (euractiv, link):

"No running water, putrid portable toilets and surrounding woods littered with land mines – these are the bleak conditions of a camp where hundreds of migrants brace for winter in Bosnia.

“It’s the jungle,” says Mohammad Nawaz, a 30-year-old Pakistani living in the tent-city built on a former garbage landfill in the northwest village of Vucjak."

France: Conviction of man who offered tea and warm clothes to asylum seekers must be reversed (AI, link):

"Ahead of the appeal hearing tomorrow of Pierre Mumber, a mountain guide who offered hot tea and warm clothes to four West African asylum seekers in the Alps and was then convicted of “facilitating irregular entry”, Amnesty International is calling for the conviction to be overturned."

Vulnerable child and women refugees refused evacuation from Libya (Al Jazeera, link):

"Asylum seekers awaiting evacuation from war-torn Libya say the United Nations has turned down scores of refugee relocation requests, including from women and children previously held in Libyan government-run detention centres where they were allegedly subject to abuse.

The rejected asylum seekers, who are among more than 900 people the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is hosting at a transit centre in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, say they have been asked to leave the facility.

More than 40 people staged a protest at the UNHCR's Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) on Thursday denouncing the move, according to photos provided by sources at the centre."

And see: Closure of detention centre exposes migrants and refugees to even worse conditions (MSF, link)

UNHCR probes Libya-Malta interception in migrant rescue (AP, link):

"The U.N. refugee agency is investigating why Malta last week allegedly asked the Libyan coast guard to intercept a migrant boat in a zone of the Mediterranean under Maltese responsibility, in possible violation of maritime law, a U.N. official said Tuesday.

Vincent Cochetel, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ special envoy for the central Mediterranean, told reporters in Rome that “there’s some evidence that Malta requested assistance (from) the Libyan coast guard to intervene” in its own search and rescue region on Oct. 18."

Return: voluntary, safe, dignified and durable? (Forced Migration Review, link):

"Voluntary return in safety and with dignity has long been a core tenet of the international refugee regime. In the 23 articles on ‘Return’ in this issue of FMR, authors explore various obstacles to achieving sustainable return, discuss the need to guard against premature or forced return, and debate the assumptions and perceptions that influence policy and practice. This issue also includes a mini-feature on ‘Towards understanding and addressing the root causes of displacement’."

Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019 (euobserver, link):

"he partly EU-financed and trained Libyan Coast Guard has intercepted 7,404 refugees and migrants at sea and returned them to the war-torn country so far this year, according to figures from the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Many are then sent to notorious Libyan detention centres amid an ongoing backlash from human-rights organisations."

Bosnia Should Immediately Close Inhumane Migrant Camp - Relocate Migrants to Decent Accommodation Elsewhere (HRW, link):

"Over a year after Human Rights Watch first criticized Bosnia’s failure to protect the basic rights of migrants and asylum seekers, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is warning of a fast-developing humanitarian emergency in a makeshift camp near the border with Croatia. Over 20,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Bosnia since January 2019, but violent and unlawful pushbacks from Croatia have created a bottleneck on the border, leaving many stranded in unsafe conditions."

Aegean Boat Report (link): Latest update 21.10.2019. Total number of refugees on the islands: 34,279.

Hal Far riot sparked by row between migrant and security Incident was sparked by a row between a resident and security (Times of Malta, link):

"Eyewitnesses said up to sixty people were involved in the riot that began at about 10pm on Sunday night but Mr Farrugia later said there were more than 300 people rioted.

Several fires were started and there were reports of stones being thrown at staff who manage the so-called 'Tent Village'. Five cars and a container that housed the administration facility were burnt out and confidential documents were strewn around. A police spokesman confirmed a police car was also damaged."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-21.10.19) including:

- Croatia’s Schengen Accession: Reinforcing Legal Red Lines Not Borders
- Reports on the situation in the Aegean, Lesvos and the Balkans
- A flimsy raft, more than 100 souls, and three teenage heroes - or are they pirates?


EU: Croatia’s Schengen Accession: Reinforcing Legal Red Lines Not Borders (ECRE, link):

"A tussle is taking place in the Commission over the accession of Croatia to Schengen – membership of the Schengen zone through accession to the Schengen treaty. On one side, President Juncker; on the other, a handful of Member States, technical experts, and a mounting pile of evidence about violations at the border.

As is to be expected from the “political Commission”, it is a highly political issue. Rumours abound that Juncker has promised Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic, an ally, that he will get it done before he’s done, and his public statements say as much.

But then there’s the situation at the borders. There is now widespread substantiated evidence of violence at Croatia’s borders, especially but not only at the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Evidence demonstrates breaches of international and EU law, including of the prohibition of refoulement under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the prohibition of collective expulsions under Article 4 Protocol 4 ECHR, of Articles 4 and 19 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights."

Desperate African refugees pay to get into Libyan jails - UNHCR (Reuters, link):

"African refugees in Libya are so desperate that some are bribing their way into detention centres in the hope of eventually being resettled out of the war-torn, lawless country, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive in April to try to wrest control of Tripoli from forces aligned with the internationally-recognised government, which is based in the capital."

MALTA: Migrants' detention beyond 10 weeks 'on health grounds' is unlawful - court (Times of Malta, link):

"The detention of migrants for more than 10 weeks on the basis of health laws was unlawful and the migrants should be released, a court has ruled.

The judgement was delivered following an application filed by six asylum seekers, detained at the Safi Barracks beyond the legal limit of ten weeks.

The migrants, assisted by lawyers from Aditus Foundation and the Jesuit Refugee Service, filed separate applications claiming that their continued detention was not merely a ‘restriction of movement’ in terms of laws on the prevention of disease, but was a deprivation of their personal freedom."

End the Killing - For a European Policy of Human Rights (kritnet.org, link):

"We call on the European Council and the EU governments to:

– End the EU–Turkey deal.

– End the partnership with Erdogan’s government, cease arms supplies and make use of all possible avenues to halt at once the war against Rojava in northern Syria.

– Immediately evacuate the migrant camps on the Greek islands, and allow their inhabitants freedom of movement in Europe and their reception by Solidarity Cities.

– Lay new political foundations for migration and asylum in Europe, with policies committed to protecting the human rights of refugees and migrants in Syria, the Mediterranean and in Europe itself."

76 rescued migrants brought to Malta, as Italy rescues 180 more (Times of Malta, link):

"More than 75 migrants stranded at sea were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) on Tuesday and brought to shore.

The rescue came as an NGO accused Malta's AFM of ignoring a plea for help.

NGO Alarm Phone claimed in a tweet that it had informed the Maltese authorities on Monday night about the boat carrying around 75 migrants, but received no response.

The AFM later confirmed that it had rescued 76 people at sea but did not provide any further details."

Turkish Syria offensive raises Greek fears of new refugee influx - EU states divided over giving Turkey further funds to deter refugees from making crossing (Guardian, link):

"Turkey’s military push into Syria has sparked fears in Greece, already struggling with an alarming surge in the number of asylum seekers, of a new wave of migration to Europe.

With camps on Aegean islands at breaking point, Athens has insisted the topic should be discussed at this week’s EU summit. “Europe shouldn’t be caught unprepared again,” Giorgos Koumoutsakos, the Greek minister for migration policy, told local media. “Nobody can be certain what is going to happen.”"

GREECE: Report on Rights Violations & Resistance in Lesvos - October 2019 (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"For over three years we have been reporting on the systematic denial of rights to migrants in Lesvos, and each report includes a laundry list of violations that only seem to worsen over time. The containment policy - at first opposed by UN agencies, NGOs and civil society - has become all but the norm in Lesvos.

Since the start of the year, 45,500 people have migrated to Greece, with approximately 18,000 arriving by sea from Turkey in August and September alone. Currently, over 14,000 people trapped on Lesvos are living in inhumane living conditions as a result of the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement, and the legislated containment policy that stipulates that asylum seekers cannot leave the Greek islands."

GREECE: Fire in Samos Refugee Camp (Pressenza, link):

"Last night there was a fire on the island of Samos, a fire that ripped through the temporary homes of human beings living in ‘the jungle’, the overfill space relied upon to house men, women and children in a Reception and Identification Centre that can no longer cope with the numbers of refugees stuck on the island waiting for an asylum meeting.

Fires, in the RICs are no longer deemed to be news worthy; during the summer months they were occurring on a weekly basis, but like the fire on Lesvos only two weeks ago, this fire was different. The fire on Lesvos led to the death of two people and like last night’s fire on Samos is a symptom of the extreme overcrowding, which leads to frustrations and arguments but that can also lead to far worse."

And see: Samos mayor warns island at breaking point after migrant camp fire (ekathimerini, link):

"The mayor of East Samos has warned that a fire at its Vathy migrant reception and processing center earlier his week has brought the eastern Aegean island to breaking point as hundreds of people are having to sleep in the streets and public squares.

“The island has become destabilized,” Mayor Giorgos Stantzos told a morning talk show on Antenna TV on Thursday, days after a fire and a riot at the facility. “We are counting down for something bad to happen.”"

The Rescue - A flimsy raft, more than 100 souls, and three teenage heroes - or are they pirates? (The Atavist, link):

"Abdalla Bari was hungry. It was the morning of March 26, 2019, and Bari and more than 100 other people were floating in a 30-foot-long rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere in the expanse of water between North Africa and Italy. Men straddled the boat’s edge, each with one foot dangling above the water and the other inside the dinghy. They formed a tightly packed ring around a huddled mass of women and children. At least one of the women was noticeably pregnant. Another, Souwa Nikavogui, was Bari’s wife."

MotM EXCLUSIVE | Going Homeless In Gran Ghetto (Migrants of the Mediterranean, link):

"“Just say ‘ghetto’ and anyone will tell you what bus to take. Just say ‘ghetto.’”

Peter* (Sierra Leone) told me this again and again in the days leading up to my visit. Those are imprecise, if not outright dubious directions when you’re wondering how to meet someone in one of Italy’s most precarious places.

Peter is in a ghetto in Foggia, Italy after leaving Isernia, a small town in the Molise region where I first met him in spring of this year."

EU: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM): Council of the European Union: Commission services: GAMM (LIMITE doc no: 11539-19,47 pages, pdf):

"This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

See previous: Update report - May 2019 (Statewatch News) and March 2019 (Statewatch News)

Border Violence Monitoring Network: Balkan Region – Report September 2019 (link):

"The Border Violence Monitoring Network has just published it’s September report analyzing collated testimony of pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans. The case material covers extensive violations along Croatia’s border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, chain refoulement from Slovenia, pushbacks from Hungary to Serbia, and incidents from the North Macedonian -Greek border."

Download report (link)

Aegean Boat Report: Week 41: Report (pdf):

"A total of 181 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 5915 people. However, 125 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1776 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2316 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 75947 people. 40209 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1222 boats, so far in 2019."

GREECE: Lesvos protesters said to prevent Spanish charity ship from docking (ekathimerini.com. link):

"Protesters on the island of Lesvos, in the eastern Aegean, have reportedly prevented the Open Arms – a humanitarian vessel operated by Spanish NGO Proactive – from docking at the northern harbor of Skala Sykamias, reports said.

The incident took place on Monday as a group of people, believed to be residents of Petra and Molyvos villages, reportedly threw stones at the vessel which currently remains anchored at around 200 meters from the coast."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-14.10.19) including:

- European States urged to do more to protect and support child refugees and migrants
- New Frontex Regulation: corrected version of the text
- Hungary: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention
- Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months
- Fatal fire inside Moria refugee camp


EU: European States urged to do more to protect and support child refugees and migrants

European States must step up their efforts to protect child refugees and migrants who have endured not only difficult and dangerous journeys but continue to face risks and hardship once in Europe, including unsafe accommodation, being incorrectly registered as adults, and a lack of appropriate care, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has urged.

Migrant deaths: 19,000 in Mediterranean in past 6 years (InfoMigrants, link):

"The Mediterranean crossing continues to be the deadliest migrant route worldwide: 19,000 migrants have been reported dead or missing since October 3, 2013. So far this year, the crossing has claimed over 1,000 victims.

...Here's how many migrants went missing or died in the Mediterranean Sea between 2014 and 2018:

- 3,280 in 2014
- 3,771 in 2015
- 5,143 in 2016
- 3,139 in 2017
- 2,297 in 2018
"

UK: Implications of Brexit for asylum policy highlighted in new report (Irish Legal News, link):

"The most significant implication of UK withdrawal from the EU’s Dublin System – which determines responsibility for asylum applications – would be the loss of a safe, legal route for the reunion of separated refugee families in Europe, the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Committee’s report Brexit: refugee protection and asylum policy [pdf] has found.

In a no-deal Brexit scenario, refugees could be left in legal limbo, facing months of delays and additional distress, while a new framework to allow them to reunite with their families is negotiated.

The committee urges the UK and the EU to honour the right of refugees to family reunion by agreeing a temporary extension of current family unification arrangements in the event of no-deal."

See the report: Brexit: refugee protection and asylum policy (pdf)

Greece calls for more NATO ships to patrol Aegean Sea following Turkey’s Syria offensive (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on NATO to increase naval patrols in the Aegean Sea on Thursday (10 October) after a threat by Turkey to open Europe’s doors to more than three million migrants.

“I asked the Secretary General and the Alliance, and member states to strengthen their presence…in the Aegean Sea with more ships,” Mitsotakis said in a press conference after talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Athens yesterday.(...)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier threatened that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticised Turkey’s ongoing military offensive in Syria."

Are You Syrious (10.10.19,link)

SEARCH AND RESCUE AT SEA

"Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario has finally received permission to proceed into the Mediterranean — without the permission to carry out rescue.

This is contrary to article 98 of the United Nations Convention.

In the past few days, the Spanish have loaded over seven tonnes of aids that they want to bring to the Greek Islands. that they would be bringing to Lesbos next Wednesday, October 16, via Sicily."

Hungary: Commission takes next step in the infringement procedure for nonprovision of food in transit zones (pdf):

"the European Commission decided to address a reasoned opinion to Hungary concerning the non-provision of food to persons held in the Hungarian transit zones at the border with Serbia. This concerns persons whose applications for international protection have been rejected, and who are waiting to be returned to a third country.

In the Commission's view, compelling returnees to stay in the Hungarian transit zones amounts to de facto detention under the EU's Return Directive. The Commission finds that failure to provide food in these circumstances does not respect obligations under Article 16 of the Return Directive and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union."

EU fails to seal migrant redistribution deal (New Europe, link):

"An EU interior minister meeting on migrants in Luxembourg does not appear to have yielded a final deal on migrant redistribution.

Earlier on Tuesday, French EU Minister Amélie de Montchalin said 10 countries were ready to back the Malta accord to redistribute migrants as soon as possible."

Germany warns of a new migration chaos echoing 2015 (euobserver, link):

"Germany has warned of a repeat of the chaotic influx of asylum seekers in 2015 that caught the EU unprepared. Greece and Cyprus have warned of increased migrant arrivals from neighbouring Turkey as the EU interior ministers meet."

EU: Joint press release of the Palermo Charter Platform Process on the results of the EU Summit of Home Affairs Ministers on 23 September in Malta and the consequent negotiations on 8 October in Luxembourg (pdf):

"The Malta Agreement ("agreement on temporary reception and distribution mechanism") is not a hard-won solution, but nothing more than a partial emergency relief. We, European civil society initiatives and networks, mayors of European cities and search and rescue non-governmental organizations, demand a real solution that is adequate to the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

Over 15.000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea in the last five years. “Every single person is one too many,'' says Alessandra Sciurba from Mediterranea. "When we receive distress calls from people on boats, they fear both to drown and to be returned to Libya. The outsourcing of EU border control to Libyan forces and mass interceptions at sea have to stop,“ demands Maurice Stierl from WatchTheMed Alarm Phone. “ The establishment of an operational and sustainable European rescue mission is absolutely necessary in order to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean Sea. Sadly, it is still missing in the Malta agreement”, adds Sciurba."

See: Outcome of the Council meeting here and: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

EU: New Frontex Regulation: corrected version of the text

The European Parliament is due to approve a corrected version of the new Frontex Regulation, which was originally agreed between the Council and Parliament but has been undergoing revision by legal and linguistic specialists.

See: REGULATION (EU) 2019/... OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of ... on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624 (pdf)

How a notorious Libyan trafficker was invited to an official Italian migrant meeting in Sicily (The Globe and Mail, link):

"The United Nations’ migration agency says it unknowingly co-operated with a notorious Libyan human trafficker in 2017, when he was invited by the Italian government to a meeting in Sicily at the height of the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday said it regrets dealing with the Libyan criminal, Abd al-Rahman Milad, better known as Bija, but didn’t know at the time that he was serial abuser of migrants."

Navy ship with 389 migrants and refugees reaches Piraeus (ekathimerini, link):

"A navy ship carrying 389 refugees and migrants from the southeast Aegean island of Symi docked at the Greek capital’s Piraeus port on Wednesday morning.

The asylum-seekers, most of them identified as Afghan nationals, were being taken on buses to unspecified facilities on the Greek mainland."

Delivering Refugees and Migrants to a ‘Place of Safety’ Following Rescue by States at Sea (Maritime Safety and Security Law Journal, link):

"Irregular migration by sea leads states such as Italy and Australia to conduct maritime rescue operations involving refugees and other migrants. During these operations, states must deal with the question of where to disembark survivors.

The law of the sea regime obliges states to ensure survivors are delivered to a ‘place of safety’, arguably requiring maritime officers to merely consider the physical safety of survivors immediately on disembarkation. Non-binding International Maritime Organization guidelines state that the need to avoid disembarking refugees and asylum-seekers in the states of departure or origin is also a consideration. The guidelines refer to other ‘relevant’ international law, including treaties dealing with ‘refugee refoulement’ or refoulement in connection with a risk of torture.

Under the international human rights law regime, including international refugee law, states’ obligations in relation to non-refoulement are broader and prohibit the return of refugees and migrants to states where they directly or indirectly face persecution, torture or other serious harm. In interpreting ‘place of safety’, this work argues that there is insufficient consensus to integrate the two legal regimes. Nevertheless, states can be under co-existing human rights obligations that place limits on disembarkation of rescued refugees and migrants."

ECHR: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Szurovecz v. Hungary (application no. 15428/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

- a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned media access to reception facilities for asylum-seekers.

The applicant in the case, a journalist for an Internet news portal, complained about the authorities’ refusal of his request to carry out interviews and take photographs at the Debrecen Reception Centre, thus preventing him from reporting on the living conditions there."

See: Judgment (pdf)

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (link):Commissioner Mijatovic calls for bolder measures to protect the human rights and dignity of all migrants in the Mediterranean:

" member states have a chance to prevent further disastrous human rights and humanitarian consequences by suspending any co-operation activities with the Libyan authorities that impact on interceptions at sea and result in returns to Libya, until clear guarantees of full human-rights compliance are in place."

Mediterranean Fatalities in 2019 Rise to 1,071 with Latest Shipwreck off Lampedusa (IOM, link):

"Authorities found 22 migrants who survived the disaster, while 13 bodies – all women – were recovered by the Italian Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza. As of Tuesday morning, 17 migrants remained missing, including more women and at least two children. Among the missing are nationals of the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Guinea Conakry and four Tunisian nationals including three men and one 17-year-old boy.(...)

This latest tragedy brings to 1,071 the total number of deaths confirmed on the Mediterranean through 6 October, nearly two thirds of those deaths coming in the waters between North Africa and Italy."

Council of the European Union: Border management: EU signs agreement with Montenegro on European Border and Coast Guard cooperation (link);

"Today, the European Union signed an agreement with Montenegro on border management cooperation between Montenegro and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).(...)

The objective of this agreement is to allow Frontex to coordinate operational cooperation between EU Member states and Montenegro on the management of the borders that the European Union and Montenegro have in common. The signing of this agreement is yet another demonstration of the deepening and expanding cooperation with Montenegro. It will bring benefits for both parties, in particular in enhancing border management activities."

See: Full-text of agreement (pdf)

Greece: Aegean Boat Weekly Report 30 September to 6 October (pdf): HIghly detailed report:

"A total of 203 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 6,941 people. However, 139 boats were stopped by Turkish Coast Guard/police, and 2,242 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2191 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 71,808 people. 38,433 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1,166 boats, so far in 2019."

Migration solutions begin and end with Turkey (New Europe, link):

"Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened several weeks ago that he would “open the gates” for migrants to cross into Europe if the international community did not accept his pledge to create what he termed as “safe-zones” in Kurdish areas on the Turkish and Syrian borders."

The EU’s new migration policy is a gift to the far-right (euractiv, link):

"Far from taking the refugee issue away from the far-right, the EU’s new migration policy plan will simply hand the far-right a grievance it can exploit for years to come, writes Faisal Al Yafai."

Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months (InfoMigrants, link):

"Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maion presented a new asylum decree intended to cut the time it takes for decisions on whether a migrant should be repatriated to four months: "It was a team effort," Di Maio told reporters at a press conference at the foreign ministry last week.

"I thank (Justice) Minister (Alfonso) Bonafede, Premier (Giuseppe) Conte and (Interior) Minister (Luciana) Lamorgese because this morning we signed a ministerial decree that enables us to bring down the measures to establish if a migrant can stay in Italy from two years to four months."

The decree would be the "first step in our plan for safe repatriations," he said, adding that only those who need protection could stay."

UNHCR in Libya Part 1: From standing #WithRefugees to standing #WithStates? (euronews, link):

"October 3rd is a day upon which the UNHCR "remember and commemorate all the victims of immigration and promote awareness-raising and solidarity initiatives."

With that very sentiment in mind, Euronews has undertaken an investigation into the UNHCR's operation in Libya, where tens of thousands of migrants live in detainment camps, hoping to make it to Europe.

We uncover the extent of neglect in terms of care that can be found where migrants wait to be processed. We ask why the UN's humanitarian agency cannot have the required access in Libya when the mother organisation - The United Nations - is working with the Tripoli-based government. We ask why there is a severe lack of transparency surrounding the agency's operation and we talk to some of the migrants involved in the process and allow them to tell their stories."

Plus: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

EU: JHA Council, 7-8 October: documents on EU-USA e-evidence negotiations; EU accession to the ECHR; right-wing extremism; and problems for plans to interconnect policing and migration databases

The Justice and Home Affairs Council is meeting in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 October. Issues under discussion include e-evidence negotiations between the EU and the USA; EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights; right-wing extremism and terrorism; and the implementation of the EU's plans to interconnect its migration and policing databases. Council documents published here indicate that this latter project is running into trouble.

GREEK ISLANDS: Over 100 migrants rescued overnight, as more transfers in the works (ekathimerini.com, link):

"reek coast guards rescued 104 refugees and migrants in three separate operations in the eastern and southeastern Aegean in the early hours of Sunday, just as authorities are planning to transfer 570 asylum seekers from the island of Lesvos to the mainland. (...)

Official figures showed that there were around 13,300 people registered at the Moria camp on Sunday, among which some 1,000 are minors without a parent or chaperone."

Aegean Boat Report: (link):

Today Aegean Boat Report past another milestone, 25000 followers on Facebook, and counting.

It started out as a small community on Facebook, with one single purposes, to provide information. This community has grown beyond my wildest expectations. It has been a long journey from December 2017 until today, and I’m exited to see what the future will bring.

To everyone who has supported me on this journey, THANK YOU."

See also: Moria Refugee Hotspot Camp, Lesvos Oct 2019 (You Tube, link)

Central Mediterranean Regional Analysis (Alarmphone, link):

"Over the past three months, the period of time covered by this regional analysis of developments in the central Mediterranean, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 39 distress situations in that region, involving over 2,337 people. Never before has the Alarm Phone been alerted to so many boats crossing this area of the Mediterranean Sea in such short period of time. 14 of these boats were intercepted and returned to Libya. 17 boats were rescued and brought to a European harbour, including eight by NGO vessels. The fate of six boats remains unknown. Two boats capsized, and about 140 people lost their lives."

Behind the razor wire of Greece’s notorious refugee camp (Observer, link):

"Moria camp mourns a woman’s death, after reports wrongly blamed residents for the fire that killed her.

Last week Moria was in mourning. A deadly fire last Sunday (29 September) killed a woman called Faride Tajik, described by UN officials as a widow with a teenage daughter who has now been taken into care outside the camp. Initial reports suggested a baby had been killed in the blaze that may have been started by refugees protesting over conditions.(...)

However, this account has been shown to be false. There were clashes between residents and the police and fire service but they came after the blaze when people were angry at a perceived failure to help. The Observer has seen and verified a number of time-stamped videos from the fire showing that the first responders were camp residents who brought an emergency firehose to combat the flames engulfing a cluster of stacked containers."

Message from Lesvos (link):

Torrential rain has hit Lesvos overnight!
10.000 people are sleeping in tents!
45% are children!
The situation is heartbreaking!

“It is not enough for your country to be at war, you should be more vulnerable!” (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"I write to you who know my passion for sharing, learning and listening. With many of you, I’ve had conversations about how war and peace are part of the history of all peoples. What I can tell you now, because of what I am experiencing and learning here on Lesvos, is that there are different forms and consequences of what we know as war. The first consequence is death and destruction. After comes the reconstruction phase which is almost impossible. War brings unimaginable destruction, displaces millions of people, and destroys families. Refugees have lived through all of this."

Greece desperately seeking to halt refugees and migrants flows (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greece is desperately seeking to halt the refugees and migrants flows and intensifies its contacts with Turkey and the European Union. Migration Policy Minister, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, is meeting with the Turkish Interior Minister and high ranking officials of the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on Thursday.(...)

boats with refugees and migrants keep arriving in Greece. Between Wednesday and Thursday morning, ten boats with a total of 463 people arrived alone on Lesvos; 700 people from Tuesday to Thursday."

AYS Daily Digest 3/10/19: Stranded in misery, from the Aegean sea to the Strait of Dover (Medium, link):

"Stranded in misery, from the Aegean sea to the Strait of Dover - 300 people arrive in a single day to the overcrowded island camps in Greece, the situation on verge of cracking - Turkey-EU grey area spreading to the fourth year / about 400 people stranded in the woods of Grande Synthe

During the day of October 3, at least eight boats arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands, with 299 people on board, Aegean Boat Report states. More than 35,800 people had arrived this way since the begining of this year, accordinng to the UN’s statistics. In spite all the tragedies and harsh conditions people face (for a long time) once they reach the Aegean islands, there is a rise in the number of those who make an attempt and reach Greece by boat from Turkey."

More than 700 migrant arrivals in Lesvos in past 36 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 703 refugees and migrants arrived on the island of Lesvos between Tuesday midnight and Thursday noon, authorities announced on Thursday.

Based on the data, 191 people reached the island on Thursday, 177 on Wednesday and 335 on Tuesday.

The number of those hosted in and around the Moria reception centre has jumped 140 percent in the period July-September 2019 from 5,500 to a whopping 13,200, while, in the same period, 4,000 people have been transferred to reception facilities on the mainland."

Third Anniversary of EU-Turkey Statement: A Legal Analysis (Heinrich Böll Stiftung, link):

"During the EU-Turkey Summit held on 29 November 2015, parties agreed to support refugees fleeing civil war in Syria and their host country Turkey, and to implement a Joint Action Plan, adopted on 15 October 2015, which sought cooperation to prevent irregular migration flows to the European Union.

Sea Watch migrant rescue captain Carola Rackete criticizes EU lawmakers (DW, link):

"The Sea Watch 3 captain, who memorably defied Italy's landing ban, chastised EU lawmakers for the situation in the Mediterranean. She said rescuers were legally compelled not to return migrants to Libya as it is unsafe.

"The EU member states have engaged in a policy of externalization of their responsibilities and a practice of pushbacks and omissions of rescue, delegating interventions to a country at war, Libya, in breach of international law," Rackete said Thursday to both applause and jeers."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: PACE to Europe’s governments: ‘It is your duty not to let people drown in the Mediterranean’ (link):

"While welcoming the commitment of NGOs to carrying out sea rescues, the Assembly has insisted that “it is the duty of States not to let people drown in the Mediterranean.

States should also allow NGOs to carry out their life-saving missions in the Med, and refrain from “stigmatising” their work. The captains of all such rescue vessels should be able to disembark migrants and refugees in the nearest port of safety, as provided for in international maritime law."

See: Adopted Resolution (pdf)

Greece needs to face reality about asylum seekers (euobserver, link):

"The Greek islands are under the spotlight again, as a new wave of tragic events has hit asylum seekers trapped there.

On 29 September, a big fire broke out in Moria - the notorious camp on the island of Lesbos - killing one woman, and injuring at least nine more people, including a baby, the health ministry reported.

On 24 September, a truck killed a five-year-old Afghan boy who was playing just outside Moria.(...)

Comment: The latest government figures (3.10.19) show that a total of 30,666 refugees are present on the Greek islands. Including 14,930 on Lesvos with places for 3,000 and 6,028 on Samos with places for 648.

Does Frontex arrange illegal push backs? (link):

"The EU Border Agency’s air surveillance could have triggered unlawful deportations at external borders. Such operations took place off Libya and Bosnia-Herzegovina."

New Frontex Regulation: Fortress Europe to be upgraded (link):

"The European Union is setting up a "Standing Corps“ of 10,000 border guards, most of whom will be provided by the German Federal Police. The new President of the Commission wants the unit to be complete by 2024. Frontex will also be given more powers and change its organisational structure."

GREECE-ECHR: The remedies proposed to detained migrants in emergency reception centres in Greece were neither accessible nor sufficient (pdf):

"The case concerned the conditions of detention of Syrian, Afghan and Palestinian nationals in the “hotspots” of Vial and Souda (Greece), and the lawfulness of their detention in those camps.(...)

In contrast, the applicants, who did not have legal assistance, had not been able to understand the content of the information brochure; in particular, they were unable to understand the material relating to the various appeal possibilities available under domestic law. (...)

Even assuming that the remedies were effective, the Court did not see how the applicants could have exercised them. Having regard also to the findings of other international bodies, the Court considered that, in the circumstances of the case, the remedies in question had not been accessible to the applicants.

There had therefore been a violation of Article 5 § 4."

Judgment: Kaak et autres v Grèce (French only, application no. 34215/16, pdf)

Greece rushes to unblock camps after migrant deaths (Politico, link):

"Following a Cabinet meeting, the government said it would try to decongest camps on the Aegean islands, by transferring people to the mainland and setting up closed pre-departure centers for those who are to be deported or sent back to their country of origin. It also said it would create a “safe-country list” for people who have illegally entered Greece, making it easier to send them back if they are not at risk at home.

The goal is for some 20,000 people to leave the squalid conditions in the islands' reception centers, Greek officials said. The center-right government also aims to deport some 10,000 people in 2020, compared with the approximately 1,800 people deported in total during the past four and a half years under the previous left-wing Syriza government."

GREECE: Aegean Boat Report (2.10.19):

"At least 9 boats have arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands since yesterday, 392 people. (...)"and

"Today (1.10.19) at least 12 boats have arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands, 459 people. Seven of the boats arrived on Lesvos."

See also: Third group of refugees, migrants transferred from Moria (ekathimerini.com, link):

215 men, women and children were tranfered to the mainland on Tuesday 1 October folowing the death of a woman in Moria detention centre on Sunday. 350 were transfered the previous Friday.

Lesvos Legal Centre: Press release: Fatal fire inside Moria refugee camp (link):

"In what comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the hotspots on the Greek islands, yesterday a fire broke out inside Moria Refugee Camp, which currently houses approximately 13,000 people in unlivable, cramped ‘housing’. The fire apparently started after an electric short-circuit in one container and killed at least one woman and resulted in the severe injury of many others

After the fire was finally put out, with the assistance of many residents of the camp, and the bodies of several carried to ambulances, protests over the conditions inside the camp were met with excessive use of tear gas by the police."

GREECE-TURKEY: Koumoutsakos visiting Ankara amid spike in migrant arrivals (ekathimerini.com, link):

"speaking to members of the Parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee on Wednesday, Koumoutsakos said there was a 200 percent jump in the number of migrant arrivals in the last five months, and that the EU-Turkey statement worked until 2017, but as of 2018, there had been an “impressive increase.”

Can Schinas put EU values back into migration brief? (euobserver, link):

"The migration issue continues to dominate the EU corridors of power and its agenda.

The new EU leaders and member states will no doubt be reviewing the union's migration policies."

Greece must act to end dangerous overcrowding in island reception centres, EU support crucial (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today calling on Greece to urgently move thousands of asylum-seekers out of dangerously overcrowded reception centres on the Greek Aegean islands. Sea arrivals in September, mostly of Afghan and Syrian families, increased to 10,258 - the highest monthly level since 2016 – worsening conditions on the islands which now host 30,000 asylum-seekers.

The situation on Lesvos, Samos and Kos is critical. The Moria centre on Lesvos is already at five times its capacity with 12,600 people. At a nearby informal settlement, 100 people share a single toilet. Tensions remain high at Moria where a fire on Sunday in a container used to house people killed one woman. An ensuing riot by frustrated asylum-seekers led to clashes with police.

On Samos, the Vathy reception centre houses 5,500 people – eight times its capacity. Most sleep in tents with little access to latrines, clean water, or medical care. Conditions have also deteriorated sharply on Kos, where 3,000 people are staying in a space for 700.

Keeping people on the islands in these inadequate and insecure conditions is inhumane and must come to an end."

EU: 'Moria is hell': asylum seekers protest conditions at Greek camp (Reuters, link):

"Hundreds of asylum seekers protested conditions at Greece’s biggest migrant camp on Lesbos on Tuesday after a woman was killed in a fire there, marching towards the island’s capital before being halted by police.

More than 12,000 people - mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - live in Moria camp, which has grown to become the island’s second largest town in just three years.

The woman’s death on Sunday was the third there in two months. An Afghan teenager was killed in a fight in August and a five-year-old Afghan boy was accidentally run over by a truck while playing in a cardboard box outside the camp in September."

Letter from civil society organisations to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations: Protecting the rights of migrant children (pdf):

"Migrant children are being denied their right to survival and development, to education and family unity, to their cultural identity and to participation in our society by discriminatory and arbitrary migration policies and practices, are denied access to psychological recovery from those harms and to psycho-social, health and welfare resources, detained and separated from their families deliberately and without access to justice and protection measures. Those civil society members who provide assistance and who defend the rights of young migrants must also be free from the fear of prosecution and persecution for so doing, including punitive measures against their families.

There are no justifiable reasons for this systemic harm and abuse of children. States must find new solutions to their legitimate concerns to manage immigration. These measures MUST comply with all existing universally adopted children's rights standards, not be set against them."


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

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