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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: January 2020
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.1-3.2.20) including:
- EU aid increasingly taken hostage by migration politics
- New yearly report on torture of asylum seekers by Croatian authorities at EU external borders
- Death of a ten-year-old child in Roissy: another victim of European migration policies?
- Italy guilty of refoulements in 2009 handover of Eritrean shipwreck survivors to Libya
EU: New Council "strategic guidelines" frame the next five years of EU justice and home affairs policy
The Council of the EU is moving towards the adoption of its next five-year set of strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs policies. Priorities listed in a draft document include enhancing the powers of justice and home affairs agencies, such as eu-Lisa and Europol; preventing future migration "crisis situations"; and cooperating more closely with non-EU states to control migration. The intention is for the European Council meeting to adopt the guidelines in March.
Greece: Nationality-based Detention in the Moria Refugee Camp (ECRE, link):
"The NGO HIAS recently published a policy brief entitled ‘Locked Up Without Rights’ concerning the legal framework regulating the detention of asylum seekers in Greece and the use of automatic detention of single males based on their nationality.
The policy of automatic detention identifies single men arriving from “low profile” countries to be detained in pre-removal detention centres in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. It is thus used to provide for the speedy return of third country nationals who are identified as having arrived from “safe” countries. HIAS notes that the procedure lacks sufficient legal reasoning and fails to consider the potential vulnerability of those seeking international protection. Moreover, detained individuals are not informed of the reasons for their detention and do not have access to legal assistance."
Shots Fired, Arrests and Violent Push Back Reported at the Serbian Hungarian Border (ECRE, link):
"Warning shots were fired by a border guard on January 28 when a group of 60 people tried to enter Hungary from Serbia through the Röszke crossing. Witnesses reported violence by the Hungarian police during push back operations and Serbian police states that they made 37 arrests of people trying to “cross the frontier illegally”.
Hungarian Police reports on the incident at the Röszke crossing that three warning shots were fired by a border guard into the air causing no casualties “after which most of the group ran back into Serbia, while police reinforcements arrived”. Four men who ran 65 meters into the Hungarian border zone were arrested after police had sealed of the area."
See also: The migrants are coming, the migrants are coming! (Hungarian Spectrum, link)
NGO rescue boats do not receive Frontex alerts (EUobserver, link):
"The NGO rescue boat Sea-Watch says it does not receive any alerts of maritime distress from the EU's border agency Frontex, whenever the agency spots people in trouble in the Mediterranean.
"Frontex would not alert civil rescue ships like Sea-Watch of any distress cases they find, as they know we would then take people to a safe port in Europe," a spokesperson from the charity told EUobserver, in an email."
EU aid increasingly taken hostage by migration politics (Oxfam, link):
"EU development aid is increasingly being spent to close borders, stifle migration and push for returns of migrants to Africa, reveals new research published by Oxfam today. This approach is hurting the EU’s diplomatic standing and diverting aid from its true purpose of helping those in need, sometimes even worsening the situation of the people it should support.
The report, ‘EU Trust Fund for Africa: Trapped between aid policy and migration politics’, shows how development funds under the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) are increasingly tied to the domestic policy priorities of EU member states to curb migration, with over a billion euros allocated for this purpose. In contrast, just €56m is allocated to fund regular migration schemes, representing less than 1.5% of the total worth of the EUTF for Africa."
NIGER: The European chase for Saharan smugglers (Privacy International, link):
"The wars on terror and migration have seen international funders sponsoring numerous border control missions across the Sahel region of Africa. Many of these rely on funds supposed to be reserved for development aid and lack vital transparency safeguards. After Europes's shady funds to border forces in the Sahel area and Niger's new biometric voting system, freelance journalist Giacomo Zandonini looks at the attempts to dismantle smugglers networks in the region, powered by Europe's gifts of surveillance."
New yearly report on torture of asylum seekers by Croatian authorities at EU external borders (Border Violence Monitoring Network, link):
"Together with a number of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Are You Syrious / Centre for Peace Studies, and Amnesty International, the Border Violence Monitoring Network has been working to document illegal pushbacks and police violence along the EU’s external borders in the Western Balkans since the formal closure of the route in 2017. While the existence of systematic illegal pushbacks along the Croatian and Hungarian borders with Serbia and Bosnia is evidenced extensively, this report focuses on the increasing violence that is applied to refugees and migrants under the framework of the Croatian case."
Climate refugees: The fabrication of a migration threat (Hein de Haas, link):
"In recent years, it has become popular to argue that climate change will lead to massive North-South movements of ‘climate refugees’. Concerns about climate change-induced migration have emerged in the context of debates on global warming. Without any doubt, global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity, and the lack of willingness of states and the international community to address it effectively – particularly through reducing of carbon emissions – is a valid source of major public concern and global protest.
However, to link this issue with the specter of mass migration is a dangerous practice based on myth rather than fact. The use of apocalyptic migration forecasts to support the case for urgent action on climate change is not only intellectually dishonest, but also puts the credibility of those using this argument - as well as the broader case for climate change action - seriously at risk."
GREECE: Solidarity Statement: Freedom for Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar: The European Union must stop the arbitrary incarceration of refugees and migrants (pdf)
"We express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar who are currently being held in pre-trial detention in Komotini, Greece. Both are facing long prison sentences because they are being wrongfully and arbitrarily accused of "smuggling”.
Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are Moroccan citizens who fled their country searching for protection and better living conditions, Hamza Haddi in particular is a known political activist who was hoping to be granted political asylum in Europe.
...Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are now accused of and are facing trial for the "smuggling" of two persons - one of them being Hamza's own brother Yassine!
The accusations against Hamza and Mohamed are clearly unfounded. They are refugees, not smugglers."
The statement is also available in Italian, Greek, French, German and Arabic (pdfs)
800 migrants detained in Spain in poor conditions, says NGO (InfoMigrants, link):
"More than 800 Tunisian migrants have been detained in the Spanish enclave of Melilla for more than 5 months, Tunesian NGO Ftdes claims.
According to Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (Ftdes), "over 800 undocumented Tunisian migrants including women and children have been detained for more than five months in inhuman and humiliating conditions at the Melilla temporary residence for immigrants in Spain," Tap news agency reported.
In a statement, Amor said that the migrants are housed in cluttered and dirty plastic tents, exposed to cold and lack of food. He said that the migrants had applied for asylum in Spain, but have not received any response to their requests. The migrants had reportedly also staged a sit-in but neither the Spanish nor Tunisian authorities reacted."
EASO operations in Greece to expand significantly (EASO, link):
"On 28 January 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the Greek government signed a Seat Agreement for the Hosting of the EASO Operational Office in Greece...
The hosting agreement gives legal and administrative clarity to the status of EASO in the country, including that of its staff and assets, thus allowing the Agency to be better able to support the Hellenic asylum and reception authorities.
Based on an Operating Plan which was signed between EASO and Greece in December 2019, the Agency is already scaling up its operational presence in support of the Greek authorities. Deployed EASO personnel will double from approximately 500 to over 1000 throughout the year. They will work to support the Greek Asylum Service, the national Dublin Unit, the Reception and Identification Service and the Appeals Authority. The personnel will include caseworkers, field support staff, reception staff, research officers for the Appeals Authority, interpreters and administrative staff."
See: 2020 Operational & Technical Assistance Plan agreed by EASO and Greece (pdf)
FRANCE: Death of a ten-year-old child in Roissy: another victim of European migration policies?
This morning [8 January], the body of a child of around ten years of age was found in the landing undercarriage of an aeroplane arriving from Abidjan (Ivory Coast) to the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport (Paris).
Although tragedies are frequent in the Mediterranean, between the Comores and Mayotte, and in other parts of the world, this situation is more exceptional, or at least less well known, in French ports and airports.
EU-TUNISIA: About the plan to create a reception centre in Bir El Fatnassiya for asylum seekers who flee the degradation of the security situation in Libya
The Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux is following the news about the creation of a camp in the region of Bir El Fatnassiya, 15 km to the south of the city of Rmada in the governorship of Tataouine within the framework of an emergency plan. After the experience of the camp in Choucha, where volunteer citizens have taken on most of the responsibility and, after the withdrawal of international organisations, Tunisia has been forced to face the consequences of this camp's establishment, including providing accommodation for a group of asylum seekers in the youth centre in Marsa.
Statewatch Analysis: Italy guilty of refoulements in 2009 handover of Eritrean shipwreck survivors to Libya (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:
An Italian court has ruled that the country’s Cabinet presidency and defence ministry were responsible for the refoulement of 14 Eritrean nationals in July 2009, when a warship rescued some 80 people and took them back to Libya, ignoring requests for international protection.
More than 150 migrants rescued by Open Arms, 400 others to disembark in Italy (InfoMigrants, link):
"The humanitarian rescue vessel Open Arms picked up 158 migrants in two rescue operations off the coast of Libya overnight. Since Thursday, three NGO ships have rescued nearly 640 people. Over 400 migrants on board the Ocean Viking will be allowed to disembark in Taranto, Italy.
The Spanish NGO Open Arms said on Twitter that it had taken on board 56 people during a first rescue operation late Monday evening. The migrants were travelling in international waters and the operation was completed after the Open Arms boat's engine was "provisionally repaired".
A few hours later the rescue vessel took on board another 102 migrants from a boat in distress. According to Open Arms, it saved them from "probable death"."
Eritrean asylum seekers hold protest in Slovenia over asylum process, rejected applications (InfoMigrants, link):
"A group of Eritrean asylum seekers have held a protest in Slovenia against asylum request procedures, which the community sees as unfair. They also demonstrated against the rejection of five asylum claims filed by Eritreans.
Eritrean asylum seekers protested Wednesday morning in front of the building hosting them in the center of the Slovenian capital. The demonstration was an attempt to draw the attention of the government and the public to asylum procedures, which the protesters see as unfair.
The approximately 15 protestors claim that Slovenia should grant asylum to all Eritrean citizens filing a request because the country is the "North Korea of the African continent," as one banner stated."
Historic UN Human Rights case opens door to climate change asylum claims (UN Human Rights, link):
"GENEVA (21 January 2020) – In its first ruling on a complaint by an individual seeking asylum from the effects of climate change, the UN Human Rights Committee* has stated that countries may not deport individuals who face climate change-induced conditions that violate the right to life.
...The Committee determined that in Mr. Teitiota's specific case, New Zealand's courts did not violate his right to life at the time of the facts, because the thorough and careful evaluation of his testimony and other available information led to the determination that, despite the serious situation in Kiribati, sufficient protection measures were put in place. "Nevertheless," said Committee expert Yuval Shany, "this ruling sets forth new standards that could facilitate the success of future climate change-related asylum claims.""
See the ruling: Views adopted by the Committee under article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, concerning communication No. 2728/2016 (pdf)
ITALY: Giving names to victims — deaths in Italian deportation centres (AYS Daily Digest 20/01/20, link)
"Twentynine people died in Italian deportation centres from 1998 until 2020.
The last death occurred on Saturday 18th January 2020 in the CPR of Gradisca d’Isonzo, when Vakhtang Enukidze lost his life, as he was surrounded by 8 policemen in riot gears and beaten heavily, causing him fatal injuries.
Therefore, today’s digest will, in a way, try to pay respect to those “invisible” deaths occurred by the hand of the Italian state, those deaths that are not investigated properly because the victims are “unwanted” in the country, guilty of being alone in a hostile land."
GREECE: January 2020 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):
"A. Situation Report in Lesvos, as of 15/1/2020
Total population of registered asylum seekers and refugees on Lesvos: 21,268 Registered Population of Moria Camp & Olive Grove: 19,184 Registered unaccompanied minors: 1,049 Total Detained: 88 Total Arrivals in Lesvos from Turkey in 2020: 1,015
Over 19,000 people are now living in Moria Camp – the main refugee camp on the island – yet the Camp lacks any official infrastructure, such as housing, security, electricity, sewage, schools, health care, etc. While technically, most individuals are allowed to leave this camp, it has become an open-air prison, as they must spend most of their day in hours long lines for food, toilets, doctors, and the asylum office."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-20.1.20) including:
- Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report
- Greece: Migrants face increasingly harsh conditions
- Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees
DENMARK: 'Unacceptable for people': Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report (The Local, link):
"The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture published on Tuesday a highly critical report on a detention centre in Denmark.
The committee called the centre at Ellebęk in North Zealand “unacceptable for people”.
...The report is based on visits to Ellebęk and other detention centres including Nykųbing Falster Arrest.
Both facilities house migrants who are under arrest based on Denmark’s immigration laws (Udlęndingeloven), but not for committing crimes."
See: Report to the Danish Government on the visit to Denmark carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumanor Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 3 to 12 April 2019 (pdf)
EU: How do the European media cover migration? (European Journalism Observatory, link):
"In the five years since the European refugee crisis began, controversies related to migration have deeply affected political landscapes across the EU, yet no “European solutions” have so far been found. A new study by the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) now shines a light on the media’s role in the migration debate.
EJO’s comparative analysis reveals that in each country, the media tell different stories about migrants and refugees. Clear differences in the quantity and quality of coverage can be discerned not only between Western and Central Eastern Europe, but even within Western Europe. The study also reveals a number of blind spots in the coverage of migration."
GREECE: Migrants face increasingly hostile conditions (Al Jazeera, link):
"Refugees and migrants trying to make their journey into Europe are facing increasingly hostile conditions - forcing them to take huge risks to their safety.
Closed borders, police brutality and a suspicious public are combining to make already desperate journeys often impossible.
In the first of a series of reports on the main overland route from Greece to Croatia, Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee found refugees are becoming increasingly reliant on organised people smuggling."
UNHCR’s Recommendations for the Croatian and German Presidencies of the Council of the European Union (EU) January - December 2020 (pdf):
1. Moving ahead with sustainable asylum reform
I. Foster responsibility sharing and solidarity within the EU;
II. Ensure access to territory and fair and fast procedures;
III. Support integration and efficient and rights-based return systems;
IV. Invest in resettlement and complementary pathways; and
V. Addressing statelessness.
2. Providing more development and peacebuilding support for the countries where most refugees live and originate from
I. Asylum and forced displacement in the new Neighbourhood, Development and
International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)
II. EU political leverage to promote inclusion of refugees.
Greece: Chios: Protesters boo, throw water bottles at Dep Labor Minister over Migration policy (keeptalkinggreece.com, link):
"Serious incidents erupted in the town hall of the island of Chios on Monday night, where Deputy Minister of Labor, Notis Mitarakis was booed and became the target of protesters angry over the government’s migration policy and the creation of a new structure for refugees and migrants.
A group of protesters had gathered outside the town hall and started to boo and fire insults when the deputy minister arrived. Mitarakis was helped by to seek refugee inside the hall.
The protesters finally broke the door outside and entered the building. Some of them reportedly threw water bottles and coffee cups at the minister.
Police detianed two of the protesters, one of them was arrested."
Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees (DW, link):
"The European Union has decreased its Mediterranean rescue efforts, while Greece and Italy are struggling to deal with displaced people who have already arrived. German cities are demanding permission to take action."
Greece to build new facilities for 15,000 migrants (euobserver, link):
"The Greek government has decided to build 10 new facilities to house 15,000 migrants, as new irregular arrivals from neighbouring Turkey continue. Nine of the 10 centres will be built in western Macedonia and one on the island of Crete. The purpose is to relocate people from overpopulated migration camps on the Aegean island as soon as possible. The first 10,000 migrants should be relocated in February."
Chios municipal council rejected plan for closed migrant centre (ekathimerini.com, link):
"The municipal council of the island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean, rejected a government proposal to set up a new, closed pre-departure center for migrants on the island, in a marathon session that ended at midnight on Monday."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.12.19-13.1.20) including:
- How Forced Labor in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects
- Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP
- Complaint filed with UN body over Italy’s role in privatised push-backs to Libya resulting in migrant abuse
- Migrant arrivals from Turkey to Europe nearly double in 2019
UK: No sanctuary for migrants: Undocumented migrants criminalised (Big Issue North, link):
"Forces detain refused asylum seekers and undocumented migrants for a variety of immigration offences – with Immigration, Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) agents sometimes even working out of police stations. The trend reflects what Bhatia, from Birkbeck College at the University of London, sees as the merging of the UK immigration and criminal justice systems in recent years.
He said: “Using a false passport, for example, used to be a civil offence but now it’s dealt with under criminal law. There are now 89 immigration-related offences on the statute books where a person can go to prison.
“The focus on the inherent ‘dangerousness’ of this group and re-classification of immigration breaches as serious criminal offences mean the system frequently resorts to imprisonment for what are non-violent offences.""
12 migrants found dead after boat sinks off western Greece (ekathimerini, link):
"Greece's coast guard reports that 12 bodies of migrants have been collected from the Ionian Sea, southwest of the Greek island of Paxos in western Greece, after their boat took in water and sank.
A coast guard spokesperson told the Associated Press that 21 migrants had been safely recovered from the sea. “The initial report is that 50 people were in the boat,” he said.
There was no further information about the migrants, including age, gender and ethnic background."
EU-ERITREA: How Forced Labor in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects (The New York Times, link):
"BRUSSELS — The European Union spent 20 million euros last year in Eritrea, hoping to help stem an exodus from the repressive African country, which is consistently one of its biggest sources of asylum seekers.
The money, about $22 million, bought equipment and materials to build a road, a seemingly uncontroversial task. The catch? Many workers on the construction site are forced conscripts, and the European Union has no real means of monitoring the project.
The decision caused outrage in human-rights circles. But that did not stop the bloc in December from deciding to give Eritrea tens of millions more, funding a system of forced conscription that the United Nations has described as “tantamount to enslavement.”"
The Hope Project Charity Auction London, 6–17 January 2020
Christie’s is proud to present a charity auction to benefit The Hope Project, which is founded on the principles of dignity, compassion and safety for all.
The Hope Project Arts is a safe place for refugees to express themselves through art, theatre, poetry, music, dance and so much more, while teaching others new skills and promoting a sense of community and understanding.
The Hope Project’s overriding focus is the mental health of refugees on Lesvos. The artworks exhibited here were all created by refugees in The Hope Project art studio, many of whom are still living on the island.
The sale will take place in London on 13 January 2020 at 7:15 pm Christie’s, King Street, St. James's, London SW1Y 6QT
Viewing: 6 – 17 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm St James’s Piccadilly Church and 9, 10 & 13 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm Christie’s, King Street
EU: EASO operations to double in size this year (EASO, link):
"In December 2019, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) signed Operating Plans with the national asylum authorities of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta, following needs-based discussions on the support which the Agency will provide throughout 2020.
In 2020, EASO will see its operational deployments double in size, with up to 550 personnel deployed in Greece, 150 in Italy, 120 in Cyprus and 60 in Malta. In addition, interpreters and security personnel will be deployed in the four Member States, bringing the total deployment up to as many as 2,000 personnel. Cyprus, Greece and Malta will all see a doubling of EASO personnel, while operational deployments in Italy will be decreased in light of changing needs on the part of the Italian authorities."
EU: Irregular migration into EU at lowest level since 2013 (Frontex, link):
"The number of irregular border crossings detected on the European Union’s external borders last year fell to the lowest level since 2013 due to a drop in the number of people reaching European shores via the Central and Western Mediterranean routes.
Preliminary 2019 data collected by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, showed a 6% fall in illegal border crossings along the EU’s external borders to just over 139 000. This is 92% below the record number set in 2015.
The number of irregular migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean fell roughly 41% to around 14 000. Nationals of Tunisia and Sudan accounted for the largest share of detections on this route.
The total number of irregular migrants detected in the Western Mediterranean dropped approximately 58% to around 24 000, with Moroccans and Algerians making up the largest percentage."
MALTA: UNHCR concerned about fire at reception centre, calls for urgent action on detention conditions (UNHCR, link):
"UNHCR is deeply concerned about the fire that broke out at the Initial Reception Centre in Marsa on Wednesday 8th January 2020.
It is a relief that there were no serious injuries. We thank the staff of the government Agency for the Welfare of Asylum-Seekers (AWAS) and emergency services for acting swiftly to make sure everyone was safe. There are currently around 450 asylum-seekers residing at the centre, including around 180 children.
While condemning all forms of violence and vandalism, we reiterate that detaining people, including children, for prolonged periods has a detrimental effect on mental and physical wellbeing. The substandard conditions in the centres contribute to the feeling of frustration among asylum-seekers, many of whom arrived in Malta after having experienced inhumane treatment when fleeing their country and on their journey. Detention of asylum-seekers in a manner that is not within strict legal basis needs to be addressed as a matter of priority."
See: 20 arrests after large fire at Marsa migrants centre (Times of Malta, link): "Hundreds of people were evacuated from an initial reception centre in Marsa on Wednesday after a large fire broke out inside one of its dormitories. "
UK: MPs reject Labour's call to reinstate child refugee pledge (BBC News, link):
"The Commons has rejected an attempt by Labour to reinstate child refugee protection rights in the Brexit bill.
MPs voted 348 to 252 against the amendment, which would have guaranteed the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family living in the UK after Brexit.
The pledge was included in a previous version of the Brexit bill, but was removed after the Tories' election win.
The government said it had "a proud record of helping vulnerable children.""
SPAIN-MOROCCO: Statement on the hot returns from the Chafarinas on 3 January: "a serious violation of human rights"
Yesterday morning, on 3 January 2020, a group of 42 migrant people, including 26 women and two children aged three and four, reached Congress Island in the Chafarinas archipelago. That same evening, the Guardia Civil enacted the summary return of the 42 migrants. On this occasion, the Spanish government allowed the hot return of vulnerable minors and women.
EU: Migration-related deaths: open access book provides "first interdisciplinary overview" of causes, dynamics and consequences
A new book that is freely-available online claims to offer the "first interdisciplinary overview" of the causes, dynamics and consequences of migration-related deaths, with eight chapters examining issues such as the collection and use of data; the process of mourning missing migrants; and the causes of border deaths.
MALTA: MV Lifeline captain conviction overturned on appeal (Malta Independent, link):
"MV Lifeline captain Claus Peter Reisch is a free man, after the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned his conviction for ship registration irregularities.
In May last year, Captain Claus Peter Reisch had been found guilty of not having his ship’s registration in order and was fined €10,000, with the court refusing the prosecution’s request to confiscate the vessel.
Reisch had been in charge of the vessel when it rescued 234 stranded migrants at sea in 2018. The rescue had caused an international dispute, with the Lifeline eventually being allowed to dock in Valletta, after which the rescued migrants were distributed amongst a number of EU countries.
Reisch had been charged with entering Maltese territorial waters without the necessary registration or licence."
MALTA: 24 arrests made in Safi migrants' centre protest (Times of Malta, link):
"The police made 24 arrests late on Monday after a violent protest by migrants at Safi Detention Centre.
The protest started at about 7.30pm, with several people banging on fences and trying to rush the gate.
Police said the migrants, many of them with hooded, also started removing stone slabs from their dorms, smashing them and throwing stones at the police.
The administrative offices were also damaged.
The police deployed reinforcements and a number of arrests were made.
No one was injured. "
Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP (Al Jazeera, link):
"When the European Union started funnelling millions of euros into Libya to slow the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the money came with EU promises to improve detention centres notorious for abuse and fight human trafficking.
That has not happened. Instead, the misery of migrants in Libya has spawned a thriving and highly lucrative web of businesses funded in part by the EU and enabled by the United Nations, an Associated Press investigation has found."
Italy Faces Complaint at UN Over ‘Abusive’ Libya Asylum Returns (The Globe Post, link):
"Campaigners filed a complaint with the United Nations on Wednesday against Italy over a teenage migrant who was sent back to Libya in 2018 along with other migrants, where he was shot, beaten, and subjected to forced labor.
The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) lodged the case with the U.N. Human Rights Committee aiming to challenge the practice of E.U. coastal states like Italy engaging commercial ships to return vulnerable people to unsafe locations.
The NGO says it is the first case of its kind to target so-called privatized push-backs."
See: CASE: PRIVATISED MIGRANT ABUSE (Global Legal Action Network, link) and: Privatised Push-Back of the Nivin (Forensic Architecture, link)
Brexit: Johnson condemned for dropping pledge to replace family reunion law (Guardian, link):
"Lawyers warn loss of reunion rights for unaccompanied refugee children will put them in danger.
The loss of family reunion rights for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children will leave them with “no options” except taking dangerous routes and using smugglers, charities in France and Greece are warning.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, faced criticism after he told parliament he had dropped a promise to replace the EU law that allows child refugees stranded in Europe to reunite with family members in the UK after Brexit.
Clare Moseley, the director of Care4Calais, said the news was devastating for those working with young asylum-seekers."
Greece: Unaccompanied Children at Risk - Arriving Alone in Island Camp, They Face Insecurity, Neglect (HRW, link):
" Hundreds of unaccompanied children on the Greek island of Lesbos are exposed to inhuman and degrading living conditions, Human Rights Watch said today. Children, unable to secure a place in the overcrowded specialized accommodation for unaccompanied children, face unsanitary and insecure conditions sleeping rough, sometimes in the open, in other formal and informal parts of the camp on the island.
“Hundreds of lone children on Lesbos are left to fend for themselves, sleeping on mats and cardboard boxes, exposed to worsening and dangerous weather conditions,” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Greek authorities need to urgently make sure these children are safe and cared for.”
PRESS RELEASE: Complaint filed with UN body over Italy’s role in privatised push-backs to Libya resulting in migrant abuse (pdf):
"Today (18/12/19), the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) filed a complaint against Italy with the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of an individual whose journey from Libya was intercepted in the high seas by the Panamanian merchant vessel, the Nivin. The complaint is the first to tackle the phenomenon of “privatized push-backs”, whereby EU coastal States engage commercial ships to return refugees and other persons in need of protection back to unsafe locations in contravention of their human rights obligations.(...)
The case breaks new ground as it calls attention to the ways in which merchant vessels are being implicated in border violence. Seafarers are increasingly being compelled to take responsibility for migrants and make risky choices of their own – choices that may lead them to act illegally and result in deaths not to mention bearing the costs of imposing border control. GLAN’s legal action is part of a broader effort to highlight and reaffirm the responsibilities of states around migrant rescue and to reveal the human rights implications of privatizing their response."
Europe is home to a grave humanitarian crisis – but Brussels looks the other way (Guardian, link):
"In a Greek refugee camp, adults are being stabbed or raped, while children freeze. This suffering shames our continent.(...)
The lack of a proper processing system has created a state of dreadful limbo, where people live in horrendous conditions without an end in sight. Some have been waiting more than two years to receive news about their asylum application.(...)
How could I be proud to be European – or even worse, proud to be a European representative – when I am standing idly by while people are dying avoidably, right here in Europe? The very place that pledges to become a leader in digital technology is also the continent that allows people to starve and die only five hours from Brussels."
UN experts decry rise in migrant detentions in Greece (InfoMigrants, link):
"UN experts on arbitrary detention have urged the Greek government to make urgent changes to the detention of migrants, stressing that the country was in continuing violation of various international standards.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) presented its preliminary findings after visiting 20 detention-related facilities in Greece during the first two weeks of this month.
In the report, the delegation highlighted multiple areas of concern ranging from lacking access of detained asylum seekers to interpreters and legal help to inflationary use of detention to prison overcrowding and various other issues involving both the criminal justice system and migration."
See: Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Preliminary Findings from its visit to Greece (2 - 13 December 2019) (UN, link)
EU: The “reliable neighbour” must recognise the rights of migrants, at last! (EuroMed Rights, link):
"On this 18 December 2019, International Migrants Day, EuroMed Rights joins the calls from several organisations of promotion and defence of human rights and asks the European Union (EU) and its Member States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 18 December 1990.
To this day, 55 states have ratified the Convention. Neither a single European state nor countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean like Tunisia are part of this list.
The EU benefits economically from migration but refuses to recognise the rights that should be guaranteed to all migrants. The Convention does not add anything to the European or national protection instruments already in existence, but it clarifies the rights of migrant workers by reminding the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
GREECE-TURKEY: Videos Show Apparent Illegal Pushback of Migrants (Der Spiegel, link):
"The Greek government has repeatedly denied carrying out illegal "pushbacks" at its land border with Turkey. No asylum seekers, Athens insists, have been forced back across the Evros River into Turkey without a fair asylum process -- even if numerous refugees been claiming otherwise for years.
Now, videos provided to DER SPIEGEL and analyzed by the Forensic Architecture research collective, show for the first time what appear to be exactly these kinds of pushbacks taking place on the Evros. Six active and former police officers and soldiers have also independently told DER SPIEGEL that pushbacks are systematically carried out on the Evros."
Migrant arrivals from Turkey to Europe nearly double in 2019 (DW, link):
"According to a confidential EU report, 70,000 migrants have crossed from Turkey to the EU this year. The numbers raise questions about whether a EU-Turkey refugee deal is unravelling.
The number of migrants and refugees crossing from Turkey to Europe has nearly doubled this year compared to last, according to a confidential EU report published by German media.
From January to the middle of December, 70,002 migrants reached the European Union from Turkey, representing a jump of 46% compared to the same period in 2018, Die Welt reported on Tuesday."
Greece Under Water with Unceasing Refugee, Migrant Arrivals (The National Herald, link):
"ATHENS – Mild late autumn weather has led to a constant stream of refugees and migrants being sent to Greek islands from Turkey, where they had gone fleeing war and strife in their homeland, sent by human traffickers being allowed to operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
They are coming, wrote The Guardian’s Helena Smith, “sometimes en masse, sometimes alone … in rickety boats carrying men, women and children looking for a freedom they hope Europe will offer.”"
The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency
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- 2016: Feb, Jan, Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sep, Oct-Dec
- 2015: Jan-Sep, Oct-Dec
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