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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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December 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.12.17-1.1.18)
Greece: More than 170 migrants reach Lesvos, Samos early New Year's Day (ekathimerini.com, link):

"More than 170 undocumented migrants reached the shores of Lesvos and Samos in the early hours of New Year's Day, according to government figures."

Are You Syrious (31.12.17, link):

Intro

"The year of 2017 was much more difficult than we could even imagine during the previous year. More borders, more populism, more fascism, militarization, wars, police violence… Children are dying again before closed borders, but it seems like no one cares any more.

While part of the world population will celebrate the arrival of the new year, the other part, millions of people who have fled their homes due to wars, poverty or fear for their lives, will spend another night in tents, on the streets, in the forest, dreaming of reaching a country where they will have a chance for a better life and the possibility of choice. Now that borders closed, their chances in 2017 became smaller than ever.(...)"

Libya: “A government that couldn’t protect their own people will never be able to protect migrants.”

"Earlier this month the City Plaza and other local groups, organized a demonstration in Athens against EU involvement with the slave trade in Libya. It took place on 16 December, International Migrants Day, with many other solidarity demonstrations taking place in multiple European cities."

Macedonia

"The refugees in the Balkans are desperate. They have been stuck for too long en route, their rights denied, without papers or the option to be seen as equal. The European borders are closed and they receive no response to their asylum petitions. They are passing our country, silently - invisible to our eyes, but not to the police and criminals.

During 2017, we were dealing with push-backs, rejected claims, and too many other issues people had to fight. We cannot name all the inhumane acts they suffered from the states."

Serbia

"A year ago, AYS wished for Serbia’s government to start prioritizing the well being of refugees and migrants over bureaucracy. Many things have changed since then. But if we consider how 2017 kicked off, it seems that priorities haven’t changed much.

Between 1000 and 2000 refugees and migrants?—?including minors and kids?—?spent a harsh, freezing winter with temperatures of -15° C in a makeshift settlement behind Belgrade’s main train station. Hidden in plain sight, 500 meters away from the city center of a European capital, this became a city within a city."

Romania

"Romania has became an alternative route: the number of arrivals is increasing ever since the Hungarian and Croatian governments enforced their border defence. According to the Romanian border police, 1600 people arrived last year, which is 20 percent more than arrived during the previous year."

Croatia

"Croatia finishes the second calendar year with the shameful organised practice of violent push-backs of refugees, not only from the border, but also from deep inside the territory - for example, from Zagreb, including from in front of the UNHCR Croatia building (several cases)."

The Netherlands

"Last year I hoped for more solidarity and humanity, that we would build larger tables not higher fences. Thinking about it now I wonder why I have been disappointed.

Our new government’s view on refugees seems to be that too many refugees are coming to the Netherlands, which leads to unrest and endangers social cohesion. One solution to this problem could be to build bigger fences, bigger in the form of agreements intended to stop migrants from reaching Europe. Looking at the EU-Turkey deal however we can all agree that this did not stop people from reaching Europe, nor did it make things better, and the same can be said about the deal with Libya."

Seweden

"Last New Year’s, I wished for a couple of things in 2017. Among them that family reunification would speed up, unaccompanied minors would be treated better and for people to start questioning the concept of humanity and what it means to them. Unfortunately, while looking back at 2017, very few of those things came true.

Instead, the number of deportations increased. Sweden continued to apply the strictest asylum laws allowed in the EU. Nothing indicates a change anytime soon, even though there is opposition both within the government and among the public."

December 2017

UK: Ministers pondering use of volunteers to guard UK borders (AoL, news, link):

"The Home Office confirmed that proposals for "Border Force Special Volunteers" at small air and sea ports were being discussed.

They would be used to bolster Border Force staffing levels, in a similar vein to police community support officers.

However an MP whose constituency covers one of Britain's largest ports warned against creating a "Dad's Army-type set-up", due to the complexities of border security."

EU asylum applications drop off drastically in 2017 (DW, link)

"The number of people applying for asylum in the European Union in 2017 dropped significantly for the first time since 2015. Germany still received the highest number of applications, but less than half were approved."

Are You Syrious (27.12.17, link):

FEATURE

"Local newspapers in Croatia are reporting on a teenage boy, (12 or 13 years old), who was found hanging onto the bottom of a bus was driving from Serbia to Croatia. The boy was found after passengers heard unusual sounds and demanded the driver to stop and check. Speaking to the local media, the driver said that the boy came out of the space in between the wheels, dirty and obviously in shock (...)".

UNHCR has published the monthly report containing information on sea arrivals between January and November 2017

"Here are the main figures:

-  171.300 people arrived by sea and land to Europe in 2017, with arrivals during November 2017 51% less than November 2016
-  An estimated 3.100 lost their lives or went missing
-  117.000 landed in Italy (32% less than the same period in 2016)
- 15.540 of those arriving in Italy were unaccompanied minors
- Eritreans were the main nationality to reach Italian shores in November (1.100 arrivals, over 700 of them had arrived on 2 boats)
- 25.900 migrants arrived in Spain during this period (+ 106% compared to the same time period in 2016)
- 27.300 people arrived in Greece during this period (84% compared to the same time period in 2016)
- More than 40% of the sea arrivals into Greece were children
- An estimated 5.100 people crossed the land border with Turkey in 2017, 700 just in November
- 4.400 migrants were present in Serbia up to November 2017, “just 13 of them have been granted asylum during first instance procedures”
- 32.043 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy, according to the European Commission
- “In Greece, no person who has arrived after 20 March 2016 has been referred and submitted for relocation”
- 1.468 returns to Turkey"

Greece: Thousands of children in overcrowded Lesbos migrant camp, UNHCR wants to move the most vulnerable (infomigrants.net, link):

"A doctor from international aid group MSF says about forty percent of migrants sheltering in the Moria camp on Lesbos are children, and of those, nearly a quarter are unaccompanied minors. Meanwhile the UN refugee agency wants to step up evacuations of vunerable families to the mainland."

497 Arrivals in Levos over the Christmas period (UNHCR source):

20/12/2017:  201
21/12/2017:   53
22/12/2017:   36
23/12/2017:     0
24/12/2017:     0
25/12/2017: 177
26/12/2017:   30

EU 'solidarity' on migration focuses on Africa (euobserver, link):

"While unable to find a common ground on internal EU asylum policies, capitals have instead shifted the bulk of their attention on stopping immigrants from reaching EU shores in the first place.

"In a sense, this is also a kind of a cynical way out of the solidarity deadlock," said Kris Pollet, a senior policy officer at the Brussels-based European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).(...)

"The EU is prioritising more the security sector, investing more on the military in this fight against counter-extremism but there are millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance," said Nafkote Dabi, an Oxfam policy expert.(...)

It entails a renewed push to get international aid organisations up and running in Libya as people, plucked from its territorial waters, are returned and sent to any number of notorious detention centres."

Climate Change Is Going to Drive Thousands of Refugees to Cooler Countries (Futuriism, link):

"By the end of the century, climate change may drive 660,000 additional asylum seekers per year toward Europe. Growing mass migration is only one of the social and environmental consequences of increasing temperatures."

UNHCR calls for migrant transfers, Greek authorities blamed for grim conditions (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As temperatures drop, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) once more urged Greek authorities to swiftly transfer thousands of refugees and migrants living in cramped and unsafe island camps to the mainland where better conditions and services are available.

“Tension in the reception centers and on the islands has been mounting since the summer when the number of arrivals began rising,” UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told Voice of America."

Are You Syrious (22.12.17, link)

Feature: Spain condemned by UN for Archidona Prison facility

"Spain has been condemned by the United Nations for its treatment of refugees in Archidona Prison, where hundreds of migrants have been held since mid-November in the ‘unopened’ facility. They have been moved to the prison after entering Spain via the coasts of Almeria and Murcia due to alleged claims by the Government that refugee internment centres are full. Minors have been found within the prison facility."

Libya

"UNHCR reports that 162 exceptionally vulnerable African women and child refugees have been evacuated from Libyan detention by the UN and sent to Italy for the first time via an airplane on Friday. Detention centres in Libya have frequently been condemned by human rights groups as inhumane."

UNHCR: Situation on Greek islands still grim despite speeded transfers (link)

Bishops offer ‘room at the inn’ to refugees in Hungary (UNHCR, link): "In a country with a xenophobic streak and a government proud to call itself ‘illiberal’, religious leaders are speaking up."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-22.12.17)
European Parliament Study: Integration of Refugees in Greece, Hungary and Italy Comparative analysis (pdf):

"This study presents a comparative overview of recent policy developments in Greece, Hungary and Italy, which present some similarities as regards their position in the migration routes, but also very different approaches. The focus of the analysis is on progress achieved in the last three years in the adaptation of the reception and integration system for the high numbers of new arrivals and on the main challenges encountered, with a focus on labour market integration measures.

Further, special attention is given to changes in perceptions, public opinion and political discourse with respect to the asylum and integration of refugees and how this influenced policy strategies.(...)

These countries show higher and growing rejection rates compared to the EU average in first-instance decisions on asylum applications, ranging from 60.6 % in Italy, to 76.3 % in Greece, and more than 91.6 % in Hungary compared to 39.2 % in the EU28 on average." [emphasis added]

Are You Syrious (21.12.17, link):

FEATURE: Greek islands remain overcrowded

"One boat landed on Samos with 53 people. On Wednesday, 86 refugees were transferred from the islands to the mainland, including 22 from Lesvos and 42 from Kos.

Human Rights Watch again urged the Greek government to speed up transfers from the Aegean islands to the mainland, warning that overcrowded facilities on Lesvos, Chios, Leros, Samos, and Kos are ill-equipped to deal with the coming of winter. The hot spots on the islands still have almost 11,000 people in facilities with a total capacity of just 5,576."

GERMANY; Number of rejected asylum seekers returning to their home country drops

"DW reports that the number of failed asylum seekers willing to return to their home countries from Germany has almost halved this year, compared to 2016, despite moves by Berlin to raise the incentives for voluntary departures. Under a new scheme, families can receive up to €3,000 and individuals up to €1,000 if they voluntarily return home by the end of February. In a feature, InfoMigrants also writes about the different programs available to those who want to go back."

UK; Help Refugees appeals Dubs decision

"Help Refugees is appealing after losing a high court challenge against the government over the number of unaccompanied child refugees given sanctuary in the UK. Only 200 lone asylum-seeking children have been housed in the UK under the Dubs scheme, which campaigners had hoped would bring 3,000 minors there. Help Refugees adds, “Lone refugee children are living in horrendous conditions in Greece, France, and Italy; immediate steps must be taken by the UK government to honour its obligations under the Dubs Amendment. The government has failed these children. Our appeal intends to hold them to account for this shameful failure.”"

UK: Government reponse: Unaccompanied child migrants: Government Response to the Committee’s Thirteenth Report of Session (pdf) to Home Affairs Select Committee: Report (pdf)

Europe rebuked for removing Afghans to one of world's most dangerous countries (Guardian, link):

"Sweden and Germany at forefront of rise in refused asylum seekers being sent back since EU agreed aid package for country.

Britain and other European nations are under increasing pressure to explain why they are sending hundreds of desperate Afghans back to one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

MPs and MEPs have raised questions about whether the EU tied a 2016 aid package for Afghanistan to its willingness to take back refused asylum seekers.

Since the deal, forced repatriations have accelerated. The International Organisation for Migration says 500 Afghans have been forcibly removed back to Afghanistan this year, compared to 200 last year. More than 3,000 have returned voluntarily this year.

As of September 2017, Afghans accounted for the largest number of asylum applications in the EU, with 170,045 pending cases. But they lose more than 50% of asylum appeals – far more than Syrians do – because some parts of the country, such as the capital, Kabul, are now considered safe."

Are You Syrious (20.12.17, link):

Lesvos

"Over the course of the day, 4 boats arrived on Lesvos carrying 226 people."

Olive Grove, Lesvos

"The Olive Grove is a separate makeshift camp outside the gates of the Moria hotspot on Lesvos, where hundreds of people live without any security, electricity, showers, or running water. Dozens of families, single women and children were living in summer tents in the Olive Grove by early December 2017. Human Rights Watch writes about the mental health crisis facing asylum seekers on the island. Read the story here."

Italy

"Safe Passage UK have written a joint letter, alongside 5 Italian NGOs, calling on authorities to take urgent action to uphold the rights of child refugees in Ventimiglia."

Greece: Plans to expand Chios hot spot inch forward (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Plans to expand a refugee screening center, or hot spot, on the eastern Aegean island of Chios inched forward Thursday, as police on Lesvos said they had arrested six people in the wake of riots at the island’s infamous Moria facility.

Thursday, the Chios Court of First Instance rejected a request by the municipal authorities to stop work to install new prefabricated huts at the island’s Vial hot spot until a ruling is issued on an injunction against the Migration Ministry on January 16."

Greece: Lesvos:15 injured and tents burned down when clashes break out in Moria camp (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"At least fifteen people were injured and transported to hospital and several tents turned to ashes when violent clashes between different ethnic groups of refugees and migrants broke out in the hot spot of Moria on the island of Lesvos on Tuesday night."

And see: Unrealisable promises? LESVOS UPDATE 11 December 2017 (Open the islands, link)

Lesvos mayor files suit over conditions at Moria migrant camp (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The mayor of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos has filed suit against all responsible parties over the conditions at the Moria refugee and migrant processing center.

Spyros Galinos filed his suit in Lesvos’s Court of Misdemeanors, claiming that the law is being broken at the government-run facility, which is supervised by the military. His action comes two days after foreign media published videos shot covertly inside the camp and showing the squalor and cramped conditions to which thousands of refugees and migrants are being subjected.

The mayor stressed that the facility, a former military base, should not be accommodating more than 1,800 people at a time if decent living standards are to be ensured. “Unfortunately, though, for the past two years and this year especially there is an extremely large number of third-country citizens and vulnerable groups (men, women – among which pregnant women – and children) indiscriminately trapped and cramped together, coming to more than 6,000 individuals,” Galinos said in his lawsuit."

GREECE: Photographs of Daily Life in an Overcrowded Refugee Camp (Vice, link):

"Around 6,000 people are spending the winter in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. According to the United Nations, about 1,500 of them – including women and children – live in makeshift tents without insulation, flooring or heating. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro this summer, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras didn't dwell on the horrid conditions: "We have received more than 60,000 refugees into mainland Greece, living in good conditions, with access to medical attention and education," he said. "I am proud of that – even though the situation remains difficult."

To see what it's really like in Moria, one refugee living there agreed to document his everyday life for a month – on the condition that he remains anonymous."

MOAS carries out first-ever aerial evacuation mission, 74 vulnerable refugees taken out of Libya (Malta Independent, link):

"Marking the launch of its first-ever aerial evacuation mission, on Thursday the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) flew 74 vulnerable refugees out of Libya as part of a UNHCR evacuation scheme. The refugees, accompanied by MOAS staff, left Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport at 10pm local time, arriving in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in the early hours of Friday morning.

Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation, said: “I am happy to report that a group of 51 children, 22 women and one man have been successfully evacuated from Libya and are now safe in Niger. Less than 24 hours ago they were still detained in Libya, but they can now hope anew.” He added: “This evacuation could not have happened without the support of the authorities and of our partners, including MOAS, in Libya.” "


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-18.12.17)
1. New EU proposals: databases and "future-proof migration management"
2. Research: EU decision-making, civil society refugee support, discrimination
3. EU-Libya
4. Greece
5. European Council meeting, 14 December
6. Other news: Bulgarian detention conditions inhumane, irregular migration to Spain highest since 2009, EU to provide 1bn euros to Niger between 2017-20

1. New EU proposals: databases and "future-proof migration management"

EU to agree plans to link all Justice & Home Affairs databases into one centralised system
- repeated references to migration, internal security and terrorism

On 12 December the European Commission put forward proposals to link all Justice and Home Affairs databases - existing and future - into one centralised system: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens (Press release, pdf) covering: "security, border and migration management." The plans are set out in two proposed Regulations:

- Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 (COM 793-17, pdf) and: - Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) (COM 794-17, pdf)

EU: Future-proof migration management: European Commission sets out way forward (Commission press release, pdf):

"Ahead of the EU leaders' thematic debate on migration to be held on 14 December, the Commission is today proposing a political roadmap to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 2018 on how to pursue a sustainable migration policy.

As Europe is moving away from crisis management, an agreement on a stable and future-proof EU migration and asylum policy for the long term is needed in order to maintain the momentum an all fronts – internal and external.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Even if we are now moving away from crisis mode, it is evident that migration will remain a challenge for a generation of Europeans. Europe urgently needs to equip itself with future-proof means of managing migration responsibly and fairly. We have made solid progress in the past three years but now is the time to turn proposals into law, and law into practice.""

See the Commission Communication: Commission contribution to the EU Leaders' thematic debate on a way forward on the external and the internal dimension of migration policy (COM(2017) 820 final, pdf) and: numerous papers available online here (Commission, link) including on Frontex, budgets, "working with partner countries", EU-Turkey statement and more.

2. Research: EU decision-making, civil society refugee support, discrimination

EU: Nobody move! Myths of the EU migration crisis (Institutes for Security Studies, pdf):

"Did the EU break down one too many foreign policy silos, flout one too many international taboos, in its handling of the migration crisis? European diplomats usually say they do their best work when they are dismantling the EU’s paper walls and finding new ways to make the EU’s power felt. Comprehensive; coordinated; complementary – these key words embody the EU’s guiding principles when operating abroad. But migration is a sensitive policy field, migrants are vulnerable individuals, and migration cooperation can be a matter of utmost delicacy. So did the centralisation of policy go too far this time?

On this subject, migration policymakers and experts have clear ideas, which are poles apart. Policymakers argue that they needed to mobilise all available means to deliver an effective response to the migration challenge. Experts believe the EU abused its international influence to shift the burden abroad.

This Chaillot Paper contextualises the EU’s migration diplomacy, taking a sympathetic look at the dilemmas facing policymakers. It identifies nine important shifts in European foreign policy that took place during the migration crisis, offering an explanation of why each occurred and arguing that they could amount to a sustainable strategy."

Story of a journey across Europe (FEPS, link):

"In 2015-2016, when the influx of refugees trying to escape from conflict and persecution and seek asylum in Europe was at its climax, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and SOLIDAR launched the project “From Europe to local: Migrating solidarity”, which aimed at analysing the crucial role that civil society organisations all over Europe played in offering assistance, support and comfort to migrants wishing to integrate in European societies. The book that resulted from the study also focused on the, more often than not, difficult relations between NGOs and public authorities – at local, national and European level – responsible for the integration process."

EU survey reports appalling living conditions for migrants (New Europe, link):

"The results of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) survey, which polled 5,237 migrants in Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, draws a rather gloomy picture. The findings reveal particularly bad housing conditions and low life satisfaction.

The survey, which was published on December 14, shows migrants struggle with high levels of discrimination and verbal abuse, feelings of being treated worse than their colleagues at work, and being victims of crime on the basis of their ethnicity or migration status."

See: Survey reports appalling living conditions for migrants in Europe - 77% experiencing difficulties finding a home to live in (ENAR link)

3. EU-Libya

Migrants in Libya: Pushed away, pulled back (Middle East Eye, link):

"For migrants, Libya is known for its perilous journey to Europe. But for one Nigerian woman, it was worth the risk to travel to Italy twice and escape chronic violence and poverty at home.

Eight years ago, Joy was a teenager when she was offered a job as a nanny in London. In the event, she was flown by plane to Milan, and ordered to work off a nearly $60,000 debt as a sex worker.

When Joy fled to what she thought was the safety of her home in southern Nigeria's Edo State however, it turned out to be "hell".

"Returning was one of the worst things I could have done," she said.

Libyan outrage: slavery or borders? (OpenDemocracy, link):

"A recent CNN video of an apparent ‘slave auction’ in Libya has caused horror on social media, but the term slavery hides the European migration policies leading to such abuse."

EU: Press release: Libyan coast guard attacks rescuers after training by EU military operation (Andrej Hunko, MdB, pdf):

"'The support for Libyan militias in the framework of the EUNAVFOR MED military operation is helping them in the brutal persecution of refugees. It has nothing whatsoever to do with training in sea rescue. This is proved by the answer received from the German Federal Foreign Office regarding an incident on 6 November, in which the crew of a Libyan patrol boat once again caused the death of a number of people. Eight of the thirteen crew members had previously been trained in the framework of EUNAVFOR MED', stated Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the Left Party parliamentary group in the German Bundestag."

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty (euobserver, link):

"The EU and respective member states are complicit with migrant abuse and torture in Libya, says Amnesty International.

The NGO's Europe director John Balhuisen told reporters in Brussels on Monday (11 December) that the EU, and its member states led by Italy, are flaunting human rights obligations by helping Libyans return migrants to the country.

"When you partner with a partner who is itself a partner with criminals, and you turn a blind eye to those crimes, you certainly become in some sense a partner to those crimes," he said."

4. Greece

Greece: Samos: Fatima and Ahmad (Samos Chronicles, link)

"On Tuesday morning I said goodbye to Fatima. At least for the time being. Some time tonight or in the early morning tomorrow she will be taken from Samos to Lesvos and from there to a closed camp in Turkey. As always accurate information is hard to come by if you are a refugee. When I asked the police officer this morning when she would be leaving he replied that he didn’t know yet."

Press Release: EASO signs new Operating Plan with Greece (link) and see: OP (pdf)

New EU-Turkey "dodgy" deal: Greece to speed up migrant transfer after Turkey deal (euractiv, link):

"Greece will speed up the relocation of thousands of migrants from its overcrowded islands to the mainland before the onset of winter after reaching a deal with Turkey, a key ally in helping to tackle Europe’s migration crisis, government sources said yesterday (11 December).

Athens persuaded Ankara last week to accept migrant returns, including Syrian refugees, from the mainland and not just from the Aegean islands as previously agreed under a 2016 EU-Turkey pact, a government source told AFP.

The new agreement — reached during a strained two-day visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — aims to reduce the more than 15,000 people packed into refugee camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, another source said."

German Foreign Ministry rejects additional winter aid for refugees on Greek islands (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The German Foreign Ministry has made it clear that it will not provide additional winter assistance to refugees on the Aegean islands. In a related question from German newspapers, the foreign ministry replied that “responsibility for accommodating and feeding refugees falls under the jurisdiction of each country.”

According to dpa, the Foreign Ministry recalled that Berlin recently funded the installation of 135 heated containers for a total of 800 people in two camps in the Thessaloniki region and that the EU has allocated up to now 1.4 billion euros to tackle the refugee crisis in Greece.

Meanwhile, there is media report that Greece has persuaded Turkey to accept migrant returns from the mainland in order to reduce critical overcrowding in its refugee camps."

Greece: Dire Risks for Women Asylum Seekers - In Lesbos Camp, Neglect Threatens Women’s, Girls’ Safety, Health (HRW, link):

"Greek authorities are failing to provide adequate protection for women and girls living in government-run, European Union-sponsored facilities for asylum seekers on the island of Lesbos, Human Rights Watch said today."

5. European Council meeting, 14 December

EU: Migration row mars EU summit, exposes divides (euractiv, link):

"EU leaders ended the first day of the end-of-year European Council summit with no sign of tensions thawing amid recent disagreements on migration, which have once again exposed divides between eastern members and ‘old Europe’.

Most leaders left Council headquarters in Brussels without speaking to the press early Friday morning (15 December), after a heated, more than a two-hour-long debate over migration."

And see: Bitter divisions over migration threaten show of unity at EU summit (Guardian. link): "Germany and Italy criticise proposal by European council president, Donald Tusk, who described refugee quotas as ‘divisive’"

EU reignites dispute over refugee quotas ahead of Brussels summit (DW, link):

"Fresh tensions have flared up over a controversial scheme to move thousands of refugees across European Union countries. One senior official compared talks on the divisive issue to "fighting trench warfare."

6. Other news: Bulgarian detention conditions inhumane, irregular migration to Spain highest since 2009, EU to provide 1bn euros to Niger between 2017-20

ECHR: Children detained in Bulgaria subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the three children of an Iraqi family detained in Bulgaria were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment. The cell they were held in was run-down, dirty, had litter and damp cardboard on the floor and "as there had been no toilet in the cell, they had to urinate on the floor." They were not given food or water for 24 hours and the youngest child's milk was confiscated for 19 hours.

EU: Migratory flows in November: Arrivals down in Italy and Greece, rise in Spain (Frontex, link):

"In November, 13 500 irregular border crossings were detected on the four main migratory routes into the EU, 27% fewer than a year ago.

The total number of migrants detected on these routes in the first eleven months of this year fell by 62% to around 186 500 from the same period in 2016. (...)

Spain continued to see a high number of irregular migrants, with 3 900 arriving in November, more than three times the figure from a year ago. This was also the highest monthly number of migrants detected on this route since Frontex began collecting data in 2009." (emphasis added)

SERBIA: Europe's migrant crisis: the ghosts of Sid (France 24, link):

"Exhausted from being stuck in Serbia for months, dozens of young migrants survive in appalling conditions in Sid, a small town bordering European Union member Croatia, which they try to enter every day.

Every morning in the freezing winter cold they head for a closed printing factory, the last stop before the border with the EU."

Center-Right and Far-Right in Austria’s anti-migration coalition government (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Austria is getting a 31-year-old chancellor who will be Europe’s youngest leader and a coalition government that puts members of a far-right party in charge of defense, foreign affairs and other key departments.

Austria's government will include the far-right FPÖ, founded by former members of the Nazi party after WW2 & led by a man who was once held by police in Germany for taking part in a torchlit neo-Nazi rally."

And see: Here are the main policies of Austria's new right-wing government (The Local.at, link)

EU-NIGER: EU will support Niger with assistance of €1 billion by 2020 (pdf)

"Overall EU development assistance to Niger will amount to €1 billion for the period 2017-2020. This was announced by Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica at the Donors' Round Table for Niger in Paris. (...)

This EU assistance was jointly defined with the Nigerien Government and will help to implement Niger's 2017-2021 Economic and Social Development Plan. EU support will further contribute to strengthening State capacities and the delivery of social services. It will help to boost job creation and economic growth as well as increase food security and resilience and fight against climate change. A particular focus will be put on gender equality, girl's empowerment and education. EU support will also sustain good governance efforts, the reform of the country's security and justice systems, as well as the fight against irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling." (emphasis added)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-10.12.17)
Greece: Migrant arrivals offset decongestion efforts (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The effort to improve the living conditions of refugees and migrants stranded at overcrowded reception centers on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos by transferring some of them to the mainland will fail to yield the desired result as long as flows from Turkey continue.

In its latest report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that 17,764 people were transferred from the islands to the mainland in the period from July 2016 to November 2017.

UNHCR sources clarified, however, that the number of those removed from the islands is significantly higher than the official figure."

Spanish migrant detention centers 'worse than prisons' (DW, link)

"Migrants who arrive in Spain from Africa often face detention in a Center for the Internment of Foreigners (CIE), where their fundamental human rights are not always respected. Santiago Saez reports from Madrid.

Are Yopu Syrious (9.12.17, link)

FEATURE

"We keep stressing, almost daily, the inhumane conditions in which asylum seekers are detained in Libya and it seems never to be enough.

On Thursday, MEDU - Medici per i Diritti Umani (an NGO that has been working with migrants for years, offering medical care and assistance, based in Rome), presented the results of last year’s research in the light of the work of their mobile clinic at Piazzale Maslax, in co-operation with Baobab Experience.

As reported, more than 80% of the patients survived torture and serious abuse in Libya, just to reach Italy and find no welcoming reception system.

From December 2016 until November 2017, the staff members of MEDU treated 868 people, completing 1,524 checks (including first checks and follow ups visits), during 124 night shifts in 3 different precarious “spots” in Rome: Piazzale Maslax, the Termini area and an occupied building in the Tor Cervara district.

As Melting Pot further reports, the majority of the patients were forced migrants (seekers of asylum relocation, refugees, forced migrants transiting to other EU countries). 93% of them were males, between 18 and 30 years old (68%) and, in the majority of the cases, they had reached Italy a few months or weeks before (44% less than a month before). (...)

GREECE

"According to the llaLatest statistics published by AYS, 3,800 people arrived in the Greek islands the past month, while 2,128 were transferred to the mainland in the same period."

SERBIA

"Rigardu e.V. will publish on Sunday the full report regarding systematic police violence against refugees and illegal push-backs occurring at the borders of the EU with Serbia. The entire report will be available on their website and on the AYS FB page.

In co-operation with other NGOs, Rigardu e.V. has collected visual proofs and reports of more than 110 cases in which Croatian and Hungarian police illegally deported migrants to Serbia, just in 2017. More than 850 people, including minors, have experienced violence and abuse and were deprived of their dignity. The incidents were mainly reported in the areas of Šid (Serbia-Croatia) and Subotica (Serbia-Hungary). The asylum seekers involved were mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Maghreb."

Greece: Mouzalas says cannot rule out risk of deaths from cold at migrant camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As winter looms, and hundreds of migrants continue to live in tents outside overcrowded reception centers on the Aegean islands, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has conceded that he could not rule out the risk of people dying from hypothermia.(...)

Asked why Greece is not transferring larger numbers of migrants from cramped centers on the islands to the mainland, Mouzalas said authorities were doing all that they could within the framework of a deal between Ankara and the European Union aimed at cracking down on human smuggling across the Aegean."

CROATIA-SERBIA: 'They treated her like a dog': tragedy of the six-year-old killed at Croatian border (The Guardian, link):

"When the train hit six-year-old Madina Hussiny, her family stumbled to the watching Croatian border police begging for help, her body limp in their arms.

The same officers had ordered the exhausted Afghan family down railway tracks towards Serbia in the dark without warning them there might still be trains running, said Madina’s mother, Muslima Hussiny. But desperate and terrified, they had nowhere else to turn.

Madina was a casualty of a slow-burning crisis along Europe’s borders that aid groups and activists say is causing untold suffering."

UK: New Data Laws Declare Open Season On Migrant Rights - It Could Be You Next (Huffington Post, link):

"Data protection laws going through Parliament this week propose to exempt individuals' data privacy rights for the 'maintenance of effective immigration control' or 'the investigation or detection of activities that would interfere with effective immigration control'. What is meant by 'effective immigration control' and 'interference' are undefined and therefore open ended. (...)

The immigration exemptions going through Parliament will make data sharing regarding migrants more likely and frequent, whatever their immigration status. Liberty has raised that the data of those supporting undocumented migrants through charities, night shelters and food banks, could also fall under these exemptions given that Theresa May's 'hostile environment' is conceived, in her own words, of avoiding "a situation where people think that they can come here and overstay because they're able to access everything they need."

EU: Frontex training materials for Libyan Coast Guard come up short on human rights

"Respect and protection of human rights are a negligible part of the EU’s training to the Libyan Coast Guard, as revealed by the training materials the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) disclosed in response to an access to documents request. From a total of 20 documents – including a video – released, only 0,5% of the content is dedicated to ensuring the protection of human rights."

EU: Commission takes Orban's Hungary to court (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission on Thursday (7 December) stepped up pressure on the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban over migrant quotas, NGOs and a school associated with US billionaire George Soros.

The EU executive said it was also taking Hungary, plus the Czech Republic and Poland, to court over their defiance to comply with an EU decision in 2015 to relocate refugees based on a quota.

In addition, the commission is also taking Hungary to court over amendments to its higher education law that targets the Budapest-based Central European University.

...The commission is also suing Hungary over another law, which obliged NGOs in Hungary that receive funding from outside the country of more than €24,000 annually to give details about their funding, and show in all their publications that they are "foreign-funded"."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Conclusions and background documentation

Outcomes and documents discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: eu-LISA, ECRIS-TCN, Freezing and confiscation, PNR Directive, CSDP operations and JHA Agencies, Asylum Package, CEAS: Common Procedures, Reception and Qualifications, Data Retention and EU accession to ECHR.

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: "discrimination, intolerance and hatred across the EU" show failings in law and policy

A major new report from the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) shows that "immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and minority ethnic groups continue to face widespread discrimination across the EU and in all areas of life – most often when seeking employment." The findings of the report are based on a survey of 25,500 people of an immigrant or ethnic minority background in all 28 EU Member State.

NETHERLANDS: Seven things you need to understand about how refugees here feel (De Correspondent, link):

"Some 300 newcomers to the Netherlands have answered this month’s thirty questions asked by members of De Correspondent. It was the largest group interview ever conducted with refugees in this country. Today: the answers to a single question."

EIB: Agreement on extra €3.7 billion to address migration issues (European Investment Bank press release, 1 December 2017, pdf):

"The European Investment Bank will be able to increase its lending to projects outside the EU that address migration issues and can benefit from an EU guarantee.

An additional €3.7 billion will be earmarked for projects addressing the long-term economic needs of refugees, migrants and host and transit communities, and providing a strategic response to the root causes of migration.

On 1 December 2017, EU ambassadors endorsed, on behalf of the Council, an agreement with the European Parliament on a mid-term review of the EIB's external lending. The extra lending stems from that review.

In total, the financing limit under the EU guarantee will be increased by €5.3 billion."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.12.17)
EU: Dutch police encouraging "business analysis" of refugee and migrant smuggling


The Council of the European Union: Action Plan on the way forward with regard to financial investigation - implementation of Action 3 (Financial investigations applied in the fight against migrant smuggling) (LIMITE doc no: 14607-17, pdf)

The Netherlands police are encouraging other EU police forces to examine refugee and migrant smuggling from a "business analysis" perspective. Defining the issue as:.

"Criminal organisations facilitating irregular migration play a key role in the current flow of migrants into Europe and so pose a major threat to European security."

Italy: Living wills bill tabled immediately, ius soli put off - Immigrant kids citizenship bill 'will never be discussed'-League (ANSA, link):

"The Senate whips on Tuesday "immediately" tabled a bill on living wills, a controversial measure that has been held up by conservative opposition, but put off until the end of the parliamentary agenda a similarly opposed 'ius soli' law on citizenship for immigrant children, effectively killing the bill's chance of being approved before the end of the legislative term. "They'll never discuss it, and I'm happy," said the rightwing populist League whip, Gian Marco Centinaio"."

EPIM: Policy Update December 2017 (pdf)

Greek refugee camps 'beyond desperate' as islanders protesters in Athens (Guardian, link)

"Demonstrators from islands including Chios, Lesbos and Samos lead protests in Athens and demand government acts.

A surge in arrivals from neighbouring Turkey has seen numbers soar with officials speaking of a four-fold increase in men, women and children seeking asylum on Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesbos and Samos.

Conditions are deteriorating in the vastly overcrowded camps in a situation that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Wednesday warned was “beyond desperate”.

“In Lesbos, entire families who recently arrived from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are packed into small summer tents, under the rain and in low temperatures struggling to keep dry and warm,” said Aria Danika, MSF’s project coordinator on the island."

Fatal Journeys Volume 3 Part 2: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (IOM link):

"This report, the third volume in the Fatal Journeys series, focuses on improving data on migrant fatalities. It is published in two parts. Part 1 critically examines the existing and potential sources of data on missing migrants. Part 2 focuses on six key regions across the world, discussing the regional data challenges and context of migrant deaths and disappearances.

The second part of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 makes five key recommendations that emerge from the comparison of regions and innovative methodologies discussed in both parts of the report."

See: Report (link)

Germany accused over 'illegal' deportation of Afghan asylum seeker (Guardian, link):

"Lawyers say decision to return 26-year-old contradicts government’s own rules on removals.

The German government has been accused of breaking its own rules on removing Afghan asylum seekers with a decision to deport a 26-year-old who fears he will be killed if returned.

The man, who the Guardian is not naming, is due to be flown out of Germany on Wednesday to a country he has not set foot in since he was five years old.

The case has focused attention on Germany’s acceleration of deportations, which have doubled over the past year. In all, 78 people are due to be deported on Wednesday."

See also: EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal (Statewatch News) and Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) casts doubt on EU policy of "safe" return of refugees to Afghanistan (Statewatch News)

Are You Syrious (4.12.17, link):

SEA

"An Italian outlet reported today that a 30 year old Syrian man named Sami Naser attempted the crossing from Tripoli to Lampedusa on his own. He was rescued by a Spanish vessel, who were shocked to see someone attempting the dangerous journey alone. Sami told the volunteers who rescued him that he had no choice but to flee Libya. He had been working as a nurse outside of Tripoli in a state of semi-slavery for months, with all his wages being stolen. Sami wanted to leave the country before he fell into the hands of kindappers who would likely torture and ransom him."

Moria, Lesvos: Journalist harassed

"Today the journalist and photographer Patrick Strickland released some images from the Moria camp on Lesvos showing the despicable conditions there. Strickland also reported being harassed by police outside of the Moria camp today, another blatant attempt to intimidate and push away journalists."

ITALY

"Activists and volunteers on the ground in the Pordenone area continue to report unacceptable conditions for refugees there. While the right and left wing parties continue their asinine debates over who is a “real” refugee, the real questions are being ignored. As a Pordenone solidarity organization put it: “The real issues here are: why are they on the streets, forced to sleep in the fields? Why do they not even have a place for their primary needs, to bathe, drink and eat?”"

SPAIN

"The Spanish journalist and human rights defender Helena Maleno Garzon has been requested to appear before a Moroccan court (her country of residence). While the charges against her are forthcoming, the international human rights organization FIDH has surmised from the court documents that she is being charged with involvement in human trafficking. This charge appears to stem from the fact that, because of her long standing work as an advocate, she is a frequent point of contact for refugees crossing the Mediterranean. In particular, she has been called by many refugees requiring emergency rescue at sea."

" EU: Commission: Reporting on the follow-up to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of trafficking in human beings and identifying further concrete actions (COM 728-17, pdf):

"Perpetrators and abusers exploit people’s vulnerabilities, exacerbated by factors such as poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, male violence against women, lack of access to education, conflict, war, climate change, environmental degradation, and natural disasters for the purposes of sexual or labour exploitation, begging, criminal activities and more."

The Commission refers to both "trafficking" and "migrant smuggling" each of which has a different legal basis while also highlighting the exploitation of women and children.

German pilots refuse to carry out deportations (DW, link)

"Pilots across Germany are stopping planned deportations of rejected asylum seekers. At the same time, refugees are appealing their deportation orders in record numbers - and winning.

Many pilots in Germany are refusing to participate in deportations, local media reported on Monday.

Following an information request from the Left party, the government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany's main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where the controversial deportations are routinely accompanied by protesters on the tarmac. The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest and most important hub."

Greece: Push to move migrants from islands to mainland (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Municipal officials from the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, which are bearing the brunt of an increased influx of migrants from neighboring Turkey, are due in Athens on Tuesday to press the government for action to ease the pressure on their local communities.(...)

In a related development on Monday, a court on Lesvos indicted 16 North African migrants who participated in the occupation of a central square in Mytilene, the main port of Lesvos."

Hungary: We face a ‘delicate mix’ of witch hunt and short trial (euractiv, link):

"Hungary is convinced that the EU institutions are on the wrong side of history in the context of the migration crisis, Zoltán Kovács, the spokesperson of the Hungarian government, told journalists in Brussels on Monday (4 December)."

Statewatch Analysis: Human rights violations at Spain’s southern border: steps towards restoring legality (pdf)

In mid-August 2014, a group of around 80 people attempted to enter Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, by climbing the three razor-wire topped fences that divide the territory from Morocco. The majority remained balanced atop a fence for around nine hours while some held onto their perches for up to 16 hours, “despite the suffocating heat and the lack of food and water,” as one news report noted at the time. But regardless of how long they held on, as soon as they came down from the fence they were all returned to Morocco by officers from Spain’s Guardia Civil.

Although the Article 3 claim was dismissed by the Court [ECHR], the other complaints were accepted, and on 3 October the Court found that the Spanish government had indeed violated the prohibition on the collective expulsion of aliens (Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights) and the right to an effective domestic remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).

#DefendingMaleno

"Last Wednesday, Helena Maleno Garzón received a visit from Police Officers, who informed her that she has to make presence in front of the moroccan justice this Tuesday, December 5th. Without having access to the complete legal information, we were able to conclude that the Human Rights Defender is being accused of international crime for human trafficking and irregular migration by the Spanish State. The Spanish State has been investigating about her job. For that, they may have asked her country of residence, Morocco, to collaborate in this investigation. The founds of the acussation of the Human Rights Defender are phone calls requesting assistance, which is executed by Salvamento Marítimo, who assist vessels of inmigrants that are drifting and/or lost. It is a judicial process aimed to criminalise the work that Helena Maleno has been doing for years as a Human Rights Defender. It also should be noted that Helena Maleno is a spanish journalist, activist and researcher, specified in Migration and Human Trafficking. Helena has been active since 2001 in the South Borders, ensuring the right to sanity, education, identity and a secure life for inmigrants."

See: Link

EU-Africa agree on repatriating migrants, but not on the bill (euractiv, link):

"African and European countries have adopted a special joint declaration on Libya and said they want to repatriate migrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin. But the question of who should pay for it has been carefully avoided.(...)

This is perhaps the only concrete action taken at the EU-Africa Summit, which ended on Thursday (30 November) in Abidjan. Some 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya in inhumane conditions will be repatriated urgently to their country of origin.(...)

At the end of the two-day summit, leaders issued a joint declaration on the situation of migrants in Libya, pledging in particular “to take all necessary actions to offer [the refugees] the necessary assistance and facilitate their voluntary return to their country of origin.”

Leaders clashed on mentioning “voluntary and forced returns of migrants”, but the final wording of the text only mentions the option of voluntary return."

See: Joint press release of the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union (pdf)

Blocked humanity (euractiv, link):

"The Dublin regulation, allocating asylum claims to the first port of call on a migrant’s journey, is unfit for purpose. The European Parliament has come to a shared position that guarantees fair treatment of refugees and shared responsibility in the EU. Now it’s up to member states to do their share, writes Cornelia Ernst."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.11.17-04.12.17)
Lesvos, Greece:The Memories of the Dead will not be erased with Black Paint (w2eu, link):

"In the night of the 24th of November 2017, by the harbour of Thermi on Lesvos Island, unidentified persons vandalised the memorial that we had erected there in 2013. It carries the names of those who had drowned on their journeys to Europe. Two wooden paddles hold the plaque with the names of the dead and the memorial looks out to the sea, dedicated to those of all ages and backgrounds, whose lives ended at sea."

GREECE: The number of refugees on the Greek islands as at 30.11.17 was 15,486: Lesvos: 8,398, Chios: 2,649, Samos 2,247. Leros: 1004, Kos: 1,044, Other islands: 144 (Hellenic MInistry).

Are You Syrious (2.12.17, link)

Feature: When injustice becomes law… Resistance becomes a duty

"The European commission is currently in the process of pushing through a proposal which will replace the Asylum Procedures Directive of 2013. The new proposal will expand the concept of a ‘safe third-party country’ and the consequence of this is that applications could now be rejected lawfully based solely on the grounds of ‘inadmissibility.’ This has the potential to extend way farther than the current EU-Turkey deal and the effects are going to be catastrophic for asylum seekers.

We need to act now before this legislation is passed."

Sea

"Seven boats were rescued on the Spanish coast today by SALVAMENTO MARITIMO. The total number of those rescued today came to 164 persons.

Maydayterraneo - Proyecto AitaMari is asking for people to join their team and become rescuers. In 8 rescue operations, they have rescued 580 lives thanks to team work. They want to highlight that donations also help to save lives: 50 euros can provide 200 people rescued at sea with warm blankets. To learn more visit this link."

Greece

"Currently the islands of the Aegean are ‘housing’ approximately 15,500 refugees. Hotspots such as Moria, Vathi and Vial are three times over capacity yet still the travel ban is not being lifted which would allow refugees to be transferred to accommodations on the mainland, many of which remain unfilled.

A rally has been organised for Tuesday by the municipalities of the three islands in an attempt to bring the current situation on the islands to the attention of the media. Protesters will congregate outside the Immigration Policy Ministry and demand the immediate transfer of refugees from the Eastern Aegean islands to the mainland."

Are You Syrious (1.12.17, link)

Feature: Winter

"Some parts of Europe are already covered with snow. In others, it is rainy and very cold. In these conditions, thousands of people are on the move, trying to reach a place where they will feel safe.

Unfortunately, too many of them are forced to stay out in the open, using makeshift shelters, while almost the only help they get comes from volunteers and locals. For all of these groups, help is needed to continue helping people who are abandoned by the institutions and big NGOs, and left in the streets of European cities.

The situation is not good in Greece, but also in Serbia, Italy, Spain, France, Croatia (...)"

EU

"The slave auctions in Libya that have provoked international outrage are partly a result of policies put in place by the EU, the director of France’s Doctors Without Borders wrote Thursday in an op-ed for Le Monde, and Politico translated it into English.

Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza is organizing an action day across Europe: Stop Europe Funding Slavery in Libya - Stop Wars Against Migrants on December 18.

If you want to participate, get in touch with them: solidarity2refugees@gmail.com"

Encampment and migrants wandering the streets of Paris (Paris, the new border-city?) (migreurop, link):

"Public administrations or specialised agencies are not the only ones producing data : not for profit organisations and collectives supporting migrants also collect information that helps capture – in a very precise manner – what exiles endure.

Since 2014, thousands of exiles have been living on the streets of Paris. Most if not all of them gather, forming makeshift camps and squats to resist hunger, thirst or fear. The city police and the riot police force dismantle these camps using their boots, guard dogs and tear gas. Tents, sleeping bags, carboard boxes and sometimes even ID documents are thrown into garbage trucks owned by the city of Paris, while fences, blocks of stone and urban furniture are set up to prevent any further informal settlement.

This map illustrates two distinct processes : the first one displays the era of a non-welcoming policy through the example of street camps established between 2010 and 2016. The second process, which started on 22 July 2016, identifies the elements of ever-stronger repression where “evacuation and shelter” operations were replaced with mass arrests and deportations flights. The so-called “transit” city centre opened by the city of Paris in September 2016 at “Porte de la Chapelle” in the 18th arrondissement should probably have acted as a wake-up call. If Paris is not a border-city, why was a transit camp open there?"

And see: Calais : 20 ans d’(in)hospitalité (migreurop, link): "Calais: 20 years of (in)hospitality

For 20 years, exiles transiting through the city of Calais and its vicinity have been confronted with police operations forcing them into areas with often inhuman and degrading living conditions. When these sites become too visible, they are systematically dismantled. This was the case with the Sangatte camp in December 2002, for a large part of the jungle in 2009, when squats and scattered settlements in Calais were closed in the winter of 2015, or when the slums surrounding the Jules Ferry centre were eradicated in October 2016. The British and French governments have persistently deceived public opinion into believing that such police operations may solve the migration situation. Yet in fact, precarious living areas will keep reappearing if appropriate solutions are not provided. "

UK: Marcin was crying, begging for help’: crisis of EU migrants detained in the UK (The Observer, link):

"The death of a Pole was one of three suicides in detention centres in a month, and relatives claim the Home Office is covering up cell deaths."

Islanders to descend on Athens over refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Protesters will converge outside the Immigration Policy Ministry on Tuesday to demand immediate relief for the eastern Aegean islands of Samos, Lesvos and Chios, where facilities for migrants and refugees are overflowing with thousands of stranded asylum seekers.

The rally is being organized by the municipalities of the three islands and aims to publicize the plight of asylum seekers who have been trapped there for more than a year, testing local communities."

ECRE head: Asylum management needs compliance, not new laws (euractiv, link):

"Some European countries are trying to enact restrictive policies and create a hostile atmosphere to discourage migrants and asylum seekers, blatantly ignoring EU and international law, Catherine Woollard told EURACTIV Slovakia."

Why German airport checks target Greeks (New Europe, link):

"Schengen took a wrong turn during a recent flight from Greece to Germany. Berlin decided to block free travel within the Schengen zone in response to Europe’s refugee crisis and Islamic terror."

UNHCR: Arrivals in the Med 2017: 166,250: Italy 121,916, Greece: 27,245, Spain: 21,304, Cyprus 1,062.

And see: UNHCR Europe monthly report (pdf):

"Between 1 January 2017 and 31 October 2017, 157,400 refugees and migrants arrived by sea and land to Europe (Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus only, including arrivals to the Canary Islands and by land to Spain). As a result of the reduced numbers of refugees and migrants crossing from Libya, the 5,800 sea arrivals in October was 79% lower than arrivals in October 2016. This October, sea arrivals from Tunisia comprised approximately 46% of sea arrivals in Italy and for the third successive month more refugees and migrants arrived in Greece by sea than those who crossed from Libya.(...)

In Greece, the conditions on the islands have deteriorated further as a result of the increased arrivals since August 2017 and the limited reception capacity. The situation is most dire on Lesvos and Samos. On Lesvos, nearly 5,200 people are staying in a site with capacity for 1,400 at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) and the olive grove next to Moria (at 31 October) while on Samos there are 1,584 people at the Vathy RIC site with capacity for 700.(...)

Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights published a letter sent to the Italian Minister of Interior requesting information on Italy’s maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters, urging the Italian government to clarify the kind of support they expect to provide to the Libyan authorities and what safeguards Italy has put in place to ensure that people intercepted or rescued by Italian Italian vessels in Libyan territorial waters do not subsequently face a situation contrary to Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of torture). The Commissioner also requested information on the measures ensuring that search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, including those by NGOs, can continue to be carried out effectively and safely."

EU-AFRICA: Joint Statement on the Migrant Situation in Libya (pdf):

"African and European leaders, gathered in Abidjan for the 5th AU/EU Summit, discussed the terrible media reports on inhuman treatment of African migrants and refugees by criminal groups. They condemned in the strongest terms any such criminal acts and expressed their firm resolve to work together for an immediate end of these criminal practices and to ensure the wellbeing of the migrants and refugees.(...)

They stressed the imperative need to improve the conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya and to undertake all necessary action to provide them with the appropriate assistance and to facilitate their voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin as well as durable solutions for refugees."

And see: Civil Society barred from speaking at the Africa-Europe Summit (Concord, link):

"The AU EU Summit should have been a great opportunity for young people from Africa and the EU to exchange and listen to each other’s views. Scheduled to speak, and with speeches prepared, as part of the peace, security, and governance section of the Summit today, instead their contribution was ruled out on the grounds of “rules of procedure” after the objections of a number of delegations. Civil Society Organisations in a statement reacted angrily to the situation."

EU-Africa join forces against slave trade (euractiv, link):

"During an emergency meeting on the situation in Libya, nine African countries and European member states decided to launch a joint intelligence operation to dismantle the human trafficking networks.

The tragic situation of migrants being trafficked in Libya has taken space on the agenda of the 5th summit between the European Union and the African Union in Abidjan.

On the sidelines of the summit, the African Union, the EU and the Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as nine countries present at the summit (Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Chad, Niger, Libya, Congo, Morocco), held an emergency meeting to decide on actions to stop human trafficking in Libya. (...)

To fight these networks more effectively, the countries agreed to pool their intelligence services to create an operational “task force”. This would be tasked with “challenging and dismantling the networks of traffickers, as well as their financers”, said Macron."

See: Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project


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

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