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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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July 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26-30.7.17): 21 items
Transferts Dublin et relocalisation | Le mythe de la Suisse solidaire (asile.ch, link):

An article by the Asssociation Vivre Ensemble shatters two myths at once through basic data analysis:

Firstly, that Switzerland is acting in solidarity with the frontline states; and secondly, that perfecting the Dublin system benefits all the states participating in the Dublin system. By comparing the figures on relocations and Dublin transfers, the author finds that in 2016, Switzerland enacted 3,750 Dublin transfers towards other member states (led by Italy with 1,523) and received 469 such transfers (7 from Italy).

In the same year, 368 people were relocated to Switzerland from Greece and Italy, bringing the total to 1,029 (344 from Greece and 685 from Italy) out of the 1,500 it had committed to admit, from September 2015 to May 2017. In the same period, 2,420 people were returned via Dublin transfers, mostly to Italy as Dublin returns to Greece were suspended (17 took place anyways). The number of Dublin returnees Switzerland received from Italy (75) and Greece (14) is 89.

Germany's 'Marshall Plan with Africa' (devex, link):

"BERLIN, Germany — A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s — and possibly the G-20’s — aid relationship with Africa. The so-called Marshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance."

Greece: Authorities must investigate allegations of excessive use of force and ill-treatment of asylum-seekers in Lesvos (AI, link):

"Amnesty International calls on the Greek authorities to urgently investigate allegations that police used excessive force against asylum-seekers in the Moria camp near Mytilene during a protest on 18 July 2017 and ill-treated some of those who were arrested and detained in the Mytilene police station following the clashes that ensued. Testimonies the organisation collected from victims and witnesses about excessive use of force in the Moria camp are also supported by audio-visual material that was made public in the media in the days after the protest."

See: Report (pdf)

Are You Syrious (29-7-17, link)

Greece Islands

"Watch the Med yesterday witnessed an illegal pushback of a vessel by the Greek Coastguard: “The contact person informed us that the Greek coastguards were trying to return the boat to Turkey, and forwarded us a video that showed the boat of the coastguards circling around the travellers, creating waves which resulted in water entering the boat.” After the pushback they were arrested onshore by Turkish police."

Hungary

"Hungary apparently is defying court orders to improve the living conditions in the reception centres. In March the parliament voted to tighten the asylum laws once again: This time the members decided to detain asylum seekers in closed container camps until authorities make their decision. In the following the European Court of Human Rights in the case of two men from Bangladesh ruled, that this is a “de facto deprivation of their liberty.”

Germany

"The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) introduced a new asylum identity technology, to reduce mistakes. It is a consequence of a right-wing extremist from the Bundeswehr, who was able to pretend to be a Syrian refugee. He didn’t speak or write any Arabic, but numerous mistakes withing the office led to his positive decision. The new technology of the BAMF according to Infomigrants includes “language biometrics” software to recognize dialects. With another tool the staff shall be able to compare biometric photos to avoid multiple registrations like in the case of the Berlin attacker last year."

Greek islands: 341 refugees arrive in past 24 hours: Ministry figures (pdf):

145 in Lesvos
152 in Samos
41 on other islands

Despite the official talk of more "relocations" there are 62,407 refugees in Greece.

What is changing in the Med: five things you must know (Open Migration, link);

"If you feel that many new things happened in the week of July 25, 2017 on the subject of of migration and rescues in the Med, it’s probably time to have a summary. A distinction must be made among certified political decisions, retracted announcements, decisions awaiting confirmation and an uncertain overall picture, but it’s definitely possible to sum up the new elements that may change the balance in the Med while affecting the lives of many people."

7 refugees dead as boat capsizes off Turkish coast - 2 women, 5 children among dead (AA.gr, link):

"The death toll has risen to seven after a refugee boat sank off Turkey’s Aegean coast on Thursday evening, the Turkish Coast Guard confirmed Friday.

Two women and five children died when the boat carrying 18 people capsized at around 9 p.m. local time (1800GMT) near the Cesme district of the Aegean province of Izmir. The boat was headed to the Greek islands."

Greece: More than 170 migrants rescued at sea in past 24 hours (.ekathimerini.com, link):

"More than 170 migrants and refugees have been rescued in search-and-rescue operations in the Aegean Sea in the past 24 hours, Greece’s coast guard said Friday.

Officials said the operations took place off Samos and Lesvos islands, which lie close to the coast of Turkey."

European Parliament: MEPs Letter to Commission, Greece, UNHCR & IOM: Moira, Lesvos: Refugee roundup (pdf);

"We learnt from the statement of the Human Rights Activist Nawal Soufi (European Citizenship Prize 2016) that at 6 in the morning of the 24th of July several police and military agents broke into Moria's hotspot on the Greek island of Lesbos, awakening migrants with violence and abuse.

"The police had a list of people to take. Dozens of migrants have been arrested, 90% of them are asylum seekers. Among them there are many Syrians and even Kurdish-Syrians. Some of them have only received the first rejection and are waiting for the decision on the appeal. One of the asylum seekers arrested is a young Kurdish-Syrian who has already suffered violence in Turkey"....."

France reveals plan for registration centres to stem migrant crisis (euractiv, link):

"French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday (27 July) unveiled plans to set up migrant registration centres in Libya to help stem an influx that has sparked a crisis in Europe, although his aides said the scheme could not be implemented there immediately for security reasons.

A presidency official said the plan – for which Macron set the goal of becoming operational “this summer” – “was not possible at the moment” because of security in Libya.

Instead, France would study the feasibility of setting up migrant “hotspot” centres in Niger and Chad, and aim to open similar sites in Libya “in the short term”. [emphasis added]

And see: EU migrant crisis: France plans asylum 'hotspots' in Libya (BBC News, link)

Architect of EU-Turkey refugee pact pushes for West Africa deal (Politico,link):

"e European Union should strike deals with West African countries to stem the influx of migrants reaching Italy from Libya, according to an architect of the 2016 migration deal between the EU and Turkey.

Gerald Knaus, director of the European Stability Initiative think tank, said many West African migrants risked the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean because they knew they would not be sent home for years — if at all — due to legal and bureaucratic delays, even if their requests for asylum in Europe were rejected."

Greece: Becoming a Refugee (Samos Chronicles, link):

"Kiss the Jasmine
Take me to kiss the jasmine
Let me stand on the threshold of your garden
Let me smell what I long for
Amongst the grains of sand on your beach.

Don’t kill the lovestruck stars
Don’t tell the sun and the moon to be silent
Let them speak...... "

EU: EuropeanCommission: EU Trust Fund for Africa adopts €46 million programme to support integrated migration and border management in Libya (pdf):

"Set up of basic facilities in order to provide the Libyan coast guards with initial capacity to better organise their control operations... assistance to the authorities in defining and declaring a Libyan Search and Rescue Region..."

Court of European Justice: Croatia is responsible for examining applications for international protection by persons who crossed its border en masse during the 2015-2016 migration crisis (Press release, pdf):

"Those persons must be regarded as having crossed the external border of Croatia irregularly within the meaning of the Dublin III Regulation."

GREECE-GERMANY: NGO: Open Letter: Asylum seekers' transfers from Greece to Germany for family reunification under EU Regulation 604/2103 (pdf) :

"The undersigned organizations would like to express our serious concerns on a de facto violation of the right for family reunification and breach of relevant provisions stipulated in the EU Regulation 604/2013 (Dublin III Regulation), regarding asylum seekers’ transfers from Greece to Germany under family reunification procedure.

We refer specifically to a practice recorded during the last months according to which, asylum seekers entitled to be transferred to Germany under the relevant provisions of the Dublin III Regulation, are “blocked’ in Greece for periods exceeding the deadlines provided by the above mentioned provisions, for reasons related to supplementary terms of a maximum number of transfers per month."

Letter from European Commission to Italy: Refugees and the Med (pdf): Includes

"Measures to accelerate, in cooperation with the Italian authorities, the pace of relocations under the tw>o existing Council Decisions in order to ensure that all those eligible for relocation who arrived in Italy before the 26 of September 2017 will be relocated;

Step up support from the European Border and Coast Guard to ensure faster return procedures by deploying up to 500 experts available under the return pools and additional funding to cover the costs of more return operations...."

The: Tunisia Declaration (French, pdf):

The Interior Ministers of seven EU countries (German, Austria, Slovenia, France, Italy, Malta, and Switzerland) met with six African countries (Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, Chad and Tunisia) met to discuss "managing the flows of refugees" and returns.

EU: Border surveillance technologies presented to Frontex included "foliage penetration", drones and "intelligence fusion"

See: Reply from Frontex to questions from Sabine Lösing MEP (pdf): "Which of the technologies and services presented does the border agency intend to procure in the future?

The meeting referred to forms part of a series of regular meetings during which industry briefs the Agency and Member States experts on its portfolio of products and services in the field of border security. The meetings are not part of any procurement procedure."

The original questions: Subject: New border surveillance technologies — Frontex (EP, link)

EU: Relocation of refugeees "reaches record levels"; proceedings against Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland continue

The European Commission has published the fourteeneth progress report on the EU's schemes for the relocation and resettlement of refugees, stating that relocations from Italy and Greece have reached "record levels in June", meaning that "relocating all those eligible remains feasible before September."

At the same time, the Commission has moved to the next stage with its infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to comply with the relocation scheme, as an Advocate General at the Court of Justice has issued an opinion calling for the Court to dismiss a complaint made by Slovakia and Hungary that the relocation scheme breaches EU law.

European Commission press release: Migration: Record month for relocations from Italy and Greece (pdf)

Relocation and resettlement: documentation (pdfs)

European Commission, Fourteenth Report on Relocation and Resettlement (COM(2017) 405 final)
Annex 1: Relocations from Greece
Annex 2: Relocations from Italy
Annex 3: Relocations from Italy and Greece
Annex 4: Resettlement State of Play

Ali’s Long Wait for Justice in Greece - After Six Years, Afghan Man’s Attackers are Finally Convicted (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Ali Rahimi was 27 when it happened. A group approached him and two other Afghans in central Athens, swore at them, and told them to leave Greece. Then they attacked.

Ali was hit on the head with a bottle and stabbed five times in the chest and back, suffering a lung puncture dangerously close to his heart. The other two Afghan men managed to escape.

Six years on, Ali has finally seen justice done."

The new EU law on refugees takes shape: More Harmonisation but Less Protection? (EU Law Analysis, link):

"At the heart of the contested issue of asylum in the EU – including the current perceived ‘refugee/migrant crisis’ – is the definition of who is a ‘refugee’, or is at least entitled instead to a form of ‘subsidiary protection’ for those fleeing threats of ‘serious harm’. Refugees and people with subsidiary protection receive more legal protection and status than many other non-EU citizens, in particular irregular migrants.

Unsurprisingly then, the proposed revision of the EU legislation on this issue forms part of the broader overhaul of all EU asylum laws proposed in 2016, as a response to the perceived crisis. Recently the EU governments agreed their position on the proposal, which must now be negotiated with the European Parliament (its negotiating position is set out here)."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21-25.7.17)
Security and migration amongst EU priorities for cooperation with "modern, democratic" Egypt

Joint priorities adopted today by the EU and Egypt for 2017 to 2020 include a commitment from the EU to "support the Egyptian government's efforts to strengthen its migration governance framework, including elements of legislative reform and strategies for migration management," and to "support Egypt’s efforts to prevent and combat irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling of human beings, including identifying and assisting victims of trafficking."

CAMPAIGN FOR FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS IN AFRICA

"The next summit of Heads of State of the African Union (AU) will have on its agenda the adoption of a protocol on the free movement of people on the continent. To finalize the protocol with a view to its adoption, the African Union initiated consultative meetings extended to all AU member countries. Some African states are still reluctant and would not want to see the protocol adopted in January. While, the African populations, sixty years after independence, dream more than ever of a united Africa where people can move freely."

See: Letter (pdf)

"Nonsensical", "Dishonest" !Illegal": the "Code of Conduct" (Sea Watch, link):

"Italy has drafted a Code of Conduct which it wants to impose on NGOs carrying out Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Mediterranean. Dr. Violeta Moreno-Lax, Senior Lecturer in law at Queen Mary University of London, explains why many of the clauses are “either redundant or simply illegal.”"

See full-text of: Code of Conduct for NGOs involved in migrant's rescue operation at sea (pdf)

Greece: Large Scale Police Operation at Moria – Hunger Strike Continues (Enough is Enough, link):

"This morning many cops came into the Moria prison to search for people who’s asylum application was rejected. Dozens of people were arrested. The hunger strike of Arash Hampay, Kozhin Hussein and Bahrooz Arash continues.....

At 06:30am several hundred cops entered the Moria prison and started to search and arrest dozens of people. The cops and military were cooperting with each other. Cops were especially looking for people who’s asylum application was rejected. According to several Tweets and Greek media reports the police operation was carried out to deport these people."

Greece: MSF: Dramatic deterioration for vulnerable asylum seekers on Lesvos (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has released a new report highlighting the drastic deterioration of the care and protection for vulnerable people in Lesbos, Greece, who have fled from violence and wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and suffer from post-war psychological trauma.

“Vulnerable people are falling through the cracks and are not been adequately identified and cared for,” says MSF head of mission Emilie Rouvroy."

See: Report (pdf)

Pain and Anxiety for Refugees Stuck on the Greek islands (Refugees International, link):

"While the Greek islands used to be places of transit where asylum-seekers and migrants spent only days on their way to other European countries, as a result of an EU agreement with Turkey, thousands are stranded on Greece’s Aegean islands. People categorized as vulnerable – including pregnant women, single mothers, and people with physical or mental disabilities – are exempt and can be transferred off the islands to the mainland where they have better access to care and services, but this can take weeks. Others await a decision on whether or not they will be returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey statement, and many have been stuck on the islands for months and in some cases more than a year. In the meantime, they wait in limbo in untenable conditions and with growing anxiety, uncertain as to what their futures hold."

Greece: Chios at Breaking Point: New Research Finds Humanitarian Support Must Be Strengthened, Not Withdrawn (link):

"New research by Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) finds that the island of Chios, Greece is at breaking point. The continued arrival of refugees from conflict-ridden countries has led to chronic overcrowding, while charities and NGOs operating on the island are struggling to provide some of the most basic services required.....

In light of these research findings, the EU Commission’s decision to withdraw humanitarian aid from the Greek islands in July 2017 appears wholly misguided. It is likely to force vital service providers - many of which have been receiving EU funding to-date - to leave the islands, handing full responsibility to the already over-stretched Greek authorities. As such, the decision disregards the principles of human rights which the European Union is otherwise keen to safeguard around the world, and risks having a detrimental impact on displaced people seeking sanctuary at Europe’s shores.

Update: On 10 July 2017, the European Commission approved 6.48 million euros towards emergency funding on Chios and Lesvos. This is a welcome development but one which needs to be accompanied by a strengthened asylum system and accelerated transfers to mainland Greece."

EU: Council conclusions on Libya (17 July 2017) (11155/17, pdf)

Including: "The EU will support Libya to strengthen its capacities to control its borders, including in the south, in accordance with International Law, in addition to broader EU efforts to reinforce cooperation with countries of origin and transit to significantly reduce migratory pressure on Libya’s and other neighbouring countries’ land borders. The EU will continue to cooperate with G5 Sahel countries, including via contributions of CSDP missions and financial support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The EU will further engage and provide support to enhance both sea and land border management by Libyan Authorities.

Underlining the importance of both missions, the Council welcomes the renewal of the mandate of EUBAM Libya and will decide shortly on the renewal of Operation Sophia...

EUBAM Libya will continue to progressively engage with and assist the Libyan authorities on border management, including on the South of Libya, law enforcement and criminal justice and plan for a possible civilian CSDP mission in the field of security sector reform, co-operating closely with and contributing to UNSMIL efforts. It will continue working towards establishing a light presence in Tripoli provided that appropriate security arrangements are in place."

Anti-immigrant ship on its way to stop refugee boats in Mediterranean stopped in Suez Canal (The Independent, link):

"A ship chartered by activists to hamper the rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean has reportedly been “arrested” in the Suez Canal after the its captain failed to produce a satisfactory crew list.

The Defend Europe ship set sail from the east African nation of Djibouti where it was chartered last week.

Called the C-Star, it was predominantly funded with donations on a crowdfunding website.

The crew had intended to sail the ship through Egypt's Suez Canal before heading towards the Italian city of Cantania where many rescue boats run by charities and non government organisations (NGOs) are based."

UN Global Compact on Migration: Preventing torture of migrants should be at the core of the Compact (Association for the Prevention of Torture, pdf):

"On 19 September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, a Resolution that sets in motion a complex process to elaborate by 2018 two instruments laying out States’ commitments regarding large movements of refugees and migrants. These instruments are the “Global Compact on Safe Orderly and Regular Migration” and the “Global Compact on Refugees” (not addressed in this paper).

This paper outlines seven key messages that the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) considers essential, from a torture prevention perspective, for the establishment of a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (hereafter the “Global Compact on Migration”)."

Italy’s migrant crisis grows amid EU debate (New Europe, link):

"Tens of thousands of migrants continue to pour into Italy, setting up makeshift camps in cities across the country. While the huge number of arrivals has triggered European Union-wide debates, a solution has yet to be found.

As reported by Italy’s ANSA news agency, the country’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni rejected a request form Visegard group leaders to “close the ports” to asylum seekers.

“We have the right to demand solidarity from our neighbours, countries with whom we share the European project,” Gentiloni said in Turin. “We don’t accept lessons, nor threatening words. We limit ourselves to serenely saying that we do our duty and we demand that Europe does it without giving dubious lessons.”"

Czech government insists migration controls should precede relocation demands (EurActiv, link):

"It makes no sense to share a burden over which we have no control, the Czech government said in response to the criticism of its failure to comply with EU migrant relocation quotas. EURACTIV Czech Republic reports.

The Czech government disapproves of the European Commission’s criticism of its non-compliance with the EU’s refugee relocation quotas.

Prague claims that the scheme, designed to help Italy and Greece, does not work and that Europe should focus its efforts on other measures to tackle the migration crisis.

This argument was central to the Czech reply to the Commission’s letter of formal notice, sent in mid-June, after the EU executive launched infringement procedures with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland."

EU: Member states fail to back Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (euractiv, link):

"The Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has stalled. The situation is frustrating the European Parliament and Commission, which have demanded that EU member states respect their commitments...

European countries have only provided a fraction of the funds they had promised for the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, set up to respond to development and security problems in the major countries of origin of migrants."

GREECE: PLEIADES' Press Release on militarisation of humanitarian response to refugees (link): This law is about to come into effect.

Italy hits back at neighbours' 'threats' on border security (The Local.it, link):

" Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has warned Rome will not accept either "lessons" or "threats" from neighbours on border security amid tension over Europe's migrant crisis. "We shall not accept lessons and still less threats such as those we have heard from our neighbours in recent days," said Gentiloni."

Divided Europe seeks a long-term answer to a refugee crisis that needs a solution now (The Observer, link):

"Europe is split down the middle. Poland and Hungary have refused to take anyone. The Czech Republic initially accepted 12 people but has since slammed the door. The European commission has begun legal action against all three. Italy and Greece, so-called “frontline states”, are at odds with their northern neighbours, notably France and Austria. Dashing hopes of a new approach, the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, is proving inflexible on the issue."

No One Is Counting Europe’s Missing Refugee Children (Refugees Deeply, link):

"Where are the 10,000 child migrants who went missing in Europe last year? Europol says it has no idea how many have actually disappeared as a result of Europe’s chaotic migrant calculations, Mario Vidal reports for porCausa and Vózpopuli."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.7.17)
Statewatch Analysis: The EU goes to war with African “elite” (pdf): by Tony Bunyan

EU to target African governments, officials and others with the threat to refuse or delay visas to enforce its returns and readmission policies
EU starts setting out the “consequences” of non-cooperation by agreeing “Measures targeting the "elite" of third countries”

See: Council of the European Union: "Link between return/readmission and visa policies" (RESTRICTED, EU doc no: 9097-REV-1-17)

MED: Guidance on rescue operations in the Mediterranean: Know Your Rights (CILD, pdf):

"Is there a duty to rescue at sea?

Yes, there is. Maritime law and the Italian Constitution (Article 2) are based on cooperation which is a fundamental obligation. International law (the Montego Bay Treaty and others, see glossary) requires States to require any masters of ships flying their national flag to fulfil their duty to give assistance to anyone found to be in danger at sea, to inform the competent authorities, to provide initial medical assistance to the persons rescued, and to transfer the persons rescued to a place of safety (for a definition of ‘place of safety’, see question 8)."

Defend Europe boat tries to block migrant rescues - As Defend Europe sets sail in hope of turning refugees back, UK anti-racism monitor issues warning over migrant safety (aljazeera.com, link):

"Far-right activists have set sail in a boat with plans to prevent the arrival of Europe-bound boats carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, sparking criticism from an anti-racism monitor.
Italy struggles to cope with refugee influx

Defend Europe, the group behind the journey which began Sunday, said on its fundraising page that its members would set sail in a 422-tonne vessel with a 25-member crew after receiving more than $115,000 in donations in recent weeks....

HOPE not hate said in a statement that Defend Europe threatens to "hinder the lifesaving work of search-and-rescue NGO ships in the Mediterranean".

"This confrontational and dangerous project is organised by far-right activists with a long track record of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant activism ... and while organised by Europeans, it is being supported, funded and promoted by the extreme far-right around the world," HOPE not hate said in a separate press briefing."

MEDITERRANEAN: Defend Europe/Identitarian Briefing (Hope Not Hate, pdf):

"Defend Europe is an attempt by far-right activists to confront and block humanitarian rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean.

It is being led by key members of the European 'Identitarian' movement, a collection of far-right activists operating in France, Germany, Austria and Italy.

They aim to disrupt and inhibit the vital efforts of NGOs saving the lives of migrants and refugees - many of whom are children - crossing the Mediterranean this summer.

More than 2,000 people have died on the Mediterranean already this year, and over 5,000 last year.

This confrontational and dangerous project is organised by far-right activists with a long track record of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant activism and while organised by Europeans it is being supported, funded and promoted by the extreme far-right around the world.

So far the Identitarians have only launched one operation on a small boat, but they have now raised the funds to charter a sea-going vessel with space for a crew of 25."

FRANCE: Calais after the jungle: migrant dispersal and the expulsion of humanitarianism (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Eight months after their eviction from the Calais jungle, migrants are still a substantial presence in the city of Calais. What has happened to them over the course of those months, however, has been largely unexplored (by those in the UK at least). To gain a better sense of what has been happening on the ground, we set up the project “Mapping the dispersal of refugees evicted from Calais” at Swansea University with funding from cherish-de.uk. Our aim is to investigate how migrants’ lives – both on and off the move – are controlled and governed away from the ‘border spectacle’ and declared 'humanitarian emergencies' that receive so much attention in the press.

During his official visit to Calais in early June, the French minister of the interior Gerard Collomb announced that 150 additional policemen will be sent there, in order to avoid that “Calais and Dunkerque become places of fixation for the migrants and that other jungles could multiply” on the territory. His words suggest that informal migrant encampments are growing, or have the potential to do so, and that the French authorities are pursuing a strategy of dispersal and division to prevent such camps from coalescing into autonomous spaces like the Calais Jungle. The European context is characterised by a widespread criminalisation of migrant intra-European movements on the one hand, and refugee support activities on the other."

UK-JAMAICA: Inhumane deportation (The Gleaner, link) by Luke de Noronha:

"Just over a week ago, two reports were published in Britain that might interest the Jamaican readership. They both concerned mass-deportation charter flights from London to Kingston.

(...)

The first report was an annual review by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) regarding several charter flights from Britain in 2016 - to Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Jamaica. I have met a few people who were on that charter flight to Jamaica in September 2016, and the majority of them left children behind in Britain. Theirs were stories of banishment from home, rather than a return to home. People had been away so long that they had few memories of the island, and no close family members to turn to. This is a familiar story.

What was significant about the report was the use of waist-restraint belts on the flight. Far more than any other nationality, Jamaicans were restrained in these belts, which act like straitjackets to prevent people moving their arms - often for hours at a time. On other chartered flights, only a few deportees are restrained in this way; it's the exception rather than the rule.

(...)

The second report, conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons, covered the last deportation flight from the UK to Jamaica in March 2017. Again, the independent inspectors found that force was used far too often."

See the reports: Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Boards Charter Flight Monitoring Team for the calenday year 2016 (pdf) and: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Detainees under escort: Inspection of escort and removals to Jamaica (pdf)

Teenage refugees in Greece are being labelled 'adults' if they have wisdom teeth (International Business Times, link):

"Children as young as 14 arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos are being identified as over-18s and forced to live with unrelated adults, without access to education and protective services, a shocking new report has revealed.

Greek authorities are quick to register teenagers as adults, without conducting a proper assessment, according to the Human Rights Watch report 'Lone Migrant Children Left Unprotected' published today.

If an assessment is carried out, it is often during a hasty visit to a dentist where any children whose wisdom teeth have come through are registered as adults. This was how 17-year-old Akash from Bangladesh ended up in the adult section of Moria refugee camp, where more than 3,000 people are living in "inexcusable" and "inhumane" conditions."

And see: Greece: Lone Migrant Children Left Unprotected (Human Rights Watch, link): "Unaccompanied migrant children on the Greek island of Lesbos are being incorrectly identified as adults and housed with unrelated adults, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and unable to access the specific care they need, Human Rights Watch said today."

Police clash with migrants at Lesvos camp for second time in a week (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Police were dispatched to the Moria reception center on Lesvos on Tuesday afternoon following clashes between groups of migrants in the camp while the local fire service tried to put out blazes that broke out in nearby olive groves.

The upheaval came a week after riots at the same camp when migrants, frustrated by poor living conditions and delays in processing asylum applications, set fire to tents."

And see: Asylum seekers clash with police in Moria frustrated about living conditions and asylum delays (Keep Talking Greece, link)

Indefinite detention is dehumanising for refugees. This practice must end (Guardian, link): "With its tales of terrifying journeys and hopeless days, a storytelling project is putting flesh on the statistics. We should be all be outraged."

Italy mulls temporary humanitarian visas to aid Libyan migrants (Guardian, link): "Move would provoke immediate Austrian response including closure of border with Italy at Brenner Pass"

What's the EU's vision to address the refugee crisis? (aljazeera.com, link): "The European Union restricts exports of inflatable boats to stem the flow of refugees and migrants from North Africa."

EU curbs rubber dinghy, outboard motor sales to Libya to stop migrants (euractiv, link):

"The European Union yesterday (17 July) adopted limits on the export of inflatable boats and outboard motors to Libya in a bid to make it harder for smugglers to send migrants to Europe."

Greece: Ministry refugee arrivals 18.7.17 (pdf)

251 refugees arrived in the past 24 hours: Lesvos 94, Samos 55, Chios 55, other islands: 47. Total in Greece: 62,327

Italy's migrant 'nuclear option' plot unravels (euobserver, link):

"Italy will likely meet a legal blockade if the country pursues its reported plans to issue temporary travel visas for migrants.

The Times newspaper said on Saturday (15 July) that senior government officials want to use a so-called "nuclear option", to grant migrants stuck in Italy the right to move to other EU states.

But the proposal is based on an obscure EU directive that can only be activated by a qualified majority decision in the Council of the EU, representing member states, and based on a proposal by the European Commission."

And see: Austria readies for migrant border surge (euobserver, link): "Austria is ready to "protect" its borders amid reported Italian threats to issue provisional visas to thousands of migrants.Speaking to journalists in Brussels on Monday (17 July), Austria's foreign minister Sebastian Kurz said the country would not allow large numbers of people to pass from Italy should Rome issue the documents."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17.7.17)
GREECE: Serious gaps in the care of refugees in Greek hotspots; Vulnerability assessment system is breaking down (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

"Following the departure of Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), medical and social services have seriously been minimised in the Registration and Identification Centres (RIC), the so-called hotspots of the Aegean. Ever since the needs of refugees are not being covered effectively. Huge gaps have been observed concerning psychological aid, and this in a period where the mental health of refugees is deteriorating severely due to being stuck and under constant threat to be readmitted to Turkey. At the same time, the system of vulnerability assessment seems to be breaking down. It is not known, how far the state agencies who are planned in to take this job over, will be able to replace the work the NGOs had provided until recently.

The working contracts most of the NGOs had signed with the Ministry of Migration Policy ended end of May. As a result the staff left the RIC and dozens of people lost their jobs. More than that, a huge service gap emerged all of a sudden. Until recently those NGOs had been tasked with a large part of the medical and social services, which are among the responsibilities of the Reception and Identification Service."

And see: EU to scale back Greek asylum aid (EUobserver, link)

Italy’s Smuggling Prosecutions Ruin Lives While Real Criminals Go Free (Refugees Deeply, link):

"This improvised captain – a migrant just like everyone else aboard – had no idea what to do. The overloaded dinghy started spinning uncontrollably and taking on water. Yusuf stepped in and found himself at the helm until the dinghy was found by the Italian coastguard nearly two days after setting sail.

Upon disembarking, Yusuf was identified by fellow passengers as one of the scafisti, the Italian term for smugglers who pilot boats, and was arrested.

(...)

Between August 2015 and the end of July 2016, a total of 793 scafisti were arrested, according to Italy’s interior ministry. This is on top of the 1,511 arrested since 2013. Arresting migrant pilots has been central to the approach of the Italian government, with then prime minister Matteo Renzi boasting on Twitter in April 2015: “We have arrested 976 scafisti and rescued thousands of people.”

While Italy’s popular press paints them as ruthless criminals, the reality of the scafisti is more nuanced. Stories like that of Yusuf are common."

EU: Frontex cooperation with non-EU states: information from the agency

A November 2016 letter from Frontex provides an overview of the agency's cooperation with third states in the fields of risk analysis, return, research and innovation and joint operations. The information was provided in response to a parliamentary question from Sabine Lösing and Cornelia Ernst, two German MEPs from the GUE/NGL left group in the European Parliament.

EU: Parliamentary Tracker: The “qualification” Directive of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is moving forward… (FREE Group, link): A detailed overview of the Commission´s proposal and current positions of the Council and Parliament on the new Qualifications Regulation.

SAMOS Notes (link)

"Last week we asked a friend whose son works as a policeman in the port why he thought the police were so violent in searching out the refugees who tired of waiting and fearing a negative response to their asylum application tried to leave the island clandestinely – without the necessary papers. They do this in a variety of ways usually by hiding in or on the trucks leaving Samos for Pireaus. If they are discovered they are routinely given a beating before being released back to the camp.....

In the first week of July the police launched a major sweep to locate refugees who had exhausted the asylum process and are to be deported. 138 such refugees were caught although many more are thought to be in hiding....."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-14.7.17)
ECRE: Proposed Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue putting lives at risk (link)

"A Code of Conduct for NGOs active in search and rescue (SAR) operations that has been drafted by the Italian government was leaked this week by Statewatch. Human rights organisations are raising strong concern that initiative will endanger thousands of life’s on the Mediterranean....

The Charity Human Rights at Sea raised concern over the exclusion of SAR NGOs from the drafting process as well as its interference with the independence of NGOs and humanitarian principles. The organisation also highlights the existing voluntary Code of Conduct which was drafted by SAR NGOs earlier this year."

Serious problem regarding family reunification for asylum-seekers in Germany under Dublin III Regulation (aitima.gr, link):

"n the context of our project on legal assistance to asylum seekers, we deal with hundreds of cases of asylum seekers who are in Greece and have applied for family reunification under the Dublin III Regulation.

During the last months we have noted that there is a serious problem concerning the completion of the family reunification cases in Germany. More specifically we have found that in cases of asylum seekers for which Germany has accepted responsibility, the transfer to Germany has not been carried out despite the fact that the six-month time-limit provided by the Regulation has expired. So far our organization is aware of 21 such cases of asylum seekers, including particularly vulnerable people such as an eight-member family waiting to be reunited with the seriously ill father as well as unaccompanied minors."

Italy proposes Libya pact to curb illegal migration (euraciiv, link):

"Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti on Thursday (13 July) proposed a pact with Libya to combat human trafficking during a visit to Tripoli to meet mayors of cities affected by the scourge."

EU to scale back Greek asylum aid (euobserver, link):

"Stranded refugees on the Greek islands will soon have to rely on the Greek government for all basic services.

Athens is set to nationalise services over the summer that were previously funded by the EU amid concerns that it won't be able to deliver, as some 60 people continue to arrive from Turkey to the islands on a daily basis.

Greek socialist MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos, at a hearing on the issue at the European Parliament on Wednesday (12 July), said that the transition of aid from EU-funded NGOs to the Greek state will be a "disaster.""

Spain: Hunger strike in Barcelona migrant detention centre ends

A hunger strike undertaken by some 60 detainees in Barcelona's migrant detention centre (CIE, Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros) ended on Wednesday night, two days after it began.

The hunger strike was undertaken as a protest calling for detainees to be set free and against their planned expulsion, which they considered to be "collective" according to a lawyer for local campaign group Tanquem els CIE (Close the CIE).

Exposing hate crimes of successfully prosecuted beyond borders (IRR News, link):

" Eric and Philippa Kempson and their daughter are long-time residents of Lesbos, their home facing across the short stretch of idyllic but deadly water to the Turkish mainland and the first landfall for the many flimsy vessels of refugees seeking rescue and safety. In the months and now years that have passed since the initial arrivals, they helped bring to the world’s attention the plight of people arriving, and gave up their ‘normal’ lives to devote themselves to the needs of the most vulnerable – children, elderly, disabled, bereaved, nursing and pregnant mothers, the war wounded and traumatised...

Some sought to scapegoat the Kempson family and other human rights defenders for ‘encouraging’ refugees to come to Lesbos, and have continued a campaign of intimidation and threats of violence against them to this day....

As if local animosity were not enough, a regular British tourist to Lesbos, Richard Sturdy, a ‘respectable’ 72-year-old businessman from North Yorkshire, joined in the abuse, using online social media, Twitter, Facebook and even media interviews to denigrate and abuse the Kempsons. His personalised hate campaign also extended to racially and religiously abusive language against refugees as well as those trying to assist them. ...

At his trial on 25 May, Sturdy changed his plea to guilty on all charges and received a community rehabilitation activity order, was made to pay victim and court costs and subjected to a restraining order not to contact the victim (this non-custodial sentence reflected credit for a guilty plea)."

GREECE: NGOs fearful of handing island camps to state (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Seven top NGOs aiding refugees in Greece have issued a joint statement expressing their concerns over the handover of responsibilities at migrant camps on the Greek islands to the government as of August 1.

The NGOs say the Greek government has released few details about how it plans to continue providing existing assistance to residents at the camps. A deterioration of living conditions and diminished access to essential services are the main concerns cited if the Greek government does not communicate a plan to the NGOs before the handover."

European Par/liament: Smart Borders Entry/Exit System is unproven, expensive and violates right to privacy (GUE/NGL, link):

"The European Parliament's LIBE Committee today adopted the first part of the so-called Smart Borders Package; the Entry/Exit System (EES).

"The Entry/Exit System text that was voted on today is the result of negotiations with the European Council. It is complex, costly and dangerous to fundamental rights and freedoms. It conflates irregular immigration, border security and the fight against terrorism, and it's effectiveness has not been proven. This is particularly worrying, considering the huge sums of money that would be invested in it."

"In this text, the European Parliament has retreated on many of its initial positions, notably on the right to respect for privacy and data protection. All biometric and alphanumeric data recorded in the EES will be accessible to the member states, including their immigration authorities, law enforcement authorities and intelligence services.

"Even worse, it allows data sharing and cooperation with third countries without specifying the purposes for this.

"The EES therefore institutionalises the registration of personal details of all third-country nationals on a mass scale in violation of their fundamental rights. This is a big brother-style policy and it would set a dangerous precedent," warns the French MEP."

Mediterranean migration route: help for Italy and long-term solutions (EP Press release, link):

"Most MEPs in the debate defended the work of NGOs from criticism that their presence and rescue interventions are encouraging perilous journeys and even supporting human traffickers. Nevertheless, some MEPs also agreed that a code of conduct is needed to create order in operations at sea.

Many voiced doubts about the cooperation with Libya, pointing to the political instability in the country, the unreliability of its authorities and the heightened risk of abuse and violence faced by migrants who are returned to its shores."

Italy to impose tough rules on NGOs (euobserver, link):

"Italy is set to reveal an 11-point code of conduct to restrict NGO rescues in the Mediterranean sea. Those that fail to comply will be banned from disembarking rescued people at Italian ports, according to a draft copy of the proposal.

The issue is part of a wider Italian-led campaign following failed appeals by Rome to get help from other EU member states. "

See "Code of conduct" below


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-12.7.17)
SPECIAL: EU: Italy's proposed code of conduct for Mediterranean NGOs "threatens life-saving operations"

The European Commission asked Italy to draw up a "Code of Conduct" for NGOs carrying out search and rescue in the Mediterranean: See full-text of: Code of Conduct for NGOs involved in migrant's rescue operation at sea (pdf). The organisation Human Rights at Sea has said the proposed code "threatens life-saving search and rescue operations".

All NGOs operating in the Med are required to sign and obey the Code: "Failure to sign this Code of Conduct or failure to comply with its obligations may result in the refusal by the Italian State to authorize the access to national ports, subject to compliance with the existing international conventions.

EU: UK parliamentary report: "failed" Operation Sophia has caused more deaths, EU should "combat irregular migration" in southern Libya

A UK parliamentary committee has said in a new report that it sees "little reason to renew the mandate of Operation Sophia", the EU's anti-migrant smuggling mission in the Mediterranean, when it comes up for renewal at the end of July.

According to the report by the House of Lords European Union Committee, the operation "has not in any meaningful way deterred the flow of migrants, disrupted the smugglers’ networks, or impeded the business of people smuggling on the central Mediterranean route," while an "unintended consequence" of the mission "has been that the smugglers have adapted, sending migrants to sea in unseaworthy vessels, leading to an increase in deaths."

ITALY: Interior ministry statistics on migrant arrivals, January-July 2017 (Italian, pdf): including overall numbers, comparative statistics with 2016, distribution of migrants within Italy, ports of disembarkation, nationality of persons disembarked, data on relocations, unaccompanied minors.

SPAIN: Over 60 detainees in Barcelona migrant detention centre on hunger strike

On Monday night 52 detainees in Barcelona's migrant detention centre (CIE, Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros) began a hunger strike. On Tuesday morning another 11 detainees from a variety of countries joined the 52, who are said to be from countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The detainees are in "different administrative situations", although the hunger strike was started to protest against the impending deportation that many of them are facing.

EU: Crowdfunded far-right vessel to set sail for the Mediterranean to target refugee rescue boats (i News, link):

"At some point this weekend a 42-year-old former Finnish research vessel will set sail from the east African country of Djibouti bound for the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. In its previous life, the Suunta surveyed the Arctic seas but its latest voyage will see it enter far more contentious waters.

Re-named the Sea-Star, the 25-crew vessel has been chartered by European far-right activists to “intervene” in the ongoing humanitarian mission to rescue refugees and migrants seeking to cross from Libya to Europe – a journey which has so far this year claimed more than 2,000 lives.

The 422-tonne ship, whose running costs are being financed with more than 100,000 euros (£88,000) raised through crowdfunding supported by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, is expected to station itself off the Libyan coast within a fortnight to carry out its self-declared mission to “save Europe and to save lives”.

In reality, charities and anti-extremist campaigners believe the Sea-Star has but one mission – to directly interfere with and disrupt the humanitarian vessels which every week pluck hundreds of people from waters where they would otherwise perish."

GREECE: Migrants 'stuck and forgotten' in notorious camp on Lesbos (Sky News, link)

"They are tired of waiting for Greek authorities and the EU to decide whether or not to take them in, with some there for a year."

See also: Lesvos migrants clash with police (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Frustrated by poor living conditions at the overcrowded Moria reception center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, migrants clashed with police Monday afternoon.

The unrest was sparked during a protest outside the so-called pre-departure center that operates within the Moria camp aimed at drawing attention to the substandard conditions that people are forced to endure while awaiting deportation to Turkey. According to reports, police guarding the center came under a hail of stones when they tried to secure the area and responded with tear gas....."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Prague is to argue it cannot be blamed for not accepting refugees (Prague Monitor, link):

"The Czech Republic is likely to argue that it could not meet its pledge to accept asylum seekers from Italy and Greece due to bad conditions and inactivity of especially the Italian authorities, according to the information CTK has received.

On June 14, the European Commission opened legal cases against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland over their unwillingness to resettle migrants. The deadline for the Czech Republic to react within the proceedings is Thursday, July 13. The case may end up in the EU court.

(...)

The Czech Republic is to argue that it wanted to test the system and offered to accept 50 refugees in the spring of 2016, Greece did not use the offer and Italy only partly, according to CTK's information.

From Greece, only 12 of 30 asylum seekers were resettled. Italy at first did not let security interviews with the selected refugees to be held by the Czechs in its territory and it did not even react to the second Czech offer. As a result, no refugee was resettled."

Note: the Irish authorities have reported the same problem with Italian refusal to allow security checks by other states on their territory. See: Less than a third of promised 4,000 refugees settled here (Irish Times, link)

UK: Asylum seekers forced into homelessness by paperwork delays, study finds (The Guardian, link)

"The government has been accused of routinely denying support to asylum seekers, leaving them homeless and unable to feed their families, following analysis of more than 300 recent cases.

Research conducted by Refugee Action found that the Home Office was missing its own deadlines for finding emergency accommodation for homeless and destitute asylum seekers, and in some cases wrongly refusing those who make claims for emergency assistance.

In one case, it took more than 10 months to make a decision on whether to grant an applicant asylum support – so long that the person had already received refugee status."

See: Slipping through the cracks: how Britain's asylum support system fails the most vulnerable (Refugee Action, pdf)

UK: We came from Romania to build a life, and were locked up for sleeping rough (The Independent, link):

"We come from Romania. We left for the reasons most people do. It’s a corrupt country. If you have money you can do what you like, but if you have nothing, you can’t even get a doctor to treat you.

So we left. For twelve years we lived in Spain. It was difficult to find work that paid enough to live on but we survived. Marineta worked as a carer and Teofil did lots of different jobs.

In 2016 we decided to try our luck in the UK. We were curious about what life here was like. We hoped to find better-paid work, and improve our quality of life."

Myths of Migration: Much of What We Think We Know Is Wrong (Spiegel Online, link):

"Migration was the issue of the year in 2016 and it will likely remain important in 2017. The topic is, however, just as hotly debated as it is poorly understood. The so-called "refugee crisis" in Europe and the omnipresent images of overfilled boats arriving on Mediterranean shores give the impression that migration is threatening to spin out of control and that radical action is needed to curtail the uncontrollable influx of migrants. The fear of mass migration has fueled the rise of extreme nationalist parties throughout Europe and helped Donald Trump win the presidential election in the U.S.

This call for tougher migration policies is juxtaposed by another, albeit somewhat weaker, opinion voiced by the business sector, human rights and religious organizations and left-liberal parties. They argue that migration tends to be beneficial for both origin and destination societies, and that we should not see refugees as a burden but as a potential resource.

But in this polarized debate, the rather more sobering facts unfortunately get lost. Both the left-wing and right-wing narratives on migration are rooted in a series of myths that reveal a striking lack of knowledge about the nature, causes and consequences of migration processes. This text examines eight of the myths that I have often encountered in my research."

EU: Drowning mothers (OpenDemocracy, link):

"As late as June of 2015, men comprised nearly three-quarters of the world’s migration flow, according to UNICEF. This has been replaced by a major spike in the numbers of women and children across the Mediterranean and up through Europe.

More migration, unfortunately, has meant more deaths from people trying to cross borders. Although far more men than women undertake the perilous journey through the North African desert or across the Mediterranean in rubber rafts, it is the women who have a greater risk of dying along the way – most of them at sea.

Women’s increased risk of death is not only true for the Mediterranean journey. The same lethal pattern can be seen along other borders."

EU: Migration only factor bumping up EU population (euractiv, link):

"The European Union’s population increased last year, despite the same number of births and deaths being recorded. Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said the bump was driven by migration.

On World Population Day (11 July), it can be revealed that the EU’s population increased from 510.3 million on 1 January 2016 to 511.8 million on 1 January 2017. Eurostat said that in 2016 the same amount of births and deaths were recorded (5.1 million), meaning the 28-country bloc’s natural population change was in fact neutral.

That means the positive population change of 1.5 million was driven largely by an increase in net migration."

CoE: Hungary: Visit to transit zones to evaluate sexual abuse risks faced by migrant children (link);

"Council of Europe children’s rights experts concluded today a three-day visit to Hungary to evaluate risks of sexual abuse and exploitation faced by migrant children placed in transit zones. Their report is expected in October.

Hungarian authorities invited Lanzarote Committee Chair Claude Janizzi and representatives of the committee to visit Hungary, following a letter that Janizzi had sent to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in March, in which he expressed concerns that a new Hungarian law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – could increase the risks of sexual abuse of migrant children."

A crisis of definition, re-humanising the refugee (Media Diversified, link) by Olivia Woldemikael:

"The label of refugee is deceptive—it often hides more about a person than it reveals. In particular, when we refer to the ‘21 million refugees’ or ‘the refugee crisis’, we inadvertently strip people of their individuality and reduce their diverse lived experiences to the single narrative of displacement. Refugees, as a whole, have been so dehumanised that it is palatable to enclose them in congested camps and detention centres, to deny them access to education and opportunities to work, and to want to keep them out of our countries like a plague. Nothing has made this clearer to me than a meeting with one African refugee, in particular."

Turkey: EU funds, authoritarianism, and civil society (Osservatorio balcani e caucaso):

"For over 10 years, Turkey has received EU funds supporting reforms and democratisation. In light of the country's authoritarian drift, however, many wonder whether this strategy still makes sense

Relations between Turkey and the EU are undergoing a period of profound transformation. For Ankara – an official EU candidate since 2005 – the prospect of accession seems now unlikely. The process, which had already been stalling for several years, has been further damaged by the authoritarian positions taken by the Turkish government. They have worsened after the attempted coup of last summer, followed by a state of emergency which is still in place."

Hungary's Plan to Electrify Border Fence Draws Rebuke (liberties.eu, link):

"A Serbian NGO has strongly criticized the Hungarian government’s plan to electrify its border fence between the two countries in an effort to deter migrants. The Belgrade Center for Protection and Help for Asylum Seekers say the move was a violation of European human rights agreements..."

Watch: Technologies for borders and critical infrastructure showcased (IFSEC Global, link):

"Featuring L3, Satel, CLD Fencing, Genetec, AxxonSoft, Technocover, Morgan Marine, Gilgen Door Systems, UAS Flight Ops in the Drone Zone and BRE Global in the Attack Testing Zone, here are a selection of interviews, stand tours and product pitches from Borders & Infrastructure Expo at IFSEC 2017."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-7.7.17)
War and violence drive 80% of people fleeing to Europe by sea, not economics (Guardian, link):

"Report challenges economic migrant myth, revealing that most of those making perilous sea crossing were forced from their homes by persecution and fear.

The vast majority of people arriving in Europe by sea are fleeing persecution, war and famine, while less than a fifth are economic migrants, a report published on Friday reveals.

More than 80% of an estimated 1,008,616 arrivals in 2015 came from refugee-producing countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and a quarter of that number were children.

Researchers say the findings challenge the myth that migrants are coming to Europe for economic reasons."

EU-G20: Remarks by President Donald Tusk before the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany (pdf):

Tusk is seeking support to tackle "the unprecedented wave of illegal migration" through "targeted UN sanctions against smugglers" in north Africa. However, he notes that:

"Unfortunately I have to say that today we do not have the full support even for this minimum. If we do not get it, it will be a sad proof of the hypocrisy of some of the G20 members..."

Perhaps this is because he refers to everyone arriving in the EU as "irregular migrants" (who anyway have the right to claim asylum) and not as refugees and migrants. He also refer only to "smuggling" not trafficking - two legally distinct concepts.

EU plans on Central Mediterranean Route: old wine in new bottles (ECRE, link):

"EU Ministers once more set the wrong priorities. Reducing search and rescue capacity and increasing deterrence is not the answer when lives are at stake,” said ECRE’s Secretary General, Catherine Woollard, “Rather than a code of conduct on NGOs an action plan on the creation of safe and legal channels is urgently needed. “

Clock ticking on EU migrant quota deadline (euobserver, link):

"EU states are running out of time to comply with migrant relocation quotas on Italy and Greece, the European Commission has said.

“I’m not very happy with how some member states have so far responded to our call for more relocations,” the EU migration commissioner, Dmitris Avramopoulos, said in Tallinn on Thursday (6 July). ...

As of 3 July, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, and Slovakia had not relocated a single person from Italy. Germany and France were miles away from their full legal commitments, with Germany 20,477 relocations short and France 15,935 behind. Spain (8,254 short), the Netherlands (3,891), Romania (3,546), Sweden (3,100), Belgium (3,031), and Portugal (1,561) were also heading for major violations....

Human Rights at Sea, a UK-based charity, said on Thursday it had seen a leaked copy of the draft Italian code. There was “a distinct lack of ... explicit reference to the need to save life at sea” in the draft, the charity said. It said that NGOs who refused to sign could be denied access to Italian ports."

See: Relocations at 3 July 2017 (pdf)

Toddlers and babies forced to sleep rough in northern France amid rise in refugees (Independent, link):

"Photos show babies less than a year old sleeping and crawling in woodland of unofficial camps in Calais and Dunkirk."

Drowning mothers (Open Democracy, link):

"As refugees try to cross the Mediterranean Sea - women are more likely to drown."

Central Mediterranean: Death toll soars as EU turns its back on refugees and migrants (Amnesty, link):

"The soaring death toll in the central Mediterranean and the horrific abuses faced by thousands of refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centres are clearly linked to failing EU policies, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

A perfect storm: The failure of European policies in the Central Mediterranean finds that by ceding the lion’s share of responsibility for search and rescue to NGOs and by increasing cooperation with the Libyan coastguard, European governments are failing to prevent drownings and turning a blind eye to abuse, including torture and rape.

EU Ministers meeting in Tallinn today are set to discuss new proposals that will make a dire situation worse."

And see: Europe migrant crisis: EU blamed for 'soaring' death toll (BBC News, link)

EU: Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs ministers: Press statement following discussions on Central Mediterranean (pdf):

"In Tallinn, the Ministers of Interior acknowledged that the situation in the Central Mediterranean and the resulting pressure on Italy is of great concern to all Member States. In line with the European Council conclusions of 22-23 June, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to take urgent action by stepping up coordination and delivery of all the elements contained in the Malta Declaration, the Partnership Framework and the Joint Valletta Action Plan, as well as the need to continue steps towards finding the right balance between the principles of solidarity and responsibility and to provide adequate support to the most affected Member States.

The Ministers of Interior welcomed and based their discussions on the Action Plan presented by the Commission on 4 July 2017, containing immediate measures that can be taken by the Commission, the High Representative, Italy and other Member States."

See also: Ministers of Interior agree on more robust approach to migration pressure (press releaes, pdf)

And: EU: Action Plan for Central Mediterranean: mandatory code of conduct for NGOs, massive expansion of detention and hotspots in Italy

GREECE: Police detain dozens of migrants in Samos sweep (Ekathimerini, link):

"Police on Wednesday carried out a sweep of Samos to round up dozens of migrants whose applications for asylum have been rejected for deportation to Turkey, but officers struggled to locate them all.

Authorities detained 138 people though many more are believed to be hiding out across the eastern Aegean island. There has been tension on Samos and Chios amid local opposition to the creation of so-called predeparture centers to host migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected.

The situation is less chaotic on Lesvos, Leros and Kos, which have such centers, though overcrowding remains a problem, particularly on Lesvos, which smugglers have started targeting again."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.7.17)
EU: Action Plan for Central Mediterranean: mandatory code of conduct for NGOs, massive expansion of detention and hotspots in Italy

The European Commission has published an Action Plan containing a swathe of measures "to support Italy, reduce pressure along the Central Mediterranean Route and increase solidarity," in order to try to address the "structural challenge" represented by the "loss of life and continuing migratory flows of primarily economic migrants on the Central Mediterranean route."

This includes a proposal for Italy and the Commission to draw up a code of conduct for NGOs conducting search and rescue missions, and demands for Italy to massively increase the capacity of its hotspots and its detention centres as well as extending the maximum period of detention up to 18 months, the maximum allowed under EU law.

EU: Frontex in the Balkans: Serbian government rejects EU's criminal immunity proposals

The Serbian government is not happy with EU proposals that Frontex teams would be able to operate on its territory with total immunity from Serbian law. After two rounds of talks between the EU and Serbia, the text of a proposed agreement that would govern Frontex teams' joint operations, "rapid border interventions" or return operations in the Western Balkan country shows that the Serbian side rejects the EU's proposal that "members of the team shall enjoy immunity" from the administrative, civil and criminal jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia.

EU: EASO: Vast majority of migrants arriving in Italy not eligible for relocation (EurActiv, link):

"Quoting from a recent monthly statistic, Celis said that Nigerians were indeed the number one nationality applying for international protection currently in Italy, with more than 20%, followed by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, who were “the top three for the moment”. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are not considered eligible for relocation either.

Celis said that in 2016, of all Nigerians applying for asylum in the EU, 55% applied in Italy. The second country where applications were lodged was Germany. However Germany, in the vast majority of cases, is not the country of first arrival on EU territory.

The EASOs’ Ward Lutin explained that it was not correct to say that the nationals of a certain country were ineligible for asylum, as some certainly were, and this is why an individual assessment was needed. He also said that unlike the past, the vast majority of arriving migrants were applying for asylum."

See: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met (Statewatch News Online, 18 May 2017)

And: European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union 2016 (5.7MB, pdf)

Poland: EU Should Tackle Unsafe Returns to Belarus (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(London) The European Commission should take enforcement action to address Poland’s summary returns of asylum seekers to Belarus, three leading rights groups have said today. Amnesty International, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch highlight how Poland is in breach of human rights law, refugee law, European Union law and orders by the European Court of Human Rights.

“The Polish government is forcing asylum-seekers back to unsafe Belarus in defiance of its duties as an EU member state,” Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch said. “It’s time for the European Commission to step in and address this serious breach of EU asylum law.”

Since 2016, Polish authorities have been blocking entry to most asylum seekers at Brest-Terespol border crossing from Belarus by train, forcing them to return to Belarus the same day. Belarus lacks a functioning asylum system, and there are real risks that asylum seekers from Chechnya or central Asian countries could be returned to their countries of origin putting them at risk of torture or ill-treatment."

See also: Poland pushes back thousands of refugees, many fleeing crackdown in Tajikistan (Statewatch News Online, August 2016) and: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus (February 2017)

IRELAND: Right to work for asylum-seekers: Supreme Court judgment and Irish Refugee Council position

Following a judgment by the Supreme Court of Ireland calling on the government to consider giving asylum-seekers permission to work (there is currently a total prohibition regardless of how long an individual have been within the asylum system), the Irish Refugee Council has called on the government to give asylum-seekers the right to work after they have been within the asylum procedure for six months or longer.

EU and 'Eastern Partnership' countries discuss return, readmission and reintegration

The EU and the countries of the 'Eastern Partnership' (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) met in Yerevan, Armenia in late June to discuss "recent trends, developments and challenges in return, readmission and reintegration of migrants as well as to share national practices, experiences and lessons learnt."

EU: Rule of law: double standards undermine EU's role in the neighbourhood (CEPS European Neighbourhood Watch, pdf) by Toby Vogel:

"Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty defines the European Union as a community of values and then goes on to list them: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are supposed to inform all EU policies, including enlargement and foreign and security policy, which crucially depend on the strength of the EU’s ‘soft power’. But what happens to the EU and its power to persuade and lead by example when it fails to safeguard its values at home?

Several events in recent months illustrate what happens when the EU loses sight of its commitment to democracy and the rule of law."

GREECE: Waiting in Patras. Next stop: Italy (Athens Live, link):

"48 hours after I have travelled to Patras over the weekend, Greek police entered an abandoned factory in the port city in western Greece. In a unannounced operation, they started forcibly removing 70 refugees and migrants of the 170 who lived there. They were the ones without proper documentation.

I visited the abandoned wood factory while no one suspected such eviction would take place.

Under the scorching heat, the residents moved their tents to the roof so they can avoid the temperatures that reach over 45 degrees Celsius in the industrial hangar.Tired and exhausted, they continued their effort, unaware of what was to come."

Austria plays down spat with Italy over border controls (Reuters, link)

"Austria on Wednesday played down a dispute with Italy over possible controls at their shared border, saying Rome had misunderstood its intentions when it spelled out military preparations for any future influx of migrants.

Rome reacted furiously on Tuesday to Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil's comment that he expected controls at the border with Italy to be introduced "very soon".

His remarks were part of a report in Austria's top-selling tabloid, confirmed by an official in his ministry, that 750 troops were ready to be deployed and four armored vehicles had been sent to the province that includes the Brenner Pass, a gateway for Italy to important trading partners such as Germany."

Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants (ODI, link):

"Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants within their host communities is an increasingly important task. This working paper is intended as a primer – outlining current global polling data on public attitudes, and analysing what the literature has to say about the drivers influencing these attitudes.

This large evidence base has a number of implications for those working on refugee and migration issues:

- Engaging effectively with public attitudes towards refugees and migrants requires understanding the real world concerns, emotions and values around which attitudes are formed.
- These efforts work best when clearly rooted in national and local contexts, and the nuances of public attitudes within them.
- Traditional approaches to public engagement, such as ‘myth-busting’, may have exacerbated negativity and are unlikely to resonate beyond those who are already supportive. While evidence remains important in influencing policy debates, strategies must acknowledge its limitations as a persuasive tool.
- Emotive and value-driven arguments may have more traction than facts and evidence. Successful strategies might highlight the manageability of the situation, while emphasising shared values.
"

See: Working Paper (pdf)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1- 4.7.17)
European Border and Coast Guard report

- 72% of returns inside Europe: 101 return flights to the West Balkans and only 41 outside the EU
- Deploying
"assets" to frontline Member States: thermo-vision vehicles, dog teams, CO2 detectors and smartdeck cameras

The Commission Press release of 14 June (pdf) concerning the Fourth report concerning the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) stated on the question of "returns" that:

"The pace of return operations organised by the European Border and Coast Guard has continued to grow, with 6,799 irregularly staying migrants returned in 2017 so far, representing an increase of over 157% compared to the same period of last year." [emphasis added]

However, the Fourth Report on EBCG (COM 325-17, pdf) says that:

"Between 1 January and 9 June 2017, the Agency provided support to 144 return operations of third-country nationals during which 6,799 illegally staying third-country nationals were returned, with further 43 operations under preparation. This represents an increase of over 157% compared to the same period of last year. The majority of these operations (101 out of 144) concerned flights to the Western Balkans."

Thus 101 return flights concerned returns inside Europe to the West Balkans and only 41 outside the EU. There were an average of 42 people per flight.

A tragedy unfolding in Italy as migrant influx spikes (New Europe, link): "“What is happening in front of our eyes in Italy is an unfolding tragedy,” stated Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, remembering the estimated 2.030 migrants who died in the Mediterranean sea since the beginning of the year..... Italy’s Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, repeated his call for help stating that “it is necessary if Europe wants to stay true to it’s own principles, history and civilization”.

France, Germany pledge more support for Italy on migrants, offer vague (euractiv, link): "France, Germany and the EU executive on Monday (3 July) promised Italy more support in handling the influx of migrants arriving by boat from Africa, agreeing to bolster training and funding for Libya’s coastguard and to relocate asylum seekers more swiftly. But they made no direct reference to Rome’s appeal for European Union nations to ease the pressure by allowing rescue boats carrying migrants to dock in their ports."

Italian plan to curb Mediterranean rescue boat charities 'threatens lives' (Guardian, link): "New rules drawn up by Italy likely to bring NGOs under coast guard control, which they fear will hamper rescue attempts..... Charities that rescue migrants and refugees from the Mediterranean have reacted angrily to plans to make them subject to a new code of conduct drawn up by Italy and endorsed by other EU countries. The move is likely to bring them under the control of the Libyan and Italian coast guards, which might constrain their ability to save passengers from overcrowded and unseaworthy smuggling boats..... But a proposal by Italy to unilaterally close its ports to ships containing migrants is expected to be shelved because it is in clear breach of international maritime law."."

Caritas Europa: EU member states must help Italy (New Europe, link): "The European Union member states are showing a lack of solidarity towards Italy, according to Caritas Europa, a European confederation of Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in Europe. According to Caritas, Italy is delivering humanitarian assistance to children, women and men in desperate need who have been forced to leave their home countries. “But the heroic task of coping alone with 75% of all arrivals to Europe is becoming too difficult to fulfil without the support of all the other member states.”

Austrian military set to stop Italy migrants (euobserver, link): "The Austrian military is preparing to stop migrants coming from Italy amid sharpening rhetoric ahead of elections. Seven hundred and fifty soldiers, including Pandur armoured vehicles, stand ready to go to the Austrian-Italian border at 72 hours notice, Austria’s defence minister, Hanspeter Doskozil, told the Krone newspaper, an Austrian daily, on Monday (3 July)."

Italy imposing new rules on NGO sea rescues (euobserver, link): "The Forensic Oceanography branch at the University of London had also produced an extensive study that debunks arguments that NGOs operating near the Libyan coast lure people to take boats towards Italy."

UNHCR: MIXED MIGRATION: TRENDS IN LIBYA: Changing Dynamics and Protection Challenges (pdf):

"This report sheds light on the constantly changing flow of refugees and migrants into Libya and identifies their principal vulnerabilities and needs. It builds on previous studies that indicate that of the three main routes to Europe used by refugees and migrants - the Western Mediterranean Route, the Central Mediterranean Route and the Eastern Mediterranean Route – Libya has become the preferred gateway for irregular movement, despite also being the deadliest."

EU: Commission, France, Germany and Italy - Joint "Declaration": Italy to draw up a "Code of Conduct" to bring NGOs operating in the Med under state control: Press release, pdf):

The measures proposed contains many previous ideas: increasing "relocation" in the EU (which has failed miserably), increasing "returns" (which are low), helping Libyan Coast Guards and enhancing "readmission rates" to Africa.

But top of lathe list is a new proposal to:

"Work on a code of conduct for NGO's, to be drafted and presented by Italy, in order to improve coordination with NGO's operating in the Mediterranean Sea....

In order to allow swift progress in support of Italy, the Ministers of Interior of France, Germany and Italy and the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs call on all EU partners to consider these action points at the next EU informal Council meeting in Tallinn on 6 July."

EU: Entry-Exit system (EES): Nearing agreement - some "technical" issues still outstanding

EU: Centralised biometric database for convicted non-EU nationals also part of "interoperability" agenda

Proposals published last week by the European Commission will see the development of a new a centralised database holding the criminal records of non-EU citizens, alongside their fingerprints and photographs.

"Although it is possible to exchange information on convictions concerning third country nationals and stateless persons (hereinafter: TCN) through ECRIS [the European Criminal Records Information System] today, there is no procedure or mechanism in place to do so efficiently," says the Commission, and thus a new system is required that will simplify the process and leave the door open for future "interoperability" initiatives with other EU databases and information systems.

Historical amnesia and Europe’s migration relations with Libya
Craig Damian Smith 2 July 2017

Driven by domestic politics and the need to be seen to be doing something, Europe has locked itself in a cycle of dodgy deals (Open Democracy, link).

The detention of asylum seekers in Europe: Constructed on shaky ground? (ECRE, link):

"The detention of asylum seekers pending the examination of their application for international protection continues to provoke heated debates in Europe. While the use of immigration detention is generally on the rise in European countries as an integral part of their responses to migration flows, the detention of persons applying for international protection raises particular questions of legality and proportionality. International and European legal standards have established a clear presumption against the detention of migrants and refugees in particular."

97 migrants detained off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast (ahram.org.eg, link):

"Egypt’s navy foiled on Saturday an attempt at irregular migration by 97 people in a boat off the Alexandrian coast, the state-owned MENA news agency reported. According to a statement by the Armed Forces, the migrants included Egyptians, Eritreans, Somalis, Sudanese, Syrians, Yemenis, and Chadians."

Greek port of Patras becoming something like Calais in France (Migration News Sheet, link):

"An increasing number of migrants/asylum-seekers have been heading to the Greek port of Patras from where they hope to travel clandestinely to Italy. Patras is becoming a bit like the French port of Calais where migrants/asylum-seekers gathered and waited for an opportunity to smuggle themselves or get smuggled by traffickers to the UK."

German Plan to Deport Children to Morocco Ignores Lessons of History (Refugees Deeply, link)

"The leaked German proposal to build reception centers for unaccompanied minors in Morocco ignores the lessons from Spain’s controversial and ill-fated attempt to do the same thing 12 years ago, says researcher Lorena Gazzotti."

France: Detention still a primary instrument of migration control (ECRE, link):

"The annual report on administrative detention in France, published today by six civil society organisations present in detention centres, details the systematic use of deprivation of liberty as a primary instrument of migration control.

Last year, France detained 45,937 persons in administrative detention centres (CRA) and other places of administrative detention (LRA) scattered across the territory and overseas. The year 2016 drew a particularly strong link between detention and camp management policies, where the dismantlement of settlements in Paris, Calais and Metz, as well as unlawful evictions (décasages) in Mayotte, resulted in people being placed in detention, often to the detriment of their personal situation and in contravention of legal standards."

Refugees in Greece: Getting to grips with IT (Reliefweb, link):

"According to UNICEF, 20 000 refugee minors are currently living in Greece. Save the Children's Anna met one of them, Aarif, on her way to an education centre where refugee and migrant adolescents are given the opportunity to gain new skills. The project is run by Save the Children with funding from EU Humanitarian Aid.*

GREECE: LESBOS LEGAL CENTRE: Arbitrary Detention in Lesbos – Refugees Driven to Hunger Strike to Protest Inhumane Conditions (link):

"The Legal Centre Lesbos condemns the unlawful practice of indiscriminately detaining people who are in the process of applying for international protection. The Greek Asylum Service is currently automatically detaining applicants whose initial appeals have been rejected, and arbitrarily detaining people of certain nationalities for the entire duration of their applications.

International law forbids discrimination on the basis of nationality, and prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. It also provides that detainees have the right to meaningfully challenge any deprivation of their liberty. All these rights are being systematically violated in Lesvos."


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

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