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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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June 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29-30.6.17)
Are You Syrious (29.6.17, link)

EU funds for refugee support in Turkey are used to detain and deport them: Feature

"The EU-Turkey agreement was always supposed to be a plan, according to the ones that design it, to stop to route though Greece and support the millions of refugees stuck in Turkey. Nevertheless the EU has not disbursed all funds under the EU-Turkey deal to NGOs but also to the Turkish government, FAZ reported on Monday....

So the EU funds do not entirely go straight to support the refugees but also to detain and deport them. In its report from 13.06.17 the Commission also stated: “Due to the lower than expected number of returnees, the Special Measure on returns is also being modified to improve the Turkish Directorate-General for Migration Management’s capacity to manage, receive and host migrants and returnees, especially as concerns human resources and infrastructure.....

According to the information from the Turkish authorities only 56 of the around 1000 non-Syrian refugees, who were transferred back from Greece to Turkey, applied for asylum in Turkey. Only two were granted international protection and 38 applications are pending, the rest was denied or rejected. But overall more than 700 people were returned to their countries of origin."

Afghanistan

"The afghan migration ministers is asking both Sweden and EU to stop the deportations instantly, was today reported by the Swedish paper SVD. A Swedish lawyer quoted is reading this info as if the Afghan government is looking for a way out from the previous agreement regarding returning citizens...."

Italy

"There has been a protest today at Cara di Mineo camp. 300 people blocked the main road Catania-Gela close to the entrance of the Cara to protest against local new rules. Plus, older problems like delays in receiving permits to stay and the diaria (daily allowance) converted into cigarettes.

Authorities announced the rule which prohibits migrants from cooking different food from the one provided by the Cara and from selling clothes and medicines inside the structure."

Migrant arrivals up in Aegean, as Juncker pledges support (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As official figures point to a significant increase in undocumented migrants seeking to enter the European Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday described Greece and Italy as “heroic” in their efforts to tackle the problem and pledged additional European support.

In the past week alone, a total of 813 migrants arrived on the Greek islands from neighboring Turkey, according to government figures made public on Friday.

Local reports suggest that conditions at migrant reception centers on Chios and Lesvos are becoming increasingly cramped and unpleasant, as arrivals have spiked due to the good weather and only a handful of migrants are being sent back to Turkey."

UK: Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber): No more returns to Libya

"The violence in Libya has reached such a high level that substantial grounds are shown for believing that a returning civilian would, solely on account of his presence on the territory of that country or region, face a real risk of being subject to a threat to his life or person."

See: Decision: full-text (pdf)

EU: President Tusk wants to turn the international sanctions machinery against migrant smugglers: See Council Press release (pdf):

"When it comes to migration just one remark: there is already a very ambitious and responsible language proposed by Chancellor Merkel. My suggestion is that maybe we could also add a very concrete reference to the fight against smugglers. We could appeal to the other G20 members to consider for example UN sanctions against the smugglers.

In order to put smugglers on the UN list we need the UN Security Council members to agree. The G20 format seems to be a good forum to bring it to the table."

ICC in The Hague to investigate Libyan Coastguard on the initiative of Sea-Watch (link):

"The International Criminal Court in The Hague is investigating the so-called Libyan Coastguard. This investigation is the result of the numerous attacks on civil rescue organisations as well as refugees and migrants, as highlighted by Sea-Watch. In several cases, the so-called Libyan Coastguard has put rescuers, migrants and refugees in mortal danger in order to bring the latter back to Libya at gunpoint – a clear violation of the internationally-accepted principle of non-refoulement.

For Sea-Watch, the specific reason for this legal investigation stems from an incident on 10th May in which a patrol boat of the Libyan Coastguard dangerously cut across the bow of the Sea-Watch 2 in order to subsequently reach a wooden boat with c. 500 people on board."

Italy considers closing its ports to boats carrying migrants (Guardian, link):

"Government reportedly seeking EU approval of drastic changes to asylum procedures after surge in refugee arrivals....The Italian government is considering blocking boats carrying migrants from landing at its ports after nearly 11,000 refugees arrived on its shores in five days.

It has been reported that the government has given its ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, a mandate to raise the issue formally with the European commission to seek permission for a drastic revision of EU asylum procedures. One idea being discussed is denying docking privileges to boats not carrying Italian flags that seek to land in Italian ports, mainly in Sicily or Calabria."

And see: Italy takes formal EU migrant step, ports cd be blocked (ANSA, link):

" Italy is taking a formal step with the European Commission in relation to the large numbers of asylum seekers landing on its shores, ANSA sources said. Over 10,000 asylum seekers arrived in Italy from Saturday to Tuesday and some 12,000 have arrived in the last 48 hours. The government gave its ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, a mandate to formally raise the issue with European Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, the sources said."

Number of refugees in east Croatian border town reaches nearly 200 (Dalje, link):

"The number of refugees arriving in the eastern Croatian town of Tovarnik on the Croatia-Serbia border has been rising since early Wednesday morning, and just before the noon, some 180 migrants were being on the premises of the local police station for registration.

The total closure of the Hungarian border (with Serbia) on Tuesday led to re-routing of refugees from Serbia towards the border with Croatia, the local police spokesman, Domagoj Dzigumovic, said."

Greek minister’s take on refugee crisis (New Europe, link):

"Greece’s Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas has praised his country’s efforts to manage the refugee crisis.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua News Agency, he said: “I think we did well. I clarify that by saying we did well, I mean we managed a very difficult issue with dignity, but that does not mean we did not make mistakes, that everybody is happy now, that there are pergolas with flowers all around......

The situation remains difficult, but manageable, Mouzalas said, noting that with 60,000 people trapped in Greece, the wager was big for a country with no previous experience in hosting so many refugees.”

UK: Immigration detainees bring legal challenge against £1 an hour 'slave' wages (Guardian, link): "Lawyers for 10 people held in UK centres want Home Office to raise minimum pay for voluntary but ‘essential’ work by detainees."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27-28.6.17)
EU effort to halt migrants founders in Libya's chaos (Reuters, link):

"When Libya's coastguard received the first of a long-awaited batch of patrol boats from Italy last month, two of the four vessels still had mechanical problems and one broke down on the way to Tripoli.

As Italy's interior minister later flew in to present the boats officially at a naval base in the Libyan capital, coast guards grumbled that the vessels were old and had little deck space for rescued migrants.

"They want us to be Europe's policeman. At the same time, that policeman needs resources," said naval coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem. "I challenge anyone to work in these conditions." "

EU: Council of the European Union: Draft reply to question for written answer: E-000945/2017 - Marina Albiol Guzmán (GUE/NGL): 'Provision of training, equipment and support to the Libyan coastguard' (LIMITE doc no: 10302-17, pdf). The MEP asked:

"Taking into account that three different governments and countless armed groups are controlling different parts of Libya, and that the country has at least seven different coastguard services, how did the Council select the coastguards and officials that will receive EU support? What criteria were applied?"

The Council says there is one government it recognises and one Coast Guard.

See also: UN report on Libya: serious abuses against migrants, "concerns" over vetting of coastguard members trained by EU (Statewatch)

UK: Right to Health for All: Why the Home Office should not have access to NHS patients’ data, and why NHS professionals should not be expected to guard our borders (if we are to take human rights seriously) (pdf) by Doctors of the World and Just Fair:

"A Memorandum of Understanding between NHS Digital (formerly Health and Social Care Information Centre), the Home Office and the Department of Health (“MoU”) came into effect in January 2017. The intention of this MoU is to formalise and facilitate the access to NHS patients’ non-clinical information, including their home address, by Home Office Immigration Enforcement authorities.

(...)

In accordance with international law, governments can control their borders and regulate migration, but not at the expense of human rights. Everyone is entitled to healthcare regardless of their immigration status.

This paper shows why and how the transfer of non-clinical personal data between the NHS and immigration authorities can seriously impair the enjoyment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health for thousands of people living in the UK, which constitutes a breach of the international human rights obligations of the UK."

Irish naval ship 'rescues 712 people' off Libyan coast (Al Jazeera, link):

"An Irish naval ship has rescued 712 people, including pregnant women and infants, off the coast of the Libyan capital of Tripoli as part of an international migrant-rescue effort, Ireland's Defence Forces say.

The Le Eithne ship led the rescue of multiple vessels in distress 40km north-west of Tripoli throughout Sunday.

Six migrants, including one baby, were revived from states of unconsciousness.

The ship will transport the people, including 14 pregnant women and four infants below the age of four months, to a designated "port of safety" to be handed over to Italian authorities."

EU: Council of the European Union: Schengen evaluation of GREECE - Action Plan to remedy the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System (LIMITE doc no: 10283-17, pdf):

Checklist of measures adopyed in Greece or planned:

- Including when and when not to record "nationality"

- "mobile devices to enable photographs and links to be displayed in case of a hit;",

- "Strengthen the use of discreet or specific check alerts for prosecuting criminal offences and preventing threats to public security (Article 36 (2) of Council Decision 2007/533/JHA) by the Hellenic Police";

- "The number of checks has been increased. During the period from 01/06/2015 – 01/05/2016 there were conducted 823.746 document checks of EU citizens, while for the period from 01/06/2016-01/05/2017 the checks reached the number of 1.274.436."

See also: At the behest of the EU Greece is to install a "coastal surveillance system covering the whole sea border between Greece and Turkey" (Statewatch)

French woman guilty of smuggling migrant partner but spared jail (BBC News, link):

"A woman put on trial in France for helping her romantic partner cross the border from the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais to the UK has escaped a jail sentence.

Béatrice Huret, a former supporter of the far-right National Front, was found guilty of aiding an Iranian man named Mokhtar to cross the English channel.

However, the court did not hand down any punishment for Mrs Huret.

Three others on trial for related offences were also convicted."

DENMARK: Government party wants to punish NGOs for saving refugees crossing the Mediterranean (Copenhagen Post, link):

"The government party Venstre wants to strip Danish aid funds from NGOs that take part in rescuing migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean via boat.

Venstre’s spokesperson on immigration issues, Marcus Knuth, follows the line set by the EU border agency Frontex, which has also criticised NGOs for funding or taking part in rescue missions.

“I agree strongly with the criticism. Aid organisations create a greater incentive to take the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea, and I look upon that gravely,” Knuth told Berlingske newspaper.

“So we should look at where these organisations get their funds from, and if it comes from Denmark, we should strongly reconsider continuing to give them support.”"

UK: European Court of Human Rights finds UK in breach of Article 5 over unlawful detention of Zimbabwean national (gardencourtchambers.co.uk):

"The applicant, S.M.M., is a Zimbabwean national who lives in London. Relying on Article 5 § 1 (f) (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention, he claimed that he had been detained unlawfully between November 2008 and September 2011. He was detained during that time on the basis that he was awaiting deportation from the UK. In September 2011, he was released on bail and one year later he was granted asylum in the country."

See: Judgment (pdf)

GREECE: In Athens (LRB Blog) by Daniel Trilling:

"My friend was tired, and a little bitter about the way volunteers have been treated. I think she’s right to be. When we look back on Europe’s refugee crisis, are we more likely to remember the stories told by the institutions responsible, or the connections forged between the people who found themselves at the centre of it?"

EU ringed by human trafficking offenders (EUobserver, link):

"The EU is encircled by a ring of the world’s worst offenders on human trafficking, a US state department report has said.

In the south, it neighbours the “special case” of Libya, and is ringed by Mauritania, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, and Iran - all of them countries that do not meet US “minimum standards” on prevention of trafficking and “are not making significant efforts to do so”, the report, out on Tuesday (27 June), said.

In the east, Russia and Belarus fell into the same category."

See: US Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report 2017 (link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21-26.6.17)
Report: Western Balkans route not closed, just diverted via Bulgaria (euractiv. link):

"A report by a German think-tank reveals the deficiencies of the deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees to Europe. Migration is on the menu of the two-day summit starting today (22 June).

Migration will be discussed on Friday (23 June), the second day of the summit. According to diplomats decisions are not expected at this stage, but a frank discussion “on the external aspects” is very likely to take place.

On Wednesday (21 June), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung released a 26-page report, pointing out at the fragility of the situation since the EU-Turkey deal, which in theory closed the Western Balkans route."

See: The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal and the Not Quite Closed Balkan Route (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, pdf) by Bodo Weber

EU should stop cooperating with Libyan coastguard, to avoid abuse of refugees: Amnesty International (New Europe, link)::

"Ahead of the European Council on 22-23 June, Amnesty International is calling on EU leaders to step up efforts to save lives in the Mediterranean, and stop cooperating in returns to Libya, before more drown as crossings increase during the summer months.

“The EU is allowing the Libyan coastguard to return refugees and migrants to a country where unlawful detention, torture and rape are the norm. They are increasing the capacity of the Libyan coastguard while turning a blind eye to the inherent, grave, risks of such cooperation,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office."

FRANCE: Petition calls on French president to end the detention of migrant children

La Cimade, with Réseau Education sans frontières (RESF), Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH), Anafé, MRAP, Syndicat des avocats de France (SAF), France terre d’asile and ASSFAM has launched a petition calling on the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, to put an end to child migrants' detention.

EU: Border management going virtual (EUobserver, link):

"Internal security and migration are merging under the guise of border management as the EU seeks to tighten controls on who leaves and enters the bloc.

Krum Garkov, who heads the Tallinn-based EU agency that oversees large-scale IT systems, described the merger as a fundamental shift that will also make border controls virtual.

"Border management today is going through a very fundamental transformation," he said earlier this week at a conference organised by Forum Europe in Brussels.

His agency, known as eu-Lisa, is also set for an overhaul, with the European Commission floating a bill next week to beef up its mandate."

EU: European Council meeting (22 and 23 June 2017) – Conclusions (EUCO 8/17, pdf):

"Today the European Council focused on strengthening Europe and protecting its citizens through effective measures to fight terrorism and develop its common security and defence, to ensure its economic development in a globalised world, to tackle migration and to protect its external borders. A strong and determined Union is the best way to promote our values and interests, support a rules-based multilateral system and mobilise partners for a positive climate policy. It will also help shape globalisation in order to reap the benefits of open markets while protecting against unfair practices and promoting the social, environmental, health and consumer standards that are central to the European way of life. The European Council paid tribute to Helmut Kohl, Honorary Citizen of Europe, who passed away on 16 June 2017."

And see: EU: European Council wants industry to develop automated censorship tools and "address the challenge" of encryption

EU: “E-smuggling”: Europol steps up efforts against online-assisted migrant crossings (Matthias Monroy, link):

"According to the EU police agency, in the past year 17,459 people operated as “human traffickers”. In the majority of cases, refugees and their facilitators communicate using Facebook or Telegram. Seizing of electronic evidence is thus to take on a greater role in investigations.

Last year, the EU police agency Europol received reports of 1,150 social media accounts apparently used by refugees to facilitate their entry into or travel through the European Union. This information is based on figures (PDF) published by the European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC) at Europol for 2016. The number of incriminated accounts in 2015 was just 148."

And see: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees” (pdf, March 2016) by Chris Jones

ITALY: Rome’s mayor adopts anti-migrant stance (New Europe, link):

"Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi has warned that the Italian capital is facing a new migrant emergency.

“We can’t afford new arrivals,” she wrote in a letter sent to Italy’s Interior Ministry. “Rome’s reception capacity is on its knee” and new arrivals would have “devastating social costs”.

As reported by local and international media, this was not Raggi’s view in December when she spoke at an event hosted by the Roman Catholic Church to showcase positive responses to refugees in European cities."

EU: Rescue organizations in Italy under pressure (Deutsche Welle, link):

Video: "There are over ten NGO-run boats patrolling the coast of Libya to help thousands of refugees. But Frontex, the European border control and coast guard agency, thinks they are playing into the hands of smugglers."

EU: Arrival of migrants in May: Numbers in Italy and Greece higher than month ago (Frontex, link):

"There were around 27 000 detections of illegal border crossings on the four main migratory routes into the EU in May. The total number of detections in the first five months of 2017 fell 75% from the same period of last year to 84 000, although the number of migrants arriving in Italy remained above the figures from a year ago."

EU-HUNGARY: Hungary is Taking European Values for a Ride (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Fidesz government has repeatedly undermined the rule of law, as well as checks and balances of the executive through the courts, media, and civil society. This year those attacks have intensified, with a law aimed at shutting down a reputable academic institution, the Central European University, another to curb the work of foreign-funded nongovernmental groups inspired by Russia’s foreign agents law, and a third that doubles down on the country’s abusive border regime for asylum seekers.

Yet Fidesz’ membership of the EPP [European People's Party] has helped shield Hungary from meaningful European Union action by blocking resolutions in the parliament aiming to address serious rule of law and human rights concerns, despite the fact that the government’s actions breach not only European values, but those of the EPP itself. Those values include respect for rule of law and human rights and encouraging a vibrant civil society.

(...)

By letting Fidesz take the country down an authoritarian path without any tangible consequences, the EU has signalled that other EU states can do the same.

If [Manfred] Weber [chair of the EPP] really wants to bring about positive changes both in Hungary and Poland he should urge EPP to reassess Fidesz’s membership in EPP, and consider expelling the party."

CoE: Anti-racism and discrimination experts publish annual Europe survey (Human Rights Europe, link):

"Surging nationalist populism, the integration of migrants and the response of European governments to Islamist terrorism, are key developments confirmed in the 2016 annual report of the european Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

“The rise of populist politics in today’s Europe is deeply worrying, especially when directed against the minorities, including migrants and refugees,” said Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland. “I call on all responsible politicians to do everything they can to stop this dangerous trend and to work towards creating inclusive societies.”

The Chairperson of the ECRI, Christian Åhlund, noted the rise of hate speech in political and media discourse: “It is not enough to criminalize hate speech and monitor it; we need to actively counteract it. Internal codes of ethics for media and parliamentarians should foresee sanctions for its use. Political, religious, cultural elites, artists and sports celebrities must actively engage in counter-speech.”"

See: European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI): Annual report on ECRI's activities covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2016 (pdf)

Is Greece ready to receive asylum seekers under the Dublin system? (Human Rights Centre Blog, link)

"On the occasion of Refugee Week, this blog entry aims to provide an overview of the reception conditions for asylum seekers in Greece under the prism of the so-called Dublin system. The Dublin system consists of regulations which purport to streamline the handling of asylum claims amongst most European Union (EU) member states and a small number of other non-member states. With a few exemptions, the core principle of these rules is simple: the member state responsible for an asylum claim will be the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.

(...)

In light of these developments, asylum seekers in Greece are in need of receiving legal assistance during the prolonged and stressful stages of their claim for asylum. The systemic failures they face are barely addressed by NGOs, legal practitioners and grassroots solidarity movements. In response to that need, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association set up the Athens Legal Support Project on 10 April 2017. The Project brings together a diverse pool of UK-based lawyers with the aim of working closely with a Community Centre in Athens and Greek lawyers to advise asylum seekers in relation to the Greek asylum process, relocation, family reunification and other issues arising from the Dublin system."

EU: Immigrants stuck between rhetoric and reality (New Europe, link):

"Migration will continue to be rein among the most favourite topics of any kind of populist in Europe. Based on sentimental grounds, it’s an issue used strictly for national electoral gains, ignoring the fact that Europe’s population is aging and EU economies need to renew their labour forces.

While politicians find it convenient and easy to hide behind alarming slogans concerning the Islamisation of Europe and the potential threat of immigration to national values, the economic world holds a different view.

Finance ministers, bankers and industry leaders constantly express concern about looming worker shortages in EU economies. They started sounding the alarm bells several years ago."

Are You Syrious (21.6.17)

EU

"Six countries in the European Union - Chech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia — are currently working on a military pact in order to be able to unite and coordinate their military forces in case another wave of refugees hit the EU. More details is hopefully, if not to say not hopefully, to come about this extremely terrible and mean idea. At this point it is known that the defense ministers from the six Central European countries promised closer cooperation over the migration crisis, including using armed forces where necessary.

The group, which includes two countries, currently being sued by the European Commission for refusing to participate in the E.U.’s internal resettlement mechanism, said this would allow countries to have control over who is entering their borders. Control and alienation, again, instead of understanding and solidarity towards people who’s homes aren’t as safe places as their own."

Lesvos

"A terrible incident has been reported from Moria detention center. A resident in the camp was today beaten up by police, and after that the police tried to delete everyone’s photos from the incident. Fortunately, they didn’t succeed in doing so."

Germany

"Since the EU Commission advised the member states to resume with the Dublin III transfers to Greece, Germany has sent them 50 cases to deport back. But the Greek ministry hasn’t answered yet, which means that Germany can’t transfer the people.

The situation is similar for returning people back to Italy during the same legislation, of the more than 6700 requests made by Germany only 370 people have been sent back. This has various reasons like courts blocking the deportation or there’s no EURODAC hit for the persons. Further Germany is not sending requests for families with children under three years. Tweets to follow in German."

Greece urged by European Court of Human Rights stop deportation (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The European Court of Human Rights is urging Greek authorities to hold off on deporting a Pakistani national who was due to be sent back to Turkey, from where he had traveled to Greece.

The man, whose name has not been publicized for his own protection, is being held at a migrant detention center on the island of Lesvos."

German deportations to Afghanistan to restart next week: reports (DW, link)

"Just weeks after a spate of attacks in Kabul forced Germany to halt deportations to Afghanistan, plans for more flights are reportedly afoot. Failed Afghan asylum-seekers could be forced home as early as next week."

Refugee campaigners launch legal challenge over Home Office 'failure' to implement Dubs scheme (Independent, link): "Help Refugees accuse Government of adopting 'seriously defective' process of measuring local councils' capacity to take in child refugees."

The way asylum seekers are treated in the UK is a silent scandal (Guardian, link):

"We may be on different sides of the table, but legal aid lawyers like me feel the anxiety of the Home Office caseworkers who lose sleep over a failing system."

EU: European Council wants industry to develop automated censorship tools and "address the challenge" of encryption

- Draft conclusions for 22-23 June meeting also back multi-billion euro military reserach programme
- Migration: "Training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard is a key component of the EU approach and should be speeded up"

EU: Say yes to human mobility and no to Fortress Europe (EurActiv, link):

"EU leaders will this week meet to agree, once more, on ways to keep migrants out of the EU. Out of sight may be out of mind but such a policy is only encouraging the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of people, warns Leila Bodeux.(...)

No walls, no human rights abuses, no coast guards or threat of return will stop desperate people from searching for a dignified life in Europe, no matter how deadly the attempt may be.(...)

The time is ripe to anchor policies in facts and evidence, rather than in fear and quick fixes.

Europe has the moral duty and the material means to welcome, protect, promote and integrate people in need. There are plenty of tools to open efficient, safe and legal pathways to Europe, such as humanitarian visas, resettlement, community sponsorship, humanitarian corridors, and family reunification.

In these unsettling times, Europe can take strong global leadership and promote a fair and humane world by dismantling old, stiff Fortress Europe and by investing in a modern and dynamic, welcoming Europe that fosters human mobility.

This is the future."

EU: The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal and the Not Quite Closed Balkan Route (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, pdf) by Bodo Weber:

"The effect of the two measures [the closure of the Balkan route and the EU-Turkey deal] on the Balkan route has been threefold: First, the number of refugees and migrants moving along the route has dropped dramatically, but tens of thousands still succeed to transit; second, the route has been redirected, with the southern entry point shifting from the Greek islands to Bulgaria’s land border with Turkey; and third, the form of transit has shifted back to the use of smugglers. The three EU member states located at the southern entry (Bulgaria) and northern exit (Hungary, Croatia) of the Balkan route have reacted to the inability to completely close the route with intensified efforts of systematic push-backs of refugees and migrants. Bulgaria has done so with limited success, the other two have been more successful. The attempts to physically close the Balkan route, especially in the case of Hungary, have included changes to asylum legislation that, taken together with the physical push-backs, amount to the systematic violation of human rights and the systematic violation of domestic, EU and international laws and conventions and constitutes a departure from core EU values."

UK: 28 Days Later… The Rule that Leaves New Refugees in the UK Destitute (one small window, link):

"For the lucky few, being granted refugee status should come as a relief. Instead, it is often the start of a new ordeal. The challenges that lie ahead for new refugees include integration, finding work, learning English, homelessness, medical care and racism. Yet these problems are exacerbated by the growing destitution among new refugees, who have not been granted this status under a special government resettlement scheme, such as that for some Syrian refugees.

In early 2017, the Red Cross reported a 10% increase in the number of destitute asylum seekers and refugees they helped in 2016, compared to 2015: 21% had been granted refugee status. The number of hungry refugees sleeping rough across the country is growing."

And see: All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees: Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK (April 2017, pdf)

SERBIA: Welcome to refugee purgatory on the Hungary border (IRIN, link):

"Thousands of migrants and refugees trying to reach northern Europe have become trapped in Serbia since neighbouring countries sealed their borders in early 2016. After months of living in squalid conditions in abandoned buildings or overcrowded reception centres, many attempt to cross into Hungary. Few succeed.

Filmmaker Jaime Alekos spent two months earlier this year interviewing dozens of migrants, many of them unaccompanied minors, who described being caught near the border by Hungarian police, beaten brutally, and forced back into Serbia. Their accounts are consistent with reports from Médecins Sans Frontières teams working in Serbia who regularly treat migrants for injuries inflicted by Hungarian border patrols. The abuse and pushbacks appear to be systematic and ongoing. This atmospheric film captures the migrants’ testimonies as well as their grim living conditions in Serbia."

European Court of Justice: Advocate General Sharpston considers that an applicant for international protection can challenge a Member State's decision to transfer him to another Member State on the basis that the 'take charge request' sent by the first Member State was not made within the time limits set out under EU law (press release, pdf):

"In the Advocate General's opinion, the Dublin III Regulation, the relevant legislation, is no longer a purely inter-State mechanism and the operation of time limits has substantive implications for the applicants and the Member States concerned."

See: Opinion in Case C-670/16 (pdf)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-20.6.17)
Commission report on relocation: Does it know how many refugees there in Greece?

Commission asks "the Greek authorities to clarify the total number of migrants present on the mainland and the islands."

A painful record (Ekathimerini, link) by Pantelis Boukalas:

"Tuesday marks World Refugee Day. Although a plethora of heartfelt statements will come from official lips about the plight of millions of people who have been displaced from their homes, very little will reach the ears of the actual protagonists of this drama.

In any case, the figures released on Monday by the United Nations are enough to make you gasp: About 65.6 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict or persecution by the end of 2016.

This is a painful record, which leaves an indelible mark on the face of humanity, especially considering that half of the refugee population is composed of children.

(...)

Sixty-five point six million people. With no freedoms, no rights, no future. This Europe which so touts its respect of human rights does not even respect the right of families separated by violence to reunite. Officials always find a way to bypass the rules or to turn a blind eye to the plight of these people, while at the same time bragging about their official signature at the bottom of agreements and protocols."

World Refugee Day - Reports of three new shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency received information last night about three new shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. We fear that at least 130 people are dead or missing.

The first and largest of these incidents involved a rubber dinghy that left Libya on 15 June and began taking on water just hours into its journey. From the Italian coast guard, and the four survivors - Sudanese and Nigerian nationals – we understand the boat was carrying at least 133 people. 129 people are missing.

The second incident involved a boat carrying at least 85 people which broke in two and sank yesterday. People who witnessed the sinking say the boat was among three that left Libya on the evening of 15 June. There were many families with children aboard. The nationalities of those lost are Syrians and people from North African countries.

A third shipwreck is reported to have left seven more people dead or missing. Survivors were disembarked yesterday in Messina, Sicily. Their boat left Libya on 14 June. A pregnant woman from Cameroon lost her husband in the shipwreck.

Today is World Refugee Day. These incidents are a reminder of the grave dangers that people confront when forced to flee their countries because of war and persecution. Since the beginning of the year, over 77,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. This is among the world’s most dangerous routes – a journey that no one takes lightly."

SPAIN: Thousands march for refugees, ask Madrid to honour commitment (Middle East Eye, link):

"Several thousand people marched in Madrid on Saturday to ask the Spanish government to honour its commitment to take in more than 17,000 refugees as part of Europe's relocation plan.

"No human being is illegal," the crowds chanted as they walked under scorching heat past clothing shops in central Madrid, holding banners that read "Bridges not walls" and "Enough with excuses, no more barriers".

The protest, organised by dozens of NGOs including Amnesty International, comes just a few days before World Refugee Day on Tuesday."

See also: Massive demonstration in Barcelona in support of migrants and refugees (Statewatch News Online, 20 February 2017) and: Milan like Barcelona. Together, without walls, against the racist criminalisation of migrants and the poor. For an international network of antiracist cities (27 May 2017)

   COE: European countries must lift obstacles to reunification of refugee families (link):

"reunification is a fundamental part of the right to family life, which is protected by international human rights law. This right is particularly important for refugees in Europe. Because of the dangers they face at home, their only option to enjoy their right to family life is to bring their families to Europe. Regrettably, many European countries are limiting refugees’ access to this right through restrictive measures which are unjust, unlawful and cause immense hardship for refugees and their families.

This has to change”, says today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a report which aims at helping Council of Europe member states adopt a more humane and human rights oriented policy on family reunification for refugees and beneficiaries of international protection."

See: Issue Paper (pdf) and Summary (pdf)

SWITZERLAND: Eritrean asylum seeker’s expulsion from Switzerland would not breach the European Convention (press release, pdf):

"The case M.O. v. Switzerland (application no. 41282/16) concerned the complaint brought by an Eritrean asylum seeker that he would be at risk of ill-treatment if deported from Switzerland to his country of origin. He essentially claimed before the Swiss authorities that he was a deserter from military service and, following a period of imprisonment, had escaped and left Eritrea illegally. The authorities found that his asylum claim was not credible and ordered his removal.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that:

there would be no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights if the expulsion order against the applicant, Mr M.O, were implemented."

See: Judgment (pdf)

EU: Schengen Information System (SIS): Returns, Border checks and discrete checks

 SIS AND RETURNS: Draft Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals - Draft compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 9592-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BE, BG, CZ, DE, DK, EL, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL, SE and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes."

 SIS AND BORDER CHECKS: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council
on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... draft compromise text
(LIMITE doc no: 9593-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: 73 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, and SI. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE and PL. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes."

 SIS AND "DISCRETE" CHECKS: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.... - draft compromise text regarding alerts on persons and objects for discreet checks, inquiry checks or specific checks (Articles 36 and 37) (LIMITE doc no: 9594-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: 98 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes.....

Article 2: Scope

This Regulation establishes the conditions and procedures for the entry and processing in SIS of alerts in respect of third-country nationals, the exchange of supplementary information and additional data for the purpose of refusing entry into and stay on the territory of the Member States."
[emphasis added]

SERBIA: Thousands of refugees left stuck in limbo in Calais of the Balkans (The Herald, link):

"In recent months, Serbian authorities have tried to provide shelter, food and medical care to thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa camping within its borders.

But the newcomers do not want any of it. This country is quickly becoming the Calais of the Balkans, a reference to the northern French city where refugees live in limbo while awaiting either deportation, asylum or continuing their journeys in hope of landing in a more welcoming European country.

“I tried to leave Serbia 17 times,” said Jawad Afzali, 17, an Afghan who has lived for the past six months with 1,500 other Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani migrants in abandoned warehouses and a tent village that sprung up behind the bus station."

HUNGARY: Asylum in Hungary: damanged beyond repair? ECRE's call for states to end transfers to Hungary under Dublin and bilateral arrangements

"A legal note published today provides a succinct analysis of the most problematic aspects of the Hungarian asylum system and legal framework, and the most egregious human rights violations asylum seekers currently face in the country, including at its external border with Serbia.

It concludes that Hungary’s legal framework, including alarming recent changes, puts rights at risk due to (1) the lack of access to asylum procedure (2) the application of “safe third country” concept to dublin returnees (3) the expansion of summary returns policy (4) inadequate reception conditions and automatic use of detention, and (5) increased risks of destitution.

Therefore, ECRE calls on all States not to transfer applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection to Hungary under the Dublin Regulation or any bilateral arrangements, and to assume responsibility themselves for the examination of these asylum claims."

See: Asylum in Hungary: damaged beyond repair? (link to pdf) and: SWITZERLAND: Court rules against sending asylum seekers to Hungary (Al Jazeera, link)

EU: Poland reacts to ‘non-compliance’ procedures (New Europe, link):

"In response to the European Commission launching procedures against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic over “non-compliance with their obligations under the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation” of migrants, Beata Szydlo has denied his country is refusing to show solidarity with its EU partners.

The Polish PM said her country is not alone in failing to relocate migrants under a 2015 deal designed to alleviate the pressure on Greece and Italy which have seen the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants and refugees.

In an interview with Belgian daily Le Soire, Szydlo said migrants were not interested in staying in Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic but wanted to head for richer countries."

See also: Orbán: No chance for single EU migration policy (EurActiv, link):

"Hungary’s populist prime minister said Monday (19 June) that he sees no chance for a single EU-wide migration policy, just days after the bloc launched legal action against Budapest for refusing refugees under a controversial solidarity plan."

And: Commission latest reports on the refugee crisis and "returns" to Turkey (Statewatch News Online, 14 June 2017)

IRELAND: Resettlement and relocation: Less than a third of promised 4,000 refugees settled here (Irish Times, link):

"Less than a third of the 4,000 refugees the Government promised to accept by the end of the 2017 have been resettled here, according to the most recent figures released ahead of World Refugee Day on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, charities have called for a reversal of parts of the International Protection Act 2015, which narrowed the definition of family and removed the possibility for refugees to apply for extended family members to joint them in Ireland.

(...)

Though we had promised to relocate refugees from Italy, none have yet been moved here. The Department of Justice said this was because Italian authorities have not allowed law enforcement agencies from other EU member states to conduct security assessments of candidates on its soil."

Are You Syrious (18.6.17, link)

Detention centres in Sweden are prisons

"Swedish Radio says the conditions in detention centres where people are placed before being deported have radically changed over the last couple of years, with these centres increasingly becoming like prisons. Staff members tell the radio that one of their main task and purpose was to talk, create relationships and prepare people in custody ahead of their deportation - now, they increasingly feel like prison guards. Clashes between staff and people who are about to be deported have increased and are now common events. The staff says the only training they have received in the last couple of years is on security and defense - nothing about how to treat vulnerable people......"

Greece: Arrivals

"52 people were rescued off Crete and transferred to Athens. Two boats arrived on Lesvos this morning, including one on the north coast with 55 people on board. Refugee Rescue, a sea rescue team, says people were forced to stay at the Stage 2 transit area yesterday night, as the Moria camp was apparently full."

Croatia: Police violence at the border

"A new case of police violence has been documented in Croatia. Five men including three minors crossed the border between Serbia and Croatia by train but were discovered at a train station near Zagreb. They then asked for asylum but were brought back to the border in a police van and beaten with batons. One of the minors was ill and beaten until he fell to the ground. The policemen then told them to “go back to Serbia” and not to come back, forcing the men to cross the border."

Italy:Situation in Gorizia

"Collettivo SPAM met with refugees in Gorizia, at the border with Slovenia, and says refugees living in governmental centres for accommodation of asylum seekers (CARA) and in the “jungle” are steadily increasing. Around 20 refugees are arriving each day in the jungle, with many kicked out of accommodation centres and others forced to live there after the eviction of the bunker, a basement that was managed by volunteers. The jungle is missing food and water and there is a constant danger coming from inundations and attacks by wild animals."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-18.6.17)
EU: Potential expansion of Eurodac database scope raises data protection concerns (ECRE Bulletin, link):

"The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament has adopted a report on the European Commission proposal to recast the Eurodac Regulation. It outlines a wide expansion of the scope of the Eurodac database that raises strong concerns about data protection.

These measures have raised serious concerns about asylum seekers’ right to data protection from a number of actors and organisations including ECRE, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the Meijers Committee."

See European Parliament adopted Report (its negotiating position, "orientation" vote) and the Council's position (LIMITE doc no: 10079-17,pdf) going into trilogue meetings.

Are You Syrious (17.6.17)

IMMINENT DEPORTATIONS FROM FRANCE TO AFGHANISTAN

"Calais migrant solidarity reports of 4 deportation planned for the 20th, 21st, 23rd and 24th of June.

4 Afghan men are facing direct deportation to Afghanistan, something that didn’t happen since 2009 in France. All of them have been arrested at the train station of Calais on May 10th, and transferred to the Mesnil-Amelot detention centre near Paris...."

Sea: MORE RESCUE OPERATION AND DISEMBARKING IN ITALY

"After a busy day on the sea rescuing 7 dinghies yesterday, MSF vessel Prudence approached and rescued one last boat last night. The boat had taken on a mix of water and fuel. A lady had to be urgently transported to a medical facility due to the effect of inhaling fuel fumes."

Spain: DEMONSTRATION FOR REFUGEES IN MADRID

"QuieremosAcogerYa was the slogan of the demonstration held today in Madrid to demand the Spanish government to take in more refugees. Spain, which had pledged to take in more than 17300, has so far only welcomed just over 1300, media sources report. After the huge demonstration in Barcelona last Febraury, today, with temperatures reaching 40°, more than 8000 people demonstrated through the streets of Madrid."

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 77,004 in 2017; 1,828 Deaths (IOM, link): Italy: 65,450, Greece 7,967, Spain 3.314 and Cyprus 273.

Are You Syrious (16.6.17, link):

Italy

"Four police officers were arrested and other four were dismissed, while another 18 officers and 4 civilians are under investigation in Lunigiana (between Liguria and Tuscany).They are accused of tens and tens of crimes, including 5 brutal beatings in the last year whose victims are a Polish homeless and some North African migrants. One of them, pushed to the ground, had his face squashed on the concrete with a shoe, the gun barrel in his mouth and was kicked and punched all over his body. In addition, when they didn’t feel like beating up someone, these police officers were peeing on the mattresses used as beds by the asylum seekers.

In their conversations other horrible details appear like their suggestion to stop thefts and crimes. By giving them total control, they could erase crime “even without killing”, just by taking all the criminals, once a day, put them in the car and beating them up hard. Destroy their houses, destroy everything they have, a bit of “healthy violence” will change the status of things in a month, according to these “men of justice”."

EU

"The European Parliament has recognised that refugees should get longer protection periods and suggests that Residence permits for all beneficiaries of international protection in the EU should be valid for five years and be renewable for additional five-year periods.

"Spain

"A petition has been lunched by Spanish Amnesty International to pressure the Spanish government to honor its promises and take more refugees into the country. The Spanish government has promised to relocate 17337 refugees until 26th of September of 2017, having only place so far 1304. Considering this, it’s highly unlikely that they reach the target, as they continue this widespread policy of looking the other way. The petition runs out on the 20th of June, Day of the Refugee. To support this movement please follow the link here."

Hungary

"Unfortunately, now, almost everyday we are getting new reports of violent push backs to Serbia. Refugee behind the closed borders reports that Hungary has begun to beat people again when they are caught trying to cross the border irregularly."

Greece

"The arrivals at the Greek islands continue at a high rate which means that the conditions only deteriorate. The situation continues to be particularly bad on Chios at the moment where the greater number of arrivals has brought the situation to a breaking point with refugees having to find a place to sleep almost anywhere and rising tensions with the local population."

Greece: Numbers

"A boat arrived to the north of Lesvos last night carrying 23 people, 5 men, 6 women and 11 children.

The official registrations today were: Lesvos - 58, Chios - 39, Samos - 48, Total - 145

For the first time this year, there has been around 150 being registered, 3 days in a row. Chios has now reached 3000 registrations this year, and Lesvos around 2200. The total of arrivals to the islands this year has now reached 8128 according to official numbers."

And see Statewtch story below.

Arrival in Greece show sharp rise in arrivals

Figures released by the Greek Ministry show that refugee arrivals on the islands are rising:

13 June: 146
14 June: 151
15 June: 145
16 June:   52

19 June:  98

Total on Islands: 14,322
Total in Greece:  62,258

European Parliament Briefings: Uncritical but useful summaries prepared for High-level Conference on migration management 21 June 2017:

  What has the European Union done in the field of migration since 2014? (pdf)
   European Parliament’s positions on key issues related to asylum and migration (pdf)

Greek Hotspots: Deaths Not to Be Forgotten (Pro Asyl, link):

"In an extensive policy paper, the team of Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) in Greece has observed that in numerous cases of refugee deaths at the hotspots on Greek islands, the Greek authorities have undertaken little or no investigation, turning the hotspots into an institutional gray zone."

Report: Refugee Support Aegean (RSA, link)

Spain’s handling of the Cayuco boat crisis (euractiv, link):

"Almost a decade before the deaths of 360 people in a shipwreck near Lampedusa, Italy, shook the world’s collective conscience about migration in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands – another southern European border – faced a similar challenge."

Polish PM under fire for using Auschwitz to make Poles fear refugees (euractiv, link)::

"Poland’s prime minister came under heavy fire yesterday (14 June) for appearing to defend her right-wing government’s anti-migrant policy during a memorial service at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German death camp."

Hungary’s transit zones are prisons where pregnant women are handcuffed and children go hungry (Budapest Sentinel, link):

"The Hungarian government set up transit zones along the border as a place for those fleeing war to request international protection.

These transit zones operate as though they are located in a “no man’s land”. In other words, Hungarian law does not necessarily apply at these locations. Until now, we had no knowle
dge of what happens behind the gates of these transit zones because the public access to these areas is restricted...."

EU: European Parliament Study: Children On the Move: A Private International Law Perspective (pdf):

"The child’s best interests are a primary consideration under international and EU law. EU migration and private international law frameworks regulate child protection, but in an uncoordinated way: the Dublin III and Brussels IIa Regulations are neither aligned nor applied coherently.

This should change. In particular, the rules and mechanisms of Brussels IIa should be used to enhance the protection of migrant children. These include rules on jurisdiction to take protective measures, on applicable law, and on recognition and enforcement of protective measures, and mechanisms for cross-border cooperation between authorities."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.6.17)
UN report on Libya: serious abuses against migrants, "concerns" over vetting of coastguard members trained by EU

"The Final Report of the Panel of Experts on Libya... discusses links between armed groups, criminal groups, and different coast guard factions, including involvement by coast guard factions in migrant smuggling and coast guard factions shooting at or sinking migrant boats operated by competitors. The report makes clear that after interception at sea, migrants are “often beaten, robbed and taken to detention centres or private houses and farms where they are subjected to forced labour, rape and other sexual violence.”

The report questions whether any of the coast guard factions are under the control of the Government of National Accord and questions the vetting of the coastguard trainees who are receiving training from EUNAVFOR MED. This information is further reason for the EU and EUNAVFOR MED to immediately suspend all collaboration with the Libyan coast guards and navy."

EU: Commission: latest reports on the refugee crisis and "returns" to Turkey

- Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland face infringement proceedings
- Greece: Arrivals outpace returns to Turkey
- Next steps - dodgy figures or wishful thinking?

EU: Relocation: Commission launches infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (press release, pdf)

"The European Commission has today launched infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for non-compliance with their obligations under the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation.

Despite the Commission's repeated calls for action, these three countries remain in breach of their legal obligations and have shown disregard for their commitments to Greece, Italy and other Member States.

The Council Decisions require Member States to pledge available places for relocation every three months to ensure a swift and orderly relocation procedure. Whereas Hungary has not taken any action at all since the relocation scheme started, Poland has not relocated anyone and not pledged since December 2015. The Czech Republic has not relocated anyone since August 2016 and not made any new pledges for over a year"

And see: EU opens legal case against Warsaw, Budapest and Prague over migration (Reuters, link)

Refugee rescue ships not acting as ‘pull factor’ or ‘colluding with people smugglers’, report finds (The Independent, link):

"Humanitarian ships rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea are not acting as a “pull factor” driving increasing refugee boat crossings or “colluding” with smugglers, research has found.

A report by the Forensic Oceanography department at Goldsmiths, University of London, rejected a “toxic narrative” seeking to blame NGOs for the worsening crisis.

Experts dismantled allegations made by agencies such as Frontex and leading European politicians, who claimed charities were encouraging smugglers to use more dangerous tactics on the treacherous passage between Libya and Italy."

See: New report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean (Statewatch News Online, 9 June 2017)

HUNGARY-SWITZERLAND: Court rules against sending asylum seekers to Hungary (Al Jazeera, link):

"Switzerland's highest administrative court on Friday ruled against the deportation of an asylum seeker to Hungary, citing humanitarian and legal concerns over conditions in a country that has been sharply criticised for its harsh treatment of refugees.

Judges at the Federal Administrative Court said the situation in Hungary is too insecure for asylum seekers, delivering a verdict in the case of a young male from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had filed a judicial complaint against his return to the Eastern European country, where he was officially registered.

Under the European Union's Dublin Convention, member states can return asylum seekers to the country where they first applied for protection. Switzerland is not an EU member state, but it is a signatory to the accord.

Seeing as the court issued a so-called "pilot ruling", its provisions automatically apply to all present asylum seekers in Switzerland who had registered a complaint against their return to Hungary.

Local media reported that 202 people would now have their asylum requests processed in Switzerland."

Germany's Sigmar Gabriel promises millions on surprise visit to Libya (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday made a surprise visit to Libya to announce a new tranche of aid to the conflict-ridden country.

Berlin will provide 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) to Libyan authorities to improve conditions at refugee camps in the North African country, Gabriel said. The money is expected to complement relief funds provided by Germany aimed at easing Europe's migration crisis.

"It is, therefore, our goal, together with the Libyans, to resist the instability that has arisen from the absence of established structures," Gabriel said. "Concrete progress is urgently needed.""

GREECE: Coast guard rescues 43 migrants off Farmakonisi (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 43 migrants and refugees were rescued off the southern Aegean islet of Farmakonisi on Tuesday, the Greek Coast Guard has said.

Officials said all 43 were transferred to the nearby island of Leros.

New figures released by the UN refugee agency on Tuesday show that the number of migrants who entered Europe in the first half of 2017 was 35 percent of the number a year ago."

IRELAND: Asylum seekers to get extra €2.50 per week to live on (Irish Times, link):

"People living in Ireland’s direct provision are have their weekly welfare payments increased, in a move announcd on Wednesday by Taoiseach-elect Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The increase of €2.50 per week for adults and €6 per week for children will benefit more than 4,000 adults and children living in direct provision. Mr Varadkar and Ms Fitzgerald will seek Cabinet approval for the increases.

The rate for children will rise from €15.60 to €21.60 per week and for adults from €19.10 to €21.60 per week from August."

See also: Direct Provision allowance increase does not go far enough, say the Irish Refugee Council (Irish Refugee Council, link) and: Judge McMahon urges action two years after Direct Provision report (Irish Legal News, link):

"Retired Judge Bryan McMahon, who produced a landmark Government report on Direct Provision, has urged the Government to act on its recommendations at a conference marking the two-year anniversary of its publication.

The McMahon Report was published in June 2015 and contained 173 recommendations to improve and reform Direct Provision and the asylum process in Ireland.

Addressing a conference hosted by the Children’s Rights Alliance, Judge McMahon said the Government had to address asylum seekers’ right to work and the length of time people spend in Direct Provision."

HUNGARY: Government squandered $15.3 million on “Let’s Stop Brussels!” campaign in April (The Budapest Beacon, link):

"The government acknowledged spending HUF 4.2 billion (USD 15.3 million) on April’s “Let’s Stop Brussels!” campaign after Átlátszó.hu’s public data request, reports index.hu.

Although the by now customary blue billboards appearing across the country constituted the most visible aspect of the campaign, more than half of the budget was spent on advertisements in Fidesz-tied media outlets."

Border Walls Don’t Stop Immigration, but They Do Undermine Integration (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The most visual form of increasing the cost of migration for undocumented migrants – the building of walls and fences – has recently regained popularity among policymakers in Europe and the United States alike.

In 2015-16, several European borders were fortified or fences were built, at Calais and other borders like Hungary-Serbia, Austria-Italy and Macedonia-Greece. At the same time, President Donald Trump is pursuing an extension of existing border walls and fences at the southern border of the U.S.

For many, building a wall at the national borders is the most appealing way to curb illegal immigration, to regain control over entry and to improve security.

But often little thought goes into the effects such a border wall can have beyond reducing the absolute number of immigrants in the short term."

Ukraine and Slovakia to strengthen cooperation in the field of readmission

"During the consultations held on 18-19 May, the experts of Ukraine and Slovakia agreed on an article-by-article basis the draft Implementation Protocol to the Agreement between Ukraine and the Slovak Republic on readmission."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.6.17)
EU: Partnership Frameworks in Africa: Commission publishes progress reports on first year

Partnership Framework on Migration: Commission reports on results and lessons learnt one year on (Press release, pdf):

"A year into its implementation and ahead of the June European Council, the Commission and the High Representative present today the fourth progress report on the Partnership Framework on Migration."

Fourth Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 350-17, pdf)

Annex 1: Progress in priority countries (pdf)
Annex 2: EU Trust Fund for Africa - state of implementation (pdf)

Mali (pdf)
Niger (pdf)
Nigeria (pdf)
Senegal (pdf)
Ethiopia (pdf)
Libya (pdf)

See also: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report (Statewatch) and Statewatch Analysis: EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (pdf)

Are You Syrious (12.6.17, link):

Feature

"Much has changed in Serbia the last couple of months. The police violence, that up until now hasn’t been that well reported or harsh, compared with the violence and also psychological abuse from the Croatian and Hungarian police, has increased.

Since the barracks were evicted the position of president Vucic also remains even more safe after being re-elected. The fact that he now has secured his position could be a trigger for more violence, since he isn’t known to be the biggest defender of human rights...."

Greece: Registrations

"Official numbers of new registrations are, Saturday to Monday, 124 people. Most people arrived at Lesvos. The average number per day in June has so far been just over 43 people, which brings the total up to 523 people. In addition to this seven people where deported last Friday, the 9th of June. Of them five was from Pakistan and two from Algeria. All of them were men.

Today a summary over refugee flows to the Greek Islands was released, and according to the information in the report there currently are 14 004 people residing on the islands all together. The total number for all Greece currently are 62 128 people. For more stats."

EURODAC: e-LISA: European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice: Eurodac - annual statistics (Press release, pdf):

"In 2016, Eurodac processed: "Over 1,000,000 fingerprints of applicants for international protection aged 14 or more - more than 370,000 fingerprints of persons aged 14 or older, apprehended when irregularly crossing the external border of a Member State - over 252,000 fingerprints of persons aged 14 or older, apprehended illegally present on the territory of a Member State."

In July 2015, the new Eurodac Regulation (No 603/2013) took effect and national police forces as well as Europol can now have access to the system but in 2016 only 327 searches were made by EU police forces.

See also: 2016 Report (pdf) and List of authorities with access (pdf)

Poland mulls refugee referendum (New Europe, link):

"Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has announced that a vote on whether the country should accept the European Union’s refugee quotas could coincide with general elections scheduled for 2019.

“I’m ready to put forward a motion for a referendum on this,” Duda said. “That would allow the new government to hear the clear voice of the nation on the issue.”

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s cabinet, led by the ruling Law & Justice Party, has said it won’t accept any of the refugees who have come to Europe from the Middle East and Africa in the continent’s worst migrant crisis since World War II."

In Greece, Allegations of Government Kidnapping and Forced Deportation (Pacific Standard, link): "The Hellenic League for Human Rights and the United Nations are calling on the government to investigate what they call a coordinated attempt to deport at-risk Turkish refugees."

Brussels takes on (most of the) Visegrad Group over refugees (Politico, link);

"The European Commission is this week expected to launch infringement proceedings against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic over their refusal to join in with the EU’s refugee relocation scheme, diplomats said.

In summer 2015 EU member countries agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees across the bloc and their decision is legally binding. However, Poland and Hungary haven’t taken in a single refugee between them, and they openly oppose the mandatory nature of the scheme."

Experts in tackling migrant smuggling meet to enhance cooperation and information exchange (Europol, link):

"On 9 June 2017, Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, as part of the tasks emerging from the Malta Declaration and associated Implementation Plan, organised an expert meeting focusing on cooperation and information exchange in tackling migrant smuggling networks operating from source and transit countries, with a specific focus on North Africa and the Central Mediterranean route.

The meeting brought together representatives from the (Immigration) Liaison Officers’ support units from 17 EU Member States as well as the European Commission."

Greece earthquake hits Lesbos: Tremors felt in Istanbul and Athens (BBC News, link):

"A strong earthquake has struck off the Aegean coast of western Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos, with tremors felt in Istanbul and Athens.

The epicentre of the 6.3 magnitude quake was 5km (3 miles) south of Plomari, a town on the coast of Lesbos, the US Geological Survey said. Several buildings were damaged but the village of Vrisa was worst hit with 10 people taken to hospital."

See also: Vrisa: The ghost village of Lesvos after earthquake strikes with 6.3R (Keep Talking Greece, link)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.6.17)
EU: Migration: EU and Member States work towards implementation of latest Action Plan on returns

The EU and its Member States are working towards the implementation of the European Commission's "renewed Action Plan" on European returns policy, published in March this year. At the latest meeting of the Commission-hosted 'Contact Group - Return Directive', which brings together EU and national officials, "Member States expressed general support in relation to the policy line and specific recommendations," but also highlighted that "on some specific recommendation, [sic] there may be divergences of views among Member States and with the Commission, and that some may be difficult to apply in practice for technical or political reasons."

EU: European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee position on recast Eurodac Regulation

New rules governing the EU's Eurodac biometric database are one step closer to being adopted following the approval by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of its position on the recast Regulation.

The recast Regulation will extend the scope of the database from holding the fingerprints of asylum-seekers to the inclusion of biometric data on irregular migrants. Facial images are also to be included in preparation for the future use of facial recognition systems.

EU-ITALY-LIBYA: Back to Old Tricks? Italian Responsibility for Returning People to Libya (EJIL: Talk!, link) by Jean-Pierre Gauci:

"On 10/11 May 2017 various news outlets reported a maritime operation by the Libyan authorities, in coordination with the Italian Search and Rescue Authority, in which 500 individuals were intercepted in international waters and returned to Libya. This operation amounted to refoulment in breach of customary international law and several treaties (including the Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights), and an internationally wrongful act is one for which Italy bears international legal responsibility."

1,000 Migrants Rescued Off Libyan Coast; Two Dead (Reliefweb, link):

"Two migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday during a rescue operation that saved more than 1,000 others who were attempting the dangerous crossing to Europe, according to a Spanish aid group.

Laura Lanuza, spokeswoman for Spain's Proactiva Open Arms, said that while two migrants perished in international waters off the Libyan coast, the Spanish aid group and five other humanitarian organizations saved 1,058 migrants after intercepting several smugglers' boats.

Lanuza said that in addition to the two deaths, another two migrants were in critical condition.

The Golfo Azzurro, Proactiva Open Arms' converted fishing trawler, pulled 243 migrants from two smugglers' boats. That group included one baby, a pregnant woman and several children.

The other boats that participated in the massive rescue operation belonged to Save the Children, Sea Watch, Moas, Sea Eye and Jugend Rettet Iuventa."

Ten migrants die, 100 missing off Libya (ENCA, link):

"GARABULLI - At least ten migrants have died after their Europe-bound boats sank off Libya's coast and some 100 people are missing, coastguard officials and aid groups said on Saturday.

Eight bodies were found on an inflatable craft that can carry up to 120 passengers, said Colonel Fathi al-Rayani, head of the coastguard in Garabulli, 60 kilometres east of Tripoli.

He estimated that "at least 100" migrants were missing.

(...)

Libyan navy spokesman General Ayoub Qassem meanwhile told AFP that coastguards patrolling off Zawiya, west of Tripoli, on Friday intercepted five inflatables and two wooden boats with more than 570 migrants on board.

He said the boats were being escorted by five Libyans on a jet ski and two outboards, and that three of the men were apprehended.

"The migrants are Africans, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Moroccans... and were delivered to the detention centre in Zawiya," Qassem said."

EU: European travel information and authorisation system - Council agrees negotiating position (press release, pdf):

"On 9 June 2017, the Council agreed a general approach on the proposal for a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS). The general approach constitutes the Council's position for negotiations with the European Parliament.

ETIAS will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorisation to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area. It will help improve internal security, prevent illegal immigration, limit public health risks and reduce delays at the borders by identifying persons who may pose a risk in one of these areas before they arrive at the external borders."

See: General approaches on the draft regulation establishing a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS) (9763/17, 1 June 2017, pdf) and on the draft regulation amending regulation 2016/794 for the purpose of establishing ETIAS (9763/17 ADD 1, 1 June 2017, pdf)

And see: Estonia heads EU interior ministers meeting for the 1st time (The Baltic Times, link): ""The foundation of the security of the European Union is solidarity and helping each other in a difficult situation. The key to success can lie only in cooperation, not in encapsulating," Anvelt said, adding that it's important for the member states that the problem is dealt with together. What is especially important for Estonia is that progress was made on several topics having to do with databases – such as the ETIAS travel authorization system, renewal of the Schengen information system and developing interaction between databases more broadly."

Anti-EU rhetoric props up Czech election race (EUobserver, link):

"The Czech government's decision on Monday (5 June) to stop taking asylum seekers from Greece and Italy is the latest sign of the development of an anti-EU stance in the country, with the elections approaching in October.

Interior minister Milan Chovanec said that pulling out of the EU relocation scheme was justified by an "aggravated security situation and the dysfunctionality of the whole system".

This new stance could largely be due to the upcoming elections in October of this year, as only 23 percent of Czechs think that the country should help refugees, according to a survey from March 2017.

After the elections, the Czech Republic may edge closer to Hungary and Poland, whose governments are very vocal in their criticism of Brussels."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.6.17)
Greek Ombudsman: Special Report: Migration flows and refugee protection: Administrative challenges and human rights issues (pdf):

"EU was called upon also in the past to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of its Member States,
to reconcile often diametrically opposite priorities within a common, European narrative of development and progress for all its citizens...

EU was called upon also in the past to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of its Member States, to reconcile often diametrically opposite priorities within a common, European narrative of development and progress for all its citizens...

One of the most characteristic expressions of the common, European political structure giving way before the individual priorities and imperatives of the Member States is the so-called EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016, which, without being a convention of the Union with a third country, from a legal aspect, introduced a host of derogations from the EU regulatory framework..."

GREECE: Ministry: 43 refugees arrived on Lesvos on Friday 9 June and 69 on Saturday 10 June.

Are You Syrious (10.6.17, link):

Feature

"Libyan Coast Guard rescued over 480 people today at sea off Azzawya, but at least eight people drowned and over 100 are still missing. Previously this week, only on Thursday and Friday, more than 900 people were rescued off Libya.

All the people who were rescued are taken to the detention center in Zawia, and probably they will be sent back to the countries they are coming from.

At the same time, over 1000 people were rescued closer to Italy in several operations. Sea-Watch crew at one point of time during a day had on board 220 people rescued from sinking inflatables, including one pregnant woman -Virtue from Nigeria - who as transferred to boat Pheonix for medical care. Unfortunately, two of the passengers did not make it....."

Bulgaria

"Local media are reporting about two Bulgarians and one Afghan man who are charged with human trafficking after nine people died when a minibus crashed in southern Bulgaria weekend before. The driver was 16-years old Bulgarian, who did not even have a driving license. He also got killed in this accident. One of the Bulgarians was also charged with causing the deaths through negligence.

Bulgarian police continue arresting people who are trying to cross the border. This year, 2,054 people on their journey were intercepted and arrested after crossing the border. At the same time, fifty-two traffickers were arrested."

France

"People from Afghanistan are being more often arrested and taken to detention across the country, the local activists are reporting. This year, a number of Afghans in detention centers has risen to 80, and six of them are facing deportation to Kabul soon. Several flights has been booked for June, despite reports from Afghanistan about increased hostilities.

La Cimade group strongly denounces deportations and calls on France to stop immediately all deportations to Afghanistan."

Airbnb to help host 35,000 refugees in houses across Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Short-term property rental platform Airbnb has announced that it will be helping to find housing for some 35,000 asylum seekers trapped in Greece, a representative for the company told the Concordia Europe Summit in Athens.

According to the representative, Airbnb is developing a special platform, airbnb.com/welcome, where property owners can offer their house or apartment to refugees for as long as desired or needed.

The company hopes that its campaign, which is Europe-wide, will help house a total of 100,000 people across the continent.

The initiative is run with the help of the nongovernmental organization Solidarity Now."

Training the Libyans is not enough to stop migrants (Open Migration, link):

"On the night of May 23, 2017, the captain of the Iuventa, a ship from the German NGO Jugend Rettet, reported a new attack at sea by a Libyan motorboat: the crew had shot at some boats overloaded with refugees, then brought two of them back towards Libya. Was it the Libyan Coast Guard? How is Italy training them, and to what end? And how many Coast Guards actually exist in Libya? Francesco Floris takes us into the details of training in Libya and its historical precedents."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.6.17)
EU: New report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean

A new report examines the accusations made by state officials, commentators and others that search and rescue NGOs operating in the Mediterranean are a "pull factor" for migrants and are effectively working in league with people smugglers. The report, Blaming the Rescuers, argues that as well as being false, those accusations have allowed state actors "to divert public attention from their own responsibilities and failures" and are part of "a wider attempt to criminalise solidarity towards migrants and refugees, which endangers the possibility of EU citizens standing in solidarity and exercising civilian oversight at the EU’s frontiers to contest their deadly effects."

Serbia-Hungary police cooperation deemed "excellent" (b92, link):

"Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic spoke on Thursday in Budapest with his Hungarian counterpart Sandor Pinter about illegal migration.

They also discussed cooperation in protecting external borders and exchange of information in the fight against human trafficking, the Serbian government announced.

It was assessed during the meeting that cooperation between the two police forces in the fight against organized crime is on an exceptional level, while the excellent results achieved through the work of joint investigation teams in combating human trafficking have been particularly highlighted.

Stefanovic and Pinter concluded that the involvement of police officers from EU countries, among them those from Hungary, who are, together with Serbian colleagues, securing Serbia's borders, resulted in better control of migrations and prevented illegal border crossings and human trafficking.

Stefanovic said that the Serbian police in the last two years arrested more than 2,000 persons suspected of smuggling people and filed more than 1,200 criminal charges."

HUNGARY: Will Hungary’s detention practices put an end to the Common European Asylum System? (Migration News Sheet, link):

"The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is today much less ‘common’ than it used to. Large-scale arrivals of refugees in 2015 have tempted Member States, starting with Hungary, to act unilaterally and in complete violation of EU rules.

Are Hungary’s unpunished waves of massive detention paving the way for other national governments to openly violate EU regulations?

Would this race to the bottom signal the end of CEAS and its Dublin System?

In turn, will European institutions manage to force governments to comply with its legislation?

This article will look into these questions."

EU-MALTA: €9.2 million in EU funds for police modernisation, border security projects

"€9.2 million in EU funds are being spent on modernising the Malta Police Force and on border surveillance, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and PS for EU Funds Ian Borg announced.

Mr Abela said five projects on border security, which is a priority, have been completed so far.

These include the acquisition of radios and biometric devices for border guards and modern equipment that can analyse a person’s unique physical characteristics, like fingerprints.

(...)

Mr Abela said the Malta Police Force is also benefitting from other projects falling under the EU Internal Security Fund 2014-2020.

These include the purchase of bullet-proof vests, riot kits and surveillance equipment; access to the Europol and Interpol databases; the Smart Policing project, which will see the Cyber Crime unit strengthened, the purchase of new forensic equipment; and the strengthening of the automated case management system."

See: Article in Border Security Report (in World Security Report, p.24, link to pdf)

Europol press release: Migrant smuggling organised crime group dismantled in Greece (pdf):

"An organised crime group involved in smuggling migrants from Greece to other European Union countries has been dismantled in Athens, Greece. The operation was jointly carried out by Attika Aliens Division, Europol and the UK’s National Crime Agency, following several months of investigations.

In this large operation in Athens at the end of May, a total of 12 individuals were arrested, of which seven were members of the organised crime group. Four arrestees were migrants that were about to be smuggled. In addition, one Afghan national was arrested for carrying a false identity card. Seven members of the organised crime group were already arrested earlier. The members of the network received up to EUR 16 000 per person that was illegally transported, with the money transferred via the Hawala informal money transfer system."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.6.17)
Greek police continues to illegally hand over Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey (FIDH, link):

"On 2 June at 9am, a family of six, including an infant, and three men who wished to apply for international protection in Greece because of persecution in Turkey were handed over by Greek police to a group of masked gunmen. The refoulement was witnessed and the HLHR has in its disposal the license plate numbers of the Greek police van that transferred the asylum seekers. The new refoulement took place in Evros by boat, near Didymoteicho, and involved Mustafa Can, his wife and their four children, as well as Yilmaz Erdogan, Fethullah Çatal, and one more man, whose name is still not known.

(...)

The informal and forced refoulement of any person is considered an act of violence and is a blatant violation of international law and the international obligations of our country."

EU: EP approves fingerprinting asylum seekers from age 6 (ANSAMed, link)

"The Civil Liberties Commission of the European Parliament on Tuesday [30 May 2017] approved fingerprinting asylum seekers as young as six in order to facilitate reunification with their parents. Under current EU law asylum seekers can be fingerprinted only from the age of 14. The measure was part of a package of amendments to an overhaul of the Eurodac fingerprint database, which were approved with 35 yes votes, 10 no votes and 8 abstentions. The MEPs also greenlighted the start of negotiations with the European Council in view of a definitive agreement. Under the changes, detention of minors should be prohibited. In addition, unaccompanied minors who disappear from reception facilities should be recorded in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and reported as missing persons. MEPs also voted to give the European police force Europol direct access to the Eurodac data base in order to prevent terrorist attacks and common crimes. In addition to fingerprints, the system should also allow the search and comparison of facial images and other personal data, such as name and identity document number when this information is available."

EP press release: Asylum: MEPs tighten internal security and improve safety for refugee children (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 June 2017: agendas and other documentation including draft conclusions heading for approval

Agendas and documentation in relation to the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 8-9 June 2017.

EU: 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe (MEDAM, link)

"How can the responsibility for refugees be distributed more fairly – globally and within the EU? And how can we curb irregular migration while expanding legal immigration to the benefit of all concerned? The large number of refugees and other migrants who have come to Europe over the last two years has caused the EU member states that received most of the asylum seekers, to reach their capacity limits. With a view to new arrivals and their long-term integration, it is now necessary to develop new and, above all, common strategies to address the migration flows to Europe.

The 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report focuses on two core Messages:

Distribute the responsibility for refugees more equitably
Extending legal immigration from non-EU Member States into EU member states
"

EU: Relocation and its Numbers – Which Role for the Courts? (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link):

"In spite of the quote attributed to Einstein “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”, a large part of the current European debate on relocation is about numbers. Out of 387,739 people requiring international protection who arrived at the borders of the European Union (EU) in 2016, 362,376 travelled by sea through unseaworthy boats and 5,082 were reported dead or missing. This year alone, 58,944 migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Italy and 7,676 in Greece, with numbers rising by the day. 73,900 refugees are stranded in Greece and the Western Balkans. In stark contrast stand the 18,418 people relocated to the other 25 EU Member States following the European Commission’s report of May 2017 on relocation, as opposed to the 160,000 relocations envisaged by the EU.

Even if the European Commission heralded the progress made, the underlying frustration with both the Commission and civil society is palpable. The Commission has already indicated that it will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties for those which have not complied with the Council decisions, noting that the legal obligation to relocate those eligible will not cease after September, hinting at its preparedness to start infringement proceedings under art. 258 Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). Judges could play a role in enforcing the relocation numbers. After providing a brief background to the relocation decisions and the underlying principles, we remind the upcoming case on relocation filed by Hungary and Slovakia at the European Court of Justice and underline a case started by the NGO “Let’s bring them here” in the Netherlands, both posing the question of what the numbers pledged actually count for."

EU: MORE FENCES: Lithuania starts erecting fence on border with Russia (The Washington Post, link):

"VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania has started building a fence on its border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in an attempt to curb smuggling and illegal immigration and strengthen the EU’s external border.

State border officials on Monday kicked off construction works of the first segment of the 130-kilometer (80-mile) -long metal fence at the Raminiskiu village in a ceremony attended by the Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas.

The installation comes complete with electronic surveillance systems and drones. It will cost some 3.6 million euros ($3.9 million) in total and is to be completed by the end of this year."

EU-CROATIA-SLOVENIA: ECJ: Advocate General considers that EU border states cannot be responsible for all asylum applications in context of mass arrivals

"[The Advocate General] reiterates the unprecedented inflow of persons into the Western Balkans and the fact that no bespoke criterion was inserted into the Dublin III Regulation to cover that situation. In the Advocate General’s opinion, if border Member States, such as Croatia, are deemed to be responsible for accepting and processing exceptionally high numbers of asylum seekers, there is a real risk that they will simply be unable to cope with the situation. This in turn could place Member States in a position where they are unable to comply with their obligations under EU and international law."

EU: European Parliament analysis: European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs: an overview (pdf):

"The interconnections between border management, migration and internal security have become more apparent recently in the context of high inflows of refugees and irregular migrants and of increasing terrorist activities in the EU. To address these challenges, the EU has taken steps to revise and develop the European information systems in order to improve the collection, processing and sharing of data among Member States and relevant EU agencies. This publication provides an overview of the existing and proposed European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs. It discusses the legal basis, the purposes, the scope of data and access, the utilisation and the proposed changes for each information system, including issues of interoperability."

EU-AFRICA: Migration: EU money in exchange for border controls in Africa (Afronline, link):

"European funds in exchange for greater border controls. Easier repatriations. Quicker expulsions. In a word: border externalisation. By now this is the main point of the external aspect of immigration and asylum policies, both nationally and internationally. The objective is clear: to get the countries of origin and the transit countries more and more involved in controlling the flows towards the European Union. Which is what Italy and Europe have chosen to do. They are doing this independently and also in the name of the European Union. The fact that this perspective on immigration policies has been intensified can be seen from the funds that have been allocated."

GREECE: The European Court of Human Rights communicated the case of B.J. (v. Greece) and has addressed the Greek government with specific questions (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

"A Syrian refugee, a Christian of Armenian origin, who lived for about a year in Turkey under the precarious ‘temporary protection’ regime without access to lawful work and housing and at risk of losing his temporary status and be deported to Syria has been under risk of readmission to Turkey in implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint statement. During his stay in Turkey, B.J. had to conceal his religious and ethnic identity for fear of being discriminated. The applicant entered Greece after the Implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement and applied for international protection. In June 2016. The competent Greek authorities issued a final decision on his request ruling his application as inadmissible considering Turkey as a safe third country for him.

RSPA’s Lawyers, members of Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) found the detainee in the Police station while at risk of readmission. RSA lawyers lodged all available domestic remedies against the rejection of his asylum claim as inadmissible as well as against the decision ordering his readmission to Turkey, requesting his release. They also requested to refer a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of the wording “international protection according to the Geneva Convention”.

B.J. and his lawyers also lodged an application before the European Court of Human Rights complaining for the violation of Article 3 and 13 of the ECHR (protection from inhuman or degrading treatment and deportation to a country where it may be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or torture)."

GREECE: Hands off from #CityPlaza and all other Refugee Squats! (Enough is Enough, link):

"At June 7th, 2017 the news came out that a court ordered the eviction of City Plaza Refugee Accommodation and two other refugee squats in Athens.

Projects like City Plaza succeed in where the Greek goverment and other EU member states fail; a self-determined life, a life with dignity for those who travelled to a putative Europe under extrem hard conditions. A life where it doesn’t matter which papers people have but instead a life where people can live together in a self-organised way.

Since the former City Plaza hotel was squatted more than a year ago, after the building was empty for several years, more than 1500 people lived in the building. 400 at any one time. Among them where many refugees and supporters from many countries. While EU member states closed their borders, sharpened their asylum laws, detaining and deporting more and more refugees, people in Athens have buildup self-organised projects like City Plaza together with refugees."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.6.17)
EU reassures Turkey over its €3bn refugee package (euractiv, link):

"The EU’s €3billion package to help refugees in Turkey will have been fully assigned to projects by the end of the year, the bloc’s envoy said Tuesday (6 June).

All the funds, part of a deal with Turkey to tackle Europe’s refugee crisis, will be fully assigned by the end of 2017, said Christian Berger, the EU ambassador to Turkey."

European Parliament: Background Information for the LIBE Delegation on Migration and Asylum in Italy - April 2017 (pdf):

"Upon request by the LIBE Committee, this paper provides some information on the current situation of asylum and migration in Italy, focusing in particular on the “hotspots” and on the asylum procedures. The paper describes the applicable legislative framework, as recently amended, as well as its practical application."

Migration Minister says 20,000-25,000 refugees to remain in Greece if EU Turkey deal continues (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greek Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said that 20 to 25 thousands refugees will remain in Greece if the EU Turkey deal stands. At the same time, he expressed concern about the increasing influx of refugees and migrants on the Greek islands.

Speaking to Skai TV on Tuesday, Mouzalas said if the EU Turkey deal “fails, things will be difficult.” He noted that after the clearing up of Idomenti camp in North Greece last year, 25,000 refugees have been transferred in one way or another outside of Greece. “We have 10,000 people with right to relocation and 6,000-7,000 with the right to family reunion,” the minister said.

He admitted that there is a problem on the islands because of the influx of migrants and refugees and that the plan for small pre-accession centers should go ahead on all islands."

Commission readies sanctions against the Visegrad Four (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission warned yesterday (6 June) it could sanction member states that don’t follow EU quota rules for asylum seekers by opening infringement proceedings against them as early as next week.

The warning came after the Czech Republic said it would not take in more migrants, citing security concerns."

EU threatens sanctions in Czech asylum row (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission threatened to take governments to court on Tuesday (6 June) following an announcement by the Czech Republic to halt asylum seeker relocation from Greece and Italy.

Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec had earlier this week said that the country would withdraw from the legally binding EU scheme, over broader concerns linked to security and the "dysfunctionality of the whole system"."

Pressure builds in Italy after G7 leaders fail to tackle refugee crisis (Guardian, link): "Taormina summit did not prove a turning point, and populist movements are growing more vocal as elections approach."

European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights: Following ECCHR complaint: Inadmissibility interviews in Greek hotspots: EU Ombudsman probes work of European Asylum Support Office (Press release, pdf):

"The European Ombudsman will examine practices by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) at “hotspots” (reception centers) in Greece. The move comes in response to a complaint about the inadmissibility decisions taken under the EU-Turkey agreement. The complaint was filed by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) with the support of Brot für die Welt in April 2017."

European Parliament Study: International protection in Greece Background information for the LIBE Committee delegation to Greece, 22-25 May 2017 (pdf):

"Greece remains under pressure with a government-reported number of 62,200 refugees and migrants still present in its territory, of whom around 14,000 on the Eastern Aegean islands and around 48,200 persons on mainland Greece."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 June 2017: Background Note (pdf):

"On Friday, ministers will take stock of the current situation on migration, in particular in the Central Mediterranean, and will discuss return policy. They will also touch upon the issue of improving the interoperability of information systems....

In the margins of the Council, the Mixed Committee (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) will take stock of work on the proposals on the SIS and on ETIAS. Exceptionally, the Schengen associated states will be present in the discussions on migration, return policy and information systems and interoperability.

Over lunch, ministers will discuss counter terrorism."
[emphasis added]

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Migration crisis in the Mediterranean: tangible improvements but additional efforts are needed (link):

"More than a year since the adoption of the EU-Turkey Statement, the implemented measures have delivered some tangible results with regard to the challenges underlying the refugee and migration crisis. While the situation in Greece has largely improved in terms of reception, registration and asylum processing, some outstanding concerns still persist and require further efforts and improvements, PACE Committee on Migration said today....

Adopting unanimously a draft resolution, based on the report prepared by Miltiadis Varvitsiotis (Greece, EPP/CD), the Committee stated that the reception conditions and asylum procedures in Italy, even if also improving, require urgent action. As with Greece, Italy has become a destination country and continuous mass arrivals risk saturating the country’s reception capacities. The question of return of rejected asylum seekers should be given immediate consideration; the large number of irregular migrants creates threats for the whole asylum system and social stability."

See: Report (pdf)

Czechs stop taking asylum seekers under EU quotas (euobserver, link):

"The Czech Republic will stop taking in asylum seekers under the EU quota scheme to distribute refugees who arrived in Greece and Italy, citing security concerns, the government said Monday (5 June). Prague protested the 2015 decision to share migrants, and has taken in only a dozen out of the 2,691 set by the quota. The Czech Republic holds elections in October and migration is a sensitive topic."

Are You Syrious (4.6.17, link)

Greece: Gaps are becoming bigger

"In Greece the situation in the governmental camps seems to worsen these days, even though this is hard to imagine. The announcement of some NGOs to leave the hotspot of Chios, this could be the case for some mainland sites too, as the budget is being cut. Another reason is, that they do not consider the situation as crisis anymore....

Obviously the Greek government is struggling with keeping even the bad conditions in some camps, as the bureaucratic part seems to be chaotic, the budget is being cut and there is no appropiate strategy to fit the needs of the people. The residents are the ones suffering because of this situation and living with this situation."

Bulgaria

"10 people died in a car accident on Trakia Motorway. Bulgarian National Television reports (via Sofia Globe), that a 16 year old drove the van, in which 17 or 18 people were. The police assumes, that the driver maybe felt asleep and crashed into the tree. It is said, that this is the worst incident with refugees involved in Bulgaria."

20 people landed on Lesvos

"The Portuguese Maritime Police, on a mission in Greece, has detected 20 people, 10 of whom are children, said the National Maritime Authority (AMN). In a statement, the AMN said that the 20 peope were detected as they had landed on the Greek coast near Molyvos (Lesvos) after crossing the Aegean Sea. The Greek authorities have already been contacted to pick up the people, who are from Afghanistan and Iraq."

Expulsions based on nationality must not repeat, Deputy PM says (Prague Monitor, link);

"Expulsions of people from their homes just because of their nationality, religion or race must never repeat, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat chairman (KDU-CSL) Pavel Belobradek said at the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft's congress today."

Report: Rate of deportations stagnating in Germany (DW, link)

"Germany's government is falling short of its goal to deport significantly more rejected asylum applicants, a newspaper reports. More than 8,000 migrants have been removed so far this year, compared with 25,000 in 2016."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.5.17- 4.6.17)
Far right raises £50,000 to target boats on refugee rescue missions in Med (The Observer, link):

"Aid charities have saved more than 6,000 from drowning this year. Now anti-Islam ‘Identitarians’ are crowdfunding to pay for vessels to chase them down...

Far-right activists are planning a sea campaign this summer to disrupt vessels saving refugees in the Mediterranean, after successfully intercepting a rescue mission last month.

Members of the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant “Identitarian” movement – largely twentysomethings often described as Europe’s answer to the American alt-right – have raised £56,489 in less than three weeks to enable them to target boats run by aid charities helping to rescue refugees..."

Twenty million in camps around the world: Migrant nation (Le Monde Diplomatique, link):

"Most places that house people on the move, for whatever reason, were set up in a hurry and meant to be temporary. The reality was quite different."

And see: The aid business (Le Monde Diplomatique, link)::

"In a world where everything must make a profit, refugees and aid to them are seen as just another opportunity for entrepreneurship."

Greece: Court acquits man who protested police brutality against migrant (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An Athens appeals court on Thursday acquitted an Athens resident who was arrested after challenging a group of police officers over their treatment of a migrant man.

Petros Kapetanopoulos was charged with resisting authority, attempting to free a prisoner and giving a false statement when he challenged officers of the DIAS motorcycle squad for using violence against a man who was already in handcuffs....".

Are You Syrious (1.6.17, link):

Feature

It took 90 innocent lives to convince German government that Afghanistan is not safe country. On Thursday afternoon, day after the big attack in Kabul, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that all the group deportations of rejected Afghan asylum seekers are suspended.

Until yesterday, Germany argued that much of Afghanistan is safe.

However, the German foreign ministry announced that they will reassess security in Afghanistan by July. Until then, Germany would carry out only “voluntary repatriations and deportations of violent extremists and criminals in individual cases,” Merkel said."

Turkey

"According to reliable sources, about 300 Syrian Kurds (some, if not all, registered) were illegally deported from Turkey to Syria on Thursday. They were being held in an army camp in Van (Eastern Turkey). Their phones were confiscated, but one of them managed to inform brother in Germany."

Greece

"This month, 717 arrivals were registered to this island. At the same period of time, 533 people were registered at Lesvos and 680 at Samos. In total, during May, 2090 people arrived in Greece, which is the highest number since November 2016....

Since the EU-Turkey deal was signed, more than 34.000 people were registered as new arrivals to Greece." [emphasis added]

Migrants: meeting of police chiefs from 9 countries June 7 (ANSA, link):

"Police chief Franco Gabrielli on June 7 will meet in Lampedusa with his counterparts from France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia and Slovenia to discuss immigration, terrorism and organized crime.

It will be the first meeting of the European Relationship for Mediterranean Security (Ermes), a gathering attended by representatives of nine countries on the Mediterranean to promote wider cooperation.

The meeting will take place in the conference hall of the airport of Lampedusa. (ANSAmed)"

EU/Greece: Pressure to Minimize Numbers of Migrants Identified As ‘Vulnerable’ (HRW, link): "European Pressure Affecting People with Disabilities, Others at Risk."

EU: Council of the European Union: New EASO Regulation & SIS:Returns, biometrics and "inquiry checks"

New EASO Regulation: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010: State of play and guidance for further work (LIMITE doc no: 9563-17, pdf): 4-column document with present state of play in trilogues and sets out issues where there is disagreement between the Council and the parliament:

"the Presidency started negotiations with the European Parliament in January 2017. To date, four informal trilogues have taken place on 7 February, 8 March, 21 March and 2 May (continued on 11 May). In preparation for these informal trilogues, numerous
technical meetings with the European Parliament have taken place.... See the attached 4-column table (Annex II) including the text agreed in political trilogues."

See also European Court of Auditors report: Migration hotspots are working, but critical issues remain, say EU Auditors (Press release, pdf):and Full report (pdf)

SIS & Returns, biometrics and "inquiry chexcks": Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (First reading) & Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... Policy debate / Progress report (LIMITE doc no: 9595-17, pdf):

"This package is composed of three separate proposals, in order to respond to the different degrees of participation in the SIS of several groups of States (the so-called 'variable geometry')...

These proposals contain a series of measures aimed at maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of the system – which is the most used of the IT systems in the area of freedom, justice and security in the EU – by technical enhancements, focusing on end-users and giving access to more national authorities and EU agencies. In particular, more categories of data, including biometrics, would be inserted, including for search purposes, and new types of alerts, including alerts on return decisions, would be inserted...

Chapter IX of the proposal on police cooperation (15814/16) introduces a new form of check, the 'inquiry check', besides the existing 'discreet check' and 'specific check'." [emphasis added]


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

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