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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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March 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.3.17)
EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Taking the ‘crisis’ out of migration: integration in the EU (press release, pdf):

"Risk of school segregation, discrimination and restrictions to political participation can form insurmountable barriers to the integration of migrants in EU society, as a new report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows. It examines integration strategies across the EU, providing clear evidence of the successes and failures of current policy and recommending changes in order to build a stronger and more cohesive Europe.

"The migrants living in the EU are not part of a 'crisis', but an integral part of our society. We need a new narrative that stresses the benefits that migrants, their children and their children’s children bring to our societies,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. "Integration is key to our security and to our democracy."

There are some 20 million non-EU citizens living in the EU. Many have settled and started families. However, despite efforts from 2004 to follow common principles to guide and improve integration across the EU, Member States have widely different approaches to guide and improve integration and inclusion across the EU."

See the report: Together in the EU: Promoting the participation of migrants and their descendants (pdf)

Libya asks EU for ships and radars to stop migrants: sources (Reuters, link):

"Libya has asked the European Union to provide it with ships and radars to help its forces stop the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean, sources in Brussels said.

They said EU foreign ministers would review the "shopping list" at a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, but would not be able to meet all the requests.

The bloc is supporting the government of Prime Minister Fayez Seraj in the hope it can gain control over the whole country after years of chaos and fighting. In exchange, it wants his help on preventing African refugees and migrants from embarking from the coast of Libya for Europe."

And see: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch News Online, February 2017)

UK: Self-harm, depression and child detention uncovered in detention centre inspection

"The number of people self-harming in one of the UK’s immigration detention centres has increased three-fold in four years, an inspection report has revealed, prompting NGOs to highlight an “urgent” need for detention reform."

EU: From Turkey to Libya: The EU Migration Partnership from Bad to Worse (Eurojust.it, link):

"This contribution will briefly analyse the MPF [Migration Partnership Framework] focusing on the EU cooperation with Turkey and Libya. In so doing, it will also discuss the Malta Declaration and the interrelated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Italy and Libya (February 2017) aimed to stem migratory flows by thwarting departures from North Africa. Whilst in 2016 the number of refugees crossing the sea to reach Europe plunged to 364,000 (one million in 2015), the number of those who died in the Mediterranean (7,495 persons) rose sharply. A significant drop in arrivals to Greece outweighed record migration to Italy, as a consequence of the EU-Turkey deal (signed in March 2016) and tighter border controls in the Western Balkans.

UK: Charges brought against 17 Stansted deportation flight activists

"A total of 17 people have been charged following a protest at Stansted Airport that prevented a deportation flight taking off.

The nine women and eight men were each charged with obstructing or disrupting a person engaged in lawful activity and organising or taking part in a demonstration likely to interfere or obstruct the major Essex airport."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-29.3.17)
Visegrad Four slam ‘blackmail’ by Brussels on migrants (euractiv, link):

"Leaders from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland (the Visegrád Four) rejected yesterday (28 March) what they called Brussels’ use of “blackmail and diktat” over planned resettlements of migrants across the EU.

Long opposed to sharing the burden of hosting mainly Syrian refugees, the four eastern EU states ruled out any links between accepting them and future disbursements of EU funds."

Austria says wants exemption from EU migrant relocation system (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Austria will seek an exemption from having to accept more asylum-seekers under an EU relocation system, it said on Tuesday, arguing that it has already taken in its fair share during Europe's migration crisis.

The move is a new blow to the system that would cover only a fraction of migrant arrivals to the European Union and that has barely been implemented because of opposition led by Eastern European countries including Poland and Hungary."

And see: Austria will double the amount it pays refugees who volunteer to leave (The Local.at, link)

Are You Syrious (29.3.17, link)

FEATURE: Europe’s silent plan for sending people off to danger unravels with mass deportations

"20 Afghan nationals have been gathered in one of Sweden’s 5 detention centers in Kållered, outside Gothenburg, for tonights’ deportation. The detention center had been shut down for visitors since the night before but protesters had gathered outside, lighting candles and holding signs. Reportedly, the protesters were outnumbered by the police even though hundreds of both local people and those who had traveled from different parts of the country have gathered during the day."

SEA

"At least 811 lives were lost since the beginning of the year in the sea, on the dangerous way to Europe, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado reports."

Hungarian detention centres ready to imprison hundreds

"A statement by the interior ministry said the country’s prison service installed 324 shipping containers at two camps, all for the purpose of detention of everyone except the unaccompanied minors under the age of 14. As announced, all asylum-seekers entering Hungary as well as those already in the country will be confined in camps while their applications are processed. That includes the several hundred people who have so far been lodged in refugee camps inside the country. That means that they face relocation to the border detention camps."

Katainen: For cohesion as well as migration, solidarity is not a one-way street (euractiv, link):

"Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen reminded the Visegrád countries today (28 March) that the solidarity they expect from the EU’s cohesion policy also applies to the refugee crisis."

UPDATED: EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 27-28 March 2017 Brussels:
Press release: Final 27-28-3-17 (pdf) Agenda "B" Points (for discussion) Agenda "A" Points (Non-legislaitve, adopted without discussion

EU should stop delivering visas to African officials over migrants: Germany (New Europe, link):

"The European Union should consider restricting visas for senior officials from African and other states which refuse to take back illegal immigrants from Europe, Germany’s interior minister said.

Thomas de Maiziere said in Brussels the EU needed to use all the levers at its disposal to ensure countries cooperated with Europe’s efforts to deport those arriving who were not entitled to asylum.

Last Thursday, Thomas de Maiziere appeared in front of the German parliament to argue for a new draft law that would impose stricter rules on asylum seekers. De Maiziere said that the German public would only support Germany’s generous asylum policies if the government enforced deportation regulations and protected German society against potential threats from migrants."

Hungary ‘ready to detain all migrants’ (euractiv, link):

"Hungary said yesterday (27 March) it was ready to begin detaining asylum-seekers in camps on its southern border with Serbia after passing a law this month that has drawn criticism from rights groups and the UN.

Hungary’s parliament approved on 7 March the systematic detention of all asylum-seekers in camps on the border composed of converted shipping containers."

The Trauma of Facing Deportation (NYT, link): "In Sweden, hundreds of refugee children have fallen unconscious after being informed that their families will be expelled from the country."

EU Commission Should Call Out Hungary’s Asylum Abuses (HRW, link): "Top EU Official Should Use Visit to Press Budapest to Comply with International Law."

EU worried migrants will shop around for best return deal (Politico, link): "The amount of financial incentive offered by EU countries varies considerably."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25-27.3.17)
Relocation of refugees in EU has failed so Council turns to draconian returns policy - including the targeting of children for detention

The Council Presidency is working on a plan to "significantly improve the return system within the EU" and "improve cooperation on readmission".

See: EU: Council of the European Union: Return Policy: enhancing effectiveness a) Commission Recommendation on making returns more effective when implementing the Directive 2008/115/EC b) Commission Communication on a more effective return policy in the European Union - A renewed Action Plan = Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 7112-17.pdf)

A policy poposed proposed on 1 June 2015 by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos in a Letter to EU Home Affairs Ministers which presents a dehumanised portrayal of refugees and shows how to by-pass three detention related provisions of the Returns Directive.

Spain: Numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in Spain by boat on the increase

According to the information received by the delegation of Associación Pro Derechos Humanos Andalucía in Cádiz, it was confirmed on the morning of 21 March 2017 that two dinghies carrying more than 50 people arrived on the coast of the Bay of Cádiz. They arrived without the need for any intervention by the authorities and, according to the Red Cross, it is believed that there have been no injuries or people lost at sea.....

Mouzalas warns Greece can’t cope with more migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas raised the alarm this weekend that Greece has reached saturation point in terms of refugee numbers.

In an interview with Germany’s Spiegel magazine, Mouzalas said it would be a mistake on the part of the country’s European partners to burden Greece further by implementing the Dublin agreement."

Greece; Ministry refugee statistics (27.3.17, pdf): 75 refugees arrived by 10.00. 14,163 on the Islands and 62,166 in Greece.

Refugee crisis in the Mediterranean: 'The smugglers' calculations are obvious' (DW, link):

"Civilian sea rescue missions like the German organization "Jugend Rettet" are trying to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean, but it's a mammoth task, as huge numbers are still risking their lives to make the crossing."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Regulation: Latest draft position: Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection (pdf): 163 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"This document contains compromise proposals suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles, except for the following items placed between square brackets and which will be discussed as a later stage...

Suggested modifications are indicated as follows: - new text compared to the Commission proposal is in bold - new text compared to the previous version of this document is in bold underlined - deleted text is in strikethrough."

Are You Syrious (25.3.17, link)

One-third of children in Afghanistan unable to attend school

"Save the Children reported that a third of the children of Afghanistan are unable to attend school. 3.7 million children are thus put at risk for numerous problems, from child marriage to recruitment by armed groups. There are a number of factors responsible for this problem, chief among them is ongoing war in many parts of the country and the widespread poverty that forces young children to work just to feed the family. Save the Children also estimates that 400,000 children will be forced to drop out of school this year alone.

The problems faced by Afghanistan are compounded by Pakistan’s forcible deportation of the Afghan refugees who have lived in the country since the Soviet Union’s war in the country, circa 1980–88. 600,000 Afghans were expelled in 2016, and it is expected that an additional one million will join them in 2017."

Deportation to Afghanistan to take place on March 29

"The flight is supposed to take place at 1:30 in the morning, with an unknown quantity of people leaving from Vienna to return to their war-torn homeland. Please warn anybody who you think might be affected!"

Can Kenya ensure national security while still admitting refugees? (The Star, link):

"Kenya is no stranger to this struggle. Situated in a conflict-prone zone it’s hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees from a range of countries including Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

This benevolence has become a particular challenge with the rise of terrorist attacks. The most shocking were the Westgate Mall attack in 2013 and the Garissa university attack in 2015. They were carried out by Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group based in Somalia.

The government used the attacks to justify the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp and to revoke the prima facie status of Somali refugees."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.3.17)
European Commission: Report on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2016/369 on the provision of emergency support within the Union (COM 131-17, pdf):

European Commission Factsheet published on 13 January, 2015 alerted the EU in “Questions and Answers: Smuggling of Migrants in Europe" and the EU response that: In 2014, more than 276,000 migrants irregularly entered the EU, which represents an increase of 155% compared to 2013. Syrians together with Eritreans were the largest group apprehended at EU external borders trying to enter the EU in an irregular manner.”

This report notes that: "In 2015 and 2016, close to 1.1 million persons, who may be in need of international protection, and irregular migrants (hereafter referred to as 'refugees and migrants') made their way to the European Union (EU) along the Eastern Mediterranean route."

So why did it take until 2 March 2016 for the Commission to adopt a proposal on the provision of emergency support within the Union. (the Regulation was adopted by the Council on 15 March 2016)? Why was the "experience of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department" not immediately activated at the beginning of 2015?

It should also be noted that:

"Greece was the only Member State that met the two 'eligibility' conditions set out in the Regulation:

the exceptional scale and impact of the disaster give rise to severe wide-ranging humanitarian consequences in one or more Member States; and no other instrument available to Member States and to the Union is sufficient.

As a result, all the actions funded under this Regulation to date were exclusively aimed at tackling the humanitarian situation in Greece."

Are You Syrious (23.3.17, link)


Another Mediterranean tragedy

"Up to 250 men, women and children coming from Africa are feared dead on the Mediterranean tonight. It is reported the people have probably drowned after a rescue boat found two partially submerged rubber dinghies off Libya, a spokeswoman for the NGO which operates the vessel said today. Laura Lanuza of Spanish charity Pro-Activa Open Arms said its boat had recovered five floating corpses close to the dinghies, about 15 miles off the Libyan coast. The overall number is yet to be determined, but it is already certain it will yet again be a devastating one."

Lesvos

"One boat carrying 18 people, including 4 children, came in on North East coast of Lesvos at 1AM today in a very difficult area. Everyone is okay, a local volunteer reported.

There were 77 new registrations on Chios, 41 on Samos, making a total of 112. The number of arrivals remains high, 758 people came since last Friday alone, most frequently on Chios."

SERBIA

"The spokesperson of the Serbian Defence Ministry said that in the last few days, there has been an increase in the migrant pressure from Bulgaria and Macedonia towards Serbia, reports Novinite."

DENMARK: Government proposes law change in case of “emergency situation”

"Denmark’s government came out with a new law change proposal which would allow the country to close the borders for refugees, including unaccompanied children, due to exceptional circumstances, reports The Local. This would apply in case of a “crisis situation”, a phrase often used without further clarification, in which case the Dublin Regulation would not apply.

" Council of Europe calls on Hungary to reconsider new law that risks exposing migrant children to sexual exploitation (Press release, link):

"In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, published today,Claude Janizzi, the Chairperson of the Council of Europe Lanzarote Committee expressed hisconcern that the adopted law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing thestrictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – will negatively impacton the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention, to which Hungary is party, in mainly twoways:·

Unaccompanied migrant children between 14 and 18 will be considered adults during theemergency crisis and will not benefit from child protection measures, including theappointment of a guardian;·

These children will be placed in transit zones with a greater risk of becoming victims ofsexual abuse or exploitation."

See: Letter (pdf)

A huge number of migrants leave Bulgaria (Border Monitoring Bulgaria, link):

"Recently, the State Agency for Refugee (SAR) and the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior (MoI) stated in a report that already thousands of people had left Bulgaria, this year. In January 2017, more than 2210 migrants had already left the country and in February 903 people were reported to be ‚disappeared‘. In March more than 400 people left Bulgaria."

The Asylum System in Spain: Guaranteed Right to Protection? (link)

"Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled central Barcelona on February 18th to demand that European governments fulfil their obligations. They demanded compliance with the relocation quotas from Greece and Italy. But they called for more, insisting that the right to asylum must be guaranteed with safe means of entry, that asylum procedures should be fair and consistent with international law and that reception conditions should be dignified. Thus far, the Spanish government has relocated just 900 of the nearly 16,000 asylum seekers agreed in September 2015. That is a long way from where it should be. We know little about the Spanish asylum system, what awaits those who attempt to arrive by themselves and those who are already here. Is the right to international protection guaranteed?"

Erdogan says Turkey will review EU ties ‘from A to Z’ (euractiv, link);

"Turkey will review all political and administrative ties with the European Union after an April referendum, including a deal to curb illegal migration, but will maintain economic relations with the bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday (23 March)."

EU roadmap for Libya to stem flow of sea migrants - Libyan prime minister asked for rescue and emergency equipment to curb illegal migration across its border into Europe (aljazeera.com, link):

"Ongoing consultations between the UN-backed government in Tripoli, representatives of the interior ministers of Italy and other eight European countries aim at bolstering an agreement signed in February, when Libya agreed to tackle the smuggling of migrants into Europe.

EU Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and interior ministers from Algeria and Tunisia also attended the meeting....

In the meantime, Rome has been pursuing a solution to the political stalemate in Libya, in the hope that the UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), signed in 2015, would finally take off and help the Tripoli government establish control over its borders and as a result over migrants routes across its territory.

But the deadlock between Tripoli and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) is far from over. Under the influence of renegade General Khalifa Haftar, the HoR is refusing to acknowledge the UN-sponsored Government of National Accord(GNA) formed by Serraj, who also heads the Presidential Council."

More than 200 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean (BBC News, link):

"More than 200 migrants are feared dead after five bodies were discovered off the Libyan coast, a Spanish aid organisation says.

Proactiva said the bodies were found floating near two capsized boats which could each hold more than 100 people.

The group's Laura Lanuza said the five they pulled from the Mediterranean were young men who appeared to have drowned."

Belgium criticises aid groups for saving lives (News That Moves, link):

"From Reuters: Belgium’s migration minister, Theo Francken, has said aid organisations are causing more deaths by saving migrants that try to cross the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa to Italy.Theo Francken went on Twitter to criticize Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for operating ships near the Libyan coast that he says only encourage smugglers...."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.3.17)
EU: Commission: Latest figures on: Relocations from Greece and Italy (22.3.17, pdf) and Hotspots (20.3.17, pdf)

Enough is enough: deaths on the western Balkans route (IRR News, link):

"A public push is needed to stop refugee and migrant deaths on the western Balkans route. IRR News continues its investigation into violations and deaths at EU borders, focusing on seven deaths in the Serbian, Hungarian and Bulgarian border zones."

EU:Justice and Home Affairs Council 27-28 March, 2017: Background Note (pdf) Substantial items on refugees, migration and asylum.

Asylum seekers protest against the problematic asylum procedures in Finland

"Iraqi and Afghan asylum seekers in Finland have been protesting against the unequal asylum processes and faulty asylum decisions for one month in central Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The asylum processes and decisions have proved to be highly problematic when it comes to using interpreters, accepting evidence, evaluating personal threat and the safety of the country of origin among other things. The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) refuses to publicly admit these problems, although in a private meeting with the demonstrators Migri has admitted making several mistakes in the cases of asylum seekers who arrived in Finland in 2015 and after. Meanwhile, Finland continues to forcibly deport people to unsafe circumstances."

Court ruling blocks Libya-Italy MoU on stemming illegal immigration (Libya Observer, link):

"Tripoli Appeals Court's administrative division ruled Wednesday to block the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Libya and Italy to fight the growing influx of illegal immigrants and the issue of human trafficking as well as to help Libya secure its southern borders.

"The MoU will be blocked urgently until the lawsuit is tackled in full." The court ruling stated.

Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU (euobserver, link):

" this particular deal has come at an incredibly huge political price for the EU and its member states, notably Germany.

From the agreement's inception, Turkey has been trying to use it as a card to exert political pressure against the EU, and has more than once threatened to call it off if it did not get visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in return. ..."

Ill-Treatment Of Migrants In Greek Law Enforcement – Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg? (EU Migration Law, link):

Nikolaos Sitaropoulos, Head of Division and Deputy to the Director, Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.All views expressed herein are strictly personal.

"A number of reports by international human rights organisations, like CPT and Amnesty International, have recorded numerous cases of ill-treatment, including torture, suffered by migrants while under the control of Greek law enforcement officials. Despite the frequent reporting of such incidents there have not been any major cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (‘Strasbourg Court’ or ‘the Court’) until recently."

EU: Humanitarian Visas, still an open question (balcanicaucaso.org, link):

"The recent verdict of the European Court of Justice comes as a blow to those who want to see safe and legal access to the EU for refugees. But the reform of the Code on Visas offers another chance for change, and the European Parliament is keen on not letting it get away."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.3.17)
HUNGARY-SERBIA: Police violence against migrants and refugees at Hungarian-Serbian border

A video by the Serbian volunteer group Fresh Response has collected the testimonies of numerous people who have suffered violence and mistreatment at the hands of Hungarian police whilst trying to cross into the country from Serbia. The film includes numerous accounts of beatings with batons, the use of dogs and pepper spray, and the confiscation of shoes and clothes in freezing conditions. The group argues that many of the testimonies describe "acts that can be only seen as torture," and that "the enormous scale and clear pattern of violence leave no doubt: these are not just rare and isolated acts of brutality."

EU: Statistics on asylum application in 2016 published: 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers registered

"In 2016, 1 204 300 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), a number slightly down compared with 2015 (when 1 257 000 first time applicants were registered) but almost double that of 2014 (562 700)

Syrians (334 800 first time applicants), Afghans (183 000) and Iraqis (127 000) remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2016, accounting for slightly more than half of all first time applicants."

See: Asylum in the EU Member States - 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2016 (press release, pdf)

And: Asylum statistics - statistics explained (pdf): "This article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and decisions on asylum applications in the European Union (EU) ."

EU: Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions' (EUobserver, link):

"Children who trekked alone to reach Europe often find themselves living in "abysmal conditions" upon arrival and are being denied free legal aid.

The findings are part of a thematic report, released on Wednesday (22 March) by Strasbourg-based human rights overseer the Council of Europe.

Spearheaded by Tomas Bocek, the report says children left to fend for themselves are sometimes found begging in Turkey and, in some cases, arrested and detained."

See the report: Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children: Prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees (pdf)

FRANCE: At the crossroads: homeless and undocumented people in Paris since the Calais evictions (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Porte de la Chapelle is a gathering place for the ‘new’ migrants and refugees of Paris – the ones people mean when referring to the ‘crisis’ – although it’s not the only one. Across the city there is an untold number of people in transit. Pushed back from the UK border by the Calais evictions last October, many hope to move on to Germany or Sweden, or simply seek to somehow negotiate the obstacles of the over-stretched French asylum system and the Dublin Agreement. If your fingerprints have been taken in another European country, you have little chance of remaining ‘officially’ in France.

Some have family or help or a place to stay. Some have been housed by the state or a charity, or after too much hardship and exposure have decided to take their chances in the wildly varying ‘Centres d’Accueil’ outside of the capital, the reception centres to which many of the Calais people were taken. But far too many are sleeping rough in the grey Paris winter, living from day to day."

GREECE: You can't evict a movement: a story of squatting and migration in Athens (OpenDemocracy, link):

"An inside look at one of the most remarkable stories to come out of Greece's ongoing economic and refugee crisis - the intersection of the anarchist and migrant solidarity movements in Athens."

And see: Greece's Anarchists Are Taking Better Care of Refugees Than the Government (VICE, link)

Balkan migration route is ‘not closed’ (EurActiv, link):

"Roadblocks set up across the Balkans have caused a backlog in Greece and other transit countries. In its recently released annual report, EU border agency Frontex said that although an “effective closure of the Balkan route” had been achieved in spring 2016, it did not stop migration completely. In 2016, 382,000 illegal migrants arrived in Europe from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

In its Risk Analysis for 2017, Frontex noted that the route has shifted west and more sea crossings are being made. The report warned of “growing migratory pressure from Africa, mainly on the route from Libya to Italy”. As a result, Italy recorded its highest number of arrivals last year, with numbers topping 182,000.

The number of vulnerable people making the journey, including women and children, has also increased. Legal reunification of refugee families with those that have already made it north reduced in Germany in 2016.

Refugee protection organisations and migration researchers feel vindicated by the numbers and figures related to the alleged closure of the Balkan route. “Migration cannot be stopped so long as the reasons that cause it are still there and which force people to leave their homelands: including wars, poverty, overexploitation of the environment,” Sabine Hess told Der Tagesspiegel."

EU official: we can make members accept refugees (Associated Press, link):

"The European Union's commissioner for migration says there are ways to make all EU members states comply with the program of relocation of migrants among them.

Dimitris Avramopoulos made the statement Tuesday in Warsaw, where he is visiting the growing European border guard agency, Frontex.

...Without naming Poland, Avramopoulos said the EU has the "tools, the means and the power" to convince all members to comply and will make an assessment of response by the end of September. He mentioned no sanctions."

EU: European Parliament briefing: on use of the Schengen Information System for return purposes

"The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a large-scale information database that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in the Schengen states. It enables competent authorities, such as police and border guards, to enter and consult alerts on certain categories of wanted or missing persons and lost or stolen property. In December 2016, the European Commission put forward a legislative package containing several proposals aimed at responding more effectively to new migration and security challenges. One of these proposals is focused on extending the use of the SIS for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. In particular, this proposal introduces an obligation for Member States to enter all return decisions in the SIS. The main aims of the proposal are to enhance the enforcement of the EU return policy and to reduce the incentives to irregular migration to the EU. The other parts of the package concern making more effective use of SIS in border checks and allowing access for law enforcement purposes."

See: Use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

HUNGARY: US human rights report highlights mistreatment of migrants and refugees

A report by the US State Department raises a number of serious issues with regar to the situation of human rights in Hungary, noting in particular "the government’s handling of migrants and asylum seekers seeking to transit the country, which was marked by several reports of physical abuse and xenophobic rhetoric. International organizations and human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to voice criticism of the systematic erosion of the rule of law; potential violations of international humanitarian law; weakening of checks and balances, democratic institutions, and transparency; and intimidation of independent societal voices since 2010."

See: US Department of State: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Hungary (pdf)

And an overview: US State Department Report Assesses the State of Human Rights in Hungary in 2016 (Hungary Today, link)

EU: Asylum Information Database: new reports on Germany, Ireland and Sweden

New reports have been published by the Asylum Information Database on the legal situation in Germany, Ireland and Sweden, three countries that have all recently made significant changes to their asylum systems.

UN: Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration

"The present report, which was prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration, makes recommendations for the better management of migration through international cooperation, and proposes ways of strengthening the engagement of the United Nations on migration, as noted by the General Assembly in its resolutions 70/302 and 71/1."

Dealbreaker: EU migration policy causes more harm and chaos one year after EU-Turkey deal (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Agreed on 18 March 2016, the EU-Turkey deal drew a line in the sand, after which all migrants and refugees who crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands, and who did not apply for asylum in Greece or whose claim was refused, would be returned to Turkey.

The EU-Turkey deal has not lived up to its promise of ending irregular migration and has, in the meantime, caused enormous suffering. People are languishing in horrible conditions across the EU, record numbers of people still die at sea, or are trapped in Turkey, Libya and beyond. Over 60,000 people have been left in limbo in Greece, and a further 8,000 stranded in Serbia. Relocation numbers remain simply pitiful, with less than 10,000 relocations from Greece as of March 2017. Levels of trauma, depression and suicide among migrants and refugees have increased.

In a recent case brought before the European Court of Justice, the EU even argued that it cannot be held responsible for any consequences of the deal because it was “just a press release”. So essentially, a document of “no legal value” is causing unjustifiable human cost, drastically changing policy and promising billions of euros to Turkey for keeping its end of the deal."

Book: The Role of the State in Migration Control: The Legitimacy Gap and Moves towards a Regional Model (Brill, link):

"This research questions the seemingly ossified premise that states have an absolute discretion to control international migration. Applying Max Weber’s theories of legitimacy, it determines that while states have certain traditionally legitimate functions, migration control, as distinct from the determination of citizenship, is not one such function. Measures of migration control must thus be justified on a rational-legal basis, that is, on a minimal evidential basis.

Acknowledging the many obstacles states face in carrying out this legitimising exercise, it is suggested that a supranational approach at the regional level is the most sustainable long-term model, with an ultimate aim of achieving inter-regional cooperation on migration management on the basis of equality between regions."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.3.17)
EU- AFRICA-LIBYA: Council of the European Union: EU targets Libyan refugees

Migration policy: implementation: - External aspects: contribution of Ministers of Interior = Discussion paper (LIMITE doc no: 7110-17, pdf): Following the 3 February 2017 Malta Declaration (pdf) the Council Presidency reports that "its implementation has now taken off." The aim is to cut or halt refugees arriving in the EU via Libya and the same for the neighbouring states to Libya. This includes:

"Supporting IOM in significantly stepping up assisted voluntary return activities...

"IOM would need to recruit more staff, post international staff in Tripoli (IOM office planned to be open by the end of March 2017) and more importantly, assist the country of origin's consuls in neighbouring countries to increase their capacity to issue travel documents. This is currently considered the main bottleneck in carrying out assisted voluntary returns from Libya." [emphasis added]

And: "Helping to reduce the pressure on Libya's land borders, keeping track of alternative routes and possible diversion of smugglers' activities as well as deepening dialogue and cooperation on migration with all countries neighbouring Libya."

Also from the Valletta Plan:

"enhancing adequate reception capacities and conditions in Libya and neighbouring countries for migrants;
- improving the socio-economic situation and resilience of host communities in Libya and neighbouring countries;
- enhancing border management capacity on Libya's land borders.."
[emphasis added]

"Reception capacities" equals holding centres.

See also: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch): With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management". See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

European, North Africa ministers seek to curb Libya migrant flows (euractiv, link):

"Interior ministers mainly from the central Mediterranean region met in Rome yesterday (20 March) to ramp up efforts to curb migration from Libya amid a sharp rise in the number of people trying to cross to Europe.

One year after a controversial deal with Turkey to stop migrants setting out across the Aegean Sea for Greece, the European Union is seeking to reach a similar accord with conflict-hit Libya, despite fierce opposition from human rights campaigners."

Interior ministers from Algeria, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Malta, Slovenia, Switzerland and Tunisia took part in the meeting, along with European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The group released a declaration of intent which limited itself to promising increased coordination and information-sharing in a bid to tackle the root causes of migration, as well as combat smuggling and strengthen borders."

See : Declaration of Intent (Italian, pdf) and see: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the Ministerial Conference on the Central Mediterranean Migration Route in Rome (pdf)

Greek Ministry: Refugee statistics: 21.3.17 (pdf) Also states that in 2017: Voluntary returns: 1,308 and Departures to Turkey: 110.

Are You Syrious (20.3.17, link)

Feature: New deal, new humanitarian nightmare?

"This morning, around 9.30, 116 people, including 15 women and a 5 year old child, landed in Molo Favarolo, Lampedusa. By the end of the day, 560 people arrived. They are from Cameroon, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea Bissau.

Late this evening, 946 people were saved by Aquarius and on their way to Catania, Sicily.

Yesterday, March 19, 3,000 people were rescued. This increase is, according to some sources, due to the good weather. All of the new arrivals will try to continue their journey, once they rest. However, in Italy, the situation for migrants and refugees who are coming is not improving. There is hardly any accommodation for people, not enough volunteers, and the state is not in the capacity to take care of all the people who are arriving almost daily....."

Bulgaria

"According to data gathered by the Bulgaria Border Monitoring, currently, there are three detention centers in this country: one in Busmantsi, one Lyubimets and one in Elhovo.

In February 2017, the current number of people who were living in “closed-type“ centers was 984. Also, there are six refugee centers, three in Sofia and three in the rest of the country."

Hungary

The government announced they will appeal the first-instance ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) finding the state for wrongly detaining and deporting two Bangladeshi asylum-seekers in 2015.

The Court ruled last week that by taking this measure, Hungary had violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The court ordered that Hungary has to pay to the petitioners 18,705 euros each in compensation and legal fees. This ruling could pave the way for every asylum seeker in Hungary to seek recourse in Strasbourg.

According to the official numbers, a total of 7,204 people had tried to enter Hungary so far this year. Out of this number, 4,472 were arrested and 2,740 pushed back. At the same time, 1,134 asylum applications were submitted, while 54 applicants have been granted international protection, 13 refugee status, 36 have been given subsidiary protection and 5 have been granted ‘tolerated stay’ status."

Europe Migrant Crisis: German Officials To Use Speech Analysis Software To Screen Refugee (IBT, link):

"German officials plan to screen refugees using an automated software that analyzes dialects, according to German paper Die Welt via Deutsche Welle.

The speech analysis system would help officials in reviewing an applicant's sources of origin. Technology in the software is the same used by financial firms, such as banks and insurance companies, to verify people over the phone.

"The idea is to record a separate speech sample from asylum seekers and to carry out an automatic dialect analysis," Julian Detzel, from the BAMF told Die Welt ."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.3.17)
Greece: Sharp increase in migrants reaching Aegean islands from Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link):

"New arrivals to the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos have raised the number of migrants landing in Greece from neighboring Turkey since last Thursday to 566, government figures showed on Monday.

The figure represents a significant increase compared to arrivals in the rest of March and for the whole of February.

In the past four days, 195 migrants landed on Lesvos, 341 on Chios and 30 on Samos."

UK: House of Commos: EU External Affairs Sub-Committee: Committee follows up on Operation Sophia and Libya (link):

"The EU External Affairs Sub-Committee holds a double evidence session with Joseph Walker-Cousins from the Institute for Statecraft and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a follow-up to its previous inquiry on Operation Sophia."

In Rome, EU and North African ministers hold 'migration summit' (DW, link)

"EU and North African ministers are to meet in Rome to discuss strategies for curbing the number of migrants coming to Europe. Thousands of people have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in dangerous boats.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is to meet with interior ministers from a number of EU countries and from three Northern African states on Monday in Rome.

The interior ministers of Libya, Tunisia and Algeria are to meet with their German, Italian, French, Austrian, Maltese, Slowenian and Swiss counterparts. The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is also attending.

Italy's Interior Minister Marco Minniti wants to form a permanent "contact group" between European and North African countries that addresses migration issues. Following the closure of the so-called Balkan route and an EU deal with Turkey, more migrants have attempted the hazardous route from North Africa across the Mediterranean towards Italy."

Greek Ministry: Refugee statistics 20.3.17 (pdf) Records 56 people arriving in Lesvos and 24 in Chios. Total of 14,762 on the Islands and 62,434 in Greece.

Bulgaria says ready to reinforce border with Turkey (New Europe, link):

"Bulgarian officials say they are prepared to increase patrols and complete a razor-wire fence along its border with Turkey to prevent any new flood of migrants.

“We are ready to protect the country’s border in the way provided for in our legislation,” Defense Minister Stefan Yanev told AFP news agency during a visit Malko Tarnovo, a town on Bulgaria’s southeastern border with Turkey.

He added, however, that the border for now is calm and that illegal border crossing attempts have declined over the past two months."

Greece: Thousands of asylum claims pending despite influx drop (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Thousands of asylum applications remain pending even though the influx of undocumented migrants into Greece from neighboring Turkey has plummeted over the past year.

A total of 2,627 migrants landed on the islands of the eastern Aegean from Turkey between January 1 and March 5 this year, according to government data. In the same period last year, that number was 121,426."

UNHCR: (17.3.17): 2017: 15,556 arrivals in Italy, 2,945 in Greece, 1,000 in Spain. 537 dead/missing.

Are You Syrious (18,3,17, link)

FEATURE: Enough is enough!

"Tens of thousands of people all around Europe went out on the streets today to repeat that EU - Turkey deal is not what they want.

The deal was signed on March 18 and became operation two days after, but since the very beginning, it is surrounded by criticisms coming from human rights groups, activists and even academics. It did not help. Even more, EU leaders are planing to replicate this type of deal with other countries, like Libya, Sudan and Niger."

Greece: New arrivals

"More people arrived today to Greek islands, and were immediately taken to detention, in some cases with no possibility to get dry clothes from volunteers. Today, 102 new arrivals were registered on Chios, from two boats. Over the last 48 hours, more than 280 people arrived to the island. CEST group at Chios need help to keep up helping to new arrivals and those on the islands, where many people are still living in tents."

Turkey Interior Min: Let’s send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe to “blow its mind’ (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said Turkey could send 15,000 refugees and migrants to Europe to shock the Europeans. The threat follows the recent diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Germany and the Netherlands that stemmed from the latter’s decision to bar Turkish ministers from staging rallies there.

“We have a readmission deal. I’m telling you Europe, do you have that courage? If you want, we’ll send the 15,000 refugees to you that we don’t send each month and blow your mind. You have to keep in mind that you can’t design a game in this region in spite of Turkey,” Soylu said at an event late on March 16, referring to a readmission deal between the European Union and Turkey to return migrants to Turkey who have illegally crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece."

Romania and Italy unite to halt abuse of women migrants (Observer, link): "Governments act after the Observer exposed exploitation of workers in Sicily."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.3.17)
Greek verdict hangs over EU-Turkey migrant deal (euobserver, link):

"Once again, the EU's migrant deal with Turkey hangs in the balance, but this time from a high court in Athens.

The legal stakes in Greece underpin a sharp rise in antagonistic rhetoric between Ankara and EU capitals. Caught in the middle are the thousands of migrants stuck in misery on the Greek islands.

Agreed on 18 March one year ago, the deal risks unravelling if the Greek court's conservative judges decide Turkey is not a safe third country. Lawyers representing two Syrian asylum seekers have until Friday (17 March) to send them written evidence. Both Syrians had applied for asylum in Greece. Both applications failed. Neither want to go back to Turkey. "

Eric Kempson reporting from north Lesvos (17.3.17, FB link):

"most people don't understand that many boats arrive on the islands nearly every night, I only report the boats coming into Lesvos, Last night so far 172 people came in on the islands, this was one post we received today, Some disturbing news from the people from the first boat this morning.

Turkish try to flip the boat, everyone was soaked. They take seven men from the boat back to turkey. Somehow the boat manage to brake lose, and continued towards the frontex boat standing in Greek waters waiting. The Turkish coast Guard did perhaps not go after the boat because Frontex was present, but not sure. A boat filled with children, and this is how they try to handle it..."

Note: The official Greek Ministry reports do not record 172 refugees arriving: Statistics (pdf): 14,018 on the isalnds and 62,434 in the whole of Greece.

Majority of arrivals in Greece from Africa, Pakistan (News That Moves, link):

"New data from Greek Police and Coast Guard, as quoted by Greek daily Kathimerini, shows that the majority of migrants and refugees who have recently arrived on Greek islands by sea are no longer Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan nationals.

Kathimerini reported that the majority of migrants that have recently crossed from Turkey to Greece’s Aegean islands come from a variety of African countries, including Algeria, Congo, Morocco, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia, as well as from Pakistan and Bangladesh."

EU: Council of the European Union: Humanitarian Visas: Court case

Humanitarian visas - Reference for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code (Case C-638/16 PPU, X and X v. Belgium) (LIMITE doc no: 7271-17, pdf):

"On 7 March 2017, the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) gave its judgment in Case C-638/16 PPU, Humanitarian visas. It concerns the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of Regulation 810/2009 (Visa Code) and of Articles 4 (on prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 18 (on right to asylum) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and more particularly the question of whether Member States were obliged by the Charter to deliver visas of limited territorial validity under Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code to a family of Syrian nationals having requested such visas at the Belgian consulate in Lebanon with a view to apply for international protection in Belgium. As the preliminary ruling was about the interpretation of the Visa Code, and not about its validity, the Council did not intervene. This Case had raised a lot of concern among Member States, 14 of which intervened in support of Belgium......

One can draw from this judgment that should the EU decide to adopt harmonising legislation regarding the issuance of long-term visas or the examination of asylum or international protection applications submitted in the territory of third countries, the relevant authorities of the representations of Member States in these countries would fall within the scope of EU law and therefore within the scope of the Charter of Fundamental Rights"

Ireland pushes Trump on illegal Irish immigrants (New Europe, link):

"Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, during a visit to Washington to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, urged US President Donald Trump to help Irish people living in the US illegally, saying they just want to “make America great”.":

EU to find missing migrant children with fingerprinting (euobserver, link):

"EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos recently told the European Parliament that there is a need to "fully" use the existing instruments to report and record child disappearances, suggesting they were currently not.

He said missing children should be recorded in the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is the only EU database used for the purpose of recording missing persons. He also proposed that photographs and fingerprints should be attached to SIS entries...

Omid Mahmoudi, the founder of Ensamkommandes Forbund, an association for unaccompanied minors in Sweden, told EUobserver that increased fingerprinting could be counterproductive. "It's the same kind of argument as saying that closing the borders would prevent children from drowning. Children go missing because they are fighting to survive," he argued.

Mahmoudi, who came to Sweden as a lone minor, said he paid smugglers so they would bring him to safety without being stopped on the way. "Instead of asking why children disappear, we are creating further measures that scare them. Children are afraid of being fingerprinted, even six-year-olds are afraid of being deported if they are caught," he said.

"Besides, we already have fingerprints for most missing children, and nobody is looking for them," he said."

The long wait of young unaccompanied migrants in Italy (Open MIgration, link):

"Unaccompanied foreign minors in Italy: the underestimated numbers, the great problem of verifying age, reception centres that don’t work and the subsequent flight from those structures. Some data and considerations as we reflect on a complex phenomenon that needs more adequate responses."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.3.17)
EU: New measures going through on what is known is as the "Package" on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS):

1. Criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person. Recast

2. Eurodac system for the comparison of fingerprints of applicants for international protection and for identifying illegally staying third-country nationals or stateless persons; requests for the comparison with Eurodac data. Recast

3. European Union Agency for Asylum

4. Common procedure for international protection in the Union

5. Qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and content of the protection granted

6. Reception of applicants for international protection. Recast

7. Union resettlement framework

8. EU common list of safe countries of origin

And see: Reform of the Dublin system (pdf) and Safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list (pdf). Note: As yet there is no new proposal on long-term "solidarity" concerning the relocation of refugees within the EU.

North Shore Lesvos Night Watch (link)

"We are badly in need of thermal imaging equipment for our volunteers to be able to spot boats at night.Kara is kindly organizing a fund raiser for us, please help us if you can. We can only continues to do this with your assistance, thank you.."

We do watch on the North Shore of Lesvos. As most boats make this crossing in the dark we need to be able to spot the refugee boats before they crash into the rocks and prevent any tradgedy. Please help us purchase these..."

Are You Syrious (15.3.17, link)

Feature: Will there be Dublin returns to Greece?

"On December 8 2016, the EC officially recommended that, starting on March 15, the European countries (EU, Norway & Switzerland) should be able to send asylum seekers who traveled through Greece back to Greece. Some governments (Germany, Austria and Belgium) have said that they plan to implement this and it’s very likely that other countries will follow. However, they did mention gradual returns, applying the decision primarily to the ones who arrive after this date and not including unaccompanied minors or others that are considered vulnerable at that point. In general, it is unclear how and if these recommended returns will be put into practice and how (not to mention - why)....."

Greece: Arrivals

"41 people were officialy registered on Samos this Wednesday morning."

Rome: “Not in my name”

"Other protests are also held across Italy. Protesting against possible legislation that would lead to multiplied deportation centres, that are in fact detention facilities, people also gathered in front of the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome, the Montecitorio."

HUNGARY: Asylum Information on Hungary - March 2017: Detention of all aslyum-seekers (pdf):

"Please consider the following changes carefully, when planning to enter Hungary: The asylum law in Hungary will change in March 2017. All asylum seekers entering Hungary legally through the Transit Zone will be detained in a container camp at the Hungarian border with Serbia. This includes families, unaccompanied minors above the age of 14, single women and men. Unaccompanied children under the age of 14 will be brought to an open facility in a different part of the country. Detention will
last for the whole duration of the asylum procedure. In practice, the asylum procedure in Hungary lasts 4 to 9 months. There will be no legal way to oppose detention and there will be no option for bail out (bail out = paying money to go out)
."

Turkey again threatens to cancel migration deal (News That Moves, link):

"From Reuters: Turkey is again threatening to cancel the EU-Turkey migration deal. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his government is reconsidering the six billion dollar agreement with the EU.

A year ago, on March 18, Turkey had agreed to stop migrants from crossing into Greece in exchange for financial aid and accelerated visa-free EU travel for Turkish citizens.

“We may cancel the readmission agreement. The EU has been wasting our time on the visa liberalisation issue,” Cavusoglu said, adding that, “We are not applying the readmission agreement at the moment, and we are evaluating the refugee deal.”"

From Syria to Bulgaria, part I: Escaping death (euractiv, link):

"Some years ago, an ambitious Kurd from a village in northern Syria won a scholarship to study abroad. He ended up in Havana, where he learned Spanish. Elias later returned to Syria, where he became a journalist at the state news agency, SANA. EURACTIV Romania reports."

and: From Syria to Bulgaria, part II: ‘Now, I am a teacher in Sofia’ (euractiv, link)

Thursday, March 16, 2017, 00:01 by Dimitris Avramopoulos and Carmelo Abela Solid EU migration, asylum policy (Times of Malta, link)

Frontex: Arrival of migrants in February: surge in Italy, drop in Greece (link)

Hungary: Court awards €20,000 to asylum seekers after human rights law breaches (link):

"Human rights judges say the detention of two Bangladeshi migrants in the border zone between Hungary and Serbia was unlawful.

The Strasbourg also ruled yesterday that the removal of the asylum seekers from Hungary to Serbia exposed them to the risk of inhuman and degrading reception conditions in Greece. "


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.3.17)

London Launch of report: Migrant detention in the European Union: a thriving business Outsourcing and privatization of migrant detention (pdf): 6pm Tuesday 28th March Praxis, Pott Street, London E2 0EF (round corner from Bethnal Green underground, buses 8, 106, 254, 388; easy access and toilet facilities for wheelchair users and pushchairs):

"In the UK, corporations like G4S, Serco, Mitie and Capita make millions locking up migrants in privately run detention centres. Many other less known companies also jostle for contracts in the detention industry, for example providing healthcare, cleaning or construction services. Britain is a pioneer in detention outsourcing, hurtling towards the model of the massive US private prison industry.

But detention outsourcing is also taking off across Europe. This meeting will present a new research report by Migreurop, the European and African migration network, which maps the rise of the privatised migration detention business across the European Union."

Organisers: Migreurop, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels Office, Campaign to Close Campsfield, Corporate Watch, Statewatch.

See: Facebook Events (link)

Academics collaborate with artists to ask: who are we to fear refugees and migrants? (The Conservation,link):

"Who Are We? This is the question that London’s Tate is asking at its free six day cross-platform event spanning the visual arts, film, photography, design, architecture, the spoken and written word and live art. The aim of the programme is to foster collaboration and exchange between artists and researchers, with a view to exploring what is becoming of the UK and Europe. How can “another we” be created, one less susceptible to the fear and suspicion currently dominating the continent? "

Turkey must reassess EU migration deal, minister says (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey must re-examine its migration deal with the European Union for it has become clear that the bloc will not live up to its promise to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel, the country’s minister for European affairs, Omer Celik, told Reuters late Tuesday.

Visa-free access to the EU – the main reward for Ankara's collaboration in curbing an influx of migrants into Europe – has been subject to delays due to a dispute over Turkish anti-terrorism legislation and Ankara's crackdown after July’s failed coup."

Real or Empty Threat? Will Turkey send a new wave of refugees to Europe? (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"As relations between Turkey and Europe deteriorated, the government in Ankara did what it knows best: it fired threats. Exactly there where it knows it hurts Europe: The Refugees. At least two ministers told media that the government is considering to review the EU Turkey Deal. The statements were immediately understood as a threat that president Recep Tayyip Erdogan would open the doors and send a new mass wave of refugees and migrants to Europe. More than 850,000 people left Turkey for Greece in 2015.

Will Erdogan make his threats come true? Some people, like smugglers, think and hope, he will. But analysts believe, he won’t."

 A Message From Turkey, a Nation Under Pressure (NYT, link) by Patrick Kingsley:

"Before I left to begin reporting for The New York Times in Turkey — a nation strained by war, terrorist insurgencies, a refugee crisis and a widening crackdown on dissent — Turkish diplomats in Washington sent me on my way with a velvet box."

ECHR: Border-zone detention of two asylum-seekers was unlawful and their removal from Hungary to Serbia exposed them to the risk of inhuman and degrading reception conditions in Greece (Press release, pdf):

"The case of Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary (application no. 47287/15) concerned the border-zone detention for 23 days of two Bangladeshi asylum-seekers as well as their removal from Hungary to Serbia. In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 5 §§ 1 and 4 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights because the applicants’ confinement in the Röszke border-zone had amounted to detention, meaning they had effectively been deprived of their liberty without any formal, reasoned decision and without appropriate judicial review;..."

See: Judgment (pdf)

France to close another migrant camp, interior minister says (Daily Sabah, link):

"rance said Wednesday that security forces would start dismantling another migrant camp on its northern coast near the port of Dunkirk "as soon as possible" after clashes at the site.

The population of the Grande-Synthe camp has swelled to about 1,400 to 1,500 people since the destruction last October of the squalid "Jungle" camp near Calais, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.."

Council of Europe: European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT): Immigration detention (pdf): Very good summary of law and rights:

"Immigration detention is a primary focus of the work of the CPT. It has carried out hundreds of visits to immigration detention facilities, and has developed a detailed set of standards.

The CPT¡¦s standards build on legal principles originating from international (human rights) instruments, such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR),the Committee of Ministers¡¦ Twenty Guidelines on Forced Return, relevant United Nations (UN) treaties, and the 2008 European Union (EU) Return Directive. A foreign national may be deprived of his/her liberty."

Greece: Suicides and depression increase on islands (News That Moves, link):

"From Kathimerini: Aid workers and NGOs have said that the number of suicide attempts and cases of depression among people living in ‘hotspots’ on the Greek islands is increasing. At the ‘hotspots’ on Greece’s islands, thousands of people continue to be stranded, unable to go to the Greek mainland."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.3.17)
One year after the EU-Turkey deal: migrants and asylum seekers are paying the price with their health (MSF, link):

" One year after the EU-Turkey Deal, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) released a report to expose the human costs of European policy failures in Greece and the Balkans. MSF calls on the EU and member state leaders to radically change their approach to migration and ensure a swift end to the unnecessary suffering of the thousands caught in the consequences of the EU-Turkey deal."

See: One year on from the EU-Turkey deal: Challenging the EU's Alternative facts (pdf)

EU: Parliamentary Tracker: Revision of Dublin, Qualification Directive, Refugees situation in Greece, EASO reform.. (LIBE debates on March 9,2017) (link)

NGOs urge Greek lawmakers to reject asylum changes (News That Moves, link):

"Thirteen Greek and international NGOs have urged Greece to resist external pressures and reject any legislative changes that could remove the existing safeguards within the Greek Law on Asylum.

In an open letter, the NGOs told Greece’s parliament that any amendment to the law, based on the European Commission’s Joint Action Plan on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, would further aggravate the situation for people arriving on the Greek islands,"

See: Open Letter: Urgent appeal from 13 NGOs not to approve amendments in Greek Parliament that will be harmful to asylum seekers (link)

Greek Ministry statistics: Number of refugees (13.3.17, pdf): 14,204 on the islands and 62,385 in Greece.

Are You Syrious (13.7.17, link)

Red Cross shamelessly prompts raids on refugee-run squats in Athens

"Police have raided and evicted the residents of two squats in Athens, one with more than 120 refugee residents, including children and people with medical conditions. This action prompted massive calls for solidarity and protests all around the city.

The raids were precipitated by the Red Cross, which owns the buildings in question, as they wished to retake control of the properties to rehouse unaccompanied child minors. The move is wildly unethical and even contrary to common sense, as the Red Cross is prompting the eviction of refugees to make room for another group of refugees. This makes little sense given the number of empty properties which can be found in Athens.... "

The Austrian government has deported an unknown number of people to Afghanistan

"Activists staged a demonstration against this decision, which is the result of the EU’s official policy that Afghanistan is a safe country of origin. Afghan refugees all across the EU find themselves worried by the increasing number of deportations taking place. Needless to say, Afghanistan is far from a safe country.

The UN reports that a total of 26,089 people in Afghanistan were forced to flee their homes because of the ongoing conflict. A total of 653,000 civilians were forced to flee in 2016, and the UN’s prognostications for this year look nearly as grim. They expect that around 450,000 people will become internally displaced."

Calais organization reports on the continued interference of authorities into the affairs of refugees as well as to stifle aid. Donations are needed

"The situation in Calais today is very difficult: Several hundreds of refugees roam around day and night, trying to climb into lorries and trying to run away from the police who is chasing them all the time. It is not rare to see the police running behing refugees to try and catch them.

The Secours Catholique has installed 8 modular showers on their property rue de Moscou, but the police is always there , most often arresting the refugees when they get out of the showers...."

UK sending Syrians back to countries where they were beaten and abused (Guardian, link): "Refugees tell of being held in cages and even tortured in European countries including Hungary and Romania."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-12.3.17)
EU: Council plans to "map" security checks on refugees, migrants and EU citizens at external borders on all available databases

The Council Presidency is preparing to launch a "mapping exercise" on all movements in and out of the EU at its external borders and also internally ("police checks"). See Note to: Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI): Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no: 6717-17, pdf)

For both all "third country nationals" including refugees and migrants and EU citizens the legal basis for carrying out "security checks" is:

"verification that the person concerned is not likely to jeopardise the public policy, internal security, public health or international relations of any of the Member States. Such verification shall include direct consultation of the SIS and other relevant Union databases, without prejudice to the consultation of national and Interpol databases."

EU:Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Period of validity for residents permits (LIMITE do no: 6926-17, pdf):

Some Member States want to set "minimum standards" - 3 years for refugees and 1 year for subsidiary protection. While other back between 5 and 10 years for refugees and 1 to 5 years for subsidiary protection.

Statewatch Viewpoint: 9th report on relocation and resettlement: Mystification and selective use of data in effort to present a dysfunctional approach as “sustainable” (pdf):

"On 8 February 2017, the Commission produced its ninth report on relocation and resettlement, covering a two-month period from 8 December 2016 to 7 February 2017. It basically offers an update on the figures and developments from the previous report, noting the resettlement of 13,968 people overall under the scheme and 3,813 relocations in the reporting period, viewed as maintaining “the overall positive trend” with December recording the record figure to date (1,926) and bringing the total to 11,966, up from 8,162....

The point is that the very limited targets for relocations are not being met, and it would make very little difference to the situation in Greece and Italy if they were met."

EU: Council Presidency treads a tricky path in trying to get Member State "solidarity" on refugees

The last Council Presidency (Slovakia) sought to resolve the issues of "solidarity" in responding to the refugee crisis with the majority of Member States failing to respond to calls for relocation and set the results out in a report to Delegations: Solidarity and responsibility in the Common European Asylum System - Progress report by the Slovak Presidency (LIMITE doc no, 15253-16, pdf). In the public version of this document pages 3-5 are deleted).

The Presidency lays out the dilemma as: "there is broad consensus that the current Dublin system is not ready to face substantial migratory pressures and that this has to be remedied."

European Parliament Study: Implementation of the 2015 Council Decisions establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and of Greece (pdf):

"examines the EU’s mechanism of relocation of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other Member States. It examines the scheme in the context of the Dublin System, the hotspot approach, and the EU-Turkey Statement, recommending that asylum seekers’ interests, and rights be duly taken into account, as it is only through their full engagement that relocation will be successful. Relocation can become a system that provides flexibility for Member States and local host communities, as well as accommodating the agency and dignity of asylum seekers.

This requires greater cooperation from receiving States, and a clearer role for a single EU legal and institutional framework to organise preference matching and rationalise efforts and resources overall."

Greece: Court to rule on Turkey's 'safe' status after appeal of Syrians denied asylum (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece’s highest administrative court is expected to rule later this month on whether Turkey can be considered a safe country for refugees being returned under a deal with the European Union.

The Council of State’s plenary on Friday heard arguments based on the appeal of two Syrian nationals whose asylum applications were rejected by the Greek Asylum Committee.

The Syrians’ lawyers argued that the rejection is a violation of the UN Charter of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention as the committee based its decision solely on Turkey’s assurances, without a proper assessment of conditions in the neighboring country."

Are You Syrious (11.3.17,link):

FEATURE: Children forgotten by Europe

"According to the official data, there is about 20,500 refugee and migrant children only in Greece at the moment, including around 2,100 registered unaccompanied minors. However, these numbers could be much higher for many kids, especially unaccompanied, are not registered at all which puts them in horrible and very dangerous situations.

Most of those children who are registered in Greece are living in hostels, squats, apartments, and only around 6 percent are placed in shelters. Out of this number, so far only 4.027 children were relocated to other EU countries from Greece...."

Greece

"Today, on Samos and Chios, 88 new arrivals were registered by volunteers. Samos Volunteers groups reports about 26 new arrivals around 2 am."

Greece: Police violence reported, again

"We received disturbing information from various sources at islands. The most disturbing comes from friends in No Border Kitchen Lesvos and it is about continuous police violence against refugees on this island. As they report; “every day on this island people are controlled, harassed, humiliated insulted and beaten....

This is not the first time that refugees and their supporters on islands are reporting these types of police acting, but so far we are not aware of the actions by the government or any EU institutions against it. We strongly condemn police violence and call for the responsible institution to act and stop this practice.”

Austria: New deportations and calls for tightening of borders

"Despite constant protest by the people, the government announced new deportations. Der Standart reports about government plans for the next week to deport another the group of people from Afghanistan, including a 19-year-old man with no criminal record even though officials announced that only persons with the criminal record will be deported."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Hungary: rapporteurs express deep concern at new law to automatically detain asylum seekers (link):

"Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), rapporteur for follow-up on human rights of refugees and migrants, has expressed her deep concerns about the new Hungarian law on the automatic detention of asylum seekers, which was adopted by the Hungarian Parliament yesterday.

“Hungary has been reminded by the European Court of Human Rights several times over the past years* that Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right to protection of refugees and migrants against arbitrary interference with their right to liberty. Article 5 contains an exhaustive list of permissible grounds on which individuals may be deprived through lawful and proportionate decisions for each case. An automatic detention of asylum seekers is in clear violation of the European Convention on Human Rights,” Ms Strik said."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.3.17)
EU: Hotspots for refugees in Italy and Greece have led to "serious fundamental rights violations"

A major study on current EU policies and practices regarding refugees warns that the "hotspot" system of detaining, registering and processing migrants "has led to instances of serious fundamental rights violations in both Italy and Greece," and that the failure of EU Member States to meet their commitments under the relocation scheme should "be taken seriously as a threat to the rule of law at the EU level, which may warrant exploration, as well as formal enforcement action."

EU: Eurodac: over four million sets of fingerprints now held

The EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems recently published the annual report on the use of Eurodac, the EU database that holds the fingerprints of asylum-seekers in order to enforce the Dublin Regulation on responsibility for asylum applications. The number of fingerprint sets stored in the system has increased massively, by some 51%, growing from over 2.7 million at the end of 2014 to almost 4.1 million at the end of 2015.

EU: Council adopts child rights guidelines days after Commission recommends more child detention

On 6 March the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted a revised set of Guidelines on protecting and promoting the rights of children just days after the Commission adopted a Recommendation on returns policy that called for, amongst other things, stepping up the detention of children.

EU: New Statewatch briefing on cooperation between Frontex, non-EU states and international organisations

The purpose of cooperation between Frontex and third countries is principally to try to minimise the number of people arriving at the EU’s borders by extending the use of EU “border management” policies, techniques and technologies to those countries. Indeed, “measures in third countries” make up the first step of the “four-tier access control model” that was part of the EU’s original concept of ‘Integrated Border Management’. The other three were “border control, control measures within the area of free movement, including return)”.

This briefing provides a comparative overview of current agreements between Frontex and non-EU states and international organisations. It examines the overall framework for concluding such agreements, the types of agreements currently in force and their content, coordination and management of the agreements and other related issues such as forthcoming agreements.

Council of Europe: Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity, prevent human trafficking and strengthen its child-protection system (CoE, link):

"“Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity and integration policies, prevent human trafficking and combat corruption in the migration-related services sector” are the main recommendations in a report published today by the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Bocek.

The Special Representative also stressed the need to strengthen the protection of refugee and migrant children; called upon the Italian authorities and the EU to expedite the examination of asylum claims and of relocation and family-reunification requests; and pointed to the risk that weaknesses in the system for voluntary and forced removals might be encouraging the arrival of more irregular economic migrants."

See: Report of the fact-finding mission to Italy by Ambassador Tomáš Bocek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees, 16-21 October 2016 (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Resettlement, "Blue Card" (Legal migration) and Refugee rights

• Massive re-draft of Council position: Resettlement: Proposal for a Regulationl establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 (LIMITE doc no: 5332-17, pdf): With 150 Footnotes on Member State positions.

• "Blue Card": Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 6633-17, pdf): With 150 Member State positions in Footnotes. Council developing its negotiating position.

• Social rights of refugees: Theme: Socio-Economic Rights of Asylum Seekers and Beneficiaries of International Protection (LIMITE doc no: 5405-17,pdf). Highly detailed Member State objections in Footnotes.

This affects the Reception Conditions Directive, Recast Dublin Regulation and Qualification Regulation.

Further restrictions on rights in Austria’s asylum reform streak (ECRE, link):

"A new reform proposal aiming to exclude asylum seekers from reception conditions (Basic Care) as soon as their application is rejected reaffirms Austria’s restrictive policy. The proposed measures reflect a continued effort of diminishing the rights of asylum seekers in Austria, following on from a recent Aliens Law reform proposal (FrÄG 2017).

“Politcians create the impression that in the area of asylum there is a permanent need for reform”, states Asylkoordination Österreich in its assessment of the latest legislative proposal affecting asylum seekers in Austria."

Poland: Draft amendment to the law on protection of foreigners – another step to seal Europe’s border (ECRE, link):

"In January Polish Minister of Interior Mariusz Blaszczak presented draft amendment to the law on protection of foreigners on the territory of Poland. He claimed that there is a need to response to the growing migration flow in Poland and to ensure public security. However, he failed to explain what kind of danger to public security asylum seekers create amid lacking evidence that the number of crimes perpetrated by foreigners in Poland has increased. Moreover, official statistics show that, for the past years the number of asylum applications lodged in Poland has not exceed 15 000 yearly and neither has it increased recently. Taking this into consideration, it seems that the draft amendment reflects the national and regional trend of portraying foreigners as security threat and closing borders to persons seeking protection rather than the actual response to some changed situation."

GERMANY: Parliament rejects government attempt to classify Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as safe countries

"In the end, the vote wasn't even close. Led by federal states with left-leaning governing coalitions, a wide majority the Bundesrat shot down a law written by the government and passed by Germany's lower parliamentary chamber, the Bundestag. It would have declared the Maghreb states - Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria - "safe countries of origin" and thus allowed for expedited deportations of failed asylum seekers there.

Representatives of the federal government and the conservative-led state of Bavaria argued that the law was needed to prevent people wishing to migrate to Germany for economic reasons from misusing Germany's asylum legislation. They said only a tiny fraction of asylum applications by people from the three Maghreb states have been approved."

See: German Bundesrat says Maghreb states not safe for refugees (Deutsche Welle, link)

EU: CJEU Case C-638/16 PPU, X and X – Dashed hopes for a legal pathway to Europe (European Law Blog, link):

"On 7 March 2017, the CJEU announced its judgement in case C-638/16 PPU (X and X / Belgium) and dashed all hopes for an extensive interpretation of the EU Visa Code in the light of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. To summarize the facts of the case, X and X and their three small children are an Orthodox Christian family living in rebel-held Aleppo. In October 2016 X leaves Aleppo to apply for a visa with limited territorial validity ex Article 25(1) of the EU Visa Code at the Belgian embassy in Beirut (Lebanon). The application states that the aim of entry into Belgium is to apply for asylum...

The Court first reiterates that Regulation 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) was adopted on the basis of Art. 62 EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council had the competence to adopt measures on visas for intended stays of no more than three months. The visa applications in question, however, were for visas with limited territorial validity with a view to a future application for asylum in Belgium. Hence, the applicants’ intended stay was not limited to 90 days – and their visa-application should not be considered under the Visa Code, but under national law. As the application thus falls outside the scope of EU law, according to the Court, the Charter of Fundamental Rights is not applicable either.

In the last sentences of its judgment, the Court also adds that allowing third country nationals to lodge applications for visas in order to apply for international protection in the Member State of their choice would undermine the Dublin system. With this remark, inserted as if it were an afterthought, the Court seems to reveal the true motivation behind the ruling in X and X: to save an already failing system…"

See: Judgment (pdf) and Press release (pdf): "Member States are not required, under EU law, to grant a humanitarian visa to persons who wish to enter their territory with a view to applying for asylum, but they remain free to do so on the basis of their national law."

UK: Home Office ends policy of automatic settlement for refugees after five years (Free Movement, link):

"The Home Office has announced a new policy of reviewing whether all refugees require protection at the end of a five year initial period of leave. The policy appears to be effective immediately for all refugee settlement applications, including for refugees already resident in the UK and who were expecting to qualify automatically for settlement.

Because refugees, employers and colleges can no longer assume a refugee will qualify for settlement, it will be harder for refugees to find work, commit to educational courses or simply settle down and rebuild their lives. Combined with the cuts to English language classes for refugees, one is left with the impression either that the Government does not want refugees to integrate or at least that there is no-one sufficiently senior at the Home Office who is responsible for thinking about integration.

Any refugees refused settlement under the new policy will in theory face detention and removal, although with the numbers of enforced removals and voluntary departures falling year on year this seems unlikely in practice. More likely they will be inducted by the Home Office into the twilight world of the “hostile environment”, unable to work, rent accommodation, drive, maintain a bank account and more."

And see: UK Home Office: Refugee Leave (pdf)

EU: European Council, 9 March: Conclusions by the President of the European Council: economy, security and defence, migration

"The European Council deliberated on the attached document. It was supported by 27 Members of the European Council, but it did not gather consensus, for reasons unrelated to its substance.

References to the European Council in the attached document should not be read as implying a formal endorsement by the European Council acting as an institution."

See: Conclusions by the President of the European Council (pdf). Poland blocked unanimous adoption of the conclusions due to its displeasure with the re-election of Donald Tusk as the President of the European Council. See: Poland reacts with fury to re-election of Donald Tusk (The Guardian, link)

And see: European Council, 9-10 March: draft conclusions including security, defence and migration plus EP study on commitments to date

EU: Austria proposes EU funding cuts for states opposing refugee distribution (New Europe, link):

"Solidarity is not a one-way street. So said Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern ahead of the EU summit in Brussels on March 9. The Social Democrat called for increased pressure on member states that continue to shirk their responsibility in the redistribution of refugees.

“In future, the money from the EU budget must be distributed more equally among the member countries,” Kern told German daily Die Welt.

“If countries continue to duck away from resolving the issue of migration, or tax dumping at the expense of their neighbours, they will no longer be able to receive net payments of billions from Brussels,” Kern said in the article."

EU: Opinion: Fortress Europe is designed to keep asylum seekers at bay (Deutsche Welle, link):

"A year ago, the European Union closed the Balkan route to migrants, then made a deal with Ankara to send newly arriving migrants and Syrian refugees in Greece to Turkey. The desired effect quickly became noticeable: the number of new arrivals sank drastically, putting a dampener on the illegal dealings of human traffickers.

The EU's southeastern external borders continue to be "protected," to use the terminology of several statements issued by heads of state. The goal is to stop "illegal migration." The land borders between Turkey and Greece, and between Serbia and Hungary had previously been sealed off with fences. The plan is working.

But "Fortress Europe" isn't working between Libya and Italy. Last year, more migrants embarked from Libya to Italy via the Mediterranean than ever before. The EU also wants to shut this route down, as stated in numerous summit declarations. Here too, the EU hopes to employ deterrent tactics. It used to be that EU marine units would save migrants from their unseaworthy boats and bring them to Italy. In future, the migrants are to be taken directly back to northern Africa, or better still, prevented from even making the journey. If that worked, then Fortress Europe would be perfect. Because then there would practically be no way for potential asylum seekers to reach EU territory - not on land, nor via sea."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.3.17)
ECJ ruling continues absurd asylum impasse (euractiv, link):

"The European Court of Justice ruling this morning (7 March) that countries have full discretion to refuse humanitarian visas will have serious consequences for the EU’s ability to manage migration and for the lives and safety of thousands of people, writes Thomas Huddleston."

See: Judgment (pdf) and Press release (pdf): "Member States are not required, under EU law, to grant a humanitarian visa to persons who wish to enter their territory with a view to applying for asylum, but they remain free to do so on the basis of their national law."

Pushed back into Serbia, refugees describe brutal beatings by Hungarian police (Budapest Beacon, link):

"Most of the barracks’ residents have already attempted to cross the border into Hungary, many several times. All of them have been pushed back, and describe brutal beatings by Hungarian police personnel.

In a small medical tent, a young female medic was tending to an Afghan refugee. He showed her his deeply swollen leg—a Hungarian policeman beat him with a baton."

Greece: MInistry figures for number of refugees - 7.3.17 (pdf): The total number of refugees in Greece is 62,385.

Hungary decides to detain asylum-seekers in ‘container camps’ (euractiv, link):

"Hungary’s parliament today (7 March) approved the automatic detention of all asylum-seekers in container camps at its borders, sparking “deep concern” at the UN’s refugee agency.

The legislation, approved by a large majority of lawmakers, is in response to recent terror attacks in Europe carried out by migrants, according to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán."

Are You Sryious (6.3.17, link):

Islands

"Months ago the Greek government announced plans to move thousands of people from the overcrowded islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos to new facilities on Crete. As Ekathimerini recently reported, this plan is now in its final stages. The mayor of Rethymno, Giorgos Marinakis, said that the island would be able to “absorb” the new people, employing them in villages. However, he complained about the timing. “We had agreed to certain things last fall,” he said. “Now we’re at the beginning of the tourist season again,” he said to Ekathimerini.

As of this morning, on the Eastern Aegean islands a total of 61 new arrivals had been registered: 3 on Lesvos, 31 on Chios and 27 on Samos. According to official figures there are still more than 14,000 people stuck on the islands."

Hungary

"Over the last few days international media as well as Human Rights Watch have issued a series of reports about police violence in Hungary. The reports describe police practices, described by refugees, which include beating, kicking and forcing refugees to return to Serbia through the border fence. Doctors in both Belgrade and the transit area are treating the returnees. They have documented several injuries but of course can’t say who the perpetrator was. The abuses have been reported for a couple of months now."

Italy

"The Facebook group Italy-Refugee Crisis Database compared the number of arrivals to Italy over the last few years, relying on information from the interior ministry. They documented a massive increase in 2017 compared to the previous two years. While in 2015 and 2016 some 9,100 people had arrived in Italy by March 6th, this year more than 15,800 have already been counted. That’s an increase of more than 57 percent. The main nationalities of the new arrivals are: Guinea, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Bangladesh, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, Sierra Leone and Cameroon."

Top German and Austrian politicians: Block migration (News That Moves, link):

"From Bild am Sonntag: Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and German Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn offered their views on migration in a joint interview.

Both top politicians said migrants should be stopped before reaching the European Union and hosted in refugee centres located outside the EU.

Kurz said, “We need refugee centres outside the EU, [that] could be located in countries such as Egypt, Georgia or a country in Western Balkans.” Kurz added, “People should not be let in at all. It is easier to stop them and send them back at the EU’s external borders than when they are already living in an apartment in Vienna or Berlin."

Great Inside Story: What went wrong with the Refugee Crisis in Greece (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"What went wrong with the Refugee Crisis in Greece? Two journalists, Daniel Howden (UK) and Apostolis Fotiadis (GR) investigated the issue and published their article under the title “The Refugee Archipelago: The Inside Story of What Went Wrong in Greece” in Refugees Deeply, an independent digital media project dedicated to covering the Refugee crisis.

The authors spoke with several of the 60,000 refugees stuck in Greece about their journey from a war-ridden country to Europe but also about their journeys inside Greece: from their arrival on the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea to the north of the country and the several camps."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-6.3.17)
EU: Call for tough asylum fingerprinting measures backed in draft EP budget committee opinion

A draft opinion on the new Eurodac Regulation written for the European Paliament's budgets committee calls for the adoption of "an EU procedure for forced fingerprinting," taking a similar line to an earlier draft report produced for the civil liberties (LIBE) committee.

NGO Statement: New EU Commission plans on returns and detention will create more harm and suffering (pdf): Signed by 90 civil society organisations, including Statewatch:

"Bowing down to political pressure to be “tough” on irregular migration, the European Commission has turned its back on the full implementation of human rights safeguards in its Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to lower the bar."

See also: European Commission pushes for returns and readmission - having given up on relocating refugees within the EU

AIDA reports on Italy, Malta and Spain – Southern borders a laboratory for deflection policies (ECRE, link):

""“As illustrated in the country reports on Hungary and Bulgaria the Eastern border Member States of the European Union have become trendsetters in disturbingly ‘creative’ measures disregarding the fundamental rights of those seeking protection. Europe’s Southern borders are also a laboratory for deflection policies, with the ‘hotspot’ transformation of Italy’s asylum system raising grave concerns,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.""

See the reports: Italy, Malta and Spain (links to pdfs)

Terror and Exclusion in EU Asylum Law Case – C-573/14 Lounani (Grand Chamber, 31 January 2017) (European Law Blog, link):

"The on-going conflict in the Middle East has profound implications for the global legal order in two areas of law in particular: asylum law and anti-terrorist law. The European Union and EU law have not been immune from this development and in many respects are closely affected by these geopolitical developments and their legal impact. After a fitful start, the EU has become a major actor in the area of criminal law, and in particular anti-terrorist law, on the one hand and in asylum law on the other. The two fields meet in Article 12(2)(c) of the Qualification Directive, itself reflecting Article 1F of the Geneva convention, providing that an individual shall be excluded from eligibility for refugee status for acts contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, acts which have been held to include acts of terrorism. Furthermore, Article 12(3) of the Qualification Directive extends that exclusion to ‘persons who instigate or otherwise participate in the commission of the the crimes or acts’ mentioned in Article 12(2). The status of terrorist and refugee are legally incompatible and mutually exclusive; one simply cannot be a terrorist and also a refugee. What, however, constitutes a terrorist for the purposes of Article 12 of the Qualification Directive? That essentially is the question at stake in Lounani."

See: Opinion of Advocate-General Sharpston (pdf) and judgment: Case C-573/14, request for a preliminary ruling in: Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides v Mostafa Lounani (pdf)

SWEDEN: Several injured in fire at Sweden's largest asylum centre (The Independent, link):

"Several people have been injured in a suspected arson attack on Sweden’s largest refugee centre.

One man was seriously injured after jumping from a third floor window trying to escape the fire.

Around a dozen were treated with oxygen after inhaling smoke, while three people were taken to Norra Älvsborg Hospital in Trolhätten."

New EU-wide journalism project examines the lives of new refugees in Europe

"Like the people it covers, the migration story itself is on the move. In 2014 and 2015 it was all about the odyssey, the journey made by hundreds of thousands, haphazardly, perilously, up into Europe. In 2016, it was about Europe’s hesitant response, the political backlash.

In 2017, the focus is turning to the people who are suddenly in our midst. How are they adapting to their new lives? What do they miss? What’s it like to swap Homs for Hamburg, Kabul for Croydon - or Mosul for the Mosel, for that matter. Which European countries are best at helping refugees settle?

It is these questions that four major European newspapers are taking on in a new project entitled The New Arrivals. Over a period of 18 months, The Guardian, Le Monde, El País and Spiegel Online are embedding inside newly arrived communities in each of their countries to assess whether promises are being kept, whether European society is changing the new arrivals - and vice versa."

See: The New Arrivals (link). It should be noted that there is still very much a "migration story" related to people's journeys to Europe as people continue to die at sea and are denied their right to seek asylum. See: Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

UK-FRANCE: Presidential elections should not let us forget the fate of migrant children from Calais (HRW, link):

"The outlook for child migrants took a turn for the worse when on 8 February, the UK immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, announced that the UK had ended transfers under the Dubs amendment—even though the government had spoken of accepting between 1,000 and 3,000 children when the provision was debated in Parliament. The UK’s decision to end this humanitarian program tarnishes its history as a refuge for thousands of refugee children during World War II. The UK should restate its commitment to the Dubs amendment and ensure that an overly narrow application of the criteria does not lead to unfair or arbitrary decisions.

(...)

The fate of these young migrants depends also on the French government response. The French government has left these young migrants in limbo, placing them in CAOMIs outside the regular asylum and child protection system as an interim measure. The agencies hired to run the centers have varied in quality—while some have done an excellent job, others have lacked experience in supporting unaccompanied child migrants. Communication between the young migrants and French social workers or government officials has often been difficult due to the absence of qualified translators. In one shelter that I visited in December, a crowd of young migrants gathered around me to voice their anger and distrust toward the staff running the place."

UK may return tortured asylum seekers to country they fled, says immigration minister (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not consider a person having been tortured in the country they are fleeing reason enough alone to accept a claim of asylum, the immigration minister has said.

Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary debate on torture that not all proven survivors of past torture “automatically qualify for protection” if they cannot produce additional evidence that they would be at risk of further serious harm upon being sent back to where they had fled."

EP study: The budgetary tools for financing the EU's external policy (pdf):

"In recent years, the European Union (EU) architecture for financing external policies has become more complex. In addition to the EU’s financing instruments in the EU budget, several innovative funding tools and mechanisms have been established. Driven by the need to respond to new challenges and unforeseen crises in times of tight public budgets, the EU has considerably diversified its toolbox for funding external policies. This toolbox now includes new funding tools, such as trust funds (TFs), and mechanisms, such as blending facilities, that combine funds from the EU budget with other resources. Instruments in the budget are also evolving to address the need for greater flexibility and simplification in the financing of the EU’s external policies.

As a result, EU funding for external policies is becoming more complex. This complexity creates challenges. Besides making the EU budget less transparent in the eyes of European citizens, these developments also pose challenges to the European Parliament (EP) in terms of budgetary oversight. As reform dynamics are picking up pace, it is important to take stock of the evolving architecture for financing EU external policies."

New EU Commission plans on returns and detention will create more harm and suffering (ECRE, link):

"Bowing down to political pressure to be “tough” on irregular migration, the European Commission has turned its back on the full implementation of human rights safeguards in its Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to lower... "

See also: Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Home Affairs Letter to Ministers in June 2015 (pdf):

The Commissioner says that another reason for the low return rate is the:

“lack of cooperation from the individuals concerned (they conceal their identity or abscond)” [emphasis added]

To deal with this problem, the Commissioner argues that the Returns Directive provides Member States with the possibility “to use coercive measures, including detention” and “detention should be applied, as a legitimate measure of last resort.” The Commissioner reminds Member States that the Directive allows for detention for up to six months and “18 months in case on non-cooperation.”

Plan to move refugees to Crete enters final straight (ekathimerini.com. link):

"Following months of delays, a government plan foreseeing the transfer of thousands of migrants from overcrowded reception centers on Aegean islands to subsidized apartments on Crete is said to be in the final straight.

The plan was drafted last year and had been due for implementation in the fall but was delayed due to red tape involving the United Nations refugee agency, which is subsidizing the scheme, but also reservations on the part of local authorities."

Are You Syrious (4.3.17, link):

FEATURE: Another life lost in Europe

"A young boy from Afghanistan committed suicide shortly before his 18th birthday in Wasserburg, Germany where he was searching for a refuge. He came alone from Kabul, on a dangerous journey that lasted for months.

He was trying his best to start a new life, but life in uncertainty and insecurity draw him into despair, that many others feel. However, it is still unknown why he committed suicide. Volunteers who met him told the media that he was depressed, but also that he visited psychologist trying to find help...."

BELGIUM: Deportation to start soon

"Authorities in this country announced that they will start implementing the agreement they made with the Afghan government on voluntary return of illegal Afghan immigrants or will deport them.

In 2016, more than 2,700 Afghan citizens sought asylum in this country, but many of them were rejected. Some of them could be deported now including 530 people who were arrested last year."

DANMARK: More deportations

"Deportation is happening from Denmark, too. Afghanistan Migrants Advice & Support Org reported about at least 13 people who were deported to Afghanistan on 1st of March. They were deported on a charter flight."

Calais mayor outlaws food handouts for migrants (DW, link):

"Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart has introduced new laws banning people from gathering near the former "Jungle" camp site. The new rules effectively make it impossible to distribute food to migrants still in the city."

Almost 1000 migrants were rescued off Libya on Thursday: Italian coastguard (The Local.it, link):

" Some 970 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Thursday, Italy's coastguard said, as the numbers attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe continue to rise.

Even before Thursday's arrivals, more than 13,400 people had arrived on Italy's shores so far this year - an increase of 50 to 70 percent compared with 2016 and 2015."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.3.17)
EU: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report

Third Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (pdf):

"this Report is linked to the renewed Action Plan on a more effective return policy and the Recommendation on the implementation of the Return Directive adopted in parallel by the Commission. Substantial progress on returns also depends on making legal and administrative processes inside the EU simpler and more effective, and also on ensuring full cooperation with third countries of origin....

The Commission, in close cooperation with the European External Action Service, will take stock of the approach and its results in reducing irregular migration flows, addressing its root causes and improving return rates when it reports in June, one year on from the launch of the Partnership Framework....

Progress in the negotiations of the EU-Nigeria readmission agreement is of the utmost importance: the first round took place in October 2016, but a second round of talks has been postponed several times by Nigeria...

Dialogue and cooperation with Mali on return suffered a setback following inaccurate media reports in December 2016 about the signature of a formal agreement on return with the EU which never took place, and Mali did not sign Operating Procedures on readmission." [emphasis added]

Comment. "Confusion" in the media was caused by the EU trying to "jump the gun" by saying it had signed the agreement - but Mali had not agreed: see: Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks" with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration Partnership Framework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route (Press release) pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African state:

"Tangible progress has been made with the five African priority countries, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal but efforts need to be stepped up to deliver results. Along the Central Mediterranean route, work is taken forward to better manage migration, continue saving lives, step up the fight against smugglers and traffickers and offer protection to migrants in need and increase
resettlement and assisted voluntary returns."

Annex (pdf): Detailed targets for "priority" states.
FAQ (pdf)

And see:

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements (Statewatch)
New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan (Statewatch)
Viewpoint: Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch, pdf)
EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (Statewatch, pdf)

Migrant Ill -Treatment in Greek Law Enforcement – Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg? (link): Nikolaos Sitaropoulos, Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights:

"The present paper aims to provide an analysis of the first major judgments of the Strasbourg Court which usefully shed light on the underlying, long-standing systemic failures of the Greek rule of law. The author argues that these judgments are in fact only the tip of the iceberg. For this the paper looks into the process of supervision of these judgments’ execution by Greece, which is pending before the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, as well as into alarming reports issued notably by CPT as well as by the Greek Ombudsman."

Are You Syrious (1.3.17, link)

GREECE: Islands - official registration

"139 people have been officially registred today on the Greek islands. For the first time since January 30 new arrivals are registred on the island of Leros: 27 people. Another 71 have been registred on Samos and 41 on other islands.

During the month of February no people were registred on Leros, while 51 person was registred on Kos, 117 on Samos, 198 on Lesvos, 274 on Chios and 333 on other islands, making a total of 974 people officially registred in February."

ITALY: Higher number of arrivals to Italy

"IOM Rome reports that 13,457 migrant arrivals in Italy before the end of February represents a significant increase compared with arrivals in the same period during each of the past two years. Last year just fewer than 9,000 migrants had arrived by this date. IOM notes that Italian arrivals already are well above those recorded during the first two months of either 2015 or 2016.

Deaths at sea in the region this year also are running well ahead of fatalities in 2016, especially on the Mediterranean’s central route linking Libya and Italy. IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reports an estimated 444 deaths or disappearances of migrants on this corridor through 26 February, compared with 97 last year at this time - an increase of almost 400 percent."

EU: Relocation from Greece still too slow (News That Moves, link):

"In a fact sheet issued on March 2nd, the European Commission released updated information about the progress concerning the relocation program that EU member states had agreed to in September 2015.

The European Commission stated that 20.000 people currently in Greece are eligible for relocation to other EU member states.

Only 9,600 have been relocated from Greece. Last December, the EU proposed a target of 3,000 relocation per month for Greece.

However, the current pace of relocation in Greece is about 1,000 people per month, the European Commission noted, adding that “the total number relocated from Greece by September 2017 would be around 16,400 people.”"

EU-TURKEY DEAL: Question to the Commission: Effects of the General Court’s orders on the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf) from Barbara Spinelli MEP:

"if the EU-Turkey Statement had to be considered an international instrument, what would be the legal basis for the involvement of the EU institutions in its implementation?

Does the Commission consider the commitments already made on the basis of this text to be compatible with the orders issued by the General Court?"

See: EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.3.17)
Refugee crisis: Commission: Draconian Recommendations to "substantially increase rate of return"

Commission: Recommendation on making returns more effective when implementing the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (pdf) Publication was delayed several hours:

"The objectives of such an integrated and coordinated approach in the area of return should be to: ensure swift return procedures and substantially increase the rate of return...

put in place measures to effectively locate and apprehend third-country nationals staying illegally...

Member States should ensure that return decisions have unlimited duration, so that they can be enforced at any moment...

ensure that return decisions are followed without delay by a request to the third country of readmission to deliver a valid travel documents or to accept the use of the European travel document...

provide in national legislation for a maximum initial period of detention of six months that can be adapted by the judicial authorities in the light of the circumstances of the case, and for the possibility to further prolong the detention until 18 months in the cases provided for in Article 15(6) of Directive 2008/115/EC;

bring detention capacity in line with actual needs, including by using where necessary the derogation for emergency situations as provided for...

provide for the shortest possible deadline for lodging appeals against return decisions established by national law...

Risk of absconding

(15) Each of the following objective circumstances should constitute a rebuttable presumption that there is a risk of absconding:

(a) refusing to cooperate in the identification process, using false or forged identity documents, destroying or otherwise disposing of existing documents, refusing to provide fingerprints;
(b) opposing violently or fraudulently the operation of return;
(c) not complying with a measure aimed at preventing absconding imposed in application of Article 7(3) of Directive 2008/115/EC, such as failure to report to the competent authorities or to stay at a certain place;
(d) not complying with an existing entry ban;
(e) unauthorised secondary movements to another Member State."

European Commission pushes for returns and readmission - having given up on relocating refugees within the EU

Press release: European Agenda on Migration: Commission presents new measures for an efficient and credible EU return policy (pdf):

"the Commission is today following through with a renewed EU Action Plan on Return and a set of recommendations to Member States on how to make return procedures more effective.....

Remove inefficiencies by shortening deadlines for appeals, systematically issuing return decisions that do not have an expiry date and combining decisions on the ending of a legal stay with the issuance of a return decision to avoid duplicate work...

Tackle abuses of the system by making use of the possibility to assess asylum claims in accelerated or, where considered appropriate, border procedures when it is suspected asylum claims are made merely to delay the enforcement of a return decision...

Prevent absconding by detaining people who have received a return decision and who show signs they will not comply such as refusal to cooperate in the identification process or opposing a return operation violently or fraudulently....

Overcoming the challenges of readmission by working to swiftly conclude the negotiations of Readmission Agreements with Nigeria, Tunisia and Jordan and striving to engage with Morocco and Algeria.

Within the Partnership Framework, employ collective leverage in a coordinated and effective manner through tailor-made approaches with third countries."

Communication: On a more effective return policy in the EU - A renewed Action Plan (COM 200-17, pdf)

Annex 1 (pdf): Detailed plan

FAQ: Returns and readmission (pdf)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration Partnership Framework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route (pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African states

European Commission: Relocation, EU-Turkey "deal" and EU Border Agency

"Solidarity" is a eupemism for failure of reclocating refugees within the EU:
Commission calls for renewed efforts in implementing solidarity measures under the European Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf):

"Ahead of next week's European Council and in the form of three progress reports, the Commission is today making a renewed call on Member States to pick up the pace of relocation to alleviate pressure from Italy and Greece, with few having met their commitments in full....

the current pace of relocation is still well below expectations and below the European Council endorsed target...

the current pace will not allow for the relocation of all eligible applicants currently present in Greece and Italy by September 2017 – despite this being perfectly feasible. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for
both Italy and Greece, whereas some (Hungary, Austria and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the scheme at all and others are doing so on a very limited basis (Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia)....

soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties for those who have not complied with the
obligations stemming from the Council decisions, noting that the legal obligation to relocate those eligible will not cease after September."
[emphasis added]

•  Tenth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 202-17, pdf)

•  Annex 1: Relocations: Greece (pdf)
•  
Annex 2: Relocations: Itay (pdf)
•  
Annex 3: Relocations from Italy and Greece by 28 February 2017 (pdf)

•  Fifth Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM 204-17, pdf)

•  Annex (pdf)

•  Second report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM 201-17, pdf)

NGOs urge Germany to meet relocation quotas (News That Moves, link):

"The German NGO Pro Asyl and other refugee rights groups are urging the German government to speed up the relocation of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

Pro Asyl director Guenter Burkhardt said, “There are empty places in reception centres, we have planes, but there is a lack of political will.”"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.3.17)
EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it has no competence to judge the legality of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees as "neither the European Council nor any other institution of the EU decided to conclude an agreement with the Turkish Government on the subject of the migration crisis." The case was brought by three individuals seeking asylum in Greece, who sought to challenge the legality of the deal as it posed a risk that they might be returned to Turkey.

HUNGARY: Szeged court issues final guilty verdict in case of 10 immigrants charged with rioting (Budapest Beacon, link)

"A Szeged court has reached a final guilty verdict in an appeal hearing against 10 immigrants for their involvement in clashes with police at the Hungarian-Serbian border near Röszke in September, 2015. Among the convicted are an ill, elderly woman, a man who walks with a cane, and a man in a wheelchair. The court ruled that all of the accused had illegally crossed Hungary’s border as participants in a riot, index.hu reports.

The court sentenced four of the defendants to one year and two months imprisonment and banned them from Hungary for four years. Another man, who was observed speaking to the crowd through a megaphone during the border clashes, was sentenced to two years imprisonment and banned for six years from the country. That man, 22-year-old Syrian national Yamen A., was the only defendant to appear at the sentencing, and reportedly wept upon hearing the verdict. He has been in custody for nearly 18 months.

Each of the 10 immigrants spent at least nine and a half months in custody while awaiting the verdict in last year’s first-degree trial."

And see from December 2016: Hungary: Shameful misuse of terrorism provisions as man involved in border clash jailed for 10 years (AI, link)

EU: Refugee relocation: numbers up but Member States still need to provide tens of thousands of places

The Commission has published an update on the number of refugees moved from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States via the relocation scheme agreed in September 2015.

The number of people relocated has increased (800 people have been relocated from Greece and 504 from Italy since the last update on 8 February).

GREECE: Official figures on refugees and migrants in the Aegean, 1 March 2017

The detention centres on Lesvos, Samos and Kos are still massively overcrowded, with Samos holding 1695 "guests" despite its capacity of 850. As of 8:00 on 1 March, 139 people had arrived on Greece's Aegean islands.

EU: Research under Pressure: Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information for Asylum Claims (Asylos, link):

"Thorough research is vital for a successful asylum claim. Such country of origin information (COI) is used to support specific elements in asylum seekers’ claims. As asylum seekers often lack documents that prove a risk of persecution on return, they rely on information from their countries of origin to illustrate their need for international protection. Specific pieces of information can support their testimonies of why and how they fled their countries; testimonies which are often disbelieved by national authorities in receiving countries. In short, COI is used to substantiate both the likelihood of persecution on return and the credibility of their individual stories.

We know surprisingly little about how NGOs and asylum lawyers conduct research for asylum claims. To close this gap, Asylos interviewed 20 asylum lawyers and NGO staff in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and the UK to understand the challenges of researching evidence, as well as the opportunities for improving the research process."

See the report: Asylos: Research under Pressure: Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information for Asylum Claims (link to pdf)


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

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