Home | News Online | What's New | Publications | Analyses | Observatories | Database | SEMDOC | Journal | Support our work

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"

Archives

Follow us: | | Tweet

November 2017

European University Institute (EUI): Human Rights Violations by Design: EU-Turkey Statement Prioritises Returns from Greece Over Access to Asylum (pdf);

"The EU-Turkey-Statement proposes to reduce arrival rates and deaths in the sea by subjecting individuals who arrive on Greek islands after 20 March 2016 to fast-track asylum procedures and, in the case of negative decisions, to returns to Turkey.(...)

the Greek government should stop the systematic detention of individuals from certain nationality groups upon arrival and ensure that migration related detention is in all cases based on an individual assessment of proportionality and necessity."

And: Post-deportation risks under the EU-Turkey Statement: What happens after readmission to Turkey? (EUI, pdf)

EU: FIDH: The externalization of migration policies: a scourge for human rights (pdf):

"FIDH is concerned about the outsourcing of migration policies and increase in their repressive character, particularly through the externalization of borders from countries of destination to the countries of transit and departure."

Saving Lives at Sea - A two-week rescue mission with SOS MEDITERRANEE (HRW, link):

"The Aquarius, chartered by the nongovernmental organization SOS MEDITERRANEE to rescue migrants while heading for Europe, had motored to the oilfield to collect 36 people -mainly Syrians and Egyptians - picked up earlier by an oil company supply ship. From the bridge of the Aquarius, a spotlight revealed the tiny wooden boat, tethered to the stern of the supply ship, bobbing like a toy in the black water.

This spectacular backdrop exposes a cruel reality. The Mediterranean is the deadliest migration route in the world, with over 15,000 deaths recorded since 2014. So far this year almost 3,000 have gone missing or died, including 26 Nigerian girls in one tragic incident."

Estonia aims to resuscitate EU refugee quotas (euractiv, link):

"Estonia on Wednesday (29 November) presented a compromise proposal on the relocation of refugees, which it said would be “fair” to all EU member states, deeply divided over how to deal with asylum seekers arriving in Europe.".


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-29.11.17)
1. Greece

GREECE: Greek Asylum Service: data on asylum applications and decisions, Dublin transfers and relocations: June 2013-October 2017

Statistical data from the Greek Asylum Service covering the period 7 June 2013 to 31 October 2017, with information on asylum applications and decisions divided by age, gender, countries of origin, region (in Greece) of application; data from the Greek Dublin Unit covering the same period showing transfers of asylum-seekers to and from Greece under the Dublin system; and data from the Greek Asylum Service on relocations from Greece to other EU Member States under the EU's relocation scheme up to 19 November 2017.

GREECE: The Refugee Scandal on the Island of Lesbos (Spiegel Online, link):

"Those wishing to visit ground zero of European ignominy must simply drive up an olive tree-covered hill on the island of Lesbos until the high cement walls of Camp Moria come into view. "Welcome to prison," someone has spray-painted on the walls. The dreadful stench of urine and garbage greets visitors and the ground is covered with hundreds of plastic bags. It is raining, and filthy water has collected ankle-deep on the road. The migrants who come out of the camp are covered with thin plastic capes and many of them are wearing only flipflops on their feet as they walk through the soup. Children are crying as men jostle their way through the crowd.

Welcome to one of the most shameful sites in all of Europe. Camp Moria was originally built to handle 2,330 refugees. But currently it is home to 6,489."

Greece: As Winter Nears, Asylum Seekers Stuck in Tents on Islands (Human Rights Watch, link):

"The Greek government, with the support of EU member states, should act now to end Greece’s “containment policy,” 20 human rights and aid groups said today. The policy forces asylum seekers arriving on the Greek islands to remain in overcrowded, unsafe facilities, an urgent concern with winter approaching.

Conditions on the Greek islands have continued to deteriorate in the month since 19 nongovernmental groups wrote an open letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, calling on him to move asylum seekers to the mainland, where better conditions and services are available."

See also: Open The Islands - no more dead from the cold! Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece (Statewatch News Online, 16 October 2017)

2. EU/Libya/Africa

Europe’s Plan to Close Its Sea Borders Relies on Libya’s Coast Guard Doing Its Dirty Work, Abusing Migrants (The Intercept, link):

"In the last six months, with new support from European governments, the Libyan coast guard has substantially ramped up operations to intercept migrant boats in the international waters off their coast, where most shipwrecks take place. Confrontations with the European NGOs that work there have increased as well, with multiple organizations reporting warning shots and direct threats of violence from Libyan boats. The violence has led some organizations to stop their Mediterranean rescue operations.

The Libyan coast guard is a decentralized force often accused of working with local militias and smugglers and violating the rights of migrants. At the same time, it is a key player in Europe’s response to the refugee crisis."

EU and Italy put aside €285m to boost Libyan coast guard (EUobserver, link):

"Combined Italian and EU efforts to shore up the Libyan coast guard will cost €285 million over the next few years.

Speaking to MEPs in the civil liberty committee on Tuesday (28 November), Mario Morcone from the Italian interior ministry, said the figure covers expenses up until 2023.

"The project is going to cost €285 million, the whole thing," he said.

The plan is to create operational centres in Libya to "help search and rescue operations at sea" and to better coordinate fleets between the Libyan and Italian coastguard.

He also said a pilot project would be launched to set up border guard posts on land."

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

The EU's anti-migrant smuggling mission, Operation Sophia, is to host a "crime information cell" as part of a pilot project that will attempt to ensure any information gathered by the mission that is "relevant for crime prevention, investigation and prosecution, or more broadly border security is made available to the relevant Member State authorities and JHA agencies".

EU: Operation Sophia's world: Changes and challenges (pdf):

A briefing by the EU Institute of Security Studies: "Two and a half years after its creation, Operation Sophia is very different from what it was meant to be initially. The situation in Libya has not permitted the full implementation of the operation's planned mandate, which has changed as a consequence. But EU Member States have also displayed a degree of lassitude vis-a-vis the added-value of the operation and the unintended consequences it generated, in particular in relation to its growing humanitarian dimension. At a time when refugees in Libya are the victims of major human rights violations, what Operation Sophia is really about is still uncertain, and it is furthermore dependant on parameters that are beyond the EU's own reach."

SPAIN: Protest at the Libyan embassy in Madrid against the trade in African migrants

Hundreds of people protested in front of the Libyan embassy in Madrid this weekend to call for the freedom of the refugees and migrants that that have been turned into merchandise in the north African country. The demonstration was called by various organisations of African people, and people of African descent, under the slogan "we will stop the sale of our black brothers and sisters".

Migration think-tank: Europe is ‘obsessed’ with short-term solution (euractiv, link):

"Migration will dominate the fifth summit between Africa and the European Union, which will be held in Abidjan on 29 and 30 November. But Europeans keep dictating the agenda, due to lack of political unity in the African Union.(...)

Today Europe sees migration as a threat and Africa as an opportunity."

Libya human bondage risks overshadowing Africa-EU summit (EurActiv, link):

"African leaders are expected to warn Europeans that their way of outsourcing the migration crisis to Libya, in apparent disregard for human rights, risks opening old wounds in the heavy history of the two continents.

The leaders of the 28 EU countries and their counterparts from the 27 members of the African Union will meet in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, on 29-30 November. (...)

[Federica] Mogherini [EU head of foreign affairs and security policy] was questioned about the EU’s strategy of outsourcing the migration crisis to foreign countries such as Libya and Turkey, which received billions to prevent Syrian refugees from crossing to Greece.

She said the situation was different on two counts: first, the migrants stranded in Libya were not legitimate asylum seekers like those fleeing the war in Syria. And second, different international bodies were in charge."

UN working to address slavery, abuses against African migrants and refugees, Security Council told (UN News Centre, link):

"28 November 2017 – The United Nations is stepping up its work to stop the grave abuses perpetrated against refugees and migrants along the Central Mediterranean routes, including alleged slave trade in Libya, two UN agency chiefs told the Security Council Tuesday.

The meeting was held at UN Headquarters in New York in response to growing international concerns about risks facing migrants and refugees, which were illustrated by recent news reports and videos showing African migrants in Libya allegedly being sold as slaves.

“This is an enormous human tragedy and we can stop it,” said William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), via video link from Geneva, underscoring the need to break the smugglers’ business model."

3. EU-Turkey

EU commissioner calls on Turkey to ‘move closer to Brussels and its values’ (Hurriyet, link):

"‘Migration deal successful despite tensions’

Despite political strains between Turkey and a number of EU member states, the migration deal between Ankara and Brussels continues to work, with Turkey and the EU together succeeding in substantially reducing irregular and dangerous arrivals, Avramopoulos stated.

From 10,000 crossings in a single day in October 2015, daily crossings from Turkey have dramatically fallen to an average of 84 per day today, while the number of deaths in the Aegean has fallen from 1,150 in the year before the migration deal to 113 in the year that followed, he noted.

Over 11.400 persons have been resettled to the EU from Turkey so far, as part of the agreement, Avramopoulos said.

“On Sept. 27 I called on EU Member States to resettle a further 50,000 persons from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and countries along the Central Mediterranean route over the next two years. I have already received more than 38,000 pledges from 18 countries and I know that more will follow soon,” he stated.

Since March 21, 2016, 2,032 migrants have been returned from Greece to Turkey under the migration agreement and the Greece-Turkey bilateral protocol, including 228 people from Syria, he added."

Turkish PM warns EU over refugee deal ahead of Syrian peace talks (Guardian, link)

"Binali Yildirim suggests Turkey could withdraw from EU agreement if Kurdish forces are given a role in talks.

Turkey’s prime minister has warned that the country has the power to allow millions of refugees to resume their journeys to western Europe if the US and EU-backed Kurdish forces fighting in Syria are given a role in peace talks."

4. Deaths

Migrant crisis: Boat sinks off Libya, killing at least 31 (BBC News, link):

"At least 31 migrants have died after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya on Saturday.

They had been trying to cross the Mediterranean along with another boat. Children were among the dead.

Some 60 people were rescued from the water and 140 picked up from the second boat."

Algerian man dies after Denmark deportation flight struggle (The Local, link):

"Denmark’s Independent Police Complaints Authority is to investigate an incident in which an Algerian citizen lost consciousness during a struggle with police on board an aircraft set to deport him from the country. The man died in hospital two days later.

The man was escorted to Copenhagen Airport by police on Monday as part of a scheduled forced deportation.

He lost consciousness on board the aircraft and was then taken to hospital, but died on Wednesday, the Independent Police Complaints Authority (Den Uafhængige Politiklagemyndighed, DUP) confirmed to news agency Ritzau.

A witness who was on board the aircraft told tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet that the incident seemed "violent"."

5. Legal and policy developments

EU: Reception conditions for asylum applicants: Council agrees mandate for negotiations (press release, pdf):

"On 29 November 2017, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) endorsed, on behalf of the Council, a mandate for negotiations on a directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection. On the basis of this mandate, the presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament."

Points highlighted: reception conditions, limiting "secondary movements", need for Member States to draw up contingency plans in cases of "disproportionate number of applicants".

FRANCE: A government-sponsored bill for the mass detention of asylum-seekers

Wednesday, 29 November, the Commission of Laws of the National Assembly will examine a law proposed by the group Les Constructifs "permitting the correct application of the European asylum system". Its purpose: to allow the mass detention of people seeking asylum under the 'Dublin' procedure, a practice censured by the Court of Cassation.

ECJ-HUNGARY: Tell me what you see and I’ll tell you if you’re gay: Analysing the Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-473/16, F v Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link):

"Hungary has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons for quite a while. From legislation targeting ‘foreign-operating universities’ to border walls to keep refugees from entering Hungarian territory, the populist right-wing government of Viktor Orban has been sparking outrage in many sectors of Hungarian society, and the European institutions. The most recent reason for alarm again relates to migration and refugees, an area of widespread criticism of Hungarian authorities. Building on extremely hostile policies towards refugees that have been admonished by both the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Hungarian authorities now intend to resort to highly dubious means to assess the applications of individuals claiming asylum on grounds related to their sexual orientation. It was already public knowledge that this category of claimants was subjected to poor treatment by the Hungarian authorities, but recent events suggest that the authorities have reached a new low."

FRANCE-EU: The French suite. The effect of Al Chodor on the detention of asylum seekers for the purpose of a Dublin transfer (European Database of Asylum Law, link):

"In its decision from 27 September 2017 [Pourvoi n 17-15.160, arrêt n° 1130], the first civil chamber of the Cassation Court in France examines and applies the conclusions of the case of Al Chodor given by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 15 March 2017...

Conclusion

With the backing of the highest administrative court, the French prefectures continue to place asylum applicants subject to a Dublin transfer decision in detention; in other words, they continue to deprive applicants from their fundamental right to liberty and are in violation of EU law. Furthermore, the widespread practice has been reinforced and applicants subject to a Dublin transfer can be detained at the moment of their registration at the prefecture. One may question what sort of provisions will be laid out in the draft law on asylum and immigration currently being prepared. Will they draw all of the conclusions from the Al Chodor decision in providing objective and precise criteria on the risk of absconding in order for detention to be the exception? Or will the provisions circumvent the European case law and provide for cosmetic and malleable criteria allowing prefectures to maintain a systematic detention of individuals and allow administrative judges to validate the measures? A reading of the proposed law allowing for a correct application of the European asylum regime lodged at the National Assembly on 24 October 2017 (presented by Jean-Luc Warsmann and 18 other republican deputies) does not bode well since the proposal specifically aims to render meaningless the decisions, analysed here, by the CJEU and Court of Cassation."

6. Other news

EU: Help is no crime: people share their stories of being accused, intimidated and punished for helping migrants (PICUM, link):

"Individuals and members of organisations who provide humanitarian assistance and help to undocumented migrants frequently face intimidation, accusations and punishments across Europe, due to policies which prohibit the ‘facilitation of irregular migration’.

These stories of migrant supporters aim to show what these policies mean in practice for civil society actors as well as for migrants and the impact of criminalising solidarity."

And see: Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity (IRR, link): "Drawing on the work of advocacy organisations across Europe, it provides a sample of twenty-six case studies involving prosecutions of 45 individual humanitarian actors under anti-smuggling or immigration laws since September 2015."

UK: The hostile environment: woman reporting rape to police arrested on immigration charges

"A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care, Politics.co.uk can reveal.

The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May's 'hostile environment' towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police."

GERMANY: Small town mayor stabbed at kebab shop over pro-refugee stance (The Local, link):

" German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday condemned a near fatal knife attack against a town mayor, apparently motivated by the local leader's pro-refugee stance and which left him with a six-inch neck wound.

Andreas Hollstein, 54, mayor of the western town of Altena, was stabbed Monday evening at a kebab shop by a man who had loudly criticised his liberal refugee policy.

Hollstein said that without two shop employees who rushed to help him, he would "probably not be here today"."

Refugee centers in Germany suffer near daily attacks (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Fresh data from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Agency (BKA) obtained by German daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung shows that there have been 211 attacks on refugee homes throughout Germany in the first nine months of the year, plus an additional 15 incidents up to October 23.

The figure is down from nearly 900 attacks in the first nine months of 2016, but still higher than in 2014, a year before Germany took in more than 1 million refugees, more than any other country in Europe."

UK: Immigration detainees face deportation due to legal aid bureaucracy (Law Gazette, link):

"Immigration detainees are being deported because administrative hurdles are deterring legal aid solicitors from taking up viable judicial review cases, an independent report commissioned by the Bar Council suggests.

Even though immigration detention is in scope for legal aid, the Injustice in Immigration Detention report, published today, says the UK legal landscape is failing detainees.

Beginning a judicial review claim is a 'financial gamble' for a legal aid lawyer, the report states. The solicitor must apply for a legal aid certificate for civil representation, which has a 'stringent' merits test. Preparing the legal aid application, alongside the application for JR permission, can take a long time. If permission is not granted, the Legal Aid Agency does not pay for any of the pre-permission work."

Inside Hungary's far-right movement (euronews, link):

"The radical narratives mounted by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz Party and far-right movements are gaining ground ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections. Euronews reporter Valerie Gauriat traveled to Hungary for the national Republic Day to hear from supporters and critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s hardline stance on immigration—and what it means to be Hungarian."

ROMANIA: Migrant crisis: New back door into Europe (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Almost every day dozens of people are being caught at the border trying to come to Romania and reach Western Europe. 76 human traffickers have been detained in Romania so far in 2017."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21-23.11.17)
Statewatch Analysis: The widespread impunity over migrant deaths (pdf) by Ana González-Páramo:

Forthcoming international initiatives on refugees and safe and orderly migration offer an opportunity to ensure that there is an end to the widespread impunity over migrant deaths worldwide, and to ensure that refugees' and migrants' right to life is recognised and upheld.

EU Trust Fund for Africa: just 3% of migration budget aimed at developing safe and legal routes, says Oxfam

An analysis of the EU's Trust Fund for Africa undertaken by Oxfam has found that of the €400 million allocated to migration management, "most projects are designed to restrict and discourage irregular migration through migration containment and control," while "a meagre 3% of the budget is allocated to developing safe and regular routes."

EU-SPAIN: New report provides an "x-ray" of the public funding and private companies in Spain's "migration control industry"

A new report offers an "x-ray" of the public funding and the companies that make up Spain's "migration control industry", with technology and construction firms such as Indra, Dragados and Ferrovial amongst the chief beneficiaries of national and EU funding directed towards border control, surveillance and the detention and expulsion of irregular migrants.

EU: Eastern Partnership expert meeting on irregular migration: discussion paper and legal framework overview

"The Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries were not affected by the increased irregular migration flows and smuggling activities of criminal networks at the same dramatic level as the EU Member States (EU MS) during the Mediterranean migration crisis of 2015-2016. However, the recent alerts on the activation of a Black Sea migrant route which, according to the opinion of experts, could be even more dangerous for migrants’ lives than the Mediterranean one, will definitely require more attention and adequate response of the EaP states.

The importance of effective countering and preventive measures should be recognized by the governments of EaP states as well as the importance of cross border cooperation to ensure the fulfillment of the commitments regarding the operations to counter migrant smuggling according to the international criminal law and the commitments on protection of migrants and refugees, especially migrants in vulnerable situation."

Turkish family of five drowned in Aegean Sea as trying to flee from Erdogan regime’s persecution (Stockolm Center for Freedom, link):

"A Turkish family of five allegedly drowned in Aegean Sea as they were trying to flee from the persecution of the despotic regime of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greek island Lesvos.

Sources told to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) that the bodies recently found by Greek authorities on Lesvos island may belong to Turkish man Hüseyin Maden, who was affiliated with the Gülen movement, and his family members.

The sources told SCF that the relatives of Maden Family in Turkey’s Samsun province have not heard from them for several days. So, it was speculated that the bodies found by Greek authorities may belong to the 5 members of Maden Family."

European Commission: TEMPLATE FOR HOTSPOT STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (H-SOPS) (pdf):

"Border control/Search and rescue / interception of migrants

2. AT DISEMBARKATION SITE (note: might be extremely close to hotspot premises, having the effect that some actions listed under 4 are carried out here (i.e. 4.2., 4.8.)

3. TRANSFER TO HOTSPOTS*
4. ENTERING THE HOTSPOT PREMISES AND INITIAL PROCESSING
4.1 Initial reception of arriving migrants
4.2 Personal security checks and checks of personal belongings
4.3 First identification/screening
4.4 Check against national and European databases, including travel document checks
4.5 Photographs and fingerprinting
4.6 Debriefing procedures
4.7 Information provision on current legislation on migration and international protection procedures as well as on assisted voluntary return and reintegration
4.8 Medical assessment / first medical assistance, including psychosocial assistance."

UK: Young arrivers share common routes to immigration detention and face specific forms of harm

"Children who are not citizens, or ‘young arrivers’ often face difficulties growing up in the UK, but their rights are generally more extensive than those of adults. It is far less likely that they will be detained or deported than adults. Once children approach 18, they move from protected to unprotected status. Many are not able to secure settled immigration status, but even when they do, they risk automatic deportation orders if they go to prison.

Having spent a significant part of their formative years in the UK, some adults end up detained in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) while the government tries to deport them to places that feel foreign. This can be a frightening process which dramatically challenges identities and rights that they previously took for granted. But there has been little written on the topic and no research about this group in relation to immigration detention."

GREECE: Opinion: Who defends the rights of refugee children on the fringes of Europe? (Devex, link) by Maria Brul and Linnea Huld:

"Earlier this month, the bodies of two children washed ashore on the Greek island of Lesvos, and Europe’s growing disregard for refugees at its borders was never more obvious. The coroner found that the two children had been dead in the water for 24 days, but no record of a migrant shipwreck or missing children’s report was ever filed by authorities for that period. What’s more, this horrific tragedy — which would have caused public uproar two years ago, when images of Alan Kurdi’s death first dominated headlines — attracted little to no attention at all.

Sadly, this is not the first time we’ve seen the protection of refugee children treated as a political afterthought in Europe. Since January, our emergency response team in Lesvos has seen almost 1,000 children arrive by boat to the north shore of the island, sometimes so scared and hypothermic that they lay limp in volunteers’ arms. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of young people remain stranded in camps on the islands and across mainland Greece, often in unsafe and inhumane conditions.

That’s why today, Universal Children’s Day and the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we call on Europe to uphold its responsibility to protect the rights of refugee children forgotten at its margins. "

UK: Government response to asylum housing report "really isn't good enough"

The UK government's response to a highly-critical parliamentary committee report on housing for asylum-seekers "really isn't good enough," according to the chair of the committee, Yvette Cooper MP, adding that: "Only last month, charities reported that unclean, vermin infested, damp conditions remain a common experience for asylum seekers arriving in the UK. It is difficult to know what exactly it will take before these shameful conditions are acknowledged and meaningful action taken."

HUNGARY: Beware, the refugees are coming! (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"A couple of days ago a brief article appeared in Magyar Nemzet, which surely surprised those who happened upon it. The Hungarian government has surreptitiously accepted a fair number of refugees for settlement in Hungary this year. While the drumbeat against the Soros Plan and migrants is continuous and unrelenting, behind the backs of the misled people the government has accepted far more “migrants” so far this year than in 2016. While in 2016 the Hungarian government received over 25,000 applicants, this year their number shrank to fewer than 3,000. Yet, according to the Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs (BMH), the number of people receiving asylum has more than doubled."

“EU-Africa migration funds were used on Libya’s coast guard patrol vessels" (The Medi Telegraph, link)

"Genoa - EU international cooperation funding destined for development projects in Africa was used to refurbish patrol boats for Libya’s coast guard, and handed over to Libyan militia units who practice torture and extrajudicial killings, in violation of Libyan and international standards. While a chilling CNN video that showed migrants being auctioned off as slaves has opened a moral debate (only yesterday, the UN High Commissioner described the agreement signed by Italy and the EU with Libya as “inhuman”), now the Italian government will have to respond also to allegations that it acted illegitimately by providing funding to authorities in Tripoli. The ASGI, an Italian association of immigration lawyers, has lodged a complaint with Lazio’s Regional Court, in which it contests a 2.5 million euro payment by Italy’s Interior Ministry for the refurbishment of four patrol boats operated by Libya’s coast guard for coastal border control."

See: Depositato il ricorso di ASGI contro lo sviamento di 2,5 milioni di euro dal c.d. Fondo Africa (Italian, link): "Given that these vessels might be used by the Libyan Coast Guard to pull-back migrants and refugees rescued/intercepted at sea and retain them in appalling detention centers, the main argument before TAR is that this military equipment is a diversion of the funding allocated by the Italian Parliament to contribute to the resolution of the humanitarian crisis in Libya."

Bulgarian Defence Minister admits ladders being used to climb over fence at border with Turkey

"Bulgarian Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov admitted in a television interview on October 20 that ladders were being used to climb over the country’s fence at the Turkish border, built at huge expense to prevent illicit entry to the country.

The Bulgarian government has come under sustained opposition criticism for several months about the fence. Officials recently said that the fence had been significantly damaged by heavy rainfall, while photos have been circulated not only of people climbing over the fence, but also showing a large hole underneath it."

UK: The fightback against May's hostile environment has begun (politics.co.uk, link):

" It was on the streets of British towns and cities that the 'hostile environment' first took hold. Immigration officers, sometimes working with homeless charities and local authorities, would head out at night to track down foreign rough sleepers and detain them. If they were undocumented they were often given the opportunity to leave the country voluntarily. If they refused, they could be forcibly removed. Then in 2016 the Home Office introduced new rules which meant that rough sleeping was to be considered an 'abuse' or 'misuse' of an EU citizens' right to freedom of movement. It was no longer just undocumented migrants being targeted but also those who came to the UK legally.

Now, thanks to a tireless campaign from the organisation North East London Migrant Action (NELMA), a judicial review of the policy began at the High Court yesterday. And it's not the only fight the government is facing over its 'hostile environment' agenda.

There are currently two legal challenges against policies that have been introduced in the NHS. The first, which Politics.co.uk reported on recently, is a case brought by the Migrants' Rights Network against the sharing of patients' personal data between NHS Digital and the Home Office for immigration purposes... The second case relates to new guidelines introduced in October which mean that migrants who are not entitled to free NHS treatment will be charged upfront for non-urgent care when they visit a hospital."

UK-FRANCE: Interior ministers' meeting: Joint statement by the governments of France and the UK (pdf):

"Home Secretary Amber Rudd and the Minister of the Interior of France, Gérard Collomb, met in London today (Thursday 16 November). They discussed a range of home affairs matters including joint efforts to fight terrorism, illegal migration, border security and efforts to tackle serious and organised crime.

The ministers emphasised the need to maintain and strengthen bilateral cooperation on security and law enforcement co-operation. On counter-terrorism they reinforced their commitment to the British-French action plan to ensure the internet is not used as a safe space for terrorists. The ministers recognised that the internet companies are making progress, but committed to push them to go further and faster in taking down terrorist material online – in particular to ensure it is removed within one to two hours of upload – and to continue to develop technical solutions to tackle the issue.

On migration, the ministers discussed the situation in Northern France and the challenges linked to illegal migration. The ministers acknowledged the importance of UK support in reinforcing the security arrangements in coastal cities of Northern France and the need for continued efforts to manage jointly the shared border between the UK and France. The UK and France will also explore ways of improving cooperating on efforts in countries of origin and transit in Africa and Asia."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.11.17)
EU: London, 4 December 2017: Stop the criminalisation of human rights defenders (IRR, link):

"To mark the publication of IRR’s new research into the hostile political and legal environment facing humanitarian actors who seek to protect life at Europe’s sea and land borders, the IRR invites you to a wide-ranging discussion of how EU policies are shrinking the space for humanitarian action while feeding the far Right."

UK: West Yorkshire and Kent police forces to have new trial powers to stop and search people for ‘immigration offences’ (Right to Remain, link):

"Polices forces in West Yorkshire and Kent have begun a pilot progamme that will grant both forces the same powers as Immigration Officers to search ‘non-EEA illegal immigrants’ for UK drivers licenses.

This further outsourcing of immigration enforcement will lead to the increased harassment of migrants, and racial profiling of UK citizens.

The powers are contained in the controversial 2016 Immigration Act, Theresa May’s last before she left her post as Home Secretary and ascended to Number 10. The Act extends Immigration Officer’s powers in terms of stopping someone, and at the same time blurs the line between police and immigration by granting police some of those same powers."

Are You Syrious (19.11.17):

"Police say they are happy to let refugee on hunger strike die

Today is the fourth day of a hunger strike by Hesam Shaeri Hesari, an Iranian refugee whose asylum application was denied. Hesam was forced to flee his home country as a result of his political beliefs, and he has good reason to believe that should he return to Iran, he would be persecuted or jailed. To protest this injustice, Hesam has opted to go on a hunger strike.

Hesam has been under police custody for the last ten days and is expected to stay there until his deportation to Iran. Tonight, Hesam was transferred to a hospital....

Protest scheduled in Lesvos for November 20, right wingers to hold counter-protest

"On November 20, starting from 5pm, people on Lesvos will hold a demonstration in Mitylini against the EU’s and UN’s numerous failures to commit their obligations towards refugees. The main demand of the protesters is that the islands be opened to allow refugees, who have been stranded in the islands for months, to move to the mainland. Anti-refugee right-wingers, as well as the mayor of Mytilini will hold an event earlier in the day against the presence of refugees on Lesvos and in Greece more generally."

3 sink while heading to Ceuta

"3 refugees have died after falling out of a boat destined for Ceuta. The 21 survivors on the boat were rescued by the Spanish coastguard. Ceuta is seen as a desirable destination for many. The city, located at the northern tip of Africa, is a Spanish territory. The territory is completely walled off from neighboring Morocco, forcing people to resort to more dangerous means to cross the border."

CROATIA: AYS van has its windows smashed

"The AYS van has been vandalized after our appeal to keep the residents in Zagreb rather than moving them to a motel near the Serbian border. The police has opened aninvestigation, but we don’t expect much out of it. We use this vehicle every day to bring both kids and adults from Porin camp to different educational or other activities, to move those who’ve been granted asylum to their new homes, to distribute donations etc. We are completely paralyzed without it. If you would like to contribute to repairing the van, please contact us on FB. We’d really appreciate it."

Israel to deport 40,000 African refugees without their consent (DW, link)

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced an unspecified international deal to expel some 40,000 African asylum seekers from the country. The Israeli Cabinet also voted to shut down a migration center."

Migrants clash with farmers on Chios; riot breaks out in Lesvos camp (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Ten migrants staying at a camp in the former Vial factory on the eastern Aegean island of Chios were being questioned by police on Monday morning following tension with a pair of local famers.(...)

Meanwhile, police were also called in the early hours of Sunday to quell a riot that broke out at the Moria refugee processing center on Lesvos. Reports suggested the riot was mostly restricted to the area of the massively overcrowded camp housing some 350 unaccompanied minors, and caused damage to UNHCR facilities and the office of a non-governmental organization.

Local authorities on Lesvos were on strike on Monday in protest at the situation that has developed on the island, as well as on others in the eastern Aegean, from a spike in arrivals and continued delays in the processing of migrants and refugees who have already been trapped in camps for months."

First child refugee from Greek camps comes to UK (Guardian, link)

"Syrian boy was offered place by London council last year but officials did not take action to facilitate the 15-year-old’s transfer."

Supporting Libyan Coast Guard is a misuse of the so-called "Africa Fund". Italian Association ASGI brings Italian Foreign Ministry to Court

"The Italian Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) has recently brought legal proceedings before the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) with regard to Decree 4110/47 by which the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation allocates 2,5 million euros to the Ministry of Interior to repair four vessels for Libyan authorities and train them. Such a disbursement is part of the "Africa Fund" (200 million euros) set up by the Italian Parliament to promote cooperation and dialogue with African countries. Being Libya a notoriously unsafe country for migrants and refugees in transit, the compatibility of such a massive allocation of money with the stated goals of the "Africa Fund" – however vague they are – should be qu questioned. Given that these vessels might be used by the Libyan Coast Guard to pull-back migrants and refugees rescued/intercepted at sea and retain them in appalling detention centers, the main argument before TAR is that this military equipment is a diversion of the funding allocated by the Italian Parliament to contribute to the resolution of the humanitarian crisis in Libya."

See: Depositato il ricorso di ASGI contro lo sviamento di 2,5 milioni di euro dal c.d. Fondo Africa (Italian, link)

Fundamental rights and the EU hotspot approach (Danish Refugee Council, pdf):

"A legal assessment of the implementation of the EU hotspot approach and its potential role in the reformed Common European Asylum System."

Migrant crisis: Europe should stop using Libya as a dumping ground (Middle East Eye, link):

"With no central government and its own crises, Libya is ill-equipped to deal with an influx of returned migrants requiring shelter."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-17.11.17)
UPD Dutch journalist Sakir Khader arrested in Greece along with German cameraman, photographers (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"A Dutch journalist has been arrested in Greece while reporting on refugees who crossed into the country via Turkey. Along with Dutch journalist Sakir Khader, arrested have been also a German cameraman and two Iraqi photographers with German passports.

Sakir Khader, a reporter with current affairs show Brandpunt in the Netherlands, was detained on Monday morning in the border area between Greece and Turkey (...)

Along with the refugees, he was detained by Greek police, reportedly on charges that he had trespassed into a military zone."

Are You Syrious (16.11.17):

EU defending “an outrage to the conscience of humanity” - FEATURE - Germany and Italy defending criminal practice of Libya

“Handing human traffickers the keys to European democracies” is presented by the Italian Minister as the alternative to the Italian and EU’s supporting of the unlawful and horrendous activities of their Libyan ‘partners in crime’.

The practice of support (political and financial) given to the Libyan coast guard and other forces working on preventing people to flee their countries and the continent in a search for safety and decent life constantly exposes returned migrants to Libya’s lawless detention centers, with no legal recourse. (...)

However, now Italy’s foreign ministry simply said that Rome had been calling “for months” for those involved “to multiply actions and efforts in Libya to ensure acceptable and dignified conditions” in detention centres. This implies the states involved?—?are not involved? (...)

“The increasing interventions of the EU and its member states have done nothing so far to reduce the level of abuses suffered by migrants. On the contrary, conditions have only worsened.” - Human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein."

New arrivals

"Three boats to Lesvos this morning, a total of 146 people (39, then 64 and the last boat had 42 people on board), all on the north coast of the island. They will be welcomed to a camp which has absolutely no space or capacity!

Two boats arrived to Chios. The first boat with 55 people arrived to Chios in the morning, carrying 14 men, 12 women and 29 children. The second one had 22 men, 7 women and 26 children on board."

Calais refugees face the winter

The situation on the streets of Calais continues to worsen.

Over a year later, with the arrival of another winter, there are still hundreds of refugees and migrants bracing for the cold, desperate to cross the Channel and to make a fresh start in Britain.

The refugees living in Calais continue to depend upon the volunteer organizations that have been present in the area all the while: Help Refugees, Utopia 56 and Care4Calais."

Commission: Migration progress reports

The European Commission has published the latest reports on: European Agenda on Migration: Consolidating progress made (Press release, pdf): Includes:

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "We are exiting crisis mode gradually"

UN human rights chief: Suffering of migrants in Libya outrage to conscience of humanity (link):

"GENEVA (14 November) – The UN Human Rights chief today expressed dismay at the sharp increase in the number of migrants held in horrific conditions at detention facilities in Libya, saying the European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean was inhuman.

“The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. “What was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic.

“The detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond repair,” said Zeid. “Only alternatives to detention can save migrants’ lives and physical security, preserve their dignity and protect them from further atrocities.

“The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions in detention,” he said,"

MEP on EU-Turkey deal: Processing of asylum applications is being delayed (euractiv, link):

"More than a year since the EU-Turkey agreement, a European immigration law is still distant but badly needed. The European distribution mechanism does not work due to the lack of receptiveness of many EU member states, "

The Italian Council of State confirms Bulgaria not safe country for the transfer of asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation

In this decision the Council of State affirmed that “*there are no reliable elements that led us to believe that the condition of asylum seekers in Bulgaria can be considered respectful of fundamental human rights and can lead to a concrete risk of suffering inhuman and degrading treatments as foreseen in Art. 3 par. 2 Reg. n. 604/2013.

See: Council of State Decision (pdf)

Greek nationalist anger turns to violence against refugees (DW, link)

"Years into a refugee crisis, many Greeks continue to resist the integration of asylum seekers stranded in the country. New, far-right extremist groups are taking advantage of the frustration. Anthee Carassava reports."

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no: 13347-17, 126 pages, pdf): The Council working on its negotiating position. There are 225 Footnotes:

"Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text, orally and in writing, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."

GREECE: Hundreds of migrants living in tents on Aegean islands amid fears of worsening weather (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Around 2,000 migrants on Lesvos, including hundreds of small children, are living in tents that were set up during the summer amid concerns that the onset of winter may bring a new humanitarian crisis on the island.

In total, there are 8,293 people on the island, a favored destination of people traffickers bringing migrants over from neighboring Turkey. Conditions are similarly overcrowded on Samos where 2,397 people are cramped in and around a facility built to hold 700. Meanwhile arrivals from Turkey continue, dozens every day."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-13.11.17)
Institute for Race Relations (IRR): EU member states, in criminalising humanitarians, are feeding Europe’s far Right (Press release, link):

"The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) publishes today research showing that EU member states are using laws, aimed at traffickers and smugglers, to criminalise those acting out of humanitarian motives.

The rhetoric of EU politicians and its border force, Frontex, may be fuelling far-right extremism, IRR warns. It has written to the European Commission (EC) urging it to reassert support for humanitarian values."

See: Report (link) and Trafficking laws ‘target refugee aid workers in EU’ (Guardian, link)

Are You Syrious (12.11.17, link):

No, the Greek border will not be opened. Do not inspire false hope in refugees!

"Rumors are once again being circulated that the Greek border will be opened soon, prompting some to make the journey to be among those lucky enough to get through. The call is spread over the FB and people are invited to come to Thessaloniki on November 15th, and start walking toward the Macedonian border.

Unfortunately, as has been the case every other time that such rumors have spread, there is no truth to this wishful thinking. The border is closed and will remain closed in the foreseeable future, and a mass pilgrimage to the north will only result in injuries for the refugees. A previous attempt to march north ended in tragedy, with two refugees drowning and many more being hurt. Be an active voice against misinformation, save lives!"

Turkish Coastguard attacks refugee boat

"A video shot on November 10 shows the Turkish coastguard’s shocking disregard for human life as they harass and allegedly fire shots at a refugee boat. Once a Greek coastguard boat appeared, 17 refugees jumped off the boat and swam towards the Greeks. The remaining people who were unable to swim were returned to Turkey."

3rd meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group, 13 November 2017 in Bern (link):

"The Central Mediterranean Contact Group facilitates the exchange of information among European and African countries affected by migration via the Central Mediterranean route. The Contact Group was established in Rome in March 2017 at the initiative of Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti. (...)

The Ministers of Interior of Algeria, Austria, the Chad, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia and the Minister for Malians Abroad and African Integration, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship and the Representative of the European External Action Service, as well as the Minister of Interior of Estonia holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union gathered in Bern on 12 and 13 November 2017 in the framework of the third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group."

See: Declaration of Intent (pdf)

ECCHR: Rejections and Returns: The EU-Turkey Statement and its consequences for refugees in Greece, Turkey and Germany (pdf): Monday, 20 November, 19:00 – 21:00. ECCHR, Zossener Straße 55-58 (Aufgang D), 10961 Berlin:

"The EU-Turkey Statement from March 2016 stipulates that “[a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey”. Under the adjusted procedures, people who arrive on the Greek islands are subjected to accelerated border procedures and an initial admissibility test on their asylum claim. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), an EU agency, is in charge of “recommending” a decision to the competent Greek Asylum Service. Based on the dubious assumption that Turkey is a safe third country, many refugees currently face the risk of being deported back there."

EU: Returns and lack of readmission agreements highlight reluctance of African states to comply with EU demands

In a letter to Claude Moraes (pdf), Chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE), the Director-General of of Migration and Home Affairs sets out the present situation of readmissions.

Despite the Commission's attempts to set up return and readmission agreements, especially in Africa: "Most third countries however, do not want to engage in negotiations on readmission agreements mainly due to internal political considerations, as such agreements can be a source of public hostility."

More “Safe” Third Country Concept: less safe world (ECRE, link)

"Either deliberately or by default the EU is moving towards a strategy of “externalisation” – and the proposed expansion in use of the safe third country concept is a central element.

The concept allows for the outsourcing of protection to other countries, those deemed safe. The legislative reform proposals put forward by the Commission use the concept in a problematic way; but the European Council goes further (or lower) and some Member States are pitching alarming ideas. ECRE has set out its concerns in a new Policy Note but it’s worth unpicking the details."

Spanish governing party refuses to abolish "hot returns" ruled illegal by ECHR

The plenary meeting of the Spanish Senate (the lower house of parliament) this Wednesday voted against a proposal that would ban the "hot returns" (immediate expulsions without procedure) at the Spanish borders that were recently condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the N.D. and N.T. case.

ITALY: Statement: Now it's happening in the detention centre in Caltanisseta

"40 Tunisian citizens are freed every day from the Lampedusa detention centre: Italy puts an end to illegal detention.

Now it's happening in the detention centre of Caltanissetta "

Greece: Court curtails detention policy for Syrians on the islands (AIDA, link);

"The Administrative Court of Mytilene has delivered three rulings upholding Syrian asylum seekers’ objections against detention, against the backdrop of a policy to detain Syrians on the Eastern Aegean islands with a view to their return to Turkey."

Greece: Anger rises in Lesbos over crowded refugee camps (Guardian, link):

"Lesbos mayor accuses Greek government of allowing island to become a giant prison camp.

“We are utterly opposed to policies that are turning Lesbos and other border areas into concentration camps where all human dignity is denied,” said Spyros Galinos, the island’s mayor. “The government has failed to keep to its commitment to effectively deal with this problem and move people on.” (...)

Close to 6,000 people are being held at the island’s main camp in Moria, which was initially established as a temporary measure to house no more than 2,000."

Comment: See below: Currently there are 8,106 refugees in Lesvos (9.11.17, Greek Ministry)

Greece: The number of refugees on the Greek islands top 15,000 again (15, 005, 8.11.17):

Lesvos 8,017 (Capacity 2,330), Chios 2,336 (Capacity 894), Samos 2,341 (Capacity 700), Leros 997 (Capacity 880), Kos 1,182 (Capacity 772) Other islands 132.

See also: Commission: Med "hotspots", capacity and staff (23.10.17, pdf)

Sea-Watch: RESCUING NOT TALKING: Help us get the Sea-Watch 3 into operation (link)

Refugees Seek Media Platform to Change Bulgarian Minds (Balkan Insight, link)

"Faced with an upsurge of hostility from Bulgarian citizens, refugees and activists want to set up a media platform that will show people what they are really like."

Hungarians walk to overcome fears of Muslims (New Europe, link):

"A popular way to learn about Budapest’s Muslim community – amid a strident anti-immigrant campaign by the government – is to walk.

Budapest-based tour operator Setamuhely (Budapest Walkshop) runs 30 different walks taking visitors around the city’s architectural and cultural sites and the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“I can say that this walk, ‘Muslims who live among us’, is the most popular tour,” Anna Lenard, who runs the business,” told the Reuters news agency."

Greece: AITIMA: Press release: Administrative detention in Greece remains problematic (pdf):

"We would like to focus on two points that we consider as the most important:

1/ Lack of compliance by the Greek authorities with most of the European Committee¡¦s repeated recommendations

If one reads the Committee¡¦s reports of the previous years, repeated findings will be noticed (with relevant recommendations, which are ignored), such as:

- detention of unaccompanied minors
- use of inappropriate facilities for the administrative detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers
- significant deficiencies regarding the medical-pharmaceutical care of the administratively detainees

2/ Physical ill-treatment allegations by the administratively detained persons in the Detention Centers of the Aliens Police Directorate of Thessaloniki and in the Pre-Removal Aliens Detention Center of Tavros and their investigation by the Greek authorities."

Are You Syrious (6.11.17, link)

Italian-funded Libyan Coast Guard Causes 5 Deaths in the Mediterranean

"The Sea-Watch rescue organization reported this morning that the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) interfered in one of their operations, forcing a number of refugees aboard Libyan ships while Sea-Watch was attempting a rescue. The LCG’s violent intervention caused a number of refugees to fall off their boat in a panic, and some drowned in the water. The actions of the LCG resulted in the deaths of five refugees, including one infant who Sea-Watch volunteers were unable to revive in their vessel. Sea-Watch reports:

"The reckless and violent behavior of Libyan Coast Guards has caused at least five deaths on the Central Mediterranean Sea this morning, as the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 was called to their first rescue mission by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. A helicopter of the Italian Navy had to intervene to prevent more fatalities. 58 people are now safe aboard the Sea-Watch 3, despite all efforts, our medical team was not able to revive an infant in our clinic. The Libyan Coast Guards forced a few of the passengers on their vessel and took them back in the direction of Libya. By interfering in the rescue operation, the Libyans clearly violated international law: The incident took place at 30 nm off the coast, in international waters far outside of Libyan territorial waters."

Other organizations that have looked into today’s incident, including Watch the Med, have agreed with Sea-Watch that the LCG was outside of their territorial waters, and clearly acting in a reckless and illegal manner."

ITALY

"As AYS reported in a special earlier this week, refugees living in Pordenone, Italy, have been living in an extremely precarious situation for over three years now, living in makeshift camps and sleeping rough on the street. AYS documented how the local mayor authorized harsher treatment of refugees, including the confiscation of their possessions and eviction from their campsites. AYS reported, “Refugees are continually evicted - both day and night; even a simple backpack on the lawn is a synonym of a “bivouac” situation. Following this logic, blankets and sleeping bags donated by MSF are confiscated and, despite pursuing all the bureaucratic routes, it is impossible to having them returned.”

Lesvos, Greece

"Today is the eleventh day of the hunger strike, and the eighteenth day of protest for refugees who have been occupying Sappho Square on Lesvos. The respected refugee activist Arash Hampay has announced that he will begin a hunger strike tomorrow in solidarity with the protestors there.

It has been reported tonight by activists on the ground that an ambulance called into Sappho Square to aid three hunger striking women denied them medical care. The police were unwilling to assist, and the women were only given care after refugees and volunteers demanded that a second ambulance be called."

The Greek island camp where only the sick or pregnant can leave (Guardian, link):

"Thousands of refugees are living in squalid conditions on Samos, and a diagnosis of illness could be a ticket to getting out."

Greece: Unknown group claims attack on refugee boy’s home (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An unknown group calling itself Krypteia on Monday claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on the home of an 11-year-old Afghan boy in the Athens suburb of Dafni.

An anonymous caller told the Iefimerida website that the group was behind the hit, adding, “We will fight until the last illegal immigrant has gone and we will use violence, mercilessly.”"

Greece: Open Letter to the European Commission from Chios - EU Commission must take responsibility for inhumanity of Greek hotspots (Are You Syrious, link):

"We, the undersigned voluntary organisations, have been providing humanitarian aid on the Greek island of Chios for more than two years. We are writing to express our deepest concerns with regard to the situation of refugees on the island. Whilst the inhumane conditions on Chios for refugees is not a new issue, the situation has reached tipping point in recent weeks with an increase in arrivals, the withdrawal of most NGOs, and the closure of Souda camp in the city, which has left the EU hotspot Vial as the sole facility that accommodates refugees on the island." (...)

Child immigration detention: Why EU states must cut it out (euractiv, link):

"European governments are treating children like criminals by detaining them because of their migration status. It’s time to care for them as the children they are, writes Lavinia Liardo"

European Parliament: Border control: strengthening security in the EU (link): Includes:

"Information-sharing on the return of irregular migrants: To help enforce decisions by a member state on returning an illegally staying non-EU national to his or her country of origin, MEPs also approved:

- an obligation for member states to enter into the SIS all return decisions issued;
- a new alert system will inform national bodies whether the period for ‘leaving voluntarily’, during which the person is asked to leave the EU, has expired;
- a requirement for national authorities to inform the member state that launched the alert that a non-EU national has left the EU.

Currently, there is no system in place to automatically provide information on return decisions, which are now shared on a voluntary basis."

ITALY: Account of a serious violation of the law in the hotspot in Lampedusa

- In spite of the ECtHR sentence in the Khlaifa case, arbitrary detention, mass expulsions and denial of the right to asylum continue

EU: Libyan Coast Guard accused of causing "at least five deaths" in the Mediterranean

"The violent and reckless behavior of Libyan Coast Guards has caused at least five deaths on the Central Mediterranean Sea this morning, as the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 was called to their first rescue mission by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. A helicopter of the Italian Navy had to intervene to prevent more fatalities. 58 people are now safe aboard the Sea-Watch 3, despite all efforts, our medical team was not able to revive an infant in our clinic. The Libyan Coast Guards forced a few of the passengers on their vessel and took them back in direction Libya. By interfering in the rescue operation, the Libyans clearly violated international law: The incident took place at 30 nm off the coast, in international waters far outside of Libyan territorial waters.

(...)

“Probably, nobody would have had to die today if only we had the possibility to operate reasonably in a calm environment. Instead of coordinating the rescue operation with the vessels present such as a ship of the French Navy, the Libyans tried to take as many people as possible back to Libya – and accepted the loss of several lives”, says head of mission Johannes Bayer. “These deaths have to be blamed on the Libyan Coast Guards who have obstructed a safe rescue with their brutal behavior. The responsability is on the side of the European Union, however, who trains and finances these militias. They act in the EU’s will. The European governments finally have to draw conclusions from this incident and stop the collaboration with the Libyan Coast Guards. The EU has to stop to rate migration control higher than human rights!”"

See: Breaking: Dramatic first rescue operation for Sea-Watch 3 (Sea-Watch, link)

GREECE: "Welcome to Greece" - An interview with Olga Lafazani, coordinator of City Plaza (Melting Pot Europa, link):

"Since April the 22nd 2016, the "Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza" is an occupied hotel, managed by a group of activists and refugees, currently home to about 400 migrants. It is located nearby Victoria Square, a meeting place for migrants in Athens, which came to the attention of the news in March 2016 when the police evicted hundreds of people camped there, leaving them without accommodation.

During our stay in City Plaza, we had the opportunity to meet the activists who gave birth to the project and who are still directly involved in the daily life of the squat. Here is an interview with Olga Lafazani, from Athens, who has been working there with the organisation she is part of, since the first day of squatting. Her experience make up the evidence that it is possible to give life to such a project, also providing the chance to understand the ideas, the values and the strengths that characterise it and allow it to survive."

Hungarian refugees of 1956 and the current refugee crisis (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"It was about two years ago that Viktor Orbán explained that keeping “migrants” within walled compounds guarded by police was the norm when the Hungarian refugees arrived in Austria. “What do you think? They were free to go anywhere? They were in camps for years until they were properly vetted.” This was essentially Orbán’s justification for creating closed camps for those refugees who arrived in Hungary, after a fence was erected to keep most of the refugees out. According to official Hungarian statistics, 193,748 people left the country between October 23 and the spring of 1957, most of them via Austria (174,057). What happened to these people? Did they stay in closed refugee camps, waiting for years? No. According to the statistics, by March 31, 1957 only 35,250 Hungarian refugees were still in Austria. The rest were moved within months to 35 different countries, which offered them food and shelter until they found jobs."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.10-3.11.17)
EU: Migrant smuggling and trafficking as crimes against humanity: growing calls for crimes to be heard before International Criminal Court

A recent editorial in Der Spiegel by two legal academics supports the call recently made by a UN Special Rapporteur for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to "consider investigation into atrocity crimes against refugees and migrants where there are reasonable grounds that such crimes have taken place and the jurisdictional requirements of the court have been met." This approach is also being pursued by the EU's military mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, which has sought contacts with the ICC and has produced a "non-paper" on the topic that was recently obtainedby Statewatch.

EU-AFRICA: European Parliament chief in Tunisia: Africa needs a 'Marshall Plan' to halt migration

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani has recently been in Tunisia, where he called for the EU to finance a 'Marshall Plan' that would back development in Africa in order to prevent "thousands, and soon millions of people" travelling from and towards North Africa and eventually to Europe.

SAHEL: EU-backed 'G5 Sahel' security mission starts operations as Europeans hope to stem migration flows

A multinational counter-terrorism force in the Sahel region of Africa is receiving significant financial backing from the EU and recently began operations in an attempt to "counter escalating Islamist insurgencies," with a view to also deal with irregular migration and human trafficking in the region.

GREECE: Refugees protest in Greece for family reunification in Germany (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Several dozen migrants protested in front of the parliament building in Athens on Wednesday, demanding to be reunited with family members in other EU countries after being stranded in Greece.

"Reunite our families," read one sign held by the group of mainly Syrians, who threatened to engage in a hunger strike.

Dalal Rashou, a 32-year-old Syrian, said she has five children, including one in Germany with her husband. "I have not seen my husband, my child, for more than one year and nine months," she said. "I miss him and every day I am here in Greece I cry. I don't want to stay here, I want to go to my husband," she said."

See: Reunite us with our families now! (Hunger Strike, link): " We are more than 4,000 refugees awaiting our transfer to Germany – most of which are families who are waiting already more than 18 months in Greece under deplorable conditions. We are women, men and mostly children separated from one or both of our parents, our husbands, our wives."

GREECE: Concern over spike of 200 percent in migrant arrivals (Ekatimerini, link):

"Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Wednesday conceded that the migration problem is becoming more difficult to manage as the number of people arriving on the shores of Greek islands from Turkey since August is up 200 percent compared to the same period last year.

Describing the spike as a “special phase” in the migration problem, Mouzalas added that while the average arrival rate in July was 87 people per day, it shot up to 156 per day in August, while in the months of September and October it rose even further, to 214 per day.

With around 4,000 people arriving on the islands in October alone, Mouzalas described the situation at the congested camps on Lesvos as “very bad” and on Chios as “bad.”

(...)

He attributed the low number of returns to Turkey – 1,360 people since the deal was activated – to the way asylum applications are examined in Greece."

According to UNHCR figures, 616 refugees arrived in Lesvos between 25 and 31 October.

The EU-Turkey deal returned just 4% of migrants who undertook the dangerous journey to Greece (Quartz, link):

"A controversial deal allowing the EU to ship migrants back to Turkey has stemmed the flow of people reaching Europe by sea. But it has done very little to actually return them to Turkey.

The EU-Turkey deal was signed in March 2016; a month later, arrivals to Greece dropped by a staggering 90%. Though the flow of migrants decreased, the deal didn’t stop irregular migration completely. From April 2016 till now, 45,972 migrants crossed over to Greece.

Since the deal was implemented, just 1,896 migrants (pdf) have been returned to Turkey, according to a recent report by EU. In other words, just 4% of migrants who crossed over to Greece since the deal was signed have been returned."

French authorities illegally extend controls at Schengen's interior borders, associations file a claim before the State Council

Press release - 31 October 2017: Joint action

"On 26 October 2017, Anafé, La Cimade and Gisti asked the judge for emergency interim procedures [juge des référés] of the State Council [Conseil d'Etat] to urgently suspend the authorities' decision to extend the controls at the internal borders until 30 April 2018.

The reintroduction of controls at the internal borders of the Schengen area, enacted by France since 13 November 2015, and then repeatedly extended due to the state of emergency, was meant to end on 31 October. However, the French authorities informed the European Union (EU) in a note send on the past 3 October that they were counting on extending these systematic border checks -once again- by invoking as its only reason the "risk of a terrorist attack, which remains high in French territory".

While the state of emergency is meant to end on Wednesday 1 November, this decision, which contradicts the rules of the Schengen area which limit the possibility of conducting systematic checks at its internal borders to two years, seriously undermines the rights of people in a regime of freedom of movement."

CPT returns to Hungary to assess the situation of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation (Council of Europe, link):

"A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to Hungary from 20 to 26 October 2017.

The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation. To this end, the CPT’s delegation visited the two transit zones at Röszke and Tompa situated at the border with Serbia, as well as the Csongrád County Border Police Division in Szeged (Moscow street) and the police detention facility at the border post at Röszke. On the Serbian side of the border, the delegation also held interviews with foreign nationals who had recently been escorted by border police officers to the other side of the Hungarian border fence."

From the centre of the Mediterranean: “Freedom of movement as a human right” (Political Critique, link):

"A conversation with Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo.

(...)

Comprising almost 700,000 inhabitants within a metropolitan area that exceeds one million, the capital of Sicily is a place of many contradictions. A distillation of the contradictions of a large island in the centre of the Mediterranean, with all the positive and negative values that this has historically led to and which are even more evident today.

An example of this are the specifically Sicilian problems regarding the relationship between capitalist development and underdevelopment, within an Italian unitary state that has only 150 years of history. With these themes in mind we began a conversation with Leoluca Orlando (mayor of the city preparing to run for new elections this weekend) about the heavy conditioning that the mafia phenomenon has exerted and the influence that it, in some respects, continues to have on Sicilian society and urban life in Palermo."

Greece: Samos Chronicles: Responding to Hysteria (link):

"Recently on Samos we have been experiencing one of those periodic spasms of anti-refugee sentiment. These spasms feel orchestrated and even if not coordinated involve a diverse range of actors. This particular spasm has been sparked by both the high number of new arrivals especially in September and the lack of any preparation to meet the autumn weather.

All the refugee authorities use these moments to demand additional resources and powers; local business interests demand VAT reductions and other economic interventions because as ‘we all know’ the refugees have been devastating for tourism, the Mayor calls for meetings with government ministers and on it goes.
And at the same time beyond Samos, we see the head of UNCHR warning of the calamity unfolding on the frontier islands as winter approaches as well as other reports highlighting the agony of the refugees on the islands. Add to this mix, Samos SOS, an anti-refugee group which has been intermittently active for many years and which relishes moments such as these as a means of mobilizing support."


Europe’s quiet offensive against people helping refugees (euractiv, link):

"Three years ago today (31 October), EU pressure on Italy forced the end of one the EU’s most successful humanitarian mission, ‘Mare Nostrum’, a search-and-rescue operation that in just one year brought 130,000 refugees safely to Europe’s shores. Ben Hayes and Frank Barat look back on three years since the end of Operation Mare Nostrum."

Greek PM under fire over migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his migration minister came under a hail of fire Monday from a radical faction within SYRIZA over the plight of the thousands of refugees and migrants stranded in Greece.(...)

But instead, the government and Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas were slammed by members of the political secretariat that represent the Group of 53 faction – seen as a custodian of party purity – within SYRIZA, over the consistent violation of migrants and refugees’ human rights.

More specifically, they blamed the leftist-led coalition government and Mouzalas for delays in providing migrants and refugees with appropriate accommodation as winter approaches."

How Europe exported its refugee crisis to north Africa (The Guardian, link):

"Something happened to the deadly migrant trail into Europe in 2017. It dried up. Not completely, but palpably. In the high summer, peak time for traffic across the Mediterranean, numbers fell by as much as 70%.

This was no random occurrence. Even before the mass arrival of more than a million migrants and refugees into Europe in 2015, European policymakers had been desperately seeking solutions that would not just deal with those already here, but prevent more from coming.

From Berlin to Brussels it is clear: there cannot be an open-ended invitation to the miserable millions of Europe’s southern and eastern periphery.

Instead, European leaders have sought to export the problem whence it came: principally north Africa."

See: Libyan path to Europe turns into dead end for desperate migrants (The Guardian, link)

Ending restrictions on family reunification: good for refugees, good for host societies (Council of Europe, link):

"Many refugees have to leave family members behind when they flee their homes. This adds more hardship to the trauma of exile. Once they have found safety in Europe, being reunited with their family members is often the first priority of refugees. It takes little imagination to realise how horrible it is for them to be deprived of this possibility. Unfortunately, thousands of refugees and persons with other forms of international protection status in Europe face long-term separation from their spouses, children and other loved ones. This is due to increasingly tough laws and policies restricting family reunification, which are often incompatible with the letter or spirit of human rights standards and need to be addressed urgently."


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

Archives

Statewatch home page


Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.