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

Archive: October-December 2016

This Observatory covers the arrival of refugees and migrants, the reactions and failures within the EU (both governmental and within communities).

Edited by Tony Bunyan. See: "We are ashamed": Statement on Mediterranean: "The EU is behaving shamefully"

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December 2016

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-30.12.16)
Greece: Two arrested and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" for refugee transport effort denouncing EU policies

Two activists exercised their "right to disobey unjust laws"
Petition calls on Greek authorities to release them without charge

Two political activists from the Basque Country have been detained in Greece and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" after attempting to transport eight refugees out of the country, in an "initiative of solidarity in denunciation of unjust European migration policies and in defence of human rights."

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements

The Council of the European Union's High Level Working Group (HLWG) on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) is a highly secretive group. The "Outcomes" (Minutes of its meeting) are not only "Partially accessible" (censored) they do not include documents references to the matters discussed.

So for example, the publicly available Outcomes of the HLWG meeting on 6 December: Summary of discussions (15407-16, pdf) which is only 4 pages long because the document is: "DOCUMENT PARTIALLY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC (20.12.2016)." and the full version: Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc on: 15407-16, pdf) which is 27 pages. The missing 23 pages are in the deleted Annex to the Outcomes.

Mali sends back migrants deported by France (BBC News, link):

"Mali has sent back two people who were deported from France on the same planes they arrived on, questioning whether they were even Malian citizens.

The pair were flown to Bamako using European travel permits or "laissez-passer", not passports or other Malian papers, the government said. The government said it could not accept people "simply assumed to be Malian".

Recent reports of a deal with the EU to repatriate failed Malian asylum seekers have sparked protests.

In a statement, the Malian government condemned the use of the European "laissez-passez" in cases of expulsion, describing it as "against international conventions". It also warned airlines not to let people using the document fly to Mali."

See also: EU-Mali: EEAS statement on the signing of the common communiqué

Are You Syrious (29-30.12.16, link)


"Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, has called for drastic consequences for countries which fail to take back their asylum-seeking citizens following the recent Berlin attack, as well as calling for tighter borders. The Austrian minister said severe measures are necessary in order to address the number of failed deportations of rejected asylum-seekers or those who have committed a criminal offense.

According to plans from Vienna, countries that refuse to take back their citizens are expected to receive noticeably less development aid from Europe.

The EU therefore has to act according to the “less-for-less principle,” Kurz said?—?meaning that those who do less will receive less financially."


"The 18 men, 6 women and 7 children, all Syrian, who arrived today at the island of Kastellorizo were arrested for illegal entrance."

ITALY: More than 181,000 migrants arrived in Italy by boat in 2016, the ministry said, an increase of almost 18 percent compared with 2015.

"In 2015, EU member states promised to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy to other countries over two years, but only 2,654 have so far been moved. Several states have refused to take any. After an agreement between the European Union and Turkey to curb the flow of migrants sailing for Greece, Italy became the focus of people smugglers based mostly in Libya, who pack men, women and children onto unsafe boats for the crossing, Reuters reports."

GERMANY-AFRICA: German politicians want to return refugee boats to Africa

"As security and refugee debates heat up in Germany ahead of federal elections in 2017, politicians in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), are looking to propose a drastic shift in how Germany, and Europe, handle migrant arrivals, according to a new position paper set to be unveiled next week.

The CSU will hold a party convention next week and are set to call for tens of thousands of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea to be sent back to North Africa, according to an internal policy paper obtained by the "Rheinische Post" newspaper."

2016: The year the world stopped caring about refugees - Refugees, rights groups, aid organisations say empathy towards refugees is fading even as deaths in Mediterranean soar (aljazeera.com/, link):

"the refugee crisis is now often spoken of in terms of economics and security - especially during election season - as opposed to empathy.

Al Jazeera asked refugees, human rights organisations, experts working with refugees, and those who attempt to make dangerous passages a little safer, what the year 2016 meant for refugees around the world and what they should expect from 2017."

EU-LIBYA: Deadly incident on the Mediterranean sea: Rescue organisation accuses Libyan coast guard

The private rescue organisation Sea Watch e.V. is pressing charges against the Libyan coast guard because of an attack during a rescue operation on the Mediterranean Sea. According to the organisation 30 refugees died after their dinghy was damaged by a patrol boat on 21 October 2016. The rescue team rates this incident as an attack on maritime transport.

The coast guard's patrol boat with the registration mark '267' interfered with the rescue operation of the 'Sea-Watch 2', which was instructed by the sea rescue control centre in Rome. Pictures of the photographer Christan Ditsch, who was on board, show the coast guard pushing between a speed boat of the 'Sea-Watch 2' and the dinghy. The crew was prevented from providing the refugees with life jackets. A person in uniform then came on board of the dinghy and started hitting the passengers. According to the Sea Watch organisation he tried to take away the outboard engine.

Greece: Asylum applications skyrocketed 593% in November (ekathimerini.com,link)

Greek fishing village welcomes migrants, while others turn them away (PBS, link): Interviews, worth reading:

"Eighteen months into Europe’s refugee crisis, tensions have surfaced on the Greek island of Lesbos.

It wasn’t so long ago that the islanders there were being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize for their welcoming of refugees. But income from tourism, on which many islanders depend, has plummeted this year, and hostility towards refugees, and to the volunteers helping them, has only grown. From Lesbos, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports."

Greece vows to improve migrant reception centers (ekathimerini.com, link):

"“We are planning to have new, small venues on the islands, either by setting up small, two-story houses, in order to empty the tents, or by finding other places ... to improve conditions,” Greek Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas told reporters. “It will take time but we will do it.”

He said authorities would also set up small detention centers and boost policing."

Rumour: Returns to Greece in 2017 (News That Moves, link):

"The Rumour: “We have heard that from March of 2017 the refugees that left Greece with smugglers will come back to Greece. The European community is taking this measure to discourage people [from coming to Greece] in 2017.”

In Fact: The European Commission has recommended that people who leave Greece illegally to go to another European country after March 2017 should be returned to Greece. "

The Manufacture of Hatred: Scapegoating Refugees in Central Europe (Refugees Deeply, link):

"Our in-depth investigation uncovers the anti-refugee propaganda machine that fostered xenophobia in Hungary, derailed the E.U. response to the refugee crisis and is spreading to the Czech Republic and beyond....

In contrast to the conventional wisdom of economic development as a cure for the root causes of migration, our research suggests that political instability, corruption, repression and under-representation are root causes of emigration and that support for governance is the solution. Critics of aid-based migration policy are overlooking an important mechanism by which aid can mitigate migration, as the deterrent effects of aid flow through political channels, not economic ones."

Hungary's long summer of migration – irresponsible governance fails people seeking international protection (link)

"In the summer of 2015, tens of thousands of people from violence- and poverty-torn countries crossed the border between Serbia and Hungary seeking international protection. In this report, we show that the so-called “refugee crisis” that ensued was the direct result of the inability and unwillingness of the Hungarian government under the nationalist-conservative Fidesz-party and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to provide effective support to those affected. To this end, we documented the experiences of people seeking international protection and then related those experiences to the increasingly restrictive political and legal context in Hungary."

See New Report (link to pdf)

Spaniards held in Greece for refugee smuggling attempt (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Two Spanish activists were detained Wednesday in Greece after trying to smuggle eight refugees, including a Pakistani transsexual woman, out of the country, the coastguard and a fellow activist said.

Mikel Zuloaga and Begona Huarte, of the Ongi etorri Errefuxiatuak (Refugees Welcome) platform, were stopped at Igoumenitsa harbor in northwestern Greece as they were about to board a ferry to Italy.

Faced with what they say is government inaction on migrants and refugees, they tried to bring the eight youngsters back to Spain, said Andoni Louzao, another member of the pressure group.

“They were driving a camper van with eight people from Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran hidden inside,” a Greek coastguard source told AFP. “They are currently held at the Igoumenitsa coastguard office and will appear before a prosecutor on Friday.”"

Calais child asylum seekers launch legal action against UK government - Thirty-six teenagers accuse home secretary of reneging on promise to bring vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children to Britain (Guardian, link):

"Thirty-six child asylum seekers who previously lived in the Calais refugee camp have issued a legal challenge to the home secretary.

They claim Amber Rudd acted unlawfully in the way she handled their applications. It is the first time children from the camp have taken individual legal action against the government.

The children were dispersed across France after the site was dismantled on 31 October. Twenty-eight of those bringing the legal action have had their applications refused, while another eight are awaiting decisions from the Home Office."

Greece: Conditions in Greek refugee camps: Winter has come (long ago) (Enough is Enough, link):

"With the end of 2016 approaching, Greece is currently hosting more than 62,000 people, 33,650 of whom live in camps on the mainland. Most of the people are fleeing from war and persecution and a substantial number are particularly vulnerable: more than 1200 unaccompanied minors were identified during the pre-registration process and nearly 3500 refugees present various vulnerabilities.

Most of these people are currently trapped in Greece due to overly time-consuming procedures and there are many cases of people being misinformed about how long these will last, adding to their psychological frustration. It is difficult to access the Asylum Service to make an asylum claim through the current Skype system and then it takes too long to register and process requests, meaning many cases seeking relocation or family reunification must spend one to two years in Greece. The process for people opting for asylum in Greece is similarly lengthy."

The “unaccompanied” minor brides: Greece’s Migration Minister reveals new phenomenon in Migration Crisis tagged: detention centers, Greece, housing, integration, migrants, Mouzalas, new arrivals, plans, refugees (Keep Talking Greece, link)

"Greece’s Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas vowed to improve living conditions in the overcrowded migrants camps especially on the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Yannis Mouzalas revealed a new phenomenon in the Migration..."

Refugee crisis, the vain search for solidarity (euobserver, link):

"More people died crossing the Mediterranean to seek better lives in the EU in 2016 than ever before. Despite widespread search and rescue efforts, over 4,600 people perished after leaving from north Africa and Turkey....

Instead, EU policies on migration, asylum, border control and security have exposed deep political rifts among member states, as the concept of solidarity becomes ever more elusive.

Populist groups in Austria, Denmark, Germany, France and the Netherlands have used the crisis to weaken the EU and inflame tensions against immigrants.

They are following in the footsteps of established government figures in central Europe. In August, leaders from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland reiterated their opposition to refugees and asylum seekers with Muslim backgrounds."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.12.16)
Two new shipwrecks may bring annual Mediterranean death toll to over 5,000, says IOM

"IOM reports that 358,403 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 December, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

Deaths in the Mediterranean this year reached 4,913, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project http://missingmigrants.iom.int, with 13 new fatalities reported since its last report on December 20.

Six of those deaths occurred on the route between Turkey and Greece late Tuesday, with another seven corpses reportedly discovered during a high seas rescue on the Libya-Italy route early Thursday.

The 4,913 deaths in the Mediterranean through December 21 indicate a 2016 average daily death toll of nearly 14 men, women and children per day.

IOM believes many more deaths at sea may have gone unreported this year – in the Mediterranean and elsewhere – particularly between North Africa to Spain, where data collection this year has been sporadic and many smaller vessels are believed to have been lost without detection.

Moreover these data do not reflect new information received by IOM Rome earlier today. IOM has learned that on Thursday night at least two new shipwrecks occurred, resulting in fatalities that – if confirmed – would bring this year’s death toll to over 5,000 men, women and children." (emphasis added)

See: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 358,403; Official Deaths at Sea: 4,913 (IOM, link)

Refugees fall victim to people “ping pong” in the Balkans (IRIN, link):

"In an abandoned warehouse at the back of a bus station in Belgrade, several hundred migrants and refugees, most of them young men from Afghanistan, spend their days trying to keep warm and talking about how they will leave Serbia and continue their journeys towards Western Europe.

Officially, since March, there has been no way for migrants and asylum seekers to travel north from Greece other than by successfully applying for family reunification or relocation. But there are options for those who can afford it. Smugglers are charging 1,500 euros to move people from Greece (usually Thessaloniki) to Belgrade, and the same amount again to get them to Western Europe.

But many only get as far as the Balkans before running out of money or encountering draconian government policies. Push-backs, detentions, and deportations are common throughout the region, with some activists describing a “ping-pong situation” in which people are endlessly pushed back and forth."

EU-ITALY: The ongoing failure of the relocation scheme

"Since September 2015, 1,950 asylum-seekers (5% of the 39,600 target) were relocated from Italy to 18 European countries."

UK-FRANCE: Declaration granted in Help Refugees Legal Challenge (Doughty Street Chambers, link):

"Help Refugees has won a significant victory in its judicial review of the Government's approach to s.67 Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment). The refugee NGO, represented by Laura Dubinsky, Alex Gask and Rowena Moffatt, instructed by Leigh Day, has been granted a declaration in the Administrative Court concerning the correct interpretation of s.67. The provision requires the Home Secretary, 'as soon as possible' to relocate and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other European countries. Help Refugees argued, successfully, that the Government was wrong to treat its new s.67 duties as principally met by compliance with its pre-existing obligations under European law (the Dublin III Regulation). The AIRE Centre acts as intervener, represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O' Byrne, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Other parts of the claim continue and will be heard in the new year."

EU: Let refugees help the EU (EUobserver, link) by Mohammed Alsaud:

"We, Syrian refugees and diaspora, want to be part of the solution to the refugee crisis. This includes embracing our responsibility to work alongside our hosting European communities to protect and instil the values – democracy, freedom for all and rule of law – we have sought so desperately back in Syria.

Participation is a human right and a pillar to a pluralistic and democratic society.

We are eager and ready to do our part to address this crisis. We have solutions that reflect the concerns and political objectives of those who are affected most.

Syrians are best placed to determine policy about Syrians and Syrian refugees. This crisis is our day-to-day reality and our involvement at every stage of the decision-making process as partners and experts needs to be a priority.

With no immediate end in sight for the Syrian crisis, it is of utmost importance that the EU states carefully consider what they can do to protect, educate, and empower refugees, not only from Syria but from around the world, as experts and legitimate counterparts."

EU: Restricted document gives overview of police efforts against "facilitated illegal immigration"

A recent report submitted by Europol to the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) offers an overview of "the implementation of the 2015 and 2016 OAPs [operational action plans] on "Illegal Immigration". This annex was discussed during the National EMPACT [European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats] Coordinators meeting held at Europol on 22-23 November 2016."

See: EU Policy Cycle: Monitoring of the Operational Action Plans 2016 - Priority "Illegal Immigration" (15212/16, RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED, 6 December 2016, pdf)

EU-Mali: EEAS statement on the signing of the common communiqué

A statement issued by a spokesperson for the EU's European External Action Service seeks to clarify what exactly has been agreed between the EU and Mali in relation to cooperation on migration. Recent reports have suggested that the EU and Mali signed a readmission agreement, something that was subsequently denied by the Malian government.

AUSTRIA-ECJ: Questions on visa in the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code sent to ECJ

"On the 14 December 2016 the Austrian Administrative High Court referred the following questions to the Court of Justice in C-646/16 Jafari on the interpretation to be given to the term “visa” under the Dublin Regulation III and Schengen Borders Code:

1. Are Articles 2 lit m, Article 12 and Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013, hereinafter: Dublin III-Regulation, to be interpreted in conjunction with other legal acts related to the Dublin III-Regulation or are said provisions to be interpreted independently and autonomously?
If the provisions of the Dublin III-Regulation are to be interpreted independently and autonomously from other legal acts:

2. Is the de facto tolerated entry into a MS’ territory for the sole purpose of transiting a MS and applying for international protection in another MS to be regarded as “visa” as defined by Article 2 lit m and Article 12 Dublin III-Regulation in cases – like the present – which occurred at a time when the national authorities of the involved MS are confronted with an extraordinary high number of persons demanding transit through their territory?"

See: Austrian Administrative High Court refers preliminary questions to CJEU on the definition of visa under the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code (EDAL, link)

UK: Brighton father gives up job to help refugees (The Argus, link):

"A FATHER gave up his career to help refugees.

Paul Hutchings, 49, gave up his life as a marketing consultant, has taken an unexpected direction

Paul, of Hollingbury Park Avenue, Brighton, who has two daughters and two stepsons left his job this year to give the most precious gift: his time.

He said: “I was watching the news 18 months ago and I was getting really frustrated because enough wasn’t being done to help the refugees.

“In September last year I saw an opportunity to go to Calais, so I hired a van for a long weekend and it ended that, going and coming between Calais and Brighton for about six months.

"So I got involved in an organisation there. Then, in April, someone who I was working with in Calais was really keen to do something in Greece, and I was keen to do something there as well.” "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.12.16)
Locking down Africa (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"In the second part of her examination of EU deals with third countries to stop migration, Frances Webber examines the closure of Africa’s borders against migration, demanded by the EU as the price for development, trade and aid."

See also Part 1: Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (link)

EU-GREECE: NGO letter to Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President European Commission and Mr. Ioannis Mouzalas, Minister of Migration Policy, Greece: Letter to Commission: Joint Action Plan on EU-Turkey Statement and resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece (pdf). Signed by ECRE, Greek Council for Refugees, AITIMA and Solidarity Now. Includes Annex on: Observations and concerns on the Joint Action Plan on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement and the Recommendation on the resumption of returns to Greece under the Dublin III Regulation:

"In its fourth report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, published on 8 December 2016, the European Commission has suggested a series of measures aiming at increasing the number of returns from Greece under this highly controversial and contested arrangement.

The undersigning organisations are particularly alarmed by the suggestions made in the Joint Action Plan elaborated by the EU Coordinator together with the Greek authorities on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement.

We believe that many of the proposed measures will result in depriving asylum seekers and migrants arriving on the islands from essential procedural safeguards to protect them from refoulement, from enjoying the right to family life and the right to asylum under Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and eventually undermine the rule of law."

Thousands of refugees left in cold, as UN and EU accused of mismanagement - United Nations refugee agency and EU’s Echo aid department accused of failing to properly ‘winterise’ camps (Guardian, link):

"The UN refugee agency and the EU’s aid department have been accused by other aid groups of mismanaging a multimillion-pound fund earmarked for the most vulnerable refugees in Europe, leaving thousands sleeping in freezing conditions in Greece.....

The EU aid department, known as Echo, has given UNHCR more than €14m since April to help prepare roughly 50 refugee camps for the winter in Greece, where an estimated 50,000 mainly Syrian refugees have been stranded since the adoption of new European migration policies in March. A further €24m has been given to UNHCR for other projects.

Both organisations stand accused by other aid groups of squandering this money, after failing to properly “winterise” or evacuate dozens of camps before snow fell in Greece earlier in December."

Greece: Controversy surrounds ‘racist’ driver of European official on Chios (ekathimerini.com, link): "A controversy has emerged on the eastern Aegean island of Chios in the wake of claims that a man hired as a driver for a European Commission official for migration is linked to racist attacks."

and see: Chios: Far-right extremist works as driver to EU “Commissioner” for Refugees (Keep Talking Greece, link)

Are You Syrious (21.12.16, link)

Greece: Protection of women’s health and rights remains an issue

A new report on the situation of refugee women in Greece says “inadequate protection and promotion of women’s health, safety, and rights has been a concerning feature of the crisis” and mentions gender-based violence, access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as women’s participation and empowerment in local communities as the most pressing issues..."

101 refugees arrive in Greece

"101 refugees arrived in Greece in the past 24 hours until 7:30AM according to official numbers, including 81 on Lesvos."

Bulgaria: 1,647 refugees have left Bulgarian refugee camps in November and close to 600 people left in the two first weeks of December, according to BalkanEu

"In recent weeks, the situation has deteriorated for refugees in Bulgaria, with police storming the Harmanli camp after riots, severely beating men and teenage boys. Bordermonitoring Bulgaria says all closed and open centres are still overcrowded, while the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee also reports on serious human rights violations by police as well as on pushbacks to Turkey."

Italy: 7 bodies recovered in the Mediterranean

"France 24 says seven bodies were recovered from or around stricken migrants boats in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, while 300 people were saved during rescue efforts for three rubber dinghies and a small wooden boat."

Report: Lack of EU coordination puts lone migrant children at serious risk (euractiv, link):

"Children who flee to Europe from war-torn regions without their parents have no clear way of escaping abusive or exploitative adults as there are no unified policies in place to protect them, a European Union agency said yesterday (21 December).

Conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and Africa has forced some 1.4 million people to head to Europe, fuelling the region’s largest migrant crisis since World War Two. According to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, nearly one in 200 children in the world is a refugee."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.12.16)
Statewatch Viewpoint: Migration, EU Cooperation and Authoritarianism (pdf) by Theodore Baird

"The EU is actively cooperating with authoritarian regimes to control international movement while ignoring the disastrous human rights records of these regimes....

Nowhere in the new Partnership Framework is there recognition that the main countries of cooperation are ruled by authoritarian or hybrid governments actively undermining human rights. The main countries of cooperation – Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia – have either authoritarian or hybrid regimes according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2015 (with the exceptions of Senegal and Tunisia, which are flawed democracies)."

EU: European Commission: "SIS" Package:

Security Union: Commission proposes to reinforce the Schengen Information System to better fight terrorism and cross-border crime (Press release, pdf):

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "With today's proposals, we extend the scope of the Schengen Information System to close information gaps and improve information exchange on terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration – contributing to a stronger control of our external borders and an effective and sustainable EU Security Union. In the future, no critical information should ever be lost on potential terrorist suspects or irregular migrants crossing our external borders."

Report on the evaluation of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (COM 880, pdf)

Proposed: Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying thirdcountry nationals (COM 881, pdf)

Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks (COM 882, pdf)
Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (pdf)

Technical and operational updates of the Schengen Information System – Questions & Answers (pdf)

Refugees in Greece face traumatic births (DW, link):

"Giving birth in a Greek hospital is a worrying prospect for many refugees. With doctors performing caesareans on women left in the dark as to what is being done, they have good reason to be uneasy, reports Omaira Gill."

Turkey’s coast guard: 5 migrants found dead, 9 rescued (Washington Post, link):

"Turkey’s coast guard says it has retrieved the bodies of five migrants, including a child, off the Turkish coast.

The Turkish Coast Guard says in a statement it responded to an accident report early Tuesday near the Ayvalik district in western Turkey and recovered a half-sunk boat carrying migrants. It says seven adults and one child were saved from the sea and one person was rescued from an island. A photo of the operation shows a man being pulled out of the water in the dark."

Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link):

"Mali's foreign minister on Monday denied an agreement had been reached with the European Union to take back migrants failing to get asylum.

The Dutch foreign ministry signed a joint declaration on the EU's behalf on December 11 which it said would tackle "the root causes of illegal migration" and "enable the return from Europe of Malian migrants".

But Abdoulaye Diop told a press conference: "At no point was there any question of signing an agreement that would allow the expulsion of countrymen (living) in Europe illegally."

Mali "does not intend to put a price on its dignity even if the EU is a development partner."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.12.16) including "Zero immigration has never existed and never will" (MEP) and Kos baker wins award for helping refugees.
Landmark Judgment: Khlaifia and Others v. Italy: European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Holding of irregular migrants on Lampedusa and on ships in Palermo harbour (Press release, pdf):

"In today’s Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy (application no. 16483/12) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
a violation of Article 5 § 2 (right to be informed promptly of the reasons for deprivation of liberty) of the Convention;
a violation of Article 5 § 4 (right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention);
no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) as regards the conditions in the Lampedusa reception centre);
no violation of Article 3 as regards the conditions on the ships in Palermo harbour; and
by sixteen votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention (prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens);
unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken together with Article 3;
by sixteen votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 13 taken together with Article 4 of Protocol No. 4.

The case concerns the holding, in a reception centre on the island of Lampedusa then on ships in Palermo harbour (Sicily), of irregular migrants who arrived in Italy in 2011 following the “Arab Spring” events in their country, and their subsequent removal to Tunisia."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

And see: Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italy’s treatment of Tunisians in 2011 (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico.

Are You Syrious (19.12.16, link)


"Frontex found 9 people on board a boat that reached the north coast of Lesvos this morning. Locals report that everyone is safe. 87 people were officially registered on Lesvos today. 26,000 people have been registered on the Greek islands since the EU-Turkey deal was signed."

Italy: Como demands a welcome

"Volunteers from the Italian organization Como senza frontiere and the local branch of Caritas have sent an open letter to the mayor demanding a change in the way new arrivals are treated. The letter explains that the number of people denied access to the Via Regina Teodolinda centre has been growing, even when free places are available. As a direct consequence, there are now more than 100 people sleeping rough on the streets and being held by police."

Greece: Breathing troubles due to ‘winterisation’ solutions

"The NGOs responsible for site management at Oraiokastro were “given a directive” by the Ministry that they should implement a plan for ‘winterisation.’ Refugees living in the camp are complaining about the poor solution that has been imposed. Many people are now unable to breathe properly due to the insulation material that has been installed on top of the tents in the cold, dark halls. NGO representatives claim that a lack of funds is preventing them from making good on their earlier promise to prepare the place for winter. NRC stated they can “carry out maintenance and repairs only.”"

Greece: Souda camp: An insight (News That Moves, link):

"News That Moves visited the Greek island of Chios recently to see the living conditions of the migrants and refugees hosted there.

The official data from Greek government show that almost 4,000 people are currently residing in official structures and other facilities on the island. One of them is the ‘open camp’ of Souda, with approximately 1,500 people living there.

Residents in Souda are hosted in prefab plastic shelters, housing mostly families or groups of single men. Prefab plastic shelters have a slightly raised floor but there is no insulation on hard plastic sheet walls. Others are hosted in large tents, even in winter."

Baker Arvanitakis receives EESC Prize for helping refugees & migrants on Kos (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Dionysis Arvanitakis, a 77-year-old baker from the island of Kos, is the second winner of the Civil Society Prize with which the EESC rewards the most outstanding examples of solidarity with migrants.

Dionysis Arvanitakis is a 77-year-old Greek baker who at the height of the refugee crisis was baking over 100 kg of bread for the desperate refugees who landed on the island of Kos, just off the coast of Turkey."

Migrants spooked by rumors of mass returns to Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): "

"As the living conditions of migrants at camps on the eastern Aegean islands continue deteriorate due to overcrowding and cold weather, residents at hot spots on Chios and Kos were clamoring for answers on Monday after a rumor spread that there are plans afoot for mass returns to Turkey.

However, citing the European Union, the Citizens’ Protection Ministry said on Monday that migrants will not be leaving the islands even if conditions do become more difficult in order to discourage further migrants from making the perilous sea journey from Turkey....

According to the latest data from the European Statistical Agency (Eurostat), in the third quarter of 2016, a total of 358,310 refugees submitted asylum requests to EU countries. Of these, 25 percent (87,915) were from Syria, 17 percent (62,070) from Afghanistan, 10 percent (36,430) from Iraq and 27 percent from other countries. Greece has so far received 12,425 asylum requests."

Eric Kempson (north Lesvos, link)

"A busy morning again.
Boat intercepted by Frontex close to Eftarlou, 32 people taken on the Frontex boat to skala.
Despite the cold everyone was in good spirits, 3 medical cases. Fantastic team work again!! Well done to all the amazing teams!"

5 die as refugee boat sinks off Turkish coast - 8 people were rescued when the boat sank near Maden Island. (MEM, link):

"Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Namik Kemal Nazli, the governor of the Ayvalik district of Balikesir province in western Turkey, said eight people were rescued when the boat sank near Maden Island. Thirteen people were thought to be on the vessel. “Four children and a woman died and eight others were rescued. There is a three-year-old child among the rescued,” he said. He added that the child was in a critical condition at Ayvalik State Hospital."

European Parliament: ACP-EU :"Zero immigration has never existed and never will" (Press release, pdf):

Louis Michel (ALDE, BE), EU Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) said at the opening of its 32nd session, in Nairobi (Kenya) on Monday:

"We must manage migration flows in a human way, in line with our values. Fortress Europe is not working", said Louis Michel. "The history of humanity is the history of migrations. Zero immigration has never existed and never will (…) because no coercive, repressive or security measure will ever be able to prevent a human being from trying his luck wherever he thinks he will be able to give his destiny the basic dignity to which any human being has a right.”

No quotas in 'compromise' Swiss immigration bill (BBC News, link):

"Swiss MPs have backed a bill giving jobseekers already in the country priority over applicants from EU member states in times of high unemployment.

It follows a referendum in 2014 in which voters narrowly backed introducing quotas on workers from EU countries.

The measure makes no mention of quotas but sets out guidelines for employers. The new law was a compromise which sought not to antagonise the EU, says the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it enjoys access to the free trade area. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.12.16) including EU-Mali migration deal text; CoE urges Belgium not to resume detention of migration children; Keep squatted Athens refugee "hotel" open; and more.
EU-Mali migration declaration: text of the "common communique" signed on 11 December; Standard Operating Procedures for return

The EU's approach towards making "deals" on migration with non-EU states continued with the signing of a "common communique" with the government of Mali on 11 December in Bamako. In the communique, the EU and Mali commit to drafting a 'Joint Roadmap' that will focus on the creation of employment for young people; the "reinforcement of coherent and robust civil registration systems"; the introduction of biometric passports; border "management" procedures and "better control of the territory"; countering trafficking and smuggling and returns from Europe to Mali.

See: Communiqué commun Mali – EU - À la suite du Dialogue de Haut Niveau sur la Migration- Bamako, le 11 Décembre 2016 (French only, pdf)

Belgium urged not to resume detention of migrant children and to expand alternatives to immigration detention for families with children (Council of Europe, link):

"In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published today, Commissioner Muižnieks warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children.

Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner considers that the intention to open closed family units near Brussels airport would go against the best interests of the child.

“Immigration detention, even as a measure of last resort and for a short period of time, should never apply to children because it is a disproportionate measure which may have serious detrimental effects on them” says the Commissioner."

See: Letter from the Commissioner (pdf) and: Belgian government response (French, pdf)

EU: The deadly consequences of Europe’s border militarization (OpenDemocracy, link):

"2016 now holds the sad record of the highest recorded death toll for refugees on route to Europe.

4,900 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean. This is 1,000 more than in 2015, despite the number of refugee arrivals in Europe going down by over 60%. At the same time, EU funding to tackle the refugee tragedy has increased. Its primary border agency’s budget increased to €238.7 million, an incredible 67.4% increase compared to the year before. So why is EU funding failing so dramatically to save human lives? "

EU-AFRICA: The European Union invests €170 million to tackle instability and irregular migration in the Horn of Africa (European Commission press release, pdf):

"The package of 11 actions for an amount of almost €170 million consists of:

- regional projects to build the capacities of countries of the Horn of Africa to manage migration, including to fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants and through the development of rights-based and sustainable return and reintegration policies (€30 million);
- a project in three cross-border areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan to address the drivers of instability and forced displacement, and support cross-border peaceful cooperation and sustainable economic growth (€63.5 million);
- support to refugees and host communities in northern Uganda, in response to the recent large-scale influx from South Sudan (€10 million);
- projects creating employment opportunities to address socio-economic grievances of young people in Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea (totalling €25 million). For example, in Djibouti 3,000 people will be trained with relevant skills to access the job market; 75% are expected to have found employment within 6 months of the training;
- support to the people in Sudan, with three projects to address instability and forced displacement through resilience actions to improve access to, and quality of, primary education, benefitting 90,000 children and training 2,000 teachers country-wide (€22 million), strengthen livelihoods in Southern and Eastern regions (€9 million) and enhance nutrition of 400,000 women and children in North-Eastern Sudan (€8 million);
- a regional monitoring and learning system (€2 million) to complement the on-going Research and Evidence Facility which is expected to include (but not be limited to) information on the drivers of migration, dynamics of cross-border economies and centre/periphery relations, drivers of radicalism and violent extremism.

Italy saved record number of refugees in 2016 (EUobserver, link):

"It has been a record year for Italy's coastguard, with nearly 180,000 people rescued in the Mediterranean. Around 170,000 people were rescued from migrant boats in 2014, with another 153,000 picked up in 2015 and nearly 180,000 this year, including 4,000 just last week, despite worsening weather at sea, AFP reports. The government says rescue operations at sea cost €1.5bn this year, with an extra €2.3bn spent on reception."

GREECE: Keep City Plaza Open. Refugee Hotel Athens (Youcaring, link):


City Plaza is a refugee accommodation and solidarity space in the heart of Athens, Greece.


Following the closure of the borders when the EU trapped almost 65,000 refugees in Greece, the Greek government created more than 49 detention centers, hotspots and camps. City Plaza offers a safe and dignified alternative to these places where the conditions are wretched, unclean and inhumane.

On the 22nd of April 2016 refugees, volunteers and solidarity activists occupied City Plaza Hotel which had been closed for 7 years.

126 rooms on 7 floors. A reception, bar, dining room, kitchen, storage, play ground, health care center, roof terrace, classroom and library.

CIty Plaza is supported exclusively through political solidarity and individual donations."

All migrants have rights - Our call to respect the rights of migrants in an irregular situation (Red Cross EU Office, link):

"Ahead of International Migrants’ Day, the Red Cross EU Office urges the EU and its Member States to take decisive action to protect the dignity of migrants in an irregular situation.

Migrants in an irregular situation are among the most vulnerable people in Europe. Yet many of their needs are not addressed as they often live in the shadows of society, for fear of being apprehended. They frequently live clandestinely, and face significant difficulties in accessing basic services and vital assistance like healthcare, education, or legal support. "Although the numbers are difficult to measure, we know that this group is growing, as people fall off the grid because they are either denied asylum, or choose not to apply in transit countries. Our members are concerned by the increasing vulnerability of the migrants they encounter through their work,” underlines Denis Haveaux, Director of the Red Cross EU Office."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.12.16)
Defend Europe’s Unsung Heroes (WeMove.eu, link) Petition to: EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos:

"Petition Text

We believe that those offering humanitarian assistance to some of Europe’s most vulnerable people should be commended for their heroic actions, and not persecuted for human smuggling. It is time you put your kind words into concrete actions and propose one small word change in the Facilitation Directive to ensure Europe’s unsung heros are treated with the dignity they deserve and not criminalised for offering humanitarian assistance."

Are You Syrious (17.12.16)

Serbian government without a plan to help homeless refugees

"If a sustainable shelter plan is not found very soon, the situation could become catastrophic for almost 2,000 people who are sleeping rough in streets and different squats in Serbia. Most of them are in Belgrade and at the Northern border with Hungary.

This time of the year, temperatures in Serbia are below 0. All the existing centers and camps are overcrowded. And people are still coming. Today, only in Miksaliste center 293 persons come to ask for assistance...."

Austria: Police is checking trains from Italy

"The media are reporting about Austrian borders being even more closely watched by the police. This country closed its borders in March this year, but people on the move are still found their way in. Some of them are using trains that are traveling from Italy during the night. Police started controlling these trains.

The decision comes after man and women from Eritrea were crushed to death while hiding on a train bringing trucks from southern Italy."

Help Refugees: a lifeline for teenagers living in seedy Athens squats (Guardian, link):

"Small charity’s dedicated volunteers are helping vulnerable young people forced to seek shelter in squalid, dangerous places...

Official shelters in Athens are full and the city is overflowing with refugee children, many of whom have fled war zones without their parents and are now sleeping in squats, struggling to look after themselves and turning to desperate measures to survive. The government says there are 1,200 children on waiting lists for places in formal camps or shelters, but local charities believe there are many more whose names are on no lists, sleeping in one of the 14 vast squats that have opened up in recent months in deserted schools and empty office blocks in the city centre."

Greece: Migration minister eyes 'closed' facilities on islands (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Despite widespread opposition in the ranks of SYRIZA to such a prospect, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has called for the creation of “closed” reception centers for migrants on Aegean islands, saying they will help minimize tensions amid local communities.

A key reason for building tensions at existing centers on the islands is the slow pace at which migrants’ asylum applications are being processed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a pointed reference to the slow pace of migrant returns from Greece to Turkey last week.... "

Lesvos, Greece: Eric Kempson (18.12.16)

"Two boats today one in the south east of Lesvos with 32 Syrian men they were dropped of by smuggler, The other boat was picked up on the north coast by the coast guard and taken into skala Sykaminia 55 people on board very cold and wet, 7 children,15women, 33 men, great job by all the teams."

Are Your Syrious (15.12.16)


"71 new refugees were officially registered in Greece today, including 24 on Lesvos, 43 on Chios and 4 on Samos."

Serbia: People sleeping rough as temperatures drop to -7° C

"Temperatures have reached -7°C in central Serbia, but many people, especially young single men, are still sleeping on the streets of Belgrade. Hot Food Idomeni is still distributing food to those who are not accommodated in the camps. MSF is also monitoring situation in the squats. Miksaliste provided services 316 people today: 31 men, 18 women and 267 children."

Croatia: Police keeps silent about push-backs to Serbia

"Ten days ago, AYS was asked to support refugees who arrived to Zagreb, only to learn they had been swiftly returned back to Serbia. This was not the first time we’ve learned about push-backs from Zagreb or other cities in inner Croatia, in addition to countless accounts of (not officially confirmed) push-backs from border areas. However, one of the refugees who was recently pushed back to Serbia offered a detailed testimony of what happened, including a piece of paper with the address of police station where he tried to ask for asylum. Before he was brought back to the border and told to walk the rails until he reached Šid train station, Croatian police allegedly told him to sign a document, which he did, not knowing what he was signing. Both CMS and AYS have asked for official explanation of the incident, as there was no official report on police website, where every big or minor incident is usually listed. We’re still waiting for the response."

Mediterranean: Frontex denies tying NGOs to smugglers after a leaked report causes uproar in the press

"The EU’s border agency has accused charities operating in the Mediterranean of colluding with people smugglers, according to confidential reports described by the Financial Times. According to the article, Frontex put its concerns in a confidential report last month, raising the idea that refugees had been given “clear indications before departure on the precise direction to be followed in order to reach the NGOs’ boats.” The agency made the accusation explicitly in another report last week, which stated: “First reported case where the criminal networks were smuggling migrants directly on an NGO vessel.” Elsewhere in the reports, which are shared among EU officials and diplomats, Frontex says people rescued by NGO vessels were often “not willing to co-operate with debriefing experts at all” with some claiming “that they were warned [by NGOs] not to co-operate with Italian law enforcement or Frontex.” Following a well deserved uproar, Frontex retracted these claims."

Poland: Racism on the rise (DW, link):

"Muslims and Africans are the most frequent targets of racially motivated attacks. Anti-German sentiment is also playing a role...

Three students from Turkey and Bulgaria were cursed at by young men on a tram earlier this month in Bydgoszcz, a city of nearly a half-million people in northern Poland. They were told to get out of country because Poland is for Poles.

Instances like these are on the rise. Foreign exchange students in Torun, a student city also in Poland's north, have come under increasing threat. A young Turk was recently cursed at and badly beaten. Two other students were forced to their knees in a bar at the behest of the owner. They had to "apologize" for being Muslim and not Christian. Patrons encircled the students -- not to help but to laugh at their humiliating position."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.12.16): SPAIN: Amnesty slams treatment of migrants in Spain enclaves; Statewatch Briefing: Eurodac: Member States want wider police access to biometric database despite most having never made use of it; Statewatch Analysis: The EU’s military mission against Mediterranean migration: what “deterrent effect”?; EU agencies and officials accuse NGOs of assisting people smugglers off Libyan coast
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.12.16): Council of Europe's anti-torture committee criticises inadequate safeguards for foreign nationals returned by air from Italy and Spain; Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 15 December 2016: EU leaders can save lives in winter if they change migration policies; EUTF for Africa and IOM initiative for Protection and Reintegration of returnees along the Central Mediterranean migration routes; First wave of Afghans expelled from EU states under contentious migration deal; UK to help fast-track European deportations of asylum seekers; Children and families should never be in immigration detention – UN experts; Children's rights at risk in EU hotspots; NGOs’ responsibility questioned as Italy refugee arrivals surge; Frontex On FYROM-Greece Border
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.12.16):
Greece: An End of Year Letter from Samos; European Commission: report on "Partnership Frameworks on migration"; Refugees' lives in the balance; What the Greek Authorities Should do to Prevent Hate Crimes Directed at Migrants; Greece: Migrants Help Rescue 3 People in Drowning Car on Lesvos, 2 Minors Drown; EU to reinforce Frontex presence in Greece, says German report; Are You Syrious update; Greece: Forty-eight migrants arrive on Lesvos as weather deteriorates; Finland wants EU deals with Iraq and others on migrants
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.12.16): GREECE: Serious problems in Greek asylum system persist, says NGO report; No more EU deals to keep migrants out; EU: European Council, 15 December 2016: latest text of the draft conclusions; EU: Police crackdowns on people smuggling networks continue
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.12.16): EU-Mali readmission agreement marks first such deal with an African state; Commission: over €1 billion of EU-Turkey deal money contracted for 34 projects; EU met only 5% of target for relocating refugees from Greece and Italy; EU: New Asylum Agency must ensure EU countries respect common asylum rules, say MEPs; Over 900,000 Passed Through Serbia Since Refugee Crisis Began - Foreign Minister; Pale Shelter: Refugees in the UK
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.12.16)
GREECE: Turkish Coast Guard in Greek waters?

"Just witnessed the Turkish Coast Guard picking up a boat full of refugees in Greek waters! While the Greek coast guard and frontex watched!! Is this a new European Commission policy to allow the Turkish authorities jurisdiction in Greek waters as a solution to the refugee situation?!!!"

See: Philippa Kempson (Efalou, northern Lesvos) on Facebook (link)

Are You Syrious (10.12.16, link)


"330 people were officially registered today: 138 on Lesvos, 67 on Chios and 125 in other places. For the first time after August this year, the number of official registrations on Greek islands reached over 300."

IRELAND: Refugee families pointing to the breach of human rights by the EC, EU and an EU member state

"Members of one of two Syrian families now in Greece who have sued in the Irish courts in a bid to prevent their transfer to Turkey are to be transferred to Germany, Irish Times reports. Both families wish to join other family members in Germany and they had initiated a case against the European Council, EU and Ireland over alleged breach of their human rights last month. The core claim of the families is the EU-Turkey deal on migration, allowing Greece to return to Turkey “all new irregular migrants”, was made outside the powers of the EC and breaches EU law. That deal, and Ireland’s sanctioning of it, is incompatible with Ireland’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and breaches various EU Treaties."

Human rights at the Serbian - Hungarian border

"Refugees at the Serbian-Hungarian border, in the Röszke transit zone, are reminding how very cold it is in the unheated tents at night, so much that they say, parents are afraid their children might have fatal injuries due to the cold they experience out there during the night. The Sirius.Help team reported that refugees, who are in a bad shape, wrote to them: "We don’t have any ingredients for cooking. And unfortunately the wood you bring us twice a week, is not enough either in this extreme cold. We have already brought every dry branches from the forest nearby."

European Commission proposes to increase numbers of returns to Turkey under EU-Turkey deal and re-start returns to Greece under Dublin (ECRE, link):

"The European Commission published its Fourth Report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal this week. The publication comes together with a Joint Action Plan of the EU Coordinator on the implementation of certain provisions of the EU-Turkey Statement that outlines several modifications to the Greek asylum procedure aiming to increase numbers of returns under the EU Turkey deal, as well as a Recommendation to EU Member States to reinstate the Dublin procedure to Greece. The proposals have been sharply criticised by a number of actors, including Amnesty International."

Greece: Mouzalas requests mainland pre-removal centers (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Responding to rising tensions on eastern Aegean islands due to the growing population of migrants and asylum seekers, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has made a request to European authorities that individuals from countries with low asylum recognition rates be temporarily transferred to pre-removal centers on mainland Greece.

In a letter addressed to European Union interior ministers and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos that was made public Friday, Mouzalas warned about congestion at the hot spots on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, adding that it was mostly caused by the rising number of migrants who are not covered by the relocation agreement and who must as a result be sent back to Turkey."

Spain's Ceuta enclave stormed by migrants (BBC News,link):

"At least 400 people have broken through the border fence between Morocco and the enclave of Ceuta, which is part of Spain.

The migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, stormed different points of the 6m-high (19ft) barbed-wire fence from 06:15 local time (07:15 GMT) on Friday.

It is the biggest single breach of the border in a decade, local media report."

Germany to offer 'voluntary return' incentives for asylum seekers (DW, link):

"The German government is to spend 150 million euros on incentives for asylum seekers to return home voluntarily. But refugee organizations say the plans are unrealistic - and merely a placebo for voters in Germany."

Home Office stops transfer of Calais child refugees to UK (Guardian, link):

"Minister says more than 750 children have arrived, but charities say hundreds of others have right to enter Britain."

Italy, Greece face off against easterners in EU migration feud (EurActiv, link):

"The European Union’s tug of war over how to share out the burden of caring for asylum-seekers is not over, Slovakia’s interior minister said on Friday (9 December) after six months of trying unsuccessfully to bridge differences between member states.

Central and Eastern European governments opposed to taking in refugees are at loggerheads with countries on the frontline of the crisis such as Greece and Italy. Nearly all the 350,000 migrants to reach Europe’s shores this year have arrived in those two countries."

Greece: Council for Refugees accuses police of “torturing ISIS victim” (Samos Volunteers, link):

"The police station on the island of Samos has been accused to have tortured a 25-year-old refugee from Iraq. According non-profit organization Greek Council for Refugees, the man had requested international protection in Greece and had been tortured by members of the ISIS and therefore he should have joined the program for torture victims. Instead, he was held under inhumane conditions at the police station for nineteen days."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-9.12.16)
Greece: Erdogan’s threats come true? 200 migrants arrive within 3 hours on Lesvos (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Four boats carrying 200 hundred migrants from African countries arrived on the island of Lesvos between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Friday, setting authorities and residents on alert. Does Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes his threats to ‘flood Europe with migrants’ come true?

According to Greek media, the migrants claimed that they were held in closed accommodation camps in north-west Turkey, camps that have been abandoned by the authorities in recent days."

Amnesty International lambasts ‘hypocritical Brussels’ as pressure mounts on Greece (Malta Today, link):

"The European Commission wants Greece to start receiving back migrants from other member states whilst speeding up migrant returns to Turkey....

Amnesty International has lambasted the “hypocritical” position adopted today by the European Commission who wants Greece to start receiving migrants from other member states, in a bid to stop asylum seekers from moving north.

The European Commission today published a fourth report on the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and on relocation and resettlement schemes....

“It seems that for the European Commission all roads for refugees lead to Greece. It is outrageously hypocritical of the European Commission to insinuate that Greece alone is to blame for dire conditions, when the overcrowding and insecure climate on the Greek islands are for the most part caused by the EU-Turkey deal, and compounded by the lack of solidarity from other EU countries to relocate people,” Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institution’s Office, said. "

Greece: European Union to remove existing guarantees against Turkey returns (AIDA, link):

"A Joint Action Plan of the EU Coordinator on the implementation of certain provisions of the EU-Turkey Statement outlines several legal and operational modifications to the asylum procedure with a view to stripping away some of the crucial guarantees available to persons entering the Greek islands since 20 March 2016."

See: Turkey progress report (COM 792, pdf)

EU: European Commission: Dublin returns to Greece to start for new arrivals from 15 March 2017

- Commission reports on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf):

"The Commission is today reporting on progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on the EU's relocation and resettlement schemes...

"The Commission therefore recommends that transfers to Greece should be resumed gradually, on the basis of individual assurances from the Greek authorities for each returnee, guaranteeing they will be received in dignity. In order to avoid that an unsustainable burden is placed on Greece, the resumption of transfers will not be applied retroactively and will only concern asylum applicants who have entered Greece irregularly from 15 March 2017 onwards or for whom Greece is responsible from 15 March 2017 under other Dublin criteria." [emphasis added]

- Eighth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 791,pdf)

- Annex 1: Greece: Relocations in EU (pdf)

- Annex 2: Italy: Relocations in EU (pdf)

- Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)

- Turkey progress report (COM 792, pdf)

- State of play: Relocation and resettlement (pdf)

- Commission Recommendation of 8.12.2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf)

See: Greece left alone in the refugee crisis - The envisioned resettlement of refugees around the European Union has not worked. Now more of them can be sent back to Greece. Bernd Riegert reports from Brussels (DW, link):

"More pressure will mount on Greece starting on March 15, 2017, when those who reach Austria, Slovenia, Hungary or Bulgaria through Greece and the Balkans can be returned to Greece, in accordance with the Dublin III Regulation. This has so far been suspended, given conditions in Greece are failing to meet European standards and legal norms. The European Commission now holds a different view, urging Greece to do more to expedite the asylum process. Land borders with Albania and Macedonia are to be better secured with assistance from a new EU border security group. The Dublin III provisions, fought hard for especially by Germany, Austria and Hungary, could then take effect as of March, Avramopoulos said. They would be applied only to newly-arrived adults, not to those already in the EU."

Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"Anger is building at the return of refugees from Europe to war zones and the EU’s deals with dictators and torturers to prevent refugees from leaving their own countries. In the first of two articles, Frances Webber looks at the EU’s deals with Afghanistan and Turkey. The second article will examine the deals with African states."

Terrible conditions for refugees in Greece (Norwegian Refugee Service, link):

"The Norwegian Refugee Council is deeply concerned about the conditions for refugees and migrants meeting the freezing winter weather in cold tents, warehouses and barracks in Greece.

“It is disgraceful how Europe is treating people who came to us for protection,” said Alain Homsy, Head of NRC’s operations in Greece.

Since European neighbors closed their borders to Greece almost nine months ago, and with the additional strains of the EU-Turkey deal, thousands of refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece, while new boats continue to arrive, nearly 2000 people just in November."

Danish MP suggests shooting at boats carrying migrants (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Security forces should shoot at the boats of migrants trying to reach the European Union illegally, a member of parliament for the Danish government’s main political ally, the Danish People’s Party, suggested on national television.

“The only efficient way is to turn the boats and say: ‘You cannot sail within this national border and if you do, you will either be shot at or be turned around and sailed back,” Kenneth Berth, the EU spokesman for anti-immigrant party, said on broadcaster DK4 on Tuesday.

Berth later softened his statement on Facebook, saying he did not mean that people should be shot at, but that NATO-ships could shoot in the air as a warning."

UNICEF chief: 2016 was ‘one of worst years in history for children’ (EurActiv, link):

"From Aleppo to South Sudan or Yemen, UNICEF banged the drum for education in emergencies at a European Parliament event this week, highlighting the plight of tens of millions of children in conflict and emergency situations going without schooling."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Scope of the principle of non-refoulement in contemporary border management: evolving areas of law (pdf):

"EU Member States’ contemporary border control activities raise difficult questions related to their non-refoulement obligations, calling for more legal clarity. This report scrutinises specific scenarios – within third countries, on the high seas, and at the EU’s borders – regarding which views differ as to whether they constitute refoulement. The analysis presents each scenario and the applicable legal framework, briefly sketches current practices, and outlines arguments that speak against, and in favour of, finding a violation of non-refoulement."

UK: Yarl's Wood demonstration draws up to 2,000 campaigners - Hundreds march around detention centre perimeter to denounce rise in hate crime in wake of Brexit vote (Guardian, link):

"The largest protest staged against Britain’s most notorious detention centre has taken place, as up to 2,000 demonstrators gathered outside Yarl’s Wood to denounce “immigrant bashing” in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Campaigners from across the UK protested at the Bedfordshire immigration removal centre on Saturday, demanding that the facility, which mainly houses women, is closed immediately.

They said Yarl’s Wood had become an even more toxic symbol when viewed against the rising hate crime, xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that had gathered momentum in the wake of the EU referendum."

Africa has mixed reaction to Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan’ proposal (EurActiv, link):

"Germany’s planned ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa has been greeted with both optimism and scepticism, with its supporters hailing it as a cure for Africa’s age old development problems and its critics questioning Germany’s true intentions. EurActiv Germany reports...

Germany now wants to transfer a similar plan to Africa, with a view to creating a conducive environment and opportunities for the African youth in particular, by making them stay and find meaningful employment at home rather than looking for work in Europe.

It is seen as a stab at containing the unprecedented inflow of migrants to Germany, following its open door policy for refugees...

Critics of the plan have poured cold water on the idea, arguing that it is a classic example of comparing apples and oranges....

Jacob Kahenya, a political scientist in Kenya, argues that the plan misses the point by comparing the African situation now to what happened in Eastern Europe after the Second World War.

“Situations and circumstances between the Marshall Plan of 1948 and what Germany is trying to introduce now are completely different. 21st century Africa requires serious and multi-faceted approaches in addressing the problems bedevilling it, part of which include some serious home grown solutions. This plan would be an outright flop,” Kahenya insisted."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.12.16)
EU: The implementation of the hotspots in Italy and Greece: a study (Press release, link):

"“This is an experiment, a pilot model of registration and identification at the points of arrival that selects between people seeking asylum and people to be returned. Yet the hotspots currently apply practices and standards that are inadequate and disrespect fundamental rights” says Aspasia Papadopoulou Senior Policy Officer at the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). “What we are witnessing in Italy and Greece is the consequence of an EU pressure shifting responsibilities to the national level,” says Aspasia Papadopoulou. “If the hotspots are to become permanent then we would have to see fundamental improvements including standards and safeguards – there is a need for independent monitoring by international organisations, NGOs, or bodies like the Ombudsman.”

The study is part of a project led by the Dutch Council for Refugees, in partnership with ECRE, the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR), the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and ProAsyl that aims to support monitoring of hotspots in Greece and Italy and the strengthening of legal assistance provision by local NGOs."

And see: Report (pdf)

Amnesty: Almost half a million people forcibly displaced in Turkey (DW, link):

"At least half a million people in southeast Turkey have been forcibly displaced by violence, large scale destruction and ongoing curfews. A new report has called on Turkish authorities to facilitate their return home."

U.N. refugee chief warns EU against carrot-and-stick approach to migration (Reuters, link):

"Linking aid for countries in the Middle East and Africa to how they manage migration can create dangerous precedents, the United Nations top refugee official warned the European Union on Monday.

Overwhelmed by the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants in 2015, the EU has tightened its external borders and sought to strike deals with countries along main migration routes to contain the flow of people...

"Support to host and transit countries should be driven by solidarity, not strict conditionality," Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told a seminar in Brussels. "

UNHCR calls for stronger EU action on refugees (link):

"In a paper presented to the European Union (EU) today, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, called for a far-reaching reform of Europe’s global engagement with refugees, including the European asylum system. UNHCR called on Europe to offer more strategic and targeted support to countries of origin, asylum and transit of refugees, to review its contingency preparations to respond to large refugee and migrant arrivals, and to put in place a more efficient and better managed asylum system. It also asked for greater investment by EU Member States in the integration of refugees, including housing, employment and language training.

“Last year, Europe failed to implement a collective, managed response to the challenges posed by the arrival of over a million refugees and migrants,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “This resulted in scenes of chaos at borders, leading to a breakdown in the public’s trust in the capacity of governments to manage the situation and playing into the hands of those who wanted to turn refugees into scapegoats."

See: UNHCR report (pdf) and see: UNHRC says be prepared for more refugees (Antigua Observer, link)

EU: New centralised sources of data on migration launched

"On 2 December 2016, the European Commission's Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) launched two new tools: the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub. These tools centralise migration related data, to better understand migration flows, trends and their impact on societies across the EU."

Press release: Migration Data Catalogue and Dynamic Data Hub – EU migration data at a glance (EU Science Hub, link)

See: the Migration Data Catalogue (link), which "will classify and organise datasets in a series of predefined domains, including legal migration and integration, asylum-seekers and refugees, irregular migration and returns, as well as unaccompanied minors"; and the Dynamic Data Hub (link), which "will validate information, highlight limitations and put migration data into context."

Sweden needs 64,000 immigrants a year to sustain growth (New Europe, link):

"Sweden needs 64,000 immigrants a year to bridge labour market shortages according to the director of the National Employment Agency.

Speaking to the Swedish Television, director Mikael Sjöberg, said the country is lacking chefs, engineers, bus and train drivers. Failure to maintain a steady supply of immigrants could “stunt growth” Sjöberg said.

Public and private employers struggle to find employees with the necessary skills to cover shortages in the labour market. Other measures considered are encouraging young people to enroll in vocational courses and elderly workers to delay retirement. But, replenishing the labour market with immigrants is an important “part of the puzzle.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5.12.16)
Are You Syrious (4.12.16, link):


"SF has reported the death of two women after they were rescued from a dinghy. Teams from Aquarius are devastated with this loss.

Tomorrow morning at 8:00, a boat with 285 refugees is expected at Ragusano in Sicily. The refugees (217 men, 15 women an 53 children) were rescued at sea in three missions (2 with the boat PHOENIX and 1 with AQUARIUS). Their countries of origin are Lybia, Syria, Morocco, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia Liberia, Togo and Niger."


"There has been a big number of arrivals on this island in the last 24 hours with 3 boats being picked up.

Two boats arrived in the north east shore of Lesvos, both picked up by Frontex. One boat carrying 56 people, 10 were minors and 1 woman had a broken leg . The total arrivals in these two boats was 74 people . Later, another boat landed in the north coast of the island at 1:15 pm, with 60 people on board. Everyone was wet and cold but were ok after geeting dry clothes and hot tea and snacks. After waiting over 3 hours, the transportation arrived and taken to Moria, only to be sent back to the north of the island to spend the night in stage 2 transit zone as the camp as full. Sao was also able to give everyone and dry warm coat."

Greece: “Transfers To Mainland Against EU-Turkey Deal” (News That Moves, link):

"From Ta Nea: Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas stressed that the EU-Turkey deal does not include an option for transferring asylum seekers on the islands to the mainland and if the government does so it may lead to the agreement failing.

When asked why asylum claims take so long to process, the Minister replied, “We have 13,000 asylum applications in the islands, 50,000 applications on the mainland. We have a new asylum service that has existed for only three years in Greece, while the same services in France and Germany have fifty years of experience. I do not claim that our asylum service operates perfectly, but we are making progress.”

UNHCR: (2.12.16): 349,825 refugees have arrived in the EU this year: 173,069 to Italy and 171,785 to Greece. 4,699 dead/missing

UK: Home Office keeps child refugees ‘in the dark’ about move to UK (Guardian, link):

"Children held at French reception centres since Calais camp demolition are distressed by lack of information, says report..

The Home Office has been accused of failing to provide sufficient information to child refugees from the demolished Calais camp, in what critics believe is a ploy to try to reduce the number of unaccompanied minors who are likely to enter the UK.

Researchers who visited a series of reception centres in France, where children are being held as their UK applications are processed by Home Office officials, found many children had received insufficient information or none at all.

Their findings, contained in a report by the charity Help Refugees"

Libyan Fisherman Rescue 120 Refugees (Libyan Gazette, link):

"Boats carrying about 1,400 refugees across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe were rescued on Tuesday, according to the Italian coastguard.

Close to 11 boats overflowing with refugees left Libya for Europe at a time when sea waters were calm.

Eight dead bodies were found by rescuers on Topaz, a ship run by Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). Seven of the bodies were in the same rubber boat, the eighth one was found in another refugee boat."

Are You Syrious (2.12.16, link)

Lesvos, Greece

"Very bad weather has been reported in Lesvos over the last week, with thunder storms and floods followed by freezing conditions high winds and some snow. In spite of that, there have been some new arrivals by boats. According to the local volunteers, a boat was picked up on the north coast of Lesvos today by the coast guard and brought into Petra with 50 people on board: 3 children, 17 women, 30 men. All passengers arrived safe, although some reportedly fascist groups have verbally attacked the newcomers. In the north, they are in need or experienced volunteers for the coast watch, please get in touch with The Hope Project if you are able to come."

Samos, Greece

"A 45 year old man died in the camp in Samos after waiting 4 hours in acute pain to see the duty camp doctor, who kept turning him away despite the fact that he had a heart condition, a field-based source wrote. The vast numbers of people living in the camp are vulnerable, children, including small babies, pregnant women, the elderly & people with disabilities and the chronically ill and they are living in inhumane and dangerous conditions & many of them have been there for up to 8 months."

Greece: Migrant children await hostel spots (ekathimerini.com, link):

"More than 1,200 unaccompanied child migrants are on waiting lists for a spot at one of the country’s special hostels for vulnerable children, aid workers told a seminar organized by Doctors of the World in Athens Friday.

Out of around 62,000 migrants and refugees currently in Greece, around 2,500 are unaccompanied minors..."

Greece: More than 1,200 unaccompanied children refugees on waiting lists for suitable accommodation (ANA-MPA, link):

"More than 1,200 unaccompanied children refugees are on waiting lists for a place in suitable accommodation, an associate of the migration policy ministry Alkis Souliotis said on Friday, at an event organized by the “Doctors of the World” in Athens.
In total, about 2,500 unaccompanied children live among the 62,000 refugees and migrants who remain in Greece, with 286 of those living in closed detention centers and another two locked up in police stations, Souliotis said."

Stranded in Serbia - refugees in limbo (DW, link): "The Balkan route no longer dominates the headlines, but it still exists. Refugees undertaking the journey have been left stranded, with doubts over their future growing by the day. Many have gathered in Belgrade."

Syrians in Germany undergo tough fight to see families (Daily Sabah, link):

"Germany, trying to staunch the flow of Syrian refugees, has placed high hurdles for them to be reunited with their families, creating a Kafkaesque nightmare in the courts."

Are You Syrious (1.12.16, link):


"UNHCR announced that the refugees will be moved from tents to indoor rooms. While there have almost been not sufficient efforts made to winterize the camps before, it needed the first snow in Petra camp (as reported in yesterday’s digest) and temperatures below zero in other locations to prepare this steps. But as of today a lot of camps are still in use and the refugees have to resist freezing temperatures. Neither UNHCR nor the government gave a timeframe until the refugees will be accommedated in heated shelters. Most of the containers remain fridges, because there is no electricity and no other heating provided till now."


"Even after the Austrian Federal Administrative Court suspended deportations to Croatia until the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) makes a final decision, Austrian government still intend to continue deportations, ORF reports. They say, that it is not a “general” but a “differentiated” deportation. The ones who are being deported did obviously enter Austria illegally, they say. The cases, in which transports have been organized by governments in 2015, have to be investigated.

According to the Austrian Ministry of Interior 300 refugees have been sent back to Croatia in October. There are about 2000 cases open."


"By 24th of November the new reception center for refugees in Paris had already welcomed 1,253 people, Reuters reports. The centre offers 400 beds for up to ten days to refugees and costs 6.5 million Euros. “In just 18 months, from June 2015 to November 2016, thirty makeshift camps have been cleared in Paris, with authorities providing emergency shelter for 22,000 migrants”, according to a townhall spokesman.... Volunteer reports say, there are still several hundred people sleeping roughly in the streets while temperatures are dropping sub zero. Donations and volunteers for distribution are urgently needed.... If you can donate, please clare@care4calais.org"

Greece: Winter: Some Refugees To Be Moved Indoor (News That Moves, link):

"Freezing temperatures, rain, wind and the first snow in northern Greece are making the life of refugees living in camps more difficult.

The Greek Ministry of Migration Policy is slowly implementing plans to move some of the refugees living in official camps on mainland Greece, mostly in the north, to indoor facilities.

On November 30, the transfer of 1,100 Yazidi refugees from the Petra camp, unsuitable for winter, to local hotels and flats rented by UNHCR was completed by the UN Refugee Agency."

Lesvos, Greece: Eric Kempson (2.12.16):

"One boat was picked up on the north coast of Lesvos today by the coast guard and brought into Petra, 50 people on board, 3 children, 17 women, 30 men, every one was ok."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.11.16-1.12.16)
StopTheDeal: We are helping to take the shameful EU-Turkey refugee deal to court, in a bid to save the life of one man and improve the lives of millions.(link):

"This is a shameful deal that sends a frightful message to the rest of the world: that men, women and children who managed to survive a perilous journey and the horrors of war, persecution and extraordinary vulnerability are not welcome in Europe. Furthermore, the deal has also led these people to take other, even more dangerous routes to our shores.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. As DiEM25 we are standing behind a unique legal action that could blow this deal up, potentially improving the lives of millions of people seeking to come to Europe in desperate need. How? By helping to save a man’s life.

A team of volunteers in Spain and Greece, headed by the eminent Spanish former anti-corruption prosecutor Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, is working to save Shabbir. On November 29, 2016, they filed a legal action to the European Court of Justice. It’s aim: to annul the EU-Turkey Agreement and prevent Shabbir and thousands of others from being deported.

But if this case is successful, it will do much more than save a man’s life: it could shatter the EU-Turkey deal once and for all."

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

"In response to the sentencing of Ahmed H, to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border crossing last year, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Directorwho attended the court hearing said:

“This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of terrorism provisions and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism-related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.”

Throwing stones and entering a country irregularly does not constitute terrorism and cannot justify this draconian ruling"

EU: European Council: 15-16 December 2016: Draft guidelines for conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13936-16, pdf) :

On Migration: "assess and reaffirm its commitment to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and assess progress on the compacts with the five selected African countries in terms of arrivals and returns," and

"assess progress on the reform of the Common European Asylum System, including on how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future, on the basis of a report from the Presidency."

Regarding Members States the Council has to try and appease those against "responsibility and solidarity in the future", while hoping the European Parliament will unblock discussions on the Qualifications Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive and the Procedures Regulation and the Resettlement file.

On Internal Security: Review progress on:

"systematic checks against the relevant databases, that must be interconnected, of all persons crossing the Union's external borders, including nationals from EU Member States; the entry/exit system; the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS); combatting terrorism; firearms; anti-money laundering; Passenger Name Record (PNR); and enhancing effective cooperation with electronic service providers." [emphasis added]

RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

In a pioneering study published today, the IRR takes a fresh look at the nature of racial hate crimes since the referendum. Through a detailed examination of cases on the IRR’s unique database it establishes a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators of such violence, the rhetoric and policy pronouncements of politicians over recent years and the stigmatising frameworks of the media.

‘It is convenient to condemn the “spike” in violence this summer, in which at least one person lost their life, as the acts of a thuggish minority. But an examination of over one hundred cases shows a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators and the rhetoric and policy pronouncement of politicians’, said IRR researcher, Dr. Jon Burnett.

Are You Syrious (30.11.16)

Winter arrives in force to Greece

"It had been very cold for a while now in northern Greece and volunteers have been very busy trying to improve the difficult conditions the refugees live in around the country.

But no preparations would have been enough for what happened last night and today, especially the camp of Petra on the hills next to mount Olympus, where 241 people (official numbers) were still living when a huge snow storm came down merciless on them....."

There has been a call for help from teams of volunteers.

"Lighthouse Relief volunteers of Lesvos are fundraising because there is a critical shortage of shoes to provide for refugees. With winter fast approaching, nearly every refugee now arrives with soaking wet shoes, increasing the life threatening risk of hypothermia. Providing dry clothing is the fastest and most efficient response to hypothermia that Lighthouse Relief can provide. Unfortunately, NGOs across the island have exhausted the supply of shoes and, due to the reality of the crisis, demand outweighs supply. To support them please follow the link."


"The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) has written to the mayor of Rome voicing alarm over the hundreds of migrants sleeping rough on the capital’s streets while thousands more with legal residency are forced to live in squats."

Refugees rehoused in Greece as temperatures drop (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Thousands of refugees and migrants will be relocated indoors from tent camps in Greece as temperatures fell below zero for the first time, the UN refugee agency said Thursday.

The operation began Wednesday in the snow-covered foothills of Olympus, Greece’s tallest mountain, to move around 1,000 members of Iraq's Yazidi minority, said UNHCR spokesman Roland Schoenbauer."

Polar cold, Snow: Refugees spend the icy-cold days & nights in tents (picts, vid, Keep Talking Greece, link): "Migrants and refuges in Malakasa accommodation center launched a protest demanding better the living conditions amid polar cold sweeping through out Greece."

EU-Turkey-Syria: Border between Syria and Turkey – the death zone

"The truth is that the crisis has shifted. The wall, the German chancellor Angela Merkel under no circumstances wanted to see at the German border, was erected at the border to Syria by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A concrete wall, several hundred kilometers long, three meters high is keeping migrants away. People are not dying in the Aegean sea anymore, as the number of boat crossings to Greece declined after the deal. Now, they die at the Turkish-Syrian border."

EU: Frontex takes first step towards creating European coast guard (pdf):

"Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has called on EU member states and Schengen Associated Countries to provide officers for the newly adopted European Coast Guard Functions Officer profile, paving the way for the deployment of multi-national crews in the agency’s maritime operations."

Towards a dispersal of crossing? (Passeurs d'hospitalités, link):

"There are many similarities between the closure of the Sangatte Center in 2002 and the destruction of the Calais shantytown in 2016. A media operation aimed at making people believe that a “problem” was being solved, while all that had been done was to hide it. The huge number of police in order to force people to hide and therefore to be less visible (see here, here and here). The harassment of people showing solidarity (see here, here and here). And also the CAO scheme, which is in its conception a copy of Operation Ulysses that followed between 2002 and 2006."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.11.16)
Are You Syrious (28.11.16, link):

Mediterranean: More violence against migrants as well as against the NGO’s - Watch med six week report

"Watch the Med has issued its six week report. The report states that violence against migrants as well as NGOs is increasing, and warns that the EU is ever more concerned with systematically pushing people back to Libya’s coast than helping them to reach safety. It seems that in late October, the EU’s naval operation EUNAVFOR MED/Sophia started to train the so-called Libyan coast guard on their vessels, showing them how to do the dirty job of preventing travelers from leaving Libyan waters."

Hungary: Bicske reception center closing, Migszol against it

"The Bicske reception center will be closed by the Hungarian government by the end of 2016. Migszol, the Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary, has issued a statement explaining that they are against this because they support, “the full inclusion of anyone in society regardless of their immigration status.”

GREECE: Pressure grows as Athens eyes faster asylum process (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The municipal council on the Aegean island of Chios has voted against a government proposal to create a new reception center for migrants and refugees on the site of a former landfill with the aim of easing congestion at the existing Souda facility."

Over 5,300 Voluntary Returns From Greece (News That Moves, link)

"More than 5,300 foreign citizens voluntary returned from Greece to their countries of origin from January 1 to November 7 this year,.."

Greece: Refugee camp flooded – Is Chios the new Idomeni? (video) (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"A strong rainfall on the island of Chios left a couple of hundreds of refugees and migrants sitting in the mud. Rocks have been put at the tents basis to protect them from the next wind blow. Kids play in the mud. The camp of Souda has turned into a lake of water and mud as the soil could not absorb the tones of water due to heavy rainfall on Sunday evening."

Record number of boat migrants reach Italy in 2016 (euractiv, link):

"A record number of migrants have reached Italy by boat from North Africa in 2016, according to official data, as pressure on Italy’s shelter and asylum systems grows.

Italy has borne the brunt of new arrivals since the implementation in March of an agreement between the European Union and Turkey to curb the flow of migrants sailing for Greece.

As of November 28, 171,299 boat migrants had reached Italy’s shores, the Interior Ministry said, compared to the previous record of 170,100 for all of 2014."

Turkey slams EU vote as ‘most unjust in history’ (euractiv, link):

"Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister, Ömer Çelik, on Tuesday (29 November) dismissed a European Parliament vote to freeze accession talks with Ankara as the “most unjust resolution in history” and urged solidarity instead.

During a visit to Brussels, Çelik sought to ease tensions exacerbated by the non-binding vote last week to halt Turkey’s membership process over its “disproportionate” crackdown since July’s failed coup."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.11.16)
GREECE-TURKEY-FRONTEX: E.U. Border Agency Still Unaccountable on Refugees’ Rights (Refugees Deeply, link): "Last month, 10 Syrians boarded a flight organized and staffed by the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, on the Greek island of Kos, believing their destination was Athens. Instead, they landed in the Turkish city of Adana.

The Syrians had wanted to seek international protection in Greece, and carried documents indicating their intention to initiate asylum procedures. They were never given deportation orders or offered an opportunity to mount a legal challenge to their deportation."

GREECE: Refugee Tensions Spiral on Greek Island of Chios (VOA, link):

"CHIOS, GREECE — Transformed into a holding pen by the European Union, tensions are escalating on the Greek island of Chios as both residents and refugees pay a heavy price.

Just over a week ago, brewing frustrations culminated in clashes breaking out in Souda refugee camp, which is home to about 800 people.

For two nights running, huge rocks and - some claim - molotov cocktails were thrown from the ancient walls of a castle onto refugees in the tents below, while a small number of Greeks and some residents of the camp clashed.

And with some still too fearful to sleep in the camp, which is in the island’s main town, there are now concerns that more violence could follow."

GREECE: «We’ve managed to improve the provisions for all the people in the camp» (Papierlose Zeitung, link):

"The inhabitants of Oreokastro, the Greek refugee camp, have kicked out the NGOs responsible for them and have taken over the day-to-day running of the camp themselves: a small ray of hope that nevertheless can’t blot out the adverse conditions of life in Oreokastro."

EU: Resettled in the Baltics, refugees flee for wealthier lands (Reuters, link):

"In early November, 34 Syrian and Iraqi refugees boarded buses heading for Germany from Lithuania, the country where they had been resettled. No one expects them to return.

Only a tiny number of refugees from war in the Middle East have been sent to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, among the European Union's poorest countries. The Baltic states were nobody's first choice.

"When we left from Turkey to Greece, our final goal was Germany or Holland," said Mohamed Kamel Haj Ali, 52, once a shopkeeper in Syria, who for the time being still lives in Rukla in Lithuania.

"But the land route from Greece was already closed, so we had no choice but to enter the relocation program, which brought us here.""

FRANCE: From CAO to PRAHDA (Passeurs d'hospitalités, link): "The PRAHDA (Asylum Seekers’ Hosting and Accommodation Program) began to to be talked about in relation to the incease in asylum seeker’s deportations with the Dublin procedure to the country responsible for their application for asylum (the Dublin III regulation is used to determine the European country responsible for an asylum application, usually the country of entry into the European Union), because one of its tasks as defined by the public tender was published: “the preparation of the transfer of persons under Dublin procedure and follow-up, where appropriate, people placed under house arrest in the scheme “.

But a deeper reading of the tendering process shows that the target audience is that of the CAO’s (Reception and Orientation Centres – see here, here, here and there), that is to say not only persons whose asylum procedure is ongoing"

And in French: Des CAO au PRAHDA (link)

IRAQ: Winter closes in on refugees fleeing Iraq's Mosul (Reuters, link):

"U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops and Kurdish security forces have launched the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to drive Islamic State fighters from Mosul, the militant group's last major bastion in the country, many times larger than any other city the fighters have held.

The United Nations is asking donors to fund winter kits for 1.2 million people -- preparing for a worst case scenario that much of the city's population may have to flee. Seventy-two thousand have fled so far, and winter has brought freezing temperatures.

The Kurdish authorities are requiring fleeing civilians to stay in camps even if they have family outside, so that males can be checked for ties to Islamic State. Relatives crowded out front, bringing blankets and pillows."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26-27.11.16)
Greek refugee lawyer targeted by police (DW, link)

"A Greek lawyer standing up for the rights of vulnerable groups such as refugees has found herself at the receiving end of police hostility. Omaira Gill reports from Athens....

On the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2016, several Syrian refugees aged between 13 to 16 were on their way to a cultural center to take part in a theatrical performance about their lives in Syria, carrying plastic toy guns as part of their costumes....

An activist began to highlight what was happening on Facebook, and human rights lawyer Electra Koutra was invited to become involved by assisting the parents and children in their reporting of what happened.

According to a statement on her own Facebook page, she said that the children were ill-treated by the police, separated from the adults, humiliated and forced to strip. When the youngest, aged 13, objected in tears to removing his underwear, he was thrown against a wall. They were forbidden from contacting their family members to let them know what was happening.

Sitting at her dinner table strewn with legal documents, she recalls what happened next. "I was prevented repeatedly from properly representing my clients. One child, who has received therapy for witnessing the torture of family members in Syria, was interviewed from 1:30 am until 4:30 am, not allowed contact with his father and me, despite the complaints we raised. Being forced to wait in the hall for hours in front of a guarded closed door, knowing that the rights of the child were being violated and not being able to do anything about it was a traumatic experience for me," she told DW...."

Are You Syrious (26.11.16, link)

Feature: Slight increase in number of new arrivals to Greece

"A number of refugees staying on Greek islands is growing every day. Today on Chios, 112 people arrived, which is a slight increase compared to numbers from previous weeks.

Officially, there are around 16.000 refugees on the islands at the moment. The real number could be much higher with many people sleeping in the streets and improvised shelters. But every camp on the islands has been full for weeks now. The solution for this situation is nowhere to be found yet.

At Mytilene, there are around 6000 people at the moment, while the capacity of the two main camps - Kara Tepe and Moria?—?is 3500. The situation is especially bad in Moria where twice as many people live as the camp has capacity. Sanitary conditions are awful, food is poor, there are not enough warm clothes for all the people who are stuck there against their will. The situation can get worse as more people are expected to come soon. Lifeguard Hellas Save and Rescue Volunteer team asks for more volunteers for the shifts of watching and scans the shore for boats."

Bulgaria: Forced expulsions announced in December

"The situation in Bulgaria is not settling. Local authorities are seriously ready to expel over 1,000 refugees who protested against restrictions on their freedom of movement. They are now moved to a former army barracks, but soon could be expelled, as Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said. People who are being threatened are by large from Afghanistan. Expulsion could happen in December, as Bulgarian media are reporting."

Eric Kempson from Lesvos, Greece: Fascists Ruining Tourism! 24/11/2016 (video link) Fascists are not being prosecuted.... and the "big Greek heart" needs to be portrayed in the media.

Are You Syrious (25.11.16, link):

Hundreds of protesters arrested, to be deported from Bulgaria

"In the aftermath of yesterday’s riots in Harmanli, the Bulgarian Prime Minister vows to detain and deport 1,000 people.. About 400 people have been detained after yesterday’s riots Bulgaria’s largest refugee camp in Harmanli in southern Bulgaria, which left more than 200 refugees and 29 policemen injured. According to the official government sources, a thousand refugees who clashed with police will be moved from Harmanli into former army barracks near the Turkish border before being expelled from the country. It seems Bulgarian authorities are following Hungary’s example by playing the terrorism card."

Notorious Bulgarian “refugee hunter” Dinko Valev also made an appearance in front of the camp today, surrounded by his thugs, threatening the already scared refugees in front of the cameras

"According to the Bulgarian police, about 2,000 refugees, most from Afghanistan, were involved in the riots. The conflict reportedly erupted over the camp being put under quarantine following the outbreak of infectious diseases...

Bordermonitoring Bulgaria says the closing of the camp had already been decided by the government as part of a larger plan to deal with the permanent ongoing protest by right-wing parties, neo-Nazis and their supporters. According to their info, police entered some buildings in the middle of the riot, and were physically violent, including towards people who were not involved in the riot."

Media hysteria, fence around the camp: pre-election stunt?

"The Bulgarian Helsinki Commitee notes that Bulgarian elections are pending, which may explain the heightened tensions at Harmanli and the government’s response. “Certain parties which bet only on anti-migrant, xenophobic and fascist rhetoric feel the need to accumulate self-confidence and an electorate,” the organization stated, adding: "What would be better than organising a controlled riot with a little blood-letting and lots of media hysterics?”

EU-AFRICA: The small African region with more refugees than all of Europe - Hunger follows displaced people around north-east Nigeria, as Boko Haram and climate change drive millions from their homes (Guardian, link):

"About 40% more people have been displaced throughout Borno state (1.4 million) than reached Europe by boat in 2015 (1 million). Across the region, the war against Boko Haram has forced more people from their homes – 2.6 million – than there are Syrians in Turkey, the country that hosts more refugees than any other.

The comparisons mirror a wider trend across Africa. Of the world’s 17 million displaced Africans, 93.7% remain inside the continent, and just 3.3% have reached Europe, according to UN data supplied privately to the Guardian.

“No matter how many problems Europeans have, it’s nothing like this,” summarises Modu Amsami, the informal leader of Monguno’s nine camps for internally displaced people (IDP), as he strolls past Kawu’s newly erected hut. “Please, I’m appealing to Europeans to forget their minor problems. Let them come here and face our major problems.”

The provoked riot in Harmanli’s refugee camp (Bordermonitoring Bulgaria, link):

"Today, after more than two days of quarantine, at noon a massive riot broke out in Harmanli’s refugee camp, which is located not far way from the Bulgarian-Turkish border. The revolting migrants protested against the closing of the camp and for freedom of movement. Hundreds did not understand why more than 3000 people have to stay inside the camp and are not allowed to go out, while not everybody is ill from deceases. The closing of the camp was already a longer plan of the authorities and an answer on the permanent ongoing protest of right wing parties, neo-nazis and their supporters."

UK: Pawel Legomina was on his way to work when arrested in Hove accused of rough sleeping (The Argos, link):

"A POLISH man threatened with deportation for sleeping rough claims he has lived and worked in the UK for three years and never spent a night on the streets.

Pawel Legomina was one of ten Europeans arrested in Brighton and Hove by immigration officers last Tuesday.

The operation, which was supported by Sussex Police, resulted in them being detained for breaching their legal right to be in the UK by sleeping rough under rules introduced in May, a Home Office spokeswoman said. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.11.16)

GREECE: LESVOS: Death and riots at EU asylum hotspot in Greece (euobserver, link):

"A woman and her young child have died on Thursday (24 November) at an asylum detention centre on the Greek island of Lesbos, triggering riots and clashes with police.

The two were killed when a gas cylinder exploded while cooking at the Moria camp, a so-called hotspot initiated by the EU commission where asylum seekers are screened and registered.

The deaths provoked a protest among other asylum seekers who have been stuck at camps described as open-prisons. The police clashes injured six asylum seekers, according to Greek media."

See also: Mother and son in critical condition from Moria migrant camp fire (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Twenty large tents and over 100 smaller ones were destroyed in the blaze, as well as by fires started by migrants protesting living conditions at the overcrowded camp in reaction to the gas cooker explosion in the family tent that started the conflagration.

Police have arrested 15 Afghan men for starting the smaller fires and clashing with riot police dispatched to the scene. Between eight and 10 camp residents are also being treated at the Lesvos general hospital for burns and smoke inhalation."

And: Riots in Moria camp after woman and child killed in tragic gas explosion (Keep Talking Greece, with videos, link)

Greece: Migration minister fends off criticism in wake of deadly fire (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas came under fire in Parliament on Friday – even from within the ranks of his own party – following a deadly fire at a migrant processing center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos.

Most of the ammunition directed at the leftist minister related to conditions at the camps on Lesvos, Samos, Kos and Chios, with critics saying that overcrowding at these facilities is putting the migrants at risk and stoking reactions from local communities."

Refugees clash with authorities in Bulgarian, Greek camps (DW, link): "Refugees rioted in Bulgarian and Greek camps late Thursday and early Friday. Bulgaria's Prime Minister said many now face expulsion?."

Bulgarian police fire rubber bullets during migrant camp riot - Bulgaria’s biggest refugee camp erupts after its inhabitants wrongly accused by local media of carrying infectious skin diseases (Guardian, link):

"Bulgarian police fired water cannon and rubber bullets at rioting migrants angered at being confined to their refugee camp during a health scare, the interior ministry said.

The unrest in the camp in Harmanli, a town close to the Turkish border, happened two days after the authorities sealed it off to prevent anyone leaving following local media reports that the migrants were carrying infectious diseases.

Earlier on Thursday, camp residents set fire to furniture and tyres and threw stones at riot police, who deployed water cannon. In the evening, police pushed back a large group trying to leave the camp, which is home to 3,000 people, mostly thought to be Afghans. “We used a water cannon, blanks and rubber bullets as well as physical force,” said Georgi Kostov, the interior ministry’s chief secretary, outside Bulgaria’s biggest refugee camp."

Are You Syrious (24.11.16)

Fire in Lesvos camp leads to the death of two refugees, eight more seriously injured

"The woman had been on Lesvos for 4 months according to authorities, a story all too common on the Greek islands. The situation of the ground is difficult. The asylum offices are severely undermanned, which results in the severe congestion and leads to massive buildups of refugees well beyond the official capacities. Had the process been more streamlined, the woman and her grandchild could have been allowed to leave for the Greek mainland by now, and their lives may not have been extinguished when they were."

Bulgaria: Refugees in Harmanli Center clash with police

"Hundreds of refugees protested after being told that they will be unable to leave the camp. Tires were set alight and refugees threw stones at police, who returned fire and even used rubber bullets and water canons in retaliation. Following an initial calming of tensions, demonstrations continued well into the night. The curtailment of the refugees’ freedom of movement came as a result of pressure placed on the government by right wing ideologues and their supporters."

Serbia: Refugee from Afghanistan commits suicide in Šid

"The body of a 23 year old refugee from Afghanistan was found at 6am on Thursday morning. His body was found not far from the Adaševci reception center. His friends say that he was traveling alone without family. He had made several attempts to cross the border into Hungary, but to no avail. His friends noticed that he was missing a few days ago, and reported it to reception center authorities."

Asylum Info Center in Belgrade helps refugees

The center provides refugees with knowledge of their rights, internet, clothing, translation, and counseling. They also help refugees to reach the asylum and reception centers in Serbia, and give referrals to other organizations which may provide legal aid, identification, family reunification, and searching for missing persons. The center is located on Nemanjina Street 3 in Belgrade, and their website may be found at www.crpc.rs. You may call them at +381 60 099 16 34.

Hungary: Refugee boy almost dies as a result of beating at the hands of Hungarian police

"The boy provided testimony of the violence, which may be found here. The beating took place at night around 200 meters from the border. Hungarian police crossed the border and members of the group were attacked so severely that they needed to be taken to the hospital. Reports of such brutality at the hands of Hungarian police are far from uncommon, and yet nobody seems to be capable of doing anything to curb the violence. Be the neglect from the lack of power or the lack of will by EU authorities, such incidents serve to show that dark forces linger in Europe, which inflict violence on people who are themselves escaping war."

Italy: Clashes break out in Turin as tensions between refugees and local population grows

"Refugees were frightened on Wednesday night as two small explosions went off. After this, refugees living in the camp went out to the streets in an agitated mood, with media reporting that some of them damaged road signs and cars, and threw stones and bottles. The police were thankfully able to diffuse the tensions before anyone was hurt."

EU-TURKEY: European Parliament: Freeze EU accession talks with Turkey until it halts repression, urge MEPs (Press release, link)

"MEPs want a temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey. In a resolution voted on Thursday, they say Turkey should nonetheless remain “anchored” to the EU. They also pledge to review their position when the "disproportionate repressive measures" under the state of emergency in Turkey are lifted.:...

The resolution was approved by 479 votes to 37, with 107 abstentions."

And see: Turkey threatens to end refugee deal in row over EU accession - President Erdogan issues warning after European parliament vote urging ministers to freeze talks on Turkey joining the EU (Guardian, link):

"Turkey’s president has threatened to tear up a landmark deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe a day after the European parliament urged governments to freeze EU accession talks with Ankara.

The threat underlines how far relations between Turkey and the European bloc have deteriorated in recent months, particularly after a coup attempt in July.

“If Europe goes too far, we will allow refugees to pass from the border gates,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Friday at a women’s rights conference. “Do not forget, the west needs Turkey.” Erdogan’s statements, the most direct warning yet that Turkey could abandon the agreement, came in response to a symbolic vote in the European parliament on Thursday that demanded an end to the decade-long accession negotiations."

And see: Turkey threatens to “flood the EU with migrants”(Keep Talking Greece, link):

"“The damage will be multiple for the European Union,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned and threatened that “without the help of Ankara, EU member states may be flooded with waves of migrants.”

Yildirim’s threats came in form of a televised address to the nation, after the European Parliament vote to freeze EU’s accession talks with Turkey.

“We are one of the factors that protect Europe. If the refugees cross our borders, will flood and overwhelm Europe and Turkey prevents this from happening,” the Turkish PM said adding “I accept that the interruption of relations with Europe will harm Turkey, but the damage for Europe will be five to six times bigger.”

Migrants and police clash in Bulgaria refugee camp (euractiv, link):

"Around 1,500 migrants rioted in Bulgaria’s largest refugee camp yesterday (24 November), triggering clashes that left two dozen police injured and prompted the arrest of hundreds of protesters, officials said.

“Around 300 migrants, six of them considered a threat to national security, have been arrested,” Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told BNR public radio after visiting the camp in early hours of Friday."

Greece: Arrivals in Lesvos (UNHCR)

17/11/2016: 103
18/11/2016:   40
19/11/2016: 108
20/11/2016:   92
21/11/2016:   45

EU Policies Put Refugees At Risk - An Agenda to Restore Protection (HRW, link):

"A lack of leadership, vision, and solidarity based on human rights principles are at the core of the European Union’s dismal response to refugee and migration challenges. The mismanagement and politicization of a surge in boat migration in 2015, when over one million migrants and asylum seekers traveled to the EU by sea, has led to a humanitarian and political crisis largely of the EU’s own making that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency.

If chaos characterized the response of the EU and its member states in 2015, wrong-headed and rights-abusing policies have defined 2016. Instead of providing for safe and orderly channels into the EU for asylum seekers and refugees and sharing responsibility for them equitably, the EU and its member states have endorsed policies designed to limit arrivals and to outsource responsibility to regions and countries outside of the EU. The deeply flawed deal with Turkey and problematic cooperation with the Libyan authorities reflect this approach.....

The European Commission has also advocated changes to EU aid and foreign policy that would direct them towards migration control objectives rather than improving respect for human rights. The Partnership Framework for relations with third countries represents a clear articulation of the EU’s goal, significantly re-energized over the past 18 months, to intensify migration cooperation with countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia with the objectives of preventing irregular migratory flows to Europe and facilitating the removal of rejected asylum seekers and other irregular migrants from EU territory."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.11.16)

How economic migrants become refugees as they seek a new life (The Independent, link):

"As right-wing politicians across Europe call for “economic migrants” to be deported or even left to drown in the Mediterranean Sea, analysts say the term is divorced from the harrowing reality faced by many of the men, women and children risking their lives to reach safety.

The passage from Libya to Italy, the deadliest crossing in the world, is now the dominant route after the controversial EU-Turkey deal aimed to close the comparatively safer and shorter path over the Aegean Sea.

Libya has been a draw for people seeking work across Africa for decades and the prospect of high wages and abundant construction work is still luring migrants unaware of the chaos and violence that awaits.

Migrants and refugees are frequently kidnapped by gangs in exchange for ransoms, being beaten, raped and tortured in squalid makeshift prisons, while others are detained in labour camps or forced into prostitution until they pay their way out.

With routes out of Libya controlled by militias and many borders closed, the only escape is flimsy rubber boats sent into the Mediterranean Sea by smugglers, who threaten to shoot anyone attempting to resist being packed into the overcrowded dinghies."

EU: Organised crime group behind illegal immigration dismantled (Eurojust, link):

"Today, the Prosecutor’s Office - Anti-Mafia District Directorate of Salerno, Italy, in close cooperation with the Public Prosecution Office of Karlsruhe, Germany and with the support of Eurojust, carried out an operation concerning an organised crime group (OCG) involved in facilitating illegal immigration of non-EU citizens into Europe. A total of ten people have been arrested and three house arrests were carried out by the Italian police (Mobile Squad of Salerno). Simultaneously, the German authorities executed several searches and a European Arrest Warrant against the main suspect, a German citizen of Somali origin.

The investigation started in spring 2015, following the docking of the military ship ‘Chimera’ in the port of Salerno, carrying 545 Somali migrants, who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tripoli by the Italian navy. Some migrants were left for three days without water, food and medicines, and were affected by scabies and high fever. For this reason, the OCG members, all of Somali origin, are also accused of harassment and inhumane treatment of the migrants during the journey from the Libyan coast to Italy."

GERMANY: What living conditions are like for a Syrian refugee in Berlin (Vice, link):

"“There is no proper housing, no good life,” a Syrian refugee named Farouk told VICE News correspondent Milène Larsson in Berlin. “There is no good food, no work. Some people have to wait for a year to start learning German. People say it’s our fault, no.”

When the migrant crisis began to overwhelm Europe last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood out for her insistence on opening the country to newcomers. More than a million refugees moved in, and now Merkel’s popularity is waning.

“Our rooms are very cramped,” Farouk said. “No money, nothing that we can build a life with. There is nothing that gives us hope for tomorrow.”"

UK: Destitute migrant families: study assesses voluntary sector work

"This study explores the role played by voluntary sector organisations [in England] providing services such as advice and material support to migrant children and families who are destitute. It seeks to explain one of the findings of a recent study conducted by COMPAS on the responses of local authorities to destitute children and their families, which observed that voluntary sector organisations found this area of work particularly challenging. The study seeks to identify the causes of those challenges, and how those challenges could be addressed."

The executive summary (pdf) identities five main challenges: 1. Structural imbalance in the sector; 2. Funding constraints; 3. Narrative: the deserving and the undeserving; 4. Fear of media attention; 5. Misunderstanding on the legality of provision to migrants.

Full report available on the COMPAS website: Meeting the challenge: Voluntary sector services for destitute migrant children and families (link)

EU-TURKEY: MEPs intensify push to halt Turkey talks (EUobserver, link):

"The EU wants to maintain membership talks with Turkey but MEPs are calling for them to be suspended, amid an intensifying crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told the EU parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday (22 November) that any move to annul Turkey's membership to the EU would be a lost opportunity.

"If the accession process came to an end I believe we would both find ourselves in a lose-lose scenario," she said.

But Erdogan has hinted that he would support the reinstatement of the death penalty, a move that Mogherini has set as a red line for the EU.

The EU parliament will vote on a non-binding resolution on Thursday to freeze accession talks, given the government-led purge in Ankara against so-called terrorists and state saboteurs."

And see: How Erdogan’s purge hit the EU and NATO (EurActiv, link): "The European Parliament will this week vote on whether to suspend Turkey’s EU membership bid. Andrew Duff explains how the Turkish military has reacted to Erdogan’s power grabbing and how NATO fits into the equation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.11.16)
Frontex to begin collecting personal data in Greece on suspected criminals (Press release, pdf):

"Starting today, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, will begin collecting personal data of persons suspected of people smuggling, terrorism and other cross-border crimes collected as part of its operation in Greece."

Note: according to Article 2(16) of the new Frontex Regulation (pdf), "cross-border crime" means "any serious crime with a cross-border dimension committed at or along, or which is related to, the external borders." There is no specific definition of "cross-border crime" in the Regulation but such activities "necessary entail a cross-border dimension," for example "trafficking in human beings or smuggling of migrants" (preamble, paragraph 19).

Hungarian prisoners complete part of new anti-migrant fence (euractiv, link):

"Hungarian prisoners have finished building the first part of a second anti-migrant fence on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, state television reported yesterday (21 November).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced last August plans for a second fence line in August to reinforce the existing barrier erected last year along the 175-kilometre-long border."

Chios Greeece: Dep. Migration Minister Vows to Close Refugee Camp in Souda Following Days of Violence (Greek Reporter, link):

"Deputy Migration Policy Minister Ioannis Balafas said the government wants to close the camp in Souda on the Greek island of Chios and transfer refugees and migrants in a new camp outside the town....

The UN Refugee Agency and Amnesty International condemned the serious violence that broke out in the municipality-run refugee camp at Souda, when tents were burned and two activists beaten by suspected extreme-right supporters. A Syrian refugee at the camp was seriously injured on Friday, when a stone thrown down from the walls surrounding the camp hit him on the head."

Refugee 'crisis'? Try 'crisis in the European press' (Open Democracy, link):

"A new study finds some disturbing trends in the European press coverage of refugees and the purported consequences of their arrival...

The emerging narrative strongly links negative consequences to 'real', tangible developments in European countries, while very few positive aspects go beyond moral obligations....

This all leads to problematic signals coming from the media, whose vulnerability and lack of resources become particularly evident in coverage of complex stories like this. A lack of context given to the refugee plight, low diversity of standpoints, and little mention of wider historical circumstances behind 'the crisis' result in simplistic framing: us versus them, the good versus the bad, refugees worthy of saving versus sneaky/dangerous migrants. Finally, no voice given to refugees or even citizens makes it impossible to develop a sense of togetherness or solidarity in Europe. The 'refugee crisis' label is controversial, but there is no doubt we are experiencing a crisis of journalism and ethics."

Calais refugee children describe French reception centers as 'prisons' (Daily Sabah Europe, link):

"Refugee children living in the French reception centers after the makeshift "Jungle" camp closure in Calais have been forced to work in farms, as many of them believes that they live in a "prison" rather than a reception center, a Britain-based charity groups said, the Independent reported yesterday.

Interviewing 33 refugee boys living in reception centers by phone, the report by Safe Passage shows that 15 percent of the boys did not "feel safe in the center" and 39 percent of them stated that they had been "better off in Calais.""

Greece: Plan for refugee children's hostel causes tension in Piraeus (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Dozens of residents at the port city of Piraeus heckled representatives at a meeting of the municipal council on Monday, in protest at plans by a nongovernmental organization to open a hostel for unaccompanied refugee and migrant children.

According to reports, Piraeus residents are opposing a project by the NGO Praksis, which has rented a former school building in Piraeus’s fifth district and plans to turn it into a hostel. "

Is the EU Gradually Renouncing its Fundamental Values in Order to Better Protect its External Borders? (ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org,link):

"Criticism by a number of NGOs and policy commentators about the European Union’s wavering observance of some of its core fundamental values has been mounting over the past few months. One strategic area in which such criticism has been most acute has been the EU’s evolving immigration and border security policy....

The outsourcing of the EU’s border security strategy to third countries with a potentially poor human rights record and an often discretionary use of rule of law has not been confined to Turkey alone."

Belgrade: Police raids and mass transfers to Preševo (moving-europe.org, link):

"This is a report which was send to us by an independent support collective in Belgrade. It testifies a massive nightly police operation on November 10th in Belgrade, which lead to mass evictions and transfers towards the Southern Serbian border where illegal push-backs have become normality. This testimony is an important addition to our recently published report „Bordered Lives – Unbound violence“ on migrants‘ situation in Serbia."

Asylum applications from Turkey skyrocket in Germany (DW, link):

"Germany saw a massive uptick in asylum seekers from Turkey in 2016. Much of it is due to the failed coup in July and ensuing crackdown on human rights and press freedom."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Current migration situation in the EU: hate crime - November 2016 (link):

"Asylum seekers and migrants face various forms of violence and harassment across the European Union (EU). As this month’s report on the migration situation underscores, such acts are both perpetrated and condoned by state authorities, private individuals, as well as vigilante groups. They increasingly also target activists and politicians perceived as ‘pro-refugee’. "

See Report: Current migration situation in the EU: hate crime (pdf)

Europe’s migration campaign pivots to Africa (politico, link):

"Having reduced the number of crossings from Turkey to Greece, European leaders are now looking to northern Africa...

“Tunisia could be the first country in North Africa to benefit from an ambitious visa facilitation agreement,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration. “At the same time, the conclusion of a readmission agreement will help to avert the risk of irregular immigration from Tunisia, and manage its consequences.”"

European Parliament: Don’t incite fear and hatred of migrants and refugees, MEPs urge EU countries (Press release, pdf):

"EU member states should “refrain from inciting fear and hatred in their citizens towards migrants and asylum-seekers for political gains”, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs voting a resolution on fundamental rights in the EU on Thursday. The rights to free movement and life-saving abortion are also stressed in the text, which will now be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-21.11.16)
EU: November deadly for migrants crossing Mediterranean, IOM says (Reuters, link)

"At least 365 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this week in six sinkings, bringing the death toll so far this year to 4,636, already 1,000 more than in all of 2015, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday.

Migrants, mainly from West Africa, are taking to the sea from Libya in flimsy rubber boats, trying to reach Italian islands and Europe, where they have little hope of being granted asylum, IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said.

"This is really a calamity in plain sight," Doyle told a news briefing. "We are seeing really tragic scenes of rubber rafts going under the seas in the middle of winter in the Mediterranean.""

See latest figures from: the UN (17 November, pdf) which records 4,518 dead or missing people in the Mediterranean in 2016; and the IOM (18 November, pdf) which reports 4,621 dead or missing.

GREECE: Far-right group attacks refugee camp on Greek island of Chios (The Guardian, link):

"Dozens of people have been driven out of a refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios after two successive nights of attacks by a far-right group.

At least two people were wounded after attackers threw Molotov cocktails and rocks as big as boulders from elevated areas surrounding the Souda camp, activists said.

Three tents were burned down and three others were hit by rocks. A 42-year-old Syrian man was assaulted, while a Nigerian boy was hit by a rock.

Fearing a third attack on Friday night, about 100 former occupants refused to re-enter the camp, instead taking shelter in a nearby car park. “We do not have any kind of protection,” Mostafa al-Khatib, a Syrian refugee, told the Guardian. “No one cares about us.”"

And see: Chios tense after unrest at migrant camp (Ekathimerini, link)

TURKEY: 123 Migrants Flee Center in Turkey After Fire Breaks Out (ABC News, link):

"Turkey's interior ministry says that 123 migrants being held at a repatriation center in Istanbul have fled in the chaos that ensued after a fire broke out.

The ministry said in a statement that Saturday's fire was set by some of the migrants.

All rooms were vacated and the inmates were brought to an assembly area, from where 123 people fled during the ensuing chaos."

UK:-FRANCE: Charities criticise Home Office for UK ban on teenage refugees (Third Force News, link):

"Charities have hit out at the Home Office after it revealed most unaccompanied children over the age of 12 will not be allowed to enter the UK from the demolished Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp.

Representatives from Citizens UK, Calais Action, Refugee Action and Help Refugees say the government is breaking its promises after guidance was issued which means unaccompanied teenage refugees who do not have family in the UK and are from countries other than Syria and Sudan will not be allowed entry except in exceptional circumstances.

The guidance on how to implement the Dubs Amendment – passed by Lord Alf Dubs in April this year – that committed the government to taking 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees, means that children as young as 13 and 14 from countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Eritrea will be barred from being transferred to Britain."

See: Government must not backtrack on commitment to protect refugee children from Calais (Refugee Action, link) and: Home Office Guidance: Implementation of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 in France (pdf): contains the new eligibility criteria.

POLAND-BELARUS: A road to nowhere for asylum-seekers

"On 2-5 October 2016, we conducted a monitoring visit as representatives of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in order to investigate the situation at the Brzesc-Terespol (Brest-Terespol) border crossing between Belarus and Poland. The purpose of our monitoring was threefold: (1) Uncovering the general situation of those of the foreign nationals present in Brest who express intention to seek international protection in Poland, and specifically the scale of the phenomenon, types of problems and aid actions taken on-site; (2) Observation of access to the procedure of filing an application for international protection at the Terespol border crossing point; (3) Conducting interviews with foreign nationals present in Brest with the purpose of exploring the expressed reasons for them seeking international protection and their experiences in contacts with Polish Border Guard (Straz Graniczna)."

See: A road to nowhere (Helsinki Foundation, link) and the report: A road to nowhere. The account of a monitoring visit at the Brest-Terespol border crossing between Poland and Belarus (link to pdf)

And see: Inaccessible? Polish asylum procedure at the border crossing between Poland and Belarus (ECRE, link)

BULGARIA: Helsinki Committee report on the detention of migrants and possible alternatives

A new report by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee examines the detention of migrants and possible alternatives: "The purpose of this report is making an analysis of the efficiency of the national practice in applying administrative detention of foreign nationals and the potential new alternatives to detention which, when put in place, would both improve the efficiency of immigration control and lower its financial and human costs."

The report: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee: Program for Legal Protection of Refugees and Migrants: Detention Mapping Report (pdf)

EU: Civil liberties committee: more funding for "on-going migration, refugee and security crisis" needed

"The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgets, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution...

Acknowledges that the financial impact of the current internal security crises, as well as of the humanitarian and migratory challenges, were not accounted for when the current MFF was adopted in 2013... Emphasises that, even with the systematic mobilisation of the totality of the Flexibility Instrument under heading 3 in the coming years, the financial resources available will not be sufficient to tackle the increased needs; considers as essential, therefore, a fair distribution of funding according to priorities, in full transparency and accountability".

See: OPINION of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument to finance immediate budgetary measures to address the on-going migration, refugee and security crisis (2016/2120(BUD)) (pdf)

And: European Parliament Legislative Observatory: Mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument: financing immediate budgetary measures to address the ongoing migration, refugee and security crisis (link). The report to be drawn up by the Committee on Budgets is expected to be the subject of a plenary vote on 30 November.

EU: Draft Conclusions on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU

The Council is drawing up a set of conclusions on the integration of legally-residing third-country nationals in the EU, as a follow up to the Commission's recent Action Plan on the topic. See: Draft Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU (14096/16, LIMITE, 10 November 2016, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.11.16)
Many arrested after fires break out in and around Chios refugee, migrant camp (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek riot police forces detained several people at a refugee and migrant processing camp located in the area of Souda,on the eastern Aegean island of Chios, late Wednesday, after fires broke out on the camp and the vicinity."

But on the other hand Are You Syrious reports (link): Greece: Refugee camp in Chios attacked:

"Volunteers report 60 fascists descended onto the Souda camp from both sides, attacking refugees with fireworks and rocks. Many volunteers and refugees were arrested inside the camp, with refugees reporting incidents of police brutality. 4 to 5 people were forced to go to the hospital, a,d one man got his scull fractured by a thrown rock.

Yesterday night, a senior member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party held a speech on the refugee crisis on Chios and an anti-fascist demonstration took place against the presence of Golden Dawn on the island."

Migrant crisis: Belgium withdraws its experts from Greece (Brussels Times, link):

"Shots against asylum offices on Lesbos

The Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken (N-VA), has decided to withdraw the Belgian experts present on the Greek islands due to the deterioration of the security situation. According to Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard (16 November), he has called for urgent action by the Greek authorities.

In Lesbos, migrants fired shots at the European asylum offices because of the slowness of the proceedings. Staff is also daily threatened. Theo Francken has therefore decided to repatriate dozens of Belgian experts.

Francken requested changes to ensure better working conditions on the spot. He also demanded that asylum procedures, as well as deportations to Turkey, should be speeded up. Unless these conditions are met, the Belgian employees will not return."

EU-AFGHANISTAN "DEAL": NGOs Concerned About EU-Afghanistan Deal (pdf):

"The NGOs noted that:

The agreement may violate the principle of non-refoulement, and may hinder the protection against collective expulsions and the right to asylum;

The deal between EU and Afghanistan may cause an increase in returns of children with their families and unaccompanied minors;

The EU is wrongly presenting Afghanistan as a ‘safe country’ for return, whereas the situation on the ground is still dangerous, “as provinces such as Helmand and Kunduz fall into the hands of armed groups yet again.”

The open letter was signed, among others, by Médecins du monde, Save the Children, International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, Emergency, Terre des Hommes, Pro Asyl."

Are You Syrious (16.11.16)

At least 240 died in the Mediterranean this week

"Reuters reports at least 240 refugees died in the Mediterranean this week while another 580 people were pulled from overcrowded boats."

Situation in Bosnia

"Bosnia remains one of the countries in the region that was not part of the so called Balkan route, but this changed with the tightening of the EU borders. However, even the limited number of people who entered the country are not receiving protection they are entitled to.

All the refugees who are found by the police are forcibly taken into the Centre for immigration where they are investigated, and while they stay inside, closely watched by the police. The center is of semi-open type."

Italy: Refugees evicted in Rome

"Baobab Experience says that refugees were yet again evicted, this time from Piazzale Spadolini. They were also threatened by police, with officers saying “Don’t dare building another camp in the area because we’re going to throw everything away and you’re going get into trouble”, “we have the order from the police headquarters to evacuate you, from now on, in every place you’re going to be”, “we’re not going to let you fuck around with us”."

Germany and Sweden meet over response to refugee crisis (Dalje.com, lnk):

"As asylum seekers continue to stream to their countries, the leaders of Germany and Sweden were to meet Tuesday to discuss the need for a European Union-wide response to the refugee crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have both called for a coordinated and mandatory system for the redistribution of asylum seekers within the EU.

Germany, along with Sweden and Austria, has also requested more help from neighbouring countries to cope with the throngs of people. "

FRONTEX: Record number of migrants reached Italy in October (Press release, link):

"Nearly 27 500 migrants reached the Italian shores in October, the highest monthly number ever recorded in the Central Mediterranean and more than twice as many as in the previous month.

A key reason for the unprecedented number was improved weather that followed relatively poor weather conditions in September. Encouraged by this, people smugglers crammed even more migrants onto unseaworthy boats before the winter weather sets in, leading to a very high number of deaths.

There were 127 bodies recovered in the Central Mediterranean region in October and likely many more drowned."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.11.16)
Right-wing asylum-related attacks rising in Germany (Daily Sabah, link):

"More than 450 violent attacks on German politicians and aid workers by right-wing extremist groups were registered this year, German police reported, indicating a surge in the country's emboldened xenophobic right wing."

Are You Syrious (15.11.16, link)

Greece: Numbers: Today’s registrations: Lesvos 48, Chios 10, Samos 16, Leros 38

"With todays registrations, the number of new registrations in November rose above 1000 (1055). This includes: 418 registratons on Lesvos, 95 on Chios, 274 on Samos, 131 on Leros, 39 on Kos, 11 on Rhodes, and 87 on Kastellorizo (Megisti).

While Samos has seen the most arrivals in the last month, this month (in November), it’s Leros island that is seeing the greatest number of new arrivals.

There have been 1055 recorded new guests only on the Aegean islands. The total number throughout Greece rose from 61.327 (1/11) to 61.907 today (15/11). Moreover, since 1/11, there have been 4 deportations to Turkey and 190 voluntary returns."

Samos hotels refuse to take refugees from flooded camp: Choosing tourists over refugees

"Rain flooded a refugee camp on Samos. On Samos, the association of hoteliers on Monday said it will turn down applications by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to house camp residents whose tents were destroyed by rain. Hoteliers’ association head Kostas Kyriazis told Kathimerini he had received an ultimatum from tour operators to “choose between tourists and migrants.”

France: Protesters stormed Brittany migrant centre

"An anti-migrant demonstration in the Brittany village of Arzon degenerated on Monday night when police were forced to fire tear gas after protesters kicked down the door of a centre where young migrants were being lodged.

A number of protesters were arrested after forcing their way into the centre, regional newspaper Ouest-France reported."

European MIgration Network: Network: Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission Programmes in Europe – what works? (pdf) and The Return of Rejected Asylum Seekers: Challenges and Good Practices (pdf)

Greece: Overcrowded islands on the brink of uncontrollable strife (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The islands of the eastern Aegean with populations of refugees and migrants who have arrived since March are at risk of increased conflict, according to local observers who are warning that the situation on Greece’s overcrowded islands is “dangerous and could get out of control at any moment.”

Between Tuesday morning and last night, 112 refugees and migrants arrived from Turkey, boosting their total number on the islands to 16,194.

Of these, 6,154 are on Lesvos, 4,144 on Chios, 2,686 on Samos, 2,004 on Kos, 915 on Leros and 285 on Rhodes.

Tensions were further stoked Tuesday on Chios, when Ilias Kasidiaris, a senior member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, addressed a rally presenting his proposals with regard to the refugee crisis."

Migrants scuffle with police on Serbian border (DW, link):

"A group of migrants was stopped by police as they attempted to cross from Serbia to Croatia on Monday. Migrants have become increasingly frustrated as Balkan borders remain closed."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.11.16)
EU: The European Parliament want a "humanitarian visa" - the Council and the European Commission are opposed: Regulation on the Union Code on visas (Visa Code) (recast) (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 14262-16, pdf): State of play:

"1) the Council and the Commission want to stick to the recast rules (possibility for the co-legislators to amend only the parts highlighted in grey in the Commission's proposal). However, as the EP has tabled amendments concerning the white and the grey parts, the Rapporteur pleaded during the last trilogues for a pragmatic approach and advocated widening the scope of the recast exercise.

2) the humanitarian visa: EP strongly insists to include this element and considers that it would be the key added value of the proposed Regulation...

 At the last trilogue on 11 October 2016, views remained strongly opposed regarding in particular the issue of the humanitarian visa...

The humanitarian visa is the main outstanding issue in the file and constitutes at the same time a red line for the EP, the Member States and the Commission.." [emphasis added]

See also: External processing of applications for international protection in the EU (EU Law Analysis, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: First Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (pdf): Contains the admission that:

"More concrete progress has been made in the recent months than previously achieved over many years, including on return and readmission."

Is this an admission that 11 years of GAMM (Global Approach to Migration and Mobility), which is not mentioned at all, has been a failure?

Greece: Conditions Worsening In Samos (News That Moves, link):

"The living conditions for migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Samos are getting harder at seriously overcrowded camps after they were flooded by recent heavy rains. As of November 14, according to official data 2,760 people are hosted in Samos, where the capacity of organized camps is 850."

Are You Syrious (14.11.16, link)

State of emergency in Samos camp, UNHCR states

"camps in Greek islands are severely overcrowded. This situation prompted UNHCR to react, or more to the point, plead with authorities and the EU that this is unbearable and unnecessary. They are particularly concerned with the situation on Samos where the official capacity is 850, but they have received 2000 people. They have issued an appeal for urgent action to address the “severe deterioration of the living conditions of refugees and migrants on Samos.” adding that “Hundreds of migrants have been left in “small camping tents out in the open...

March of hope

"Today people were still protesting near the border between Serbia and Croatia. We have written extensively on it yesterday and the situation is still pretty much the same. Refugees were protesting at Croatian border (Location 45.15378, 19.1770.) and by the reports from the field, Police were aggressively extinguish one small source of warmth even though the temperature is below zero..."

Hungary: Less and less people are being let through Hungarian border

"As situation in camps on the border of Serbia and Hungary gets worse due to the drop of the temperature, Hungarian authorities have decided that Fewer and fewer refugees admitted through to Hungary. Between November 3 and November 6, Hungarian authorities admitted only 20 asylum after allowing around 30 people per day previously."

Bulgaria: Fascists are knocking on the door

"The fascist candidate in Bulgaria’s presidential election has taken 15% of the vote?—?sharply up on previous elections?—?and taken third place.

Bulgaria’s presidential election was somewhat overshadowed by that in the US this week?—?the country of just seven million people is the poorest in the EU. But the electoral rise of Bulgaria’s fascists is still worrying, especially as the country’s parliamentary fascist organisations are closely linked with the armed paramilitary groups that are “hunting” refugees at the country’s borders."

UK: Missing People: Heading back to harm: A study on trafficked and unaccompanied children going missing from care in the UK (pdf):

"The plight of trafficked, unaccompanied and separated children is complex and underlined by a myriad of causes. The more research that is carried out, the better the care and protection we can provide to at-risk children and the closer we will come to creating an environment where children feel safe and protected."

CoE: Migrants in limbo in Europe have the right to live in dignity (Commissioner for Human Rights, link):

"In some countries, they call them “invisible persons”, in others – “ghosts”. Throughout Europe there are many migrants, primarily rejected asylum seekers, who live in a state of protracted legal and social limbo without any long-term prospects. The authorities refuse to regularize them or to grant them any kind of legal status, but often, they cannot go back to their countries of origin for various reasons, most often, fear of persecution.

These desperate persons tend to live in substandard conditions, completely excluded from society, lacking residence permits and the means to meet basic needs such as shelter, food, health or education. In essence, they are deprived of any opportunity to live in dignity."

Migrant resettlement ban to be resubmitted by Hungary’s Jobbik (New Europe, link):

"A proposed constitutional amendment banning the resettlement of migrants in Hungary will be resubmitted to the parliament by the far-right opposition party Jobbik.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the amendment was submitted by Prime Minister Viktor Orban but fell short of the needed two-thirds majority in parliament last week, largely because Jobbik abstained from voting. But the party’s chairman, Gabor Vona, told reporters he planned to resubmit the amendment, verbatim."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.11.16)
EU: Turkey is not safe for children: 56 MEPs call on EU to stop sending back migrants

A letter signed by 56 MEPs addressed to numerous officials from the European Commission, the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration highlights the abysmal educational and living standards for children in Turkey and calls for "the cessation of readmissions and returns of migrants to Turkey, especially of vulnerable categories such as children." Of particular concern is the fact that many Syrian children are employed in Turkish textile factories where they "work in painful conditions, in very close contact with a wide range of toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances such as hydrochloric acid."

See: Letter concerning the situation of refugee children in Turkey (pdf)

EU: Salzburg Forum: "unprecedented and uncontrolled migratory flow" must not happen again

A recent statement by the Salzburg Forum, a central European security initiative, emphasises that the "unprecedented and uncontrolled migratory flow along the Eastern Mediterranean-Western Balkans route, which Europe has faced over the last two years, must not be repeated in the future." The "priority goals" for achieving this are findings ways to "strengthen the migration management and the control of the EU external border," and ensuring "the full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement."

See: Salzburg Forum Ministerial Conference, Prague (14274/16, 11 November 2016, pdf)

FRANCE: What Can We Learn from the Existence and Eviction of the Calais Jungle? (Novara Media, link):

"To challenge the mainstream media portrayal of the Jungle as only a muddy, desperate environment without basic facilities or official authority, it is important to highlight what was built there, and to recognise the strength, resilience, and determination of people to create homes, an economy, and hold onto their autonomy in the worst possible conditions.

There have been refugee camps in the Calais region since the early 1990s, and after each eviction people have always come back, to rebuild and start again. Calais and Jungle residents alike are unanimous in the belief there will always be migration at the border, that people will continue to arrive and try to cross to the UK. In light of this, the eviction does not appear to be a sustainable solution; rather, with the upcoming elections in France, this reflects on political, not practical interests.

...as the Jungle comes to an end it is also crucial that we do not just write it off as a terrible by-product of EU border policies, but rather see what can be learnt from the camp and how can this can be integrated into the way Europe supports refugees and asylum seekers."

EU: European Agency for Asylum: Council Presidency compromise text for five chapters of proposed Regulation

"Delegations will find in Annex Presidency compromise suggestions for Chapters 7 and 12 to be examined at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 16 November. Changes to the previous text, as it appeared in doc 13306/16 are indicated in bold and […]."

See: NOTE from: Presidency to: Delegations (14293/16, 11 November 2016, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-13.11.16)
ITALY-SUDAN MOU: ASGI/Italy: Memorandum of understanding between the Italian public security department and the Sudanese national police. A reading guide (pdf):

"The repatriation of around 40 Sudanese refugees on the past 24 August 2016 - taken from Ventimiglia, transported to the Hotspot in Taranto (Apulia) and then led, always by force, to the airport terminal in Turin - has uncovered the existence of an agreement between Italy and Sudan which has been vigorously criticised by the Tavolo Nazionale Asilo [a consultation group on asylum comprising Acli, Arci, Asgi, Caritas italiana, Casa dei diritti sociali, Centro Astalli, Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati, Comunità di S. Egidio, Federazione delle Chiese Evangeliche in Italia, Medici per i Diritti Umani, Medici Senza Frontiere, Senza Confine].

In a reply handled through an interview with [the newspaper] Avvenire on 29 September, the chief of police, prefect Gabrielli, explained that the Memorandum in question is merely one of 267 agreements underwritten by Italy with other countries for the purpose of perfecting police cooperation and, hence, it does not require any parliamentary oversight....

The Italian-Sudanese memorandum entails the distortion of the guarantees provided by the legal order in the field of returns, which are already weak as things stand."

Golden Dawn rallies on Chios, Lesvos fuel concerns (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Rallies scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on the the eastern Aegean islands of Chios and Lesvos have placed local authorities on alert, fearing outbreaks of violence as counter-demonstrations are also expected to take place.

According to flyers distributed across both islands by party loyalists, the events will discuss Golden Dawn’s proposals on the refugee crisis."

Erdogan: “If 3 million refugees march to Europe, the EU will not know what to do” (Keep TalkIng Greece, link):

"The choleric man in Bosporus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdodan fired another threat at the European Union. He said that Turkey currently hosts 3 million refugees and that if they were to march to Europe, the EU would not know what to do with them."

Alongside Amnesty International - 44 NGOs sign up in supportlongside Amnesty International - 44 NGOs sign up in support

Associazione Diritti e Frontiere (ADIF):

"We address the following appeal to all the associations, social and political forces and sections of civil society which consider the attack against Amnesty International unacceptable and intend to continue to advance any effort to shed light on what is happening to the migrants who arrive in Italy."

Barbara Spinelli MEP writes to the President [of the Council of Ministers], Renzi: an independent inquiry into ill-treatment in hotspots is necessary

Barbara Spinelli MEP has sent a letter to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - and in copy to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and to the Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano, asking to know the truth about the ill-treatment in Italian hotspots reported in the Amnesty International report published on the 3 November 2016.

See also: AI: Hotspot Italy report (pdf) and Statewatch Viewpoint: In support of the Amnesty International report: Other stories of violence in the hospot system

Calais update: confusion and mistreatment continue (Doctors of the world, link):

"It’s only been two weeks since the Calais camp demolition, but already the system to house refugees at “reception and orientation” centres (Les Centres d'accueil et Orientation, CAOs) across France is failing to meet basic human needs.

We’re hearing reports that refugees are unable to access healthcare and aren’t being provided with enough food: sometimes only one meal per day. Many organisations responsible for the CAOs have not been trained to work with refugees, which is a concern as people’s mental health could easily be worsened if they are not treated professionally."

Refugees struggling with mental health (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Refugees and migrants stranded in camps across Greece suffer from increased instances of mental illness, according to a report, Greece in 2016: Vulnerable People Left Behind, published by the international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

In its report, the Paris-based humanitarian group said that refugees in Greece suffer from conditions ranging from insomnia and persistent headaches to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychosomatic problems.

“Sleeping disorders, a loss of appetite, an inability to concentrate and depression-related reactions are just a few of the symptoms that refugees display, ” Christina Sideri, a Medecins Sans Frontieres psychologist in Malakasa, told the Athens News Agency, adding that older people and children suffer from back pains and stomach aches."

The Refugee Crisis and Our Connected Histories of Colonialism and Empire (link) by Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.11.16)
FRANCE: Paris opens migrant centre after clearing street camp (RFI, link):

"Paris opened its first reception centre for migrants and refugees in Thursday, a month later than expected. Temporary shelter and basic services will be provided.

The "humanitarian centre" is in a disused railway yard on a busy boulevard in northern Paris. It can lodge up to 400 people and take in 50-80 new arrivals each day.

The yellow and white inflatable reception hall stands in stark contrast to the concrete, industrial zone that surrounds it.

Behind the reception hall, a 10,000-square-metre hangar contains dormitories, bathrooms, a canteen and a games area.

Only men can stay in this centre; another for women and families is to open in January, while unaccompanied minors will be sent to existing children's shelters in Paris."

Asylum in the EU: European Parliament briefing on renewed reception Directive

A new briefing by the European Parliamentary Research Service examines the "recast" Directive on reception conditions for applicants for international protection, setting out the context; the requirements of existing legislation; the changes that the new Directive would introduce; and the views of the Parliament, various NGOs and other "stakeholders".

See: Briefing: Reception of asylum-seekers – recast Directive (pdf)

EU: Europol press release: More than 100 arrests in major international migrant smuggling operation (pdf):

"On 21 October 2016, the Spanish National Police, together with the Polish Border Police, joined forces with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) in Operation Kolso to dismantle a transnational criminal organisation implicated in the smuggling of Ukrainian citizens into the United Kingdom and Ireland.

This extensive investigation was initiated in autumn 2015 as a result of bilateral cooperation between the Polish Border Guard and the Spanish National Police, but soon developed into an international investigation with links in several countries. In 2016, the operation concluded with more than 100 individuals being arrested for forgery of administrative documents and the facilitation of illegal immigration."

The new European Migrant Smuggling Centre, set up as part of the EU's response to the large-scale arrival of migrants and refugees over the last two years, has been keen to promote its work. The press release on the Poland-Spain-Europol operation follows one issued yesterday: Action day in the Balkans: Europol supports Hungarian Police (pdf)

Turkey vows to extend state of emergency ‘until threat is fully eradicated’ (Hurriyet, link):

"The Turkish government has signaled a long-term implementation of the state of emergency, with EU Minister Ömer Çelik saying it will continue throughout the struggle against coup plotters and describing it as the only mechanism to “fully eradicate the threat posed by the Gülenists.”

“We have no luxury to take risks and leave the issue be resolved on its own. It’s clear that we should continue until we are sure they are fully rooted out. The state of emergency is an essential mechanism to this end. You can’t fight them with any other mechanism,” Çelik told journalists accompanying him on his trip to Athens on Nov. 2 and 3.

Ankara declared a state of emergency right after the July 15 coup attempt and extended it after the initial three months. The existing state of emergency will expire in late January 2017, but Çelik’s words indicate the government’s plan to extend it for an indefinite period of time."

What Happens After Deportation? Human Stories Behind the Closed Doors of Europe (Border Criminologies, link):

"It is important that what happens after deportation does not go unnoticed. A better examination of the human costs of forced returns and the political responsibilities of European states for post-deportation risks is called for. Only by listening to the human stories behind the closed doors of Europe, can we engage in an informed discussion about the security effects of European migration policies in a comprehensive manner."

When It Comes to the Refugee Crisis, the Numbers Game Matters (Refugees Deeply, link):

"As part of our “This Age of Migration” series, Paul Currion, a former aid worker focused on Afghans returning from Pakistan in the early 2000s, argues that better data and improved understanding of statistics are essential for an informed debate on the refugee crisis."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.11.16)
Statewatch Viewpoint: In support of the Amnesty International report: Other stories of violence in the hotspot system (pdf): by Alessandra Sciurba:

"When I read the “Hotspots Italy” report, which I knew was due to be published because I was part of one of the groups that was interviewed to produce it, I was speechless because I recognised exactly the same details which I knew so well, which I had not specifically spoken to Amnesty about and which, in general, I had not found the way to make known more widely."

Greece: Tensions on Samos after clashes between residents, migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The tension was palpable in the town of Vathi on the island of Samos on Wednesday, in the aftermath of clashes between migrants and local youths late Tuesday."

Are You Syrious (9.11.16, link):

One step forth, two back: Serbia systematically ignores Human Rights

"For most of the refugees Serbia is meant to be a station, not a new home. But with around 6200 refugees there estimated by UNHCR as of 2. November 2016, the people stuck there are facing more and more problems. This is a consequence of the stricter border controls in Hungary which have been implemented in the beginning of July and left the protection seekers stranded in Serbia, which obviously was not prepared to host that much people. One example: In the end of June UNHCR reported agitatedly, that for the first time since February there have been more than 2000 people. Today the number is three times higher...."

Hungary allowing half as many people the right to apply for asylum in the transit zones

"Volunteers from the Sirius.Help team, who have been actively present on the Serbo-Hungarian border warn about recent changes in numbers and conditions of crossing the Hungarian border from Serbia. Reportedly, from November 2nd, the official Hungary will only allow half as many refugees to apply for asylum in the transit zones at the border. Up until now 105 people a week were able to apply, 15 per day. This number now decreased to 10 a day, and reportedly, from now on they won’t accept applications on weekends, meaning that only 50 people get a chance in a week time...."

GERMANY: 27 years after - more walls?!

"In the heart of the most refugee welcoming country in Europe a wall has been built. Local politicians have expressed anger at a sound barrier built between a new refugee shelter and residential homes in the Munich district of Neuperlach, DW reports. A 100 meters (330 feet) long and four metres high wall made of massive gray rocks and held together by metal wires, it has sparked outrage among the locals and politicians."

Greece: Refugees & migrants set fire in Chios hot spot, protest conditions in Samos (Keep Talking Greece, link);

"For one more time, frustrated refugees and migrants stuck in the hot spots of the islands of Chios and Samos launched protests. In the hot spot Souda on Chios, the protest started Wednesday noon when young camp residents having block the street leading to the camp with garbage bins, which they later set on fire."

What it will take for President Trump to deport millions and build the wall (Washington Post, link):

"If Donald Trump sticks to the immigration pledges that helped drive his presidential election victory, he will begin a clampdown on illegal immigration that would be unprecedented in American history and would require an exorbitantly expensive — and logistically difficult — operation to remove millions from the country while fortifying the border."

And see: Europe's leaders cannot hide their nerves amid Trump congratulations (Guardian, link):

"In Europe, the uncertainty bubbled up beneath the ritual dispatch of congratulations. The German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, gave her gut reaction soon after the outcome of the election became clear, admitting her surprise....

the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, framed her congratulations in the conditional, suggesting Berlin would get on with Washington as long as it continued to share core values.

“Germany and America are linked by values such as democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and the dignity of men, regardless of origin, skin colour, religion, gender or sexual orientation,” Merkel said. “On the basis of these values, I offer US president-elect Donald Trump our close cooperation.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.11.16)
Greece: Refugees & migrants set fire in Chios hot spot, protest conditions in Samos (Keep Talking Greece, link);

"For one more time, frustrated refugees and migrants stuck in the hot spots of the islands of Chios and Samos launched protests. In the hot spot Souda on Chios, the protest started Wednesday noon when young camp residents having block the street leading to the camp with garbage bins, which they later set on fire."

European Commission (9.11.16):

- Relocation and Resettlement: Member States need to sustain efforts to deliver on commitments (Press release, pdf):

"Today the Commission adopted its latest progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 28 September 2016." [emphasis added]

"The Commission says that "the lower number of transfers in October (779, of which 549 from Greece and 230 from Italy) reflects in particular the low number of pledges made during the month of August, which has had a knock on effect in terms of lower transfer rates".

- Seventh report on relocation and resettlement (COM 720, pdf)
Annex 1: Greece (pdf): Relocations: Pledged:11,305, Carried out: 5,376 and Places needed: 63,302
Annex 2: Italy (pdf): Relocations: Pledged: 4,954, Carried out: 1,549 and Places needed: 34,953
Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)
Relocation and Resettlement - State of Play (pdf)

Czech Republic: Interior min: EU officials' words on CzechRep, migrants are scandalous (Prague Dsily Monitor, link):

"Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec yesterday labelled scandalous the words of some EU politicians who have described the Czechs and the other Visegrad Four (V4) states as unreliable in tackling migration, and he warned that such attacks might foment anti-EU moods in the states concerned.

"In recent days, some European politicians and also EC officials have intensified their efforts to describe the Czech Republic and other V4 states as countries that fail to fulfil their duties in tackling illegal migration. The offensive includes open extortion, or threats to reduce the subsidies we receive from structural funds, unless we start accepting migrants from Italy and Greece at a pace that would make the two countries satisfied,"

Greece: Golden Dawn says Trump win a victory for ethnically 'clean' states (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party hailed Donald Trump's election as president of the United States, calling it a victory against "illegal immigration" and in favor of ethnically "clean" nations."

Shocking CCTV footage shows refugee being attacked with bricks and fireworks in Springburn (Glasgow LIve, link):

!A Zimbabwean refugee living in Springburn was subjected to a horrific attack this week and pelted with lit fireworks and bricks outside his home.

The attack was caught on CCTV installed by the victim himself at the property.

Able Miller, 62, who stood as a member of parliament in his home country, came to Scotland when seeking a safe haven in 2002 after he was shot and burned by political rivals."

Greece: Gov’t planning new migrant center for Chios (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A crisis meeting chaired by State Minister Alekos Flambouraris on Tuesday about the problem of overcrowding at the migrant reception center on Chios yielded a decision to create a new facility on the eastern Aegean island despite objections by local residents....

Currently some 4,211 migrants are being housed at the Souda facility, nearly four times its maximum capacity of 1,100. The pressure on the center keeps building as more migrants arrive from Turkey daily, sometimes more than 100 per day."

Juncker tells Turks to blame Erdogan if visa-free deal fails (euractiv, link):

"The European Union stepped up criticism yesterday (8 November) of Turkey’s crackdown on opponents and alleged plotters behind a failed coup, drawing a sharp retort from Ankara, which accused Europe of failing to grasp the threats it faces.

But neither seems ready to take the kind of active reprisal that might completely damage a delicate relationship of mutual dependence. Brussels needs Ankara to keep stopping migrants reaching Europe and Turkey, seeing its currency hit record lows on instability fears, wants to keep access to European markets."

Syrian families held in Greece sue Ireland, EU over rights breaches (Irish Times, link):

"Case says migration deal, which allows for return of migrants to Turkey, goes against European law .

Members of two Syrian families detained in Greece after fleeing the beseiged city of Aleppo have taken an unprecedented action in the Irish courts against the European Council, EU and Ireland over alleged breaches of their human rights.

The core claim of the families is that the EU-Turkey deal on migration agreed on March 18th by the European Council - the 28 EU Heads of State including Taoiseach Enda Kenny - was made outside the EC’s powers and breaches EU law. The deal allows Greece return to Turkey “all new irregular migrants” arriving there since March 20th. "

European Parliament Study: Smart Borders Revisited: An assessment of the Commission’s revised Smart Borders proposal (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, appraises the revised legislative proposals (‘package’) on EU smart borders adopted by the European Commission on 6 April 2016. It provides a general assessment of the package, focusing in particular on costs, technical feasibility and overall proportionality, and a fundamental rights check of the initiative."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.11.16)
Hungary migrant ban narrowly fails in parliamentary vote (Guardian, link):

"Vote on proposal to bar migrants from being resettled in the country falls just short of two-thirds majority needed.

Hungary’s parliament has narrowly failed to pass a plan proposed by the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, to ban the resettlement of migrants in the country.

The proposed constitutional amendment got 131 votes in the 199-seat parliament – a majority of 65.8% but just short of the two-thirds majority needed to make the change. Opposition parties boycotted the vote."

Greece: Ministry statistics of refugee "guests" (7.11.16, pdf)

On the islands: Number of refugee "guests": 16,187, Capacity 8,204 and 98 arrvials by 0730.

The Swiss go for British-style standoff with Brussels over EU migration (New Europe, link):

"The sovereigntist right wins this battle, but at what cost?

Switzerland is moving towards a British-style confrontation with the EU after the Swiss Parliament moves to give the Swiss preferential access in its labour market over EU citizens.

The EU has made clear that Switzerland cannot gain access to the Single Market without agreeing to free movement of people. 25% of the residents of Switzerland are foreign nationals. Bern hopes it is possible to broker a deal under which a current resident of Switzerland – Swiss or EU citizen – will have preferential access to its job market.....

The Swiss Parliament decided on Monday to give Swiss citizens preference in its labour market, succumbing to pressure from the nationalist right. Under the new law, companies will declare job vacancies to authorities before and local job centres of any vacancies. If they hire foreigners, they may be made to account for their “failure” to hire locally. The rule is supposed to apply only in sectors with higher than the average unemployment."

Why Cooperating with Libya On Migration Could Damage the EU’s Standing (HRW, link):

"The EU and Italy have a hidden agenda in training Libyan naval forces to intercept smugglers.

Italy and the Netherlands began training Libyan coast guard and navy officers on Italian and Dutch navy ships in the Mediterranean earlier in October. The training is part of the European Union’s anti-smuggling operation in the central Mediterranean with the goal of enhancing Libya’s “capability to disrupt smuggling and trafficking… and to perform search-and-rescue activities.”

What might sound like a straightforward and even laudable initiative is actually fraught with legal and ethical questions."

Are You Syrious (7.11.16, link):


"There were 98 new arrivals on Greek islands today. This adds to the number reached this weekend with over 15 000 people stuck in five “hot spots” in east Aegean islands. The numbers are well over the staggering 15 000 count which was reported in the news and, according to official data there are now 16 187 people in the camps on the islands. These camps became overcrowded long time ago, with the capacity for 8 204 people they now hold almost a double of that number."

No Border Kitchen Lesvos reports on increased repression on the ground

"The repression detailed in report is much felt on the ground, with reports of police violence coming from Lesvos where No border kitchen claims that they are being harassed more and more in last couple of weeks by the police and even physically attacked (by plain clothes person who would have not identify himself as police). They even reported that police entered into the new social center and picked up everybody that was not “European looking” and brought them to the police station. Still, No border kitchen says “Luckily everybody got out of the police station and Camp Moria quite fast and despite the repression our work goes on."

German legal system under pressure

"Pressure is piling up on the legal system in Berlin. While in 2015 they dealt with 2343 asylum requests/legal processes, the first 10 months of this year already mark 6908 cases. Lately, most of the asylum seekers were only provided with the subsidiary protection. A judge told Tagesspiegel these processes could take years and burden the justice system. The refugees have no costs in the process, either Berlin covers it of BAMF, depending on the outcome. Due to this, they predict no family reunification until March 2018."

EU-Turkey migrant deal risks collapse, warns Austria (euobserver, link):

"The EU's migrant swap deal with Turkey risks collapse amid a sharp upsurge of tensions between the two sides, Austria's defence minister has warned.

Hans Peter Doskozil urged the EU to develop contingency plans. "As the deal between the EU and Turkey is turning more and more fragile and the first cracks are becoming visible, we must make sure that we are ready to act," he told reporters on Monday (7 November)."

IOM: 2,026 migrants returned to homelands in October (ekathimerini.com, link);

"Thousands of migrants have left Greece and returned to their home countries within the framework of an assisted voluntary return and reintegration program operated by the International Organization for Migration, the agency said Monday.

According to the IOM, 2,026 migrants were repatriated in October, bringing the total number of returns so far this year to 15,954.

The majority of those who returned to their homelands were Albanians (1,153), followed by Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Georgians, Algerians, Iranians and Moroccans."

Europol supported a high level expert meeting in Rome to discuss migrant smuggling (link):

"On 3 November 2016, Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre together with the Italian authorities organised an expert meeting in Rome focusing on migrant smuggling networks operating from North Africa on the Central Mediterranean route....

All participants concluded that effective action against migrant smuggling relies on joint cooperation among origin, transit and destination countries, as well as on a swift information exchange between law enforcement partners. It was also emphasized throughout the session that the timely exchange of information between affected partners could contribute to a better understanding of the phenomenon and enable a more efficient response to the rapidly developing situations. To facilitate this, an informal network of experts from the relevant stakeholders is expected to establish under the coordination of the Italian Authorities."

See also: European Migrant Smugling Centre - EMSC (link)

FRA: 4 persistent migration challenges needing urgent action (Fundamental Rights Agency, link):

"Protecting unaccompanied children, tackling violence and hate crime, improving safety in reception centres and more support for local communities; these are four persistent challenges that need addressing urgently, as identified in the latest FRA summary report on migration-related fundamental rights."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.11.16)
Unaccompanied child asylum-seekers: European Court of Human Rights: Written Submissions on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervenor in the case of Sh.D and others v Greece, F.Y.R.O.M, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia (Application No: 14165/16, pdf): The Statewatch Intervention invites the Court to find that:

"States party to the decision to close the Western Balkans route knew or ought to have known about the continued serious systemic deficiencies in the Greek state in respect of asylum seekers, and particularly in respect of the reception, guardianship and processing of claims of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Non-admission at the border along the Balkan and neighbouring states of unaccompanied asylum seeking children seeking access to the territory violates non-refoulement obligations under international refugee and human rights law and is incompatible with Article 3, ECHR."

The Intervention finds that:

"In view of the widely reported continuing serious deficiencies and significant delays in practice for reception (and use of prolonged de facto detention), guardianship and access to asylum processes by UN and EU agencies and non-governmental organisations, the Intervener submits that there remains no evidential basis that could lead this Court to reach a different conclusion to that which has prevailed to date, namely that the omissions to date of the Greek authorities in implementing a system of monitoring, supervising, assisting and safeguarding the best interests of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children persist at a level of severity of degrading treatment such as to amount to a breach of the state’s obligation under Article 3, ECHR." and:

"The Intervener therefore submits that while every country has the prerogative to control its borders, action by the Balkan states and neighbouring states to push back at the border or reject refugees and asylum-seekers based on their nationality and without any possibility of claiming asylum or otherwise having their individual circumstances taken into account violates the nonrefoulement obligations. The direct consequence of the decision to close the West Balkans route is to knowingly expose individuals – and in particular unaccompanied children, acknowledged to be a most vulnerable category of persons - to “the risk of proscribed ill-treatment” 75 in breach of Article 3, ECHR." [emphasis in original]

Denmark seizes thousands in cash from migrants (The Local.dk, link):

"A controversial Danish law allowing authorities to seize cash and valuables from asylum-seekers has been used on a handful of occasions since coming into force in February, Danish police said on Thursday..

A total of 117,600 kroner (€15,805, $17,525), all of it in cash, had been confiscated, Danish police told AFP in an email.

"When they asked if I had 10,000 kroner, I answered 'yes'," asylum-seeker Ali Abdel Razaq told broadcaster Radio24syv in an interview broadcast on Wednesday, adding that he had been unaware that any cash or valuables above that amount had to be handed over to the authorities.

Soon after, police came knocking on his door at an asylum centre in the small southern town of Bolderslev on October 22nd, forcing him to hand over 8,000 kroner."

German ministry wants African migrants intercepted – report (Observer, link):

"Eliminating ‘the prospect of reaching’ Europe would deter migrants, the ministry is quoted as saying by a German newspaper.

The German interior ministry wants to stop migrants ever reaching Europe’s Mediterranean coast by picking them up at sea and returning them to Africa, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

In what would be a huge shift for a country with one of the most generous asylum policies, the ministry says the European Union should adopt an Australian-style system under which migrants intercepted at sea are sent for processing at camps in third countries.

“The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey in the first place,” the paper quoted a ministry spokeswoman as saying.The German interior ministry wants to stop migrants ever reaching Europe’s Mediterranean coast by picking them up at sea and returning them to Africa, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

Most Calais camp child refugees ‘traumatised and depressed’ (Observer, link)

"Charities warn that the longer children are exposed to uncertainty, the more difficult it will be for them to adjust to normal life.

Nearly all of the children who stayed in the now demolished Calais camp for refugees have a mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, according to psychiatric assessments of some of those waiting to come to Britain.

Evidence compiled by a psychiatrist for Citizens UK, which is supporting scores of children dispersed around France, suggests that their mental health is deteriorating amid continuing delays over their transfer. Since the demolition of the camp, the charity’s staff report receiving suicidal text messages from the children."

Report of Libyan Coast Guards attacking migrants raises concerns over continued cooperation within Operation Sophia (ECRE, link):

"The allegation that the Libyan Coast Guard violently assaulted a vessel transporting asylum seekers raises strong concerns about the EU’s collaboration with the Libyan navy, which commenced last week as part of the EU’s Operation Sophia.

German NGO Sea Watch reported that during a rescue operation two weeks ago, a rubber dinghy carrying 150 – 160 people was attacked by the Libyan Coast Guard. According to Sea Watch, coast guards were seen hitting migrants and causing the deflation of the vessel. The attack led to the drowning of approximately 30 people. While Sea Watch published pictures of the incident, the Libyan Coast Guard merely confirmed its presence at the scene but denied the alleged attack...."

Austria: EU must prepare borders for end of Turkey migrant deal (DW, link)

"Austria's defense minister has said the European Union's migrant deal with Turkey is dead. The EU must now prepare to strengthen its external borders, he added.... Austria's defense minister has said the European Union's migrant deal with Turkey is dead. The EU must now prepare to strengthen its external borders, he added.

The European Union should bolster its border defenses against another influx of migrants in anticipation of the possible collapse of the bloc's refugee deal with Turkey, Austria's defense minister said Saturday.

"I have always said that the EU-Turkey deal should only be a stop-gap measure until the EU is in the position to effectively protect its external borders and thereby stem the flow of migrants," Hans Peter Doskozil told the German daily "Bild" in an interview.

"The time to organize for that is ever closer," he said, adding that he invited defense ministers from Central European states to Vienna early next week to discuss joint measures and the situation in Turkey."

Greece: Unrest returns to migrant facility on Chios (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A fresh bout of unrest broke out at one of the reception centers for migrants on the Aegean island of Chios on Friday after heavy rain led to widespread flooding that soaked the tents of many refugee families.

The worsening of the already substandard living conditions for migrants set off a new round of tense scuffles between migrants of different ethnic backgrounds, who are frustrated at delays in the processing of their asylum applications.

Greek government officials have appealed to the European Commission for more asylum experts to accelerate the process on the islands but the additional staff is yet to arrive."

Greece: Samos authorities lose patience with migrant situation (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Tensions in and around reception centers on the islands of the eastern Aegean are growing, as arrivals of migrants from neighboring Turkey continue, with authorities and residents on Samos planning protests.

In a joint statement, the Municipality of Samos and local business groups complained about the conditions in which migrants are being detained, claiming that it “puts at risk citizens’ safety and social cohesion.”"

Greece: Migration Ministry general secretary confirms resignation (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Vasilis Papadopoulos confirmed his resignation as Migration Ministry General Secretary on Thursday, following a report in daily Eleftheros Typos published on the same day.

According to the newspaper, Papadopoulos submitted his resignation, his third to date, on October 26, citing the situation on Greek islands due to the increasing numbers of refugees and migrants arriving on Greek islands as the reason behind the move."

Greece Almost 8,000 Waiting For Relocation (News That Moves, link):

"According to new figures (Greek link only) from the Greek Asylum Service, 7,961 asylum seekers currently in Greece and selected for relocation are waiting to be transferred to their European destination country.

Since November 2015, more than 15,300 have applied to be transferred from Greece under the EU relocation program. According to EU data, as of November 3, 5,343 people have been relocated from Greece."

See also: Relocation statistics (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.11.16)
BULGARIA: Over the Line: Bulgaria Welcomes Refugees With Attack Dogs and Beatings (The Intercept, link):

"Bulgaria’s border police are engaged in a game of questionable legality, both when they force asylum seekers out and when they let them in. They routinely use violence — not only to send particular asylum seekers away, but to make sure that the larger stream of refugees turns elsewhere. Unless the refugees pay.

...The land border between Bulgaria and Turkey is about 160 miles long, and currently only the western half of it is fenced. This side consists of rolling, arid farmland. The unfenced, eastern part spans nearly 50 miles of low, forested mountains whose thick, tall trees are intercut with winding trails. Refugees and smugglers call this “the jungle.”

Sometimes, the smugglers explained, groups of refugees would try to cross through the jungle without paying the police. Sometimes, the smugglers would deliberately not pay, having kept the passengers’ money for themselves. If the passengers were caught crossing without paying, they said, Bulgarian police would always return the group to Turkey, often violently.

That, the two smugglers said, was official policy."

And see: Frontex: Joint Operational Flexible Operational Activities 2015 Land: South Eastern borders operational area: Serious Incident Report: Alleged violation of fundamental rights: censored and uncensored (pdfs)

FRANCE: After Calais, police move in to clear encampments in Paris

"French police begun Friday a major operation to move thousands of migrants who have living on the streets of northeastern Paris, just over one week after thousands more were moved from a larger camp in Calais.

Officers backed by riot police converged early on Friday morning on the streets around Stalingrad subway station, where an estimated 3,000 migrants and refugees had been living rough.

A total of eighty-two buses were used to transport them to eighty different temporary shelters around the French capital."

See: French police clear thousands of migrants living rough on streets of Paris (France 24 link) and: Paris Is the New Calais, With Scores of Migrants Arriving Daily (The New York Times, link): "In a pattern that has not varied for months, the migrants establish themselves on the sidewalks of Paris, their numbers gradually swell over a period of weeks, and then the police come to clear them out."

Migrant crisis: 'Hundreds dead' in shipwrecks off Libya (BBC News, link):

"More than 200 migrants are believed drowned in two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya, migration officials say.

The UN refugee agency was told the news by survivors brought ashore on the Italian island of Lampedusa, spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said.

Twelve bodies have been recovered."

EU: 725 More Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Than This Period Last Year (IOM, link):

"An estimated 725 more migrants have died in the Mediterranean so far in 2016 compared to the same period (January to 4 November) in 2015. This is after 240 migrants went missing and are presumed dead after two shipwrecks on Wednesday (02/11) in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy.

These latest tragedies bring the grim tally of migrant deaths in 2016 to 4,220, making this already the deadliest year ever recorded. In 2015 some 3,770 migrants and refugees died trying to cross the Mediterranean."

Italians throw party to welcome migrants in Milan (The Washington Post, link):

"More than 1,000 Italians on Tuesday threw a block party featuring a pasta lunch, a brass band and crafts to welcome some 80 migrants to the neighborhood in Milan, contrasting with rising anti-migrant tensions throughout the country including a protest at the barracks the night before.

Shouts of welcome went up as a small contingent of about 30 migrants came out of a recently repurposed army barracks for what was billed as the first welcome party of its kind in Italy."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.11.16)
Turkey threatens to cancel EU Migration Deal unless “visa-free travel to Turkish citizens by end of the year” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Turkey has threatened to end the EU migration deal unless visa-free travel is granted to Turkish citizens this year. But Brussels said Turks will need to get visas until Ankara addresses EU concerns on the rule of law.

Turkey will cancel a migration deal with the European Union if the bloc doesn’t grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens by the end of the year, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday, a day after a top EU official suggested any visa deal was a long way off."

Long Read: Shipwreck Survivors Stranded by a Faltering Deal (Refugees Deeply, link):

"As an E.U.–Turkey agreement on refugees nears collapse, Preethi Nallu and Iason Athanasiadis report from the Greek island of Lesbos on how the deal never fully stopped the deadly voyages and has left survivors of such tragedies in agonizing limbo."

Greece: Mainland Half Empty, Islands More Than Full (News That Moves, pdf)

CoE: Anti-torture committee critical of treatment and conditions of migrants and refugees in Hungary (link):

"In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) welcomes cooperation of Hungarian authorities during its visit last year to detention centres and police detention facilities for foreigners, but also points out shortcomings.

The committee finds that the majority of detained foreign nationals interviewed stated that they had been treated correctly by police and prison officers or armed guards. However, it also finds that a “considerable number” of foreign nationals complained of ill treatment by police and discovered wanting conditions in some detention centres."

See: CoE: CPT Report (pdf), Summary (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

AI: Italy: Refugees and migrants slapped and subjected to electric shocks to force fingerprinting (Press release, link):

"Police in Italy have subjected refugees and migrants to serious ill-treatment, including beatings, electric shocks – and have even used pliers on one man’s testicles - to force them to be fingerprinted under an EU-sponsored scheme to process refugees and migrants in the country. In some cases, this treatment may amount to torture.

These shocking claims are revealed in a new Amnesty report into the so-called “hotspot approach”, introduced last year and designed to identify and fingerprint newly-arrived refugees and migrants at the point of entry to the EU. The scheme aims to swiftly assess the protection needs of new arrivals and either process their asylum applications or return them to their country of origin."

See: AI: Hotspot Italy report (pdf) and see: Amnesty: Italian police tortured migrants to meet EU target (euobserver, link)

Migrants jump border into Spain’s Ceuta enclave (New Europe, link):

"More than 200 mainly African migrants broke through a barbed-wire border fence to cross into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Morocco. They were then rounded up from the hills on the Spanish side of the border on November 1.

According to the United Nations, more than 1,000 people have crossed over the heavily fortified border to reach Ceuta so far this year.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, officials said dozens of migrants were injured in the scuffle with Spanish police on November 1."

GREECE: How can we overcome the dead-end situation on the refugee issue in Greece? (pdf) by Spyros Rizakos, Head of Ngo AITIMA:

"The period when refugees massively transited Greece on their way to central and northern Europe was succeeded by the gradual closure of the Balkan route and the implementation of the policy marked by the EU-Turkey Joint Statement. Thus, since last March the approximately 60.000 refugees who had already entered and continued entering Greece with the aim of moving on to other European states suddenly realized that they had to stay in Greece. Most of the refugees who had come to Greece before March 20 – approximately 50.000 persons – are now staying in the mainland, whereas the other 10.000 who crossed our borders after 20 March are obliged by the authorities to stay on the islands.

Today, seven months after these developments, the situation that has been formed raises serious concerns."

AUSTRIA: Haunted by asylum centre fire, divided Austrian town prepares to vote (EurActiv, link):

"A group of men sip beers in Altenfelden’s Barolo bar, remembering the night this summer when attackers set fire to the town’s refugee centre before a single migrant had moved in.

“It burned so nicely,” says one at the counter, as the others chuckle nervously around him. Another member of the group, clearly uncomfortable, tells him to be quiet. But the conversation drags on, more blue jokes and political banter. The waitresses stare at the floor.

Memories of the arson attack, and the debates about immigration that swirled around it, are particularly charged this month in Altenfelden which, like the rest of Austria, is preparing for a presidential vote on 4 December that could create Western Europe’s first far-right head of state in decades."

EU: No direct flight: new maps show the fragmented journeys of migrants and refugees to Europe (The Conversation, link):

"Politicians across Europe have talked about the arrival of refugees and migrants in 2015 and 2016 as if it were an unprecedented “event”, a single coherent flow of people “heading for Europe”. There is a focus on the beginning and end of peoples’ journeys – at the expense of almost everything in between.

Our new research with 500 refugees and migrants in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Malta reveals a much more complicated picture of protracted, fragmented journeys. Between them, our respondents travelled along nearly 100 different routes before eventually reaching Europe, sometimes having spent months or even years living elsewhere. The convergence of these routes in Turkey and Libya helps us to understand why the number of migrants heading to Europe increased to just over a million in 2015."

Irish Association of Social Workers and Irish Refugee Council ask for leadership from Irish Government in providing refuge to children (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"On the eve of the Dáil motion to discuss the fate of hundreds of child refugees stranded in Calais, the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) Social Work and Migration Special Interest Group and the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) call on the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality to honour the Government’s commitment to relocate refugees stranded in camps throughout Europe, especially unaccompanied children, without delay. Following the recent demolition and further displacement of refugees at Calais, there is serious concern for the protection of children."

October 2016

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.11.16)
Alarm over effectiveness of EU-Turkey refugee deal grows in Brussels (euractiv, link):

"Some seven months after the European Union and Turkey struck an agreement to turn back the tide of Syrians fleeing west, very few refugees have been sent back from Greece, and Brussels is losing its patience as overcrowded camps grow violent.

The agreement reached in March was designed to reduce the number of migrants crossing into Europe from Turkey, after more than a million people arrived in Europe last year, most reaching Greek islands by boat and continuing by land to Germany.... Balkan countries along the land route north closed their borders, so that migrants who once poured across Greece to reach other parts of Europe are now trapped there and prevented from pressing on."

And see: EU Commission is losing patience with Greece as overcrowded refugee camps there grow violent (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"What a self-deluding arrogance. The EU is apparently losing patience with Greece as “overcrowded refugee camps that turn violent” and Athens do not keep the terms of the EU Turkey deal to send refugees back to Turkey....

Migrants, refugees all in one bag, in the same bag with ‘cruel bureaucracy’, shortage of ‘interpreters’ and ‘asylum experts’ and ‘overcrowded camps’ and lots of ‘inefficient Greeks’, but I read no word about the EU Commission funds allocated to NGOs and the UNHCR, neither do I see a sentence mentioning the xenophobic EU-member-states stubbornly refusing to take refugees from Greece AND Italy in their countries."

And also: Refugees languish in Greek limbo as alarm grows in Brussels (Reuters, link)

EU: Unaccompanied Migrant Children (EUC Report): UK House of Lords, Hansard (link)

Two Iraqi asylum seekers who returned to “safe” Iraq and were killed (Migrant Tales - Speaking out for Others since 2007, link):

"In May and much to the surprise of many, especially asylum seekers and concerned citizens, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) announced that countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia were safe to return asylum seekers.

Migrant Tales reported in September about Mohammed Khulbus Idnan’s return to “safe” Iraq after waiting for a year for his residence permit without luck. He returned to Baghdad to be at his mother’s side since she was going to die. He returned and was lucky: He got shot six times and survived.

Two other persons weren’t as lucky as Khulbus Idnan when they returned in summer to “safe” Iraq. Both of them were killed by bombs."

Frontex’s Prison Island Lesvos: Apartheid in the tourist paradise (w2eu, link):

"Since 2013, Welcome to Europe (w2eu) and Youth Without Borders (JOG) organise journeys for young refugees, to make it possible for them to return to the place where they had first reached Europe: The Island of Lesvos/Greece. This year, the ‘back to the border’ journey turned into a horror trip, especially, for all of us who were without European identity cards...

This year we returned to Lesvos to support the more than 6,000 people who are stuck, since months, in the prison labelled nicely “Hot Spot” in EU-jargon and in Kara Tepe, an open tent camp run and controlled by the local government. These people cannot leave the island due to the dirty EU-Turkey deal and simply because they are humans who do not possess the right papers.

Nowadays, all those travellers who are not white and not European are being subjected to racist controls. Even a member of the European Parliament, who is black was controlled for two hours recently. Lesbos Island was turned into a prison since March 20th and has become as a whole a border with heavy controls and high fences, which is the opposite of a cosy and beautiful tourist attraction."

Greece: Three refugees injured in fire at Oraiokastro camp (ekathimerini.com, link): "Three Syrian refugees were injured in a fire at the refugee camp of Oraiokastro, near the northern Greek town of Thessaloniki, in the early hours of Wednesday."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (31.10-16 - 1.11.16)
Greece: Refugee flows increased in late October, data shows (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Refugee flows to Greece increased 54 percent between October 24 and 30, compared to the previous week, according to data released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

More specifically, 661 people arrived in the week of October 24-30, as opposed to 430 between October 17 and 23.

Forty-two percent of the new arrivals are men while 21 percent are women. Children comprise 37 percent of the October 24-30 arrivals."

Greek Ministry refugees statistics 1.11.16 (pdf)

Are You Syrious (31.10.15, link):

Greece: A month of more arrivals than departures

"As the end of the month is here, we bring the comparative data for Greek camps between the end of September and the end of October. In the frame of this month there have been 2895 new arrivals on Greek islands, with majority of people landing on Samos. Hotspots on 5 Greek islands are unbelievably overcrowded with overpassing capacity in some places for more than three times. In totality, there are currently 15844 refugees stranded on the islands and official capacity is only 8085. For more graphic data here is a link to interactive graph of comparison of arrival numbers in September and October."

MSF issued a report on encampment system in Greece and what it those to those most vulnerable

"Behind this dry numbers there is a certain increase of human suffering and despair that is detailed in recently published MSF 2016 report on Greece: “Vulnerable People Get Left Behind”. By the MSF research, many of those coming to Greek shores are not initially properly processed as to determine whether they suffer from mental or physical problems due to the fact that the interviews are short and are done by the personnel that is not sufficiently trained to recognize those signs. Therefore, vulnerable people are placed in the camps where their state deteriorates rapidly stemming possible prospects of future integration and healing."

Jungle or the surface of the moon - only unaccompanied minors left standing

"Moving further more to the west, as the Jungle has been made into the surface of the moon, around 1500 unaccompanied minors are still left without resettlement plan and sleeping in shipping containers on the site where the jungle has been. Calais Kitchen, Refugee community kitchen and Little Ashram Kitchen are trying to provide food and water to the stranded minors who are fenced off in the area which, by the reports, proves to be difficult since the area is guarded and not many passes are issued for entrance."

Italy: Record migrant arrivals in Italy as tensions rise (The Local.it, link):

" October marked a record monthly high in the number of migrants arriving in Italy in recent years, with over 27,000 people reaching its shores.

Italy's interior ministry released figures Thursday showing that 26,161 people -- almost all from West Africa and the Horn of Africa -- arrived here this month. Almost another 1,000 were pulled from their dinghies later that day."

Syrian refugees: we were tricked into returning to Turkey (Guardian, link):

"Allegations that young family was deported despite lodging asylum claims in Greece weaken basis for EU-Turkey deal

A group of Syrian refugees including a couple with four young children detained in Turkey say they were tricked into being deported from Greece last month without having their asylum claims processed.

In the first case of its kind since the start of the EU-Turkey migration pact, at least eight Syrians were allegedly sent back to Turkey in October despite lodging asylum claims in Greece.

The allegations weaken the legal basis for the EU-Turkey deal, which was reached in March on the assumption that all refugees arriving in Greece would have access to a fair asylum procedure.

According to documents shared by the applicants with the Guardian, the refugees were initially given the chance to apply for asylum after landing in Greece on 9 October. But 11 days later, before their applications were fully processed, they say they were tricked by EU and Greek officials into returning to Turkey."

Greece & Italy joint front: Cut EU Funds for members refusing to help in Refugee Crisis (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Italian Mateo Rezi could be an effective nice front against those xenophobic EU member-states that refuse to accept asylum seekers. I have the feeling that the first steps in this direction are already under way – nevertheless, the South Europe Solidarity Summit in September.

Four days ago, in an interview to German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung, Alexis Tsipras asked for sanctions and cuts in EU Funds for those member-states refusing to actively participate in dealing with the Refugee Crisis."

Refugees, Tourism and Islamophobia on Samos (Samos Chronicles, link):

"Without exception every report on the refugee situation on Greek frontier islands such as Samos agree that the refugees stuck in the hotspots are suffering and that it is getting worse, week by week. In the 10 days leading up to 25th October 2016 there were 758 new arrivals on Samos with just 139 departures according to the local authority. All of them have been pushed into the Camp. Virtually every space has been taken up by tents. There are now close to 3,000 refugees in a fenced enclosure which is intended for 800. There is absolutely nothing positive to say about the Camp. This week we met a journalist from New York who had recently visited refugee camps in Turkey and Lebanon who told us that the Samos camp was the worst she had seen.

Despite the mountains of reports and statements condemning the treatment of refugees arriving on the Greek islands, nothing improves. This starkly contrasts with the speed in which security and border hardening measures are implemented and expanded."

UK: Invisible fathers of immigration detention in the UK (Open Democracy, link) by Melanie Griffiths:

"The British state has regulated relationships between its citizens and certain foreigners since at least the Colonial era. Today’s border controls continue to police people’s intimate lives and retain sexist and racist assumptions."

Human & humanitarian smugglers: Europe’s scapegoat in the ‘refugee crisis’ (EU Law Analysis, link):

"These five observations offer entry points into the moral complexities of human smuggling and the legal imperative of decriminalising humanitarian acts of the facilitation of irregular entry. Ultimately, if the EC intends to provide recommendations to amend the Facilitation Directive that reflect the need to avoid criminalising humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants, it will first need to more narrowly and clearly define acts of the facilitation of irregular entry worthy of criminalisation. The EC’s challenge lies with the fact that the primary purpose of the Facilitation Directive is to deter irregular migration and a narrower directive would ultimately undermine this objective.

In the current crisis, human smugglers – and all individuals deemed as such – have become Europe’s scapegoat. Targeting human smugglers worthy of criminalisation and those ‘humanitarian smugglers’ worthy of praise is Europe’s Band-Aid solution to a problem that can only be solved through safe and legal pathways for refugees to reach Europe. "

See also: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers (Statewatch)

UK: QPR gives fleet of coaches to bring child refugees from Calais (Guardian, link): "London football club plays crucial role in plan to bring more than 1,000 children in a kindertransport-style mercy mission."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29-30.10.16)
EU European Commission: latest State of Play: "Relocation" statistics from Commission (27.10.16):

- 17,012 offers of places in the EU of 160,000 needed (from 25 countries)
- relocations from Italy 1,411 out of 39,600
- relocations from Greece 4,988 out of 64,000

EU: European Commission: Amends Decision regarding Greece and Italy of 22.9.15 (pdf) by Decision of 29.9.16 (pdf)

The amendment enables Member States to use the 54,000 unallocated places of the second relocation decision to legally admit Syrian nationals present in Turkey into the EU through resettlement and other pathways of admission.

Comment: A further admission of the failure of the relocation within the EU of refugees who have arrived.in the EU.

From Italy, 46 asylum-seekers were relocated to Romania (31) and Malta (15). Since the adoption of the relocation scheme, a total of 1,391 persons (3.5% of the 39,600 target) have been relocated from Italy (latest EC data, 21 October).

From Greece, there were 134 asylum-seekers relocated during the week. Thus far, a total of 4,865 (7.3%) asylum-seekers against the targeted 66,400, have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries since the beginning of the relocation programme in November 2015. A total of 10,755 pledges since the EU relocation scheme began in September 2015 have been made by EU Member States,.

VOICES: Where Europe’s Migrants Wait (OSF, link):

"Informal encampments for transiting migrants are sprouting all over Europe, from the outposts of Calais, Idomeni, Chios, and Lesbos, to the capital cities of Rome, Athens, and Paris. Manifesting as patchworks of tent cities and makeshift shelters in repurposed buildings, these encampments throw into sharp relief the consequences of Europe’s reception- and border-management policies. ...

Again and again, this scene has played out as the camp regenerates, only to be cleared out once more. The Jungle of Calais is a startling symbol of the failed migration policies that have left countless migrants vulnerable and adrift. Clearing out the camp has only forced its inhabitants further down the coast, leading to the creation of other “jungles” like Grande-Synthe, Norrent-Fontes, and Angres."

NATO says no Aegean mission end date (ekathimerini.com, link):

"There is no fixed date for the NATO migrant mission in the Aegean Sea to end, an Alliance official said Friday, after Turkey called for the mission's completion “by the end of the year” because it had “reached its goal”.

“There is no end date for NATOs activity in the Aegean sea... (but) NATO will continue to keep this mission under regular review,” the official, who did not wish to be named, told AFP in Brussels."

UNHCR Weekly Report (28.10.16): Trends of Sea Arrivals

During the week of 17 to 23 October, 613 refugees and migrants crossed the sea to Greece from Turkey – a slight decrease from the 808 that crossed the previous
week. So far in October, 2,419 people have arrived – an average of 113 per day in comparison to the 103 per day on average that arrived in September. As previously observed during the month of October, Samos received the majority (53%) of new sea arrivals with 328 recorded arrivals during the week, followed by Lesvos with 116 and Chios with 64 arrivals. As of 23 October, 169,243 refugees and migrants have crossed the sea to Greece – main countries of origin of those who arrived in Greece remain the Syrian Arab Republic (47%), Afghanistan (25%) and Iraq (15%). Of these, 42% were men, 21% women and 37% children.

In the same week, according to UNHCR estimates, 3,992 refugees and migrants arrived by sea to Italy, including approximately 426 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) – Libya continues to be the main point of departure. As of 23 October, 149,117 persons arrived by sea, compared to 140,987 persons disembarked at the end of October 2015. This is a recent increase compared to sea arrivals in 2015. As of 21 October, 21% of arrivals have been from Nigeria, 13% from Eritrea and 7% each from Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. According to the latest data provided by the Ministry of Interior, 19,429 UASC have arrived to Italy by sea in 2016 compared to 12,360 in 2015.

Situation in Greece

With an average of 108 daily arrivals so far in October, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs) on the islands continue to be overcrowded On Lesvos, tensions are on the rise among residents of Moria RIC due to overcrowding, continued delays in registration, lack of information on asylum claims, and inadequate living conditions. In the early morning hours of 24 October, Asylum Service buildings at Moria RIC were set on fire as a group of people protested over the long stay and delays on the examination of asylum applications. A fire brigade and riot police arrived on the scene to extinguish the fire and restore order. Serious damage was caused to about eight mobile offices, there were no reports of any injuries. On Samos, capacity is also overstretched and authorities have resorted to hosting some 300 people in tents within a fenced off extension of the RIC.

Are You Syrious (29.10.16, link):

Feature: New routs along the Balkans

"As the winter is approaching the Balkans and more people are starting their difficult journey through the region, hoping to reach EU before snow and cold. Regional media are informing about the group of 20 people -19 from Afghanistan and one from Pakistan -arrested on Friday in a train near the border. Half of those arrested are minors. After the arrest, people were sent back to Serbia, and taken to the prison in Užice....."


"Over 27,000 people arrived in Italy in October, mostly from West Africa and the Horn of Africa. So far this year, around 159,000 people arrived in Italy, which is the increase in comparison to the last year when 153,000 new arrivals were registered.

Meanwhile, voices of those who are against hosting refugees in Italy, are rising in public. The local media are reporting about protests against refugees in some villages, while in a small city of Abano Terme (Padua province), the first anti-refugees’ list was established."


"Though many refugees from Greece are being relocated to Bulgaria, atmosphere toward refugees in that country remains hostile. Today, Bulgarian News Agency reports about several hundred people who have demonstrated against government plans to accommodate refugees near the village of Boyanovo, Southern Bulgaria."

Francois Hollande Says UK Authorities Must ‘Do Their Part’ To Settle Calais ‘Jungle’ Refugee Children (Huffington Post, link):

"The French president has urged British authorities to “do their part” to settle 1,500 refugee children left in Calais.

Francois Hollande said the minors, most of whom are living in shipping containers in the remains of the so-called Jungle camp, would be transferred “very quickly” to other centres, the Press Association reported. Hollande said that his country “cannot tolerate” the camps, describing them as “not worthy” of France."

Australia moves toward lifetime entrance ban on offshore refugees (DW, link)

"Australia has announced plans to ban all migrants arriving illegally by boat from ever entering the country. The move would represent the toughening of an already harsh refugee policy."

Proud to Aid and Abet Refugees: The Criminalization of ‘Flight Helpers’ in Greece (link):

"EU Council and Commission documents, published in the beginning of the year, called for the intensification of law enforcement and the incorporation of NGOs into the governmental structures in Greece, while in the ‘war on smuggling’ there’s a failure to provide for a humanitarian exemption."

Are You Syrious (27.10.16, link)

103 new arrivals to Lesvos brings number on island back up to 6,000 for the first time since September

France-Calais Eviction update

"No good news from Calais. Treatment of unaccompanied children by the French government during the eviction is more that reason to be worried. The media and volunteers are reporting about scores of unaccompanied children who remained unaccounted for in an increasingly chaotic situation at the Calais. According to some estimates, about 100 children are left without adequate safeguards."

Fundraiser begins for LGBTQ refugees in Greece

"Reviled by their compatriots, looked upon with suspicion by Greek authorities, and afraid to leave their homes from fear of harassment (or worse), LGBTQ refugees face particularly dreadful conditions. You may help them in their plight by contributing here." Are You Syrious (27.10.16, link)

103 new arrivals to Lesvos brings number on island back up to 6,000 for the first time since September

France-Calais Eviction update

"No good news from Calais. Treatment of unaccompanied children by the French government during the eviction is more that reason to be worried. The media and volunteers are reporting about scores of unaccompanied children who remained unaccounted for in an increasingly chaotic situation at the Calais. According to some estimates, about 100 children are left without adequate safeguards."

Fundraiser begins for LGBTQ refugees in Greece

"Reviled by their compatriots, looked upon with suspicion by Greek authorities, and afraid to leave their homes from fear of harassment (or worse), LGBTQ refugees face particularly dreadful conditions. You may help them in their plight by contributing here."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.10.16)
European Parliament: European volunteering: remove remaining barriers, urge MEPs (Press release, pdf):

"The EU needs a better coordinated policy on volunteering, to give volunteers a proper legal status and help them join programmes, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. Almost 100 million EU citizens have taken part as volunteers in education, culture or arts, sport events, humanitarian and development aid work. Young people should take advantage of volunteering schemes to develop skills and acquire experience that helps them to find jobs afterwards, stresses the text....

People of all ages should be encouraged to take advantage of volunteering to improve their skills and understanding of other cultures, and thus improve their chances of finding a job, say MEPs."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Experience in Greece during the refugee crisis provides a number of lessons. First, NGOs and volunteers should not be required to register with the state. Second, activities of NGOs should not be placed under the direction of state agencies who they may liaise with but not be under their control. Third, journalists and lawyers should be automatically recognised via their national rules and bodies. Fourth, NGOs, volunteers and local people should be protected against attacks by racists and fascists. And finally, giving humanitarian aid and support to refugees and migrants must be expressly decriminalised in the EU."

EU: The number of deaths in the Mediterranean will reach a new peak this year

"UNHCR is alarmed at the high death toll being seen this year among refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Already, and with two months of 2016 still to go, at least 3,740 lives are reported lost – just short of the 3,771 deaths reported for the whole of 2015. This is the worst we have seen.

The high loss of life comes despite a large overall fall this year in the number of people seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Last year at least 1,015,078 people made the crossing. This year so far, crossings stand at 327,800. From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiralled to one in 88. On the Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy the likelihood of dying is even higher, at one death for every 47 arrivals.

The causes of the increase are multiple: About half those who have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year have travelled from North Africa to Italy – a known more perilous route. People smugglers are today often using lower-quality vessels – flimsy inflatable rafts that often do not last the journey. Several incidents seem to be connected with travel during bad weather. And the tactics of smugglers are switching too, with several occasions when there have been mass embarkations of thousands of people at a time. This may be to do with the shifting smuggler business model or geared towards lowering detection risks, but it also makes the work of rescuers harder."

See: Mediterranean death toll soars to all-time high (UNHCR, link)

EU: Relocation from Italy: a sorry story, in numbers

A factsheet produced by the UNHCR shows the effects of the EU's relocation scheme in Italy from October 2015 up to 27 September 2016. 1,196 people have been relocated from Italy to other EU countries that have pledged in total 3,809 places - of a target of 39,600. Just 3% of the people supposed to be relocated under the scheme so far have been.

The military and migration, from the Aegean to the Central Mediterranean: NATO to boost efforts in Aegean to stop migrants (Ekathimerini, link):

"NATO defense ministers agreed Thursday to move forward cooperation with the European Union in cracking down on human smuggling across the Aegean, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters, though Ankara emphasized its opposition to NATO’s anti-trafficking mission.

NATO defense ministers have decided to continue the Alliance’s deployment in the Aegean to help curb illegal migration, Stoltenberg said, taking the mission launched in February to the next level. “Thanks to our joint efforts, together with Greece and Turkey, the flow of migrants has decreased substantially,” he said.

Ministers also decided that NATO’s new maritime security operation in the Mediterranean, dubbed Operation Sea Guardian, will support the EU’s anti-migrant smuggling mission, Operation Sophia. “Within two weeks, NATO ships and planes will be in the central Mediterranean, ready to help increase the EU’s situational awareness and provide logistical support,” Stoltenberg said."

New publication: brochure VOICES FROM THE BORDER (No Borders Morocco, link):

"NoBordersMorocco and AlarmPhone have published the brochure VOICES FROM THE BORDER! A collection of articles, testimonies, analysis and artistic pieces denouncing the European border regime and its inhuman consequences. The brochure, written mainly by North and West African activists, reflects the situation at the Moroccan-Spanish border in the wider European-African context."

See: Voices From The Border (link to pdf)

FRANCE: The last days of the Calais ‘Jungle’ (New Internationalist, link):

"Local residents in Calais remember a refugee camp in some form as far back as the 1990s; they, along with the people living in the Jungle, believe that the destruction of the camp is a short-sighted solution and that people will simply come back, and start again. We spent the week running up to the eviction getting to know and understand the complex stories of the inhabitants living in the Jungle, their thoughts on the evictions and what, in their opinion, is a viable alternative to the eviction."

ARC and DCR comments on the EASO Country of Origin Information Reports - Pakistan: Security Situation, July 2016 - Afghanistan: Recruitment by armed groups, September 2016 (pdf):

"Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) and the Dutch Council for Refugees (DCR) welcome the publication of the Country of Origin Information (COI) reports: Pakistan: Security Situation, July 2016 and Afghanistan: Recruitment by armed groups, September 2016.

As our previous responses to EASO consultations and comments on EASO Work Plans have indicated, we are particularly interested in the EASO COI methodology and await the formal consultation on its previously proposed revision. With this in mind, we are pleased to note that the EASO COI report on ‘Pakistan: security situation’ of July 2016 (from now on referred to as the EASO Pakistan report) and on ‘Afghanistan: Recruitment by armed groups’ of September 2016 (from now on referred to as the EASO Afghanistan report) do not ‘draw conclusions’ (as provided for in theCOI Methodology report), or include distinct ‘summary’ or ‘analysis’ sections as for example the previous COI report on Afghanistan ‘Insurgent strategies —intimidation and targeted violence against Afghans’ (December 2012) did.

As active members of the Consultative Forum, we would have welcomed the opportunity to input into the Terms of Reference of the reports or to be able to provide the following comments in advance of the reports’ final publication.

With regards to the EASO Pakistan report, the comments are based on an initial reading of the report, first making some general observations and recommendations and further focusing on Chapter 3. 'General description of the security situation in Pakistan', in particular 1.4 'State ability to secure law and order', and Chapter 2. ‘Security situation per region’, in particular 2.2 ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’, 2.4 ‘Sindh’ and 2.6 ‘Islamabad Capital Territory’. Comments start at page 3.

For the EASO Afghanistan report, our comments are based on an initial reading of the report and we therefore only provide some general observations and recommendations. Comments start at page 17."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.10.16)
ITALY-SUDAN "COLLECTIVE" DEPORTATIONS: Letter from 25 MEPs to Italy (pdf):

"We are contacting you with reference to the forced return of 40 Sudanese asylum-seekers, which took place on the 24th of August 2016. They were arrested in and around Ventimiglia and then brought to the airport of Torino-Caselle where they were boarded on a charter flight to Khartoum.

This collective expulsion, whose legitimacy has been criticised by several NGOs and Members of the Italian Parliament, revealed the existence of a Memorandum of Understanding with Sudan, signed on the 3rd of August 2016 in Rome by the Head of the Italian State Police...

This agreement, which was kept secret for long time and has never been discusses or ratified by the Italian Parliament, provides for collaboration between the two Countries in the fight against crime and in particular the management of migratory effects and borders."

Turkey calls for end to NATO's migrant mission in Aegean (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey is seeking an end to NATO’s counter-migration mission in the Aegean Sea, telling the US-led alliance that the sharp drop in refugees trying to get to Greece means there is no longer a need for warships to patrol its coast.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik told his NATO colleagues at a dinner on Wednesday that Ankara no longer saw a need for the mission to continue beyond the end of December, according to two people briefed on the exchanges."

NGOs censure EU countries for spending foreign aid on asylum costs (euractiv, link):

"European NGOs have rounded on EU governments over the growing use of foreign aid budgets to meet refugee costs at home, claiming that the strategy artificially inflates official figures for development assistance despite money never reaching the poor countries for which it was intended.

Germany was among the states criticised by Concord, a confederation of European NGOs, for including refugee costs as part of official development assistance (ODA), a “trick” that the organisation’s Aidwatch report said increased the country’s aid spending to 0.56% of gross national income."

See: Concord Aidwatch report 2016 (pdf)

  Human Rights Watch report: “Why Are You Keeping Me Here?” Unaccompanied Children Detained in Greece (link)

European External Action Service: EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia starts training of Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy (link)

How to monitor the EU's new border security strategy (euobserver, link):

"The European Council of 20-21 October has confirmed the EU’s undaunted resolve to outsource parts of its immigration control policy to third countries. The trend started initially with the EU-Turkey migration agreement earlier this year, and gained considerable momentum with the recent adoption of the Migration Partnership Framework.

The Framework entails the negotiation of several "migration compacts" with key countries of origin and transit (initially Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia), backed by significant financial and technical assistance packages.

The aim is to help these countries prevent the illegal migration of their nationals and transit migrants toward the European Union, as well as to increase cooperation on the readmission of irregular migrants already based in the EU.

The outsourcing of key elements of the EU’s border security policy to third countries has generated considerable criticism from several NGOs and migration policy experts. "

Lesvos, Greece: The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is dismantling the Apanemo site - locally known as "Windy Ridge" - on the North East coast - whose construction and location was highly contentious.

UNHCR say: "173 persons of concern arrived last week (12-18 October) on Lesvos
Arrivals from 1-18 October totaled 303 persons of concern: 242 persons of concern arrived on the North (80%) and 61 persons of concern arrived on the South (20%)
A total of 94,844 persons of concern have arrived on Lesvos since January 2016
146 persons of concern departed from Lesvos to the mainland (12-18 October)
Arrivals in Lesvos in the last week constitute 57% of arrivals in Greece

Residual Population (as provided by the Hellenic Police): Moria: 4,321 persons of concern and Kara Tepe 979 persons of concern."

MIGREUROP: A Europe united against refugees (link):

" the promotion of a world of camps and walls is not just the project of the Hungarian leader. It is also the dominant feature of migration policy pursued by the EU and its member states for 20 years, and the consequences are now apparent."

And in French (link)

And see: Map of camps 2016 (French, pdf), English (pdf link) and Arabic (pdf, link)

Italian navy officers investigated over drowning of 300 asylum seekers in Maltese waters (Malta Today, link):

"Prosecutors in Rome are investigating Italian officers suspected of culpable homicide over their failure to provide assistance to a sinking boat..

Italian navy officers are facing prosecution over the drowning of some 300 asylum seekers after the officers failed to respond promptly to SOS calls in a rescue mission in the Maltese search and rescue region in 2013.

In a damning report published in 2014, Amnesty International had said that some 200 people presumed to have died in the Lampedusa shipwreck in October 2013 could have been saved if Italian and Maltese authorities had not dithered over rescue operations.

In a tragedy which shook the world, the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) rescued 147 people, Italian vessels picked up another 39, while the other passengers were never found.

Now, prosecutors in Rome are investigating Italian officers suspected of culpable homicide over their failure to provide assistance to a sinking boat, on which at least 268 people are believed to have died. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.10.16)
Algeria: the new migrant staging post for Europe (IRIN, link):

"Gerwinio is one of a growing number of sub-Saharan Africans coming to Algeria, although exact numbers are hard to come by. The Algerian government claims there are 25,000 such migrants in the country, but local NGOs say the true number is at least four times higher.

“It is way more visible lately that there is more sub-Saharan migration,” said Pascal Reyntjens, mission chief for the International Organization for Migration in Algiers....

A progress report on the Partnership Framework published last week focuses on five countries identified by the EU as “the first priorities for action” – Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Mali. Algeria is mentioned only as a country requiring 'particular attention'. No further details were provided, but a recent analysis by strategic forecasting company, Stratfor, describes the country as “one of the trickiest North African nations with which to increase cooperation”."

Slovakia outlaws far-right train patrols targeting Roma (DW, link):

"A far-right Slovak lawmaker has criticized the legislation, saying the patrols keep public transport safe. But Slovakia's justice minister has warned, "No one can replace the police.""

Renzi threatens EU budget veto over migrants (euractiv, link):

"Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi yesterday (25 October) threatened to veto the EU’s budget over a lack of solidarity from the rest of Europe as the bloc struggles to manage the refugee crisis."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.10.16)
EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Monthly data collection: October 2016: Report covers period 1-30 September 2016 (link) and Monthly data (link)

Commission recommends extending temporary internal border controls for a limited period of three months (Press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today proposed a Recommendation, to be adopted by the Council, to prolong proportionate controls at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, where controls already take place – according to the Council Recommendation of 12 May – for a period of a further three months. Despite the progressive stabilisation of the situation, the Commission considers that the conditions of the "Back to Schengen" Roadmap allowing for a return to a normally functioning Schengen area are not yet fully fulfilled....

The prolongation, which the Commission is recommending for a further period of three months, concerns the same internal borders as that recommended on 12 May:

- Austria: at the Austrian-Hungarian and Austrian-Slovenian land border;
- Germany: at the German-Austrian land border;
- Denmark: in Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border;
- Sweden: in Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge;
- Norway: in Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden."

See also: Commission Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 711-16, pdf)

Are You Syrious (24.10.16, link):

Portugal wants to relocate 450 Yazidis, Greek administration says its discrimination

"On the other side of Europe, Portuguese government has been pressuring Greece for the last 6 months to give home to 450 Yazidis. Portugal is also willing to make the exception to the relocation rule and keep the community together instead of spreading it around 70 counties like with the rest of the refugees. Greek government and its defense vice minister Dimitrios Vitsas, do not agree with such request , they consider it discriminatory and against the European rules for relocation, since they priorities vulnerable cases?—?which Euro parliamentary, Ana Gomes, considers outrageous due to the proven vulnerability of this community. In this process families must elect Portugal as their preferred country in their asylum application, there were a few that already applied, but many are reluctant because they have family members in Germany."


"There was 92 new arrivals at Greek island in the last 24 hours. As for the numbers game situation remains pretty much the same, but, or precisely because of that fact the fire broke out in the Moria center on Lesvos where over 6000 people wait for months to have their claim processed."

Slovenia Constructs Fence on Two Major Border Crossings with Croatia (Total Croatic News, link):

"On the largest border crossing with Croatia, Bregana-Obrežje, Slovenia has started installing metal fencing, and yesterday it did the same on the other major border crossing Macelj-Gruškovje. The reason is possible reactivation on the so-called Balkan migrant route, reports Index.hr on October 22, 2016.

Slovenian news agency STA quoted a statement by state secretary at the Slovenian Ministry of Interior Andrej Špenge. “If there is a new migrant wave, the border crossings will be closed”, said Špenge."

Refugees attack EU asylum offices on Lesvos (euractiv, link):

"Asylum-seekers attacked the premises of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the island of Lesbos on Monday (24 October), protesting against delays in dealing with asylum claims, Greek and EU authorities said.."

New deaths put Italy on track for sombre migrant records (euractiv, link):

"Italy’s coastguard said yesterday (24 October) that another 16 people had died during operations in which 2,200 migrants were rescued off Libya, propelling both deaths at sea and the numbers arriving in Italy towards new highs."

In Europe, Afghan Refugees Anticipate Deportation (BNA, link):

"Kabul (BNA) Mirwais, an Afghan asylum seeker has been in the country for four years. He is now one of many there, living in fear of being deported. "If the authorities deport me, my life is over ... The center of my life is here," said the 32-year-old Kabul native, who speaks German well and has been working as an interpreter in Austria. One of Austria’s anti-migration ads in Afghanistan, which warns ‘Human smugglers lie’ and ‘Refugee law in Austria will get tougher yet’. "

UNHCR: Migration control is not only about keeping people out – UN experts call for vision and leadership (link):

"Migration governance cannot be only about closing borders and keeping people out, said two United Nations human rights experts calling on UN member states to develop long-term strategies and policies to facilitate rather than restrict migration.

“A fundamental shift in the way migration is perceived and framed is needed,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, and the Chair of the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, Jose S. Brillantes. “We must regulate mobility by opening regular, safe, accessible and affordable migration channels. We must also promote integration and celebrate diversity.”"

Special Rapporteur’s report on developing the global compact on migration (link)

Lesvos, Greece: Moria camp damaged in riots as rumors fly (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migrants on Monday attacked the premises of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) inside the Moria hot spot on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, completely destroying four container office units and damaging another two during a protest that was contained by riot police....

Pressure on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands continues to mount as migrants and asylum seekers continue to cross the sea from neighboring Turkey. A total of 370 arrivals were recorded in the past three days, raising the official number of those stranded on the islands to 15,635....

In a related development, Samos Mayor Michalis Angelopoulos on Monday sent a letter to Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas protesting the government’s failure to meet pledges to cut migrant numbers on the island. “[Migrant] flows have intensified and departures are moving at a very slow pace,” he said, adding that problems were escalating. Angelopoulos said 665 individuals had arrived on Samos in the past two weeks, while only 128 had left."

North Lesvos, Greece: Eric Kempson: Stranded On A Reef! (3 linked video,s link): "Well done to all the teams and locals who helped in this rescue it was truly international help, amazing!!"

Italy: Anti-refugee demo continues near Ferrara - 11 women resettled after Gorino residents erect barricades (ANSA, link);

"Eleven female refugees, including a pregnant woman, on Tuesday were temporarily relocated to the northern city of Ferrara and the towns of Comacchio and Fiscaglia after protesters the previous night erected barricades around the nearby town of Gorino where a hostel was originally designated to host them.

The decision to host the women in different locations was taken by local authorities after mediation talks between the Mayor of Ferrara Tiziano Tagliani, police and the demonstrators.

Protesters last night erected barricades in three different points of entry to Gorino, a town on the Po Delta where the hostel Amore-Natura had been designated to host the asylum seekers."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.10.16)
FRANCE: History repeating itself: demolition of Calais refugee camps underway

"An operation to clear the Calais refugee camp has begun, as the first of 60 French government buses left the northern port town, transporting refuges and migrants to accommodation centres elsewhere in the country."

Refugees and terrorism must not be conflated, says UN Special Rapporteur

A new report by the UN's Special Rapporteur on terrorism and human rights calls for an end to the conflation of migrants and refugees with acts of terrorism: "in the clear majority of cases, refugees and migrants do not pose a risk, but are in fact at risk, fleeing the regions where terrorist groups are the most active," says the report, which was presented to the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday 21 October.

Child refugees in Turkey making UK clothes (BBC News, link):

"Syrian refugee children have been making clothes for British shoppers, an undercover BBC investigation has found.

Panorama investigated factories in Turkey and found children had been working on clothes for Marks and Spencer and the online retailer Asos.

Refugees were also found working illegally on Zara and Mango jeans.

All the brands say they carefully monitor their supply chains and do not tolerate the exploitation of refugees or children."

Migrants set fire in riot at Lesvos reception center (Ekathimerini, link):

"Hundreds of migrants were involved in an uprising on Monday at the Moria reception center on Lesvos where protesters set fires to express frustration at their continued detention.

According to local reports, most of the protesters were migrants from Pakistan. Many of them have been at the center for months awaiting the outcome of asylum applications or for deportation.

Local reports said that asylum service workers left the center after protesters set fires in the area.

The local fire service was dispatched to the center to douse the blaze while riot police attempted to restore calm."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-23.10.16)
UNHCR: (22.10.16): 319,826 arrivals in the Med in 2016: 168,873 in Greece, 145,982 in Italy. 3,654 dead/missing.

Greek Ministry statistics: 21.10.16 number of refugees/"guests" in camps and their capacity (pdf): Greek islands: 15,378 refugees/"guests* and capacity 8,030. Voluntary" returns in 2016: 5,010 and Departures to Turkey 2016: 724.

Greece in 2016: Vulnerable People Left Behind (MSF, link):

"The unwillingness or the inability of the Greek government to take the lead and to ensure proper cooperation with the other actors involved is having a serious impact on the quality and speed of the response.

Likewise, the deliberate negligence of the EU and its member states in providing an efficient relocation system for those seeking safety and protection is prolonging and intensifying the suffering. MSF urges the EU and the Greek authorities to immediately address the needs of the most vulnerable and to facilitate legal and safe ways for those who are entitled to enter into the relocation scheme to be quickly welcomed elsewhere in Europe."

Are You Syrious (22.10.16, link)


"11 people, including 7 adults and 4 children, drowned during the rescue this morning according to MSF. 250 refugees were saved by SeaWatch2 vessel alone in the past 24 hours. At 8am a small wooden boat carrying a single family was located and all passengers were brought on board the Dignity1 rescue boat. At 8:30am another rubber boat arrived carrying many men & two bodies. With the deck full Dignity1 could only hand out life jackets. The Aquarius has brought 261 people on board this morning, including some rescued last night and some from a tiny wooden boat this morning."


"194 new refugees have been officially registered in Greece, including 96 on Lesvos, 78 on Samos and 20 on Kalymnos. According to volunteer sources, one boat carrying 20 refugees arrived to Skala Sikaminia north of the Lesvos island this morning (Oct 22)."

Research reveals systematic mistreatment of pregnant women and mothers with newborns in Greek camps

"The reproductive rights of refugees are firmly rooted in international law, but they are often neglected, if not completely disregarded on the ground. In Greece, many refugee women are forced to undergo C-section, even if they are perfectly capable of delivering their babies naturally. They are quickly stitched up and sent back to filthy camps with wounds on their bellies and crying babies in their hands. The volunteer community needs to put pressure on the authorities to provide better support to refugee mothers and their kids and we can’t do it without international support. This is why our friends from Pleiades law group led by Electra Leda Koutra have conducted an important field research about reproductive rights of refugee women in Greece, in cooperation with Human Rights in Childbirth and with tje humble support of AYS." [see below]

Greece: HELLENIC ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - Pleiades: PLEIADES REPORT ON REFUGEE MOTHERS – Preliminary findings on antenatal, perinatal and postnatal care of refugees in Greece (link)

'Libyan coastguard' speedboat attacked migrant dinghy, says NGO (Guardian, link):

"Sea-Watch says at least four people died after crew of vessel with coastguard insignia attacked rubber boat carrying about 150 people off Libyan coast."

Travelling in hope - The flow of Africans from Libya to Italy is now Europe’s worst migration crisis (THe Economist, link):

"BEFORE dawn the Dignity 1 has completed her first rescue, scooping 114 migrants without lifejackets from a rubber dinghy adrift in the Mediterranean. The crew, who include a doctor and two nurses from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the charity that operates the boat, check the arrivals to see who needs immediate care. No sooner have they finished than the ship is called to assist the Samuel Beckett, an Irish military vessel also engaged in search-and-rescue. Several migrants she has picked up need urgent medical help: they have chemical burns from fuel leaking in their sinking boat. In the evening the Italian coastguard brings 196 more people on board. By midnight the Dignity 1 is carrying 417 migrants."

Greece, Lesvos: Customs Authorities seize several cars operated by NGOs (Keep Talking Greece, link): "Several vehicles operated by international non-governmental organizations on the island of Lesvos have been seized by the Greek customs authorities. According to Athens News Agency, the vehicles had been violating Greek and European laws, according to which license plates should be changed if a vehicle operates for more than six months in a different country than the one that issued the plates. The vehicles had plates of several EU countries and were operated by persons that had no private or labor relation with the owners who were “unknown EU citizens.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.10.16)
FRANCE-UK: Major problems highlighted in report on refugee camps in Calais and Grande-Synthe

On 12 October the results of a Council of Europe fact-finding mission to the formal and informal camps for migrants and refugees in Calais and Grande-Synthe were published. The mission was undertaken by Tomáš Bocek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees, who recorded numerous issues of concern.

European Council offers approval for migration deals with African states

"European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to step up their efforts to curb illegal migration from African countries with the aim of replicating their success in halting inflows from Turkey over the past year...

To curb flows along the so-called central Mediterranean route, where thousands of migrants drown every year as they make the dangerous journey, the EU is offering trade deals and investment to African countries."

 See: European Council conclusions on migration, 20 October 2016 (pdf) plus earlier Draft conclusions (11226/16, LIMITE, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.10.16)
EU-TURKEY: If visa-free travel not granted by end of 2016, refugee deal will have 'reached its natural death': EU minister (Daily Sabah, link):

"The European Union should implement visa-free travel for Turks by the end of the year and stop insisting that Turkey change its anti-terrorism laws, or Ankara may cancel its side of a deal to stop illegal migration, European Union Minister and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik told Reuters."

Chios: Refugees protest slow asylum procedures, EASO staff on 24h strike (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Dozens of refugees and migrants blocked the two entrances to the hot spot of VIAL on the island of Chios to protest extremely slow procedures in processing asylum.

According to protesters, “the Asylum service checks only five asylum applications per day and this increases the risk that they will be struck there for many months.”"

Refugees face ‘appalling conditions’ in Greece says aid group (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The international aid group Doctors Without Borders says refugees at camps in Greece are still living in mostly "appalling conditions" with poor access to health care and a lack of provisions to identify the most vulnerable.

In the report issued Thursday, the agency commonly known by its French name, Medecins sans Frontiers, argued that the European Union and Greece had "collectively failed to establish humane and dignified reception conditions.""

Italy: Plans for a uniform reception system through SPRAR expansion (AIDA, link):

"A plan to reform the Italian reception system was announced at the annual meeting of the Ministry of Interior and the National Association of Italian Municipalities (Anci) held on 14 October 2016 in Bari.

As detailed in the AIDA report on Italy, the reception system is in theory distinguished between first-line and second-line reception. Newly arriving asylum seekers and migrants are placed in Regional Hubs, including emergency reception centres (CAS), managed by the Ministry of Interior and Prefectures. Subsequently, second-line reception is provided through the system for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees (SPRAR), managed by local municipalities."

See Overview (pdf)

Greece: New asylum reform transposing the recast Reception Conditions Directive (AIDA, link):

"The Greek Ministry of Interior has submitted a bill for public consultation from 11 to 21 October 2016, concerning the transposition of the recast Reception Conditions Directive into national legislation."

Information about the Serbian-Hungarian border (migszol.com, link)

EU buries migration dispute for now (euobserver, link):

"They will call for "a swift adoption" of a revision of the Schengen borders code to enforce systematic controls, and will ask the European Commission to come up with a proposal on an entry/exit system before the end of the year, according to draft conclusions seen by EUobserver...

Leaders will also discuss the so-called compacts set up with five African countries - Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Ethiopia - to manage the flows of migrants, increase returns and try to solve the "root causes" of migration.

The commission presented a first assessment on Tuesday but leaders will wait until December to decide if the plan works and whether to extend it to other countries."

Afghanistan Agony for Returning Refugees - Thousands Pushed Into ‘Voluntary Returns’ Face Fresh Dangers at Home (HRW, link):

"At Kabul airport on Tuesday, I met a group of Afghans – three women and 10 men – who had just arrived from Turkey. It was not a joyous homecoming. They had joined the waves of several hundred thousand Afghans whose bid for safer lives abroad in the face of worsening insecurity at home ended in limbo in Turkey, blocked from claiming refugee status or continuing onward to Europe."

EU sounds out Egypt on possible refugee deal (euractiv, link):

"Libya is not the only North African country hosting a large number of refugees: Egypt finds itself in a similar position. Cairo has indicated its interest in brokering some form of agreement akin to the EU’s deal with Turkey."

17,000 refugees sue Germany over status - and most win (The Local.de, link):

"So far this year more than 17,000 refugees have sued German authorities for not giving them full refugee status, with the vast majority winning their cases, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports."

Austria: Up to 90 percent of failed asylum seekers 'not deported' (The Local.at, link):

"Up to 90 percent of failed asylum seekers are not being deported from Austria because their countries of origin will not agree to readmit them, according to Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ). "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.10.16)
EU: Europe Wishes to Inform You that the Refugee Crisis Is Over (Foreign Policy, link):

An extensive overview of the evolution and development of the European response to the refugee crisis over the last two years. Amongst the author's interviewees is European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who considers Member States' disregard for their commitments to "relocating" refugees from Italy and Greece to be "morally wrong". Meanwhile the Dutch permanent representative to the Council of the EU is keen to note that there is "a grip on the flow" but the "worry now is slippage" - that is, people leaving the squalid camps of Greece and travelling elsewhere in the continent.

The author concludes:

"Europe is bound to become less white, less Christian, and less homogeneous. Americans know that a pluralistic society can send fresh blood coursing through a nation’s veins; but even many Americans are turning against immigrants and refugees. It’s all too easy to cater to those fears, as political leaders in the United Kingdom discovered during the Brexit debate. It’s so much harder to say, as Merkel did, that honoring the obligation to accept refugees will “occupy and change” a country in the years to come. Political leaders must find a language that will acknowledge citizens’ legitimate fears without exploiting them. If they fail, Europe could fall into the hands of leaders who stir up primeval passions once thought extinct. We may be a few generations removed, but the carnage of that hatred and fear still smolders. It’s not just the EU’s arcane rules that are at stake, or even the EU’s capacity for collective action. It is the very idea of Europe."

IRELAND: Discovery of five people in shipping container highlights the dire need for safe and legal avenues to safety (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"News broke yesterday about the discovery of four adults and a three year old child who were found in a shipping container in a haulage yard in Wexford on Sunday evening. It is believed that they reached Ireland on a ferry and as of yet it is unclear where their journey to Ireland began.

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer for the Irish Refugee Council said: “We have heard about and borne witness to the perilous journeys that people are making as a course of last resort. As routes shut down and fences and walls go up, people are finding new ways and methods to reach places of safety.”

“Until we see more proactive responses and solutions which open up safe and legal ways for people to escape persecution we will continue to see people making these types of journeys. No person should find themselves in a situation where they feel that their only choice is to pay smugglers to transport them on dangerous and arduous journeys with no guarantees for their safety or how or where their journey might end.”"

See: Wexford: Girl, three, and four others found in shipping container (BBC News, link)

UK: Home Office rules out 'unethical' dental checks for Calais refugees (The Guardian, link):

"The Home Office has ruled out calls for dental X-ray checks to verify the age of Calais refugees arriving in Britain criticising them as “inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical”.

The official rejection of the demand from Conservative backbenchers was welcomed by the British Dental Association, which had earlier condemned the proposal as inappropriate and inaccurate.

“We do not use dental X-rays to confirm the ages of those seeking asylum in the UK,” said a Home Office spokesperson."

And: Calais camp: Charity pressures government over migrant children (BBC News, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.10.16)
EU: European Commission: Report back on so-called "Partnership Frameworks" with African countries - who have agree to the return and readmission of refugees or suffer "the consequences" for aid and trade deals:

- Managing migration effectively: Commission reports on progress in the implementation of the Partnership Framework with third countries (Press release, pdf)

- First Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 700-16, pdf)

- Annex 1 (pdf)

- Annex 2 (pdf)

- Annex 3 (pdf)

See original policy decision (7 June 2016): Communication: on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 385-16, pdf) and related documentation: New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan (Statewatch News Online, 7 June 2016)

European Commission presents today reports on progress in the implementation of the Partnership Framework with third countries (link)

Cities demand access to EU migration funds (euobserver, link):;

"Around 30 Syrians are now at the centre, known as Welcommom, a project largely financed by the EU via the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). Most of them are children. The project is described as a prototype on finding new ways to house refugees unlike the overcrowded and often dangerous facilities on the Greek islands.

"It's a new model for hosting refugees," Chrysogelos told visiting municipal representatives from across Europe, who had gathered in Athens for the launch of a new "Solidarity cities" initiative.

Solidarity cities is a project conceived by Athen's mayor Georgios Kaminis. The aim, he says, is to get cities to work better together in addressing a wide range of practical issues faced by refugees. "

Calais Research Network: 40+ companies profiting from the Jungle eviction and border violence (link):

"The eviction of the Calais jungle is about to begin, but who does this act of brutality serve? On the one hand, cynical politicians looking to the French presidential election next year, desperately trying to cling onto power with a show of toughness. But also, it will boost the profits of a host of private companies who supply the rubber bullets and barbed wire, bulldozers and deportation buses."

60% Hungarian electorate ignores the racist referendum, but situation at the border remains catastrophic (MIGZOL, link):

"The Röszke Trials against people criminalized for having tried to find refuge in a democratic country, accused of terrorism for having protested against police abuse, presently detained without access to proper legal defense and a fair trial, are more than just an accident. The trials are a symptom of a systematic effort to transform dissent into crime. We are asking to start connecting the dots between unfair trials in a court of justice, the closing of dissenting media channels and the diffuse but slowly tightening presence of militarized control of the unwanted.

As Amnesty declares, the rule of law is not simply undermined by acts of random disregard or violence, but by a systematic rule of fear, enforced at times by unchecked vigilante groups, at other times by the abusive power of some state institutions and the destruction of other institutions."

Greece: Tensions flare at camps after migrants hit and killed by car (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Tension among migrants and refugees at accommodation facilities in Thessaloniki was palpable Monday after a woman and her 9-year-old son were killed by a car on Sunday outside a camp in the area of Oraiokastro, northern Greece.

Migrants are demanding the exemplary punishment of the driver and an improvement of their living conditions.

The accident, which also injured a 12-year- old girl, triggered a riot by migrants, who claimed the ambulance was late to arrive on the scene, while their pleas to police for a patrol car to rush the 32-year-old Syrian woman and her son to hospital were refused. According to local reports, the car, driven by a 75-year-old pensioner, rammed into a group of migrants at high speed."

Killing of Migrant Forces France to Confront Treatment of Chinese (New York Times, link):

"AUBERVILLIERS, France — A Chinese tailor, Zhang Chaolin, emigrated to France with his wife and two sons in 2006 in search of a better life. They settled in Aubervilliers, a working-class suburb of Paris, where a decade of striving finally put that life within reach....

Shouting racist slurs, the youths took a small bag from one of the men, and savagely beat them, leaving Mr. Zhang and his friends crumpled and bloodied on the sidewalk. The bag contained only candy and cigarettes. Mr. Zhang died five days later."

Sweden requests EU permission to continue border controls (euobserver, link):

"Sweden's southern borders need continued controls, according to a report from the government seen by Swedish public broadcaster, Ekot. The report will be sent to the European Commission on Tuesday with a request to continue the controls after 11 November, because the EU has not "lived up to commitments,""

UK: First group of refugee children arrives in Britain from Calais (Guardian, link): "Resettlement programme commences as 14 minors from war-torn countries are reunited briefly with UK-based relatives."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.10.16)
EU-Africa talks pose questions on aid and security (euobserver, link):

"Later this week in Brussels, EU leaders will be discussing forthcoming deals with a handful of African states.

With repressive regimes like Sudan demanding that the EU finance border controls, leaders appear increasingly willing to do almost anything to stop people from crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy. Last November, Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandoursaid the EU should help pay to keep migrants from crossing its borders into Libya and Egypt.

A few months later, it sent the EU commission a wish list of demands. Sudan requested the EU pay for "computers, cameras, scanners, servers, cars, aircraft" at 17 crossing points along its borders under a programme that is part financed by the European Development Fund. "In principle yes but aircraft unlikely," responded the commission, in a document that can be found on the commission's website.

"The EU is in essence providing these repressive regimes with a cloak of international legitimacy at a time when more scrutiny on their domestic policies is needed," wrote Kloe Tricot O'Farrell, the NGO's EU advocacy officer."

See also: The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and addressing the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa: Action Fiche for the implementation of the Horn of Africa Window (pdf)

Migrants riot in Greece after car kills woman, her child (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek police say migrants living in a camp outside the northern city of Thessaloniki have rioted after a woman and her son were struck and killed by a car.

The riot started Sunday night after an ambulance was late to arrive. Camp residents claimed that they asked police to take the 35-year-old Kurdish Syrian woman and her 10-year-old son to a hospital in a patrol car and they refused.

Migrants blocked the road outside the camp, threw rocks at the police and set fire to two patrol cars. Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Migrants also set fire to trash cans as a defense against tear gas. Calm has returned to the camp, which hosts about 1,300 migrants."

Greece: Another 58 Returned To Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"Personnel from Frontex, the EU agency for the management of border controls, and the Greek police returned another 58 irregular migrants from Greece to Turkey on October 13.

This followed 65 deportations on October 5 and 6.

Most of those returned on October 13 were citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran and Pakistan.

The returns were carried out partly under the EU-Turkey deal of March 2016, partly under the Greece-Turkey Readmission Protocol of 2002, and under the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement of 2014."

Are You Syrious (16.10.16, link):

France: Clashes between Calais residents and the police, volunteers prevented from approaching the site

"Another violent clash between the riot police and the refugees happened in Calais, where refugees are preparing to leave the site they got to call home over the last months. On Saturday, workers started erecting a controversial wall along the motorway leading to the ferry terminal. A crane was deployed to the site to lift four-meter-high cement panels to prevent the refugees from blocking traffic and jumping onto trucks. This action, along with the increased police presence and the uncertainty about the days to come, ignited the clash in which police used water canons and other means of oppression in the attempt to “pacify” desperate camps residents."

Greece: At least two dead in front of Oreokastro camp, in a tragedy that ignited righteous anger and riots

"We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that happened in front of Oreokastro camp tonight. According to numerous witnesses on site, a refugee family was walking across the road in front of the camp when a car hit them, leaving two people dead and one in critical condition. First reports, including the info from Team Humanity, say the mother and the son died on the spot, while the daughter was rushed to the hospital in Thessaloniki. According to Greek press, three victims were residents at the Fessas camp in Oreokastro. They were hit by the 76-year-old driver outside camp, who was held by the police. Associated Press identified the victims as the 35-year-old Kurdish Syrian woman and her 10-year-old son. The extent of the injuries of the third child is still unconfirmed, but it seems to be out of the life-threatening danger."

EU: The Foreign Affairs Council (link) on 17 October recorded that:

"Ministers took stock of recent developments related to the external aspects of migration. The High Representative reported on the first results of the partnership framework approach and on the work on country specific compacts with the five priority countries, namely Mali, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria and Ethiopia, with the aim to better manage migration together."

Comment: Or rather working together to ensure refugees do go or not continue northwards towards the Med.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-16.10.16)
Greece: East Aegean islands reception capacity and "guest" numbers

Ministry figures show that that at 7.30 on 14 October 2016 there were:

- 15,318 "Guests" and only capacity for
-   8,008 in detention centres - includes 89 refugees who arrived early that morning

Greece: More than Six Months Stranded – What Now? A Joint Policy Brief on the Situation for Displaced Persons in Greece (pdf):

"This briefing paper is the result of a joint effort by 12 national and international organizations operating in Greece. The aim is to explain the current situation for those stranded in Greece for over six months since the closure of the northern border and introduction of the European Union (EU) – Turkey deal....

To date, however, some EU Member States have established policies that proactively undermine the concept of responsibility sharing, continue to place the burden on Greece, and ultimately push people underground, into the hands of smugglers and those seeking to exploit their desperation—a reality that organizations in Greece see evidence of daily....

Those that arrived before the EU-Turkey deal - currently an estimated 47,000 people - are living on the mainland in formal “open temporary reception structures” (sites) including warehouses or informal sites such as abandoned buildings in urban areas. Those arriving after introduction of the EU-Turkey deal are confined to closed facilities (formerly called “hotspots”4) or sites on the Greek islands bordering Turkey with restricted movement - 13,171 people as of 13 September 2016.5 Reception and asylum procedures are applied inconsistently across islands and differ from those on the mainland, based on each individual’s arrival date and nationality." 

Seven migrants killed when their boat, reportedly fleeing, collides with Greek coast guard vessel (Japan Times, link)

"LESBOS, GREECE – A wooden boat carrying dozens of migrants from Turkey to Europe sank Thursday near the island of Lesbos after colliding with a Greek coast guard vessel, leaving at least seven people dead, including four children, rescuers said.

The boat sank within minutes of the crash with a 30-meter (100-foot) patrol vessel on Thursday morning, in circumstances that were being investigated.

The first bodies to be retrieved were those of a woman, two young girls and a baby, the coast guard said.

Three other victims, “a woman, a man and a minor,” were found later, the coast guard said as Greek rescuers backed by a Portuguese ship and an EU border agency Frontex helicopter combed the waters for the missing.

The 31 survivors who were brought to safety had reported a total of eight people missing.

An AFP photographer who witnessed the crash from the shores of Lesbos said the boat went down just two or three minutes after the collision, which took place some 2 km (1.2 miles) from land."

UK volunteers with donations for Calais denied entry to France - Volunteers driving cars full of clothes and food for refugees are turned away at Folkestone, told they pose threat to public order (Guardian, link)

"Some British volunteers driving cars full of donations for refugees in Calais have been turned away at the French border in Folkestone, and told that they were being denied entry because they posed a threat to public order, as French officials finalise plans for the camp’s demolition."

Greece: SNAFU and its Consequences for Refugees on Samos (Samos Chronicles, link):

"It is now the middle of October and the weather is still holding fine. But the first heavy rains of the autumn are likely at any time. What then for the hundreds of refugees who are living in the tents inside the Hotspot/Camp? From what we can determine no provision has or is being planned for the coming winter.

The past week has seen the biggest daily arrivals since before the EU/Turkey pact of March 2016, with over 500 this week. Most are from Syria. For some reason the Greek media is giving little publicity to this significant increase."

Are You Syrious (15.10.16, link)

Lack of accommodation proves to be a chronic problem for refugee families who arrive to Athens

"A large group of volunteers gathered at Humanitarian Bridges Initiative to feed and give blankets to homeless refugees around Omonia Square in Athens last night. They have encountered two Kurdish families with 16 members who’d arrived from Kalamata near the Peloponnese. They’d attempted to take a boat from Turkey to Italy but something went awry and they ended up in Greece after being at sea for 3 days! They were exhausted and sleeping on the ground. Volunteers have tried to find the accommodation for them, but have encountered the same problem we have reported in the previous digests: a chronic lack of space in hotels, hostels and squats in the city. Thanks to the joint volunteer efforts, the family was taken care of and managed to get some rest, but many families and single refugees are still left to sleep on the streets as the official humanitarian response in Greece continues to fail them."

Athena Centre for Women needs urgent support!

"Athena Centre for Women led by Gabrielle Tan on Chios remains one of the few safe spots dedicated to supporting refugee women, many of whom have endured severe trauma and violence on their way to safety. Athena’s daily work includes protecting women and children exposed to stabbings, suicides, attempted sexual assaults and rape. However, they won’t be able to continue their valuable work if they don’t secure a steady flow of funds for their activities. At the moment they are in an urgent need of support, so please follow this link for more info and consider donating."

Landmines: a lethal threat for refugees who might attempt travelling through Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Ever since the borders have officially closed, refugees managed to find a way to travel via Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. Every now and then, we hear about alleged attempts to travel through Bosnia and Herzegovina. If there are any refugees considering that route at the moment, we’d like to warn them about a lethal risk of the landmines that are left scattered around since the ex-Yugoslavian war in the 1990’s. We’re attaching the map of known minefields in a hope no one will have to use it in order to reach their preferred destination country. Hi-res map can be found here."

State Of Emergency Extended In FYROM (New That Moves, link):

"On October 13, the FYROM Parliament voted in favour of extending the state of emergency on the southern border with Greece until July 30, 2017..."

Are You Syrious (14.10.16, link)


"The newest date for the begining of the evacuation of the Calais Jungle is Monday, October 24, according to some sources. Despite increasing information from the field, the French state still insists on withholding any official confirmation of the date and details of the evacuation. Nevertheless, media and public sources claim that dozens of so-called Welcome and Orientation Centres (CAO) in all parts of France are preparing will provide around 7000 places to lodge those currently staying in Calais. The whole process is supposedly organized so that the people, although in fact free to move, are supervised and accompanied at all times. Around 3000 police officers will take part in the operation."

GREECE: Arrivals

"Three boats carrying 70 people landed on the north-east coast of Lesvos Friday. Among them there were 18 women, one pregnant woman and 19 children. Everyone was safe, thanks to the excellent work of the rescue teams.

According to the official registration, there were 89 newly registered arrivals in Greece: 10 on Lesvos and 79 on Samos. 58 people were deported, with 16 voluntary departures. Since the Turkey-EU deal in March, there has been 701 deportation officially registered by the Government, with 39 voluntary departures reported this month.!

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.10.16)
After the publication of: Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show (The Intercept, link) and full file: Serious Incident Reports (190 pages, pdf) 42 Members of the European Parliament wrote to Frontex: Letter to Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex concerning "Shoot First" policy (pdf).

The Director of Frontex has now responded to the MEPs' Letter: Response to Letter from MEPs on: Recurrent use of weapons by coast guards within Frontex operations (pdf):

Frontex Executive Director, Fabrice Leggeri replies that in; "half of the incidents reported, the weapons were shot into the air, with no possible harm to anyone and thus in full respect of the principles of necessity and proportionality."

He seems to be unaware of how frightening it is for shot to be fired "in the air" or towards a boat of refugees.

In the remaining cases (that is half): "shots were fired upon attempts by facilitators to violently ram the patrol vessel.. officers are entitled to the right of self-defence."

When it comes down to specific cases they come under each EU Member States's law - Frontex is not responsible.

EU: Council of the European Union: REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the establishment of a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals, and repealing the Council Recommendation of 30 November 1994 (pdf):

Replaces the 1994 Resolution adopted under the Maastricht Treaty. This will only be effective if states (eg: in Africa) agree to returns and readmission decided by EU Member States:

The national authorities of the Member States experience difficulties in returning illegally staying third-country nationals who possess no valid travel documents.

Improving cooperation on return and readmission with the main countries of origin and transit of illegally staying third-country nationals is essential for increasing rates of return, which are unsatisfactory. An improved European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals is relevant in that regard.

The current standard travel document for the return of third-country nationals, established by the Council Recommendation of 30 November 19942, is not widely accepted by authorities of third countries, for reasons including its inadequate security standards."
[emphasis added]

Comment: The primary reason why an EU document is not accepted is not "security" but because third countries are not prepared to accept an unlimited number of "returns" to their state of those from and "transiting" through that state. Moreover, there is a quite understandable reluctance of refugees to "return" to countries from which they have fled due to war, persecution and poverty.

Are You Syrious (13.10.16)

“EU-Turkey Deal 2.0” with African states? A no-go: Feature

"In the midst of German Prime Minister’s Angela Merkel historic trip to North Africa to address the problem of Mediterranean crossings, the Interior Ministers of EU countries are gathering in Luxembourg to discuss the flow of refugees from Africa to Europe, namely to Italy. Merkel has offered military and financial aid (read: bribes) to Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal in exchange for halting immigration, while the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizere has called for a new solution to the problem; those who are rescued at sea ought to be taken to centers in North Africa while their case for asylum is studied." See also: EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal

Greece: Refugees are increasingly resorting to making a land crossing from Turkey to Greece

"As fall and winter weather approaches, police say the number of refugees and migrants trying to get across Greece’s northern land border with Turkey is growing. Hundreds of asylum seekers have continued attempting to cross the frontier during the past several weeks despite authorities recently breaking up a smuggling ring on the Greek side and arresting 70 people. Much less dangerous than the sea-crossing from Turkey to Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, many asylum seekers have been apprehended after walking across the shallows of the Hebrus River, which marks the Greek-Turkish border."

Greece: Numbers

"A total of 160 refugees have arrived on the islands today. 72 of them on Lesvos, 43 on Chios, and 45 on Samos. Additionally, 4 volunteered to be returned, bringing the monthly total to 23. There have been no deportations to Turkey this month."

Migrant arrivals to Italy top concern now (New Europe, link):

"Greece is no longer the main point of entry for migrants arriving to the European Union by sea. It’s Italy, according to the latest figures released by the United Nations refugee agency UNCHR.

The data show that more than 144,000 migrants have reached Italy so far this year, compared to the nearly 154,000 arrivals in the whole of 2015. Arrivals to Greece fell sharply after the EU struck a deal with Turkey to prevent departures from its shores."

Lone children at risk in Calais camp demolition (euobserver, link):

"There are several schools in the Jungle, and a yellow, double-decker school bus where children's drawings adorn walls and windows. A British baroness is giving classes in English and French. There are playgrounds, hills to climb, a kids’ cafe for children only.

But it is still hard to imagine a worse place for a child to live than the Jungle, as the slum in the French port-town of Calais is often called. More than a thousand of them do and almost all came here without their parents. "

Schengen zone suspended beyond Nov. 15 (New Europe, link): "Border checks will remain in place for Germany, Austria, and Sweden beyond November, which undermines the Schengen zone."

See also Re-establishing Border Controls in Europe Could Cost Up to €3 Billion a Year (RAND Study, link)

EU states to undergo border stress tests (euobserver, link): "If the EU state fails to plug the gap assessed by the agency, then the Council of the EU, representing member states, could reintroduce internal border controls for up to six months."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.10.16)
EU: €67 million for maritime surveillance drones

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) wants drones, and lots of them. The agency has made more €67 million available for unmanned aircraft that will fulfil "the various maritime surveillance needs in general, including fisheries, illegal immigration, anti drug trafficking, etc." as well as "other public purposes on an emergency basis."

In documents published at the end of July, EMSA says it is looking for a company or companies to provide three different types of drone to monitor "the different operational domains": medium-size, long-endurance drones; "larger size RPAS services with 'long endurance' and with a comprehensive set of sensor capabilities"; and drones with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) abilities.

EU-TUNISIA RETURNS DEAL? The EU and Tunisia start negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission (Press release, pdf):

"The Commission and Tunisia today began parallel negotiations in Tunis on an agreement to facilitate the process of issuing short-stay visas and an agreement to establish procedures for the readmission of irregular migrants....

the agreement on the readmission of irregular migrants should lay down the procedures to be followed by both sides in order to clarify, simplify and speed up cooperation in this area...."

See: Communications from Commission and EEAS (JOIN 46-16):Renforcer le soutien de l'UE à la Tunisie (pdf)

No quick return to Schengen (DW, link):

"Germany, Austria and Denmark have called for an extension of "temporary" Schengen border restrictions as a new report warns such measures will be expensive.

The European Commission's hope to restore the Schengen system's border-free internal travel by the end of the year is looking bleak. As interior ministers met in Luxembourg Thursday, the overriding view was that it's not feasible to drop the emergency measures by mid-November when they are scheduled to end."

Cut funds to states that turn away refugees, Italy urges EU (euractiv, link):

"Eastern states that continue to refuse to take in refugees to help frontline countries in Europe’s migration crisis should have their EU funding cut, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Wednesday ..

Italy is the main destination for the waves of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Africa. It is housing 160,000 asylum seekers out of more than 460,000 refugees who have reached its shores from North Africa since the start of 2014, Ministry of the Interior data shows.

Of 39,600 refugees due to be relocated from Italy under an EU quota plan, so far only 1,300 have been moved, according to the European Commission."

GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands overcrowding growing

Overall the number of refugees ("Guests") on the Greek islands at 12 October was 15,192 and the capacity in detention/hotspots was 7,450. There were 162 arrivals that day

Latest Greek government figures: 5,895 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 4,190 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 2,089 people in centres designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,889 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 724 "guests" being held in a space able to accommodate 1,000. Rises in all centres except Leros.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 12-10-16 (pdf)

Are You Syrious (12.10.16, link)

Greece: 515 people have arrived on Samos since the beginning of October

"162 people were registered up to 7:30am this morning —22 in Lesvos, 38 in Chios and 102 in Samos. Samos is now at 245% of its capacity with 2,089 guests and is quickly becoming one of the busiest islands in terms of arrivals, with 515 people arriving since the beginning of October, compared to 436 in Chios and 127 in Lesvos. One sixth of this year’s total arrivals in Samos took place this month alone.

According to volunteers, one boat with 42 people reached Chios and one boat with 38 people reached northern Lesvos today."

Germany: 579.000 asylum applications still pending

"FAZ reports that in the first three quarters of 2016, 213.000 asylum seekers came to Germany compared to 890.000 in 2015.

More than 660.000 applied for asylum in 2016 until the end of September, 117% more than during the same period last year?—?the majority of those applying for asylum this year came to Germany in 2015.

The process is still very slow and by the end of September there were still 579.000 pending applications?—?100.000 more than during the summer. However, in the first nine months of 2016, 462.314 applications have been processed, 165% more than during the same period last year, and the last September week was the first one with more closed than new applications."

Over 1,000 refugees sleep in the streets of Belgrade

"IOM says some 4,992 migrants were stranded in Serbia as of the 5th of October, while UNHCR counted 5,800, including over 1,000 people sleeping in the streets of Belgrade.

The number of people sleeping rough in Belgrade could be much higher than official UNHCR numbers, as the Miksalište centre, which provides food, clothing, medical and psychological help for refugee families, says that today alone, 26 adults and 382 children used their services."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.10.16)
Refugee crisis: Council admits the EU has failed to respond on key areas

- "Frontex and Europol... report fatigue among Member States in responding to calls for experts"

- Some 'nationalities' are unable to register their asylum applications. Lodging of asylum applications is done according to nationality, giving priority to Syrians, Pakistanis and North Africans, while Iraqi and Afghani requests are not being dealt with."

Over a year ago the Council and the European Commission- belatedly - started to respond to the refugee crisis. Now a year on the Council, in a secret report to COREPER, recognises some of the failures and urges - for the umpteenth time - Member States to "do more":

See: Migration - Implementation (LIMITE doc no: 12730-16, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 13-14 October 2016, Luxembourg: Background Note (pdf) Including: "Finding solutions to migratory pressures" (link) and document above.

Greece: More than 11,200 migrants stranded on Aegean islands (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Authorities say 162 migrants and refugees have arrived on Greece’s Aegean islands in the past 24 hours, raising the total number to 11,215.

Authorities say 38 arrivals were reported on Samos, 38 on Chios and 22 on Lesvos. The number of individuals sheltered on Samos has increased by about 40 percent over the past 10 days, officials say."

Are You Syrious (11.10.16, link)

What the life in Calais camp looks like with demolitions and evictions on the horizon

"We still have no final confirmation of when the eviction will take place but many fear it could begin as soon as Monday — and still there is no plan for how refugees will be taken care of.

The organisation Help Refugees expresses a special concern for the camp’s most vulnerable refugees, namely, the unaccompanied minors, families, women and, especially, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, people needing special medical treatment, people suffering from severe mental health issues resulting from trauma and, finally, the elderly...."

Push-backs of refugees from Serbia to Macedonia

"Systematic push-backs of people from Presevo camp has been confirmed by both Serbian and Macedonian volunteers. Refugees who have been locked up for months in Presevo are allegedly being returned to Macedonia without a legal procedure, in groups of 30–40 people per day, most probably over the green border. Refugees who are still in Presevo say they are very afraid because they don’t have any information if they too will be pushed back to Macedonia."

For the first time there are now more than 15,000 refugees on the islands (official capacity is 7903)

"New arrivals: Samos: 88, Kos: 6, Kalymnos: 26, Megisti: 23, Chios: 39 and Lesvos: 22. Voluntary returns: 1"

EU: Meijers Committee: Statement on behalf of the Meijers Committee During the Public Hearing on ‘The reform of the Dublin System and Crisis Relocation’ of 10 October 2016 By Ms. Nejra Kalkan, Executive Secretary (pdf):

"With regard to this proposal one may wonder:

Should we not establish a system that works with the interests of asylum-seekers and Member States which are in the frontlines – instead of coercing unwilling Member States and asylum seekers into cooperation? As long as the system is deemed to be unfair by the key players in Dublin and does not serve their interests, Dublin may be bound to fail, regardless of how much coercion is put into the system. That coercion is moreover problematic from the perspective of human rights.

Would we not call a builder of a house irresponsible if he or she would build more floors to a house whose foundations are, to say the least, shaky?"

See: Note on the proposed reforms of the Dublin Regulation (COM (2016) 197), the Eurodac recast proposal (COM (2016) 272 final), and the proposal for an EU Asylum Agency (COM(2016)271 final) (pdf)

Viewpoint: Why Afghan refugees are facing a humanitarian catastrophe (BBC News, link);

"Hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in Europe, Pakistan and Iran are being forced to return home to Afghanistan by the European Union, UN agencies and governments in the region.

An unprecedented humanitarian crisis is likely to be the result as the refugees - many of them destitute - return to what is effectively a countrywide war zone, with the Taliban attacking half a dozen provinces.

Moreover, the country's severe winter months are approaching, when essential supplies are even harder to obtain. The government in Kabul does not have the resources to help these refugees or resettle them as it focuses on the war, defending major cities and paying for the army's upkeep. .

The EU is likely to accept many Syrian refugees because it considers Syria a war zone, but the EU does not consider Afghanistan as a war zone even though the country is torn apart by war.

Previous definitions by the EU that Kabul and provincial capitals are safe havens no longer hold true with half a dozen provincial capitals under siege by the Taliban....

Similarly, Pakistan plans to repatriate 1.6 million registered and another one million unregistered Afghan refugees - many of whom have been living in Pakistan since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. .."

African nations must halt migration, says Merkel (euobserver, link):

"Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has called on African leaders to stop migration to Europe and fight back against Islamic extremism.

She vowed to help with development aid and military equipment to ensure peace and prosperity in Africa....

Some EU leaders, including Merkel, have indicated they would like to strike Turkey-style deals with African nations, whereby they would agree to take back migrants in exchange for money and other favours, such as visa-free travel. " [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.10.16)
Greece: FORGOTTEN: Administratively detained irregular migrants and asylum seekers (pdf) and Summary (pdf):

"In the Hellenic Police Departments there are serious long-standing systemic problems:

• Lack of an individualized approach based on the characteristics, the situation and the needs of foreign nationals who are under arrest
• Lack of use of alternatives to detention
• Systematic, unjustified detention of dubious legitimacy on the grounds of public order
• Detention of individuals whose removal violates the principle of non-refoulement
• Detention for a period longer than six months..."
(and more)

EU: ESI [European Stability Initiative]: Fire in the Aegean – Scenario of failure – How to succeed (pdf):

"ESI published an update on the state of implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees in the Aegean: what has worked, what has failed, and what is to be done: Pangloss in Brussels How (not) to implement the Aegean Agreement."

See also: On solid ground? Eleven facts about the EU-Turkey Agreement (pdf)

Are You Syrious (10.10.16, link):

New routes from Turkey emerging

"It seems that new refugee routes are emerging. For the first time since EU/Turkey deal, people have landed on the island of Milos. According to official government reports, as of 8 o’clock in the morning 111 people have landed on the island, which had not seen a large influx of refugees before. Coupled with reports from Saturday that 131 people were rescued of the coast of the south Peloponnese, it seems that boats are now trying to reach the coast of Italy directly from Turkey, which is a long and dangerous journey."

160 new arrivals today

"As for today, 160 people in total arrived to the Greek islands from Turkish shores: 1 to Lesvos and 48 to Chios, in addition to aforementioned 111 to Milos. The total number of refugees in Greece is much the same as it was last week, with slight changes from Friday. In the camps, #Cherso has seen thr number of people dropping by 300, with 1567 people accounted for on Friday and only 1267 on Monday. #NeaKavala had the same net decrease of 300 people, from 1775 people on Friday to

1475 on Monday. The number of self-settled people increased from 7600 on Friday to 8450 on Monday, a net increase 850 people.

In the week of October 3–8, 678 people arrived on the islands, a daily average of 93. The daily average for the month of September was 98.3 arrivals daily, showing a slight decrease. The specific totals for this week’s arrivals are as follows:

Lesvos: 104, Chios: 378, Samos: 325, Leros: 4, Kos: 9, Kalymnos: 17."

Spain: Spanish route still active? 100 people rescued on Saturday

We rarely report from Spain’s borders, but that does not mean that this long-standing migrant route is any less lively than the more well known ones. As reported by The Local Es, more than 100 African migrants were saved from the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain on Saturday after attempting the perilous crossing to Europe on a rickety boat. Rescuers transported 56 people from Sub-Saharan Africa to Malaga, a spokeswoman said, while 32 other Africans, including 17 women, were taken to the port of Motril, 100 kilometers (60 miles) further east. Sixteen other migrants, originally from North Africa, were taken to Cartagena, 400 kilometers northeast of Malaga.

For a video of the rescue follow this link."

Greek police stop 18 Syrian refugees trying to enter Albania (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Police in northern Greece say they have arrested two Greek women suspected of trying to smuggle a group of Syrian refugees over the rugged border with Albania.

The suspects were discovered early Tuesday, driving two cars carrying a total of 18 Syrians, including six children, to the border in the northern Kastoria region.

Police said the refugees had been planning to continue their journey from Albania toward an unspecified northern European country.

About 60,000 refugees and other migrants have been trapped in Greece following a series of Balkan border closures earlier this year. All entered from Turkey, and had initially planned to transit the financially struggling country on their way to Europe’s prosperous heartland."

Luxembourg PM proposes EU border lock-down (euobserver, link):

"Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel has said EU states should lock down Schengen borders for 24 hours to show people the benefits of EU membership. "Shutting the frontiers for a day would show people what it means to wait two hours to get into Italy or Spain", he said Monday, "

Calais crisis: Migrant killed in accident with UK driver (BBC News, link):

"An Eritrean migrant died and his wife was injured in an accident involving a British car driver on a motorway near the French port of Calais.

The pair were knocked down on an interchange where dozens of migrants were reportedly trying to climb on to lorries."

Hungarian constitution to ban relocation of migrants (euractiv, link):

"Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán yesterday (10 October) proposed constitutional changes aimed at banning the mass relocation of migrants, after voters backed his rejection of an EU refugee quota plan in a recent referendum."

Merkel announces Niger aid package to stem migrant flow during Africa trip (euractiv, link):

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday (10 October) announced a €27 million aid package for Niger, her second stop in a three-nation Africa tour aimed at fighting terrorism and stemming the migrant influx to Europe.

The German leader said the army of the arid west African country, one of the world’s poorest, would receive €10 million worth of equipment next year.

Germany will also build a military base to back up the UN mission in neighbouring Mali, the first country she had visited on the whirlwind African tour."

Report: Cricket on Samos (link)

"Since the beginning of August 2016 there have been regular cricket matches between a team drawn from Kashmiri refugees and a team of Pakistani refugees. They play two limited over matches (12 overs per innings) on the astro turf (football pitch) at the Vathi Stadium on Tuesday and Friday mornings starting at 9.30am and finishing at 1pm.....

"So many of our conversations with these refugees are identical to those we have with many Greek friends who along with other 200,000 young people have left Greece over the past four years in search of a life not possible in this now stricken society. It is also worth noting that in a recent survey of those leaving Greece 40% gave corruption as a major factor in their decision, which is much the same as we hear from those who come from Pakistan, Morocco and Algeria. However that is where the similarities stop. Giannis and Maria can travel like human beings in search of their futures, but Fatima and Mohammed travel with no dignity and often in danger to end up in places like the Samos Camp. Of course they ask why? But do those born in the right places ever ask why too?"

Greece: Refugee children start lessons at schools across the country (.ekathimerini.com, link):

"Some 1,500 child refugees are to start lessons at Greek schools on Monday afternoon.

The lessons are to be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 20 schools with another 20,000 refugee children to be inducted into classes at other schools in due course."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-9.10.16)
Austria: Taxi drivers who transported refugees ‘not people smugglers (The Local.at, link):

"Taxi drivers and members of the public who picked up refugees who had made it across the Austrian border last summer and drove them to their destination cannot be prosecuted as people smugglers, Austria’s high court (OGH) has ruled....

The OGH decided that "the mere transport of strangers who have already illegally crossed Austria’s border” is not a criminal offence punishable by law.

The ruling could have implications for many cases, including that of a 32-year-old Syrian taxi driver who was based at Vienna airport. He has a minivan with eight seats and last summer he was asked to make three trips to the Austrian border town of Nickelsdorf, by an acquaintance who worked for a people smuggling organization."

Greece: Chios refugee center burned in riot (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Authorities on the eastern Aegean island of Chios were working on Saturday to repair the damage wreaked to a refugee reception center after frustrated youths set fire to mattresses, causing a blaze that destroyed eight prefabricated homes.

Two Syrians were detained in connection with the blaze, which broke out following a dispute between migrants from different ethnic groups. The exact cause of the argument was unclear but tensions often bubble to the surface in refugee camps where migrants wait for months for asylum applications to be processed."

Britain ‘ignored plea by France’ to aid stranded Calais child refugees (THe Observer, link): "Home Office delayed action on French requests to accept 400 eligible lone children, says Red Cross."

Greek fisherman nominated for Nobel Prize (DW, link):

"When boats brimming with refugees teetered across the Mediterranean, Stratis Valiamos and his fellow fishermen came to the rescue. Now he has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. DW spent some time getting to know the fisherman."

Scrubbing away hate: one Berliner's cleaning campaign against far-right graffiti (DW, link):

"Irmela Mensah-Schramm removes Nazi and other far-right symbols from public spaces in German cities. But the 70-year-old Berlin resident is in trouble after a court charged her with damaging public property."

UK: Charity takes legal action against Home Office over child refugees (Guardian, link)

"Help Refugees says ministers have breached duties to unaccompanied children, exposing them to ‘serious risks’...

Lawyers for a leading refugee charity have begun legal proceedings against the Home Office, arguing that ministers have failed in obligations to give sanctuary to some of the thousands of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Europe.

Help Refugees says the home secretary, Amber Rudd, has breached her relocation duties to some unaccompanied children in Europe, by misconstruing or misapplying the May Immigration Act under which the government was obliged to take some children into the UK.

The legal papers state that because of this failure it “is incontestable that the unaccompanied children” whom the legislation is intended to assist “are exposed to serious risks of abuse and exploitation”.

UK: Lists, lists of foreigners, lists of foreign born people (Michael Rosen, link):

Lists of foreigners
Lists of foreign born people living and working alongside those not on lists
Lists of children sitting alongside children not on lists
Lists to be sent in to government departments
Lists of names, addresses that can pass from official to official from department to department so that what starts out as 'information' drifts into ways of saying to those on the lists that they should have less they should have no guarantees of the right to work or live alongside or amongst those not on the lists..
[and more]

See: Proposals on lists of foreign workers cause outcry - Economists see little to link migration and unemployment (FT, link) and: LSE foreign academics told they will not be asked to advise UK on Brexit - Experts question legality under anti-discrimination laws as senior politicians criticise move as ‘baffling’ (Guardian, link)

Mhairi Black: We must learn lessons from history and speak out against the Tories' ugly xenophobia (The National, link):

"IN my year and a half of being a politician I can truly say that I have never been more horrified or afraid of the rhetoric coming from the Conservative Government as I have this past week. To read the headlines of the major British newspapers felt like I had awoken in some dystopian, V for Vendetta-esque society. The Conservative Party’s mask as ‘a party of the common people’ has slipped to reveal the xenophobic, often racist, nationalist, ugly face beneath....

So let me finish with a poem by Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the Jews.
But I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists.
But I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists.
But I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics.
But I did not speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me.
And by that time there was no one left to speak out for me."

Italy: Council of State suspends transfers to Hungary and Bulgaria (AIDA, link):

"The Italian Council of State has delivered its first judgments suspending transfers of asylum seekers to Hungary and Bulgaria under the Dublin Regulation, to prevent violations of fundamental rights....

In the case of Hungary, they concluded that: “On the basis of deficiencies in the asylum procedure and reception conditions, the Court found that the transfer of the asylum seeker to Hungary would violate Article 4 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”" and the same for Bulgaria.

Are You Syrious (8.10.16, link):

Greece: New arrivals are officially registered in Greece

"Lesvos: 32
Samos: 158
Leros: 4
Chios: 46
Total: 240

Some people also left Greece. Officially, 11 returned to Turkey, on their own will hopefully. A number of residents in Cherso dropped from 1667 to 1567, and in Nea Kavala from 1875 to 1775."


"The situation in Bulgaria remains tense but kept far away from the eyes of people in the rest of the EU. Some of the volunteers we contacted in this country told us that they do not feel to talk about conditions in camps or issues they are facing daily. Hate crimes are on the rise all over the country. This Friday, the movement Natsionalna Sportiva (National Resistance) called for a protest march “against migrants who have taken over the streets of the capital”. The plan was that the protest will pass the places where migrants have been placed."

UNHCR: 313,872 arrivals in Europe in 2016: 167,600 in Greece, 142,468 in Italy. 3,604 dead/missing.

UNHCR: Weekly report (7 October 2016)

Trends of Sea Arrivals

"Between 26 September to 02 October, 668 refugees and migrants crossed the sea to Greece, a slight increase from the 597 that crossed the previous week.
There was a total of 3,080 sea arrivals during September, a slight decrease from the 3,447 who arrived in August this year. During the first nine months of 2016,
166,824 persons have arrived to Greece by sea, in comparison to 385,069 who crossed during the same period in 2015. As of 2 October, the main countries of origin of those who arrived in Greece remain the Syrian Arab Republic (48%), Afghanistan (25%) and Iraq (15%); children comprised 38% of arrivals with men making up 41% and women 21%.

Between 26 September to 02 October, 406 refugees and migrants arrived to Italy, of which 161 (40%) were unaccompanied and separated children (UASC). In comparison, 1,021 arrived the previous week. Between 01 January and 02 October 2016, 131,915 persons arrived by sea, compared to 132,071 persons that disembarked at the end of September 2015. According to Italian authorities, in total 18,564 UASC have arrived to Italy by sea as of 15 September, compared to 12,360 in 2015 and 13,026 in 2014. Overall, sea arrival trends in 2016 remain on par with 2014 and 2015. The top countries of origin among arrivals include Nigeria, Eritrea, Gambia, and Sudan."

Arrivals in Greece

"With an average of 104 daily arrivals to the Aegean islands during the month of September, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs) continue to face serious challenges with capacity and shelter allocation for new arrivals. The maximum capacity on the five islands remains 7,450 while the total presence on the islands was 14,331 as of 02 October according to Greek authorities."

Update on Relocation

From Italy, 62 asylum-seekers were relocated to Finland. Since the adoption of the relocation scheme, a total of 1,258 persons (3.2% of the 39,600 target) have been relocated from Italy. So far 3,809 pledges were received from adhering states (latest EC data, 27 September).

From Greece, there were 525 asylum-seekers relocated during the reporting period. Thus far, a total of 4,468 (6.7%) asylum-seekers against the targeted 66,400, have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries since the beginning of the relocation programme in November 2015. A total of 9,596 pledges have been made by EU Member States, including those made by Malta which pledged 28 places during the reporting period."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.10.16)
European Parliament Briefing: Growing impact of EU migration policy on development cooperation (pdf):

"Along with the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in this field, the European Parliament opposes aid conditionality dependent on partner countries cooperating on readmission and return, as laid out in the migration compacts. Addressing the current migration challenge without jeopardising development policy achievements and objectives will be one of the key issues of the ongoing revision of the European consensus on development."

Exiled from Pakistan, destitute Afghans return to a country at war - Hundreds of thousands of Afghans, banished from Pakistan, find destruction, violence and hardship in their homeland (Guardian, link)

Sixty-five Returned To Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"The pace of returns of people under the EU-Turkey deal is apparently increasing.

Ten Syrians were returned to Turkey from Greece on October 6 under the deal. According to information from the Hellenic government (link in Greek only), eight out of the 10 had withdrawn their asylum claims in Greece and the other two had not asked for international protection. They were returned by plane from the Mytilene airport on Lesvos, to Adana, Turkey.....

Altogether, 643 people to date have been returned to Turkey from Greece under the EU-Turkey deal."

Council of Europe: UK urged to improve protection of child victims of human trafficking (link):

"The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has urged the United Kingdom to improve the identification and protection of child victims of trafficking, expressing particular concern about children going missing from local authority care.

“Despite many positive developments in recent years, estimates suggest that up 60% of children who have potentially been trafficked are still going missing from local authority care in the UK, usually within 48 hours of being placed in care and before being formally recognised as victims.

“Children who go missing in one part of the UK can also end up being trafficked and exploited in another part of the country, without any connection being made” said GRETA President Nicolas Le Coz.

GRETA’s second report on the UK’s implementation of the Council of Europe convention on human trafficking says that progress has been made in a number of areas since 2012, notably including the adoption of dedicated, comprehensive legislation on human trafficking/modern slavery."

Are You Syrious (6.10.16, link)

Greek government numbers record only 2 arrivals

"Two boats arrived On Lesvos during the day, with 52 people on board. 160 arrived on Samos. 55 refugees were deported to Turkey on Wednesday, 37 of whom had their asylum application rejected twice."

1000 CRS mobilized to depopulate Calais camp.

"The Calais camp is in the midst of its final few days. The police has received its “mission order” for the evacuation of Calais, giving them 10 days to clear the camp. The operation will commence on the 17th and will last until the 27th of October. The date raises questions as housing plans for unaccompanied minors, who by law have to be separated from the general refugee population, have not yet been fully implemented. Some of the CRS will be responsible for the dismantlement, others will filter the access to the camp during the operations, others will secure the hosting centers. Half of all CRS will be there to prevent the reinstallation of refugees in the camp. Around 1,000 people will be mobilized during the operation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.10.16)
EU Border Guard Agency: Securing Europe's external borders: Launch of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Press release, pdf):

"Under the new mandate, the Agency's role and activities have been significantly expanded. The Agency's permanent staff will be more than doubled and the Agency will be able to purchase its own equipment and deploy them in border operations at short notice. A rapid reserve pool of at least 1,500 border guards and a technical equipment pool will be put at the disposal of the Agency - meaning there will no longer be shortages of staff or equipment for Agency operations. The European Border and Coast Guard will now ensure the implementation of Union standards of border management through periodic risk analysis and mandatory vulnerability assessments."

And see new: REGULATION (EU) 2016/1624 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 14 September 2016 on the European Border and Coast Guard and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (pdf)

See: Shooting revelations clouds EU border guard launch (euobserver, link):

"The EU inaugurated the launch of the new border and coastguard agency on Thursday (6 October), amid revelations that border forces routinely used firearms against migrants off Greece in 2014 and 2015.

The new agency, called the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, replaces Frontex, and is a precipitous policy response to last year's large inflow of refugees and broader security issues. ... On 23 September, EU ombudsman Emily O'Reilly and Nils Muiznieks from the human rights watchdog Council of Europe were cc'd in a letter to Frontex that demanded answers over the shooting incidents. The letter, signed by 42 MEPs, asks if the new agency will continue to use firearms against boats carrying refugees.".

See: European Parliament: From 42 MEPs: Letter to Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex concerning "Shoot First" policy (pdf): and Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show (The Intercept, link) and full file: Serious Incident Reports (190 pages, pdf) also Frontex rules: Serious Incident Reporting (pdf).

Are You Syrious (5.10.16)

The migration “problem” is too big for Greece

"As situation in Greece becomes more and more absurd with the EU packing people inside this country, Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas, who heads a task force on migrants, urged the EU and the United Nations to help his country accommodate refugees coming from the Middle East in an interview with AP: “The migration problem… is too big, it’s not only in Syria, it’s in Africa, it’s in Asia. It’s a problem that the United Nations must consider,” Vitsas said. “We need to move from words to actions.” Vitsas urged Eastern European countries, such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, which have been reluctant to accept refugees, not to shut their doors on migrants, Khathimerini news reports.".

First man to be deported by EU-Turkey deal

"To add insult to injury, Amnesty international published the story of Noori. Noori is a young man from Syria who is to become the first one to be deported by the EU to Turkey under EU- Turkey deal. Amnesty international warns that this is a dangerous historic precedent. By deporting Noori to Turkey, Greece (on behalf of the EU) would be taking an ominous step in history. They would deliberately turn away a refugee without first examining the substance of his asylum claim under this cruel and dodgy deal with Turkey. To European leaders, Noori says that he - and other refugees - simply want to be somewhere safe: “You are safe, please open your eyes and see why we came here.” Read Noori’s story and do not forget this moment when a 21 year old young man’s destiny became a historical turning point."

11,000 people rescued in the Mediterranean in just three days

"As we’ve been reporting since Monday, staggering numbers of people have arrived, amounting to 11,000 people who were rescued from the Mediterranean sea in just three days. The total death toll for Monday and Tuesday is up to 50. Wednesday saw a sharp decline in rescues with only 368. The latest surge in new arrivals means at least 142,000 migrants have reached Italy since the start of the year and around 3,100 have died making the perilous trip."

EU could order return of refugee crisis funding (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European officials have indicated that Greece may be obliged to return more than 500 million euros in funding disbursed by the European Union to help authorities tackle the refugee crisis due to the slow pace at which those funds are being absorbed, Kathimerini understands.

It is not the first time that Brussels has urged Athens to accelerate the absorption of funds and the processing of asylum claims. But the latest warning, a European Commission official told Kathimerini, comes amid a climate of increasing frustration with the Greek government. “There is an increasing sense of a country that cannot bring about results either in the refugee crisis or in the economy,” the official said. There is also a growing frustration with the slow pace of the Greek asylum service, with applications being processed at a snail’s pace, European officials say.

Sources said Athens has been informed about the danger of 509 million euros being revoked and that Commission officials are on hand to help the government overcome the current obstacles."

UK: Against Borders for Children: ABC Day of Action: Contact your local MP and councillors! (link):

"Today, Thursday 6th October is School Census day in England. Academies and local authority schools will be electronically submitting school census data to the Department of Education.

Against Borders for Children is calling today a Day of Action to protect immigrant children in England. For the first time ever, the school census includes immigration data, i.e. country of birth and nationality of pupils in Primary and Secondary Education and young people in sixth forms attached to a secondary school.

Schools are asking parents to send this data in but parents have a right to refuse providing this information. However some schools are not making this right clear to parents."

Greece: Migrant transfers will be gradual, ministry sources say (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The relocation of migrants from overcrowded camps on the eastern Aegean islands to the mainland will be carried out in phases with the transfer of a small number of people initially, sources at the Migration Policy Ministry have said in response to pressure – from European authorities and residents of the islands – for their immediate transfer....

The return of small groups of migrants to Turkey, however, is continuing. On Wednesday, 55 people were returned to Turkey: 20 Algerians, 20 Pakistanis, four Afghans, five Moroccans, three Bangladeshis, one Iranian, one Palestinian and one Sri Lankan. Of the 55 migrants sent back, 37 had had their asylum applications rejected a second time, after appealing the first rejection. The others had not appealed.

Meanwhile new migrants continue to arrive, both via the Aegean and the Greek-Turkish land border. On Wednesday morning, Greek authorities said 90 migrants had arrived on islands of the eastern Aegean in the previous 24 hours, with another 214 entering Greece via the land border with Turkey."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.10.16)
EU-AFGHANISTAN: Second "dodgy deal" agreed: Joint Way Forward on migration issues between Afghanistan and the EU (18 pages, pdf)

See: EU mulls 'migrant' terminal at Kabul airport (euobserver, link):

"The EU and Afghanistan are looking into creating a new terminal at Kabul's airport designed specifically for migrants rejected by EU states.

The plan is part of a broader deal on stepping up the returns of rejected asylum seekers from the EU to Afghanistan signed over the weekend....

the return agreement appears to contradict an internal document from the European Council, representing member states, which earlier this year said security is actually getting worse in Afghanistan.

"Due to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, as well as pressure on Afghans in Pakistan and Iran, there is a high risk of further migratory flows to Europe," noted the internal document."

See also: Jjoint "non-paper" from the European Commission and the European Action Service (EEAS) in March 2016: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan (Restricted do no: 6738-16, pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Under the dodgy EU-Turkey deal we have two Letters and a Statement now for the Afghanistan deal there is a "Agreement" - yet again by-passing formal law-making and parliamentary scrutiny. Yet again the Council demonstrates its contempt for the rule of law. There is no way Afghanistan, even in Kabul, is a safe country to return refugees to."

Sweden threatens to sue Hungary over asylum refusals (euobserver, link):

"Sweden's minister of justice Morgan Johansson said Sweden will challenge Hungary in court unless it starts taking back asylum seekers from other EU countries.

The European Commission is sending a fact-finding delegation to Hungary to examine reasons for the row.

Earlier this month, ministers from the Nordic countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, in addition to Sweden - wrote to the EU executive to complain that Hungary is not abiding by EU Dublin rules, which say refugees should in principle seek asylum in the first EU country they enter.

Greece: More refugees arrive on Chios (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 88 migrants and refugees arrived on Greece’s Aegean island of Chios in the past 24 hours, authorities said Wednesday."

European Parliament: Calais: MEPs demand solutions for migrants, truck drivers and local people (Press release, pdf):

"The situation in and around the port town of Calais is untenable for everyone: migrants and asylum seekers living in the informal camps, truck drivers crossing to the British Isles and the local population, said MEPs in a plenary debate on
Tuesday. Most urged the EU Commission, France and the UK to work together to find a long-term solution.

Many speakers pointed to the terrible conditions in the camp known as “the jungle” and showed special concern about the high number of unaccompanied minors in the area and the risks they face."

The Bratislava Declaration on migration: European irresponsibility instead of solidarity (EASFJ, link):

"At first look, this seems logical and even advisable. Since 2015, the EU has been unable to respond effectively to the ‘refugee crisis’. It is only the fragile ‘deal’ with Turkey that brought the illusion of a solution by externalising asylum provision to a third country. The EU remains profoundly divided about possible internal solutions.

A European East-West divide has appeared, in addition to the well-known North-South division about the principles evoked in the Bratislava Declaration. Member States in the South have been complaining for years about the lack of solidarity measures, while many Member States in the Northwest have castigated them about their inability to implement their responsibilities.

More recently, Member States in the Central/Eastern part of the EU (more precisely the Visegrad group consisting of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland) are refusing, ostensibly in the name of responsibility, to engage in the type of solidarity requested by no longer only the Member States in the South, but also those in the Northwest."

EU’s Relocation Farce: From 160,000 asylum seekers only 5,821 moved from Greece & Italy to other member states (Keep Talking Greece, link):

“On the one-year anniversary of the EU plan to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, the first countries of arrival, the scheme must be judged a farce, ” Human Rights Watch Advocacy Director Philippe Dam writes in his review about the failure of the European Commission sponsored Relocation scheme."

Hungary: Orban would ban mass resettlement in constitution (euobserver, link):

"Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban is to propose constitutional amendments banning the mass resettlement of migrants by the EU without parliament's approval.

"In Hungary 3.3 million voters decided they will not let others decide for them on resettlement of migrants," he told journalists on Tuesday (4 October), after a referendum on Sunday saw 98 percent of voters who cast a valid ballot rejecting EU competence over migration quotas.

The referendum was however invalid according to Hungary's national election committee, as it failed to bring out more than half of Hungary's 8 million eligible voters.

Orban has nevertheless vowed to make constitutional changes, saying the referendum result "cannot remain without consequences in politics, if there is still democracy in Hungary""

Italy leads mass migrant rescue (New Europe, link):

"The rescue of more than 5,600 migrants off Libya was coordinated by Italy on October 3 – three years to the day after 366 people died in a sinking that first alerted the world to the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the October 3 rescue is a poignant reminder of the ongoing drama being played out on Europe’s southern shores. At least nine bodies were recovered from a total of 39 distressed vessels, the bulk of them overcrowded rubber dinghies but also including five converted fishing boats.

Almost 200 children were among those saved, according to NGO SOS Mediterranee. Most of them were unaccompanied and nine were under five years old. At least 10 of the 191 women on board were pregnant."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.10.16)
EU steps up efforts to repatriate Afghans (euobserver, link)

"The EU is seeking to send migrants back to war-torn Afghanistan as a part of a broader policy to return rejected asylum seekers and others who refuse to be deported voluntarily.

On Tuesday (4 October) senior officials from both sides are set to meet to launch the so-called EU-Afghanistan Joint Way Forward agreement that they signed over the weekend.

EU states will be able to charter an unlimited number of flights to Kabul, reports The Guardian newspaper, which has seen a copy of the yet-to-be made public agreement."

The documents referred to are here: EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal See: Dated 22 September 2016: Draft Joint Way Forward on migration issues between Afghanistan and the EU - Adoption (LIMITE doc no: 12191-16, 2016, pdf). And a joint "non-paper" from the European Commission and the European Action Service (EEAS) in March 2016: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan (Restricted do no: 6738-16, pdf)

Are You Syrious (3.10.16, link)

What Afghan children are running away from?

"Security in Afghanistan is worse than ever. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, civilian casualties in the country hit a record-high 11,000 in 2015. More than 3,500 civilians died, including an unprecedented number of children?—?one in four casualties over the past year was a child.

Amidst such violence and death, the EU has somehow come to a decision that Afghanistan is a safe country to which asylum seekers will be returned. As European governments and international decision-makers gather for the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on October 5th, we wish to make a special news report on Afghan refugees and answer why they are really here.

Afghans make up the second largest group of migrants arriving in Europe, with 196,170 applying for asylum last year..

Politicians claim that Afghans coming to Europe are job-seekers looking for a better life. The reality is much more complex. Afghanistan is still one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world. As long as Afghanistan lacks the systems in place to guarantee protection, people should not be sent back there. The EU’s obligation to protect and promote human rights does not stop at its borders.."

Refugee flows in Greece, October 03, 2016

New arrivals: 71: Lesvos 17, Samos 25 and Chios 29.

Serbian president warns the EU, announces possible border closure

"Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic announced today that Serbia will close its borders if EU countries continue to reject the refugees. “We need to close the border to migrants, because they didn’t want to stay here in the first place. Europe needs to solve this problem. If other countries close their borders, we need to do the same in order to avoid having so many people stranded in our country. Since the EU is not angered by Hungarian actions, I’m sure they will have no problem with Serbia in case of the border closure”, he told journalists. He added that he does not understand how Serbia is the first country along the Balkan Route to register refugees, as if “they fell from the sky.”

According to him, Serbia cannot take more than 5,000 to 6,000 refugees, and that the government is currently in negotiations with Brussels to resolve the matter."

Czech president Zeman: economic migrants to be deported to “uninhabited Greek islands” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Czech president Milos Zeman has proposed that economic migrants should be deported from Europe to “uninhabited Greek islands” or to “empty places” in North Africa."

Refugees stuck in Serbia begin marching towards Hungarian border (Guardian, link):

"Belgrade says it will not erect wire border fence but will deploy army to seal off borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria.

.Hundreds of refugees stranded in Serbia have begun walking from Belgrade towards the border with Hungary to protest against its closure for most people trying to reach the European Union.

More than 6,000 people remain stuck in Serbia following Hungary’s introduction this summer of strict limits on the number of refugees allowed to cross into the EU-member country and reinforced a razorwire border fence with heavy patrols."

Italian coastguard in mass migrant rescue (BBC News, libk):

"The Italian coastguard has co-ordinated the rescue of more than 5,600 migrants, in one of the biggest operations in a single day.

The migrants had set off from the Libyan coast in nearly 40 boats.

One migrant is reported to have died and several others were airlifted for medical treatment. According to the International Organization for Migration, some 132,000 migrants have arrived in Italy this year. "

Relocation farce brings shame on Europe (euobserver, link):

"On the one-year anniversary of the EU plan to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, the first countries of arrival, the scheme must be judged a farce.

First, the EU cut the number by a third. Then, in the year since the plan was approved, it moved just 5,821 people to other member states.

While the relocation requirement is legally binding on EU member states, some countries are flouting EU decision-making rules and shirking their responsibilities.

Some have contributed fairly but others, it would seem, are either actively bucking the programme or passively offering little or nothing in the hope the issue will to go away or that the asylum seekers will end up elsewhere.

Despite an European Commission press statement touting “significant progress” in relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, prime minister Robert Fico of Slovakia said just a few days ago that the idea of migration quotas was “politically finished”. "

Rich countries shirking responsibility in refugee crisis: Amnesty (DW, link)

"Human rights body Amnesty International says poorer nations are doing far more than their fair share in hosting refugees. It slammed what it called the "self-interest" of wealthier countries."

Greece: Filis: Refugee rights not up for debate (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Education Minister Nikos Filis on Monday brushed aside reactions from local communities in several parts of Greece to refugee children attending public schools, while putting off any debate on planned changes to religious classes in schools until after the end of the academic year.

“The state will not put rights issues up for discussion,” Filis told state broadcaster ERT on Monday."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.10.16)
Germany wants migrants sent back to Greece and Turkey (euractiv, link):

"Germany called yesterday (2 October) for asylum seekers who entered the European Union via Greece to be forced to return there, while also urging Athens to send more migrants back to Turkey.

In an interview with a Greek daily, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said he wants to reinstate EU rules which oblige asylum seekers to be sent back to Greece as the first EU country they reached.

“I would like the Dublin convention to be applied again… we will take up discussions on this in a meeting with (EU) interior ministers” later in October, he told the Greek daily Kathimerini."

EU: Service level agreement between European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and Frontex for the provision of surveillance tools and services in support of Frontex activities (pdf)

European Commission: Thursday 6 October: Launch of the European Border and Coast Guard (Press release, pdf):

"The European Commission in December proposed to establish a new Agency – designed to meet the new challenges and political realities faced by the EU, both as regards migration and internal security. The European Border and Coast Guard was agreed by the European Parliament and Council in a record time of just 9 months and will become operational as of 6 October 2016 at the Bulgarian external border with Turkey.

The new Agency will ensure Union standards for border management are implemented at all external borders; carry out periodic risk analyses and mandatory vulnerability assessments to identify and address weak spots; be able to draw on a rapid reserve pool of at least 1,500 border guards and a technical equipment pool; play an enhanced role in return operations."
[emphasis added]

LEAD NGOs denounce Italy's «Nazi-style» migrant repatriations to Sudan By Alvise Armellini, dpa (europeonline-magazine.eu, link):

" Italy has started a "Nazi-style" policy of mass migrant repatriations to Sudan based on a secret police cooperation deal, in flagrant breach of international law, human rights groups said on Tuesday.

Last month, Italian police stopped about 50 irregular migrants from Sudan at Ventimiglia, a town on the border with France. They were put in a European Union-funded hotspot detention centre and 48 of them were flown back to Khartoum within a matter of days.

"We are returning people to genocidal governments," the director of Amnesty International‘s Italian branch, Gianni Rufini, said in Rome. "It‘s bit like having about 50 German Jews in 1943 and sending them back to Germany," he added.

Rufini spoke at a press conference in the Italian Senate in Rome organized by Tavolo Nazionale Asilo, a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that deal with migration issues and criticize restrictive border policies.

Filippo Miraglia from ARCI, another speaker at the event, qualified Italian authorities‘ actions as "Nazi-style."

Irish Refugee Council welcomes and echoes Children’s Ombudsman’s call that children in Direct Provision have access to his office (link):

"The IRC welcomes Children’s Ombudsman Dr Niall Mudoon’s continued commitment and desire to ensure that all children in Ireland have equal access to his Office before the end of 2016.

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer with the IRC said, “If we want to be a society that values the equal treatment of children, we should move away from discriminatory practices that fail to fully protect young people and effectively deny them access to independent oversight and complaints mechanisms, in situations where they believe that they are being adversely affected by an action of the State.”

As Dr Muldoon rightly points out in the Children’s Ombudsman Report for 2015, “1,400 children are spending the formative years of their lives in direct provision, in circumstances that inhibit their potential to thrive & curtail their full enjoyment of basic rights.”"

Hungary PM claims EU migrant quota referendum victory (BBC News, link):

"Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has declared victory in a referendum on mandatory EU migrant quotas, despite a low turnout that appeared to render it invalid.

Nearly 98% of those who took part supported the government's call to reject the EU plan. But only 43% of the electorate voted, short of the 50% required to be valid. A government spokesman said the outcome was binding "politically and legally" but the opposition said the government did not have the support it needed.

Mr Orban urged EU decision makers to take note of the result and said he would change Hungary's constitution to make the decision binding."

UK immigration faces 140 years’ worth of visa applications post-Brexit (workpermit.com, link):

"According to a study carried out by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, UK immigration faces 140 years’ worth of visa applications if all European nationals, currently in Britain, applied for residency in the aftermath of Brexit. Experts say that the Home Office would struggle to cope with a deluge of permanent residency filings.

Currently, UK immigration officials process approximately 25,500 permanent residency applications from EU nationals, and their dependents, annually. However, the Migration Observatory calculated that if the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens, presently residing in the UK, applied for permanent residence it would be the equivalent of processing 140 years’ worth of visa forms in just 12 months. "

Are you Syrious (2.10.16, link)Greece

Greece: Numbers

"According to the official numbers, 3 new persons are registered on Lesvos, 98 on Chios, and 19 at Megisti. With the recent arrivals, the total number of arrivals since the Turkey deal hit 20.000. More than 14.000 of them are still stuck on the islands.

Comparison 5/9–30/9

Lesvos: From 5388 to 5942 (+554)
Chios: From 3316 to 3678 (+362)
Samos: From 1351 to 1582 (+231)
Kos: From 1531 to 1863 (+332)
Total: From 12.515 to 14.053 (+1538)"

RefuComm communication and information for refugees: RELOCATION IMPORTANT CHANGES: Greece, Italy: Main change:

"The countries that were eligible for relocation before this report were: Syria, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Seychelles, Dominica, Bahrain, Laos, and Saudi Arabia. According to the latest quarterly report (Quarter 2 2016) published by Eurostat on 22 September, the nationalities eligible for relocation as from now are Syria, Eritrea, Burundi, Mozambique, Bahrain, Bhutan, Qatar, and Yemen.

The nationalities, which met the 75% eligibility threshold according to the Eurostat data from quarter 1 of 2016, that do not meet this threshold anymore, are Central African Republic, Seychelles, Dominica, Laos and Saudi Arabia.

Although Iraqis are no longer eligible for relocation, this does not affect those Iraqis already identified as persons in possible need for international protection (thus, those preregistered can still be relocated). This would also apply to applicants belonging to the other nationalities that are no longer eligible for relocation."

People at Samos needs your help

During September, over 400 new arrivals were registered in Samos. Volunteers are expecting that the number could increase during October. Among new arrivals, are many children, as well as disabled people. If you can help, please consider donating to Samos Volunteers Gofundme.

No Border Kitchen Lesvos is back, up and running again. After being evicted from Tsamakia Beach it took some time to reorganize but now they have a new place. Unfortunately, due to the eviction volunteers and equipment have been lost. Therefore No Borders Kitchen Lesvos urgently needs new volunteers and also financial support.

Refugee crisis: 600 children have died crossing Mediterranean in 2016 (Independent, link)

"Figures not normally broken down by age, but new Save The Children analysis shows scale of crisis for young people fleeing conflict

At least 600 children have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean sea in a bid to escape war, poverty and persecution, Save the Children has said.

Data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and newly-analysed by the charity, highlights two children a day on average have died or disappeared between January 1 and September 26 2016.

The figures have been released by Save the Children to coincide with the third anniversary of a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, in which more than 300 people were killed trying to reach Europe's shores."

Greece: Reports that police harassed refugee kids to be probed (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A prosecutor has ordered a preliminary investigation into reports that five refugee children were harassed by officers at a police station in Omonia Square in the center of Athens last Tuesday.

According to reports, the five minors, aged between 9 and 14, were stopped in the street by officers and taken to the local precinct because they were carrying bags containing plastic guns and costumes for a theatrical show."

Vulnerable refugees to be moved from 'squalid' camps on Greek islands (Guardian, link):

"Unaccompanied minors, the elderly and infirm will be moved to mainland Greece, says government, in response to concerns about worsening conditions."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-2.10.16)
USING THE ISLANDS AS HOLDING CENTRES: Greece: Minister admits gov't struggling to tackle migration (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities face a range of problems in dealing with the refugee crisis, Immigration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas admitted in comments to Parliament on Friday while calling on opposition parties to back the government’s efforts to tackle the crisis.

“It is true that we overburdened certain municipalities,” Mouzalas said, conceding that northern Greece has borne a large share of the burden.... “Islanders are struggling to deal with overpopulation,” he said, referring to thousands of migrants in crowded camps.

Responding to the calls of mayors on the islands for migrants to be transferred to the mainland, Mouzalas said only unaccompanied minors and people who are protected from deportation will be transferred to the mainland.

Transferring all migrants to the mainland could undermine a deal between the European Union and Turkey to curb human smuggling in the Aegean."

Are You Syrious (1.10.16, link)

Arrivals of boat refugees to Greece continues

Lesvos: 21, Chios: 103, Samos: 29: Total: 153 and 3 voluntary returns

Reports that police harassed refugee kids in Athens to be probed

"A prosecutor has ordered a preliminary investigation into reports that five refugee children were harassed by officers at a police station in Omonia Square in the center of Athens last Tuesday.

According to reports, the five minors, aged between 9 and 14, were stopped in the street by officers and taken to the local precinct because they were carrying bags containing plastic guns and costumes for a theatrical show.

They were detained for seven hours, during which time the children said they were subjected to sexual innuendos, racist comments and other humiliating treatment. The minors also said that during their detention they shared a cell with drug addicts and other criminals, and did not have access to drinking water."

Calais closure confirmed, volunteers and refugees protest the demolitions, only to be met by police violence

"The Calais camp in France is home to 9,000 of the Europe’s most vulenrable refugees. A week ago, French President Francois Hollande has confirmed plans to close this camp, with but a fleeting idea of where these people will go after the camp closes....

Police was allowed to prevent volunteers from coming to Calais as protesting about anything concerning the refugees was forbidden on Thursday by the prefect, thus denying volunteers and refugees two important human rights: to move and to protest.... The demonstrators were met by police water cannons, flash balls, pepper spray and teargas. The police blocked the demonstration and repeat the well used refrain “Go back to the jungle”; the jungle the Europe itself created."

See also: French police fire tear gas at pro-migrant protesters in Calais (Daily Sabah, link)

Italian police clear out Via Cupa migrant camp in Rome (DW, link):

"Activists have criticized Rome's city council for not providing alternative housing for migrants displaced after police cleared a camp in the Italian capital. Italy is on the front line for irregular migration to the EU."

FRANCE: In Calais, a rising wall reinforces fears of fortress Europe (DW, link):

"A planned wall near the French port of Calais aims to deter migrants from ambushing trucks bound for Britain, but many see the construction as a darker symbol of Europe's rising barriers against asylum seekers. "

GERMANY-GREECE: De Maiziere urges Athens to implement Dublin rules (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Germany Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has repeated his call for Greece to implement the so-called Dublin regulations, which state that migrants must seek asylum in the European Union member-state they first arrived in.

Due to deficiencies in Greece’s asylum processing system and the large number of migrants and refugees arriving in the country, Berlin has suspended deportations back to Greece since 2011....

“That is why I would like to see the Dublin Convention implemented again,” he said."

Are You Syrious (30.9.16):

CROATIA: Increase of returns from Austria according to Dublin, no one mentions new accommodation facilities

"Forced returns of refugees from the other EU countries, mainly from Austria, are undergoing according to Dublin regulations. Groups of refugees are being returned on daily basis now, many without the opportunity to pack and bring their belongings with them, leaving them feeling even more humiliated and afraid. Both Porin centre in Zagreb and the refugee centre in Kutina have reached their capacities, but the government is still not mentioning the opening of any additional facilities to accommodate returning refugees. This need to be addressed because the current facilities can barely accommodate few hundreds of returning refugees, and Croatia has already received requests to receive around 3,500 returning refugees according to Dublin."

ITALY: Refugees, volunteers evicted from Baobab centre

"Today, police has sent away all Baobab Experience volunteers from via Cupa in Rome and entered the Civico 1 building, which was abandoned and squatted since December. The reason given by the commissioner Tronca for the closure of the old Baobab centre is that the authorities want to give back the property to the legal owner. The refugees are now left on the streets. According to volunteer sources, some have been taken to the police headquarters for questioning. Police was taking down donated tents and food today. There’s still no alternative location to host ex residents of via Cupa, so our friends from Baobab are inviting all of the available people to join them in via Cupa and help protesting and stopping the eviction."

Protests, public appeals following arrests and mistreatment of refugee children in Athens

"A protest was held in Athens today, in the wake of appalling mistreatment of the children’s theatre group from Jasmine school, who were arrested, stripped down, humiliated and detained for 7 hours after being intercepted on their way to a theatre play, wearing military costumes and toy guns. The incident occurred three days ago, on Tuesday 27 September. The children were stopped and searched by four police officers on motorbikes, who called more officers for support, before being taken to Omonoia police station. Following the arrest, 5 children aged between 12 and 14, and two young refugees aged 20 and 22, were reportedly forced to strip off their clothes and walk around the small room in circles, and those who refused to remove their underwear were beaten and verbally assaulted by the police officers."

See also: Greece: Syrian refugee children detained for carrying toy guns allegedly ill-treated by police (AI, link)

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


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