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Statewatch Observatory (October - December 2015)
EU refugee crisis - a humanitarian emergency
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This Observatory covers the arrival of refugee 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"

Jan - Sep 2015 and See current Observatory

December 2015

Thoughts from the Borderlands (link):

"Against this tragic backcloth, in contrast, a new internationale of activists and volunteers, of new and old non-governmental organisations has responded to attempt to meet the needs of those in distress, in acute need and despair. Activists locally, in every place where refugees and migrants arrive and are held back, supported by volunteers from across the world, with specialist life-saving expertise and with none except a desire to help, on the front line for months on end or a few days, raising funds, collectivising and collaborating to try to plug the gaps of state failures.

Volunteers and refugees alike have been obstructed, assaulted, threatened with prosecution and derided by the very authorities whose inertia has caused this emergency humanitarian response.

It only serves to underline the deliberate antipathy towards the needs of refugees that everywhere, from Lesbos to Calais, it is paramilitary policing that is deployed, riot shields, batons, tear gas and rubber bullets, razor wire and detention, the destruction not building of shelters, to control not to assist, to abuse not to assuage, to inculcate fear, not to foster a sense of safety."

UPDATE: President Michael D Higgins signs asylum Bill into law - President decides not to refer Bill to Supreme Court after convening the Council of State (Irish Times, link):

IRELAND: Council of State convenes over International Protection Bill (RTE, link):

"President Michael D. Higgins has said he will take a decision within the next 24 hours on whether to refer the International Protection Bill to the Supreme Court or sign it into law.... After consulting with the council, the president must decide whether to sign the International Protection Bill into law or, if he believes it is "repugnant" to the Constitution, refer it to the Supreme Court.

The Council of State advises the president and is made up of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the High Court and the Attorney General. All surviving former taoisigh, presidents and chief justices are also members, along with seven of the president's own nominees. It is only the second time that the president has convened such a meeting, under Article 26 of the Constitution; the previous occasion was the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.....

the International Protection Bill, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the overhauling of the asylum application system would enable officers to efficiently grant protection to those who are entitled to it while also identifying, at a much earlier stage, people who have no entitlement to stay in the State"

European Association for the Defense of Human Rights (AEDH): Migrant rights are not for sale! (pdf)

"8.6 billion euros! This is the sum the European Union has committed to spending to keep migrants as far as possible from its borders.

5 billion euros so that 4.4 million Syrians – whose need for international protection cannot be denied – remain in Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, instead of being welcomed in Europe.

3.6 billion euros so that Africans, from Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria, Niger and others; Kosovars; Afghans and Turks encounter obstacles blocking their path to Europe, holding them in detention and even sending them back to the countries from where they fled violence. So that third, or “partner” countries turn them back, deport them and sometimes even arrest migrants that the European Union does not want to allow inside its borders.

8.6 billion euros so that the EU can keep its hands clean, sparing European feelings from seeing migrants die before arriving on their shores."

News (28-30.12.15)

Greece: At least 3,000 refugees arrive at Piraeus port on Wednesday (30 December): (ANA-mpa, link)

Denmark defends plan to strip refugee valuables (The Local.de, link): "The Danish government on Friday defended plans for police to search asylum seekers' luggage for valuables and cash after they prompted international outrage and drew comparisons to Nazi Germany... The plans have sparked international outrage, especially in the US, where the Washington Post on Thursday noted that confiscating jewellery from refugees had "a particularly bitter connotation in Europe" where the Nazis seized gold and valuables from Jews and others during the Second World War.."

Sweden-Denmark border rail fence completed (The Local, dk, link): "The fence at Copenhagen’s Kastrup station has been completed as preparations continue for the introduction of ID checks between Denmark and Sweden on January 4th." and Norway to turn back asylum seekers at border (The Local.no, link): "Norway said Tuesday it would start turning back refugees without visas arriving from elsewhere in the passport-free Schengen zone, particularly Sweden. The move is part of a draft law containing a series of immigration measures that the Oslo government says will make its asylum policy "one of Europe's toughest". The conservative minority last month gathered enough parliamentary support from the centre and labour parties to adopt the measures."

Migrant crisis: Over one million reach Europe by sea (BBC News, link): "More than one million refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea since the start of 2015, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says.More than 80% of the 1,000,573 people arrived in Greece, with the majority landing on Lesbos island, it said... The migrant crisis is Europe's worst since World War Two.". Comment: It is a refugee crisis which the EU has handled abysmally

Refugees: Austria sends hundreds of refugees back to Slovenia (DW, link): "Over 400 refugees trying to cross the border from Slovenia to Austria have been turned back by Austrian police. The migrants had apparently lied about their nationality to be granted entry.... According to Slovenian news agency STA, Austrian border patrols sent back 413 refugees since Saturday. But Slovenia's deputy Interior Minister Bostjan Sefic said on Tuesday that since then, around half of those had been granted entry into Austria,"

Migrant crisis: Over one million reach Europe by sea (BBC News, link)

Frontex sends 300 guards in migrant mission to Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "EU border agency Frontex said Tuesday it had started to deploy 293 officers and 15 vessels on Greek islands to help Athens cope with the massive influx of migrants to its shores. The guards "will assist in identifying and fingerprinting of arriving migrants, along with interpreters and forged document experts," Frontex said in a statement. "The number of border guards deployed will gradually increase to over 400 officers as well as additional vessels, vehicles and other technical equipment," it added."

Group demands removal of border fence (english.sta.si, link): "Ljubljana, 29 December - A group representing the interests of the southern region of Bela krajina has demanded of the government to remove the wire fence on the border with Croatia. The Bela Krajina Society said in Tuesday's protest that the fence was devastating for the local economy, environment and local society."

Greece: Migrant arrivals rise more than tenfold in a year (ekathimerini.com, link):"Over 800,000 refugees and migrants entered Greece between the start of the year and the end of November, with the number of arrivals increasing more than tenfold compared to last year’s total of 72,632, data published by the Greek Police showed Monday. The number tallies with figures from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which puts total arrivals in Greece from January 1 to December 24 at 836,672."

Fear and few answers as Turkish police round up Syrian refugees (Reuters, link): "Aid organizations and rights group Amnesty International say Turkish authorities are rounding up scores, maybe hundreds, of Syrian migrants off the streets, sometimes targeting beggars, and sending them to detention centers. The process has resulted in the deportation of some back to Syria against their will, they say. In a report this month, Amnesty said it had interviewed 50 refugee families who had been detained. It said more than 100 had been deported."

Two dead as migrants storm Spain's African border at Ceuta (The Local.es, link): "Hundreds of African migrants stormed the border between Morocco and the Spanish territory of Ceuta on Friday, and two migrants drowned and 12 others were hospitalized, officials in both nations said."

Bavaria demands control of own borders (The Local.de, link): "The conservative state government in Bavaria has called on Berlin to allow the Free State's own police to secure its border with Austria, saying that federal officers are overwhelmed."

Danish PM seeks change to UN asylum pact (The Local.dk, link): "Denmark's centre-right prime minister on Sunday said he would seek a revision of the UN Refugee Convention, as Europe faces its worst migration crisis since World War II"

Turkey Detains 21 Migrants Trying to Enter Bulgaria (.novinite.com, link): "Turkish authorities say they arrested 21 people who were seeking to cross illegally into Bulgaria on Saturday. Another 26 were captured before entereing Greece from Turkey's northwest, Hürriyet Daily News reports" and Turkey captures 978 for illegal cross-border attempts (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Some 978 people have been captured ahead of illegal crossings through Turkish borders, the Turkish General Staff has said. The general staff said in a written statement that 978 people were captured before illegally crossing Turkey’s borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Syria, Iraq and Iran on Dec. 26. Some 697 of them were captured as they attempted to cross into Turkey from Syria."

How Europe reacted to the refugee crisis (ICMPD, link)

Calls for Bundeswehr to reallocate resources from refugee care to NATO missions (DW, link): "The German Armed Forces Association has urged withdrawing thousands of soldiers from refugee care tasks and has called for boosting the number of recruits in the light of increased military obligations."

Question Papadimoulis in the European Council for the Hungarian attitude to the refugee (Athens Times, link)

Germany prices refugee effort at 17 billion euros (DW, link): "Spending on refugees by Germany's 16 states next year could exceed 17 billion euros, according to "Die Welt" newspaper. For the 300,000 children among them, 25,000 extra teachers are needed, reckons the trade union GEW. "

Rescue filmed of stricken migrant boat off Lesbos (BBC video, link) showing volunteer rescue speedboat.

New film to be shot in migrant hotspot Calais (The Local.fr, link): "An award-winning director will soon start work on Happy End, a film which will 'integrate' the migrant crisis affecting the French port into its plot."

German interior ministers alarmed by violence against refugees, rise of right-wing (DW, link):

"Attacks on refugee shelters in Germany continued over the Christmas holiday period. Interior ministers are concerned about the growing number of xenophobic attacks along with the rise of the right-wing Scene.. The number of anti-immigrant attacks has risen sharply this year.

Up until mid-December, the Interior Ministry reported 850 attacks on refugee shelters, more than four times the number recorded in 2014.."

Lesvos, Greece: International Rescue Committee: A warm, safe welcome for refugees landing on Lesbos (link) says: "The International Rescue Committee is preparing to open a reception center in northern Lesbos, often the first stop for thousands of exhausted refugees seeking safety in Europe. Built along the island’s coast, the site – “Windy Ridge” – is just steps from the beach where thousands of refugees from warring countries arrived this year. " [emphasis added]

This is not the view of local civil society volunteers who have been helping refugees the whole year long in Lesvos and who question the building of a camp in "a valley in the middle of nowhere": See: Eric Kempson (link)

and Eric Kempson - Again (link): It is alleged that employees of the International Rescue Committee are telling civil society volunteers - who have been working for months welcoming refugees as they arrive in the EU - to "get off the beach" because they are now in charge.

Flow of migrants to islands continues over Christmas (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Some 6,000 people arrived at the port of Piraeus on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on ferries from Lesvos, Chios and Samos. Nevertheless, thousands of refugees and migrants remained on the islands, Lesvos in particular."

Peter Sutherland: Special representative to the United Nations secretary general for migration: Selfishness on refugees has brought EU ‘to its knees’ - ‘Paralysis and ambivalence’ threatening Europe’s future (Irish Times, link):

"Mr Sutherland accused some heads of government of “stoking up prejudice” by speaking of barring Muslim migrants and said the absence of EU agreement on a refugee-sharing scheme meant a Europe of internal borders was increasingly likely to become a reality across the continent.

“This is a tragedy. Tension between member states is inevitably going to grow because of the great differences among them in their attitudes towards refugees,” he said.

“It is hardly surprising that Germans, who will take about a million refugees this year, and who have promised to take 500,000 annually for the next few years, should be outraged by, for example, the United Kingdom’s paltry offer of 20,000 places over five years - and this by a country that has only resettled 252 Syrian refugees since the conflict began.”"

EU: Frontex Return flights up to 22.12.15 (Statewatch document, pdf)

- Since September 2015, 683 people have been deported in joint Frontex flights from 18 Member States. This consisted of 16 flights to six destinations: Albania, Armenia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kosovo and Georgia.

- According to the total number of people returned by Member State, Germany and Italy ranked highest for returning the most between September and December 2015. This is followed by Greece, Austria and Spain.

News (26-27.12.15)

German finance minister critical of Greece over refugee policy ((ekathimerini.com, link):: "Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble criticized Greece on Sunday over the way it deals with refugees, saying Athens has ignored for years the European Union’s Dublin rules that oblige migrants to file for asylum in the first European Union (EU) country they arrive in.... The biggest migration crisis in Europe since World War Two also means that European countries will have to increase spending on the military, he said."We will have to spend a lot more funds for joint European defence initiatives," Mr Schaeuble said. "Ultimately our aim must be a joint European army. The funds that we spend on our 28 national armies could be used far more effectively together," he said."

Protesters attack Corsica Muslim prayer hall (DW, link): "Demonstrators ransacked the building and set fire to copies of the Quran, hours after hooded youths clashed with police in the capital Ajaccio. The French government has condemned the attacks."

Greece: Changes in a treaty cannot hide behind changes in rules, says Kotzias on Frontex operation (ANAmpa, link): "A change in a treaty cannot be hidden behind a change of rules, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in an interview to Greek paper Agora, commenting the rules that will govern the operation of Frontex."

GREECE: State to try and take over civil society's humanitarian work which has been in place for months and months helping hundreds of thousands of refugees - when International and EU agencies have been conspicuous by their absence: Refugee NGOs on islands to be coordinated (ekathimerini.com, link): "A special committee will be formed under the General Secretariat for the Aegean to coordinate dozens of nongovernmental organizations on the Greek islands receiving the biggest inflows of refugees and migrants, Kathimerini has learned."

The months of inaction by the EU is summed up in this Cartoon (thanks to No Borders, pdf)

and see: In eastern Europe, volunteers step up for refugees (DW, link): "Volunteers connected through social media have come to the aid of people seeking asylum in eastern Europe, where governments have failed. Peter Georgiev reports from Sofia.... Quickly volunteers came together in an informal Facebook group, called "Friends of the refugees," to provide the support asylum-seekers needed. Journalist Maria Cheresheva was one of the initiators. Along with colleagues, she had taken to the streets of Sofia to collect donations for migrants. Hundreds of volunteers formed a chain to contribute food, water, clothing and other supplies, which were later transported to the refugee camp in Pastrogor."

and Susan Sarandon welcomes refugees in Lesbos (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "Sarandon told ANA-MPA, a Greek news agency, that she will assist volunteers and non-governmental organizations in welcoming the refugees to the island. “The international community must see what is happening in this corner of the world,” she told ANA-MPA. “It must realize the size of the problem and understand it. These people should stop being ‘somebody else’ and must become the refugees that we must stand by.”

Greece: Refugee Crisis: Lesvos is Filling Up With Migrants; Frontex Staff on Holiday (Greek Reporter, link):

Today hundreds of North African immigrants in Lesvos are being registered. In the middle of last week it was decided that immigrants such as these should not be granted the monthly permit which allows them to stay in Greece until their departure.

Thousands of migrants and refugees are arriving on the islands of the northern Aegean from the Asia Minor coasts, specifically Turkey. Up until this morning the hotspot in Moria recorded around 3,000 people while other migrants were found in many places around the center waiting to be registered. About 1,000 Syrians have been temporarily sent to the camp of Kara Tepe having been given a note that specifies that they will be registered on Christmas.

The situation at the recording and certification sites in Moria is very difficult because a great majority of Frontex’s staff has left for Christmas holidays." [emphasis added]

European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 23 December 2015 (Dated 23 December, 2015, pdf)

Comment on current situation: Very, very little has changed since early November.

Changes between 8.12.15 and 23.12.15 are noted below.

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism as of 22 December 2015) (pdf): Now 17 Member States (up three) with 4,207 places offered - up 380 - out of 160,000 needed.

- Returns updated on 22 December 2015 since September (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 683 - up 25 since 8 December, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as two weeks ago.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Now: Frontex: now 131 officers up 17 (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams - althougth it appears from reports that quite a few are away for a Xmas break - Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hotspots" are planned but only two - Lampedusa and Lesvos - are operational.

- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million
(Communicated as of 23 December 2015)
(pdf) a very slight fall in total funding gap.

- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 22 December 2015) (pdf) Still many unmet needs.

22.12.15: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 22 December 2015 (pdf)
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 21 December 2015 (pdf)
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 17 December 2015 (pdf)
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 11 December 2015 (pdf)

GREECE: 'Why did you annoy them?' Coastguard officials acquitted of torture convictions - Moroccan says he was subjected to waterboarding in 2007 (enetenglish.gr, link):

"Calling for the sentences to be squashed, the prosecutor claimed that no torture could have taken place as there was no evidence that the coastguard officers had received training in torture methods Two coastguard officials who were convicted last year of torturing a Moroccan asylum seeker on the island of Chios in 2007 were acquitted by an Athens appeals court last week.

Calling for the coastguards' sentences to be squashed, the state prosecutor claimed, among others, that no torture could have taken place as there was no evidence that the officers had received training in torture methods".

News (24.12.15)

20/12: Alarm Phone alerted to 13 distress cases in the Aegean (Watch the Med, link): " Alarm Phone alerted to 13 distress cases in the Aegean, near Lesvos, Rhodes, Pasas, Samos, Leros, Pitta, and Oinousses?"

German police investigate anti-foreigner motive in Bavaria fire (DW, link): "Nearly 12 people have been injured after fire broke out almost simultaneously in two houses in the Bavarian town of Wallerstein. Police have arrested one suspect and not ruled out an anti-immigrant motive."

Failure to act on Hungary carries risk of contagion says EP (Budapest Beacon, link): "The European Parliament adopted a resolution Wednesday calling on the European Commission “to initiate immediately an in-depth monitoring process concerning the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary”, within the “rule of law framework.” The “rule of law framework” is a Commission tool designed to address emerging systemic threats to the rule of law in an EU member state. The resolution adopted Wednesday was passed by 327 votes to 293, with 61 abstentions." See: Strasbourg, 11 March 2014: European Commission presents a framework to safeguard the rule of law in the European Union (pdf)

Council of Europe: Helping refugees in the Mediterranean: Greek association “Agkalia” awarded Raoul Wallenberg Prize (pdf):

"The jury of the Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize has awarded the 2016 Prize to Agkalia, a Greek association on the island of Lesvos, for outstanding achievements in providing frontline assistance to thousands of refugees irrespective of their origin and religion.

As Lesvos has become a European gateway for refugees, Agkalia has been providing temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid to people in need, assisting some 17,000 refugees and migrants since May 2015. Through its work to assist refugees, Agkalia also promotes tolerance and human rights"

EU: A PERMANENT MECHANISM for the CRISIS RELOCATION of REFUGEES? Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 14951-15, pdf) EU governments are a long way from agreeing the Council's position on this Regulation:

"The delegations having general or scrutiny reservations reiterated their positions and underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation.

The following delegations entered or confirmed their general scrutiny reservations: AT, BE, BG, DE, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI.

CZ, ES, HU, LT, PL and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU has also a parliamentary scrutiny reservation"

This has been deleted: "A comprehensive evaluation of the Dublin Regulation is currently being conducted by the Commission that could lead to a wider revision of the Dublin system."

Irregular Migrant, Refugee Arrivals in Europe Top One Million in 2015: IOM (link)

News (22-23.12.15)

Austria accused of 'stupidity' in crisis (The Local.at, link): "Hungary has accused Austria of confusing "solidarity and stupidity" after Vienna said that nations which do not accept their share of refugees under European Union quotas should face sanctions....

Police union slams plan to strip refugee jewellery (The Local.dk, link): "Denmark's Minister for Integration has hit back at police criticism of the government's highly controversial proposal to confiscate valuable items from refugees by saying "most people" can judge the value of jewellery."

German 'welcoming culture' still strong: poll (The Local.de, link): "A new survey conducted by the Protestant church shows that Germans’ willingness to help refugees remains steadfast, despite concerns the country will struggle to cope with the large influx."

Turkish envoy to Greece calls for cooperation (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece and Turkey need to work closely on tackling migratory flows because they are “both victims of the refugee crisis,” the Turkish ambassador in Athens, Kerim Uras, told Greek journalists on Wednesday."

Hungary urged to halt campaign portraying refugees and migrants as ‘invaders’ – UN agency and partners (UN news Centre, link): "The United Nations refugee agency, together with two European partners, urged Hungary today to refrain from policies and practices that promote intolerance, fear and fuel xenophobia against refugees and migrants, including a campaign running through Christmas and into the New Year.The organizations – The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Council of Europe and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – “have joined voices to call on the Hungarian leadership to adopt the true spirit of humanity in helping those who have been forced out of their countries against their own will and choice and are currently seeking safety in Europe,” according to a joint press release. " and Refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 top unprecedented one million – UN (link)

Thirteen migrants drown off Farmakonisi (ekathimerini.com, link): "Seven children, two women and four men drowned when their boat sank off the small Aegean island of Farmakonisi, Greek coastguard officials said early Wednesday."

Czech Prime Minister chastises Merkel over refugee crisis (DW, link):"Bohuslav Sobotka has said Merkel's policies are partly to blame for the refugee crisis. He also reiterated the Czech Republic's commitment to helping the EU mitigate the crisis."

Global migration chief 'disturbed' at dangers of xenophobia (Reuters, link): "The anti-migrant sentiment taking hold in a slew of nations facing an influx of refugees is disturbing, dangerous and puts people's lives at risk, said the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Concern and suspicion about migrants is based on stereotypes, fear of national identity loss and a "post-9/11 security syndrome," said William Lacy Swing, director general of the Geneva-based "intergovernmental IOM.

Refugee and migrant arrivals in EU pass 1 million in 2015: IOM (Reuters, link): "The number of refugees and migrants arriving by land an sea in six European Union countries -- Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus -- has passed 1 million this year, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday. Out of a total of 1,005,504 arrivals by Dec. 21, the vast majority -- 816,752 -- arrived by sea in Greece, IOM said."

One million migrants and refugees have reached Europe this year – IOM (Guardian, link): "International Organisation for Migration announces latest figures, with Greek island of Lesbos now the main refugee gateway.... The European migration flow is nevertheless far more manageable than in the Middle East, where roughly 2.2 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey alone. In Lebanon, the 1.1 million Syrians form about one-fifth of the country’s total population, while Jordan’s 633,000 registered Syrian refugees make up around a tenth of the total.

The denial of basic rights to refugees in those countries, where almost all Syrians do not have the right to work, is one of the causes of Europe’s migration crisis. Refugees who have lived for several years in legal limbo are now coming to Europe to claim the rights bestowed on them by the 1951 UN refugee convention. Over 15 boats arrived on Lesbos on Monday. Across the Greek islands, the average number of refugees arriving each day in December is 3,338, lower than the October peak of 6,828, but far higher than July’s 1,771."

Sweden to halt some passenger rail services to Denmark over identity checks (DW, link): "Sweden's railway operator SJ is to halt some passenger services to and from Denmark, blaming the refugee crisis. From January, transport companies will be fined if they carry passengers without identity papers."

Over 2,000 refugees arrive at Piraeus port on Tuesday (ANAMPA, link): "A large number of refugees arrived on Tuesday at Piraeus port. The ferry Nissos Rhodos carried 1,075 refugees for the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos and the ferry Blue Star brought 944 refugees from Lesvos and Chios."

Migrants not able to find room in Athens camps (ekathimerini.com. link): "Athens is struggling to cope with the influx of migrants who are unable to leave Greece as the two camps which can house them are full, according to authorities..... Some 4,000 refugees and migrants reached Piraeus on Monday from the islands of Chios and Lesvos.."

Danish plan to seize refugees' jewellery prompts controversy (euobserver, link): "The proposed measure was likened to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews in the second world war and has prompted an MEP to quit the ruling party. .... normally watches and mobile phones should not be seized, but cash above 3,000 Danish kroner (€436) and jewels can be confiscated. The proposed bill allows police to search the clothes and luggage of asylum seekers - and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark - with a view to finding assets. If a migrant choses to withdraw the application for asylum, the valuables should be returned. If the asylum seeker becomes well-to-do after international protection was granted, the new valuables can also be seized...."

EU and Swiss still at odds on migrant quotas (euobserver, link): "The EU and Switzerland remain split on a Swiss plan to stem the number of migrants from member states. EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels on Monday (21 December) that the two sides are still looking for a solution after Switzerland voted to impose migrant quotas in a referendum in 2014."

Swedish cruise ship to house 1,260 refugees (The Local.se, link)

Migration: Global Report on Journalism's Biggest Test in 2015: Press release (link):

"An international report on media and the global migration and refugee crisis, issued today to coincide with International Migrants Day (December 18), says journalists often fail to tell the full story and routinely fall into propaganda traps laid by politicians.

The report, Moving Stories, is published by the Ethical Journalism Network and reviews media coverage of migration in the European Union and in 14 countries across the globe.

“Around the world media coverage is often politically led with journalists following an agenda dominated by loose language and talk of invasion and swarms,” said Aidan White, EJN Director. “But at other moments the story is laced with humanity, empathy and a focus on the suffering of those involved.”

From the Ethical Journalism Network: Full report (link) includes:

The View from Brussels: Missed opportunities to call the European Union to account by Tony Bunyan.
Bulgaria - A study in media Sensationalism by Rossen Bossev and Maria Cheresehva
Italy - A charter for tolerant journalism: Media take centre stage in the Mediterranean drama by Yasha Maccanico
United Kingdom - How journalism plays follow-my-leader in the rhetoric of negativity by Zak Suffee.

See: Moving Stories: International Review of How Media Cover Migration (Huffington Post, link)

Red Cross EU: Migration to the EU: a perilous and difficult journey (Press release, link) and Recommendations from the National Red Cross Societies in the European Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (pdf)

"This position paper proposes concrete steps that can be taken by the EU and its Member States to reduce risks along migratory routes and address some of the increasing vulnerabilities stemming from these perils. Some of the key dangers faced by migrants along migratory routes to Europe are analysed in the Red Cross EU Office (RCEU) publication Perilous journeys(2). These include: limited access to rights and services; arbitrary arrests and detention; violence and human trafficking; family separation and the loss of family links; as well as increasingly dangerous journeys to reach and cross the EU’s external borders."

European Parliament: MEPs voice concerns over detention and reception conditions for asylum seekers (pdf)

"No-one should ever be detained for the sole reason that he or she is an asylum seeker, said speakers in a debate on Wednesday evening. To apply for asylum is a basic human right, and detention can only be used as a measure of last resort, they insisted. Several MEPs criticised declarations by European Council President
Donald Tusk about detaining migrants for up to 18 months in order to “screen” them. Other MEPs argued that such decisions are better taken at national level....

EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said that "all aspects of the asylum legislation" must be respected. Asylum seekers may only be detained "in full compliance with these rules", he insisted, stressing the need to properly transpose EU asylum rules into national law and implement them."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "Under the EU's so-called "hotspots" policy refugees are subjected to "nationality screening" to determine whether they should be considered for reloaction in the EU or returned (voluntarily or forcibly). Commissioner Avramopoulos seems to be unaware of the statement issued by the head of the UN Ban Ki-moon that the screening "asylum seekers on the basis of their alleged nationality infringes the human right of all people to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard.""

MIgreurop: 18 December 2015: Calais Declaration: We must refuse the encampment of foreign citizens and the closure of borders (pdf) and French (pdf):

"The situation which Calais has experienced for nearly 20 years (the Sangatte camp “closed” in 2002 had opened in 1999) is symptomatic of the policies which the European Union has been advocating with blind persistence: hence, the planned “hotspots” and “processing centres” will unfailingly translate, if they are effectively implemented, into the creation of immense detention centres in Italy and in Greece, but also in Niger and Turkey. «Encampment», as far away as possible from the glances of civil societies, is the final objective of the European Union’s migration policies: by relentlessly sorting migrants, it thus goes so far as to violate the most basic human rights and to cause the death of numerous third-country nationals.

The Migreurop network deems it important to solemnly reaffirm that respect for rights and human dignity requires the cessation of all forms of detention and ghettoisation of the people exercising their right to leave their countries. Necessary steps towards dignified reception conditions, in the Calais region and beyond, include repealing the Dublin Regulation and any form of border controls (like those promoted by the Le Touquet treaty) introduced for the purpose of transforming them into enclosures, rather than legal and protected points of passage."

Dead and missing migrants en route to Greek islands 2015 (iomgmdac.org, link): "The map shows the estimated number of migrants who have died or gone missing en route to the Greek islands between Jan - Nov 2015. Click on an island to show historic data specific to that route. Click again to deselect it and show the year to date total for the Aegean Sea."

Yesterday I met a guy that broke my heart to pieces.[Facebook, link] He had to sell his kidney to make this trip to safety and upon arriving on the shore of Greece he has no money to continue onwards. Imagine having to sell your kidney to find safety. It's 2015, Why is this happening? Why are WE allowing this to happen in OUR lifetime?

This is the man who came to cook for refugees and now even has his own visa run out and has to leave, he is heartbroken like so many of us...

IOM: EU Migrant, Refugee Arrivals by Land and Sea Approach One Million in 2015 (link): 956,456 arrivals in the EU this year: 801,919 to greece, 150,317 to Italy. 3,695 dead/missing (18 December 2015)

Global Detention Project & Access Info Europe: The Uncounted: Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Europe (link):

"There is no requirement within the European Union for Member States to gather data on the number of migrants detained nor for EU bodies such as Eurostat to gather such data."

News (20-21.12.15)

EU: Schulz at the EU summit: "It is easy to blame Europe or Schengen for security failures in our Member States" (European Parliament, link): ""It is easy to blame Europe or Schengen for security failures in our Member States, and wave the illusion that retreating behind national borders somehow immunises against - often home-grown - terrorists", said the EP President Schulz in his opening speech before the European Council of 17-18 December dedicated to pressing issues, such as migration, counter terrorism and the British referendum. "If we want to preserve our freedom of movement, then we must act fast and decisively.""

Germany reports doubling of deportation numbers 2015 (DW, link): "More than 18,000 rejected asylum seekers have been sent back to their home countries from Germany this year. The interior ministry reports that the numbers have nearly doubled since last year. "

Germany and Austria mull new EU asylum rules (euobserver, link): "Altmaier said asylum application decisions, under the new plans, would also take place at hotspots. "Those who get a positive decision will then be distributed around EU countries according to a formula and the actual asylum application will then be carried out in those countries," he said.... "We cannot pretend that all refugees actually have grounds for asylum," he told Austrian daily Oesterreich over the weekend."

European nations' refugee policy leaves thousands of migrants stranded in Greece (Los Angeles Times, link): "The policy is aimed at easing the massive influx of refugees into Europe, but it has thrust thousands of migrants from troubled countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia into an uncertain limbo. Critics say the policy is discriminatory..."

European migration nears 1 million mark, IOM says (DW, link): "More than 990,000 migrants have entered Europe and the number is expected to reach 1 million in the coming days, the International Organization for Migration has said. EU's Frontex border agency is beefing up its forces."

Greece: Government mulls Plan B for returning migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "A key issue dogging the government is the fate of north-bound migrants who are turned back on the border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) because they are not considered refugees. Speaking to Kathimerini, an official that did not wish to be named said that non-Syrians, Iraqis or Eritreans who received permission to stay in Greece for 30 days after arriving at one of the Aegean islands will after the deadline be considered illegal unless they have submitted an asylum or repatriation claim. “Officially, these people cannot be accommodated in one of the ‘open’ facilities,” the official said."

Refugee crisis: Germany warns of legal action against EU countries ignoring quota (Guardian, link): "Foreign minister warns Slovakia and Hungary that ‘solidarity is not a one way street’ and legal channels could be used to ensure refugee quotas are upheld" and see: Refugee crisis warnings to eastern EU nations from Germany, Austria (DW, link) "Eastern EU nations that refuse to accept refugees risk funding cuts and legal sanctions, according to two German cabinet ministers. Chancellery chief Peter Altmaier added that no nation can ignore globalized migration."

Danish MEP quits party over asylum policies (euobserver, link): "A European lawmaker for Denmark's ruling right-wing Venstre party said Saturday he was leaving the party over its controversial asylum policies, which include plans for police to search asylum seekers' luggage for valuables to help pay for their stay. MEP Jens Rohde is joining the centrist Danish Social Liberal Party."

DENMARK: New integration rules will leave refugees hungry, says report (The Copenhagen Post, link): "The integration allowance negotiated in July by Dansk Folkeparti, Liberal Alliance and Konservative for 20,000 refugee adults and children will have them living below the poverty level, unable in most cases to afford three meals a day."

DENMARK: Sharp increase in numbers charged with passport fraud at Copenhagen Airport (The Copenhagen Post, link): "The number of foreigners attempting to pass through Copenhagen Airport charged with passport fraud has more than tripled in the past five years from 74 in 2010 to 255 last year, Metroxpress reports."

EU: Refugee crisis warnings to eastern EU nations from Germany, Austria (Deutsche Welle, link): "Eastern EU nations that refuse to accept refugees risk funding cuts and legal sanctions, according to two German cabinet ministers. Chancellery chief Peter Altmaier added that no nation can ignore globalized migration."

Germany to introduce individual checks for Syrian refugees (Deutsche Welle, link): "The German Interior Ministry confirmed it would return to case-by-case reviews for Syrian migrants entering the country. This comes after media reported that the IS had stolen thousands of Syrian passports."

GERMANY: Asylum deportations set to double in 2015 (The Local, link): "Almost twice as many people have been deported from Germany in 2015 so far after having their asylum applications rejected compared with the previous year."

Germany's BAMF showcases fast asylum center (Deutsche Welle, link): "The head of Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), Frank-Jürgen Weise, said on Friday that asylum applications of "little complexity" because they involved individuals from Balkan nations deemed "safe" would be decided "within 48 hours" under fast-track procedures."

ITALY: Eritrean migrant dies in Italy hospital escape bid (The Local, link): "An Eritrean man who survived a perilous journey across the Mediterranean by boat to Italy has died after falling from a hospital window in a night-time escape bid, Italian media reported on Saturday."

HUNGARY: Council of Europe and UNHCR urge Hungary to change tone over refugees (Council of Europe, link): "UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency, the Council of Europe and ODHIR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) have urged Hungary to refrain from policies and practices that promote intolerance, fear and fuel xenophobia against refugees and migrants."

SCOTLAND: Syrian refugees in Scotland: cold weather but warm welcome (The Guardian, link): "Traumatised arrivals are given help with language and cultural issues, as well as hot water bottles and umbrellas"

Syrian refugee Ameer Mehtr swims for 7 hours to start new life in Europe (The Independent, link): "A desperate Syrian refugee has revealed how he braved massive waves and deadly currents to swim for seven hours to reach Greece from Turkey."

Turkey: No change in visa-regime with Syria, ‘open door policy’ goes on (Hurriyet, link): "Turkish officials have strictly ruled out reports suggesting that the country would start imposing visa requirements on Syrians trying to enter the country, underlining that Turkey “open-door policy” for Syrians is still valid."

Greek minister: New EU border force should assume full control of refugees (euractiv, link):

"The new European Border and Coast Guard Agency should be responsible for the full management of refugee and migration flows, while respecting the national sovereignty of the countries in which it operates,... So we want this new body to participate in returns, relocation, and resettlement. It must take the responsibility for the entire management; it cannot only protect the borders..."

UPDATE: EUROSUR Handbook: EU: European Commission: EUROSUR: ANNEX to the COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (pdf):60 pages attached to Recommendation below

COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 15.12.2015 adopting the Practical handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (C-9206-15, pdf): This says: "Member States should transmit the EUROSUR Handbook, annexed to this Recommendation, to their authorities responsible for the surveillance of the external land and sea borders which shall use it as the main tool when implementing Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013."

Eurosur is a surveillance system with drones etc to stop "illegal" migration, See: EU seeks autonomous drones, "data fusion" and "enhanced command and control centres" for border control (Statewatch News Online, November 2015)

Suspend EU-Turkey Action Plan: Turkey: EU risks complicity in violations as refugees and asylum-seekers locked up and deported (AI, link):

"Amnesty International is calling on Turkey to end unlawful detentions and deportations. The EU and Turkey should establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms to review human rights compliance of the EU-Turkey Action Plan and the use of EU funds for migration-related detention purposes. Until these measures are in place, implementation of the Action Plan should be suspended." and see:

Bad weather and Turkey push-backs curb asylum inflows (euobserver, link): "Bad weather appears to be the main factor in the recent drop in asylum seekers coming to Europe, but reports are also emerging of Turkey sending people back to war zones. On Wednesday (16 December), Amnesty International accused Turkish authorities of rounding up asylum seekers and refugees and busing them back to Syria and Iraq in breach of international law. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s director for Europe and Central Asia, in a statement said Turkey is pressuring people against their will to return to places they fled.“We have documented the arbitrary detention of some of the most vulnerable people on Turkish soil," he said. Amnesty says "possibly hundreds" have been returned since the EU signed a €3 billion deal at end of November with Turkey to curb the inflow."

The EU’s Response to the Refugee Crisis - Taking Stock and Setting Policy Priorities (CEPS, link): "What have been the most important EU policy and legal responses to the 2015 refugee crisis? Is Europe acting in compliance with its founding principles? This Essay takes stock of the main results and policy outputs from the EU’s interventions to the refugee crisis. It critically highlights the outstanding policy dilemmas confronting the adopted instruments and
puts forwards a set of policy priorities to guide the next phases of the European Agenda on Migration."

Ska Keller: Border policy spokeswoman of the Greens in the European Parliament: A Green Assessment of the European Commission 's Proposal on A new mandate for Frontex (pdf)

EU: European Council: 17-17 December: European Council meeting (17 and 18 December 2015) – Conclusions: see Migration: pages 1-2 (pdf)

News (17-19.12.15)

Eurojust in Greece to support fight against illegal immigrant smuggling (link): Comment: No-one seems to have told Eurojust there there is no such thing in law as an "illegal" immigrant. Also sets out Eurojust's role in "hotspots"

EU stalls over drive to resettle refugees in Turkey (FT, link)

Turkey told illegal migration must be slashed - Ankara urged to do more by 11 states at mini-summit before European Council. (Politico, link): "A group of 11 EU nations told the Turkish prime minister Thursday that the country must dramatically reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the bloc. “We have to bring down the numbers of illegal border crossings,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told POLITICO after the Thursday morning meeting. “We can only discuss resettlement of refugees from Turkey to the EU if these numbers are close to zero.”"

Eighteen migrants drown after boat sinks off Turkey's southwestern coast (.ekathimerini.com, link): "Eighteen people died and 14 were rescued late on Friday after a boat carrying migrants trying to sail to Greece sank off the southern Turkish town of Bodrum, Dogan News Agency reported. Fishermen hearing the migrants’ screams of migrants alerted the Turkish coast guard, who picked up the bodies from the sea after the wooden boat carrying migrants from Iraq, Pakistan and Syria capsized about 3.5 km off the coast."

Blaming Greece and Italy for the EU's failures: Opinion: Central EU border security is necessary evil (euobserver, link): "Attempts to deal with the problem at the EU border have been hampered by Greece and Italy, who have failed to properly protect their borders. Left alone by the other member states, they have decided to let refugees pass through unregistered. In 2015, only 429,000 out of the 760,000 refugees entering Greece where registered by local authorities, and only 121,000 fingerprinted."

Sweden must be able to say No to refugees (euobserver, link)

Outrage at Danish plan to seize refugees' jewellery (link): "The Danish government has caused outrage with a proposal to seize cash and jewellery from refugees to make them pay for their stay, with international media drawing parallels to Nazi practices" and Denmark wants to seize jewelry and cash from refugees (Washington Post, link)

Turkey, Greece pressed at EU migrant summit (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday pressed Turkey to curb the flow of migrants entering the bloc via Greece and urged Athens to speed up its efforts to accommodate and repatriate migrants...."

Leaders impose June deadline for EU border force (euobserver, link)

International Migrants Day: Let your light shine (euractiv, link): "I see anti-migrant sentiment beginning to seethe. I see political malaise; an absence of courage, a bankruptcy of leadership and a paucity of moral sensitivity. I see a one-sided debate focussing on fear, negativity and security. Where are the smiles of welcome from last summer? Where are the banners in football grounds declaring “Migrants Welcome”? I know they are there, and I know they will be seen again when we gather in cities and towns across the globe with candles of solidarity. The common sense and generosity of ordinary people, of communities made up of migrants and non-migrants, people of all skin colours, politics and faiths – that is what sustains me."

EU: Council of the European Union: Latest version: European Council (17 and 18 Decembre 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13598-15, pdf)

News (16.12.15)

One dead as refugee boat sinks off Turkish coast (newsfultoncounty.com, link)

Merkel: Germany needs to reduce number of refugees (euobserver, link)

Commission seeks mandatory ID checks on all EU nationals (euobserver, link)

Frontex cannot say if Turkey stemmed refugee flow (euractiv, link)

EU: European Commission: 15 December 2015: "Package": Excluding, controlling and returning refugees

Press releases on 15 December 2015 and new measures/reports:

A) A European Border and Coast Guard to protect Europe's External Borders (pdf)
1) EU Borders Guards:
Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (COM 671-15, pdf)

and: ANNEX (COM 671-15 (pdf)

2) Amending Schengen Border Code: Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders COM 670-15, (pdf)

3) EUROSUR: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 15.12.2015 adopting the Practical handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (C-9206-15, pdf): This says: "Member States should transmit the EUROSUR Handbook, annexed to this Recommendation, to their authorities responsible for the surveillance of the external land and sea borders which shall use it as the main tool when implementing Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013." See: EUROSUR: ANNEX to the COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (pdf):60 pages

4) Communication: Eighth biannual report on the functioning of the Schengen area 1 May - 10 December 2015 (pdf)

B. Commission proposes temporary suspension of Sweden's obligations under the EU relocation mechanism (pdf)

- SWEDEN: Proposal for a: Council DECISION establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Sweden in accordance with Article 9 of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1523 and Article 9 of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (COM 677-15, pdf)

C. Commission presents Recommendation for a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme with Turkey for refugees from Syria(pdf)

- TURKEY: VOLUNTARY ADMISSION: Commission RECOMMENDATION: of 15.12.2015: for a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey (C-0490-15, pdf)

D. Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Progress Reports on Greece, Italy and the Western Balkans (pdf)

1) Report: on the follow-up to the Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans Route (COM 676-15, pdf) and ANNEX (pdf)

2) Progress Report on the Implementation of the hotspots in Greece (COM 678-15, pdf) and ANNEX (pdf)

3) Progress Report on the Implementation of the hotspots in Italy (COM 679-15, pdf) and ANNEX (pdf)

E. European Agenda on Migration: Securing Europe's External Borders What does today's Borders Package include? (pdf)

Includes: EU TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Proposal for a: Regulation on a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (COM 668-15 pdf) and ANNEX with sample document (pdf). This would replace the long-standing l “laissez-passer” based on 1994 Recommendations (Statewatch JHA Archive 1976-2000) and rejected by African countries. There is no guarrantee this will be any more acceptable.

see also for Background: Managing the refugee crisis (15/12/2015) (DG Home, link) and Securing EU borders (DG Home, link) with Fontext proposals and "Factsheets"

EU: European Council: European Council (17 and 18 Decembre 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13596-15, dated 14 December 2015, pdf): compare section on "Migration" with earlier: European Council (17 and 18 December 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13593-15, dated 7 December 2015, pdf). Latest version says:

"For the Schengen acquis to be preserved it is indispensable to regain control over the external borders. Deficiencies, notably as regards hotspots, relocation and
returns, must be rapidly addressed.The EU institutions and the Member States must urgently:"

Comment: the following eight points are all about preserving Schengen by excluding, controlling and returning refugees.

They include opening:

- more "hotspots"

- "ensure systematic identification, registration and fingerprinting, and take measures to tackle refusal of registration and stem irregular secondary flows",

- "ensure the actual return of people not authorised to stay and provide support to Member States as regards return operations"

- "ensure implementation" of "returns and readmission" following the Valletta Summit (some hope of this...)

- to "rapidly examine" the Commission's 15 December proposals (there are two different lists in the two documents)

NOTTINGHAM: Refugee Forum Conference: Changing Narratives of Asylum: Media, Legislation, and Refugee Support (link):

A conference at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum bringing together academics, practitioners and activists to examine the different narratives around seeking asylum in the UK from different perspectives. The conference will take place on FRIDAY, 8 January 2016 from 9.45 am to 5pm at the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum (NNRF), The Sycamore Centre, 33a Hungerhill Road, Nottingham NG3 4NB.

There will be two Keynote speakers: Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, and Dr Helen O’Nions, Nottingham Law Centre (NTU), together with four workshops on asylum issues: Legal, Mental Health, Destitution, and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children, plus a concluding panel.

News (15.12.15)

Greece wants migrants to apply for asylum wherever they want (euobserver, link): "Greece wants to strip point of entry rules in the EU's crippled Dublin asylum regulation to allow migrants to travel and apply for asylum anywhere they want.The idea was floated in a letter to EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos."

Dispatches: Stranded in an EU country (HRW, link)

Proposal on EU Border and Coast Guard must not be at expense of migrant and refugee rights (AI, link)

EU agency reports drop in migrants to Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Frontex cited worsening weather and more restrictive border-control policies along the Western Balkan route as the apparent reasons for the drop. Some 108,000 people arrived in Greece in November, down from 150,000 in October." and: Migrant center to open at site of old airport (link)

Number of migrants arriving in Greece dropped by half in November (Frontex, link)

Denmark to introduce border controls (euractiv, link): "Denmark will introduce border controls with Germany on 4 January, as soon as Sweden formally introduces ID checks on the Øresund bridge, connecting Denmark and Sweden, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said on Monday (14 December)."

EU wants centralized policing powers for its borders (DW, link): "The EU's external borders have more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. That is why the European Commission now wants its own border police. Not all member states like the idea. Bernd Riegert reports from Brussels."

Assessing economic impacts of hosting refugees: conceptual, methodological and ethical gaps (University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre, link): "This paper explores a variety of approaches used to assess and measure the economic impact of refugees on their host communities and states. It identifies theoretical, methodological, and ethical gaps in the existing literature, and also problematizes some of the assumptions and rationales behind current debates about measuring refugees’ economic impact on host populations and states. It begins by presenting the key arguments and approaches within the existing literature on analysing the economic impact of refugees on their host communities and states. It then seeks to elucidate some significant conceptual, methodological and ethical gaps in the field, drawing primarily upon cost-benefit analyses in the migration literature in order to identify several cautionary implications. Finally, as a way forward, the paper highlights some alternative approaches to understanding and assessing the impact of hosting refugees."

BELGIUM: AIDA Belgium update: asylum seekers access to international protection and reception remains a struggle (ECRE, link): "The lastest AIDA update on Belgium highlights several shortcomings that asylum seekers face relating to accessing procedures and suitable reception; while the number of people seeking asylum in the country has significantly augmented since late summer 2015."

EU border agency could be deployed in non-member states - Asselborn (Reuters, link): "Luxembourg's foreign minister said on Tuesday that the European Union's border agency could be deployed in non-member states like Serbia and Macedonia while EU members with no external borders should provide more help to those with such frontiers."

HUNGARY: A calculated non-action miscalculated: Hungary´s migration crisis (V4 Revue, link): "The Orbán-government had detailed plans about how to use the migration crisis in domestic politics, and part of this “strategy” meant neglecting preparatory measures all together. However, when the crisis actually hit the country, the lack of preparations backfired and resulted in a series of spectacular failures in the situation’s handling. "

GERMANY: Far fewer people entering Germany with fake Syrian passports than thought (The Guardian, link): "The proportion of people entering Germany with fake Syrian passports is far less than the 30% announced by the interior minister in September, the government has said."

SLOVENIA: IOM Deploys Medical Team, Distributes Non-Food Aid to Migrants in Slovenia (IOM, link): "According to Slovenian Police, some 309,217 refugees and migrants have transited through Slovenia en route to Austria and Western Europe since 16 October 2015. This is roughly a third of the over 950,000 migrants and refugees arriving in Western Europe this year."

UK: Transcript of House of Commons debate: European Agenda on Migration (Hansard, link)

Migration [What Think Tanks are thinking] (EPRS, link): "This note offers links to a series of recent commentaries and studies on migration from major international think tanks and research institutes. More papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What think tanks are thinking’, published in early September" Comment: It would be good to see a similar survey of what NGOs - who are active on this pressing issue are thinking and doing.

These Are The Most Powerful Photographs Of The Syrian Refugee Crisis In 2015 (BuzzFeedNews, link): "With the Syrian conflict showing no sign of ending, we look back on the risky journeys men and women fleeing the country have taken this year."

The European Commission and the UNHCR today launched a scheme to provide 20.000 additional reception places for asylum seekers and relocation candidates in Greece through subsidies for housing in the private sector.(pdf) and:

Joint Declaration On the Support to Greece for the development of the hotspot/relocation scheme as well as for developing asylum reception capacity Brussels, 14 December 2015 (pdf)

News (14.12.15)

Bulgaria, Turkey PMs to Discuss Migration Crisis in Sofia Tuesday (novinite.com, link)

Refugee crisis: The closure of internal borders will not make Europe safer (Irish Examiner, link): "ANOTHER key European project is under threat. Two decades after border controls were abolished under the Schengen Agreement — which encompasses 26 countries, including four non-members of the European Union — Germany has reinstated controls at its border with Austria, and France at its border with Belgium."

Enough's Enough: Interior Minister Says Germany May Stop Accepting Migrants (sputniknews.com/europe, link): "Germany may start turning incoming migrants back already at the border, German media reported, citing Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. “The Schengen zone may not last long without controlling its borders if the system of protection of its external borders is not functioning,” the Minister said on Saturday."

Illegal border crossings hit record highs (euractiv, link) and EU border force plan faces resistance (link): "A proposal to give the European Union executive the power to send forces unbidden into member states to defend the common European frontier will face resistance from some countries when it is published this week. The European Commission wants to be able to deploy personnel from a new European Border and Coastguard Agency without, as currently required, the consent of the state concerned, EU officials told Reuters in early December, reflecting frustration with Greek reluctance to seek help with migrants."

Erosion of Schengen is 'worrying', IMF says (euractiv, link): "The IMF is becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of consensus among EU countries to address the refugee crisis, and its impact on the freedom of movement within the Schengen area, senior officials from the institution said on Friday (11 November).

The challenges ahead could be too hard in light of the lack of appetite to reach common solutions on immigration, the IMF fears. The declining interest in more integration, and the discord between the member states, are so significant that the Fund considers them as important risks for the Union, a senior IMF official told a group of reporters."

Refugee flow to EU defies cold weather and crackdown (aljazeera.com, link): "Harsh winter and stricter controls at the coastline fails to deter refugees from trying to reach Lesbos....

Young people vote far-right in Europe (DW, link): "In the European Union, which was founded upon ideals of democracy and inclusion, more and more young people are turning to far-right parties that lure them in with simple messages. Some experts see democracy in danger."

Moroccan migrants moved to Corinth camp after clashes at Athens stadium (ekathimerini.com, link): "Around 120 migrants from Morocco have been moved from the impromptu camp at the Taekwondo stadium in southern Athens to a detention center in Corinth, west of Athens."

GERMANY: Police use water cannon to break up Leipzig protests against neo-Nazi march (Deutsche Welle, link): "A youth pastor known in Germany for his stance against neo-Nazis has been arrested in Leipzig during a leftist protest. At least 56 officers and several demonstrators were injured in clashes with left-wing protesters."

HUNGARY: Council of Europe request information on discrimination of Roma children in Hungary (Politics.hu, link): "The Council of Europe (CoE) has requested information from the Hungarian government concerning an unrealistically high number of Roma children sent to special schools for the mentally challenged. In a statement, the CoE said it required statistical figures to assess why there are more Roma than non-Roma children in such schools and what factors contributed to an increasing ratio. The figures should contain the number of Roma and non-Roma children that have been asked to fill in a test before starting school, and the number of children found mentally challenged based on the test results. "

Turned away - On thin evidence, Britain declares its biggest source of refugees safe after all (The Economist, link): "Over 350,000 Eritreans, or 6-10% of the population, have escaped the country since 2000. Last year 46,750 sought refuge in Europe, up from 12,000 in 2012. Britain now receives more asylum-seekers from Eritrea than from any other country. But recently it has become inhospitable. The acceptance rate has dropped from around 90% at the end of last year to 39% (see chart), the lowest in Europe. Between April and September applications to Britain accounted for 7% of those lodged in Europe, but 49% of rejections. Why has it become so strict?

Strangely the answer lies in a country that grants refugee status to nearly all Eritreans who apply: Denmark. A fact-finding mission by the Danish Immigration Service in October 2014 concluded that living in Eritrea was much less bad than previously thought. It claimed those who left illegally and evaded conscription were safe to go back, provided they sign a letter of apology and pay a 2% tax on income earned abroad. Torture, imprisonment and executions were a thing of the past for returnees. In March Britain’s Home Office included the research in its own country reports, which officials use to make asylum decisions. Acceptance rates plummeted."

Top Belgian Politician Misleads Asylum Seekers and Contradicts the Law (Liberties.eu, link): "There is serious concern about the freedom the migration authority is giving itself in determining which asylum seekers to consider and how it handles claims from Afghans."

UPDATE: EU border force plan faces resistance from governments (Reuters, link): "A proposal to give the EU's executive the power to send forces unbidden into member states to defend the common European frontier will face resistance from some countries when it is published this week.... European Union officials call it a largely theoretical "nuclear option" and stress that any infringement of national sovereignty would be balanced by the power of a majority of member states to block Commission intervention - similar to checks agreed during the euro debt crisis."

See document: European Commission: Communication: A European Border and Coast Guard and effective management of Europe's external borders (COM 673-15, pdf), Proposals to come.

First Greek ‘hotspot’ struggles to manage migrant flow to Europe (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "On Wednesday, UNHCR transferred 17 busloads of soaked and exhausted people to the hotspot after they had survived the three-hour boat journey from Turkey and arrived on beaches south of the island between midnight and 10 a.m. That was a fraction of the numbers arriving on days in the summer."

IOM: (link): 924,147 arrivals in EU: 771,508 to Greece and 148,419 to Italy. 3,671 dead/missing.

Coalition of the Unwilling: Merkel's Plan B Could Mean End of Schengen (Spiegel Online, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel's plan to find a resolution to the refugee crisis with the help of Turkey is encountering significant resistance. Berlin and Brussels are already considering alternatives, but it could mean the end of border-free travel in large parts of Europe."

Banksy uses Steve Jobs artwork to highlight refugee crisis (Guardian, link): "Graffiti on wall of ‘the Jungle’ camp in Calais depicts late Apple founder’s background as son of Syrian migrant"

News (12-13.12.15)

Greece’s refugee children: Amina is ill. Her bed is a blanket on the concrete floor (Observer, link): "A stadium in Athens is full of the displaced – and a team of doctors is working flat out to ease their plight."

Denmark sets stage for border controls (The Local.de, link): "Parliament on Friday approved a measure that would force transport operators to check ID papers of all people entering Denmark despite protests from rail operator DSB and complaints from Germany."

Greece: Gov’t seeks help with migrants as tensions rise (ekathimerini.com): : "As tensions peaked at temporary reception facilities for migrants, Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas said over the weekend that Greece was doing all it can to tackle a relentless migration crisis which he described as “a massive problem, stretching the limits of our country and of Europe.... Concern has been mounting that thousands of migrants arriving in Greece by boat from neighboring Turkey will become trapped in the country as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has tightened controls at Greece’s northern border. Thousands of migrants who had been in a makeshift camp near the FYROM border were bused to Athens last week."

Macedonia: Asylum certificates issued to 5,255 migrants (MIA, link)

German ambassador in Greece: Schengen will not last if the outer borders collapse (Press Project, link): "If the outer borders of the E.U. fail to withstand the pressure, the Schengen agreement will seize existing". The statement was made by the German ambassador to Greece, Peter Schoof who spoke at a journalists? meeting of the "Centre for Democracy and Friendship in Southeastern Europe"

German Mission in UK::New proof of arrival for refugees (link): "A standard ID will be issued for incoming refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany in future. The new 'Proof of Arrival' identification serves as a certificate of registration as an asylum-seeker and will make the organisation of the refugee situation in Germany easier."

Two charged for Norway asylum centre fire (The Local.no, link): "Two people have been charged with arson for setting fire to a hotel scheduled to house asylum seekers in southwest Norway."

Brussels plans to strip Schengen nations of authority over borders (Guardian, link): European commission set to propose new border guards force that could be deployed without a country’s approval"

Greece: Shut off from the Balkan route, asylum seekers flood into Athens (DW, link): "After getting evicted from the Greek border, thousands of refugees and migrants were relocated to former Olympic stadiums-turned-shelters in the capital. As Diego Cupolo found out, they have no idea what to expect next. "

Migrants don't make extremists, says top human right official (ekathimerini.com, link): "Any link between extremism and the thousands of people fleeing violence in Syria and elsewhere is false, a top European human rights official said Friday, noting that those who have perpetrated recent attacks in Europe were citizens of European countries.... “Higher fences and the militarization of borders is not the solution,” he said. “I don't think that's the kind of Europe that we want to live in.”"

Tsipras links refugees to terrorist checks: Govt: Yes to Euro coast guard, no to joint Greek-Turkish patrols (AMNA.gr, link): ""We must all understand that our international obligation regarding the Schengen treaty is to effectively contribute to the battle against terrorism, which means immediate identification and recording of the migrants that enter into the country; the identification should be held at the time they set foot on the Greek territory," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras clarified on Friday, speaking in Parliament in reply to a tabled question by the opposition on the refugee crisis." and Greek Gov’t: ‘Yes to Euro Coast Guard, No to Joint Greek-Turkish Patrols’(Greek Reporter, link)

Austria: Vineyard owners 'sabotage' border fence (The Local.at, link): "The fence which is currently being constructed at a crossing point used by refugees on Austria’s border with Slovenia could end up having an 800 metre gap after vineyard owners refused to let the government build on their land. The 3.7 kilometre wire fence, which is a first in Europe's Schengen zone, should be completed before the end of the year."

Turkey yet to address refugee flows, says PM (ekathimerini.com): "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday that he will try to hold Turkey to account over its pledges to stem the flow of refugees and migrants toward Greece, which he argues has not been reduced. “There was an agreement between the EU and Turkey, which was in my view necessary,” he told Parliament. “We are waiting to the see the results from this agreement because it was supposedly made so the flow would be reduced. Until now, we have not seen anything like that. “We have created a permanent inter-ministerial committee and I will ask shortly for it to hold an emergency meeting so that we can establish what is going on with the flows from the Turkish side,” he added."

Commission to unveil new border force as flow eases (ekathimerini.com): "Frontex said on Friday that the number of irregular migrants reaching Greece in November dropped by 50 percent compared to the previous month. The agency said it recorded 100,000 people compared to more than 200,000 in October."

EU: European Commission: Communication A European Border and Coast Guard and effective management of Europe's external borders (COM 673-15, pdf), Proposals to come.

Massive expansion in Frontex's role, its all here: "the right to intervene", "European Return Intervervention Teams", hotspots, "rapid reserve pool" and more including:

"As the body assigned to implement the European integrated border management, the Agency will be able to call on this pool within a very limited timeframe in circumstances requiring immediate response. Member States will have to make available at least 1,500 border guards to be deployed by the Agency in rapid border interventions within days" - for example to meet a sudden migration crisis. [emphasis added] and directly inteevene in a state:

"cooperation with third countries where it can coordinate operational cooperation between Member States and neighbouring third countries in the field of border management, including by deploying liaison officers to third countries or launching joint operations on Union territory or on the territory of third countries. This will notably remedy the situation which is currently faced in the cooperation with the Western Balkan countries where, despite the agreement of the third countries in question, Frontex is unable to provide operational assistance as it does not have the mandate to send border guard teams to countries such as Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."

SWITZERLAND: Parliament rejects systematic border control proposal (swissinfo.ch, link):

"Both houses of parliament have rejected a proposal by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party to perform systematic checks on people crossing the Swiss border."

EU: Frontex: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community: AFIC Joint Report 2015 (pdf)

European Parliament: Permanent relocation scheme and list of safe countries of origin: state of play (1.12.15, pdf):

"The Civil Liberties Committee discussed the permanent relocation mechanism with the Commission, which presented its proposal to MEPs, and the Council, which briefed the committee on the state of play in discussions among member states. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) also presented the "State of play of relocation operations in the hot spots".

The EU common list of safe countries of origin was also discussed with the Commission and Council. The EASO presented the situation in the Western Balkans while FRA spoke on fundamental rights considerations."

Comment: the creation of a "permanent relocation mechanism" looks highly unlikely and the "state of play of relocation operations in the hotspots" shows that this is just not happening (see: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis)

News (11.12.15)

Europe feels fallout from Merkel migrant magnanimity (Yahoo News, link): "Brussels (AFP) - Angela Merkel may have won praise from the world for Germany's open-door policy on refugees, but a confused and divided Europe is feeling the fallout from the decision, analysts said."

'Either EU unites on migrants - or it crumbles' warns Steinmeier (euractiv, link): "The European Union must unite in its response to dealing with the huge number of refugees surging into the bloc or else it will fail, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said today (10 December). Faced with an expected influx of around one million refugees this year alone, Germany is looking to its EU partners to help manage the crisis but is running up against resistance from some countries, particularly in eastern Europe.

"Either Europe stands together and acts with solidarity in times of hardship for hundreds of thousands, or fences and barriers will again be raised," Steinmeier said in a speech to fellow Social Democrats (SPD) at their annual party congress. "And then the vision of a united Europe crumbles," added Steinmeier"

Turkish crackdown leaves refugees in limbo (Guardian, link): "With the EU outsourcing border security to Ankara, refugees are stuck in Turkey and aid groups say people-smuggling is being pushed deeper underground.... Local activists are outraged at the EU deal, and many worry Turkey will use the money provided by the EU for security and more detention centres. “Europe outsourced its border security to Turkey,” said Eda Bekçi, a lawyer who volunteers at the refugee aid group Mülteci-Der in Izmir. “But heightened security will push people-smuggling only deeper underground. They will always find holes, but the routes will become riskier and deadlier for refugees.”."

EU plans fully-fledged external border force (euobserver, link): "The European Union is considering a plan to introduce a permanent external border control force that could be deployed if it deems that a member state is in need of help to police its frontiers even without the EU country’s consent, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal reported Friday (11 December)."

Migrant crisis: Greece, Croatia and Italy face EU legal action (BBC, link)

European Commission orders infringements procedures against Greece, Italy, Hungary and Croatia

- Implementing the Common European Asylum System: Commission escalates 8 infringement proceedings (pdf):

"The Commission is today urging Greece, Croatia and Italy to correctly implement the Eurodac Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 603/2013), which provides for effective fingerprinting of asylum seekers and transmission of data to the Eurodac central system within 72 hours....

The Commission is also urging Greece and Malta to communicate the national measures taken to fully transpose the Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU), which sets out common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and the Reception Conditions Directive (Directive 2013/33/EU), which deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for examination of their applications."

- Commission opens infringement procedure against Hungary concerning its asylum law (pdf):

"Firstly, regarding the asylum procedures, the Commission is concerned that there is no possibility to refer to new facts and circumstances in the context of appeals and that Hungary is not automatically suspending decisions in case of appeals - effectively forcing applicants to leave their territory before the time limit for lodging an appeal expires, or before an appeal has been heard....

Secondly, regarding rights to translation and interpretation, the Commission is concerned the Hungarian law on fast-tracked criminal proceedings for irregular border crossings does not respect provisions of the Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, which ensures that every suspect or accused person who does not understand the language of the proceedings is provided with a written translation of all essential documents, including any judgment....

Thirdly, on the fundamental right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial under Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, there are concerns as to the fact that under the new Hungarian law dealing with the judicial review of decisions rejecting an asylum application a personal hearing of the applicants is optional. Judicial decisions taken by court secretaries (a sub-judicial level) lacking judicial independence also seem to be in breach of the Asylum Procedures Directive and Article 47 of the Charter."

See: EU to sue Greece, Italy, Croatia over migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union has started legal action against Greece, Italy and Croatia for failing to correctly register migrants. Tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in those countries over the last few months but less than half of them have been registered by national authorities. Greece has only fingerprinted around 121,000 of the almost half a million people who arrived there between July 20 and Nov. 30 this year, according to the European Commission."

Pakistan did not accept its nationals extradited from Greece, Austria and Bulgaria (Greek Reporter, link)

Frontex accepts Greece’s request for Rapid Border Intervention Teams (link):

"“The RABIT deployment will allow us to increase the number of both sea and land patrols, which means more migrants will be identified and properly registered soon after they arrive on the Greek islands. In other words, launching RABIT means upscaling Operation Poseidon Sea,” said Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

Out of more than 700 000 migrants who reached the Greek islands from Turkey so far this year, only one in five was intercepted upon reaching the shore."

State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Updated on 8 December (pdf): Comment on the current situation: Little has changed..

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism
(Communicated as of 09 December 2015]
(pdf): Now 14 Member States 3,827 places offered - up 481 - out of 160,000 needed.

- Returns since September 2015 (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 658 - up 49, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as last week.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Now: Frontex: 114 Officers (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams. Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hospots" are planned but only two - Lampedusa and Lesvos - are operational.

- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million
(Communicated as of 09 December 2015)
(pdf) No change in shortfalls.

- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 09 December 2015) (pdf) Many unmet needs.

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

And see: EU refugee relocation makes lethargic start (DW, link): "The EU agreed to resettle tens of thousands of refugees from overburdened southern European countries. The result has been meager, with a mere 133 people relocated from Italy, as Megan Williams reports from Rome."

Greece dismantles Macedonia border camp (euobserver, link): "Authorities on Wednesday (9 December) removed some 2,300 people from a makeshift camp on the Greek side of the Macedonian border after weeks of tension. Nationals from Algeria, Bangladesh, Morocco, Pakistan, and Somalia, among others, were bussed to former Olympic venues in Elliniko and Galatsi. Only those that have a good chance of obtaining asylum, such as Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans are allowed to cross the barbed-wire and chain-link fence separating the two states in their efforts to reach mainland EU."

More than 1 million people have sought EU asylum so far in 2015 (Guardian, link):

"One in four asylum seekers are Syrian refugees, with Germany receiving by far the highest number of claims... Of the 1,001,910 applications registered in the EU in the year to date 94% were first time applicants. Syrian asylum seekers accounted for a quarter of applications, while 12% related to Afghanistan and 9% to Iraq."

NB: This figure includes applicants from Balkans and EU states.

News (10.12.15)

Derry residents determined to help Syrian refugees settle in city (Derry Journal, link): "The desire of Derry people to help Syrian refugees was never as evident as it was inside the main hall in the Foyle Arena on Friday. The event, called ‘From Syria to Sanctuary’, was spearheaded by Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Elisha McCallion. Open to the public, ‘From Syria to Sanctuary’ was emotive, informative and extremely insightful."

Many Iraqis already want out of Finland – “I'm dying on the inside here” (Helsinki Times, link)

Nearly 770,000 people enter Greece in 2015, says UN (ekathimerini.com, link): "The UN refugee agency says nearly 770,000 asylum-seekers have entered Greece so far this year on their long trek toward a better life in wealthier European Union countries and said more than 200 have drowned en route."

Greece starts removing stranded migrants at FYROM border (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek police started removing hundreds of migrants stranded on the Greek border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and blocking rail traffic on Wednesday, a police official and a Reuters eyewitness said.

Some 1,200 people mostly from Pakistan, Morocco and Iran, were stuck near the northern Greek town of Idomeni, demanding to cross into FYROM to reach northern Europe after non-EU Balkan states began filtering migrants by nationality.

The police official said the migrants would be taken to Athens on buses and will be accommodated in migration centers before being sent back to their home countries." and

Impasse on border to be overcome ‘in the next few days,’ minister says (link): "Greek authorities on Tuesday pledged that problems at Idomeni, on Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), caused by a buildup of thousands of migrants and refugees due to stricter restrictions, will be overcome in the coming days... Meanwhile, migrants and asylum seekers keep pouring into the country. A total 20,325 people are estimated to have arrived on Greece’s islands in the first six days of December."

EU plans in a mess:

Turkey fund: EU states want Commission to pay more (euobserver, link): "The EU Commission is under pressure to give more money for the €3 billion destined for Turkey to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees, while some member states are reluctant to send money to Ankara for political reasons."

EU refugee relocation grinds to near halt (euobserver, link): "The slow pace of registering and relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other member states is frustrating EU-led efforts to get a grip on broader migration issues. Launched in September, the two-year plan to relocate 160,000 people in need of international protection remains mired in administrative, technical, and political delays....Despite bad weather and the EU's €3 billion deal with Turkey, up to 3,500 continue to arrive daily on rubber boats from Turkey, with some Syrian refugees being intercepted at sea and set adrift by men in black masks."

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

Dispatches: Masked Men Continue to Attack Migrant Boats on the Aegean (HRW, link):

"He told me that on December 3, he and his family joined 30 other people on a rubber boat in their attempt to reach the Greek islands. About halfway there, they were blinded by a strong light shining on them from a big boat. The migrant piloting their boat tried to evade the larger boat and a small boat when three masked men came at them at such fast speed that he said he thought the boat they were in would capsize.

Mahmoud and other passengers held their babies up so the masked men would take pity on them. But one of the assailants hit the pilot of the boat twice on the head with a truncheon and they disabled the motor by cutting the wires, leaving it to drift. Mahmoud said that some of the passengers tried to communicate in Turkish with the attackers, but that the only language they could understand was the English command to “Stop, stop.” After drifting for three hours, a Turkish coast guard boat. rescued them... We are not alone in raising the alarm about vigilante attacks on migrants and asylum seekers; news media have also reported – and
CBS news filmed – unidentified speedboats allegedly interdicting and disabling migrant boats..

News (9.12.15)

Italy: thank us for refugee help - don't sue (The Local.it, link): "Italy is being sued by the EU for not doing enough to identify migrants arriving on its shores. But now the country has hit back hard, saying Europe should show it some gratitude."

UNHCR, IOM expect refugees to Europe to reach 1 mn in 2015 (link)

Greece: At least 12 dead as migrant boat sinks off Farmakonissi (ekathimerini.com, link): Greek authorities say at least 12 people – including six children – have died and 12 are missing after a wooden boat carrying about 50 migrants sank near the islet of Farmakonissi, in the eastern Aegean Sea, early Wednesday. The coast guard said 26 people have been rescued so far.... and Number of victims of migrants boat tragedy increases (ANAmpa, link)

New Year border checks confirmed for Sweden (The Local.se, link): "Plans for tougher ID checks on the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark to stem the influx of refugees are set to come into force on January 4th, the government has said."

GREECE: Refugee relocation in Athens hits snags (DW, link): "As Balkan states remain closed to people from 'non-conflict areas,' asylum-seekers stranded at the Greek border are heading back to Athens to await their fate in camps. Diego Cupolo reports from Athens.... Marking a turning point in the crisis, the combination of legal and physical barriers have caused the migration tide to crest in Idomeni and partially roll back toward Athens. The capital is now receiving asylum-seekers from both Turkey along with those returning from its northern border, causing concern among some of the city's humanitarian workers, and indifference in others."

IRELAND: Twenty one NGOs: Protection, Resettlement and Integration: Ireland’s Response to the Refugee and Migration ‘Crisis’ December 2015 (pdf):

"As some European countries tighten border controls or close borders completely, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to identify safe routes and secure options for migration and settlement. Political leadership is vital now in the fight against discrimination, exclusion, racism and Islamophobia. Upholding human rights and humanitarian values, along with our collective international obligations for people seeking protection, is critical at this time."

Austria erecting border fence with Slovenia (euobserver, link)

Austria has started work to build a 3.7 km fence along its border with Slovenia to help redirect the inflow of people seeking asylum, reports German news agency Deutsche Welle. It is the first border fence to be erected between two Schengen states, which allow visa-free travel."

News (8.12.15)

Human Rights Watch Warns of Asylum Seekers Stuck on Serbian-Bulgarian Border (novinite.com, link) "In an article published at the website of Human Rights Watch on Monday, a researcher for Eastern Europe and Western Balkans, described the harsh conditions asylum seekers are faced with in Dimitrovgrad, a town in southeastern Serbia, at the border with Bulgaria.

A group of 200-250 people, mainly single Afghan men, have been stuck in the border town for as long as a week while waiting for the mandatory registration by Serbian authorities, which grants them permission for onward travel across Serbia to Croatia and on to western Europe. Before arriving in Serbia, most of them have passed through Iran, Turkey and Bulgaria. The registration facility in Dimitrovgrad, which consists of eight containers, can accommodate only around eighty people, with the rest forced to sleep in the open where they have to endure harsh and cold weather conditions."

German politicians exchange blame for refugee bottleneck (DW, link): "Germany's states are blaming the federal government for not processing asylum applications quickly enough, and the government says it's doing fine. Critics say much bureaucracy could be cut - like the Dublin procedure."

Europe has turned its refugee crisis into a morally disastrous Hunger Games (Guardian, link): "Europe is creating obstacles to make refugees’ journeys as burdensome as possible, when it should be building legal entry channels"

Paris, Berlin 'convinced' of need to reduce migrant flow: letter to EU (France 24, link): "France and Germany are "firmly convinced" of the need to reduce the flow of migrants into Europe, they wrote in a joint letter to the EU Commission seen by AFP on Tuesday. "We very strongly reject any confusion between terrorists and migrants," said interior ministers Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere in the letter, dated December 3, calling for a "substantial reinforcement" of the EU's Frontex border agency."

European Union in danger from ‘forces that want to drive us apart’(Guardian, link): "President of European parliament says alternative to EU would be ‘horrific’ Europe of nationalism, borders and walls"

Refugee crisis highlights differences of French and Dutch integration models (euractiv, link)

Germany on course to accept one million refugees in 2015 (Guardian, link): "So far this year Europe’s leading economy has registered 964,574 new asylum seekers, more than four times the number that arrived in 2014... The data did not provide a breakdown of the nationalities of the new arrivals. In previous months, Syrians topped the figures, with about one in three applications coming from citizens of the war-torn country, for whom Germany has adopted an open-door policy.... The ministry, however, pointed out that civil servants had this year managed to shorten the processing of asylum claims – with each claim taking five months, down from seven in 2014. This had been achieved by speeding up the decision-making process for asylum seekers “from safe countries of origin (especially west Balkan states) as well as for those from particularly unsafe countries of origins (especially Syria),” the ministry said. So far, Albanians and Kosovans were among the top five groups of arriving this year in a trend that has alarmed the German government. Berlin has recently listed both Albania and Kosovo as “safe countries of origin”..."

Dispatches: Asylum Seekers Stuck on the Serbia-Bulgaria Border (HRW, link): "Serbia has obligations under international law, and as an European Union candidate country, to provide humane reception conditions for asylum seekers. It should work to fulfill those obligations and support – not hinder – those stepping up to do the job that the state is failing to do. It should also ensure that asylum seekers’ prompt access to registration is not dependent on them paying bribes."

Why Europe should avoid terror overreach (euobserver, link)

Six refugee children drown off Turkey's coast (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey's state-run news agency says six children have drowned after a rubber dinghy carrying Afghan migrants to Greece sank off Turkey's Aegean coast. The Anadolu Agency said the coast guard rescued five migrants from the sea on Tuesday and were still looking for two others reported missing. The bodies of the children were recovered. Anadolu didn't report their ages, but said one of them was a baby. The migrants were apparently hoping to make it to the island of Chios from the resort of Cesme despite bad weather."

Hamburg helps traumatized refugees (DW, link): "A Hamburg-based project is providing help for traumatized refugee children through storytelling and art therapy. Gemima Harvey went along to take a look."

EU: Council of the European Union: European Council (17 and 18 December 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13593-15, pdf). The opening section on Migration largely states the obvious [and may be changed nearer the meeting]:

"The European Council discussed the migration and refugee crisis. Despite the hard work in recent months the level of implementation of some of the decisions taken is insufficient. The unprecedented influx of migrants puts the Schengen and asylum acquis under severe pressure... [and]

"rapidly address deficiencies in the functioning of hotspots... ensure registration and take measures to discourage refusal of registration... implement relocation decisions more rapidly.. ensure the actual return of people not authorised to stay..significantly enhance the control at the EU's external borders... It should rapidly examine the Commission proposals of 15 December on a European Border and Coast Guard, the Schengen Borders Code, resettlement, and travel documents for returns..."

Lesvos: Greece: Statement on the EU's shameful decision to give Turkey 3 billion euros to hold back war refugees from finding safety in Europe (pdf): by Eric Kempson in Lesvos and Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action following her recent visit to Lesvos to assess the situation:

"“The EU is badly mistaken if it thinks paying Turkey 3 Billion euros will halt the flow of war refugees into Greece. The smuggling trade alone is worth 10 Billion euros. That trade is not just between Turkey and Greece it’s all the way up through Europe, with smugglers waiting to get people through. Boats continue to come through, mainly overnight and in bad weather. 500 came through Lesvos yesterday (Dec 3), 450 people came through on December 2nd, and 800 the day before.

The numbers are less than the previous three months but are still significant. People will keep coming in bad weather when the Turkish coastguard is not patrolling. And they will come overnight when it’s more dangerous. The Africans are making their way here, and they will reach here in the spring. And now that the British government has started bombing Syria along with other European countries, many more people will be trying to come to safety, using more dangerous routes.

“What we are seeing because of the EU decision is further persecution and abuse of war refugees by the Turkish coastguard on the open seas, and more deaths as people take ever more dangerous routes to safety. And these abuses will get worse because of this EU deal, and we are losing a lot more people now because of it. “The Turkish coastguard is now using very fast boats to go round and round the refugee dinghies to get up a wave of water and they sink them with the babies, children and women in them..".

Turn back refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh at the Turkish external border so that they do not become the EU's problem:
EU’s Timmermans Talks About Expectations of Turkey-EU Pact to Wall Street Journal (link)

"WSJ: Does it concern you that a significant minority comes from other places, like Afghanistan?

FT: This is all linked. Because of the Syrian refugees, a path is built and then others, who want to come to Europe for other reasons, see the possibility of using that ‘highway to Europe’. A policy will also have to have all these elements – stopping violence in Syria, having agreements with third countries about people who come here who don’t have the right to international protection and therefore should be returned, that’s why talking to Pakistan is so important, making sure that Turkey aligns its visa policy to ours, so that people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh can be stopped at the external Turkish border rather than coming to Turkey first and having to be stopped at the European border...." [emphasis added]

See: In Danger in Afghanistan, Unable to Flee (NYT, link): "Why do we have to risk our lives?” Mohammad Ali asked. “Why can’t we just get a visa here and go directly?” The answer stretches back to the origins of the world’s refugee and asylum system in post-World War II Europe. In 1951, with millions of Europeans dislocated from their home countries, the international community enacted the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Article 1 declared that people were entitled to international legal protection as refugees, and therefore asylum, if they had a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.” On four out of those five grounds, the Bamian couple would clearly qualify, as officials at Western embassies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have told them, and proving it would be relatively easy." [emphasis added]

But see: Merkel urges Afghans to stay at home (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the German Chancellor has urged Afghan migrants not to seek refuge in the Bundesrepublik... The reason is that by the end of October, 68,000 Afghan asylum seekers had registered in Germany, with 31,000 arriving in that month alone. In terms of arrival numbers, Afghans rank second behind Syrians..

News (7.12.15)

Proactiva OpenArms Rescue night (link)

The “European refugee crisis”: why all migrants matter (Open DEmocracy, link): "With the closure of the Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian borders to all migrants who are not of Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan nationality, the international community has sent out a worrying signal."

Greece to set up island screening centres to ease refugee crisis (Observer, link): "Threat of suspension from Schengen zone prompts Athens to publish surprise legislation that opposition says will kill tourism on Aegean islands...The law, published in the government gazette early on Saturday, took many by surprise. Local authorities on islands such as Kos have long claimed the establishment of such centres will only attract more refugees. In a strongly worded statement, the Kos branch of the main opposition conservative New Democracy party said the decision would lead with “mathematical precision” to the destruction of the island’s tourist industry."

EU: Paving the Road to Hell with good intentions (EUobserver, link): "Europe is experiencing multiple crises. The influx of refugees and the terrorist attacks have created a framework in which core EU rights and freedoms are continuously challenged. Major revisions of core EU policies seem possible as long as there is a promise for more security. Politicians seem to have forgotten that everything comes at a price."

Wave of young Afghan migrants seen hurting economy they leave behind (Reuters, link): "There are no accurate figures for the number of Afghans who leave each year in search of a better life abroad, but more than 160,000 have gone to Europe this year, UNHCR data show. The majority of those have been in the last few months."It's not necessarily everyone with master's degrees, but you have a large number of youth, the most dynamic, potentially productive strata of society, who are leaving," said Richard Danziger of the International Organization for Migration."

Refugee crisis: State of play: Commission statistics: September 2015 ongoing (3.12.15)

Comment on the current situation: Nothing is moving, offers of relocation and returns static.

- State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis Updated on 3 December (pdf)

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (Communicated as of 3 December 2015) (pdf) Now 3,346 offers of relocation out of 160,000 needed - up by 130 since last report. Only 159 people have been relocated: 129 from Italy and 30 form Greece - no change from last week and week before.

- Returns since September 2015 (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 609 people plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as last week.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (3.12.15, pdf): No change from last week

- Pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million (pdf): The total Shortfall was: 2,227,660,000 euro now 2,224,890,000 euro - shortfall for Africa Trust (following the Valletta Summit) is: 1,718,630,000 euro.

- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (pdf) Lots of "needs" unmet and Greece joined last week.

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

Turkish, German leaders discuss Syria, refugee crisis (hurriyetdailynews.com): Although denied by officials in Brussels the Merkel "mini-summit" with Turkey is going ahead on 17 December 2015 in the margins of the EU Council Summit:

"op Turkish and German leaders have discussed the upcoming mini-summit that will take place between Turkey and eight EU countries on Dec. 17 in Brussels, where they will discuss how to best handle the growing refugee crisis... The eight EU member states involved in the meeting are Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Greece."

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3-4 December 2015: Final Press release: 3-4 December (pdf) See pages 8-9 on refugees and Schengen

Greece: Government unveils plan to set up five hotspots (ekathimerini.com):

"Only days after requesting European Union help in tackling the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis, the Greek government has unveiled plans to set up five so-called hotspots to register and identify arrivals.

The decision, which was published early Saturday in the Government Gazette, foresees the creation of screening centers on the eastern Aegean islands of Chios, Kos, Leros, Samos and Lesvos. Their operation will fall under the responsibility of the Southern and Northern Aegean regional authorities and will rely on Defense Ministry technical infrastructure and personnel."

News (5-6.12.15)

UNHCR: Latest figures: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (UNHCR, link): 899,620 arrivals in the EU, 751,873 to Greece and 144,100 to Italy. 3,550 dead/missing.

Europe has a deal with Turkey, but migrants will keep coming - Refugees' misery still drives them to leave (Economist, link)

Italy rescues 4,600 people from Mediterranean (Reuters, link): "More than 4,600 people were plucked to safety from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast, the Italian coastguard said on Sunday, as they took advantage of calmer waters this weekend to attempt the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. On Saturday alone, the coastguard operations centre in Rome co-ordinated nine rescues, pulling 1,123 people to safety from two boats and seven inflatable dinghies."

Norway extends border controls as numbers fall (The Local.no, link): "Norway’s tightened border control measures, including identity checks at ferry terminals, have been extended for a further 20 days."

EU risks being shaken apart by refugee crisis, warns Brussels (The Observer, link): "European migration commissioner says countries must do more to shoulder burden of new arrivals and fund local authorities to deal with the problem... Avramopoulos said anyone resisting the arrival of migrants should remember that Europe is an ageing continent and needs to attract new people, as well as develop strategies to send home those who enter illegally. The confusion in terminology between refugees and economic migrants has caused problems, he said. "We must not listen to nationalists and to xenophobic groups that unfortunately are gaining more and more ground in Europe right now because this misconception exists.""

Few refugee arrivals at weekend (sta.si, link) "Ljubljana, 6 December - Only one train carrying refugees arrived in Slovenia on Saturday with 742 people on board, with another one early on Sunday brining 1,121 migrants, Novo mesto police have said."

Greece: The 25ft mountain of lifejackets left behind by the refugees who have arrived on Lesbos (apokoronasnews.gr.link)

Thousands still at Greek-FYR Macedonia border (UNHCR, link): "IDOMENI, Greece, Dec 4 (UNHCR) – Thousands of refugees and migrants were stuck at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Friday following tense protests which prevented anyone from crossing for more than 24 hours. By Friday morning, the chaos had calmed though passage through the border was far slower than usual. Only refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are allowed to cross under restrictions implemented last month by authorities along the Western Balkans route. Tensions have increased around along the Greek side of the border at Idomeni, since November 18, when FYR Macedonia started admitting only nationals from those three countries. Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia implemented similar screening systems by nationality."

Germany and France urge more powers for Frontex, report (DW, link): "Germany and France have called on the EU's executive body to strengthen the European border protection agency, Frontex, a German newspaper has reported. It says they want the agency to be given more autonomy to act.... Under the Code as it currently stands, the Commission can only recommend that a member state accepts help in controlling its borders but not force it to do so."

Anti-Muslim prejudice ‘is moving to the mainstream’ - Report warns of rapid growth of far-right groups that plan to provoke a ‘cultural civil war’ (Guardian, link) "The “counter-jihad” movement in the UK is expanding rapidly, according to new analysis showing that 24 different far-right groups are currently attempting to whip up hatred towards Muslims and provoke a cultural civil war. The most comprehensive report yet into the alliance of international counter-jihad organisations warns that Islamophobic groups in Britain are capitalising on public concerns following the Paris attacks and ongoing refugee crisis. The report, by the anti-racist group Hope Not Hate, chronicles 920 anti-Muslim organisations and key Islamophobes in 22 countries, noting that such groups are becoming increasingly well-resourced, particularly in the US, where eight foundations have donated more than £38m since the 9/11 attacks."

and see: The Counter-Jihad movement: From the Margins to the Mainstream (Link):Is a new report from HOPE not hate. It is the most comprehensive and detailed report into the international Counter-Jihad movement produced and profiles 920 organisations and individuals in 22 countries.

FROM BOAT TO BOAT: Kos and the Refugee Crisis (Hope Not Hate, link): HOPE not hate recently spent several days on the Greek island of Kos, witnessing first-hand the flow of people arriving daily from nearby Turkey. In this special video and report, Joe witnesses first-hand the hope, difficulties and tensions of just one small part of the largest humanitarian crisis since World War Two."

Turkey detains 3,000 refugees after EU deal (Guardian, link): "Detainees, mainly from Syria and Iraq, were preparing to travel to Greek island of Lesbos from north-western town of Ayvacik... The Turkish coastguard apprehended a total of 2,933 people, mainly from Syria and Iraq, as they were preparing to make their way to the Greek island of Lesbos from the north-western town of Ayvacik, in Çanakkale province, and sent them to a detention centre where some could face deportation, Dogan news agency reported." and 2,933 migrants detained in four days in Turkey’s west (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "In 1,038 separate operations since the beginning of the year, 47,622 migrants have been captured on the shores of Çanakkale"...

Swiss edge toward possible "Swexit" from EU bilateral pacts (euractiv, link): "Switzerland threatened yesterday (4 December) to impose unilateral curbs on immigration should it fail to agree with the European Union on limiting the influx into a country where nearly a quarter of the population is foreign."

EU mulls plan to take charge of Europe's borders (euractiv, link): "The European Union is considering giving a new EU border force powers to intervene and guard a member state's external frontier to protect the Schengen open-borders zone, EU officials and diplomats said yesterday (4 December). Such a move might be blocked by states wary of surrendering sovereign control of their territory. But the discussion reflects fears that Greece's failure to manage a flood of migrants from Turkey has brought Schengen's system of open borders to the brink of collapse.

'Die Ziet' analysis on refugee home attacks this year shows just four convictions (DW, link) "An analysis by German newspaper 'Die Zeit' has found that from 222 dangerous attacks on refugees homes this year, there have been just four convictions. There have been 637 reported incidents...."

Attacks on refugees in Germany double in three months (DW, link): "The number of registered attacks against refugee accommodations and asylum seekers in Germany has doubled in the last three months. Severe crimes such as arson, bombings and assault have tripled."

RABITS team to go to Greece to "combat "illegal immigration"": European Commission: Refugee Crisis: Greece activates EU Civil protection mechanism, agrees Frontex operation at border with former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and triggers RABIT mechanism (pdf)

What are RABITS? EU:

Rapid Border Intervention Teams (Statewatch database) and FRONTEX and RABITS: the European Union is stepping up its operational efforts combating illegal immigration (Commission press release, pdf)

and The Rapid Border Intervention Teams mechanism (RABIT) (pdf): "The Rapid Border Intervention Teams mechanism (RABIT) was established in 2007. It offers rapid operational assistance for a limited period of time to a Member State facing a situation of urgent and exceptional pressure at points of the external borders, with large numbers of third-country nationals trying to enter illegally the territory of the Member State" [emphasis added]

EU border agency confirms Greece’s request for help (ekathimerini.com):

"“Greece asked Frontex yesterday to launch a Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) mechanism on the Greek islands in the Aegean, where it continues to face massive migratory pressure,” the agency said in an announcement on Friday, adding that Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has five working days to evaluate the situation and decide whether to activate the mechanism. If the mechanism is activated, Frontex explained, EU member states and Schengen associate countries would be obligated to provide border guards and equipment for the operation"

Frontex to assist Greece with registration of migrants at its land border (link): "Frontex agreed with Greece today to expand its activities to the country’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where the agency will assist with registration of migrants"

IOM: Mediterranean staistics: 4 December 2015 (pdf): 893,970 arrivals, 744,662 to Greece, 145,098 to Italy and 3,631 dead/missing.

Boats in the night (open democracy, link): "Even if we didn’t do a perfect job, we could do something together. It would be better than nothing and certainly better than the absence of support offered by our governments".

Germany: Just four convictions for refugee home attacks (The Local.de, link): Just four out of 222 recorded attacks against refugee homes in Germany this year have ended with a conviction for the perpetrator, an analysis by German newspaper Die Zeit shows... Out of the 93 fire attacks, almost half were against buildings where people were already living. So far in 2015, 104 people have been wounded in fire and other attacks against refugee housing. But prosecutors have secured convictions against just four of the people behind the violence, with a further eight cases ongoing – making for a total of five percent of cases that have even seen a day in court."

EU: Council of the European Union adopt (4.12.15): Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the governments of the Member States on Statelessness (pdf):

While: "Recalling: that the right to a nationality is a fundamental right recognised by Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that this is one of the basic principles of the 1997 European Convention of Nationality...."

These non-binding Conclusions simply: "Invite: the Commission to launch exchanges of good practices among Member States..."

Turkey rounds up 3,000 migrants planning to cross into Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkish authorities have rounded up in the past four days nearly 3,000 migrants planning to cross the Aegean Sea to EU member Greece, local media said Friday.

The detentions were part of a major operation that was launched on Monday, a day after Turkey and the European Union reached a deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe. The Turkish coastguard apprehended a total of 2,933 migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, as they were preparing to make their way to the Greek island of Lesbos from the northwestern town of Ayvacik in Canakkale province, Dogan news agency reported.

Thirty-five suspected smugglers were also detained while hundreds of migrant boats were seized, it added. The migrants will be sent to a detention centre where some could face deportation, Dogan said, without giving details." [emphasis added]

News (4.12.15)

Four days, zero migrants at Norway-Russia border (The Local.no, link): "On Monday, police in Eastern Finnmark began acting on new stricter requirements regarding who is allowed to come over the border to Norway. This means that border control agents are now assessing asylum seekers’ identification papers before they even leave the Russian area. As a result, asylum seekers are essentially stopped before they even come to Norway."

France scolded for 'round-ups' of refugees (The Local.fr, link): "A top prison inspector has slammed France for its response to the refugee crisis in Calais, stating that the policy of "unclogging" the 'Jungle' camp by flying migrants around the country must stop....The inspector, whose job is to ensure that people deprived of liberty in France have their fundamental rights respected, concluded in an eight-page report on Wednesday that there are "serious violations of human rights" at the camp. "

Greece's suspension from Schengen had never been raised in the EU framework: govt speaker (ocus-fen.net, link): "Greece's suspension from Schengen had never been raised in the EU framework, but there are untrue reports pushing a hostile agenda about Greece in an attempt to persuade the Athens government to improve its handling of migrants and refugees"

IOM Monitors Greece-FYRoM Border Amid Security Concerns (link):"The situation at Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM) is extremely tense with protests and sporadic rioting by stranded migrants and refugees. Nobody has crossed the border since Wednesday, when some 4,058 refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were allowed to cross, according to IOM staff. But another 3,500 migrants of other nationalities are now stranded on the Greek side of the border, together with some 2,500 Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, who have been caught up in the border closure, but who are expected to be admitted to the FYROM when the border re-opens."

Pakistan sends deported migrants back to Greece (Guardian, link): "In latest flare-up of tension between EU and Islamabad, Pakistan rejects 31 people it says were illegally returned Although 19 out of the 50 deportees who came in on a charter plane were taken into custody in Pakistan, the remainder stayed on board for almost two hours before returning to Greece after the government said they did not have the correct paperwork."

The refugee crisis in Brussels is deteriorating rapidly (euractiv, link): "Citizens engaged in helping hundreds of refugees arriving in Brussels are overwhelmed. The Belgian government should take greater responsibility for the humanitarian crisis, write Elke Zander and Anja Werner."

Visegrad Four mobilise to keep Schengen intact (euractiv, link): "Four eastern EU member states yesterday (3 December) rejected the idea of cutting the 26-member passport-free Schengen zone down to include fewer countries as a way to cope with the refugee and migrant crisis. The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, the countries known as the Visegrad Group or V4, said in a joint statement that "any open or hidden attempts to limit free movement" inside the European Union were unacceptable."

EU debates longer-term suspension of Schengen travel-free zone (euracttiv, link): "EU interior ministers will discuss a proposal on Friday (4 December) that could allow new border controls between European states for up to two years as an unprecedented migration crisis strains the Schengen free-travel zone". and see: Integrity of the Schengen area, LIMITE doc: 14300-15, (pdf)

European Parliament: Questions to the Council and Commission on "hotspots" and relocation

- To the Commission: Compatibility of the establishment and management of hotspots with EU law (pdf)

"Since September, within the activated "Hotspot" in Lampedusa, public authorities have adopted new illegal practices in violation of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. Migrants are hastily "interviewed" and provided with an inadequate form as regards asylum procedures.

Therefore, many migrants are subjected to return decisions without having a real opportunity to apply for asylum under Directives 2011/95/EU and 2013/32/EU. After return decisions have been adopted, migrants are driven out of the centres and only supplied with an expulsion order establishing to leave the country within seven days, via "Fiumicino" airport...."

- To the Council: Implementation of Council Decisions on the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece (pdf):

" 21 Member States have identified national contact points and (...) so far, only six Member States mechanism have notified (the) reception capacity they have made available to host relocated people". Likewise, a mere 86 asylum seekers had been relocated until that day from Italy under the new scheme. The 3rd of November, a press release from the Commission underlined that the first relocation flight from Greece with 30 asylum seekers was about to leave to Luxembourg.

We ask the Council which steps it intends to take so that its representatives quickly commit to relocating asylum seekers as soon as possible bearing in mind the urgency of the current humanitarian challenges."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3 and 4 December 2015: "B" Points agenda

The Council is discussing: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a crisis relocation mechanism... amending the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person - State of play (pdf):

"During these discussions, a number of delegations raised general scrutiny reservations and reiterated their positions according to which they consider that it would be preferable to evaluate the functioning of the temporary emergency relocation schemes, adopted by the Council on 14 and 22 September, before the discussion on the proposal on the crisis relocation mechanism continues.

They are of the view that shortcomings in the implementation of the relocation decisions, including the functioning of the hotspots and the prevention of secondary movements, should be addressed as a matter of urgency." [emphasis added]

Pakistan sends back 30 'illegally deported' migrants to Greece (DW, link):

"Islamabad has sent back 30 migrants that Athens was trying to repatriate. The Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said Greece had failed to provide adequate proof that they were Pakistani citizens.. Shortly after the arrival of a chartered flight at Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Thursday, Pakistani officials refused to allow 30 of the aircraft's 49 passengers to disembark.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry said their identities had not been confirmed and therefore they could not be repatriated under a 2010 agreement with the EU to accept the repatriation of illegal Pakistani migrants.

"Any deportee with the unverified documents will be sent back on the same flight to the country he would arrive [from]," Khan said.".

EU-GREECE: Threats to seal Greek border or suspend Greece from Schengen?

EU Commissioner Avramopoulos on scenarios regarding Greece exiting the Schengen area (ANA-MPA, link):

" According to Avramopoulos, "the immediate and full implementation of the agreed measures, both in Greece and in all the member states, will strengthen the security of maritime boundaries and will restore control in the northern border, where non-unidentified migrants try to continue their trip to the north.""

Greece faces Schengen threat amid refugee impasse (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As Greece comes under intense pressure to tighten its borders, authorities are still grappling with a relentless influx of migrants. Pressure on Greece appeared to grow on Tuesday as senior EU officials warned that the country faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the crisis by mid-December.

“The Germans are furious and that’s why people are talking about pushing Greece out,” an anonymous EU ambassador was quoted by the FT as saying noting growing frustration about Athens’s failure to meet its obligations."

Greece warned EU will reimpose border controls:

"The EU is warning Greece it faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the migration crisis by mid-December, as frustration mounts over Athens’ reluctance to accept outside support." (FT, link)

EU weighs internal border checks to shut Greek refugee route (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European Union governments will consider suspending some passport-free internal travel for as long as two years to prevent refugees who make it to Greece from moving on to western Europe, a draft document showed.

The proposal, designed to pressure Greece into allowing EU policing of its Aegean Sea border with Turkey, will be weighed by home affairs ministers of the 28 EU countries at a meeting in Brussels on Friday. Legal provisions will be discussed “that one or more member states decide to reintroduce border control at all or at specific parts of their internal borders,” according to the document, which was published by the Statewatch.org civil liberties website."

Report: Greece threatened with Schengen suspension (euobserver, link)

Post-deportation risks: Criminalized departure and risks for returnees in countries of origin (pdf)

A country catalogue published by the /Post-Deportation Monitoring Network /(Rights in Exile programme) about *"Post-Deportation risks: criminalized departure and risks for returnees in countries of origin*".... We are very happy to share this outcome with activists and researchers. This work is not exhaustive, even if we tried to gather all the
inforation and sources we could find during these 9 months. Nonetheless, *we really hope that some organizations and activists could use the country catalogue and its references/sources to raise awareness about specific risks that people will face if authorities want to return them to the country of origin. ***

and see: Rights in Exile Programme - International Refugee Rights Initiative (link)

EU: Council: Heads of JHA Agencies meeting, 3 - 4 November 2015 (pdf)

Agencies agreed to focus in particular on:

– ensuring fundamental rights, data protection and privacy of the people in Europe in the area of freedom, security and justice;
– developing further support to Member States for the management of irregular migration;
– streamlining inter-agency cooperation in the Hotspots and tackl ing irregular migration at the Western Balkan route;
– enhancing joint operational activities aimed at addressing the threats to Europe and the Schengen free movement area.....

An overview of anti-Muslim violence and abuse in the UK since the Paris attacks. IRR< link):

"The terrorist attacks in Paris last month, killing over 100 people and injuring hundreds more, have been followed by anti-Muslim violence across Europe. In the UK, sixty-four religious or racially motivated hate crimes were reported to the police in Scotland in the week that followed, almost as many as were reported in the whole previous year. In London, the seventy-six ‘Islamophobic incidents’ that were reported to the police in that same week were triple the number reported in the previous one. The UK-wide anti-Muslim hate crime reporting body Tell Mama says that there had been a 300 per cent increase in the number of incidents it had recorded, with 115 reports – the victims being mostly women and girls... "

News (3.12.15)

Merkel urges Afghans to stay at home (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the German Chancellor has urged Afghan migrants not to seek refuge in the Bundesrepublik... The reason is that by the end of October, 68,000 Afghan asylum seekers had registered in Germany, with 31,000 arriving in that month alone. In terms of arrival numbers, Afghans rank second behind Syrians.."

Macedonia: Tear gas and rubber bullets as border tensions mount (AI, link): "Amid increasing tension and violent clashes in the policing of refugees and migrants protesting at the Greek-Macedonian border, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia) border police must show restraint and comply fully with international policing standards, said Amnesty International today. In repeated incidents since the erection of a border fence last Saturday, the Macedonian police have used rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades against refugees and migrants who are protesting over being blocked from entering the country on the basis of their nationalities.... “This is yet another example of Europe’s wholesale failure to deal with the current refugee crisis. From Greece, Turkey and across the Balkan states, the plight of refugees and migrants will only worsen unless states grasp the nettle and provide a coordinated response.”"

EU Council President: Detain refugees arriving in Europe for 18 months, says Tusk - European council president says tougher screening measures needed to counter security risks and describes Angela Merkel’s open-door policy as ‘dangerous’ (Guardian, link): "Refugees arriving in Europe should be detained for up to 18 months in holding centres across the EU while they are screened for security and terrorism risks, the president of the European council has said... Tusk suggested that it was a myth that the majority of refugees reaching Europe were Syrians in flight from war and said that more than two-thirds were irregular migrants who should be turned back." and Tusk: 'Wave of migrants too big not to be stopped' (euobserver, link)

UNHCR concerned by violence at Greek border, calls for improved security (UNHCR, link): "UNHCR is deeply concerned about the tension and violence at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and calls on the authorities of both countries to manage the border in a manner consistent with human rights and refugee-protection principles. As a result of restrictions by the authorities along the Western Balkans route to the admission of refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, tensions have been rising at Idomeni, on the Greek side of the border, in recent days. These tensions have lead on several occasions to violence and a temporary closure of the border."

Migrant electrocuted at Greek-FYROM border (ekathimerini.com, link): "A man believed to be from Morocco has died on the Greek-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) border, electrocuted after touching high-power overhead railway cables when he climbed on top of a train carriage. Other migrants lowered the man's severely burned body to the ground and covered it with a sheet, and a volunteer doctor in the area confirmed the man had died. The doctor hurried away before giving his name."

Tusk's 'concerted action doesn't make sense' (DW, kink): "In interviews with several European newspapers, European Council President Donald Tusk called for a u-turn in European refugee policy. How helpful are his remarks in finding a much-needed compromise? "

Turkey must release detained asylum seekers and stop sending them back to Syria (GUE press release, link) and GUE/NGL MEPs shocked at undignified conditions of refugees in Calais (GUE, link)

Number of migrants reaching Europe dips but 1 mln in sight for year - UN (Reuters, link)

Is migration the elephant in the room? (IRIN, kink): "The migration crisis that has preoccupied Europe for the last six months has highlighted how unprepared one of the richest continents in the world is to deal with what lies ahead as climate change steals away livelihoods, multiplies weather-related disasters and aggravates many of the socio-economic problems that drive conflict."

The Czech cabinet should speed up the drafting of laws enhancing the protection of the border and inhabitants against illegal migrants and it should promote the formation of an international coalition to fight terrorism and to maximally support forces fighting IS, the Senate said on Wednesday. (Prague Monitor, link)

Sweden mulls bid to close bridge to Denmark (The Local.se, link): "The Swedish government wants to be able to close the road bridge connecting Sweden to Denmark if the country's record refugee influx continues, according to a legislative proposal."

Italy: Over 1,500 boat migrants rescued off Libya (The Local.it, link): "Over 1,500 migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast in seven separate operations, the Italian navy said on Thursday, after a break in bad weather sparked fresh attempts at the perilous Mediterranean crossing."

EU- Hungary: Secret pact on taking in Syrian refugees (PM, link): "Regarding mandatory resettlement quotas, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán expects to see a “secret background agreement” to be revealed in the next few days, based on which the European Union would take in some 400–500 thousand Syrian refugees."

EU: BORDERS: Sealing off Europe: Council Presidency proposals for protecting the "integrity of the Schengen area"

- Council Presidency issues proposals to "prepare debate" at JHA Council meeting on 3 and 4 December
- Smart borders discussions rumble on in background

A Frontex operation should be set up in northern Greece, identity controls within the Schengen area should be increased and the Council should call for the reintroduction of border controls in "one or more" unnamned Schengen states, according to proposals from the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU.

See: Note from: the Presidency to: Permanent Representatives Committee (Part 2)/Council, Integrity of the Schengen area, 14300/15, 1 December 2015 (pdf)

And: SMART BORDERS: Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee, Summary of discussions, 13193/15, 17 November 2015 (pdf)

EU-ITALY: Statewatch Briefing: The Italian Roadmap 2015 Hotspots, readmissions, asylum procedures and the re-opening of detention centres (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico

The following is an annotated translation of the Italian Roadmap produced on 28 September 2015, which also refers to eight attachments which are not available. By way of introduction, it is worth noting that it illustrates the Italian Interior Ministry’s position and plan for reception of migrants and refugees in the context of the current crisis in late September. Some preliminary comments are in order, including:

EU: Will aid stop migration?

The EU has announced a €350 million aid package described as "the single biggest EU measure in response to the Syrian refugee crisis to date," which will fund programmes aimed at helping "up to 1.5 million Syrian refugees and overstretched host communities in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq."

According to a Commission document, the fund has "two main strategic objectives" - to "stabilise the overstretched host countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)" and "reduce the pull factors and root causes of the migration crisis (in the entire region)".

EU: HOTSPOTS: « Hotspots » and « processing centres »: The new forms of the European policy of sorting, encampment and outsourcing of exiles (pdf)

Public meeting in Calais, France on 12 December: "the « hotspots » terminology (especially for Italy and Greece) and « processing centre » (in Niger in particular) have become the new keywords in the European institutions’ communication. Activists and researchers gathered in Calais will exchange views both on these projects and the effects which can already be observed in a number of regions declared as “front lines” of the fight against the so-called illegal emigration. Participants from Greece, Turkey, Italy and Niger will share their experiences and analysis in order to strengthen the defence of human rights and the collective struggles in favour of freedom of movement in Calais, Europe and beyond."

French: « Hotspots » et « processing centres » : Les nouveaux habits de la politique européenne d’encampement, d’externalisation et de tri des exilé•e•s (Migreurop, link)

News (2.12.15)

Child drowns as refugee boat tries to reach Greek shores (ekathimerini, link): "A 4-year-old child was reported drowned in the early hours of Tuesday as she and 28 fellow passengers tried to swim to the shore of Rho, a small islet off the coast of Kastellorizo in the southeastern Aegean."

Children Account for 20% of Maritime Arrivals to Europe in 2015: IOM and UNICEF (IOM, link): "A new data brief produced by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre and UNICEF shows that children make up at least one in five of the 870,000 refugees and migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea so far this year.

The share is greatest along the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece and through the Western Balkans, where children make up over one quarter of arrivals. About 10 per cent of arrivals to Italy are children, with nearly three quarters unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.

Children are among the most vulnerable of the migrants and refugees travelling to Europe. More than one third of all deaths in the Aegean Sea this year have been of children, many of them infants."

CROATIA: Once a Refugee, Now a Helping Hand (UNHCR, link): "Some of the humanitarian workers, volunteers and police officers were refugees themselves 24 years ago. Then war raged across the Balkans. In Croatia they still remember the help they received from UNHCR when they themselves fled in search of safety."

Dispatches: Risks of the EU-Turkey Migration Deal (Human Rights Watch, link): "Asylum seekers fleeing most countries today cannot obtain effective refugee protection in Turkey. Syrians are given only temporary protection, and Afghans and Iraqis don’t receive even that. Preventing people from travelling to the EU will deny protection to many people who need it. Given the Turkish police force’s reputation for using excessive force, there is a risk that Turkey will use abusive tactics to prevent people from reaching its EU neighbors Greece and Bulgaria."

European Parliament press release: Permanent relocation scheme and list of safe countries of origin: state of play (pdf): "Two legislative proposals to tackle the migration and refugee crisis, one on a permanent mechanism for relocating people in need of international protection among EU member states under extreme pressure and another on an EU common list of safe countries of origin, were debated by the Civil Liberties Committee with the EU Commission, Council of Ministers, European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) on Tuesday afternoon."

European Union Naval Force Mediterranean SOPHIA: Press release 04/15: First Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) meeting for the Mediterranean Sea (pdf): "Since the EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia launch, last 22nd of June, 43 people have been reported to the Italian Authorities as suspect smugglers and 46 boats have been removed from illegal organizations’ availability while the EU Task Force contributed to save more than 5700 people."

Flow of refugee and migrant children into Greece doubles, UN agencies report (UN News Centre, link): "About a third of the refugees and migrants who have drowned in the Aegean Sea this year were children, while the number of children applying for asylum in the European Union has doubled compared to 2014, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today, warning of the increasing perils facing youngsters as winter takes hold."

Number of migrants reaching Europe dips but 1 million in sight for year: U.N. (Reuters, link): " An estimated 140,000 refugees and migrants reached Europe by sea in November, a big drop from October, although the numbers crossing remain very high and could reach 1 million for the year, the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday."

Syrian refugees expected to face mental health challenges (Toronto Sun, link): "Refugees are at a high-risk for mental health issues and often suffer spiked rates of depression and substance abuse, Canadian experts say.

Dr. Kwame McKenzie, a psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, says challenges for newcomers often stretch far beyond post-traumatic stress disorder following time in war zones or refugee camps."

Turkey Detains Hundreds of Asylum Seekers (AJ+ on Facebook, link to video): "The EU offered Turkey lots of cash to stem the flow of people entering Europe. Hours later, Turkey detained 1,300 refugees and migrants."

GREECE-TURKEY: PRESS RELEASE: No More Lives Lost in the Aegan Sea! (pdf)

"The undersigned organizations call on the EU and the Greek Government:

• to develop sufficient and effective resettlement programmes for refugees from third countries to the territory of European countries
• to develop refugee relocation programmes from Greece to other EU countries under which there will be significant increase in both the number of refugees relocated and the eligible countries of origin
• to offer to Greece the financial and technical support needed
• to remove the fence from the Greek-Turkish border and in any case to take all the necessary steps to ensure safe access to the land Greek-Turkey border for people entitled to international protection
• to take all the necessary steps so that the people entitled to international protection entering Greek territory are enjoying appropriate reception conditions that respect foremost human dignity."

Signed by AITMA, ARSIS, Network for the Social Support of Immigrants and Refugees, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greek Forum of Refugees, PRAKSIS, Initiative for Detainees' Rights.

News (1.12.15)

EU: Aktuality.sk: Slovakian Prime Minister urged to exclude Greece from Schengen area (Focus, link): "Greece should leave the Schengen area, Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico urged, cited by Aktuality.sk. “It is high time to do so,” he said in Brussels, where he participated in the extraordinary meeting of EU leaders and their Turkish counterpart. “We cannot tolerate one of the countries openly to refuse to fulfil its obligations under the protection of the Schengen borders. In such a situation, the Schengen area is useless,” Fico said.""

EU: Asylum seeker reception: Dignified standards must be maintained across the EU (EurActiv, link): "With unprecedented numbers of refugees arriving in Europe, we must do more to guarantee their safety and dignity, and help them to integrate into European society, writes Denis Haveaux."

Europe split over refugee deal as Germany leads breakaway coalition (The Guardian, link): "Months of European efforts to come up with common policies on mass immigration unravelled on Sunday when Germany led a “coalition of the willing” of nine EU countries taking in most refugees from the Middle East, splitting the union formally on the issues of mandatory refugee-sharing and funding."

GERMANY: CDU and CSU increase refugee pressure on Merkel and SPD (Deutsche Welle, link): "The domestic policy spokesman for Germany's conservative parliamentary parties can imagine a scenario in which authorities turn back refugees at the border. The timing of his comments is presumably not coincidental."

GREECE: Migrant wave unabated as EU makes deal with Turkey (ekathimerini, link): "Thousands of migrants arrived on Greek islands on Monday, just a day after Turkey pledged to help curb an influx of people heading through its territory to Europe via Greece at a landmark European Union summit.

After a lull of a few days, the number of arrivals picked up again over the weekend with more than 5,000 people arriving on Lesvos alone in the past two days, fueling concern among authorities who remain ill-equipped to handle the influx."

ICELAND: Will Iceland leave Schengen? (Iceland Monitor, link): "The question whether Iceland should remain a member of the borderless Schengen Area has been at the heart of a growing debate in the country following the migrant crisis in Europe and the terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Both the President and Prime Minister of Iceland are among those who have in recent weeks aired doubts about the country's membership of the cooperation."

Turkey arrests 1,300 asylum seekers after £2bn EU border control deal (The Guardian, link): "Turkey has stepped up a crackdown on people smuggling, arresting 1,300 asylum seekers in a single operation just hours after the country promised to curb the flow of refugees to Greece in exchange for financial aid from the EU."

UK: Refugee who fled horrors of Syrian war faces being DEPORTED from his new home in Britain (Mirror, link): "Yousef Hassan, 20, sought safety in the UK after leaving behind the deadly Syrian conflict - but now he could be sent to Italy"

EU-TURKEY: Talking Turkey: €3 billion to control migration

In the days leading up to the EU-Turkey summit that EU Council President Tusk said would "change the rules of the game when it comes to stemming the migration flow," the Commission issued its Decision on the project's funding: the €3 billion "Refugee Facility for Turkey" (pdf).

The Facility is supposed to be funded with €500 million from the EU and €2.5 billion from the Member States, and has the aim:

"to assist Turkey in addressing the immediate humanitarian and development needs of the refugees and their host communities, national and local authorities in managing and addressing the consequences of the inflow of refugees."

See also: Mülteci-Der (Association for Solidarity with Refugees): Put an end to the dirty deal and respect the human rights at the EU-Turkey summit on 29 November, 2015! (pdf): "We denounce this dirty deal over the lives of refugees. We say that no political, economical or social argument could be more precious than human lives. We call the EU and Turkish leaders to terminate this dirty deal at today's summit, to respect human rights and human honour in all their policies and practices and to be transparent in their negotiations and in their asylum/migration policies/practices."


News (30.11.15)

BELGIUM: "Boost capacity of closed asylum centres with 33%" (Flanders News, link): "The Asylum Secretary Theo Francken wants to create extra places in closed reception centres for asylum seekers that saw their application for a residence permit rejected. Francken was speaking in the VRT's Sunday news programme "De Zevende Dag". He also wants to send back 1,000 more undocumented people in the short run."

BULGARIA: Bulgaria Could Send up to 1000 Troops to Border if Migrant Wave Surges (Novinite, link): "Bulgaria could deploy up to 1000 troops at its borders to help police if a worsening crisis in Syria leads to increased migrant flow out of the war-torn country, Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev has said."

Bulgarian Authorities Detain Syrian Refugees Hidden in Romanian Truck (Novinite, link): "Bulgarian authorities detained nine Syrian refugees hidden in a Romanian truck in the Pass of the Republic (also known as Hainboaz) in central Bulgaria on Saturday."

CZECH REPUBLIC: PM: Prague not joining legal complaint against refugee quotas (Prague Post, link): "The Czech Republic will not join the legal complaint against mandatory quotas for the redistribution of refugees across the European Union as it does not want to harm its position in the EU, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said today."

EU: Merkel creates EU core group on refugees (EUobserver, link): "German leader Angela Merkel has said a core group of eight EU states is preparing to resettle refugees from Turkish camps next year.

"The eight leaders - from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden - held a separate meeting in Brussels on Sunday (29 November), shortly before all 28 member states met with Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu. "

Germany Offers Protection to Refugees Stranded in Egypt (Internatonal Organization for Migration, link): "This week IOM moved the last of nearly 600 refugees – half of them Syrian – from Egypt to Germany as part of the country’s Humanitarian Admissions Programme (HAP)."

POLAND: FM Waszczykowski: Polish refugee policy based on 'safety criteria' (Radio Poland, link): " The policy on how many refugees Poland will accept of the 7,000 pledged by the former government will depend on issues of safety, Foreign Minister Waszczykowski said."

EU-TURKEY: Meeting of heads of state or government with Turkey - EU-Turkey statement, 29/11/2015 (pdf):

[Pont 7] "The EU and Turkey agreed to implement the Joint Action Plan which will bring order into migratory flows and help to stem irregular migration. As a consequence, both sides will, as agreed and with immediate effect, step up their active cooperation on migrants who are not in need of international protection, preventing travel to Turkey and the EU, ensuring the application of the established bilateral readmission provisions and swiftly returning migrants who are not in need of international protection to their countries of origin." [emphasis added]

And: Press remarks by President Donald Tusk after the meeting of EU heads of state or government with Turkey (pdf):

"we expect a major step towards changing the rules of the game when it comes to stemming the migration flow that is coming to the EU via Turkey. Our agreement sets out a clear plan for the timely re-establishment of order at our shared frontier." [emphasis added]

Press coverage: Germany's plan to strike EU-wide refugee-sharing deal stalls (Guardian, link): "Angela Merkel holds surprise mini-summit in Brussels with nine EU countries after meeting EC resistance to pro-quota pact with Turkey.... Months of European efforts to come up with common policies on mass immigration unravelled when Germany led a “coalition of the willing” of nine EU countries taking in most refugees from the Middle East, splitting the EU on the issues of mandatory refugee-sharing and funding.... Merkel’s mini-summit brought together the leaders of Germany, Austria and Sweden – the countries taking the most refugees – Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Greece (and probably France)...."

The Danish Refugee Council is going to manage registration centre at Lesbos (apokoronasnews.gr, link):

"Reuters — Many refugees are still arriving to the Greek islands, and reception facilities cannot keep up with the arrival figures. Danish Refugee Council is now opening op in Greece, initially on Lesbos, where the vast majority of the refugees, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, arrive.... “We will begin by camp managing the Moria registration centre on Lesbos, where chaos is reigning at the moment. We must, so to speak, manage the centre; help with accommodation and ensure people have blankets and clothing and other basic necessities.

The Danish Refugee Council is the largest Danish humanitarian organization with more than 6,000 employees in nearly 40 of the world’s hotspots. DRC delivers emergency relief and long-term solutions to more than 2.5 million refugees and displaced persons each year in the regions of origin"

Refugee crisis: European Commission statistics up to 27-11-15 (pdf)

Comment on the current situation: The "relocation" process is at a complete standstill and worse the number of "relocation" offers seems to have actually fallen from 3,546 places on 6 November to 3,216.

News (28-29.1.15)

Hiding in plain sight: inside the world of Turkey's people smugglers (Guardian, link): " Thousands of refugees are continuing to board boats to Europe everyday despite the worsening winter weather."

FYROM border tension peaks as fence erected (ekathimerini.com, link): "Tensions peaked at Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the weekend after the FYROM army started building a border fence to keep out would-be migrants. FYROM border guards were photographed by foreign news agencies as they erected a 2.5-meter-high fence along the Greek border on Saturday." and Migrants attack Macedonian police as construction of Greek border fence begins (Guardian, link): "Officers retaliated with stun grenades and plastic bullets after unrest broke out among 800 migrants waiting at the border to continue their journey to northern Europe"

FYROM army starts building fence on Greek border (ekathimerini.com, link): "Soldiers in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) began erecting a metal fence on Saturday on the country's southern border with Greece, but the government said it had no plans to seal off access to refugees fleeing war and heading to western Europe." and Police, migrants clash on Macedonia border; soldiers build fence (Reuters, link): "Police in Macedonia fired tear gas and stun grenades at desperate migrants stranded for days at the Greek border and who are demanding passage to western Europe, as soldiers began erecting a metal fence to keep them out"

Brussels seeks Washington’s help on refugees - Europe wants military cooperation in the Med and diplomatic pressure on Gulf states (politico, link): "If the proposals are agreed, the EU and U.S. would establish an “effective liaison” between Eunavfor Med, the bloc’s newly launched mission to stop people smugglers, and the U.S. Sixth Fleet, which is also deployed in the Mediterranean."

Greece stresses its role before refugee summit (ekathimerini.com, link): "Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned on Friday that countries failing to adequately guard EU borders, and refusing to take in their share of refugees, could find themselves outside the borders of what he called a “mini-Schengen,” referring to the EU’s passport-free travel zone. A team of European officials are visiting Greece to help with preparations necessary to unlock emergency EU funding for tackling migration. It appears unlikely, however, that five refugee screening centers, or “hotspots,” that Greece has promised to set up on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos will be up and running by the end of the year, partly due to opposition by local authorities and residents."

EU-Turkey refugee talks turn sour as Erdogan belittles Juncker (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "The challenge of completing the deal, hammered out in a month of negotiations, was underlined at a difficult meeting on Monday between EU officials and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.... One European diplomat said the “tough exchange of views” underlined how difficult it was to negotiate with Turkey — particularly at a time when some member states are desperate for assistance with the crisis and have a weak bargaining position. “They are trying to exploit this situation in a way that some countries find unacceptable,” he said"

Turkish Ambassador: EU accession is our strategic choice (euractiv, link): "Turkey is now hosting more refugees than any other country in the world. The total number of Syrians living in Turkey is around 2.2 million. 260,000 Syrians are accommodated in 25 temporary protection centres and provided with food, non-food items, health and education services, as well as psychological assistance, vocational training and social activities. Syrians living outside these centres are also enjoying a protective regime, benefitting from free health care."

Refugees In Berlin Move Into Cold War Secret Police Headquarters (Huffington Psot): "Finally, these rooms will be used for something meaningful."

Tougher controls block hundreds from entering France (DW, link): "New border controls imposed ahead of upcoming climate talks in Paris have prevented people considered security risks from entering France. The controls were introduced just before the November 13 attacks in Paris."

European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Updated on 27 November (pdf)

- "Relocations" Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (pdf): 14 Member States 3,216 places (out of 160,000 needed), no change for three weeks... Only 159 people have been relocated: 129 from Italy and 30 form Greece - with major press coverage...

- Returns since September (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 609 people (up 1) plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece. Italy was the "Organising Member State" for two return flights to Nigeria. Returns flights have been to: Kosovo, Nigeria, Albania, Pakistan and Georgia.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) The Total Reception Capacity in Lesvos is: 700 (Moria) and next door: 780 (Kara Tepe) where there are: Frontex: 54 Officers (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams. Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer)

- Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million: (Communicated as of 27 November 2015) Member States Africa Trust Fund Syria Trust Fund Humanitarian aid (pdf) The total Shortfall is: 2,227,660 euro. The total pledged by EU Member States is only 572,34 m euro.

- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia (pdf)

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

EU-TURKEY: Background Note: Meeting of the EU heads of state or government with Turkey: Brussels, 29 November 2015 (pdf)

The reason for this meeting is to get Turkey to agree to the EU-drafted Action Plan on migration to stop refugees arriving in Greece and for Turkey to activate the EU-Turkey readmission agreement "to ensure the application of the established bilateral readmission provisions and the return of economic migrants to their countries of origin." The country of origin for refugees arriving in Greece is Turkey. Given that the EU officially will only recognise people from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea as being in need of international protection and "relocation" in the EU thousands of refugees from other countries, especially Afghanistan, could be returned to Turkey.

In return the EU will offer money, moving towards a visa facilitation measure and to "re-energise" the EU accession process.

See: EU seeks to buy Turkish help with migrants at controversial summit (Guardian, link): "Germany driving bid to get Ankara to block way to Greece in return for €3bn in aid, with scepticism high about merits of deal... European leaders are to stage an unprecedented and highly controversial summit with the Turkish government on Sunday in an attempt to outsource the migration crisis, paying Ankara €3bn for it to seal its border with Greece to halt or slow migrant flow"

News (27.11.15)

Turkey putting Syrian refugees 'at serious risk of human rights abuse' (Guardian, link): "Amnesty International says move by Turkish authorities to expel 80 Syrian refugees is in violation of international law.. Dozens of Syrian refugees have been deported to Syria by the Turkish authorities, putting them at risk of serious human rights abuses, Amnesty International has said. The human rights group said about 80 Syrian refugees who were previously held at a detention centre in the Turkish city of Erzurum had been expelled in violation of the non-refoulement principle of international law, which bans countries from returning refugees to conflict zones where their lives are in danger. It said another 50 more Syrian refugees were being held at the EU-financed detention centre following their participation in peaceful protests against being banned from entering Greece in September, and all of them faced deportation.""

Attacks against Muslims on the rise after Paris strikes (DW, link): "Hatemongers in several European countries have been targeting Muslims after the Paris attacks. Advocates say people urgently need to develop strategies for reconciliation rather than demonizing Muslims en masse.... "Attacks against Muslims began the very same night of the Paris attacks," Yasser Louati of the Collectif Contre l'Islamophobie en France (Collective Against Islamophobia in France) told DW. The CCIF has received several reports and even pictures of vandalized mosques and restaurants owned by Muslims following the November 13 attacks in Paris, when militants killed 130 people, Louati said." "

Migrants at FYROM border crossing block trains (ekathimerini.com, link): " Migrants have over the last few days been protesting FYROM’s decision not to let them cross from Greece. Many migrants have camped on the railway lines connecting the two countries, which means that no trains have come in or out of Greece for the last week." and Behind migrant protests, children live in limbo at Macedonia's border (DW, link): "With the Macedonian border closed to all but Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees, many children seeking asylum are stuck in a cold and dusty no man's land. Oscar Lopez reports from Idomeni, Greece."

Frontex to keep Piraeus office after protests (ekathimerini.com, link): "A meeting of Frontex’s management board in Warsaw, Poland, concluded with a decision to restructure the office in Piraeus but not to remove it after objections to the idea were raised by Greece and Cyprus." and see: Frontex to restructure its office in Greece (Frontex, link)

Mediterranean Migrants: Latest Developments (IOM, link) : "Greece - Based on data gathered by the Hellenic Police and IOM field staff, IOM estimates that over 110,000 migrants and refugees have now arrived in Greece by sea since the beginning of November. The sharp decrease in the number of arrivals witnessed last weekend – only 155 crossed on November 22 and 336 on November 23 – has now reversed and numbers have again picked up. On 24 November some 3,516 people crossed and on 25 November 5,140." and Latest figures: 868,282 arrivals in the EU, 721,217 to Greece, 143,114 to Italy and 3,551 dead/missing

Norway border controls stop Syrians in Denmark (The Local.dk, link)

Sweden: 14,000 illegal immigrants disappear without trace (The Local.se, link)

Berlin and Vienna try to put brakes on refugee influx (euractiv, link): "The Austrian and German governments are looking for a way to reduce the influx of refugees. They want to satisfy everyone."

Member states deepen development aid diversion to refugees (euractiv, link): "The Global South is losing out, as EU members dig into their development aid budgets to meet the costs of their asylum policies."

BELGIUM: Asylum Secretary writes to Afghans considering asylum in Belgium (Flanders News, link): "The Belgian Asylum Secretary Theo Francken has written a letter advising Afghans not to seek asylum in Belgium. The letter has been posted on Facebook and follows a similar initiative last October in which the secretary of state addressed Iraqis thinking of applying for asylum here."

Calais refugee camp hit by another blaze (The Local, link): "Photos have emerged from a fire that swept through the New Jungle migrant camp in Calais, injuring two and burning down numerous tents over 250 square metres. The blaze marks the third at the camp in under a month."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Zeman in press: PM's stance on migration threatens Czech security (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka's stance on the migrant crisis threatens the security of the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman told yesterday's issue of daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), calling the current migrant wave an organised invasion."

Czech, Slovak ministers agree to fund better border protection (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The Czech Republic and Slovakia are ready to help finance the measures to secure the EU outer border in connection with the migrant crisis and terrorism threats, Finance Minister Andrej Babis told reporters after a meeting with his Slovak counterpart Peter Kazimir yesterday."

EU: Over 1,500 Czech volunteers helping refugees abroad (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "Over 1,500 volunteers from the Czech Republic have been helping the refugees abroad since early September, Zuzana Lenhartova, from the We Are Helping Fleeing People group, told CTK yesterday."

ITALY: 'We were abandoned': migrants tell of suffering in Italy's private shelters (The Guardian, link): "Hosting a refugee earns landlords €35 a day from the state, but asylum seekers report being left without gas, water and food"

Migrants: six kids dead in shipwrecks off Turkey (ANSAmed, link): "Six children have died in two migrant shipwrecks at dawn Friday off the Turkish coast, state-run news agency Anadolu reports. Two Syrian brothers ages one and four, Diven Halil Hussein and Beren Halil Hussein, drowned after their ship sank off Bodrum with 23 others on board, who were all rescued. Four other bodies of children were found after another ship carrying Syrian and Afghan nationals sank off Ayvacik in which 51 migrants were rescued." 

When Sweden shut its doors it killed the dream of European sanctuary (Guardian, link): "Sweden has always welcomed refugees but the unprecedented migration crisis has forced it to shift ground: the high noon of social democracy has passed"

After Paris, is there a EU backlash against migrants? (CNBC, link): "A few months ago European leaders opened their arms, albeit reluctantly, to migrants coming into the continent from war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa - but amid heightened concerns over the terrorism, there now appears to be is a growing backlash at the top against the newcomers."

Schengen: going, going… gone (Politico, link): "An optimistic experiment comes to a sad end. What next?"

Dijsselbloem - Refugee crisis could trigger 'mini-Schengen' (Reuters, link): "Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned that countries which fail to adequately guard Europe's borders and do not take in a fair share of refugees could find themselves outside the borders of a future "mini-Schengen" zone. In an interview in Belgian business dailies De Tijd and L'Echo on Friday, Dijsselbloem, who is also the chair of the euro zone group of finance ministers, said the EU's passport-free Schengen zone could not work if only a few countries gave shelter to refugees. "There are a few countries that are carrying the heaviest burden in the asylum crisis, taking in the most refugees," he told the papers, naming Sweden, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands."

EU: Refugee crisis: Statewatch Briefing: Italy: MSF report on reception conditions in Pozzallo (pdf):

On 17 November 2015, MSF published a report on reception conditions in the CPSA (Centro di Primo Soccorso e Accoglienza, First Aid and Reception Centre) in Pozzallo which was submitted to the Commission of Inquiry into the system for reception, identification and holding of migrants, highlighting a number of serious shortcomings. MSF has been operating in the centre since February 2015, in order to attend to the medical and humanitarian needs of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who disembark in Sicily, in cooperation with the Ragusa province’s health authority (ASP, Azienda Sanitaria Provinciale).

NORWAY SHUTS BORDERS from 26 November - 6 December:due to "migratory pressure": Temporary reintroduction of border controls at the Norwegian internal borders in accordance with Articles 23 and 25 of Regulation (EC) 562/2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (pdf)

and see: Norway runs anti-refugee ads in Afghanistan (The Local.no, link): "Ads from the Norwegian government are in Afghan newspapers this week warning that potential asylum seekers “will be returned by force”."

Hungary tries refugees for illegal entry (DW, link): "Hungary rid itself almost entirely of migrants by building a border fence. It also deemed entering the country without permission a crime. Daniella Cheslow reports from the trial of a Syrian refugee in Szeged, Hungary.

Kovacs said Budapest is providing money and manpower for border construction in Serbia, Macedonia and Slovenia. Inside Hungary, about 1,500 migrants remain of the more than 300,000 people who crossed the country over the summer, according to the Helsinki Committee. Prime Minister Victor Orban has vowed to challenge attempts by the European Union to impose a mandatory quota on Hungary to resettle 2,000 refugees.... A spokesperson for the Szeged court wrote DW that since mid-September, 688 people were found guilty of the felony charge of crossing the border illegally. Almost all were sentenced to expulsions lasting between one and five years. The United Nations has ruled that crossing a border to seek asylum is not a crime;." [emphasis added]

News (26-11-15)

Frontex considers leaving its operational office in Greece (New Europe, link): "Frontex is considering packing up to go, according to NGO witnesses on the ground, the agency is not particularly up to the task of dealing with the crises.

Since late October, Frontex mobile teams went to Lesvos with their mission being to identify who is ‘illegally’ entering EU territory. The agency demanded the separation of Syrians and non-Syrians and went on to increase the scrutiny of the registration process. While doing so, they offered no technological, technical or other support to make that screening process more efficient and expedient. Since Frontex entered the scene, the registration processes slowed down dramatically"

Austria sees massive jump in right-wing crime (The Local.at, link): " Austria's police intelligence agency received 1,201 criminal complaints about racist and xenophobic crimes between January and September, compared to 750 in the same period last year - a jump of 60 percent.... The number of xenophobic and racist crimes in the first three quarters of 2015 was equal to the number reported for the previous three years, police figures showed. The interior ministry confirmed that this represented a real increase in crime, and not just an increased willingness to report racist and xenophobic crimes."

Alternate FM Xydakis and Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas visit Lesvos with EU and Schengen Ambassadors (24 November 2015) (link to Ministry, link)

Juncker: Euro doesn't make sense without Schengen (euobserver, link): "Juncker warned that the euro is pointless if people can't move around freely to use it"

Juncker warns against equating terrorists with refugees (Irish Times, link): "Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday morning , Mr Juncker said that those who perpetrated the attacks of November 13th were exactly the people who forced people to flee to Europe."

The Fear-mongers’ Bad Advice (HRW, link): "Favoring security over privacy only helps the terrorist agenda"

Italy: We were abandoned': migrants tell of suffering in Italy's private shelters Guardian, link): "Hosting a refugee earns landlords €35 a day from the state, but asylum seekers report being left without gas, water and food"

UN decries stopping refugees at borders (euractiv, link): "The United Nations yesterday (24 November) condemned new restrictions on refugees that have left around 1,000 migrants stuck at the main border crossing into Macedonia from Greece, denied entry due to their nationalities in violation of international law.

"Profiling asylum seekers on the basis of their alleged nationality infringes the human right of all people to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard," U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in a statement issued by his press office."

UN's Ban Ki-Moon decries Balkan refugee restrictions (DW, link): "UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has spoken out against filtering asylum-seekers by nationality, claiming that the procedure "infringes" on their rights. Several Balkan states are only accepting migrants from war-zones.

Ban called on authorities "to respond with compassion, solidarity and shared responsibility," and to ensure that their policies on screening refugees adhere to international regulations, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The head of the global organization also stressed that collective expulsion and return of asylum seekers were strictly prohibited under international law." [emphasis added]

News (25.11.15)

UNHCR statistics (link): 863,101 arrivals in the EU: 715,704 to Greece, 143,700 to Italy. 3,510 dead/missing (25.11.15) and: UNHCR warns of new humanitarian problems building at crossings from Greece into the Balkans (link): "On Friday last week, UNHCR, together with our partners IOM and Unicef, expressed our shared concern at the risks associated with a series of new and uncoordinated restrictions imposed on several borders in the Balkans in use by refugees and migrants. The negative consequences of these actions are already becoming clear as people become backed up in countries along the route and without proper solution to their situations. A new humanitarian situation is developing in Europe that needs urgent attention."

Slovakia takes EU to court over migrant quotas (euractiv, link): "Slovakia will launch legal action by next month against an EU quota plan to distribute 160,000 refugees and migrants across the bloc, a justice ministry spokeswoman told AFP today (24 November)."

Rate of refugee arrivals picking up (ekathimerini.com): "After a brief dip in the number of refugees and migrants arriving on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, an increase was noted on Tuesday in the quantity of boats reaching Greek shores from Turkey. The uptick came a day ahead of Frontex’s management board meeting in Warsaw on Wednesday, when it is expected that the European Union border agency will decide to move its operational office from Piraeus. The office has been located in the port city since 2010 and its removal would be seen as a diplomatic blow for Greece, especially given the current flow of refugees to the country." [emphasis added]

French PM: Europe can receive no more refugees (euobserver, link): "France's prime minister Manuel Valls told several newspapers Tuesday (24 November) he wants Europe to completely halt the influx of migrants from the Middle East, as Sweden announced it would become more strict with asylum seekers. “We cannot receive more refugees in Europe. It is not possible”, Valls said, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, adding that Europe must control its external borders. Valls: 'We cannot receive more refugees in Europe. It is not possible' “If we do not do that, then the people will say: it's over with Europe”, noted the centre-left politician."

Sweden slams shut its open-door policy towards refugees (Guardian, link); ‘We simply can’t do any more,’ prime minister says in announcing Sweden’s asylum regime will revert to EU minimum" and Sweden and Norway tighten asylum rules (Deutsche Welle, link): "Sweden and Norway have tightened border controls and asylum rules as a means to reduce the number of asylum seekers. The move is also an effort to force other European Union member states to take in more refugees."

BALKANS: Refugee crisis: Stranded Iranian asylum seekers sew their mouths shut in protest at Greek-Macedonian border (The Independent, link): "A group of Iranian refugees have sewn their mouths shut and gone on hunger strike at the border between Greece and Macedonia as hundreds of asylum seekers continue to be trapped."

BALKANS: UN's Ban Ki-Moon decries Balkan refugee restrictions (Deutsche Welle, link): "UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has spoken out against filtering asylum-seekers by nationality, claiming that the procedure "infringes" on their rights. Several Balkan states are only accepting migrants from war-zones."

FINLAND: Asylum applications drop in Finland after Sweden launches border checks (Helsinki Times, link): "Finnish authorities maintain the readiness to house asylum seekers in tents instead of accommodation facilities regardless of the fact that the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country has dropped considerably following a decision by Sweden to step up its border control efforts."

French, German ministers propose 10 billion euro fund for refugee crisis (Reuters, link): " The French and German economy ministers have proposed setting up a 10 billion euro (7.06 billion pound) fund to pay for tighter security, external border controls and care of refugees, French minister Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday."

French PM: Europe can receive no more refugees (EUobserver, link): "France's prime minister Manuel Valls told several newspapers Tuesday (24 November) he wants Europe to completely halt the influx of migrants from the Middle East, as Sweden announced it would become more strict with asylum seekers."

GERMANY: Merkel tries to hit tough-but-fair note on refugees (The Local, link): "Angela Merkel continued her balancing act between her party and her principles in a speech to MPs on Wednesday as she attempted to reassure parliament that she had the refugee crisis under control."

GERMANY: November set to break refugee arrivals record (The Local, link): "November is set to break the record set in October for the highest number of refugees to arrive in Germany in one month, police reported on Monday."

NETHERLANDS: Minister gets tough on asylum seekers who commit crime (Dutch News, link): "The government is making it harder for asylum seekers who commit crimes to obtain and keep a residency permit, junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff has told parliament in a briefing."

Immigration detention in Europe (eutopiamagazine.eu, link): "Well before the current mass arrival of refugees, Europe has been busy closing its borders. As part of this attempt to ‘manage migration’, most member states have witnessed a growing intersection between criminal justice and immigration policy, introducing a host of new legislation criminalising matters that used to be purely administrative."

Czech Republic: Anti-Islam group head accused of inciting hatred of Muslims (Prague Post, link): "Martin Konvicka, leader of the Czech far-right group Bloc Against Islam, has been accused of encouraging hatred of Muslims over the statements he made on his Facebook profile, his lawyer Klára Samková told journalists today"

Norway to clamp down on asylum 'misuse' (The Local.no, link): "Refugees and migrants who cross into Norway from Russia to seek asylum will be turned away without due process"

Greece: FM Xydakis: EU faces challenges that threaten its cohesion (ANAMPA, link)

Latest European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (Updated on 24 November, pdf):

Summary: No more offers of "relocation" places in past two weeks, so still only 3,216 places offered to meet need for 160,000. This stasis is feeding into the new barriers (both physical and new "rules" limiting entry) being constructed and putting pressure on Serbia, Macedonia and Greece.

- Relocation offers by Member States (pdf): 14 Member States 3,216 places (out of 160,000).
159 (was 168 oreviously) people have been "relocated". There have been no more offers of relocation.

- Returns: since September (pdf) Joint Frontex Return flights: 608 (previously, 569) people have been returned, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece.

- "Hotspots: staffing in Greece and Italy (pdf)

- Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million (pdf)

- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia (pdf)

See: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

EU: Council calls for Summit with Turkey on migration: Invitation letter by President Donald Tusk to the EU heads of state or government for a meeting with Turkey (pdf): "I have now decided to call a meeting of the Heads of State or government of the EU with Turkey this coming Sunday (29 November). The meeting will mark an important step in developing our relations and contribute to managing the migration crisis."

EU-Turkey meeting on refugees likely as pressure builds on Greek border (ekathimerini.com, link): "Amid reports of a possible meeting soon between the European Union and Turkey on the refugee crisis, the pressure continued to mount on Greece’s northern border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), where hundreds of migrants are stuck demanding passage."

EU: Institute for Security Studies: Migration: new ‘ push’ and ‘ pull’ dynamics (pdf)

EU: Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP): Crisis management missions outside EU looking for new migration roles: Germany/Netherlands: DE/NL Food for Thought-Paper Tapping the full potential of CSDP in the field of migration (13 November 2015, pdf):

"it must be clear that CSDP missions are a crises management instrument... CSDP Missions have encompassed a variety of approaches and tools for crisis management and stabilization. They range from the training of security forces and the support for the rule of law, to the provision of a military or civilian presence to safeguard elections or to monitor border arrangements and ceasefire agreements, to the fight against piracy or other forms of organised crime....

we should explore whether a horizontal CSDP mission specifically for migration issues, with its HQ in the EU itself, could serve to rapidly deploy expertise to third countries to assist in analyzing and addressing specific issues that affect migration flows into the EU."

News (24.11.15)

IOM: 24 November 2015: (link): 858,805 arrivals in the EU: 712,159 to Greece and 142,695 to Italy. 3,548 dead/missing

UN slams new restrictions for refugees, migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "About 1,000 refugees and migrants are stuck at the main crossing point into Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) from Greece as authorities deny entry to some nationalities in contravention of international law, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

“A new humanitarian situation is developing in Europe that needs urgent attention,” Adrian Edwards of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told a news briefing. “All people have the right to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard. Proper information needs to be provided to people affected by decisions at border points, and proper counselling needs to be available,” he said.

Mediterranean Migrants: Latest Developments (IOM, link): "Greece - IOM staff in Greece report a drastic decrease in the number of migrants and refugees crossing into Greece over the weekend. On Sunday, just 155 migrants arrived on the Greek islands by sea. Of these, 79 arrived in Kalymnos, 44 in Megisti and 24 in Lesvos. The remainder arrived in Chios and Kos." But see: Thousands of refugees arrive at Lesvos as weather conditions improve (amna.gr, link, 24-11-15): "Thousands of refugees arrived at Lesvos island on Tuesday as weather conditions have improved"

Hampered by new border controls, migrants make case for asylum (DW, link): "As Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans pass through Balkan states, asylum-seekers from other nations remain stuck in Greece and protest against new border controls. Diego Cupolo reports from Idomeni refugee camp."

Migrants Protest After Macedonia Shuts Them Out (Balkan Insight, link): "Hundreds of migrants have been protesting for several days at Macedonia’s southern border with Greece against Skopje’s decision only to allow them to transit the country if they come from war-torn states.... Only refugees from countries affected by ongoing armed conflicts such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq who possess complete documents are currently being allowed to enter Macedonia.The Macedonian authorities followed the example of Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia, which are also on the Balkan refugee transit route, in an attempt to keep out what they regard as economic migrants. The Macedonian government is reported to have received written notice from Croatia and been informed by telephone by Serbia that Zagreb and Belgrade will send back migrants who do not come from conflict zones.... Some of the migrants told Macedonian media that they don’t have the money to go back and haven’t eaten for days.""

Danish government backtracking on EU asylum-seeker pledge (The Copenhagen Post, link): "Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has announced that Denmark will no longer be accepting 1,000 asylum-seekers from other EU countries, as was previously pledged, DR reports. "Rasmussen told the Venstre party meeting in Herning that the volume of asylum-seekers otherwise making their way to the country precludes Denmark from taking its share of EU asylum-seeker quotas agreed in September."

Greek PM to Meet with German and Turkish Premiers Over Refugee Crisis (Greek Reporter, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the refugee crisis very soon. This is according to German government deputy spokesperson; Georg Streiter though he did not provide a date or location, according to CNN Greece."

POLAND: Most Polish municipalities fail to set refugee quotas (Radio Poland, link): "No more than 66 out of 2,500 of Poland’s municipalities have declared willingness to take in refugees, writes daily Rzeczpospolita. "In total, the country’s administrative districts have set forth to welcome 435 asylum-seekers, including 113 families, 212 children and 27 singles, according to the results of a nationwide survey run by the Labour Ministry, released by the paper."

And see: PM Szydlo: we need to assess whether EU refugees decision was 'appropriate' (Radio Poland, link): " Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has announced that the government will debate whether the decisions taken by the EU to redistribute thousands of asylum seekers around the bloc are still the “right ones”. "

POLAND: Poland to restore border checkpoints (Radio Poland, link): "'We seek to deploy border guards in places that have been phased out in recent years,' the minister said in an interview for Polish Radio. "As Blaszczak underlined, screenings would be put in place for all travelers entering EU’s passport-free zone, including European citizens – a step which will entail a targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code."

Greek Crewman Accused of Sinking Syrian Refugee Boat (Sputnik: Video, link):

"Refugees with kids fleeing from Syria have been caught on the Aegean Sea on their way to Europe by Greek coastguard crewmen who reportedly tried to pierce their rubber boat... An "armed masked man" whose identity remains unidentified is seen multiple times disabling vessels with refugees and towing them back to Turkey... The Greek coastguard left the scene just after the boat started to sink, so it was left to the Turkish boat to take drowning refugees on board and take them back to the Turkish city of Didim".

EU: European Parliament: Briefing : Fingerprinting migrants: Eurodac Regulation (pdf)

European Commission refuses to uphold rule of law (euobserver, link):

"Back in July, the parliament asked the commission to activate the rule of law ‘framework’ in relation to Hungary. The commission’s reply, sent to MEPs on 12 November, is bound to taste bitter.... The EU’s only available tool, Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, had already proved unworkable because it cannot be used without the consent of national governments, which are reluctant to target each other with sanctions...."

News (23-24.11.15)

Stranded migrants block railway, call hunger strike (ekathimerini.com, link): "Moroccans, Iranians and Pakistanis on Greece’s northern border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) blocked rail traffic and demanded passage to western Europe on Monday, stranded by a policy of filtering migrants in the Balkans that has raised human rights concerns. One Iranian man, declaring a hunger strike, stripped to the waist, sewed his lips together with nylon and sat down in front of lines of FYROM riot police."

Makeshift mosque attacked on Crete (ekathimerini.com, link): "A house believed to be a makeshift mosque in the Cretan city of Iraklio was the target of a failed bomb attack on Monday, police said."

Hampered by new border controls, migrants make case for asylum (DW, link): "As Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans pass through Balkan states, asylum-seekers from other nations remain stuck in Greece and protest against new border controls. Diego Cupolo reports from Idomeni refugee camp."

German media report suggests a 'winter upsurge in refugee numbers' (DW, link): "The German government's forecast of falling migrant numbers during the winter might be flawed, according to a German media report. Various factors could cause an upsurge in the number of people seeking refuge."

This Greek Artist in New York is Trying to Make People Think About the Refugee Crisis in Europe (Greek Reporter, link)

Conditions worsen for refugees stranded at Balkan borders (euractiv, link): "New border controls in the Western Balkans are leaving refugees stranded behind barbed wire as temperatures start to plunge, and aid agencies warned that the clampdown would lead to a rise in smuggling. Countries along the Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking refuge in Western Europe last week began filtering the flow, granting passage only to those fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The move has stranded a growing number of Iranians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and other nationalities from Asia and Africa."

EU needs US-type refugee screening (euobserver, link)

Migrants Protest After Macedonia Shuts Them Out (Balkan Insight, link): "Hundreds of migrants have been protesting for several days at Macedonia’s southern border with Greece against Skopje’s decision only to allow them to transit the country if they come from war-torn states."

One of 15 missing in Bodrum boat capsizing found dead (Hurriyet, link): "One of the 15 migrants reported missing after a boat capsized off the Aegean resort town of Bodrum has been found dead... Meanwhile, Turkey has stepped up efforts to enforce stricter border patrols near its northwestern borders to prevent illegal migrant crossings into European countries."

Visiting the Calais camps made us ashamed to be British (The Independent, link): "We have recently returned from the ‘jungle’ in Calais where we have been working in a warehouse preparing winter shelters for the occupants of the camp. We went there to join our elder daughter and 4 fellow students from the University of Aalborg."

Greek concerns mount over refugees as Balkan countries restrict entry (Guardian, link):

"Estimated 3,600 Europe-bound migrants stranded on Greek border, and debt-stricken Athens is ill-placed to deal with additional burden... “The nightmare scenario has started to develop where Greece is turned from a transit country to a holding country due to the domino effect of European nations closing their borders,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights. “There is no infrastructure in place to handle people being stuck here,”....

Those affected by the ban – mainly Iranians, north Africans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis – demonstrated within spitting distance of Macedonian border guards on Saturday, shouting “we are not terrorists” and “we are not going back”... “This business of placing restrictions and erecting fences to keep terrorists out when terrorists are already in their countries makes no sense whatsoever,” said Ketty Kehayiou, a UNHCR spokeswoman in Athens. “Profiling by nationality defies every convention.”"

EU: In the light of the refugee humanitarian crisis this year, and the recent Valletta Summit with Africa, it is interesting to look at the following, highly detailed Council of the European Union report on "migratory pressures", adopted in May 2014: EU Action on Migratory Pressures - A Strategic Response - 4th Biannual Update (LIMITE doc no: 9277-rev-1-14, 78 pages, pdf) including:

"Strategic Priority III- Preventing illegal immigration from Turkey:

Several initiatives aimed at preventing illegal immigration from Turkey have been undertaken at various levels. Regarding cooperation between the Greek and Turkish authorities, progress has been noticed in a number of areas during the last period of time....

And under: "Strategic priority area: Preventing illegal immigration from Turkey"

"As of August 2012 and continuing, seaborne migratory flows transiting from Turkey to Greece destined to other EU Member States/Schengen Associated Countries have increased significantly...."

Refugee Crisis: Balkans border blocks leave thousands segregated and stranded in Greece (AI, link):

"During the night of 18 November, Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia all changed their border management practices suddenly, without prior notice, and more or less simultaneously.

Macedonia was the first to act, by refusing to admit anyone unless they have papers to prove they originate from Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. This meant that hundreds of people were stranded, either because they are from other countries, including Iran, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan, or because they do not have identity papers. Greek border police in the village of Idomeni continue to prevent nationals of countries other than Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria from leaving on the basis that Macedonia would not let them in.

"These governments appear to have acted without thinking through the consequences for thousands of people who are now stranded in grossly inadequate conditions with nowhere to go and precious little humanitarian assistance. With thousands more people on the way, action is urgently needed to reverse this worsening disaster" John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International."

News (21-22.11.15)

From UNHCR : 850,571 arrivals, 703,374 to Greece and 143,500 to Italy. 3,485 dead/missing.

UNHCR: Balkan states turning away 'economic migrants' (DW, link): "Some Balkan states are no longer letting in supposed "economic migrants." Melita Sunjic, from the Belgrade office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tells DW why this is such a grave turn of events."

GREECE-MACEDONIA: Ivanov explains FYROM border fence strategy (ekathimerini.com, link):"FYROM started construction on a fence a few days ago, prompting concern that thousands of migrants would become trapped on the Greek side of the border, at the village of Idomeni. Ivanov, however, told a group of journalists from Greece and FYROM that Skopje would continue to send back to Greece any migrants that are expelled from its northern neighbors." and see: Blocked migrants protest at Greek-FYROM border (link)

EP: GUE/NGL calls for guaranteed safe passage and adequate shelter for all those in need of protection (GUE, link): "NGOs and international organisations, such as Amnesty International and MSF, have denounced the actions taken by the Balkan States, which included collective expulsions and denied access to asylum procedures. UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF have warned that this clampdown would lead to an increase in smuggling. Swedish MEP Malin Björk commented: "The relatively safe passage that has been created through the Western Balkans route absolutely needs to be maintained. Blocking certain nationalities at the border is a de facto systematic push-back. This arbitrary decision causes additional hardship on the women, men and children who are seeking safety.”"

Sweden refugees sleep outside for second night (The Local.no, link): "The Swedish Migration Agency on Friday left newly arrived refugees to sleep outside in the cold for the second night running, although religious and civil organisations eventually stepped in."

Migrants storm fence at Spain's Melilla enclave (The Local.es, link): "Close to 100 migrants tried to storm the border fence from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla Saturday in a scramble that left one man seriously injured, authorities said."

France Demands Border Control Overhauls in Greece (Migrant Report, link): "French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has demanded an overhaul of border checks in Greece and Italy following information that at least two of the terrorists responsible for the Paris attacks may have come in from the Greek islands as refugees"

Chaos on Greek islands as refugee registration system favours Syrians (Guardian, link): "Process encourages ethnic groups to lie about their backgrounds as Syrian families are fast-tracked on Lesbos... Syrian families arriving on the island of Lesbos, where nearly 400,000 asylum seekers have landed so far in 2015, are separated from other nationalities and given expedited treatment that allows them to leave the island for mainland Europe within 24 hours. Syrian males, Yemenis and Somalis are registered in a separate and slower camp but still receive preferential treatment and are usually able to continue their journey within a day.But a third category of asylum seekers – including many from war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan – are being processed in another camp where there are roughly half as many passport-scanners... A Frontex spokeswoman said... her agency was not involved in the decision to create a three-tier system. Izabella Cooper said that "organisation of the management of the registration and identification process is the exclusive responsibility of the Greek national authorities."" Statewatch comment: this latter statement is misleading: the three-tier system is laid down by the EU in document after document which spell out the roles that Frontex and Europol are to play. And see: Tensions between Afghan and Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos – video (link)

Thank You From The Bottom Of Our Hearts! (YouTube, link): Report by Eric Kempson on Pipka an open home for refugees, inclusing making huts from wood taken from the boats they came in..

Angela Merkel, a decade in power: Could Germany's controversial open-door refugee policy bring about her downfall? (Independent, link) "In the final part of our series, Tony Paterson considers whether the German Chancellor has bitten off more than she can chew, especially in light of the Paris attacks "

‘Nearly impossible’ to find jihadists among migrants, Greeks warn (ekathimerini.com, link): "As the hunt for jihadists widens after last week's Paris attacks, authorities in Greece warn it was virtually impossible to pick out dangerous extremists among arriving migrants, without prior intelligence. “If they are not already registered in the database, it's nearly impossible,” says Dimitris Amountzias, police captain in charge of Moria, Greece's main registration camp on the island of Lesvos."

Zeman spreads anti-migrant hatred effectively (Prague Post, link): "Columnist says comments about Islam by president are ‘a huge faux pas’ "

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 20 November 2015: Conclusions of the Council and Member States on counter-terrorism (pdf):

"in the context of the current migration crisis, carry out a systematic registration, including fingerprinting, of third country nationals illegally entering the Schengen area, whether migrants or applicants for international protection, and perform systematic security checks by using relevant databases, in particular SIS II, Interpol databases, VIS and national police databases, with the support of Frontex and Europol, and ensure that hotspots are equipped with the relevant technology. Europol will deploy guest officers to the hotspots in support of the screening process, in particular by reinforcing secondary security controls,"

And see: Paris attacks show flawed use of Schengen rules, ministers confess (euractiv, link): "The ministers agreed on making these [border checks] checks mandatory. Moreover, all EU citizens will be now considered a potential threat, so all EU travellers will be subject to a stricter scrutiny, including checks against the Schengen Information System (SIS), as is the case for all third country nationals. and

Paris attacks show flawed use of Schengen rules, ministers confess (euoberver, link): ""We need to check Europeans because the threat comes from within," a French official said.. "Our collective reaction must be ruthless," French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a press conference."

IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF Joint Statement on New Border Restrictions in the Balkans (link):

"In the last couple of days, we have witnessed Governments instituting a range of restrictions against movements of refugees and migrants from Greece through the Western Balkans and further northwards.

This includes people being profiled on the basis of nationality. This is becoming increasingly untenable from every point of view – humanitarian, legal, and also safety related, not least in light of falling temperatures and the risks for children and others with specific needs.

These measures by States are creating tension at border crossings and a domino effect, leaving in total limbo some refugees and migrants stranded at different border points..."

And: Tempers flare at Greek-FYROM border (ekathimerini.com): "Tempers have flared at Greece’s main border crossing with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), where riot police pushed back thousands of migrants jostling to cross over, after FYROM blocked access to people deemed to be economic migrants and not refugees. Holding their identity papers aloft, several hundred Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, who are being allowed into FYROM, crossed the border Friday morning until police halted the flow again to ease congestion on the FYROM side. Once across, migrants head for the nearby Gevgelija train station, to continue by rail north through Serbia toward wealthier northern European Union countries. About 3,000 people remain on the Greek side of the border near the village of Idomeni, including about 1,000 Iranians and north Africans whom FYROM is not letting in."

EU: Migrant journeys: respecting the dead (IRR, link): An interview with Catriona Jarvis, former judge of the United Kingdom Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), and now a writer/ activist on human rights initiatives.

"Where states fail to take all reasonable steps to safeguard and identify the dead so as to enable surviving family to recover, lay to rest and mourn their loved ones, potential breaches of the right to dignity and to freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment arise, as well as failure to respect the right to family life and to physical and moral integrity of those left behind...

across Europe, and indeed globally, there is an urgent need for a new visa regime to allow not only humanitarian visas for those fleeing serious harm, but also visas to permit lawful movement of bereaved family members and procedures for repatriation of bodies in such situations."

See also: Statewatch Viewpoint: In Potters’ Fields (pdf) by Catriona Jarvis: A potter's field, pauper's grave, or common grave, is a term for a place used for the burial of unknown or indigent people.

News (20.11.15)

Greek police arrest 10 over forged papers for migrants (Reuters, link): "This criminal organisation has provided more than 100 Greek passports and identity cards so far, charging between 300 and 700 euros depending on the document," a police official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said Pakistani and Afghani nationals were among those arrested. The fake registration papers had a forged Lesbos police stamp that meant the holders did not need to have their fingerprints taken by authorities on the island, he added. The falsified documents were mostly used to allow the migrants to travel from Greece by plane. The fingerprints of those arrested would be sent to Interpol for checks, he said."

Belgium, IOM Seek Solutions to Migration and Refugee Crisis (link): "“Migration is not a problem or an issue to be solved, but a human phenomenon to be managed. Turning the migration challenge into opportunity requires good migration governance, a broad, durable consensus among a wide constituency, and coherent coordinated policies among partners,” said Ambassador Swing"

How will future generations judge our response to the greatest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime? (19 million project, link): "The 19 Million Project is a program born from a collaborative effort between Chicas Poderosas and La Coalizione Italiana Liberta e Diritti (CILD). It is sponsored by the multi-platform media networks, Univision and Fusion."

Syrians fly to Mauritania for perilous Sahara trek, Europe tightens borders (Reuters, link)

The 19 Million Project: Bypassing national borders and narratives to tell the stories of refugees (journalism.co.uk): "Journalists, coders and activists from around the world met up in Rome to discuss new approaches to covering the migration crisis – here are some of their takeaways"

Greek authorities step up identity checks (ekathimerini.com): "Greek authorities have started supplementary identity checks on immigrants reaching Athens by ferry from the country's eastern islands, after breaking up a ring that sold fake identity documents to migrants arriving on Lesvos. About 1,500 refugees and other migrants who reached Athens' port of Piraeus early Friday were scrutinized as they disembarked from the Ariadni ferry. Dozens were taken aside and driven away in police buses for further checks. The crackdown followed the arrests on Lesvos late Thursday of about 10 people, including Afghan, Pakistani and Iraqi nationals, who allegedly sold forged police identity documents to newly arrived migrants. Police said the gang was charging 300-400 euros for each document, and is believed to have been selling up to 500 a day. That would allow migrants to circumvent the official registration process, and buy ferry tickets for Piraeus without being screened by authorities on Lesvos - where most migrants crossing to Greece from Turkey arrive."

Merkel, Faymann call on other countries to step up amid refugee crisis (DW, link): "Angela Merkel and Werner Faymann have called for EU states to step up to help refugees. They pushed for the so-called 'hotspots' to be implemented and also suggested closer cooperation with Turkey."

Sweden hits refugee crisis zero hour (DW, link): "Sweden has reached the breaking point. The country's migration agency has said it can no longer put a roof over the heads of the high number of people requesting asylum each day. Richard Orange reports from Malmö."

GERMANY: Barnstorf - Feuer in Wohnhaus gelegt [Fire started in apartment] (Presseportal.de, link): "Am Donnerstag legte ein unbekannter Täter ein Feuer in einem Wohnhaus in der Aldorfer Straße. In dem Haus wohnen derzeit 11 Asylbewerber mit verschiedenen Nationalitäten. Gegen 19:20 Uhr legte der Täter laut derzeitigem Ermittlungsstand ein brennendes Stück Stoff in den Anbau des Hauses. Der Anbau wird nicht als Wohnfläche genutzt, sodass sich darin keine brennbaren Gegenstände befunden haben. Ein Bewohner des Hauses bemerkte das Feuer schnell und löschte es umgehend mit eigenen Mitteln. Es kam somit nicht zu einem Brandausbruch im Haus, sodass für die Bewohner und das Wohnhaus keine Gefahr bestand. Der Staatsschutz der Polizeiinspektion Diepholz hat die Ermittlungen aufgenommen." Summary: There was an arson attempt on a house in which 11 asylum-seekers of various nationalities are currently living. However, the arsonist placed burning material in a building annexed to the house, which was noticed by a resident and extinguished. The police have begun an investigation.

Balkan countries close borders to 'economic migrants' (EUobserver, link): "Four countries along the migratory route in the western Balkans have in one day closed their borders to all migrants except those from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, in a move that each justified because of restrictions imposed by the next country in the chain."

EU foreign policy coordinator Mogherini postpones her visit to Czech Republic (Prague Monitor, link): " Federica Mogherini has not paid her originally planned visit to Prague yesterday also because some Czech politicians automatically link Islam and refugees with terrorism without distinguishing between the migrants, Czech Radio (CRo) said yesterday, citing a high EU source."

'Muslims feel oppressed' after Paris attacks (The Local.at, link): "The President of Austria’s Islamic Religious Community has spoken about the consequences of the Paris terror attacks for Muslims and how frustrated he feels that Muslims have to constantly distance themselves from terrorists."

Denmark to open refugee camp amid aid criticism (The Local.dk, link): "Denmark’s first tent camp for refugees is expected to open this weekend as the nation faces criticism for diverting international development funds to deal with asylum seekers within the country."

IOM, UN Call for Additional Reception Capacity along Migrants’ Balkan Route (novinite.com, link): "The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday urged the countries lying along the so-called Balkans route used by migrants and refugee to reach western Europe to to put in place additional reception capacity at the points of entry and to allow for decent and effective accommodation.."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 20 November 2015: Draft Conclusions of the Council of the EU and of the Member States meeting within the Council on Counter-Terrorism (LIMITE doc no: 14298-15, pdf): includes:

"implement immediately the necessary systematic and coordinated checks at external borders, including on individuals enjoying the right of free movement,...

in the context of the current migratory crisis, carry out a systematic registration, including fingerprinting, of all migrants entering into the Schengen area and perform systematic security checks by using relevant databases in particular SIS II, Interpol SLTD database, VIS and national police databases, with the support of Frontex and Europol, and ensure that hotspots are equipped with the relevant technology. Europol will deploy guest officers to the hotspots in support of the screening process, in particular by reinforcing secondary security controls,...

provide, in its proposal to update the Frontex Regulation, a solid legal basis for the contribution of Frontex to the fight against terrorism and organised crime and access to the relevant databases.... Frontex will: contribute to the fight against terrorism and support the coordinated implementation of the Common Risk Indicators (CRIs) before the end of 2015, – assist the Member States to tighten controls of external borders to detect suspicious travels of foreign terrorist fighters and smuggling of firearms, in cooperation with Europol, – work closely with Europol and Eurojust, in particular in the context of the hotspots..."

Refugee crisis: Serbia, FYROM limit migrant passage to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghan (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Serbia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have begun limiting the passage of migrants across their borders to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, turning back Africans and Asians, the United Nations said on Thursday.

A senior police source in FYROM, who declined to be named, said Skopje had acted after European Union member Slovenia, further along the migrant path, had told countries in the region that it would start doing the same. “They will turn back all others on the basis they are economic migrants,” the official said." nad see:

Balkan countries implement tighter border restrictions (DW, link):

"The U.N. refugee agency says three Balkan countries have shut their borders for migrants from states that are not directly engulfed in wars. Hundreds of thousands of people pass through the Balkan route to reach Germany. ...

The UNHCR says Macedonia has begun allowing only people from these three countries to cross its southern border from Greece, while Greek authorities say migrants of other nationalities are gathering on the Greek side of the border and blocking the crossing completely. Aleksandra Kraus, a UNHCR spokeswoman in Macedonia, said Thursday that Macedonian authorities had begun allowing only people from warzones to enter the country because Serbian authorities had imposed the same criteria on those attempting to cross the Macedonian-Serbian border."" also

Balkan states start filtering migrant flow to Europe (Reuters, link): "Balkan countries have begun filtering the flow of migrants to Europe, granting passage to those fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan but turning back others from Africa and Asia, the United Nations and Reuters witnesses said on Thursday.

The move left hundreds of people stranded on borders. On Serbia's frontier with European Union-member Croatia about 400 were denied access to a train and were halted by Croatian police as they tried to cross the border through fields, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), said..

.A police spokesman in EU-member Slovenia confirmed Ljubljana would start returning "economic migrants" arriving through neighbouring Croatia, saying it could only grant passage to those "from countries where there are armed battles"."

EU: Statewatch Viewpoint: In Potters’ Fields (pdf) by Catriona Jarvis:

A potter's field, pauper's grave, or common grave, is a term for a place used for the burial of unknown or indigent people.

This article takes up the crucial issue of what happens to those who have died in the Mediterranean? Are their deaths recorded and the next of kin informed? What systems are in place to ensure relatives, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons know what happen to their relatives and where they are? This harrowing account traces what does, and does not happen. And asks the question, why is there no EU-wide procedure in place to ensure that the dead do not just disappear into unknown graves?

European Parliament: Working Document: on EU internal and external funding related to its migration and asylum policy Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Co-Rapporteurs: Roberta Metsola, Kashetu Kyenge Shadow Rapporteurs: Barbara Spinelli, Ignazio Corrao (pdf)

News (19.11.15)

Turkey: Refugee crisis dominates Tsipras trip to Turkey (DW, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave his full backing to Turkey's EU membership. That also expressed his support for Ankara’s position on the refugee crisis attracted much attention... Greece and Turkey pledged to work together in forming a "bilateral working group" aimed at solving the refugee crisis and agreed to start joint security efforts along the Aegean coast.."

Merkel says must 'very quickly’ reach an accord with Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): "A focus at the EU-Turkey summit will be the maritime border between Turkey and Greece, Merkel said. “It can’t be that the Aegean, the small sea zone between Greece and Turkey, is dominated by smugglers and kidnappers and not a rational border system,” Merkel said. “That has to change.”"

France confirms it will receive 30,000 refugees (euobserver, link): "France will receive 30,000 refugees in the next two years, president Francois Hollande confirmed Wednesday (18 November).The figure had first been announced by prime minister Manuel Valls in September."

Merkel, Faymann call on other countries to step up amid refugee crisis (DW, link): "Angela Merkel and Werner Faymann have called for EU states to step up to help refugees. They pushed for the so-called 'hotspots' to be implemented and also suggested closer cooperation with Turkey."

Czech Republic: Minister: Zeman helps enhance rise of fascism in Czech society (Prague Monitor, link) "President Milos Zeman helps create conditions for the rise of fascism in Czech society, Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier told CTK on Wednesday, adding that some of Zeman´s statements are xenophobic and Islamophobic, and arouse fear in society."

Civilian Dispatches From Syrian Refugee Camps in Lesvos Post-Paris (Huffington Post, link)

Macedonia: Army preparing possible border barrier with Greece (mia.mk, link)

Migrants should be forcibly deported, says Bulgaria's Foreign Minister (standartnews.com, link): "Europe should make it a priority to deal with the security of its external borders and all migrants should be forcibly deported with no right to international protection, said Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov in Brussels."

Hungary: Viktor Orbán using fear to unite supporters and intimidate opponents says George Szirtes (Budapest Beacon, link)

Netherlands: New mini-Schengen can stop asylum seekers with no passports (ntl, link)

EU to tighten external border checks after Paris attacks (Reuters, link)

Greece, Turkey boost cooperation to tackle migrant crisis (eubusiness, link)

European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Newsletter - October 2015 (pdf):

"Since 17 September 2015, EASO experts have been deployed in Lampedusa, Catania, Villa Sikania/Agrigento, Rome and Milan to support the daily activity of local Police and asylum authorities to jointly process the applications for international protection of the potential applicants for a relocation scheme in the European Union..."

and in Italy and Greece: Matching of applicants with the most appropriate MS of Relocation and preparing the transfer to the MS of Relocation. EASO experts will assist the units processing such files as well with regular Dublin cases."

News (18.1.15)

Greece-Turkey: Tsipras, Davutoglu announce measures to tackle refugee, migrant flows (ANAMPA, link): "Regarding the issue of illegal migration, the Turkish prime minister said that the burden should not fall exclusively on Turkey and Greece and that they had agreed on cooperation on "technical issues" to tackle the refugee crisis."

Syrian passport in Paris may be planted, German minister says (ekathimerini.com, link): "A Syrian passport found next to a suicide bomber in the Paris terror attacks may have been planted, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. Reports that the identity in the passport may have been registered in several countries along the so-called Balkan route raise the suspicion that it could be a deliberate attempt to implicate refugees and “make people feel unsafe,” de Maiziere said. “There are indications that this was a planted lead, but it still can’t be ruled out that this was indeed an IS terrorist posing as a refugee,” he told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, referring to Islamic State, which France blames for organizing the violence."

Confusion mounts over Syrian passport found at Paris attack site (aljazeera.com, link): "Confusion over a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the six suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Paris last week mounted after investigators on Tuesday said there are indications the travel document actually belongs to a Syrian regime soldier."

Scotland: Muslims urged to stay at home after signs of Paris attacks backlash (eveningtimes.co.uk, link): " MEMBERS of Scotland’s largest Muslim community are being urged to stay at home and avoid travel outdoors if unaccompanied amid increasing signs of a Paris attacks backlash. As police investigate a firebomb attack on an Islamic centre in East Dunbartonshire, leaders at two of Glasgow’s biggest mosques have said the message had been sent through their communities to avoid where possible being in public alone."

USA-EU: Senate intelligence chair: visa waiver programme worse threat than refugees (Guardian, link): "Richard Burr is ‘more concerned with the visa waiver programme’, which allows travelers to come to the US without a visa for stays of 90 days than with refugees"

Paris attacks: closing migration routes into France won’t stop terrorism – resisting xenophobia might (The Conversation, link): "Coventry University research associate Durukan Kuzu, writing in a powerful op-ed for The Conversation, says that the solution to terrorism is a more equitable distribution of dignity and opportunity, not the closing down of borders."

Myths, Facts and Answers about Refugees and Migrants (11/04/15, Prepared by UNRIC, IOM, UNHCR, UNDP and OHCHR in Brussels (link)

UNHCR urges states not to demonise refugees over Paris attacks (Reuters, link): "The United Nations urged European countries on Tuesday not to react to Friday's attacks in Paris by rejecting or blaming refugees, the vast majority of whom were fleeing persecution or conflict. "We are concerned about reactions by some states to end the programmes being put in place, backtracking from commitments made to manage the refugee crisis (i.e. relocation), or proposing the erection of more barriers," UNHCR's chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said. "We are deeply disturbed by language that demoness refugees as a group. This is dangerous as it will contribute to xenophobia and fear.""

Migration flows and the reintroduction of internal border controls: assessing necessity and proportionality (eumigrationlawblog.eu, link)

Czech president attends anti-Islam rally on Velvet Revolution anniversary (euractiv, link): "Milos Zeman, the President of the Czech Republic, attended a rally against refugees and Islam in Prague on Tuesday (17 November) on the anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which peacefully toppled Communism in then Czechoslovakia."

Hungary to challenge refugee quotas in EU court (euobserver, link): "Hungary's parliament obliged the government in a law passed on Tuesday (16 November) to challenge the EU decision on mandatory refugee relocation quotas in court next month.The bill, approved by 154 votes in favor from the ruling Fidesz party, and the opposition far-right Jobbik, with 41 against, states that the quota ignores the European principle of subsidiarity and fails to grant national parliaments the opportunity to express their opinion."

GERMANY: Bavarian ally backs Merkel in row over refugee policy (Reuters, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel's most senior Bavarian ally rushed to her defence in an escalating row over her refugee policy, saying his finance minister's reaction to the attacks in Paris was "totally inappropriate"."

Humans of Lesvos (UNHCR, link): "Street photographer Brandon Stanton takes ‘Humans of New York’ on the road, profiling refugees, volunteers and aid workers in Europe."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch to carry out body searches, biometric registration of refugees (Dutch News, link): "The registration and identification of asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands is to be tightened up in the very short term, prime minister Mark Rutte said in a briefing to MPs on Tuesday. All asylum seekers will be searched, as will their baggage, on arrival, Rutte said. Everyone’s biometric details will also be included on a special register and police will have the power to check mobile phones and tablets for documents and other information."

UK: First Syrians arrive in the UK under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS) (European Resettlement Network, link): "The first group of Syrian refugees to be accepted under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS) arrived in the United Kingdom on Tuesday 25 March. The Scheme, announced by the UK Government in January, will offer the most vulnerable refugees fleeing the crisis protection in the UK. Beneficiaries of the scheme will be granted 5 years’ humanitarian protection. This will provide them with the same key rights and benefits as refugees, including the right to work, eligibility for welfare benefits, access to statutory services such as health and education, as well as the right to apply for family reunification."

Paris attacks: Hating Muslims plays right into Isis's hands (The Independent, link): "Islamist militants deliberately aim to make Muslims in the West feel isolated and turn against their own communities"

Ten missing after boat sinks in Aegean (ekathimerini.com, link)

Artful wording to allow Germany to impose a limit on refugee numbers (euractiv, link): "The use of language when discussing refugee policy in Germany has taken on a new dimension, as the government discusses "refugee quotas" within the context of a deal with Turkey"

EU: Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (17.11.15, link)

- Relocation offers by Member States (pdf): 14 Member States 3,216 places (out of 160,000).168 people have been "relocated". There have been no more offers of relocation in the past week.

- Returns: since September (pdf) Joint Frontex Return flights: 569 people have been returned, plus 153 from Italy, none from Greece.

- "Hotspots: staffing in Greece and Italy (pdf)

- Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million (pdf)

- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia (pdf)

See: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

IOM: Mediterranean Migrants: Latest Developments (link): Latest: 832,193 arrivals in the EU, 685,758 to Greece, 142,464 to Italy - 3,505 dead/missing (17.11.15). "IOM Greece is reporting that a boat carrying some 20 migrants capsized this morning off the Greek island of Kos, leaving nine migrants dead. Two of the victims were children aged seven and 14. Seven people were rescued. “The Hellenic Coast Guard has recovered nine bodies, but four others may be missing and search operations are continuing,’’ said Kelly Namia, an IOM Athens spokesperson"

News (17,11.15)

UNHCR chief says it is "absolute nonsense" to blame refugees for terror (link): "UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said today it was "absolute nonsense" to try to blame refugees for terror attacks, stressing that they were its "first victims" and could not be held responsible for what happened in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere.... "It is not the refugee outflows that cause terrorism, it is terrorism, tyranny and war that create refugees," he emphasized as he toured the Presevo refugee reception centre on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. "It is clear that the Daesh strategy is not only to set Europeans against refugees, but within Europe, to set citizen against citizen within communities, community against community within countries, and country against country in the Union.""

Don’t Blame Greece or the Muslim Community for the Paris Attacks (Greek Reporter, link): "It was November 14, 2015 that news broke out that one (if not two) of the assailants in the Paris attacks had passed through Greece, as a “refugee” using a Syrian passport. The Paris attacks, tragically, left 129 people killed and 352 injured, and wide spread rhetoric for and against Greece’s current handling of the refugee crisis ensued."

Europe's populists link terrorism with refugees (euobserver, link): "Europe’s far-right and populist politicians used the attacks in Paris on Monday (16 November) to call for an immediate halt to the inflow of refugees and to criticise the EU’s migration policy."

US states close door on Syrian refugees in wake of Paris attacks (DW, link): "Governors across the US have defied the president and said they will stop accepting Syrian refugees. Fear concerning migrants is growing after the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris." and see: The International Rescue Committee responds to U.S. Governors on Syrian refugee resettlement (link)

26 US states refuse to take in Syrian refugees following Paris attacks (euractiv, link): "At least 26 of the 50 US states said yesterday (16 November) they won't accept Syrian refugees following Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris."

Paris terror attacks threaten EU freedom of movement (Parliament magazine, link): "Heightened security threat increases pressure on embattled Schengen agreement"

Europe anti-refugee rhetoric swells after Paris attacks (aljazeera.com, link): "far-right politicians call for borders to be sealed in wake of Paris assaults amid rowing fears for refugees' plight."

Fortress Britain? EU open borders policy under threat after Paris terror attacks (RT, link): "The Paris attacks and the ongoing refugee crisis have left the future of the open borders policy in doubt. Hours after Friday’s attacks, investigators discovered two of the terrorists involved in the attack may have entered Europe posing as refugees."

'They'll think we are the enemy': Refugees in Germany fear backlash (euractiv, link): "Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Germany fear that the attacks in Paris could further shift public opinion against the Berlin government's welcoming asylum policy".

Tusk: Schengen On Brink Of Collapse (News Oracle, link)

Refugees crossing into Europe tell of abuse at hands of Bulgarian police (Oxfam, link): "Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe through Bulgaria are claiming to have been abused by the country’s law enforcement officials. A survey of over 100 people conducted by the Belgrade Center for Human Rights revealed alleged incidents of abuse both at the Serbian-Bulgarian border and at holding centers in Bulgaria. The survey was funded by Oxfam and released today."

Tsipras in Turkey for talks on refugees (EUobserver, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras begins an official visit to Turkey on Tuesday for talks on the refugee situation. The Greek minster in charge of migration, Yiannis Mouzalas, said on Sunday, according to the Ekathimerini daily, that refugees should be registered and relocated from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, not Greece."

GERMANY: Asylum-seekers await application results at historic Berlin airport (UNHCR, link): "Their journeys now over, thousands of asylum-seekers are awaiting the results of their applications in a cavernous, historic airport in the German capital, Berlin. With freezing temperatures approaching fast, German authorities are scrambling to ensure no one is left out in the cold."

Balkan Leaders Condemn Xenophobia After Paris Attacks (Balkan Insight, link): "Political leaders in Serbia and Croatia warned against any xenophobic backlash against refugees, while Macedonia prepared for the possible building of a barbed-wire fence on its border."

GERMANY: Anti-immigration group PEGIDA holds first rally since Paris attacks (Deutsche Welle, link): "Thousands of people have gathered in the German city of Dresden for the weekly rally of "anti-Islamization" group PEGIDA. It comes as German leaders warn against using the Paris attacks to incite anti-refugee sentiment."

Serbian police arrest man with Syrian passport matching Paris attacker's (The Guardian, link): "Serbian police have arrested a man carrying a Syrian passport with the same details as one found near the body of one of the Paris suicide bombers, police sources told the Guardian."

After Paris Attacks, a Darker Mood Toward Islam Emerges in France (NYT, link): "The question, rights advocates say, is how far the government can go in restricting the rights of a mostly law-abiding minority without further alienating its more marginal members and driving them to the militants."

Closed borders and raised fences will be Europe's defeat against terrorists, PM Tsipras says (Anma.gr, link): "Referring to the recent terrorist attacks in France, the prime minister said that "the political defeat of Europe against terrorists will be the closed borders, the raised fences, the intolerant voices and the accession to the concept of the extreme and racist right." "We have to isolate racism in Greece and Europe," Tsipras underlined."

Migrant Boat Capsizes Near Greek Island of Kos, 9 Dead (Greek Reporter, link): "So far authorities have located the bodies of nine unfortunate migrants, four children, four women and a man. Seven people were rescued in the operation. The information regarding the exact number of missing persons is not clear at the moment, since the survivors can only estimate that the boat was carrying between 18 to 20 people. The search operation in the region is still ongoing."

Security experts affirm government position on migration and terrorism on MTVA (Budapest Beacon, link)

Austria: Fences 'not the answer' to terror threat (The Local.at, link): "Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann (SPÖ) and Vice-Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner (ÖVP) have spoken out against completely sealing Austria’s borders with fences in response to the influx of migrants and said that civil liberties must be preserved in the wake of the attacks by Islamist militants in Paris."

G20 Statement on the fight against terrorism (pdf)

"We reaffirm that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.... through swift implementation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards in all jurisdictions.... combatting radicalization and recruitment, hampering terrorist movements, countering terrorist propaganda and to prevent terrorists from exploiting technology, communications and resources to incite terrorist acts, including through the internet. The direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, the incitement of terrorist acts and glorification of violence must be prevented.... tackle this phenomenon, including operational information-sharing, border management to detect travel, preventive measures..."

And see: After Paris: Western Unity Ever More Difficult, Ever More Essential (Gernan Marshall Fund, link) : "The growing sense of insecurity in Europe will make it even more difficult for Europe to act coherently.... If democracy thrives in the absence of fear, then socio-economic uncertainty, now compounded with fear of violence, will encourage many to search for populist, inward-looking, xenophobic policies. Liberalism in our societies is under siege, and not just by ISIS.".
European Commission: Transcript of Press Conference - G20 Summit in Antalya (15.11.15, pdf)

"President Juncker: I try to make it crystal clear that we should not mix the different categories of people coming to Europe. The one who is responsible for the attacks in Paris cannot be put on an equal footing with real refugees, with asylum seekers and with displaced people. These are criminals and not refugees or asylum seekers. I would like to invite those in Europe who are trying to change the migration agenda we have adopted –I would like to invite them to be serious about this and not to give in to these basic reactions. I don't like it."

News (16.11.15)

Berlin ostracizes CSU politician who linked Paris to refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "Germany's ruling coalition has mostly agreed not to use the Paris attacks to fuel the refugee debate, but not everyone has followed this course."

U.N. urges Greece to boost aid at Lesbos island 'epicenter' of migrant crisis (Reuters, link): "The United Nations urged financially strapped Greece on Friday to expand reception centers before winter sets in for refugees and migrants who continue to pour onto the island of Lesbos at a rate of 3,300 every day." snd: Flow of refugees to Lesvos showing slight decline, island officials report (amna.gr.link): "The flow of third country nationals from the opposite Turkish coast to Lesvos appears to be falling off slightly, based on arrival figures collected on the island over the last few days, authorities on the eastern Aegean island reported on Monday."

View on Migration: Demand for tents that beat the cold (SciDevNet, link)

EU refugee crisis: the morality, stupid! (euobserver, link): "“They [refugees] are running from this form of radical Islam … I’m sure they hate it even more than we do. We can’t leave them behind the wall.”"

Islamic scholars in Germany fear consequences from Paris (DW, link): "Following the Paris attacks, many Muslims fear that prejudices and resentments will increase in Germany as well. The image of Islam is deteriorating, despite intensive interfaith dialogue."

Europe’s cauldron of crisis - The Paris attacks add another possible crack to the EU foundation stone (Politico, link)

Juncker: Don’t mix up terrorists and refugees (euobserver, link): "The attackers in Paris and Middle East refugees should not be mixed up, warned EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday (15 November).He also called on member states not to reject people who are fleeing from the same terror that shocked the French capital on Friday night. "We should not mix the different categories of people coming to Europe," Juncker told a news conference in Antalya, Turkey, where a G20 summit of world leaders is taking place. “Those who organised these attacks and those that perpetrated them are exactly those that the refugees are fleeing and not the opposite,” he said."

German defense minister: Do not 'equate' refugees with terrorists (DW, link): "German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has urged order at the national and EU borders, but warned against suspecting all refugees of terrorism. Migrants are fleeing attacks similar to those in Paris, she said."

Sobotka wants more emphasis on security in dealing with refugee crisis (Prague Post, link): "The Czech Republic must help people in need, but at the same time it must think of its own security, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Czech Television (CT) today and added that he was disappointed at Jean-Claude Juncker's words about an unchanged attitude to migration."

Sent back from Europe, some Afghans prepare to try again (Reuters, link): ""If I can get enough money I'll go again. It is hard to survive here," he said. "The situation is bad in Kabul. There is no security, no job. If you go out of your house it's unclear what may happen to you. You can't go anywhere." Rostami's predicament underlines the problem for European countries that promised to send back failed asylum seekers in the face of growing public alarm at the numbers arriving. "The truth is that most Afghans who are forced to return will try to leave again, whatever policy makers intend," said Ceri Oeppen, from the University of Sussex in Britain, who has worked extensively on the problems of Afghan migrants."

Fingerprints from Paris bomber match man registered in Greece, says prosecutor (ekathimerini.com, link): "a French prosecutor said on Monday. "At this stage, while the authenticity of a passport in the name of Ahmad al Mohammad, born Sept. 10 1990 in Idlib, Syria needs to be verified, there are similarities between the fingerprints of the suicide bomber and those taken during a control in Greece in October," the Paris prosecutor said in a statement."
Sudanese refugees shot dead on Egypt-Israel border (aljazeera.com):"Fifteen refugees killed in Sinai as they reportedly attempt to enter Israel to seek asylum."

Czech Republic: Court says Afghan family kept in detention unlawfully (Prague Monitor, link): "An Afghan family with three small children is kept in the Czech detention facility in Bela-Jezova, central Bohemia, unlawfully, the Regional Court in Brno says in its ruling CTK has at its disposal, but the police can appeal it."

Why Syrian refugee passport found at Paris attack scene must be treated with caution: There are good reasons to wait for the full facts instead of jumping to the conclusion that Isis infiltrators are exploiting Europe’s refugee crisis (Guardian, link)

Paris attacks intensify migrant debate in EU (Yahoo News, link): "The Paris attacks and the discovery of a Syrian passport near one of the assailant's bodies have revived the European debate on whether to take a harder line on migrants."

Here are Denmark's planned asylum changes (The Local.dk, link): "The Danish government recently announced another round of asylum policy changes, including plans to erect refugee tents and extend family reunification times to three years. Here is a full overview of the proposed changes."

Swiss right calls for army to reinforce borders (The Local.ch, link): "Swiss defence minister Ueli Maurer has called for Switzerland to use the army to reinforce its borders following the terrorist atrocities in Paris on Friday night, comments that have riled left-wing politicians."

Bulgarian Authorities Have Detained 27 000 Illegal Migrants Since Start of Year (.novinite.com, link): "A joint operation of the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for National Security (DANS) has been held across the country with more than 350 illegal migrants already detained.The operation against illegal migration started on Saturday as part of the heightened security measures after the recent attacks in Paris.More than 7000 people and 3000 vehicles were checked over the weekend, with eleven Bulgarians accused of human smuggling. Most of the detained foreigners had initially identified themselves as citizens of Syria and Iraq, but following police checks it was established that they were mainly nationals of Afghanistan and Pakistan."

News (14-15.11.15)

Bavarian allies pressure Merkel to reverse refugee policy (Reuters, link)

Guardian: Live coverage: "Holder of Syrian passport found near gunman sought asylum in Serbia. Serbia’s interior ministry has said the holder of the Syrian passport found at the scene of the Paris attack crossed into Serbia on 7 October and claimed asylum there, Reuters reports. The Syrian passport is also said to have been used to register on the Greek island of Leros in October.The legitimacy of the passport has not been verified, and it is not known whether the same person who used it to pass through Greece was the person who was involved in the Paris attacks." and: Holder of Syrian passport found in Paris attack sought asylum in Serbia (ekathimerini.com, link)

Egyptian passport found at Paris stadium belongs to critically injured victim, not suspect: Ambassador (ahram.org.eg, link): "Egyptian national Waleed Abdel-Razzak was found severely injured following bombings outside Stade De France"

Paris attacks give EU leaders excuse to get tough on refugees (euractiv, link): "A Reuters report, of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in Friday night's attacks, may change attitudes towards migrants across Europe.... " and Poland won’t relocate migrants after Paris attacks (euractiv, link)

G20 to discuss threat of Isis infiltrators among EU migrants after Paris attacks (Guardian, link): "Fears of Isis capability to bring terror to western cities loom over talks after it emerged one attacker had a Syrian passport flagged as arriving in Greece."

Two refugee children die in Greece in separate incidents (ekathimerini.com, link)

Paris attacks: European leaders link terror threats to immigration (Guardian, link): "German chancellor Angela Merkel likely to come under fire for policy of openness towards refugees after Syrian passport found at scene of attack."

Europe's populist right targets migration after Paris attacks (Reuters, link): "Populist leaders around Europe rushed to demand an end to an influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa on Saturday after a wave of deadly attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State militants.The carnage in the French capital, directly linked to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, seemed bound to further complicate the European Union's task in sharing out hundreds of thousands of migrants who have entered the bloc this year, fleeing war and poverty. Poland's designated Europe minister said Warsaw could not take in refugees under an EU quota system after Friday's wave of attacks on restaurants, a concert hall and a soccer stadium in Paris, in which 127 people died and some 200 were injured."

Austria approves fence on Slovenian border (euractiv, link): "The Austrian government has, at the last hour, approved a control system on its border with Slovenia that will actually include a fence. EurActiv Germany reports.... Now, a short fence on the Austria-Slovenia border will be built; a measure that the leaders and citizens of the most-affected regions have long called for. It is intended to help regulate the flow of refugees and register them more efficiently. At the same time, Vienna has avoided shutting itself off completely, like Hungary has done in the past few months"

Greece warns EU to hold Turkey to account on refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com): "Greece has warned the European Union to obtain specific commitments from Turkey ahead of putting together a 3-billion-euro fund for Ankara to help tackle the refugee crisis. The key role of Turkey in the process of stemming the flow of refugees and migrants was discussed on Friday during the second and last day of a summit in Malta. According to sources, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed to his EU counterparts that Brussels has to make it clear what it will be getting in return for providing Turkey with emergency funding and assistance."

PM: Norway will not pursue border controls (The Local.no, link): "Norway is not considering following Sweden and imposing temporary border controls, the country’s prime minister said on Thursday, as parliamentary leaders met to discuss proposals to deal with the refugee crisis."

EU to hold summit on migrants with Turkish president, offers Turkey 3 bln euros for migrants (Daily Star, link)

People-smuggling: the trade with refugees in Bulgaria (DW, link): "More and more refugees are trying to reach the West via Bulgaria. The people-smuggling trade is flourishing along the dangerous route to the West - and border guards are sometimes involved in the illegal business. "

Paris attack puts terrorism centre-stage as world leaders meet in Turkey (Reuters, link): "

Denmark to erect tents, shorten refugee permits (The Local.de, link): "The Danish government on Friday announced a package of 34 initiatives designed to bring down the number of refugees."

Greece: Some 3,300 people a day still arriving on Lesvos (UNHCR, link): ""The number of refugees and migrants arriving on Lesvos continues to be high, at an average of 3,300 people per day so far in November … With winter approaching, reception conditions and capacity there remain overstretched and inadequate," UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a press briefing in Geneva."

Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 12 November 2015 (pdf)

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf): Greece and Italy. Lesvos, Greece::"Total Reception Capacity 700 (Moria) 780 (Kara Tepe)"
- Returns since September (pdf) From Italy 153 and none from Greece. Frontex 569 "returns"
- Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (pdf) Relocation places available: 14 Member States 3,216 places (out of 160,000). A totlaof 142 refugees have been relocated.
- Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015 (pdf)
- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia (pdf)

See: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

CoE: Third party intervention: Commissioner Muižnieks intervenes before the European Court of Human Rights on migration cases concerning Spain (link):

"Today, Commissioner Muižnieks has submitted written observations to the European Court of Human Rights in relation to two complaints concerning alleged pushbacks of migrants from the Spanish city of Melilla to Morocco.

Basing his observations on his visit to Melilla in January 2015 as well as on other credible reports, the Commissioner underscores the existence of an established practice of summary returns of migrants who attempt to enter Melilla in groups by climbing the fence surrounding the city. “Such returns, which affect Sub-Saharan Africans in particular, take place outside of any formal procedure and without identification of the persons concerned or assessment of their individual situation. This prevents the persons concerned from effectively exercising their right to seek international protection” he writes in his third party intervention."

and Written submission to the court: CoE ECHR-Spain (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Migrants in the Mediterranean:Protecting Human Rights (62 pages, pdf) Concludes that current policies are more geared to keeping so-called "illegal" migrants out and to return them rather than with effective measures to protect human rights and saving lives. Well worth reading.

European Commission: DG MIgration & Home Affairs: A study on smuggling of migrants: Characteristics, responses and cooperation with third countries Final Report (179 pages, pdf)

UNHCR: Latest figures: Total arrivals 806,000 with 660,698 to Greece and 142,400 to Italy. 3,460 dead/missing and the IOM reports 812,230 arrivals, 666,502 to Greece and 141,777 to Italy. 3,499 dead/missing

News (13.11.15)

Ghanaians respond to EU migrant fund with caution (DW, link): "The European Union believes dedicating millions of euros to African governments can help ease the migration crisis. Ghanaians don't totally agree."

IOM, UNHCR Build Capacity of Libyan Partners to Save Lives of Migrants at Sea (link)

EU to hold special summit with Turkey on refugee crisis (DW, link): "EU officials have announced that they will hold talks with Ankara on ways to ease the number of migrants. Brussels has been courting Turkey's government as it struggles to accommodate the number of refugees in Europe." and EU leaders race to secure €3bn migrant deal with Turkish president (Guardian, link):"David Cameron is the first leader to pledge funds, offering Recep Tayyip Erdogan €400m to stem flow of refugees from Syria"

Bulgaria warns Germany against returning refugees (euractiv, link): "Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov warned Germany yesterday (12 November) against returning refugees to countries where they first registered. Speaking to journalists at the Valletta summit on migration, Borissov said that if Berlin begins applying the Dublin II agreement again, and starts sending back unwanted asylum seekers, there will be less of a chance that they will be integrated in Bulgaria, and Macedonia..... on 9 November, the German Interior Ministry said it was returning to the Dublin II procedure with respect to all EU member states except Greece. “We cannot keep migrants by force in Bulgaria,” warned Borissov, adding that his country had no intention of building prisons to hold asylum seekers in."

EU plan to buy milk for refugees still work-in-progress (euobserver, link)

Frontex: 540 000 migrants arrived on Greek islands in the first 10 months of 2015 (link) Frontex still putting out dodgy numbers: "Overall, the number of detections of illegal border crossings at the EU’s external borders between January and October stood at an unprecedented 1.2 million"

Frontex gets headline news with this kind of press release by its own admission it includies double-counting:

"Clarification: Frontex provides monthly data on the number of people detected at the external borders of the European Union. Irregular border crossings may be attempted by the same person several times in different locations at the external border. This means that a large number of the people who were counted when they arrived in Greece were again counted when entering the EU for the second time through Hungary or Croatia."

Whereas UNHCR reported: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (infographic, link) 502, 840 arrivals (during the year to 29 October, 2015)

Valletta Conference 11-12 November 2015: Update: Final texts and full documentation

EU: Informal meeting of EU heads of state or government (12 November 2015, Valletta, Press release, pdf) there is nothing new except a growing urgency as "time is running out" to save Schengen. Council trying to set up another "special" Summit of 28 Member States and Turkey before year end:

But see: EU’s ‘indecent proposal’ angers Turkish minister (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Turkish EU Minister Beril Dedeoglu has been left apoplectic after Brussels suggested “an inappropriate proposal” to Ankara that linked Turkey’s EU accession process with a solution to the refugee crisis.... During a dinner … a young person from the commission attempted to match the progress report to refugee issue. Something like ‘We could soften the content of this progress report if we sort out the refugee issue,’ was said. I swear I can’t even remember how I chided him...".

and Tusk reiterates that:

"it must be clear that without registration there will be no rights. If a migrant does not cooperate, there must be consequences. It is also clear that asylum seekers cannot decide where they will be granted asylum within the European Union."

Reactions to Valletta Summit

Migration crisis: European and African leaders agree €1.8bn 'trust fund' (Guardian, link) :"Compromise package in which African governments agree to cooperate on receiving deported migrants described as ‘lowest common denominator’"

and Europe fund to tackle African migration 'not enough' (BBC News, link): "Senegal's President Macky Sall has described a $1.9bn (£1.2bn) European fund set up to tackle irregular migration as a good beginning but said more money was needed.... "The Senegalese leader also pointed to tax avoidance by multinationals that he estimated cost Africa billons of dollars. "We have sufficient resources in Africa… if we could combat tax evasion - that would stop us calling for aid. "Terrorism is an issue, wherever war is waged people flee - where there's less development people flee towards development," he said. "We have to look at migration serenely, take the drama out of it. And we have to tackle the traffickers.""

EU's migration cash for Africa falls short (euractiv, link): "The European Union’s efforts to stem the flow of refugees from Africa was undermined today (12 November) by member states who failed to match EU money for a €1.8 billion trust fund to the tune of €1.72 billion, raising just €78 million. EU and African leaders were meeting in Valletta, Malta, for a two-day summit in response to the migration crisis. €1.8 billion from the EU budget and European Development Fund was stumped up for the emergency trust fund, which will pay for measures to tackle the reasons refugees flee.

"For the Africa Trust Fund and our response to be credible, I want to see more member states contributing and matching the €1.8 billion the EU has put forward," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said as EU leaders signed the deal. But, at time of going to press, 25 of the 28 member states, and two non-EU donors Norway and Switzerland, had pledged a total of around €78.2 million matching funds, far short of what Juncker has called for...Civil society organisations have warned that, if they do pay into the trust fund, EU countries could divert development cash meant for schools and hospitals to checkpoints and barb wire. Sara Tesorieri, Oxfam's migration policy lead in Malta, said, "The EU Trust Fund for Africa must have a clear separation between development aid and security cooperation envelopes ? these have different objectives and do not belong in the same pot.""

Europe in 'race against time' to save open borders - EU's Tusk (Reuters, link): ""We must hurry, but without panic," he said after a summit with African leaders that will be followed by an emergency EU summit later on Thursday in Valletta to discuss migration and notably efforts to secure a deal with Turkey to slow departures."

EU-AFRICA: Valletta Summit: VALLETTA SUMMIT, 11-12 NOVEMBER 2015 ACTION PLAN - Final (pdf) and VALLETTA SUMMIT, 11-12 NOVEMBER 2015: Declaration - Final (pdf) see: Remarks by President Donald Tusk at the press conference of the Valletta summit on migration (pdf)

EU Commission: A European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (pdf): "made up of €1.8 billion from the EU budget and the European Development Fund (EDF), to be complemented by contributions from EU Member States and other donors. To date, Member States' contributions amount to around €78.2 million " The Member States are meant to match the Commission's contribuition... and List of Member State donors and contributions in Alphabetical order (as at 11/11/2015) (pdf)

Refugee Crisis May Threaten Development Aid to World’s Poor (afronline.org, link): "As the spreading refugee crisis threatens to destabilize national budgets of donor nations in Western Europe, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday appealed to the international community not to forsake its longstanding commitment for development assistance to the world’s poorer nations."

News (12.11.15)

Europe gears up to fight refugee smugglers (euractiv, link)

EU Leaders Consider Meeting with Turkey’s President on Refugees (novinite.com, link): "Leaders of EU member states on Thursday discussed a possible meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later this month to seek his help in alleviating the worst migrant crisis in Europe since World War II, AFP reported."

Swiss refugee total to 'clearly' exceed forecast (The Local.ch, link): "The original forecast of 29,000 asylum seekers arriving in Switzerland in 2015 will be "clearly exceeded" according to the Secretary of State for Immigration."

Swedish police stop arrivals from Denmark (The Local.dk, link): "Police on Thursday began carrying out ID checks on passengers crossing the Øresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden after the latter reinstated border controls."

Czech Republic: PM: Refugee readmission will be hard for Germans (Prague Monitor, link) "It will be difficult for Germany to return Syrians to the countries where they entered the EU, in view of the persisting problems with refugee registration in the countries concerned, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in Malta yesterday."

EU expected to heap more pressure on Greece over refugees (ekathimerini.com, link): "The document also suggests that Turkey is not intentionally ushering migrants toward Greece, whereas Athens is deemed to be purposely moving these arrivals on toward the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Commission’s note also says Greece needs to agree to joint patrols with Turkey in the Aegean and the opening of some of the chapters in Ankara’s EU accession negotiations."

Exclusive. Federica Mogherini (EU foreign policy chief): “We need to build opportunities, not walls, with Africa” (.afronline.org, link)

Germany to toughen restrictions on Syrian refugees (euractiv, link): "Germany wants to send more Syrian refugees back to other EU countries, an idea supported by many in the CDU, but heavily criticised by the SPD"

Sweden reintroduces border controls (euobserver, link): "Sweden is to impose temporary border controls to try to manage the flow of refugees, which is putting the country’s infrastructure under stress.The decision was announced Wednesday evening (11 November) and will be effective Thursday at noon for a 10-day period which could be extended for 20 days"

Slovenia erects fence to 'channel' migrants (euobserver, link): "Slovenia has started building a fence on its border with Croatia, in efforts, the government said, to “prevent the dispersal of refugees and to steer them towards controlled entry points.” The installation of 1.5 km worth of an 1.8-metre high razor wire structure began early on Wednesday (11 November) morning near the easterly villages of Rigonce and Razkrizje." and see: Slovenia to Build a Fence on Its Border With Croatia (total-croatia-news, link): "Slovenian Prime Minister announces the construction of a fence on the Croatian border. At certain sections of its border with Croatia, Slovenia will set up technical barriers, including fences, in order to better control the expected inflow of refugee who have recently started moving from Greece, confirmed Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, reports Jutarnji List on November 10, 2015."

Germany's Schäuble likens migrant wave to 'avalanche' (DW, link): "German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has compared the refugee crisis to an avalanche that could engulf Europe. He appealed for greater solidarity in the issue, although there a few signs of that emerging."

Refugees opting for Bulgaria route exposed to violence (DW, link): "Asylum-seekers with limited funds or fears of sea travel are bypassing Greece for a land route through Bulgaria, but the risks remain high. Diego Cupolo reports from Dimitrovgrad, Serbia."

EU, Africa discuss migration crisis plan (neweurope, link): "Amnesty International has warned the summit could reinforce the idea of a “Fortress Europe”. In an interview with AFP, the group’s acting director, Iverna McGowan, said the approach “can lead to an outsourcing of human rights abuses and is quite worrying”."

Valletta Summit: Statewatch Analysis: EU-AFRICA Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (pdf) by Tony Bunyan

"The overall strategy in the latest draft, is not new, it is simply presented differently. The EU fundamental concern is to stop people, refugees or migrants, moving up the continent of Africa until they reach the shores of the Mediterranean – where they become the EU’s problem.

This goes together with the demand for the creation of civil registry systems across Africa with biometrics (fingerprinting), quick “returns”, new readmission agreements and the enforcement of its neo-colonial project through the “externalisation of Europe's asylum responsibilities”.

The EU and its neighbours: enforcing the politics of inhospitality by Emmanuel Blanchard, Bill MacKeith, and Yasha Maccanico 11 November 2015 (Open Democracy, link):

"Today marks the start of the two-day Valletta Euro-African summit on migration in Malta, but the outcomes of deterrence, surveillance and militarisation are already written....

To attain their objectives, the EU and its member states have shown themselves willing to engage in all sorts of shameful behaviour: military operations led by France and Belgium in the Sahel are now envisaged as a way of cutting off migration routes; plans have been made to construct camps in Niger to facilitate forced or ‘voluntary’ returns away from European borders; the most repressive regimes (such as Sudan or Eritrea, especially in the context of the ‘Khartoum process’), which produce tens of thousands of asylum seekers, receive subsidies to contain their populations and ‘securitise’ their borders."

Agence Europe reports (10.11.15) "A further potentially thorny issue could be discussed in Valetta. The EU wants to talk about setting up reception centres in Africa where migrants could be registered, identified and have a start made to consideration of their requests for asylum in the EU, and, indeed, have their request turned down. The matter has been withdrawn from the latest draft statements (a political statement and an action plan are expected to be adopted) as it offended the sensitivities of the African countries.

"We are looking to continue discussions with our African partners", the source went on. "A large number of those who take the path of illegal migration do so without realising they are risking their lives. The idea, then, was to have centres in the countries of departure or transit where they can be provided with information on the risks they are taking and the administrative procedures in Europe" and also possibly undertake "the first administrative stage, pre-screening to see if the applicant for asylum the EU has any chance whatsoever of being admitted", he added."

Valletta Summit: EU and Africa, so closed but so far (afronline.org, link):

"EU-Africa summit on migration in La Valletta on the 11th and 12th November. Symbol of the tensions present between the parties, Morocco and Egypt, who are both respectively heads of the processes of Rabat and Khartoum, will send only foreign ministers."

Hotspots: Europe Debates Initial Reception Centers for Refugees (Der Spiegel, link);

"Lesbos and other such hotspots are a significant focus of efforts by the European Commission and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to find a solution to the refugee crisis. They would like to establish initial reception centers where refugees will not only be registered, but also housed until a cursory review is conducted to determine whether they might qualify for asylum or protection under the Geneva Convention on refugees.

Under the second part of the plan, refugees from countries with an average EU-wide asylum recognition rate of 75 percent would then be distributed among the rest of the member states. The others would face deportation.....

The biggest problem, however, is the lack of a clear answer to the question as to what happens to refugees who have little chance of remaining in Europe. How will these people be prevented from heading towards Germany on their own? "It's a delicate issue," says one high-ranking EU official. "After all, the Greek government doesn't want to be accused of putting migrants in internment camps." Indeed, refugees attempting to escape from fenced-in camps is the one image that has yet to plague this European refugee crisis."

and see: Avec les "hotspots", l’UE renforce sa politique de refoulement des boat people (migreurope, link)

EU's deep dilemmas over refugees laid bare at Malta summit (Guardian, link):

"More than 60 European and African leaders are meeting in the Maltese capital Valletta against a backdrop of ever-widening policy divisions....

“They say it’s all about Europe externalising and outsourcing its own problems,” said the diplomat, who has been liaising with the African governments. “The Europeans are not exactly visionaries,” another international official taking part in Malta said. “And they don’t realise that they are no longer the centre of the world.....

In the latest policy move, Berlin and Brussels are pressing the transit countries of the Balkans to set up new “processing centres” to screen asylum claimants. It is an admission that the policy of having them finger-printed and registered first in Greece before moving on has failed. Nor do Slovenia, Croatia or Serbia want to register them, however, for fear they will then be saddled with responsibility for the refugees....

"Most of these leaders are lost and they're looking to someone like Tusk to come up with a big idea," said the senior diplomat. "This is the challenge, because the whole thing can crumble and individual countries will start following Hungary. That won't help Europe to remain credible.""

News (11.11.15)

Refugees on hunger strike over long Czech detention (Prague Monitor, link): "Forty-four refugees from the Drahonice detention centre have launched a hunger strike in protest against their detention in the Czech Republic and possible return to their home countries, Mikulas Vymetal, a protestant priest in contact with the refugees, told CTK yesterday. According to a statement that CTK received from Vymetal, the mostly Iraqi refugees complain of being detained in the country for more than 90 days in some cases. They write that they fled against fighting, prison and violence only to get into a new fight and prison and to be treated as if they were monsters."

Germany makes U-turn on Syrian refugees (euobserver, link): "Germany announced Tuesday (10 November) it is again applying Dublin rules on asylum for Syrian refugees. The move is a U-turn on a migration policy followed since August as well as a new indicator of tension in chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition. The interior ministry told German media that since 21 October, authorities are "applying the Dublin regulation for all countries of origin and all member states (except Greece)." That means migrants are sent back to the first country in which they entered the EU and where their asylum application must be examined. This does not apply to Greece, where reception capacities are stretched and living conditions for migrants are deemed too poor." and see: Germany reinstates Dublin rules for Syrian refugees (DW, link): "Berlin plans to send more Syrian refugees back to the first EU country they entered while traveling towards Germany, officials say. The decision would not apply to Greece, one of the main entry points for the bloc."

Greece: Fourteen reported dead after migrant boat sinks off Turkish coast (ekathimerini.com): "Fourteen people died and a further 27 were rescued by Turkish authorities after their boat sank on its way to the Greek island of Lesvos, Dogan news agency reported on Wednesday....Children were among those who died when the wooden boat went down in the 8km (5 mile) stretch of water separating Lesvos from the Turkish coast, Dohan reported. Turkey's coastguard was not immediately available to comment."

Bulgarian President Identifies Refugees as Posing Greatest Threat to National Security (Novinite, link)

Denmark plans additional refugee restrictions (The Local.dk, link): "Saying that Denmark risks “having so many people that we can’t handle it”, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen on Wednesday said that the government is planning a “robust” plan to further tighten asylum laws."

Refugees being 'ripped off by private landlords' (The Local.at, link): "The Vienna public prosecutor is investigating allegations that dozens of refugees have been ripped off by unscrupulous landlords in the city"

BELGIUM: 250 refugees to be accommodated on a 'floating island'? (Flanders News, link): "The city of Ghent is to have a floating reception centre for refugees by the end of the year. That is, if the Asylum Office Fedasil gives the final go-ahead. A pontoon that can accommodate up to 250 people will be installed at the Rigakaai dock, in Ghent's port area."

FRANCE: More violence in Calais as refugees are moved (The Local, link): "Refugees and police clashed for a second night in Calais, with 11 officers left injured. The violence comes as the French government steps up efforts to move refugees and migrants out of the New Jungle camp."

Deportation to Afghanistan: safe or unsafe origin? (Deutsche Welle, link): "The German government has decided to offer Syrian refugees protection in Germany but to send home more Afghans. German human rights NGO Pro Asyl is accusing the government of restricting the right to asylum."

Hungary asked to take over migrant truck deaths case (The Budapest Times, link): "Austrian prosecutors have officially asked Hungary to take over the case of 71 dead migrants who were found abandoned in a truck on an Austrian motorway in August, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office has told state news agency MTI."

Spain welcomes first refugees from its European quota (El País, link): "The first group of refugees to be officially accepted by Spain as part of a European deal to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers across the continent arrived at Madrid airport on Sunday night."

EU turning blind eye to violence against women migrants (euractiv, link)

Europe wants document for those refused asylum (ekathimerini.com): "The controversial "laissez passer" plan has been criticized by diplomats and non-governmental organizations as being tantamount to Europe telling African countries who they should accept. It will be discussed later Wednesday by European and African leaders at a migration summit in Malta."

JOINT DECLARATION: Human rights at the core of migration policies: An urgent call to European and African leaders (Euro-mediterranean human rights network, link):

"Once again, terms of cooperation remain euro-centric and focused on efficient return/removal policies as well as on the need for cooperation on behalf of non-EU countries to fight so-called « irregular » migration.

In Europe and in Africa, the security obsession which has characterised migration policies is unfolding with increased border closures on both continents, despite fatal consequences and human rights violations.

As the EU is about to launch its new Neighbourhood Policy, our organisations wish to stress that migration is not a threat and express their grave concerns.."

LInk - French and Link Arabic

Malta summit: Experts raise concerns over lopsided EU-Africa migrant deals (Malta Independent, link): "

"Forced into action by its biggest refugee crisis since World War II, the European Union is pressing some northern African nations to sign lopsided deals that would send thousands back without sufficient protection, African diplomats and migration experts are warning.

Concern is growing that the EU will use its considerable political and economic clout — including access to more than 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in aid — to buy off vulnerable countries on the sidelines of a two-day summit with African leaders starting Wednesday in Malta.

Still wary of Europe's colonial past, some Africans believe the EU is desperately trying to outsource its refugee challenges rather than accept that people will still try to come to the continent."

Afghans flee in droves, but Germany closing the door (IRIN, link):

"The number of Afghans making the journey to Europe has increased drastically over the past year. But the journey is fraught with danger.

There have been reports of migrants being violently attacked by bandits as they attempt to cross Iran. Health authorities in Nimruz, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, told IRIN they had treated people who returned with gunshot wounds inflicted by Iranian border police.

If they do make it to Europe, they face an increasingly cool reception, even in Germany which has until now been the most welcoming country. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced last week that Germany would tighten its policy on dealing with asylum applications from Afghans. He said many claiming asylum are from Afghanistan’s middle class, and they should stay home to help rebuild their country.

Yet the situation in Afghanistan only appears to be getting worse. President Ashraf Ghani, who took power a year ago, has so far been unable to rein in corruption or enforce government control over much of the country."

The illegalization and deportation of refugees in Tunisia (by Debora Del Pistoia, Glenda Garelli, Martina Tazzioli) (November 2015) (link): "The condition of asylum seekers and refugees in Tunisia is quite alarming, as the recent deportation to Algeria that we monitored in real-time and we report here below confirms."

News (10.11.15)

Austria calls for Greece, Italy border controls (ekathimerini.com, link): "Austria’s chancellor said establishing controls on the borders of Italy and Greece must be a priority to stem the influx of migrants into the EU. Werner Faymann said border controls inside the EU are less effective because refugee flows can "only be shifted" once the refugees have traveled thousands of kilometers (miles) in hopes of a safe haven".

EU plans new refugee centers as influx overwhelms Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union governments acknowledged that policies to channel migration aren’t working, announcing new processing centers to deal with refugees who slip through Greece without being registered. With little more than 100 of a planned 160,000 asylum-seekers sent from Greece and Italy to future homes in other European countries and winter setting in, EU interior ministers said the record-setting influx threatens to overwhelm some governments."

As Migrants Continue to Arrive in Europe, Asylum Seekers Relocated (IOM, linK): "Arrivals of migrants and refugees to Europe by sea in 2015 approached 800,000 through the first week of November, a figure that amounts to nearly four times the total for all of 2014."

Parliament leaders sign joint refugee letter ahead of Valletta summit (euractiv, link)

EU/AU: Put Rights at Heart of Migration Efforts (HRW, link)

European Union warns of impending refugee 'catastrophe' during winter (DW, link): "A humanitarian catastrophe is looming over tens of thousands of refugees as winter closes in, the European Union has warned. EU ministers are under pressure to deliver on their promises as the migrant surge continues."

Agence Europe reports: "only 147 refugees out of the 160,000 that the EU countries had promised, in September, to make having so far been relocated from Greece "

EU will create migrant processing centres in the Balkans (neweurope, link)

Schengen open border agreement needs an overhaul: Dutch minister (DutchNews.nl, link)

Slovenia to tighten border control, fears unmanageable migrant wave (Yahoo, link)

Pakistan says it won’t take back migrants (neweurope, link) "Pakistan on November 8 announced its decision to suspend a 2010 agreement with the European Union for the return of all its citizens entering Europe illegally. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was quoted as saying by Agence France-Press (AFP) that European countries were misusing the agreement. “Pakistanis travelling illegally to any Western country are to be deported after proper verification” of their nationality and other relevant details from Pakistan, state-run Radio Pakistan quoted Khan as telling local media in Islamabad. But, he said, “Most of the [Western] countries are deporting people without verification by Pakistani authorities”."

EU considers migrant 'processing centres' in Balkans (euobserver, link): "EU interior ministers decided on Monday (9 November) to consider setting up processing centres in the Western Balkans to help with registration, identification, and finger printing of migrants."

EU: Updated Justice and Home Affairs Council: 9 November 2015: Draft Council conclusions on measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis (LIMITE doc no: 13799-15, pdf)

Paragraph 17: "As part of an information strategy geared at reducing pull factors, it should be clearly explained that migrants must register in their first Member State of arrival; that, under EU law, asylum seekers have no right to choose the Member State responsible for examining their application; and that migrants without a need of protection will be swiftly returned. Furthermore, a clear message should be passed that migrants cannot refuse to cooperate with the relevant national authorities. Henceforth, all necessary measures will be taken by Member States to prevent, deter and draw the consequences of such movements and non-cooperation."

9 November: EU-AFRICA: Valletta Summit, 11-12 November 2015:

- Revised: Valletta Summit Action Plan- Working Draft Five (LIMITE doc no 13768-15, pdf)

- Revised: Declaration: Valletta Summit Political Declaration (Version One) (LIMITE doc no: 13767-15, pdf)

See: EU and Africa still at loggerheads on Valletta accord (euobserver, link): "Senior EU and African officials remain divided on readmission and legal migration ahead of the Valletta summit in Malta. The two sides have been thrashing out draft conclusions and political declarations in the lead up to a conference aimed at addressing the root causes of migration flows to the EU from the continent. “What remains to be discussed is certainly the issue of returns and readmission where some of our African partners are still looking for ways of redrafting some of the present version that is on the table,” a senior EU official told reporters in Brussels on Monday (9 November).

African negotiators are also unhappy with a plan to issue special transit visas or EU laissez-passer documents for those sent home.The EU laissez-passer is a standard travel document for the expulsion of third-country nationals. Member states want it to become the standard for all those booted out of the EU.The African Union's ambassador to the EU, Ajay Bramdeo, last week said such a document was “unheard of in terms of international law and international practice. He said African nationals asked to leave the EU should only do so on a voluntary basis. "

EU-AFRICA: Valletta Summit, 11-12 November 2015: Background Note (pdf): Among the aims is to tackle "Root causes" which are wars, persecution and poverty. Another is: "Return and readmission

Leaders are expected to make progress on return arrangements and readmission agreements. In particular, they should strengthen cooperation in order to facilitate the return and sustainable reintegration of irregular migrants, both from EU member states and associated countries and from African countries of transit and destination. The summit should also call for strengthening the capacity of authorities of countries of origin to respond to readmission applicants. A special emphasis is expected to be put on identification and issuance of travel documents."

The reference to "travel documents" is to the EU's proposal that EU-issued Laissez-passer documents be sufficient for returning refugees. The Council's legal basis is relying on 1994 Recommendations (Statewatch JHA Archive 1976-2000) for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

There are currently 17 readmission agreements (link) are in force with the following countries: Hong Kong, Macao, Sri Lanka, Albania, Russia, Ukraine, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, Pakistan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey (inoperative) and Cape Verde

See also:  Valletta Summit: Documentation

Greece: Anti-racist Observatory of the University of the Aegean: The Refugee issue: "Fortress Europe" and Solidarity (pdf)

"This summer we experienced a real humanitarian crisis, a situation that could have led to an unprecedented tragedy if hundreds of volunteers had not been mobilised and had not offered their unconditional and continuous solidarity to those who came from the Middle East, Central and Southern Asia and North Africa and were heading towards Europe."

UK: Police use anti-terrorism powers to detain UK volunteers taking aid to Calais refugee camp 6,000 people live in squalor near the Calais ferry terminal (The Independent, link):

"British volunteers on a humanitarian aid run to refugees in Calais were detained by police under legislation meant to be used against suspected terrorists, an aid group has told the Independent. Two people working with the London2Calais group said they were stopped and held for three hours under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 while returning to the UK at Calais.

One of the pair, who were travelling in the same vehicle, said Kent Police counter-terror officers carried out the detention on the Calais side of the channel.

News (9.11.15)

Migrants at British RAF base on Cyprus given asylum deadline (, link): "Britain has given dozens of Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese migrants camped at its military base on Cyprus seven days to claim asylum in the country or face deportation to Lebanon, a government spokesman said on Monday. Two fishing boats carrying 115 people came ashore at a British Royal Air Force (RAF) base on Cyprus three weeks ago, the first time in the migrant crisis that refugees have landed directly on British sovereign soil."

Greece: ‘It Was Hell’: Lesbos Volunteers Recount Harrowing Refugee Rescues (Newsweek, link)

Germany: Pegida march goes forward despite Kristallnacht anniversary (DW, link): "Supporters of far-right Pegida group are set to hold rallies in Dresden and other German cities despite the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Thousands of people filed an online petition against the planned events. "

EU turns to African leaders to stem migrant crisis (RTL, link):

Luxembourg's FM Jean Asselborn warns of EU collapse due to refugee crisis (DW, link): "Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has said the EU might "break apart" under the strain of the migrant crisis. His words come as politicians find themselves at odds over how to deal with the crisis."

Turkey, Bulgaria & Greece move to tackle migration (.worldbulletin.net, link)

Refugee crisis: Germany imposes restrictions on Syrian refugees in surprise U-turn (Independent, link): "Syrian refugees will only be able to stay for one year with limits to their rights as refugees "

FINLAND: Supo: Terror threat up partly because of immigration (Helsinki Times, link): "The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) has warned that the threat of terrorism has increased in Finland since the summer of 2014. Supo estimates in its latest threat assessment that the threat of an organised terrorist attack remains low but that the threat of an isolated act of violence has continued to grow."

FINLAND: Man brandishes handgun outside reception centre in Helsinki (Helsinki Times, link): "Investigation into an incident in which a man brandished a firearm outside a reception centre in Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki, on Thursday has moved forward."

BELGIUM: Dozens of refugees spend the night outside (Expactica, link): "Dozens of refugees in Brussels had to spend the night outside last night. All the beds for those that are waiting to apply were taken. "

EU: "Lack of cooperation" by refugees to be met, if necessary, with coercive measures including forced fingerprinting and detention

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 9 November 2015: Draft Council conclusions on measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis (LIMITE doc no: 13738-15, pdf)

Paragrpah 3: to "speed up the relocation process" or designate for "return"..This is about fast track asylum procedure or detention to induce people to apply for asylum as soon as they arrive rather than move towards other Member States, using coercive measures if they refuse.

"Member States, to overcome the potential lack of cooperation of migrants as they arrive into the European Union, and while fully respecting the fundamental rights and the principle of non-refoulement, will make full use of all possibilities provided by the EU acquis, such as (1) asylum procedures at borders or transit zones; (2) accelerated procedures; (3) nonadmissibility of subsequent asylum applications by the individuals concerned; (4) coercive measures, including, as a last resort, detention for a maximum period necessary for the completion of underlying procedures"

"Coercive measures" also include: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch)

Under paragraph 2 Greece and Italy will register people on arrival but move processing to their mainlands:

"Italy and Greece will substantially accelerate the preparatory steps for potential asylum seekers to be relocated. The Council supports Italy and Greece in their decision to register migrants before further handling their case on the mainland, in particular with Eurodac machines provided by Member States."

Para 7: "upscaling [by 1 December 2015] the Poseidon Sea Joint Operation in Greece within the current operational plan"

The shift of Poseidon operations on the Greece-Turkey border might save more lives but is also a precursor to blocking first and then sending people back to Turkey once it agrees to accept them.

See also: Concept paper on the deployment of European Migration Liaison Officers (LIMITE doc no: 13435-15,pdf): Known as "EMLOs" to gather information and intelligence and deals with returns and readmission.

The following countries have been designated to get EU EMLOs:

1. Egypt (regional mandate covering East and initially Horn of Africa)
2. Morocco
3. Lebanon (covering Syria)
4. Niger
5. Nigeria
6. Senegal (regional approach to be considered as regards reporting on neighbouring countries)
7. Pakistan (regional mandate covering also Afghanistan)
8. Serbia (regional approach to be considered for Western Balkans)
9. Ethiopia (regional mandate covering Horn of Africa, in particular Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan)
10. Tunisia (covering Libya)
11. Sudan (regional mandate covering Horn of Africa, in particular Eritrea which cannot be covered through Ethiopia)
12. Turkey
13. Jordan

Only Pakistan and Turkey (not operative) have readmission agreements with the EU. [emphasis added throughout]

UN warns Cameron not to turn his back on refugees as winter nears (Guardian, link): "This is the moment our generation must act, says migration expert Peter Sutherland"

EU: Council of the European Union: Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council, 9 November 2015: Background Note (pdf) Discussing refugee crisis response. And B Points Agenda (French, pdf) for discussion and A Points Agenda: non-legislative (French, pdf), adopted without debate.

UNHCR: Winterization Plan for the Refugee Crisis in Europe: November 2015 – February 2016 (pdf)

Asylum Seeker's Death by Bulgarian Police Must Be Investigated (liberties.eu, link): "An asylum seeker is shot dead by police on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, but will justice come for the victim and his family? An Afghan man was shot down by a police officer and over 50 others were arrested near the Bulgarian – Turkish border in the evening of October 15, 2015. In connection with the incident, which took place near the town of Sredets, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee expressed the following position"

News (7-8.11.15)

Frontex to deploy forces on Greek-Albanian border (ekathimerini.com): "The European Union border protection agency Frontex says it will deploy forces along Greece’s border with neighboring Albania.Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri on Friday told Albanian television station Top Channel the agency wants to prevent migrants from attempting to reach Western Europe by traveling through Albania."

Greece: PM to visit Turkey for refugee talks (ekathimerini.com)

Sweden faces huge shortfall in refugee tents (The Local.se, link): "Sweden won't have enough tents to house record numbers of asylum seekers, with only 4,000 spaces available for an expected 50,000 refugees"

Czech volunteers heading for Lesbos to help migrants (Prague Monitor, link)

France to take in just 200 refugees in November (The Local.fr, link)

Greece: United Nations Predicts 5,000 Daily Migrant Arrivals in Europe Until February (Greek Reporter, link)

Norway: Shutting Norway border 'not off table': minister (The Local.no, link): "Norway’s government has not ruled out shutting the country’s northern border with Russia, after an extraordinary meeting held on Friday to discuss record refugee numbers"

Germany: Asylum activists arrested for anti-AfD protest (The Local.de, link): "Police clashed Saturday with activists who took to the streets of Berlin to shout down anti-migrant marchers of the populist nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD)".

Denmark and Sweden in refugee war of words (The Local.dk, link): "Sweden’s declaration that it can no longer guarantee refugees a roof over their heads has sparked a back and forth between Danish and Swedish ministers."

Austria: 'Majority' fear effects of refugee crisis (The Local.at, link): "Concern about the impact of the refugee crisis on Austria is growing, with 60 percent of people saying that the arrival of thousands of refugees and migrants is a cause for fear and worry, according to a new survey."

German teachers union warns girls to stay away from refugee men (DW, link): "A teachers group in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has garnered criticism after saying girls should be encouraged to stay away from male - often Muslim - refugees. Politicians have accused the group of fear-mongering. "

EU: European Commission: Refugee crisis statistics

- State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (6-11.15, pdf) contains for first time data on:
- Joint Frontex return flights (pdf) Main countries are Pakistan and Nigeria
- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (Greece and Italy, pdf): "Total Reception Capacity: Lesvos: 700 (Moria) 780 (Kara Tepe) with Frontex: 54 Officers (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams. Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer)"
- Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (Communicated as of 29 October 2015) (pdf): "14 Member States 3,546 places (of 160,000)"
- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia (Communicated as of 6 November 2015) (pdf)

Joint African and European recommendations for the Valletta Summit (madenetwork.org, link): With this statement, African and European civil society set out priorities for the upcoming discussions and outcomes of the Valetta Summit:

"The African and European Civil Society Joint Statement is based on consultations conducted by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) Europe, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Caritas Senegal in its role as MADE Africa Coordinator with several African and European civil society platforms and organisations during September and October 2015. The statement comes ahead and in preparation of the Africa-Europe Valletta Summit on Migration on 11-12 November 2015, focused on reinforcing existing cooperation processes between Europe and Africa, particularly the Rabat and Khartoum processes on migration, and the EU-Africa Dialogue on Migration and Mobility. The Valletta Summit will result in a political declaration and an action plan."

African and European Civil Society Joint Statement (pdf)

EU-AFRICA: List of invited delegations: Valletta Summit, 11-12 November 2015 Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta - Malta (pdf)

News (6.11.15)

Greeks struggle to give dead refugees a dignified burial (CBCNews, link): "Activist tries to organize proper burials 'just to make us a little bit more human'"

Mediterranean Migrants and Refugees: Latest Arrivals and Fatalities (IOM, link): Total arrivals in EU: 772,979 and 3,423 deaths/misssing (6.11.15): 627,527 in Greece (Main countries of origin: Syria and Afghanistan) and 141,501 in Italy (Main countries of origin: Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Bangladesh, Ghana). See Infographic (IOM) inclusing countires of origin

Moscovici: 3 million migrants won’t harm EU economy (euractiv, link)

Agence Europe reports that Frontex currently has 35 agents in Greek "hotspots", and by the end of January it will have 143 "agents" there.

"Hotspots" in Germany? Migrant crisis: Germany to fast-track asylum returns (BBC News, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel said five special centres would handle the applications of asylum-seekers deemed to have little chance of staying. Her Christian Democrats and their junior partners, the Social Democrats, have argued for weeks over the plan."

EU wants actions, deadlines from Valletta summit (euobserver, link): "The EU’s lead negotiator at next week’s Africa summit on migration, Pierre Vimont, wants actions backed by deadlines and oversight. Speaking in Brussels at a conference on Thursday (5 November), the former top official of the EU diplomatic service, said Valletta needs to mark a departure from previous dialogues. “For us, Valletta is not about repeating what has been done, it is not about reinventing what already exists,” he said."

Germany's opposition slams Berlin refugee deal (DW, link): "Germany's opposition parties have criticized a deal forged by coalition partners to control migration flows in Germany, saying it produces "little concrete action." Germany has struggled to cope with the influx."

EU Commission refugee announcement riles right-wing MEPs (Parliament magzine, link): "The EU Commission predicts three million migrants will arrive by end of next year."

Tsipras to hold emergency meeting on refugees (.ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has invited mayors of eastern Aegean islands bearing the brunt of the current refugee influx to Athens for an emergency meeting on how to deal with the crisis. The meeting, scheduled for midday Friday, was also to be attended by the north and south Aegean regional governors as well as mayors and religious officials from the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Kos, Leros and Chios, and government officials."

No transit zones on German borders for now (euobserver, link): "Germany’s governing coalition parties diffused tensions over the refugee crisis on Thursday (5 November) in a deal to set up five migrant reception centres inside the country and to speed up asylum procedures and deportations.The Social Democrats (SPD), the junior coalition partners to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, rejected the idea of transit zones on the Austrian border, claiming they would amount to detention camps. Instead, the coalition agreed to set up five reception centers within Germany, which would hold migrants from countries deemed safe, mainly from the Balkans, and those refusing to co-operate with asylum laws. Migrants would not be detained, in a concession won by the SPD from Merkel, but if they leave the region where the centre is located, they would lose welfare benefits."

Geopolitical and power games with the refugees (X-Pressed, link): "Frontex cynically admits double-counting those entering from the Greek border and then again from the Hungarian or Croatian. Later, they will add a relevant note at the end of the text. All this, however, is not of concern for the Commission. So one wonders: Does the Commission know how many people have entered this year in the EU? The correct answer is: Maybe they know, maybe they don’t – but that does not really matter."

Bulgaria Border Security System 'Out of Service over Unpaid Electricity Bills' (Balkan Insight, link): "State-of-the art border monitoring equipment has been installed at the Bulgarian-Turkish border but it is "out of service. Police have no money for electricity," German magazine Der Spiegel's website notes."Citing official documents, it also suggests the number of people crossing Bulgaria's border without being caught might be "enormous"."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Government approves sending troops to Slovenia (Prague Post, link): "The Czech government approved today the sending of up to 50 soldiers, including engineering and health officers, to help Slovenia with border protection, Defense Minister Martin Stropnický (ANO) said after the Cabinet meeting today."

Greek PM Tsipras and EU Parliament Chief Schulz Visit Lesvos Amid Protests (Greek Reporter, link)

Tsipras to hold emergency meeting on refugees (ekathimerini, link)

Unmarked baby graves a harrowing reminder the refugee crisis is far from over (Irish Mirror, link)

Germany to speed up asylum deportations (The Local, link)

Refugee beds running out in Sweden (New Europe, link)

EU seeks autonomous drones, "data fusion" and "enhanced command and control centres" for border control

The EU has made €24 million available for research into autonomous drones, "data fusion" and "enhanced command and control systems" in order to improve the surveillance of Europe's borders and "to support missions ranging from surveillance to detection of marine pollution incidents, and including early identification and tracking of illegal activities and illegal communication."

Italy: Interior MInistry circular on the "relocation" procedure

On 6 October 2015, the interior ministry sent a circular to the prefetti [government envoys responsible for security] outlining the provisional measures for international protection adopted for the benefit of Italy and Greece, including the start of "relocation" procedures. These instructions are in response to the decisions of the European Council meetings held on 14 and 22 September 2015.

Asylum seekers "in clear need of protection", belonging to nationalities whose recognition of international protection is above 75% according to the last quarter's Eurostat data, may enter the "relocation" procedure.

European Commission: Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting: Second Contact Points Video Conference (pdf):

"Frontex and the Commission insisted on the importance of the relevant countries responding to the proposed operational plans from Frontex to enable Frontex to deploy its teams by mid-November in Greece and Croatia."

Europe must act now on refugee deaths (IRR, link):

"As borders become militarised zones, and internal policing of refugees and migrants intensifies, the IRR continues to monitor asylum- and migration- related deaths.... In the absence of an effective accountability mechanism, it is up to us to call EU states to account. When state responsibility is engaged following a death, why do we not know even the names, ages, nationalities of a large number of the dead? Is anyone held accountable, and if not, why not? The IRR will continue to monitor deaths in order to help campaigners in their demands for structures of accountability for the deaths inside Europe, caused by Europe’s response to refugees and migrants."

News (5.11.15)

Agence Europe reports: "To date, only 116 people have been relocated from Italy (86) and Greece (30 Iraqis and Syrians travelled to Luxembourg on 4 November) to other EU countries. Member states have pledged 2,314 places (of the 160,000 planned), following an announcement by France, the Commission said on Wednesday 4 November." [emphasis added]

Bulgaria Border Security System 'Out of Service over Unpaid Electricity Bills (.novinite.com, link): "State-of-the art border monitoring equipment has been installed at the Bulgarian-Turkish border but it is "out of service. Police have no money for electricity," German magazine Der Spiegel's website notes."

A Europe without walls and frontiers our vision, says PM Tsipras (ANA, link)

Swedish mobile app tries to put out asylum fires (The Local.se, link): "Following a string of suspected arson attacks on temporary refugee accommodation in Sweden, a new neighbourhood watch app is hoping to spark communities into action to prevent future damage."

Spanish navy ship rescues over 500 refugees from fishing boat off Libya (The Local.es, link): "A Spanish navy frigate rescued more than 500 migrants off the coast of Libya on Thursday as the small wooden fishing boat they were packed into sailed adrift."

Refugees must take 'Austrian values' course (The Local.at, link): "Austria’s minister for foreign affairs and integration, Sebastian Kurz, will present a 50 point integration plan for recognised refugees next week - which will include a special course to teach them “Austrian values”. and Possible charges for refugee convoy activists (The Local.at, link)

Pussy Riot member: Czech Republic treats refugees like criminals (Prague Monitor, link): !The Czech Republic is treating refugees like criminals, Maria Alyokhina, member of the feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot, said after her visit to the refugee detention facility in Bela-Jezova on Tuesday. Alyokhina, 27, called the arguments of the Czech government to justify the existence of the facility "absurd and xenophobic." "Such a camp should not have existed on Czech soil at all. Refugees gain nothing from a stay there expect for a psychological harm," Alyokhina told CTK after the visit. "The refugees were detained without knowing where they were and where they were placed. They received all information in Czech that none of them can understand," she added".

Hotspots: Europe Debates Initial Reception Centers for Refugees (Spiegel Online, link) "Angela Merkel is hoping that a proposal for more reception centers in areas where refugees land at Europe's external borders will ease the influx into Germany. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to happen anytime soon."

Western Balkans route still preference of most refugees (euractiv, link): "The steady stream of refugees through the Balkans continues - while the national governments of their desired destinations are tightening their asylum laws in reaction"

EU predicts 3 million more migrants could arrive by end 2016 (AP, link)

Parallel realities: refugees seeking asylum in Europe and Hungary's reactions (eumigrationlawblog.eu, pdf)

Ahead of PM, Schulz visit, refugee load grows on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link): "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Parliament President Martin Schulz are due on Thursday to visit Lesvos, which has received more than half of some 600,000 refugees and migrants who have arrived in Greece this year" and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he witnessed migrants and refugees reaching Lesvos by dinghy shortly after landing on the island to inaugurate a fast-track registration center.(link)

UNHCR (link): 752,072 arrivals, 608,970 in Greece and 140,200 in Italy, and 3,440 dead/missing.

EU and Africa to clash on readmissions (euobserver, link): "EU negotiators, led by Pierre Vimont, the former head of the EU diplomatic service, are more interested in implementation of existing readmission agreements to help send people back. “There is no secret that the Africans are looking for opportunity for legal migration, work permits and these kinds of things, while the Europeans are focusing more on returns and readmission”, one EU official told this website."

Sweden to tap Hungary's EU relocation quota (euobserver, link): "Sweden, one of the main destination of migrants coming to Europe, is to ask the EU to relocate asylum seekers to other member states"

Viktor Orbán blames left-wing for European refugee crisis (Budapest Beason, link).

News (4.11.15)

Helicopters winch Lebanese, Syrian migrants from sea off Cyprus (ekathimerini.com, link): "Twenty-six people thought to be Lebanese and Syrian were winched to safety by helicopters off Cyprus in an overnight operation when their sailboat began to sink in rough seas, authorities said. Radars picked up a distress signal from the boat sailing off the island's south-eastern tip, which is prone to very strong sea currents. Police said a number of passengers required medical treatment for hypothermia."

European Union states have relocated just 116 refugees out of 160,000 (Guardian, link): "EU agreed in September to transfer 160,000 people from most affected states but so far just 86 have moved from Italy and 30 are due to leave Greece"

Austria puts up barbed wire at border despite chancellor's pledge (GUardian, link): "Werner Faymann last week criticised Hungary for blocking refugees with barbed wire fences and said Austria’s project was different"

Greece repatriates undocumented migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "A group of 70 undocumented immigrants from Pakistan are set to be repatriated later Wednesday in the first such operation in about 18 months. The EU-funded operation is overseen by the bloc’s border agency Frontex in cooperation with the Greek police’s Aliens Bureau. The immigrants, who are currently held at the Amygdaleza detention facility north of Athens, will be flown to Islamabad shortly after midnight." and Greek coast guard says 5 die in boat accident (link)

Tusk calls migration summit number 5 (euractiv, link): "European Council President Donald Tusk has called another EU summit on the migrant crisis, the fifth this year, this time in Valletta, on 12 November. The summit of the EU leaders will be held back-to-back with an EU-Africa summit on migration, which will start the previous day. Migration summitry has produced many decisions, but has been followed by minimum implementation."

All eyes on Germany as refugee exodus continues (euractiv, link): "Member states are affected in very different ways by the refugee crisis. But all of them worry about what will happen when Germany’s capacity to absorb asylum seekers reaches saturation point... The first EU leaders to announce that they would close their borders if Germany does were Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, his Romanian colleague Victor Ponta, and their counterpart from candidate country Serbia, Alexandar Vucic."

EU tests new screening process on Greek island where over 300,000 migrants have arrived (usnews.com, link): " registration center for migrants and refugees in Moria village on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, where thousands are camping out in a tent city that has sprung up around the police registration center chosen for the pilot program, which includes translators and police interviewers who use a secret questionnaire aimed at helping to quickly determine the migrants’ country of origin."

A Syrian Migrant’s Journey from Syria to Europe (IOM, link)

Roma driven to homelessness across Europe (euractiv, link): "Roma are being evicted from their homes across the European Union in systematic forced evictions. What is needed is the political will to use EU anti-discrimination laws to sanction member states guilty of leaving Roma homeless."

Hungary: Parliament rejects refugee quotas, sets legal battle with EU (Budapest Journal, link): "Parliament yesterday set up a legal battle with the European Union by approving a resolution rejecting an EU plan to introduce a quota system that would share refugees among member nations, according to reports"

Agence Europe reports, some good news, at last: "The Commission also decided on Tuesday to grant additional funding of €2 million for refugees and asylum seekers currently in the Western Balkans. With the arrival of winter, this humanitarian aid will enable the UNHCR to provide 200,000 refugees with warm clothes for the winter and temporary shelter and protection at reception sites in the region."

DENMARK: October was a record month for asylum-seekers in Denmark (The Copenhagen Post, link)

DENMARK: Rise in human trafficking cases fuelled by refugee crisis (The Copenhagen Post, link)

FRANCE: VIDEO: Explosion at Calais refugee camp (The Local, link)

POLAND: Survey: Poles believe Poland cannot afford refugees (The News, link): " 73 percent of Poles consider that their country cannot afford to take in refugees, at the same time 53 percent believe that as an EU member Poland should take an active part in solving the migration crisis, a recent poll by the TNS Polska has indicated."

UN refugee chief: funding shortage triggered Europe arrivals (Washington Post, link)

NETHERLANDS: Western Balkan countries are safe, says Dutch justice minister (Dutch News, link): "Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have been added to the Dutch list of safe countries, which means their nationals have no right to asylum in the Netherlands."

Yet another emergency EU Summit (Heads of State): Invitation Letter from Council President Tusk to Members of the European Council (pdf) to be held on 12 November at 14.30 straight after the Valletta EU-Africa Summit and there is also to be another extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council on 9 November 2015. President Tusk concerned at some EU states introducing "different measures at internal Schengen borders"

EU: European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (3 November 2015, pdf) Details figures on funding, "hotspots" (Greece and Italy) and returns

EU: Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn in Athens: First Relocation Flight from Greece (pdf):

"On Wednesday 4 November, Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn will travel to Greece. Together with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Greek Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction responsible for Migration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas they will meet with the first group of asylum seekers to benefit from the EU's relocation scheme from Greece. Thirty asylum seekers will travel by plane from the Athens International Airport to have their applications processed in Luxembourg."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"Instead of turning the first relocation flight from Greece into a photo-opportunity the Commissioner would be be employed sorting out the mess at home in Brussels by tackling the lack of humanitarian aid and civil protection on the beaches and camps in Greece and right up through the centre of the EU and by getting member states to come up with the number of refugees they are going to "relocate" and when."

EU: Letter from European Commission and Council to Member States (30.10.15, pdf) Outlines where EU Member States response to the refugee crisis is "still falling short":

- The European Asylum Support Office needs the secondment of 374 experts, so far it has only 153 promises, Frontex needs 775 border guards and so far has 353 from nineteen states

- the Syria Crisis Trust Fund needs 500 million euro - it has 50 million euro

- the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: EU funding will reach 1.8 billion euro which should be matched by EU Member States - so far:

"the contrast with Member State' pledges of below 30 million euro is stark. In the run-up to the Valletta Summit, it is indispensable that the national effort comes closer to the EU funding"

UK-EU refugee crisis and humanitarian emergency: House of Lords, Select Committee on the European Union report: EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (pdf):

"Evidence suggests that a majority of those currently entering the EU as irregular migrants are ‘prima facie refugees’, as defined by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It is, therefore, important that as much focus is placed on the humanitarian aspects of the crisis as on law enforcement....

We recommend that, as part of its review of EU legislation, the Commission should propose an EU framework that builds on the humanitarian aspects of the UN Protocol that concerns migrant smuggling. It should criminalise only acts committed for financial gain. Clauses should be added to avoid the criminalisation of individuals and organisations acting for humanitarian purposes. Inhuman and degrading treatment should be included as aggravating factors in the sentencing of smugglers." [emphasis added]

Refugee Rescued With His Cat Exposes “Dangerous And Unlivable” Conditions In German Camp (Buzzfeed, link):

“It is like a prison here,” said Moner Al Kadri, a refugee from Syria who gained internet fame when pictures of him with his kitten he brought across the Mediterranean on a life raft were posted on Facebook... The couple is now in a large refugee camp in Suhl, a city in eastern Germany’s federal state of Thuringia. The conditions, Al Kadri said, are deplorable. Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and other families fleeing Middle East conflicts pad through inches of water to get to the bathroom and receive small food rations, and they are subject to spreading diseases."

News (3.11.15)

Sweden beset by asylum seeker-targeted arson attacks (euobserver, link): "In the month of October alone, ten asylum homes caught fire in Sweden in suspected cases of arson. As police search for the culprits, a debate has erupted on who, or what, is responsible. ”We announced that the building would become an asylum home and it was set ablaze the following night”, Olle Reichenberg, the municipal chairman of Danderyd, a wealthy Stockholm suburb, told Swedish radio. ”It seems clear to me what the motive was.” The former kindergarten in was just one of ten buildings that caught fire during the month of October in suspected cases of arson in different parts of the country. The police has so far not found any incendiary device."

Libyan faction threatens EU with migrant boats (euobserver, link): "One of the two rival authorities in Libya has threatened to send migrants to Europe unless the EU recognises its legitimacy. Jamal Zubia, a spokesman for the General National Congress (GNC), told The Telegraph, a British daily, in an interview published on Monday (2 November): "I have advised my government many times already that we should hire boats and send them [migrants] to Europe." "We are protecting the gates of Europe, yet Europe does not recognise us and does not want to recognise us. So why should we stop the migrants here?"."

Germany: Merkel pushes for transit zones, warns of military clashes (euobserver, link): "German chancellor Angela Merkel defended the deal on transit zones reached with her rebellious sister party on Sunday and said her coalition partners needed to be convinced of it. Merkel also warned against military presence in the Balkans, in case borders close on the migration route....Speaking to supporters of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in the western city of Darmstadt on Monday evening, Merkel said the Social Democrats (SPD) need to support the transit zones.... SPD opposes the idea of large centres along the border, where migrants will be detained."

Official: Afghanistan will accept all Afghans deported from Germany (Stars & Stripes, link): "Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Hossain Alemi Balkhi has disapproved of Germany's decision to return the Afghans, saying in a recent interview with The Associated Press that Kabul is "against the forced exile of any people from any country back to where they came from." "The problem that caused them to leave Afghanistan in the first place has not been solved — there is still war, conflict, insecurity," he said."

In Limbo at Europe's Door - African migrants can’t reach continent, but can’t go home (WSJ, link): "As the world watches hundreds of thousands of Syrians crossing into Europe from the east, territories north of the Sahara are filling with comparable numbers of Africans determined to make their own entrance. Migrants from more than a dozen African nations are descending on Morocco, Algeria and Libya in unprecedented numbers, sleeping in abandoned apartments, derelict warehouses and on city streets. Thousands are living in fast-expanding forest encampments, surviving off garbage...".

Winter is coming: the new crisis for refugees in Europe (Guardian, link): "From Lesbos to Lapland, refugees are bracing for a winter chill that many will never have experienced before. Some will have to endure it outside"

Migrant disturbances at British base on Cyprus (ekathimerini.com, link): "British military authorities confirmed Tuesday there had been disturbances at a base in Cyprus where 114 migrants from the Middle East are being kept after coming ashore last month. However, he did say a fire had set two tents ablaze Monday and that the fire services put it out. Tully was responding to a videos posted on the website of Britain’s Guardian newspaper showing migrants protesting and complaining about "being treated like animals". He said the mostly Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese were frustrated, as they were unsure about their future, but he insisted they were being well looked after."

Humanitarian group vows more aid for refugees in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which coordinates humanitarian groups around the world, promised to increase its aid to 12.7 million Swiss francs over the next seven months from 3 million offered in September. In Athens, the IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, called for a loosening of travel restrictions to allow the refugees to move legally, echoing a position long held by Greece. “Because if you do it legally, you take away the illegal business from the traffickers and then the smugglers. And then people would feel safer and it would be better organized,” he said"

Migrants Continue to Flow into Greece, Balkans (IOM, link): 757,192 refugees have arrived into the EU, 612,605 in Greece and 140,636 in Italy. There have been 3,406 dead/missing (3 November 2015).

Greece: Tsipras under pressure to tear down Turkish border fence (euractiv, link): "The Greek government is facing increasing pressure to take down a fence along its land border with Turkey, and stop refugees from making the deadly journey to Europe via the Mediterranean.... The 12-kilometer fence was built in 2011 at the land border with Turkey, along the Evros River. Antonis Samaras, the conservative premier, decided to proceed with the fence, in order to stem the rising number of illegal immigrants entering the country via Turkey."

Greece: Lesbos has run out of room to bury refugees killed at sea, mayor says (aljazeera.com, link): "esbos Mayor Spyros Galinos told Greece's Vima FM radio on Monday that he is still trying to find places to bury dozens of bodies that are now in the local morgue. "Yesterday we held five funerals, but there are still 55 bodies at the morgue," Galinos told NBC News. "Who could have anticipated such a carnage in the Aegean?""

GERMANY: Merkel pushes for transit zones, warns of military clashes (EUobserver, link)

Europe begins migrant screening on Greek islands (ap, link): "Thousands are camping out here in a tent city that has sprung up around the police registration center chosen for the pilot program, which includes translators and police interviewers who use a secret questionnaire aimed at helping to quickly determine the migrants' country of origin."

NETHERLANDS: Six arrested at Enschede refugee protest (Dutch News, link)

EU: Refugee crisis: 700 children a day now claiming asylum on European soil (The Independent, link): "Up to 700 children a day are now claiming asylum on European soil, as new figures reveal that twice as many child refugees are arriving this year compared to 2014."

GERMANY: Dresden's PEGIDA numbers drop, but anti-refugee sentiment still strong (Deutsche Welle, link)

Migration and interpretation – a potent mix (Law Society Gazette, link): "The current migration crisis is testing interpreting services across Europe. What is being done to ease the burden?"

Greek conscripts: 'we won't take part in fighting migrants' (libcom.org):

"A collective statement on the migrant crisis from “Diktyo Spartakos” (‘Spartacus Net’), a far leftist formation inside the Greek army, and signed by conscript soldiers from 50 different units.

The following inspirational statement deserves the widest possible circulation. It is from Greek conscripts in 50 units of the Armed Forces. The statement is notable for linking all the current horrors inflicted on workers everywhere to a single cause – the ongoing crisis of the capitalist system. In this crisis, which demands sacrifices in lost and ruined lives, all workers, whatever their condition, have a common cause and a common interest.. "

UK: Otley aid worker could face jail for smuggling 4-year-old back to family (ITV News, with viideos link): "Rob Lawrie tried to smuggle four-year-old Bahar from the infamous Jungle refugee camp in Calais to relatives in Leeds after her father pleaded with him to take her in his van. He persuaded a Yorkshire aid volunteer to try to take her to family in Leeds - Rob Lawrie's now due in court for this - he will appear in January in Boulogne charged with smuggling."

News (2.11.15)

Berlin journalist 'hunted by far-right thugs' (The Local.de, link): "A journalist for Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel said on Facebook he was tracked down and physically attacked on the street by right wing thugs in Berlin on Friday after writing a column about xenophobia."

Germany wants Greece 'hotspots' ready this month (ekathimerini.com, link): "Tobias Plate, a spokesman for Germany's interior ministry, said the centers were at various stages of completion but “we expect this to proceed rapidly.” Plate told reporters in Berlin on Monday that Germany “expect that in November...the hotspots, particularly in Greece, will become fully operational.” Germany, meanwhile, is close to completing work on two “waiting zones” capable of housing 5,000 migrants each at its border with Austria, Plate said".

Czech helper says refugees face desperate situation on Croatia border (Radio Praha, link)

First refugee relocation from Greece to Luxembourg on Wednesday (amna.gr, link)

Austria: Winter retreats from her anti-Semitic remarks (The Local.at, link): "An Austrian far-right MP is rapidly backpedalling after making remarks on social media which were interpreted as supporting anti-Semitic views."

Norway copies Danish anti-refugee adverts (The Local.no, link): "Norway has launched a campaign on Facebook and Twitter warning prospective refugees of the treatment they will face in the country, copying a negative advertising campaign launched in Denmark."

Sweden: Activists fight closure of Malmö migrant camp (The Local.se, link): "Campaigners are gathered at a controversial camp in Malmö that has been home to hundreds of mostly Roma people, but is set to be cleared by police and local authorities."

Hungary 'will not accept' refugees from other EU states (worldbulletin.net, link): " Refugees should be returned to Greece where they first entered EU, says Hungarian minister, noit accept any refugees sent to it by other European Union countries. Janos Lazar, the minister in charge of the Hungarian Prime Ministry, told reporters on Thursday: "Western European countries want to send about 40,000 migrants back to Hungary; we will not accept them, [not] even one of them." "The migrants did not enter the European Union zone from Hungary; they entered from Greece, [to] where they should be sent," Lazar added."

7 Volunteers Whose Lives Were Changed By Refugees (The Huffington Post, link): "HuffPost Greece spoke with members of MSF’s team on Kos about what motivated them to leave their homes and take care of others in a difficult situation -- one we could all experience at some point in our lives. Who did they meet among the refugees and whom will they never forget?"

After escaping war, asylum seekers in Sweden now face arson attacks (Reuters, link): "* Sweden expects record migrant arrivals this year * Arson attacks on asylum centres remain unsolved * Minister attacks party over anti-immigration rhetoric * Sweden Democrats leader condemns attacks * But party publishes addresses of new asylum centres."

BULGARIA: Refugees found in refrigerated truck in Bulgaria (Al Jazeera, link)

EU: 'Sharing the Burden of Rescue': Illegalised Boat Migration, the Shipping Industry and the Costs of Rescue in the Central Mediterranean (Border Criminologies, link)

EU: The horrors of Lesbos: on the front-lines of Fortress Europe (ROAR Mag, link): "Far from providing safe refuge to those who survive the crossing, Europe is subjecting refugees to dehumanizing, degrading and life threatening conditions."

German Village of 102 Braces for 750 Asylum Seekers (New York Times, link)

Germany limits refugee access from Austria (The Local, link)

Germany's refugee welcome wears thin (IRIN News, link): "Images of Germans greeting refugees at Munich’s train station with cheers and teddy bears in early September were beamed around the world, but the welcome that asylum seekers receive after being dispersed to cities, towns and rural areas around the country is often quite different."

UK: Yorkshire 'Football for All' project helping refugees (Al Jazeera, link)

A journey to a refugee camp in Slovenia (Press Project, link)

Greece: Total of 19 dead recovered from Aegean Sea (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek authorities confirm that the bodies of four more migrants, all men, have been recovered north of the island of Farmakonissi in the eastern Aegean Sea. Four others were rescued and seven are missing. This brings the total number of dead recovered Sunday in the Aegean Sea to 19, in three separate incidents."

Merkel coalition still at odds on refugees (euobserver, link): "German chancellor Angela Merkel faces further coalition rifts this week as talks over the weekend with party leaders on the refugee crisis failed to produce a common government policy on how to deal with the huge number of arriving refugees and migrants."

From refugee crisis to Stormont, unacceptable language of intolerance breeds hatred by Phil Scraton (.belfasttelegraph.co.uk, link)

EU-AFRICA:Refugee crisis: Valletta Conference 11-12 November 2015: Update: Latest and full documentation and

See: EXCLUSIVE. EU-Africa: Valletta, the summit of dissent (afronline.org, link) and also: African and European Civil Society Joint Statement: Valletta Summit, 11-12 November, 2015 (thanks to afronline.org, pdf)


Valletta Summit Political Declaration Version Zero (LIMITE doc no: 13384-15, 23 October 2015, pdf)

Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Four (LIMITE doc no 12560-rev-3-15, 26 October 2015, pdf)

Valletta Summit on Migration, 11-12 November 2015 (LIMITE doc no: 13153-15, 16 October 2015, pdf)

Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Three (Limite doc no: 12560-rev-2-15, 12 October 2015, pdf

Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Two (LIMITE doc no 12560-rev-1-15, 7 October 2015, pdf)

version: Possible elements for the Outcome Document for Valletta - annotated version LIMITE doc no 11534-15, 26 August 2015, pdf)


GAMM-AFRICA: EU Action on Migratory Pressures - A Strategic Response 5th Biannual Update (LIMITE doc no: 16600-14, pdf)

Draft Council Conclusions on the EU Horn of Africa Regional Action Plan 2015-2020 (28 pages, LIMITE doc no: 13200-15, pdf)

""[T]hree issues affecting EU interests in the region have gained particular salience: the influence of the wider region on the Horn of Africa, violent extremism and migration and forced displacement....

"The high number of people in the region who are willing to migrate is by far larger than the limited possibilities of legal avenues for migration, be it within the region or outside. Lack of opportunities for legal migration or complex and expensive procedures mean that many migrants feel that they have no other option than to use irregular channels."

See also: EU: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria prioritised for "pilot initiative on return" (Statewatch database)

October 2015

LESVOS, GREECE: We are lfieguards and we are saving lives (link): "We are Proactiva Open Arms, a NGO from Badalona (Barcelona, Spain) and we are dedicated to saving lives in the sea. In the beginning of September we decided to move to the Island of Lesvos to help the refugees that arrive to the Greek coast."

Grcka je hot-spot za izbjeglice, a mi privremeno utocište (slobodnadalmacija.hr, link) [Greece is a hotspot for refugees, and we have temporary shelter]

"According to Ranko Ostoji, Croatian Minister of Intenior, during a statement at the press (30 October 2015), there will be only a hot Spot Greece, while the other Balkan countries have the task to provide a temporary home to people crossing their territory. Applicants to be returned will be evicted and those who have refugee status will be let in to go to countries of the EU.[machine translation] Comment: How "temporary" will be "temporary"? The Minister is describing a "hotspot".

News (30.10.15 - 1.11.15)

Greece: As More Children Drown, Volunteers on Lesbos Say Rescues Are Left Largely to Them (INYT, link)

Health cards to be given to refugees landing in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece plans to provide refugees and migrants arriving in the country with a health card, a senior public official said on Saturday. Speaking to Praktoreio FM, General Secretary for Public Health Yiannis Baskozos said the cards would be handed out to each new arrival. “We have decided there should be a health card that will include the basic results of health tests that are carried out and which will be useful for them when they move about within the country or across borders and for their reallocation to other countries,” he said, adding that the cards would be available in around a month." and Six infants drown as migrant boat capsizes off Samos (ekathimerini.com, link): "Eleven migrants including six infants drowned when their boat capsized off the Greek island of Samos, trapping most of them in the cabin, the coast guard said on Sunday. Fifteen others were rescued when the six-meter boat sank in the early hours near the coast of the Aegean island."

German coalition fails to resolve rift on refugees (The Local.de, link): "Germany's ruling coalition failed at crunch talks Sunday to resolve major differences over the country's refugees policy as it braces for the biggest influx since World War II."

Germany restricts refugee access from Austria (The Local.at, link): "Germany said on Friday that asylum seekers would only be able to enter the country at five points along its border with Austria to better control a mass influx."

Europe’s fear of Muslim refugees echoes rhetoric of 1930s anti-Semitism (Washington Post, link): "Over the past year, many in Europe have bristled at the influx -- from far-right political movements and fear-mongering tabloids to established politicians and leaders. The resentment has to do, in part, with the burden of coping with the refugees. But it's also activated a good amount of latent xenophobia--leading to anti-Islam protests, attacks on asylum centers and a good deal of bigoted bluster."

Italy to relocate 100 refugees to France, Spain - immigration chief (Reuters, link) "Italy will send 100 refugees to France and Spain next week as part of a European Union relocation plan aimed at easing the burden on border states, the country's top immigration official said on Friday.... Only Eritreans, Syrians and Iraqis, whose asylum requests have a high rate of acceptance, qualify to be relocated, according to the plan."

Germany: Passau: A border town at the limit (DW, link): "Politicians call it "chaos," the media call it an "onslaught." But Passau's aid workers and police hardly complain. Despite the immense strain, they're managing the ongoing refugee crisis, reports Nemanja Rujevic"

Austria: Racism forces Erasmus student back to UK (The Local.at, link): "A black British student doing an Erasmus year in Salzburg says he left after just three weeks after experiencing “more racism and discrimination than [in his] entire life in London”"

Hundreds of refugees disappear in Germany (The Local.de, link): "Around 700 of the 4,000 refugees who have been housed in Lower Saxony over the past week have gone missing and authorities mostly have no idea who or where they are."

Bulgarian Authorities Detain 495 Illegal Immigrants, 16 Human Smugglers (novinite.com, link): "Bulgarian authorities detained 495 illegally residing foreigners and sixteen human smugglers during a large-scale joint operation of the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for Security (DANS) carried across the country. llowing the operation, actions have been taken against 525 people accused of committing crimes against the political rights of citizens. A total of 2749 police officers from all regional departments of the interior ministry across the country participated in the operation. During the operation, the authorities carried out checks on 2895 sites, 12 820 people and 5987 vehicles, the press service of the interior ministry informs."

EU: Another step after months and months of dithering: Entropy or incompetence? IPCR (Integrated Political Crisis Response) is the joint responsibility of the European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS): Council of the European Union Press release: 30 October: Migratory crisis: EU Council Presidency steps up information sharing between member states by activating IPCR (pdf):

"The EU Integrated Political Crisis Response arrangements (IPCR) reinforce the European Union's ability to take rapid decisions when facing major crises requiring a response at EU political level."

See: Finalisation of the CCA review process: the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) arrangement (2013, pdf)

"Some major emergencies or crises, of internal and/or external origin are of such a wideranging impact or political significance, that they require timely policy coordination and response at EU political level. This could result from the number of affected or involved Member States, or the cross-sectorial nature of the crisis, the imminence thereof, or from time constraints, or a combination of these factors...."  [emphasis added]

and: Concept Note on "Arrangements for Crisis Coordination at EU political level (2012, pdf):

"whether the CCA [EU Emergency and Crisis Coorination Arrangement] in its current configuration is the politically and strategically agile tool required by the EU as a whole to respond quickly and adequately to a serious crisis situation; as appropriate, develop proposals that incorporate all relevant EU level actors and crisis coordination tools...." [emphasis added]

IOM Mediterranean Update (link): Number of arrivals: 724,228, with 579,642 in Greece and 140,636 in Italy (30 October):

"With the latest tragic drownings in the Aegean on Wednesday and Thursday—along with four new deaths reported today off Spain—IOM now estimates that the total number of migrant deaths on Mediterranean sea routes to Europe have surpassed 3,329 in the first ten months of 2015."

Greece: Death toll in migrant boat shipwrecks rises to 22 (ekathimerini.com, link): "At least 22 people drowned in two new shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea Friday as thousands of Middle Eastern refugees and economic migrants sought to reach the Greek islands in rough seas, while the death toll over the past three days has reached nearly 50."

Tsipras slams EU response to migrant crisis as death toll rises (ekathimerini.com, link): With frightening picture of a refugee boad listing: "At least 22 migrants, among them 13 children, drowned overnight when two boats sank off the islands of Kalymnos and Rhodes, Greek port officials said on Friday. The latest drownings prompted a sharp response from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who said he felt "shame" over Europe's failure to prevent the tragedies."Our first duty is to save lives and not to allow the Aegean to become a cemetery... for that we are not asking for even a euro" from our European partners, he said."

Tsipras says level of EU debate on migrants is 'sad' ((ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras slammed on Friday the level of debate among European Union governments in dealing with the migrant crisis as 'sad' for a lack of cohesive action in dealing with the crisis. "I feel shamed as a member of this European leadership, both for the inability of Europe in dealing with this human drama, and for the level of debate at a senior level, where one is passing the buck to the other," Tsipras told Parliament.

"These are hypocritical, crocodile tears which are being shed for the dead children on the shores of the Aegean. Dead children always incite sorrow, But what about the children that are alive who come in thousands and are stacked on the streets? Nobody likes them."

Tsipras: Unlike Hungary, Athens will help resolve the refugee crisis ((euractiv, link): "Greece will help the EU tackle the refugee crisis, despite certain member states’ unwillingness to contribute, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday (29 October)... Referring to the latest tragedy, the premier said it was a “humanitarian duty” to address the situation.,,, The Greek leader believes that the EU border agency Frontex should be reinforced, and reacted strongly to recent suggestions that Greece conduct joint patrols with Turkey in the Aegean."

News (30.10.15)

Desperate calling from Lesbos (Video: YouTube, link): Where are the EU & international aid agencies? "Eric Kempson calls to the world and the UNHCR to come to Lesbos and take their responsibilty in preventing a human disaster on European grounds."

PM Orbán: Europe’s Peoples Are Beginning To Awake (hungarytoday.hu, link): "The Prime Minister also called attention to the fact that the European Union’s refugee quota system, which has been opposed by Hungary fom the outset, “has grown into an even greater danger” with the will to turn the distribution of new arrivals into a permanent mechanism.”This we utterly reject”, Mr. Orbán insisted. He said that the “invasion” of migrants is propelled by two factors, the “business” of human trafficking networks and activists who “support everything that weakens nation states”.

Orbán aide calls US criticism 'downright irritating' (euractiv, link): "Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's chief of staff on Thursday (29 October) rejected criticism of the Hungarian government by the US ambassador to Budapest, saying her remarks amounted to interference in Hungary's affairs."

It’s up to Europe to show the way towards global refugee policies (http://europesworld.org, link): "Europe must welcome those fleeing from conflict zones by raising resettlement quotas, issuing more humanitarian visas and extending Temporary Protective Status to citizens of countries in distress. We must also ask what policies we want to put in place to better prepare us for such challenges in future. Put simply, we need a comprehensive approach that covers all facets of contemporary mobility." and Europe’s refugee crisis: the good, the bad and the ugly (link): "Harrowing images, heart-wrenching headlines and the grim reality on the different “fronts” in the crisis – the Mediterranean sea, the scene of many shipwrecks and deaths, the Western Balkans where desperate refugees are using land routes to reach Europe and Calais where thousands are stuck in a no-man’s land between France and Britain – reveal a Europe in disarray. Certainly, the crisis has brought out the worst in Europe. But – at least in some cases – it has also brought out the best."

Lesbos volunteer tells of 'huge amount of trauma' as refugee boats capsize (Guardian, link): "Children among the dead after vessels sink in bad weather off Greek island, which is short of clothing and blankets for survivors"

Czech police leave for Hungary to protect Schengen border (Prague Post, link)

Populist, Pernicious and Perilous : Germany's Growing Hate Problem (Spiegel Online, link): "Even as Germany has welcomed its refugees, another, uglier side has been festering with the return of the anti-Muslim Pegida movement. The threat posed by the far-right has the potential to spiral out of control."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Zeman: Most refugees do not deserve compassion (Prague Post, link)

Slovakia: Fico: Inflow of migrants raises security risks (Prague Post, link): "Slovak prime minister says migrants are linked to terrorist groups. Europe is faced with a growing security risk as the influx of migrants to the continent has been increasing despite all expectations, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today."

Czechs may accept Christian refugees from Iraq (Prague Post, link)

Pressure on Merkel grows over refugees (The Local.de, link): "Demands are growing for Chancellor Angela Merkel to do more to limit the number of refugees entering the country ahead of an emergency summit of coalition government leaders at the weekend."

Worsening weather brings more tragedy to eastern Aegean (UNHCR, link)

Czech police officers to help reinforce Hungarian border (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "Fifty Czech police officers yesterday left for Hungary to help it guard the Schengen border for one month and their mission will cost the country about 10 million crowns. The participants were chosen from 400 police officers from all parts of the country who wanted to join the mission."

The Next Wave: Afghans Flee To Europe in Droves (Spiegel Online, link): "As the situation in Afghanistan becomes ever more chaotic, an increasing number of Afghans are heading towards Europe. But as one family's story shows, the trip often ends in tragedy."

DENMARK: Danes more relaxed about refugee influx (The Copenhagen Post, link)

DENMARK: Man photographed spitting on refugees charged with racism (The Copenhagen Post, link)

German Vice Chancellor Gabriel condemns infighting over refugee crisis (Deutsche Welle, link)

GREECE: As More Children Drown, Volunteers on Greek Island Say Rescues Are Left Largely to Them (New York Times, link)

GREECE: Migrant tragedy in Greek seas shows dangers as winter nears (AP, link)

Italy aims to allow force on migrants who refuse photo ID (Gazzetta del Sud, link): "The Italian government aims to introduce rules that will allow the use of force on migrants who refuse to undergo photo identification procedures, an official from the Interior Ministry's Department of Public Security told a parliamentary commission on Thursday"

Macedonia Refugee Camp Braces for Winter (Balkan Insight, link)

Risk of refugees freezing to death: Bavarian police (The Local, link)

Restore sense of community on migrants says Mattarella (Gazzetta del Sud, link)

SWEDEN: Wallstroem: Sweden Democrats to blame for fires at asylum accommodation (EUobserver, link)

"The Europe We Want!" Refugee crisis: Here’s a ‘to do list’ for the refugee crisis from Strasbourg’s human rights watchdogs (europesworld.org, link): by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights: "Migration is the most controversial issue in Europe of this decade. It is creating new divisions between European countries and is feeding the widespread euroscepticism that far-right political movements have so promptly exploited...."

ECRE/AIDA: The new asylum procedure at the border and restrictions to accessing protection in Hungary (pdf):

"increasing pressure has triggered a series of changes in the Hungarian asylum system which raises multiple legal and policy concerns. At the same time, Hungary appears to be a transit country for a large number, if not most, of refugees and asylum seekers arriving there, who seek to continue their journey towards other European countries....

the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has sought to gain an in-depth understanding of the new border procedure applied at the Hungarian border and the conditions facing asylum seekers in the new transit zones. This enquiry is followed by an assessment of the treatment afforded to persons who enter the country irregularly, as well as by a discussion on the broader effects of the recent restrictions imposed by Hungary for refugees seeking protection in Europe "

Sweden to keep shelters for asylum seekers secret (euractiv, link): "The Swedish Migration Agency has decided to keep the locations of refugee housing facilities secret, following 21 being torched since March.

Yesterday, the municipality of Danderyd, a town located north of Stockholm, announced that a new residence for 70 asylum seekers will be opened in November, in facilities that previously belonged to a public school. But around 2AM this morning (28 October), the building was set alight. On Tuesday (27 October), a building that was meant to be used for refugee accommodations in Färingtofta, in southern Sweden, was likewise destroyed in an arson attack.

In order to prevent more fires, the Migration Agency has decided to make it harder for the public to locate the addresses of planned homes for asylum seekers. This means that 66,000 residences will be kept a secret. "The level of security has deteriorated and it's worrying with all these fires. We will keep the residences a secret so that they won't become common knowledge," said Willis Åberg, operations manager at the Migration Agency, according to Radio Sweden" [emphasis in original].

EU naval anti-smuggler operation “not working”, needs intervention in Libya: French admiral (Libya Herald, link):

"The EU naval operation to clamp down on illegal migrant crossings from Libya is not working, according to its deputy commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean. The only way to stop the flow, he said in Rome yesterday, was by going to Libyan territory, both the country’s inshore waters and on land and hitting the smuggler networks.

“The operation will only be effective when we can work close to the networks, go after the big fish not the little ones who go out to sea,” he said.

In the three week since it started, the operation, codenamed Sophia and designed to arrest the smugglers and seize their boats them had not done so at all so far, the French rear admiral admitted."

Greece: Lesvos: Death Toll Still Rising!! 29/10/2015 (Youtube, link) by Eric Kempson, heart-rending report

News (29.10.15)

Dutch king calls for calm on migration - Rise in threats to politicians leads to royal intervention. (politico, link): "The Dutch king on Wednesday called for sensible debate on migration as the Netherlands faced a surge in violence and intimidation.... In recent days, the country has seen rising anti-migrant sentiment and political shouting matches. The parliamentary chairman of the liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was sent a bullet in the mail, and a far-left politician’s car was set on fire on Tuesday night."

Migrants' hardship continues (DW, link): "As winter approaches, refugee camps in Croatia and Slovenia are still struggling to provide shelter and medical supplies for all. Helpers are now treating women and children first. But quick solutions are needed to avoid a humanitarian disaster "

Lesbos braces for winter as refugees keep coming (DW, link): "On Lesbos, the numbers of refugees coming continue to rise, despite the weather. Omaira Gill reports from the Greek island where even the cemetery is overwhelmed by new arrivals from across the sea."

More than 1,000 migrants rescued off coast of Libya: Italian coast guard (DW, link): "Ships from several different EU countries have participated in a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the vessels were part of the bloc's new anti-smuggling operation."

EU Commission president and Austrian Chancellor unite against fences in Europe (DW, link): "European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann have warned that fences are not welcome in the EU. Shortly before, Vienna suggested building a barrier on its Slovenian border."

Seven children die after migrant boats sink off Greece (.ekathimerini.com, link): "Amnesty International's Deputy Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said it was “obscene that European leaders allowed such a chain of tragedies on its shores”.

As Migrants Flow In, More Europeans Question Open Borders (npr, link)

Bavarian allies heap pressure on Merkel over refugees (euractiv, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under intense pressure for her handling of the refugee crisis on Wednesday (28 October), with her Bavarian allies warning of a coalition crisis unless she limits a record influx of migrants. The Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), have been outspoken in their criticism of her "open doors" policy towards asylum seekers, in part because their home state of Bavaria is the entry point for virtually all of the migrants arriving in Germany."

Austria says won't close border, still plans small fence (euobserver, lkink): "Austria tried on Wednesday (28 October) to alleviate concerns over its plan to erect a fence on its border with Slovenia, the first such plan between two Schengen countries. In a phone call in the afternoon, Austrian chancellor Werner Fayman and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker agreed that "fences have no place in Europe," the Commission said. "There is no fence with Hungary and no fence with Slovenia," Fayman said later on Austria's ORF TV channel."

Germany cracks down on Afghan migrants (politico, link): "Merkel’s government claims deportations will rise “significantly.”... While there are calls for more Afghans to be deported — Germany, after all, has been part of the coalition trying to make their homeland safe — critics of the policy say that Afghanistan is not secure enough for people to be sent back. Based on the number of refugees “both this month, as well as over the course of 2015, Afghanistan ranks number two in the list of countries of origin of refugees – that’s unacceptable,” German Interior Minister Thomas De Maizière told journalists Wednesday." and "Austrian interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, has called for the same “Fortress Europe” Orbán wants. “The current situation in Slovenia, Austria or Germany proves that we need to build on a Fortress Europe as soon as possible. We need a controlled access to Europe…” (politico)

Refugee crisis: The map that shows how Europe is becoming a fortress to keep people out (The Independent, link)

Withheld EU report raps Turkey on rights, media, justice (Reuters, link)

EU naval anti-smuggler operation “not working”, needs intervention in Libya: French admiral (Libya Herald, link)

Unravelling the Drivers behind EU Border Militarization (Border Criminologies, link)

EU: Civil protection mechanism activated at last? EU struggles with migration edicts (politico, link): "Greece recoils at demands to “create a ghetto for 50,000 refugees.” and see: EU Civil Protection Mechanism (link)

Greece may seek EU help to meet migration pledges (ekathimerini.com, link): "Sources told Kathimerini that authorities were mulling a request that the European Union’s civil protection mechanism be activated to help Greece meet the targets. The mechanism coordinates the bloc’s humanitarian aid efforts, channeling financial support and sending specially equipped teams to disaster areas.

“We had been prepared for 2,500 places – not for 20,000 in two months and another 20,000 via the rent-assistance program,” a source who wished to remain anonymous told the newspaper."

Opening remarks by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Maison de la Paix, Geneva: Lessons from the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Towards New Global Coordination 27 October 2015 (Full-text, pdf)

and see: Derogatory speech against migrants can lead to murders, UN official warns (euractiv, link): "Politicians who use derogatory language about refugees and migrants may be responsible for causing violence and racism, UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein warned yesterday (27 October). "Once you classify people along lines such that they pose a threat - that these are 'hordes', that we are being 'invaded', that there are 'swarms' of people coming, you have started the process of dehumanizing them as we know from history," he said." and U.N.'s Zeid says politicians' anti-migrant rhetoric can be deadly (Reuters, link)

Frontex begins testing accelerated registration process in Lesbos (link)

"Frontex began testing a new accelerated process of identifying and registering migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos today. The entire process takes place at a mobile office, set up as part of the implementation of the “hotspot” approach. Inside, a team composed of two Frontex guest officers works together with Greek authorities to register migrants and provide them with information on international protection.

More than 35 people, including several Syrian families, have already passed through the new facilities established by Frontex in Moria, where they were registered and had their fingerprints scanned electronically with a Eurodac device. At the end of the process, a European Asylum Support Office (EASO) official explained the possibility of requesting international protection and the relocation mechanism." [emphasis added]

News (28.10.15)

Over 700,000 migrants reached Europe's shores in 2015: UN (Yahoo News, link): "More than 700,000 refugees and migrants have reached Europe's Mediterranean shores so far this year, amid the continent's worst migration crisis since World War II, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday. Some 562,355 people desperately fleeing war and misery reached Greece's shores, while around 140,000 arrived in Italy this year. Taking into account arrivals in other European countries, the total number of people landing on the continent's shores was more than 705,200, the UN said."

Slovenia expects German police help with migrants from Wednesday (Reuters, link): "The pledge of 400 extra border guards from other European Union states was made at a meeting on Sunday of EU and Balkan leaders that agreed 17 steps to share the burden of the biggest migration crisis to hit Europe since World War Two. Sefic said the 400 would come from Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain and France. Eight Austrian police officers arrived earlier to assist Slovenia"

Austria in border disputes with Slovenia and Bavaria (euobserver, link): "Austria threatened on Tuesday (27 October) to erect "technical barriers" at its border with Slovenia, and has been accused of waving migrants on to Germany's Bavaria region, which itself threatened to close its border with Austria.... She said the government would take "special building measures" to strengthen the border. A government paper leaked in Austrian media later on Tuesday mentioned "solid, technical barriers several kilometers on the left and right of the border crossing". "The point is to provide a controlled approach," the document added." and Austria plans border fence with Slovenia (DW, link) "Vienna has said it will erect a barrier along its border with fellow EU member Slovenia. The Austrian interior minister says up to 8,000 migrants have been crossing daily." and Austria accused of waving through refugees into Bavaria (euractiv, link)

Calais : un chauffeur ayant percuté quatre migrants activement recherché par la police (nordlittoral.fr, link):[A driver collided with four migrants injuring three and killing one.The migrants were walking along the side of the road in Calais around midnight when the accident happened. The police are still looking for the driver.]

Europe’s right-wing “civil war” against refugees (ROARMAG, link)

FRANCE: Refugee crisis: Story of two Syrian men who died trying to swim to England (The Independent, link)

French, Britons more hesitant about migrants than Germans (EUobserver, link)

Frontex to strengthen operations in Greece and launch additional activities on land borders (Frontex, link)

Refugee spending to be exempt from EU deficit rules (EUobserver, link)

Russian attacks trigger refugee exodus from Syria (Irish Times, link)

Spain tests new refugee reception plan (EurActiv, link)

Refugees could promote anti-Semitism, Jewish group says (euobserver, link): "The Central Council of Jews in Germany warned German chancellor Merkel Tuesday refugees could stoke anti-Semitic feeling in Germany because they "come from countries in which Israel is viewed as the enemy”"

Understanding Migration and Asylum in the European Union (Open Society Foundations, link)

Germany drafts bill to ease bank account access for homeless, refugees (Dw, link): "A proposed law from the German government would mandate banks to provide universal access to basic bank accounts. The law would particularly affect homeless people and refugees."

Dispatches: On Board a Rescue Boat in the Aegean (HRW, link)

Sweden's new migrant restrictions will not be in place before 2016 (euractiv, link): "New rules aimed at tightening Sweden's migration policies to discourage further asylum seekers from seeking to enter the country will not come into force until at least next year, and possibly 2017, according to the Ministry for Justice and Migration."

Spain tests new refugee reception plan (euractiv, link): "In a first screening exercise (to select possible candidates for asylum), Spanish authorities will work on the basis of specific profiles, taking into consideration whether immigrants are willing to stay and live in Spain, or just want to temporarily settle in the Iberian country, and then continue their journey to northern Europe and stay there."

AUSTRIA-European Commission: Proposal for a COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of Return by Austria (LIMITE doc, pdf):

"Austria should:

(1) improve the collection and provision of data and statistics in the field of return policy...

(3) review the current law and practice as regards the procedural rights and treatment of unaccompanied minors belonging to various age-groups to make the rules clearer both for the minors and for staff dealing with them in the return procedure.

(4) bring the rules on the maximum period of detention fully in line with the return acquis (the maximum period should not exceed 18 months)...

(7) make the facilities and detention regime at Rossauer Lände and Hernalser Gürtel more suitable for detaining irregular migrants; ensure that the open regime is the general rule (and consider the amendment of the PAZ centres’ in-house rules accordingly) and that detainees in solitary confinement are not denied the right to visits and outdoor exercise.

(8) find a more appropriate solution for holding returnees in pre-removal detention that have special medical needs either in ordinary hospitals or in suitably equipped specialised detention centres for returnees.

(9) review the monitoring system to allow for monitoring of the in-flight phase when commercial flights are used for forced returns..."

EU-Afghanistan: the EU is trying to "return" refugess there: See: Foreign Affairs Council (26.10.15): Adopted Conclusions (link) include:

"The European Union stands firm in its commitment to Afghanistan and its people in this critical phase. The past months have seen a serious security situation, renewed terrorist attacks with record numbers of civilian casualties, and the concomitant internal displacement and exodus of thousands of Afghans, putting mounting pressure on the region and the European Union."

News (27.10.15)

Hungary: Greece Must Apply The “Hungarian Model” To Tackle Immigration Crisis (Hungary Today, link): "Hungary’s foreign minister has proposed for the “Hungarian model” to be applied in Greece because the immigration situation is “unmanageable” without the protection of the European Union’s external borders. Speaking on the state-run Kossuth Rádió and all-news channel M1 on Tuesday morning, Péter Szijjártó also blasted the EU for “hypocritically” failing to launch proceedings against Greece."

Calais: Hunt for driver after refugee hit-and-run (The Local.fr, link): "A refugee was killed and three others injured after a car knocked them down in a hit-and-run in Calais, northern France. Police are hunting for the driver who remains on the run."

NGOs fear that development funds are getting spent on barbed wire (euractiv, link): "While EU ministers met yesterday (26 October) in Luxembourg to discuss “policy coherence” for development, NGOs expressed concerns that EU monies are increasingly being spent on border security, rather than fighting poverty and inequality."

Greek Minister Rejects Criticism Over Allowing Transit of Migrants (WSJ, link): "In interview, Yiannis Mouzalas criticizes Europe’s slow response to influx... “Greece can guard its borders perfectly and has been doing so for thousands of years, but against its enemies. The refugees are not our enemies,” Yiannis Mouzalas said in an interview.... “In practice what lies behind the accusation is the desire to repel the migrants,” said Mr. Mouzalas. “Our job when they are in our territorial sea is to rescue them, not [let them] drown or repel them.”"

We are watching the death of open frontiers in Europe (Daily Telegraph, link): "The endless wave of migrants - for which we have utterly failed to prepare - will unleash extremist politics throughout the Continent "

Balkan migrant route plan full of caveats (euobserver, link)

1990s Albanian Refugee Route Could Reopen (Balkan Insight, link): "Refugees heading for Western Europe could start using a route from Albania to Italy previously used by tens of thousands of Albanians after the Communist regime collapsed in the 1990s."

Bulgarian Police Arrests 106 Illegal Immigrants Across Country (novinite.com, link): "Bulgarian police arrested 106 illegal immigrants across the country in the past 24 hours, the press service of the interior ministry informed on Tuesday. A total of 54 foreign citizens were detained on the territory of Sofia in three separate police operations. None of the arrested foreigners in the capital was in the possession of identity documents. Only two of them identified themselves as being Syrian citizens, all of the remaining claiming to be from Afghanistan.... Nineteen of them presented documents from the State Agency for Refugees (DAB), while the remaining nine had no identity documents."

Swiss to vote again on immigration curbs (The Local, ch, link): "Voters in Switzerland will go to the polls again to decide whether immigration curbs approved by the population in February 2014 should be implemented."

Sweden: Massive Malmö migrant camp to be shut down (The Local.se, link): "More than 200 mostly Roma migrants who have been living in a shanty camp on the outskirts of southern Sweden's largest city have been told they're being evicted from the site."

Bavaria slams Austria for unchecked refugee flow (The Local.at, link): "Bavaria's state premier has blasted Austria for waving on thousands of refugees to Germany without informing local authorities and has called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to intervene."

Former Hungarian PM again courts controversy with barbed statements on migrants (Politics.hu, link): "Former Prime Minister Péter Boross has made another controversial statement on the refugee situation only two months after calling immigration “an issue of race and ethnicity”,"

Fly, don't walk, EU will urge Balkan migrants (euractiv, link): "The European Union plans to persuade refugees to wait in Greece for paid flights to other countries offering asylum, rather than risk dangerous winter treks through the Balkans, EU officials said on Monday"

Berlin seeks to deport more failed Afghan refugees (euractiv, link): "The German government wants to deport more rejected Afghan refugees as part of a European readmission agreement. European Parliament President Martin Schulz supports the idea." Statewatch comment: There is no readmission agreement with Afghanistan.

Slovenia: Measures announced for faster refugee registration (Slovenian Times, link) "Slovenia will introduce a series of measures to speed up refugee registration and reduce the burden on its security forces and the locals in the border area affected by the refugee flow... Authorities in Slovenia will take a series of steps to speed up registration of refugees arriving to the country, including by performing some of the registration on trains which arrive from Croatia, said Interior Ministry State Secretary Boštjan Šefic.... This will be coupled with measures to reduce the burden on police, including by bringing in private security guards for some of the security tasks. Around 50 to 60 security guards are expected to start work as early as today. Customs agents will also be brought into the registration centres" and see: Slovenia to use private security firms to help with migrant flows (Reuters, link)

Report: Germany to send police to Slovenian border amid migrant influx (DW, link): "Germany plans to send police to Slovenia to assist authorities, a German newspaper has reported. Slovenia is struggling to cope with refugees as Croatia diverts the flow of migrants to north."

UN: At least 120,000 displaced in Syria in past month (SFgate, link): "The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the people fled their homes in the Aleppo, Hama and Idlib governorates between Oct. 5 and Oct. 22."

The Illegality Industry: Notes on Europe’s Dangerous Border Experiment (Border Criminologies, link)

Violence in Syria Spurs a Huge Surge in Civilian Flight (New York Times, link)

Life in Lesbos: "The Children's Feet Are Rotting - You Guys Have One Month and Then All These People Will Be Dead" (The Huffington Post, link)

"Refugeeism", the ideology of Fortress Europe (INFOaut, link)

Refugees on Slovenia-Croatia border – drone video footage (Guardian, link): "Aerial footage shows the scale of migration at the Slovenian-Croatian border, where hundreds of refugees are seen crossing farmland on foot on Sunday. The Balkan route switched to Slovenia after Hungary closed its border"

Turkish fishermen rescue baby: 'Brother, he is alive' (CNN,link): "The footage was shot recently in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Kusadasi, Turkey. A boat carrying migrants capsized, according to Turkey's Dogan News Agency (DHA). The video shows fishermen approaching what looks to be a floating life jacket. A baby boy is inside. One of the men pulls the child out of the water and strips off his life jacket, turning the boy over and upside down in an apparent attempt to clear water from the boy's lungs. He wraps the child in a blanket."

News (26.10.15)

From: IOM, 23.10.15: Infographic (link): 680.928 arrivals: 537,460 to Greece and 139,518 to Italy. 3,175 dead/missing.

Greece: PM Tsipras: Greece rejects proposal for 'refugee ghetto', EU accepts gov't alternative (ANA-MPA, link): "Three proposals that included the creation of a ghetto for 50,000 refugees in Attica were rejected, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said early on Monday, following the conclusion in Brussels of a mini-Summit of European leaders on migration.... sipras said that the three proposals included the creation of the equivalent of a city, with 50,000 refugees, within Greece; the option of an EU country to bar entry to refugees from another EU country, which would have created a domino effect stressing Greece; and a new operation by EU border police Frontex in northern Greece to check migratory flows towards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In explaining the rejection of each of the proposals... "

Greece agrees to host 50,000 refugees as part of new EU plan (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece committed on Sunday to opening enough reception centers to house 30,000 refugees by the end of the year, with the United Nations to provide another 20,000 places, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. "We will increase reception capacities to 100,000 places in Greece and in the western Balkans," he said following a meeting of 11 European leaders in Brussels.... the final agreement included a Greek commitment to increase to 30,000 by the end of this year the number of places it has to host migrants - officials said it currently has some 7,000-10,000. A further 20,000 people should be sheltered in private accommodation in Greece, the statement said, while another 50,000 places should be available in countries further north."

EU leaders criticize each other at summit on refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):"European leaders lashed out Sunday at each other's handling of the continent's greatest immigration crisis since World War II, even as they came together to seek ways to ease the plight of the tens of thousands marching across the Balkans toward the European Union's heartland.... Many say the EU needs to get control of the refugee flow at the bloc's external border between EU-member Greece and Turkey. Migration experts, however, say the flood of refugees won't be halted until the world resolves the war in Syria, which is driving millions out of the country."

Leaders clash at migration mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Leaders of the countries of the so-called “Balkan route” clashed on Sunday (25 October) with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with some of them using the argument that the Union may fall apart because of the refugee exodus.... Hours elapsed. The meeting scheduled to finish at 7 PM finished past midnight, many of the leaders having left in the meantime. Finally, Juncker faced the press, alongside Merkel and the UN high commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres. Juncker said that the only way out of the situation was to slow down the uncontrolled flows of people. “The policy of waving through people to neighbouring countries has to stop. I want to be clear: people must be registered. No registration, no rights,” Juncker said."

EU and Balkans agree plan for 100,000 places in reception centres for refugees GUardian, link): "Brussels summit agrees a 17-point plan to manage the flow of refugees in the Balkans, including more shelter, border registration and increased naval operations"

Opinion: EU refugee summit over Balkan route has saved Europe for now (DW, link): "Facing the complete failure of the handling of the refugee crisis, key European Union (EU) states have agreed upon emergency measures. These need to work now, otherwise the EU is in danger, says DW's Bernd Riegert."

Western Balkan countries agree to work together on migration (Politico, link): "Leaders commit to tighter controls on the flow of refugees, but details still need to be worked out"

Egypt to found court on human trafficking, illegal immigration (c\airopost, link): !"Egypt will found a court specialized in human trafficking and illegal immigration, Justice Minister Ahmed el-Zend announced Friday during a meeting with William Lacy, head of the International Organization for Migration.... The Egyptian authorities routinely foil the attempts of migrants from Egypt, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria and Iraq to migrate illegally to Europe, but no certain numbers are available about how many are able to successfully slip under the radar."

EU: Slovenian President discusses refugee crisis with Schulz (ep, link)

Most Finns would cut social security for asylum seekers, survey finds (helsinkitimes, link) and Level of asylum applications is unsustainable, says Sipila

Serbia PM: Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania should act jointly, show solidarity with Europe, ask for solidarity from European countries (focus-fen.net, link)

EU: Refugee crisis: 25-10-15: Final Statement: Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans Route: Leaders’ Statement  (pdf):

Greece to build camps to hold 30,000 refugees plus 20,000 in rented homes and UNHCR a further 50,000 further north

- "Under the current circumstances, we will discourage the movement of refugees or migrants to the border of another country of the region. A policy of waving through refugees without informing a neighbouring country is not acceptable. This should apply to all countries along the route...

- Greece's intention to increase reception capacity to 30.000 places by the end of the year and commit to supporting Greece and UNHCR to provide rent subsidies and host family programmes for at least 20.000 more. Financial support for Greece and the UNHCR is expected. This is an important precondition to make the emergency relocation system work...

- We will work with the UNHCR who has committed to support our efforts in improving our capacities. An additional capacity of 50.000 would allow for a better and more predictable management of the flow....

- We will work with the European Commission and Frontex to step up practical cooperation on readmission with third countries; cooperation will be intensified with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, in particular in the area of returns....

- Upscaling the Poseidon Sea Joint Operation in Greece, in particular Frontex's presence in the Aegean Sea, and strengthening significantly Frontex support to Greece in registering and fingerprinting activities...

- We reconfirm the principle that a country may refuse entry to third country nationals who, when presenting themselves at border crossing points, do not confirm a wish to apply for international protection (in line with international and EU refugee law, subject to a prior non-refoulement and proportionality check)...

It should be noted that there is nothing further on "relocation"

The European Commission has called a meeting - mini-summit- in Brussels of the leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia: Leaders' Meeting on the Western Balkans Route: Draft Leaders’ Statement (pdf): Note this "Draft" was circulated on Saturday 24 October the day before the meeting organised by the Commission.

News:Sunday 25 October 2015: Slovenia sees end to EU if leaders fail on migrant plan (Reuters, link): "The European Union is set to deploy more than 400 border guards within a week to help tackle a migrant crisis in the western Balkans, according to an draft statement to be considered later on Sunday by leaders from central and eastern Europe." and EU mini-summit seeks unity in Balkans over migrant crisis (Reuters, link) and Migrant crisis: Emergency talks on Balkans under way (BBC, link)

Frontex slows down registration procedures in “Hot Spot” Moria, leaving refugees for days in life-threatening conditions (w2eu.net, link):

"Since Frontex has entered the scene, registration processes were dramatically slowed down. Frontex procedures of ‘screening’ individuals takes a long time which has caused great delays and thus created a situation of humanitarian emergency for the hundreds of people waiting outside. The official opening of this hotspot on Lesvos coincided with increased numbers of new arrivals and deteriorating weather conditions...

The ongoing tragedy in the “Hot Spot” and around, mirrors the failure of Europe to protect refugees and the violence of the border regime on which European Migration policies are based. Screening and registration are priority, peoples’ lives are not.

We demand the immediate end of hotspot procedures and the instant withdrawal of Frontex personnel. The EU has to immediately put an end to the slowing-down of registration procedures produced by Frontex which is life-threatening. We denounce the procedure of ‘speeding up returns’ in the strongest possible terms." and:

Moria/Lesbos: Rain-sodden feet, frozen white hands, hypothermic pregnant women and trampled down children (w2eu.net, link):

"The “Hot Spot” of horror is what Moria turned to the last week and since its inauguration when numbers of new arrivals were high and the weather conditions harsh with constant rain falls. The authorities together with the UNHCR and all other involved actors of the humanitarian aid regime failed in protecting hundreds of refugees from what was a predictable catastrophe." [emphasis in original]

EU: "Returns" package

Under the so-called "hotspot" process refugees are first "nationality screened" (national officials lead by Frontex) and then divided into two groups: a) those to be returned and held in "closed" camps (they have no legal representation or right of appeal) and b) those to be "relocated" within the EU who are "asylum" processed, by EASO and national officials, to be held in "open" camps.

1. European Commission: CONTACT GROUP “Return Directive” (2008/115/EC) 14 October 2014: Preparation of Return Handbook (80 pages, pdf)

2.European Commission: Recommendation: Preparation of Returns Handbook (COM 6250, pdf)

3. European Commission: ANNEX: Return Handbook (116 pages, pdf): "The content of this handbook deals essentially with standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals and is based on EU legal instruments regulating this issue (in particular the Return Directive 2008/115/EC)."

4. European Commission: EU Action Plan on return (COM 453-15,pdf)

5. Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Europe: The Role of EU External Action (Commission and EEAS, pdf)

6, Council conclusions on the future of the return policy (pdf):

"Member States must systematically issue return decisions, take all necessary steps to enforce them and provide adequate resources, including funding and staff, necessary for identifying and returning illegally staying third-country nationals. All measures must be taken to ensure irregular migrants' effective return, including use of detention as a legitimate measure of last resort. In particular, Member States should reinforce their pre-removal detention capacity to ensure the physical availability of irregular migrants for return and take steps to prevent the abuse of rights and procedures."

7. Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

8. Council of Europe: Guidelines on forced returns (pdf)

News (24-25.10.15)

Sweden: Officials called to parliament after fires (The Local.se, link): "The head of the Swedish Security Service, Säpo, and the national police commissioner have been called to appear before a parliamentary committee in the wake of a string of fires at refugee shelters."

How private companies are exploiting the refugee crisis for profit (Independent, link): "Across Europe, some of the most vulnerable people are being seen as a financial opportunity... A grim reality of the current migrant crisis sweeping Europe – a continent that prefers surveillance over humanitarian support – is the growing number of corporations seeing financial opportunity in the most vulnerable people. Refugees become numbers to be processed; the profit motive is paramount in the minds of many multinationals."

Balkan trio threatens to erect migrant fence if Germany closes border (DW, link): "Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania have threatened to erect border fences to stem refugee flows if other EU countries close their borders. Leaders have called for a common European response to the crisis. The leaders of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia huddled together on Saturday in Sofia to develop a common position on the migrant crisis that has upended the Balkan region, ahead of a mini-EU summit on Sunday. "The three countries, we are standing ready, if Germany and Austria close their borders, not to allow our countries to become buffer zones. We will be ready to close borders," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said after meeting with his Serbian and Romanian counterparts."

Greece: Migrants keep coming despite bad weather (ekathimerini.com, link)

The British family helping refugees in Lesbos (Channel 4 News, 19 October 2015 (video, link)

Operation Sophia - Tackling the refugee crisis with military means (EU ISS, link): "‘...the remit of EU crisis management operations has traditionally been the
object of a broad consensus among the main international powers, within the Security Council and beyond. This could be challenged were EU operations to shift to more coercive activities.’ "

"Ten-day-old children are getting hypothermia, and we don't have a blanket to give them. We need action"(Sky video, link): "Thousands stranded in the cold in "hellish" conditions are allowed into Croatia as its PM admits barring them is "no solution".

EU: 5 ways the EU migration strategy is unraveling - Another migration summit, but will it do any good? (politico.link): "On Wednesday, 70 asylum-seekers left Italy for Sweden and Finland. A first wave of relocation took place two weeks ago and saw 19 refugees move from Italy to Sweden. Next week, about 30 refugees will move from Greece to Luxembourg, EU officials say. However, only nine countries have told the EU how many migrants they are prepared to take in — a total of just 854." [emphasis added]

EU's migration commissioner rejects review of Schengen (ekathimerini.com, link): "Avramopoulos also played down criticism of Turkey, which has been accused of not doing enough to stop migrants and refugees from crossing into Greece, saying that “we have to recognize the huge burden it has accepted, with 2 million refugees at reception centers and another 2 million roaming around the country without papers.”"

UNHCR concerned at reports of sexual violence against refugee women and children (link): " The UN refugee agency said today it was concerned by "credible testimonies" it has received of sexual violence and abuse against refugee and migrant women and children on the move in Europe and called on authorities to take steps to ensure their protection."

France: Police evacuate last refugee camp in Paris (The LOcal.fr, link): "Police transported the group from the school in a fleet of buses early in the morning, according to AFP journalists at the scene, taking them to hostels and special accommodation around Paris."

Sweden: Another building planned for refugees burns (The Local.se, link): "A building under consideration for refugee housing was destroyed by fire in Eskilstuna on Friday night. Police suspect arson. It was the latest in a string of suspicious fires at prospective refugee centres. "

Germany to push for compulsory EU quotas to tackle refugee crisis (Guardian, link) "Merkel is said to want hundreds of thousands of refugees brought directly from Middle East to control numbers and avoid perilous journeys... The plans, being prepared in Berlin and Brussels, are certain to trigger bitter resistance and major clashes within the EU. Berlin backs European commission plans to make the proposed scheme “permanent and binding”. But up to 15 of 28 EU countries are opposed."

Asylum crisis and Western Balkans This WEEK (euobserver, link): "Migration is set to dominate this week following a mini-summit of leaders over the weekend concerning refugee flows in the Western Balkans. “We are struggling with our agencies and with our member states on all fronts. We have people living in forests”, European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels on Friday (23 October). Sunday's mini-summit in Brussels will involve leaders from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.... Only around 80 asylum seekers from Italy out of a target total of 160,000 have so far been relocated. Greece has yet to dispatch any. Member states are also falling to fulfil their pledges of humanitarian aid, asylum relocation spots, and experts for the EU’s border agency Frontex and the European asylum support office (EASO)."

The Secret Mass Graves of the Refugee Crisis - Looking for 243 people who disappeared crossing the Mediterranean, we uncovered the shocking reality of what happens to those who perish at sea (medium.com, link)

PLS SHARE: Update from Lesvos: Frontline of refugee crisis: Posted on Facebook: 22.10.15 by Marienna Pope-Weidemann

"People will die tonight. This I can say for certain. I can't recount in writing the horror of the past 12 hours. Camp Moria has descended into madness. The Syrian side of this segregated hell hole is bad enough. The 'Afghan side', which is for everyone else - refugees from the wars the West wants to ignore - is like another dimension. They segregate themselves now, men with sticks policing the lines our colonial empire taught them to build....The EU has the blood of the world on its hands tonight. I have never been so angry, and I will never be the same...."

Czech Republic: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Zeid urges Czech Republic to stop detention of migrants and refugees (pdf)

"The High Commissioner expressed concerns that the authorities continue to practice this policy, even though those detainees who have been able to challenge the detention in court have been released. He noted that most detained migrants and refugees are not in a position to swiftly challenge their detention in court – as is their right -- because they do not receive information about free legal aid and because civil society organizations that work with refugees have reportedly been receiving very restricted access to detention facilities like Bìlá-Jezová (80 km north of Prague)." [emphasis added]

and: Czech ombudsman criticises conditions in refugee facility (pdf):

"The severe conditions which children and families with children have to endure in Belá-Jezová constitute a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Objectively speaking, children in the facility have worse living conditions than inmates in Czech prisons. Belá-Jezová is a former military facility where the living conditions are, in many ways, much worse than those in Czech prisons. Prison inmates are people who committed a crime and were convicted for it. On the other hand, the people in Belá have not been convicted of any crime and no sentence has been imposed on them. The fact that hundreds of children are detained in this facility goes against our notion of the Czech Republic as a civilised country." [emphasis added]

Full-text of Ombudsman report (pdf)

Also: UN: Czechs violate refugee rights to deter others (euobserver, link)

Greece Records Highest Weekly Migration Inflows in 2015 So Far (IOM, link):

" This week IOM Greece recorded the highest migration inflows since the beginning of 2015. Despite deteriorating weather conditions, approximately 48,000 refugees and migrants crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands – or about 9,600 migrants and refugees in each of the past five days.... The influx has left many local authorities unprepared. The island of Lesvos continues to receive the highest percentage of refugees and migrants. Some 27,276 reached the island during the period, while 9,750 arrived in Chios."

This year up to 22 October 139,518 refugees have arrived in Italy and 537.460 refugees arrived in Greece:

"Data for Greece are derived by the new and updated data collected by IOM Regional Staff in Greece and Greek authorities (1/1/2015 – 20/10/2015). Numbers are not the actual daily arrivals but the number of migrants who have officially been recorded by the Greek authorities after their arrival."

EU: Commission Issues Opinion on Temporary Reintroduction of Controls at Internal Borders: Germany and Austria acting in compliance with Schengen Borders Code (Press release, pdf): "The Commission has concluded that the initial reintroduction of controls at internal borders by Germany and Austria, as well as the subsequent prolongations, are in compliance with the Schengen Borders Code."

Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights: Second Annual Report: 2014 (pdf) and First Annual Report: 2013 (pdf)

News (23.10.15)

Fearing rough seas, refugees chance Bulgaria land route (UNHCR, link): "This family is among 13,000 asylum-seekers who have beaten a path through Bulgaria this year on a trek to find a safer route to Europe, a journey with many hazards of its own as land borders harden. Caught in their first attempt to reach Bulgaria, Faisal's family landed in jail. Their identity cards were confiscated before they were sent back to Turkey, where they tried again to cross a border that is tightening."

Austria's foreign minister says border fences work (euobserver, link): "Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz warned the "surge [of migrants] into Europe" has become too big, and EU members have a responsibility to protect their borders. Saying that fences do not work "is quite honestly false... The question is, do we do it or not," "

Britain says Cyprus military base will not become migrant route (.ekathimerini.com, link): "A British military base in Cyprus will not become a new route into Britain for migrants, Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said on Friday following the arrival of more than 100 people earlier this week. Although the migrants arrived on what is considered British territory, officials have said an agreement is in place with Cyprus, which would assume responsibility for them."

Slovenia mulls border fence in refugee crisis (The Local.at, link): "Slovenia says it is considering building a border fence to help stem a record influx of migrants and refugees, as thousands more people arrived from Croatia on Friday."

Swedish parties reveal temporary asylum plan (The Local.se, link):": The Swedish government and four opposition parties have agreed to introduce temporary residence permits for a number of refugees arriving in the Nordic country."

Briefing: The EU refugee deal with Turkey (IRIN, link)

Sweden struggles to cope with migrant tide; Orban warns of threat (Reuters, link): "Sweden said on Thursday it expected up to 190,000 migrants this year, putting unprecedented strain on a country famous for welcoming refugees but planning to house many in tents this winter. At the opposite pole of the angry debate on the migration crisis, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged European leaders to change their immigration policies and consult voters, or face a threat to the democratic order."

Why Europe's tough migrant trail is still so busy (RTL.lu, link)

EU calls for more cooperation with Sudan on migration (Al Arabiya, link)

EU: Briefing: The EU refugee deal with Turkey (IRIN, link)

EU: Survey: Two out of every three Europeans want migrant crisis tackled at EU level (European Parliament, link)

German daily documents anti-migrant hate speech on Facebook (Yahoo! News, link)

GREECE: Athens Jewish Cemetery Vandalized by Neo-Nazi Group (Greek Reporter, link)

Greece's only refugee camp (Al Jazeera, link): "Eleonas camp in central Athens shelters mostly Afghans whose papers are processed slower than those of Syrians."

Greek Political Opposition Leader Calls for Creation of EU Coast Guard (Greek Reporter, link)

HUNGARY: Parliament authorizes mandatory medical checks for refugees at time of crisis (Politics.hu, link)

Lessons in refugee hospitality from the Horn of Africa (The Conversation, link)

Sweden: Doubling the number of refugees as centres burn (Al Jazeera, link)

Germany arrests suspected anti-refugee plotters (DW, link): "German officials have arrested three far-right extremists and seized explosive material that could be used in attacks on migrants. The authorities say right-wing groups plan to intensify their anti-refugee violence."

Juncker urges EU member states to respect migrant aid pledges (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday chided EU member states for not respecting their pledges of humanitarian aid to tackle the migrant crisis, saying “urgency” was needed.... A dividing line is emerging between governments that see the crisis primarily as a security issue requiring stronger action to control the EUs borders, stem the flow of migrants, send back those not entitled to asylum and pay other states if necessary to keep them at bay, and those that see it above all as a humanitarian integration challenge."

Greece: Bad weather causes problems for migrants, authorities (ekathimerini.com, link): "A worsening of weather conditions has created additional problems for migrants and refugees trying to get to Greece by sea from neighboring Turkey and for authorities on the islands trying to accommodate them."

Juncker urges EU member states to respect migrant aid pledges (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday chided EU member states for not respecting their pledges of humanitarian aid to tackle the migrant crisis, saying “urgency” was needed.... A dividing line is emerging between governments that see the crisis primarily as a security issue requiring stronger action to control the EUs borders, stem the flow of migrants, send back those not entitled to asylum and pay other states if necessary to keep them at bay, and those that see it above all as a humanitarian integration challenge."

Greece: Bad weather causes problems for migrants, authorities (ekathimerini.com, link): "A worsening of weather conditions has created additional problems for migrants and refugees trying to get to Greece by sea from neighboring Turkey and for authorities on the islands trying to accommodate them."

Greece: On Lesbos, today's refugees are met by the children of refugees from a century ago (PRI, link): "Constantina Mesisklis and her friends, women in their 80s and 90s, are a fixture on the bench in Skala Sykaminia, the tiny seaside village on the northern coast of Lesbos where 1000s of refugees have been arriving from the nearby Turkish coast every day for months on end. The population of Skala Sykaminia numbers about 150 and all of them are the children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of a another group of refugees — the Greeks who fled Turkey in 1922-23 after what is known in Greece as “The Asia Minor Catastrophe.” Thousands escaped in boats as the Turks routed the Greek army and set fire to Smyrna, today’s Izmir. Eventually a population of 1.5 million Greek Orthodox, Greek language speakers would be expelled from Turkey to Greece; likewise, 500,000 Muslims were forcibly resettled from Greece back to Turkey. Today more than half the population of Lesbos descends from the 1922 refugees."

Tusk and Orbán on collision course with Merkel over refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "EU Council President Donald Tusk and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán indirectly rebuked German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday (22 October), calling arguments over how to accommodate refugees "naïve" as long as Europe fails to stop them."

Member states lag behind on refugee pledges (euobserver, link): "EU member states made a commitment to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy but have made only 854 pledges to date"

Europe, please act! An Open Letter to the Governments of Europe (link):

"We, the front-line volunteers who for months now have been helping thousands of refugees, call on all the governments of Europe to act immediately and decisively to alleviate the situation....

Winter is coming quickly and we all have just a few days to respond in a humane way.

We call on all European countries to provide immediate help to all those countries affected by the refugee crisis, instead of helping those countries that are building fences.

We call for the building of safe reception and transit centres with facilities that can cope with the harsh winter conditions of the region.

We also call for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people that need it, for the provision of appropriate medical services and for the coordination of all efforts on a pan-European level.

We also call on the EU to immediately implement other mechanisms which aim to provide safe passage to the EU."

Boat refugees been sunk five times (link): Great interview by Eric Kempson (Lesvos) on the shameful EU role and that of Turkish coastguard.

See also: Masked Greek Coastguards again? Attacks on Boats Risk Migrant Lives (HRW, link):

"Armed masked men have been disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch spoke to nine witnesses who described eight incidents in which masked assailants – often armed – intercepted and disabled the boats carrying asylum seekers and migrants from Turkey toward the Greek islands, most recently on October 7 and 9, 2015. The witnesses said that the assailants deliberately disabled their boats by damaging or removing the engines or their fuel, or puncturing the hulls of inflatable boats. In some cases, the boats were towed to Turkish waters".

Boats from Greece confront refugees at sea with guns (Youtube, link): "Published on Sep 8, 2015 CBS News has obtained video showing a group of men on a boat confronting migrants at sea near the Greek coastline. The men cut the migrants' fuel lines, leaving them stranded at sea. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports."

EU: Valletta Conference 11-12 November 2015: Update and background

Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Three (LIMITE doc no: 12560-rev-2-15, pdf) and: Draft Council Conclusions on the EU Horn of Africa Regional Action Plan 2015-2020 (28 pages, LIMITE doc no: 13200-15,pdf)

""[T]hree issues affecting EU interests in the region have gained particular salience: the influence of the wider region on the Horn of Africa, violent extremism and migration and forced displacement....

"The high number of people in the region who are willing to migrate is by far larger than the limited possibilities of legal avenues for migration, be it within the region or outside. Lack of opportunities for legal migration or complex and expensive procedures mean that many migrants feel that they have no other option than to use irregular channels."

See also: EU: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria prioritised for "pilot initiative on return" (Statewatch database)

European Parliament Study: EU cooperation with third countries in the field of migration (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, reflects on the imbalances of EU external action as well as on the lack of evidence on the impact and efficiency of EU funding regarding the objectives of the migration policy, which are sometimes conflicting with the development goals.

The study brings forward recommendations for rationalization and coordination of action, more balance between the different components of the GAMM, more transparency for a better evaluation and scrutiny, and a reinforced partnership approach with third countries."

European Commission: President Juncker calls Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels on refugee flows along the Western Balkans route (pdf) Leaders from the following countries have been summoned: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

and see: Balkan summit highlights Juncker-Tusk leadership gap (euobserver, link): "By calling a mini summit on Sunday (25 October), European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has decided to push forward the Commission's role in addressing the migrant crisis. By doing so, he has also highlighted an apparently widening gap with the president of the European Council Donald Tusk, a fellow member of the centre-right EPP party."

and yet another "Extra" Justice and Home Council has been called on 9 November, in Brussels.

Fundamental Rights Agency: Fundamental rights implications of the obligation to provide fingerprints for Eurodac (link) and see: Report (pdf): "The swift identification and registration of asylum seekers is an important measure to ensure their protection. Under EU law, registration procedures also include taking fingerprints. To help authorities ensure fingerprinting practices do not violate fundamental rights, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has produced a 10-point checklist for rights compliance in its latest Focus paper."

News (22.10.15)

Bulgaria: BHC Disputes Official Version of Events in Migrant’s Shooting Death (link): "The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) on Tuesday disputed the official version of last week’s incident, in which an Afghan migrant was shot by Bulgarian border police after illegally crossing into Bulgaria from Turkey and died on his way to hospital....On Monday, BHC officials talked to 20 people from the group who had been sent to a migrant distribution centre in the nearby town of Elhovo following their detention.... The discrepancy between the original version of the events presented by the authorities and the allegations made by the eyewitnesses raises questions about the intention of the authorities to reveal the genuine circumstances of the fatal shooting, according to BHC." and German MP Calls on Bulgarian Prosecutors to Investigate Death of Afghan Migrant (novinite.com, link): "

Refugees face long cold and wet night at crowded Balkan border crossings (UNHCR, link): "Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) MP, Dieter Dombrowski, has called on the Bulgarian prosecution to investigate the death of the Afghan migrant, which occurred near the country's border with Turkey last week. In an interview for Berlin Brandenburg radio, Dombrowski did not accept as plausible the version of the Bulgarian interior ministry that the migrant died after being hit by a rebounded bullet fired by a border policeman."

Orbán slams EU migration policies ahead of Juncker’s mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán urged European leaders late yesterday (21 October) to change their “politically correct” immigration policies and involve voters in a debate about the continent's future, saying they would otherwise face a political crisis and a threat to the democratic order."

Athens Jewish Cemetery Vandalized by Neo-Nazi Group (Greek Reporter, link): "as C-18. The vandals sprayed vulgar words and swastikas on the walls, as well as the German word “Raus” which means get out."

Czech leader rejects UN rights chief's criticism (7 News, link): "The Czech Republic's president and the Interior Minister have rejected the criticism by the U.N. human rights chief of their country's policy of detaining migrants and refugees and their treatment."

Denmark increases Syrian residence permits (The Local.dk, link): "Syrians now receive more residence permits in Denmark than US citizens, although the number of the latter is also on the rise."

Free access to Sciences Humaines: Crise des migrants: comprendre et agir [Migrant crisis: understand and act]: "...an initiative to help better understand who the refugees are and how to help them."

The Mediterranean: A sea of death (link): "They were 40 miles from the coast of Libya, a lawless country at war with itself since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. The country has become a launch pad for overcrowded boats ferrying migrants and refugees to Captain Margiotta’s homeland, Sicily."

UK must resettle refugees who arrived on Cyprus military base, says UN (Guardian, link)

France remains stingy at handing out visas (The Local.fr, link)

Greece: Kotzias says closer cross-border cooperation with Turkey key to stemming migrant flow (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has said closer cooperation and better coordination with Turkey is key to stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

Hungary will not open "corridor" for migrants -govt (Reuters, link)

Federal Criminal Police Office warns of xenophobic violence (DW, link): "The number of attacks against refugee shelters has more than doubled this year compared to 2014. The Federal Criminal Police Office fears that right-wing extremists will intensify their anti-refugee violence."

German air force to help deport asylum seekers (euractiv, link): "The German government has agreed upon a faster deportation system, using military support, for refugees whose asylum requests are rejected."

Latest Relocation Flight for Eritrean and Syrian Asylum Seekers Leaves Italy for Scandinavia (IOM, link): " On Wednesday, 21 October, an IOM charter flight left Rome’s Ciampino Airport for Finland and Sweden. On board were 68 asylum seekers – 19 from Syria and 49 from Eritrea."

Czech Republic: Living conditions in detention centre of migrants under close scrutiny (Radio Praha, link): "Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová met on Tuesday to discuss ways of improving conditions for migrants in the detention centre in Belá-Jezová north of Prague. The Ombudswoman last week severely criticised conditions in the facility, saying they were worse than in prison, and called on the interior minister to take immediate steps to correct the situation."

EU calls mini-summit on refugee crisis as Slovenia tightens border - Serbia and Macedonia have been invited to Sunday’s meeting in Brussels as the EU seeks ‘greater cooperation and more consultation’ (Guardian, link)

EU: Avramopoulos slams dismal refugee response: The migration chief scolds his party: “I was very much disappointed.” (politico, link): "The European Commission’s migration chief condemned on Wednesday the use of armed forces to secure Europe’s borders and launched a stinging attack on Europe’s national governments for failing to manage the refugee crisis."

Report from Lesvos: without safe access to asylum, people will keep risking their lives in the Aegean (The Conversation, link): "Her baby should not have died. The journey from Turkey to Lesvos is short and safe. If I wanted to take a ferry trip from the port of Mytiline to Ayvalik on the Turkish coast, the trip would take around an hour. I could get there and back for just €30. That’s because I’m British. I am not Syrian, Afghan, Palestinian, Iraqi, Somali or Eritrean."

Greece: Lesvos feeling refugee strain again (ekathimerini.com,link): "Authorities’ capacity for processing refugees and migrants on Lesvos are being stretched to breaking point again due to a higher influx of people over the last few days. A total of around 43,000 migrants reached Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, mainly Lesvos, over the past five days, the government said Wednesday. It is estimated that the number of people stuck on Lesvos has risen above 11,000 again." and Over 2,000 refugees disembark at Piraeus, more expected (ekathimerini.com,link): "Over 2,000 refugees disembarked at the Greek capital’s main port of Piraeus on Thursday morning from the islands of the Aegean and more were expected to arrive later in the day."

EPP calls for Dublin overhaul and hotspots outside the EU (euobserver, link): "The centre-right European Popular Party (EPP) adopted a resolution on migration policy at its congress on Wednesday (21 October), calling for a "complete reform of the European asylum system", a separation of refugees and economic migrants "before their arrival in the EU", a legal migration policy based on labour market needs and a revision of the family reunification EU directive."

For a Thousand Lives: Be Human: An Appeal from European Filmmakers and Other Film Professionals to our Governments and to the E.U (link): Over 5,500 cinema directors and actors sign a petition:

"Every day, people fleeing war, terror, political persecution and misery are drowning in the sea, suffocating in the back of a truck or tumbling to their death in ports or train stations in their desperate attempts to reach Europe. According to Amnesty International, more than 23.000 people have lost their lives that way since 2000. These deaths are a direct consequence of E.U. immigration policies. The guilt doesn’t just lie with the traffickers; Europe cannot deny its share of responsibility.

To make matters worse, those who reach Europe often find themselves in degrading living conditions and are subjected to inhumane treatment. The E.U. is spending up to twenty times more money on border control, than on welcoming centres for refugees."

Filmmakers urge EU leaders to welcome refugees (euobserver, link)

Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (UNHCR, infographic, link) 502, 840 arrivals (29 October, 2015)

News (21.10.15)

German Government Draws Line Between Greek-Turkish Coordination and Joint Sea Patrols (Greek Reporter, link): "German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert clarified Germany’s stance on how Greece and Turkey must approach the refugee crisis.... “Coordination, I believe, is what we should pursue. We know of course Greece’s sensitivities, but coordination along the EU’s external borders with a NATO counterpart like Turkey must be pursued. That does mean joint patrols. That is something else,” he said."

Arsonists attack another migrant centre in Sweden (france24, link)

Dispatches: Lesbos is a Disaster for Asylum Seekers. Will Becoming a "Hotspot" Improve it? (HRW, link)

Minister writes to refugees, warning of "austere reception" (Durch News, link) and A record 8,400 refugees came to the Netherlands in September

Poland announces refugee numbers (the news.pl, link): "Deputy Foreign Minister Rafał Trzaskowski has confirmed that Poland has agreed to accept fewer than 7,000 refugees as part of an EU programme."

Migrant workers' house in Germany destroyed in fire (DW, link)

African Dictatorship Fuels Migrant Crisis (wsj, link): "Thousands flee isolated Eritrea to escape life of conscription and poverty"

Slovenia gives army expanded powers to tackle refugee crisis (DW, link): "Ljubljana has granted the military the power to patrol the border where police are absent. Slovenia has seen thousands of migrants come through from Croatia just this week."

Opinion: European refugee policy descends into chaos (DW, link): "More and more refugees are flooding into the EU. European politicians appear hapless and helpless. Now, everything depends on Germany, says DW's Bernd Riegert, who wonders when Germany will close its borders."

Few takers for refugee relocation from Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Only 15 Syrian refugees in Greece have so far applied to be relocated to Luxembourg, which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, Kathimerini has learned."

Migrants come ashore on British RAF base in Cyprus (ekathimerini.com, link): "Two boatloads of migrants came ashore at a British military base on Cyprus on Wednesday, authorities said, the first time since Europe's migrant crisis began that refugees have landed directly on what is considered British sovereign soil. Vessels carrying the migrants were spotted in the early morning hours off RAF Akrotiri, a sprawling military facility on the southern coast of Cyprus used to bomb Islamic State targets in northern Iraq. Authorities initially said there were four boats, but later corrected that figure to two."

EU plans to deal with refugee crisis about to fail (euractiv, link): "An EU scheme to relocate asylum seekers from overstretched Italy and Greece could grind to a halt just two weeks after it began if member states fail to meet their obligations, an EU source said on Tuesday"

Juncker calls EU-Balkans mini-summit over refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has called a mini-summit in Brussels on Sunday (25 October) to tackle the migrant crisis along the western Balkans route, his office said. The leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia will meet their counterparts from non-EU states Macedonia and Serbia."

Far-right parties always gain support after financial crises, report finds (euractiv, link): "Extreme and populist right-wing parties have always been the biggest political beneficiaries of financial crises, according to a new study." Report;Going to Extremes: Politics after Financial Crisis, 1870-2014 (pdf)

Weekend Greece Arrivals Exceed Peak Summer Day Total (IOM, link): as at 20-10-15: 651,132 refuge arrivals (Greece: 507,825 Italy: 139,711) and 3,138 dead/missing people.

"IOM Greece reports, after consultations with the Hellenic Police, an unprecedented number of migrants arriving in Greece this weekend, with totals exceeding arrivals during peak summer sailing days. On Friday (16/10) over 8,900 migrants crossed into Greece; on Saturday (17/10) arrivals exceeded 9,100; and on Sunday (18/10), arrivals approached 9,200.

A total of over 27,000 migrants entered Greece last weekend, the majority of whom arrived on the island of Lesvos (16,448). The island of Chios, which previously saw arrivals of up to 300-500 migrants a day, over the weekend, witnessed the arrival of over 4,300 migrants."

Turkey 'not concentration camp', won't host migrants permanently: PM (Daily News, link):

"Turkey is “not a concentration camp” and will not host migrants permanently to appease the European Union, which wants Turkey to stop the flow of people to Europe, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Oct. 19, a day after Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Istanbul to discuss refugees....

“We cannot accept an understanding like ‘give us the money and they stay in Turkey,’” Davutoglu said in a live television interview a day after talks with Merkel on the migrant crisis.

“I told this to Merkel, too. No one can accept Turkey becoming a country like a concentration camp where all refugees live,” he said."

Commentary: EU Should Make Minor Compromises for Turkey’s Help on Refugees (German Marshall Fund (link)

News (20.10.15)

Greece: Resettling migrants from Middle East camps could ease crisis, minister says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece said on Tuesday that resettling migrants from camps in the Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, where they first arrive, could ease Europe’s refugee crisis."

Denmark preparing harder residency rules (The Local.dk, link): "The Venstre government is preparing its next round of tighter immigration laws, this time targeting those who want to obtain permanent residency."

France: 96 percent of asylum rejects stay (The Local, fr.link): "France's asylum procedures have been slammed as too long and inefficient, with as many as 96 percent of refugees who are refused asylum not being deported, an official report found."

Zeman: Refugees will apply sharia law (Prague Post, link): "NGOs, politicians, others reject president's comments, say he discredits country ... Islamic refugees will not respect Czech laws and habits, they will apply sharia law, so unfaithful women will be stoned to death and thieves will have their hand cut off, President Miloš Zeman said in a debate with the employees of a local butcher's today."

German anti-refugee movement sparks fears - Officials warn a resurgent far-right has seized on the crisis to incite hatred and violence. (politico, link): "German politicians warn that a resurgent far-right has seized on the refugee crisis to incite hatred and, in some cases, violence against refugees and the elected officials who are seen as sympathetic to them."

Media Interest in Refugees May Have Peaked ... the Influx Hasn't (Huffington Post, link): "When challenged, the argument you'll hear in newsrooms will be that the refugee flows aren't really news anymore. It is a common failing. Unable to come up with fresh angles on a story, editors tend to move on and forget to follow up on stories only a few weeks before they couldn't seem to get enough of."

Anti-racism: an integral part of the current migration and asylum debate (ENAR, link)

Bulgaria Border Poilice 'Ill-Prepared', Its Fmr Chief Says after Migrant Death (novinite.com, link): "The quality of training and preparation of border police officers in Bulgaria has become extremely low over the past years, a former border police chief said on Tuesday. Commenting on the incident last week when an Afghan man died after being hit by a bullet fired by a police officer as a warning shot that rebounded, he added other recent events such as the death of a commando in a special operation i Lyaskovets were a sign of mismanagement.... He added police officers were previously told they should only draw their weapons when there it is likely to be used, whereas in the present conditions they tended to do so more often."

Fourth asylum home on fire in west Sweden (The Local.se, link): "Housing for asylum seekers near Munkedal in western Sweden is on fire, in the fourth suspected arson attack on refugee accommodation in just over a week. Police in the area said that emergency services were called to the building just after 4am, with firefighters still working to put out the blaze five hours later."

Over 500,000 refugees, migrants reach Greece this year, arrival rate rising, says UN .(ekathimerini.com, link): "Over half a million refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in Greece this year and the rate of arrivals is rising with over 8,000 coming on Monday alone, in a rush to beat the onset of freezing winter, the United Nations said on Tuesday.UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said 27,500 refugees and migrants remained in transit on Greek islands near Turkey from which hundreds of thousands have come. “We have reached another dramatic milestone, with the arrival yesterday (Monday) of 8,000 people, bringing the total to 502,000. Obviously we knew this was coming, but we do see a spike in arrivals in Greece,” Fleming told a news briefing". and Turkey suspected over spike in refugee arrivals (ekathimerini.com, link): "The flow of refugees and migrants to Greece from Turkey is rising rather than falling, with Greek officials suspecting that Turkish authorities are turning a blind eye to traffickers on purpose."

Sealing of Hungarian borders puts Croatia, Slovenia to the test (euractiv, link): "The Balkans struggled with a growing backlog of refugees yesterday (19 October) after Hungary sealed its southern border and Slovenia tried to impose a limit, leaving thousands stranded on cold, rain-drenched borders where tempers frayed."

Cyprus to block restart of Turkey-EU talks (euobserver, link): "Cyprus said on Monday (19 October) that it will continue to oppose restarting Turkey’s stalled accession negotiations to join the European Union because Ankara has not done enough to reunite the divided island."

Hungary links Roma to jihadists in Syria (euobserver, link): "Hungary’s minister of justice Laszlo Trocsanyi on Monday (19 October) said there is a risk Roma could end up in Syria as foreign fighters alongside jihadist or other radical groups.Speaking at a conference in Brussels, the centre-right Fidesz minister said the some 12 million Roma in Europe “could be a target for radicalisation”."

Fifty Czech police officers to protect Schengen border in Hungary (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The police will be serving at the Hungarian-Serbian border, police spokeswoman Jana Macalikova has told CTK. "It will be the task of the police to conduct the patrolling activities along with the Hungarian soldiers and police officers," Macalikova said.... Twenty Czech soldiers have been in Hungary since last week. They are mainly drivers and equipment staff. They are helping the Hungarian military with transport of materiel and building a fence."

Greece: 2,336 refugees from Mytilene and Chios arrive at Piraeus port (anampa, link)

European Commission: The "Returns" package:

1. Returns Handbook: Full text (106 pages, pdf)

2. ANNEX: Return Handbook (116 pages, pdf): "The content of this handbook deals essentially with standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals and is based on EU legal instruments regulating this issue (in particular the Return Directive 2008/115/EC)."

3. Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

4. EU Action Plan on return (pdf)

5. Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Europe: The Role of EU External Action (Commission and EEAS, pdf)

6. Council of Europe: Guidelines on forced returns (pdf)

News (19.10.15)

Sweden: Refugee homes become 'secret' after fire attacks (The Local.se, link): "Plans to welcome 150 asylum seekers to the northern town of Umeå are being kept under the wraps after a series of suspected arson attacks on refugee centres across Sweden."

Austria: Graves defiled with swastikas and slogans (The Local.at, link): "A Jewish and a Muslim cemetery were defiled with Nazi symbols and anti-migrant slogans in western Austria, police said on Monday, just weeks after similar attacks on a refugee hostel and Jewish museum."

Czechs under fire for harsh, lengthy migrant detentions (Reuters, link): "When two young Syrian refugees crossed the Czech border from Slovakia in a smuggler's car last month they thought their dangerous 24-day journey to Germany would be over in hours. Instead the 23-year old childhood friends were arrested, handcuffed, strip-searched and detained for six weeks by Czech authorities, with only sporadic access to legal aid or interpreters and little chance to contact families."

MISSING MIGRANTS PROJECT (IOM, link): As at 16 October there have been 617,179 refugee arrivals and 3,117 dead/missing in the Med

A Libyan militia confronts the world’s migrant crisis In a chaotic country, a militia tries to halt the ships bound for Europe. But is it possible to stop the migrants? (Washington Post, link)

On The Migrant Trail in Calais (IOM, link): "In recent days, French authorities confirmed that the number of people living in informal camps outside Calais, France, has doubled to 6,000 and that since June, a total of 16 migrants have been killed in or near the Channel Tunnel while trying to make the journey from France to the United Kingdom. "

Italian MEP asks Brussels about 'secret Malta-Italy migrants-for oil deal' (.independent.com.mt, link): "Italian MEP Elisabetta Gardini has asked the European Commission to explain the abnormally low numbers of migrants being disembarked in Malta after being rescued at sea, and questioned whether the Commission is aware of any informal agreement between the Maltese and Italian governments related to rescue operations in the Mediterranean. “How does the Commission explain the inactivity of the Maltese navy in recent months, which is demonstrated by the number of people arriving on the island?” read one question put forward to the Commission by Ms Gardini."

Migrant crisis: Tensions rise as Balkan path blocked (BBC News, link): "Tensions are building among thousands of migrants heading north through Balkan states as their route to western Europe is stalled by new controls. Many spent Sunday night in the cold and rain as Slovenia restricted the numbers it allows in from Croatia. Restrictions on the flow have produced bottlenecks on Croatia's borders with Slovenia and Serbia. An official told the BBC that Croatia could run out of room in its transit camps within days." and Balkan bottleneck after Slovenia puts cap on migrants (euobserver, link) and UNHCR: More than 10,000 refugees stranded in Serbia (ITV News, link)

Balkans struggles with growing backlog of migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "n desperate scenes, several thousand people, many of them Syrians fleeing war, spent the night on the muddy ground of no-man’s land between Serbia and European Union-member Croatia. "Open the gate, open the gate!" they chanted, held back by lines of Croatian police."

Swiss vote turns into plebiscite on EU, immigration (euractiv, link): "The anti-immigration Swiss People's Party (SVP) won the biggest share of the vote in Sunday's national parliamentary election (18 October), projections showed, keeping pressure on Bern to introduce quotas on people moving from the European Union. Success for the Swiss People's Party (SVP), coupled with gains made by the pro-business Liberal Party (FDP), led political commentators to talk of a "Rechtsrutsch" - a "slide to the right" - in Swiss politics."

Scotland: Celtic FC Foundation donation funds ambulance to help refugees (celticfc.net, link): "CELTIC FC Foundation has donated £17,000 to fund an ambulance which is being taken to the Greek island of Lesbos to assist in the current refugee crisis.The donation is to the Glasgow Cares appeal, and the ambulance will provide medical aid for refugees."

Merkel, in bind on migrants, ready to back faster Turkish EU bid (Reuters, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered Turkey the prospect of support for faster progress on its bid to join the European Union on Sunday in return for cooperation in stemming the flow of migrants and taking back those rejected by Europe"

Some notes on the relations between UNSC Resolution 2240 (2015) fighting smugglers in Mediterranean and the EUNAVFOR Med “Sophia” operation (EASFJ, link)

UK: Why I glued myself to a ticket barrier and shut down the Eurostar (open democracy, link)

Is Europe's 'refugee deal' giving in to blackmail by Turkey? (euractiv, link): "Two million Syrian refugees are being treated as bargaining chips, with the result being European complicity in rigging Turkey's 1 November elections, writes British MEP Richard Howitt."

Germany: PEGIDA marches on 'first anniversary' in Dresden (DW, link): "A rally marking the anniversary of the first PEGIDA demonstration has begun in Dresden. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has condemned the movement as "hard right-wing extremists." "

Migrants stuck at borders as officials squabble along Balkan route (DW, link): "Thousands of refugees waited for hours in the rain before entering Croatia, as officials struggled with a growing backlog. Slovenia has capped the number of arrivals, triggering a domino effect across former Yugoslavia."

Refugee Crisis Update: Over 2,500 Refugees Rescued from the Aegean Sea; Oct.16 – 19 (Greek Reporter, link)

Thousands of Refugees Remain Stranded in Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):"Croatia is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees and with transporting them to Slovenia, after Hungary shut its border."

Establishing control of refugees took precedence over providing humanitarian aid

First hotspot inaugurated on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link): "“If this had taken place 10 months ago, we could have avoided what we went through this summer,” Avramopoulos said. “More importantly, we would have been able to treat all those people who are seeking for a better life in Europe in a more humane manner,” he said. Additional hotspots on Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros are expected to be fully operational by end-November."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos's statement does not hold water. His DG produced on 13 January 2015 a: "Fact Sheet: Facts and Figures on the arrivals of migrants in Europe" (pdf) predicting what was to unfold this year - it said 276,113 refugees had arrived in 2014. The simple truth is that the EU had no plans to swiftly put in place humanitarian aid and protection from January 2015 in Italy and Greece. This aid has only come now, ten months late, with the so-called "hotspots" which ties aid to registration and fingerprinting (with "proportionate coercion" if necessary). Estabilishing control of refugees took precedence over providing a "humane" response."

EU: Greece and Italy "state of play" from the European Commission including "return flights": First groups "nationality screened" for "return"

- Greece – State of Play report from 11 October 2015 (pdf):

"Returns: What has been done so far

1. Frontex has organized a joint return flight which will leave to Nigeria on October 15, the first after the interruption of the return programme on June 30, 2015.

2. The Commission has assisted Greece in finding an agreement with the Embassy of Pakistan in Athens clarifying and streamlining the return procedures under the EU/Pakistan Readmission Agreement.

3. A call for tender for the resumption of the return programme funded by ISF will be launched by the end of this week.

4. A further joint return flight organized by Frontex has been scheduled to Pakistan. The Pakistani Embassy has committed to issue the relevant travelling documents for 26 nationals.

5. Greece has currently sufficient pre-removal detention capacity to implement a forced returns programme."

- Italy – State of Play report from 11 October 2015 (pdf)

"Return: What has been done

1. The Italian authorities have invested significant resources in the field of return and the procedure is now well established in many cases (Egyptians, Tunisians). Since the beginning of the year, 72 return flights have been organized.

2. Italy is currently negotiating with several Sub Saharan countries operational agreements to ensure swift return of third country nationals (particularly in Western Africa). An agreement has been reached already with Gambia, while others have been proposed to other Third Countries. Cooperation with Nigeria has also been enhanced.

3. Italy participates in joint flights organised by Frontex on a regular basis."

Map of the 'Hotspots' designated in Greece (pdf): Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos and Map of the 'Hotspots' designated in Italy (pdf): Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Augusta, Porto Empedode and Trapani

European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) Statement: With winter approaching ECRE urgenty calls on Europe to act (pdf)

"With the winter season approaching, European countries must ensure adequate reception conditions and treat people in need of protection with dignity and respect.
The current focus on increasing border controls may have the opposite effect and deny these children, women and men fleeing war and persecution from
accessing the international protection they need."

News (17-18.10.15)

Bulgaria: Amnesty International Urges Independent Probe into Bulgaria Migrant Death (.novinite.com, link): "AI's Barbora Cernušáková told the Bulgarian National Radio on Saturday it is of key importance to determine whether force had been used by police and whether its reactions with regard to the migrant groups had been "proportionate".The group of 54 people of which the dead migrant was part might have been looking for asylum and this would suggest measures taken by police were "extreme", Cernušáková warned" and UNHCR Condemns Incident with Migrant near Bulgaria's Border (UNHCR, link): ""We condemn the fact that the death of an asylum seeker from Afghanistan occurred and that it happened while he was trying to reach safety in Bulgaria and to exert his universal right to seeking asylum," Cheshirkov told the Bulgarian National Radio, also urging an "immediate, thorough, transparent, and independent" investigation into the tragic event.."

Sweden: Three Swedish refugee centres hit by fire (The Local.se, link): "An old school building in Onsala, Kungsbacka, 30kms south of Gothenburg, caught fire on Saturday evening. It was the third time this week that prospective asylum accommodation has been badly damaged by fire."

UK: Bishops in stinging rebuke to David Cameron over refugee crisis (Observer, link): "Clergy release text of private letter sent in September as it emerges that PM snubbed church’s offer of help. An extraordinary row between the Church of England and the prime minister has burst into the open as 84 bishops accuse David Cameron of ignoring their offers to help to provide housing, foster care and other support for up to 50,000 refugees." and the The bishops’ letter to David Cameron: refugee crisis ‘calls all of us to play our parts’ (Observer, link)

Slovenia calls on army to aid migration flow (DW, link): "Slovenia has called on the army to assist police as hundreds of asylum seekers arrive in the Schengen member state via Croatia. The move follows Hungary's decision to lock down its border with Croatia."

Swedish nationalists to copy Danish refugee ads (The Local.dk, link): "Sweden’s anti-immigration Sweden Democrats has announced plans to place advertisements in foreign newspapers encouraging refugees to stay away."

Italy: PM slams EU boss over Hungary comparison (The Local.it, link) : "Italian Premier Matteo Renzi reacted angrily to comments comparing Italy and Hungary's handling of the refugee crisis, made by European Council President Donald Tusk on Thursday. Speaking at an EU leader's summit EU leaders summit , Tusk said Italy and Hungary were both guilty of breaking EU rules during the refugee crisis. But for Renzi, there was no comparison.The far-right government of Hungary has been steadily building defences to keep refugees out, while Italians have been working hard to accommodate as many as possible."

Croatia diverts migrants to Slovenia after Hungary border closure (Reuters, link): "Migrants streaming across the Balkans reached Slovenia on Saturday, diverted overnight by the closure of Hungary’s border with Croatia in the latest demonstration of Europe's disjointed response to the flow of people reaching its borders.Hungary’s right-wing government declared its southern frontier with Croatia off limits to migrants, blocking entry with a metal fence and razor wire just as it did a month ago on its border with Serbia."

Hungary reinstates border controls at Slovenian frontier (DW, link): "Hungary has announced that it has reactivated border controls at its Slovenian frontier. The move follows Budapest's decision to close its border with Croatia, forcing migrants to divert their route through Slovenia."

Germany ready to give Greece financial aid to tackle refugee crisis - Berlin acknowledges Greek economy too weak to cope with influx and is willing to give support in return for more robust border controls (Guardian, link): "An article in the respected economic publication Wirtschaftswoche quoted a government insider as saying: “Our highest priority right now is that more refugees stay in Greece.” The source went on to say: “Germany will bear the brunt of the costs of the refugee crisis – we must be realistic about that.”"

Just how safe is the EU ‘safe list’? (euractiv, link): "The inclusion of countries that persecute homosexuals on the “safe list” has led the German Greens to ask for infringement proceedings to be launched. EurActiv’s partner Tagesspiegel reports. The so-called 'safe list', which is due to be extended, includes countries where individuals are not at risk from political or sexual persecution. On Wednesday (14 October), the German Greens asked the EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, what has been done for the asylum rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people."

A Warm Austrian Welcome for Refugees (UNHCR Tracks, link): "A grandma, a teacher and a mayor are among thousands of volunteers from all over Austria embracing desperate refugees seeking safety in Europe."

UK: Asylum seekers face eviction four weeks after being allowed to stay in Britain (Guardian, link): "Charities predict worst winter for homelessness thanks to Home Office regulations"

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Text of "Revised": EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan (dated 16.10.15, pdf)


"welcomes the joint Action Plan with Turkey as part of a comprehensive cooperation agenda based on shared responsibility, mutual commitments and delivery. Successful implementation will contribute to accelerating the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap towards all participating Member States and the full implementation of the readmission agreement. Progress will be assessed in spring 2016."

See: Turkey’s Erdogan calls the shots at EU summit (euractiv, link): "Faced with a refugee crisis they seem unable to control, EU leaders last night (15 October) tried to accommodate ambitious demands by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just two weeks before crucial elections in Turkey.... Yesterday morning in Ankara, Commission First-Vice President Frans Timmermans had agreed with his Turkish counterparts a "package" in exchange for Turkey's help in stemming the flow of refugees to the EU." and: Merkel backs multibillion-euro refugee package for Turkey (FT, link) also: EU bid to stem refugee influx stalls on how much to give Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): "European leaders failed to reach a final agreement on recruiting Turkey to help stem the flow of refugees from the Middle East, with some eastern member states dragging their heels over how much aid to grant their neighbor.... While the member states agreed to send hundreds more border guards to help Frontex and other joint agencies patrolling the bloc’s borders, leaders made little progress on how to redesign the system of distributing immigrants, forming an EU border guard corps or on how to ensure arrivals are properly processed. “These are all divisive issues and the goal today was to have the first serious exchange,” Tusk said"

EU migrant crisis: Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban pushes for Greek border to be sealed (IBT, link): "The country's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said: "We have urged Greece and the European Council to put together a joint European force to protect the external Schengen border. Unfortunately this decision has not been made. "If this decision is not made during the European Council meeting today and tomorrow, we really have to put into serious consideration to protect the Schengen zone at the Croatian-Hungarian border," he added. Hungary has already built a fence along its border with Croatia in a bid to keep Middle Eastern migrants out.

EU-TURKEY: READMISSION AGREEMENT: Full-text: AGREEMENT between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation pdf) This is not yet operative and it part of the "deal" to stop refugees arriving that the EU wants - including the return of people from Syria.

Turkey demands €3 billion on EU asylum crisis (euobserver, link): ""We were able to reach an agreement this evening as regards the shape this action plan will take", European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters on Thursday (15 October). It requires Syrian and other refugees in Turkey to remain in the country and prevent them from transiting into the EU. EU Council chief Donald Tusk said an agreement with Turkey only "makes sense only if it effectively contains the flow of refugees... Turkey, for its part, wants to speed up membership to the European Union and have visa restrictions removed next year. The official deadline for removing the visas has already been set to October 2017 and is unlikely to change". [emphasis added]

Afghan Migrant Shot Dead in Bulgaria near Border with Turkey, (novinite.com, link):

"An Afghan man died in Bulgaria after being indirectly hit by a bullet of border police on Thursday, authorities say. The incident took place around 22:00 local time (EEST), the Interior Ministry's Chief Secretary, Georgi Kostov, has announced. Pretrial proceedings have been launched.

It happened as border police detected the movement of 54 people trying to enter Bulgaria near the town of Sredets, in the country's south-east, not far from the border with Turkey. After shooting in the air as a warning sign, a bullet "rebounded" hitting one of them in the back of the neck by mistake, Kostov has explained, without elaborating." [emphasis added]

Seven people die off Lesvos as tensions flare at crowded reception facility (UNHCR, link):

"Authorities in Greece have reported up to seven people were killed – four of them children – in a collision between a smuggling boat and a Greek Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Lesvos, the UN refugee agency said today.... The collision between the Coast Guard patrol vessel and a wooden fishing boat carrying 38 people occurred off the island's north-western coastal town of Molyvos, the Greek Coast Guard said on Thursday (October 15). Seven bodies, including those of the four children, were subsequently recovered. Thirty-one people were rescued following the incident. The Greek authorities have announced that they are investigating the matter, UNHCR said." and see:

Seven migrants killed when their boat, reportedly fleeing, collides with Greek coast guard vessel (japantimes.co.jp, 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.... 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."

EU: GERMANY BORDER CONTROL LETTER TO EU: Prolongation of the temporary reintroduction of border controls at the German internal borders in accordance with Article 25 of Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (pdf)

News (15-16.10.15)

Seeing double? How the EU miscounts migrants arriving at its borders (The Conversation, link)

Turkey pours cold water on EU migrant plan (ekathimerini.com, link):: "Just hours after the European Union announced the accord with great fanfare at a leaders’ summit, Ankara said the plan to cope with a crisis that has seen some 600,000 mostly Syrian migrants enter the EU this year was just a draft....

Temporary Protection: EU had plan for migrant influx (eoobersver, link): "EU Ministers struggling with mandatory quotas to address a migration and refugee crisis over which they have little control, seem to have forgotten or overlooked the fact that fourteen years ago their predecessors created a tool ready for use in just such a crisis. The 2001 Directive on Temporary Protection is designed for mass influx situations. On paper, it is the perfect tool to deal with the Syrian arrivals."

Hungary to seal border with Croatia to stem flow of immigrants (ekathimerini.com, link):: "Hungary will seal its border with Croatia from midnight on Friday to stem the influx of refugees, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Budapest after a meeting of the national security council. "This is the second best option," Szijjarto told reporters. "The best option, setting up an EU force to defend Greece’s external borders, was rejected in Brussels yesterday.""

Claims that Greek police officers robbed, pushed back Syrian refugees to be probed (ekathimerini.com, link): "Authorities in Greece are investigating a series of allegations that Syrian refugees who entered the country by land from Turkey were robbed and forced back across the border by Greek police. A judicial official said Friday that Thessaloniki prosecutor Lefteris Michailidis has ordered the police internal affairs squad to investigate more than 20 complaints forwarded by human rights groups. The official spoke on condition of anonymity."

Surge in migrant arrivals in Greece (IOM, link): Number of arrivals: 613,179, of whom 472,754 arrived in Greece, 3,117 dead or missing this year: "Greece - Since the beginning of October, IOM reports that over 68,000 migrants have now crossed into Greece, with the majority arriving on the island of Lesvos (41,954). Smaller numbers have arrived on the islands of Samos (10,283) and Chios (6,393). Despite deteriorating weather conditions, the flow of migrants and refugees arriving at the main entry points continues to average over 4,500 a day."

Migrants may give Europe's economy a new lease of life (Reuters, link)

Greece: PM Tsipras after EU Summit on migration: "EU on right path, but going as slow as a turtle" (amna.gr, link)

Denmark: Tech whizzes create apps to help refugees (The Local.dk, link): "A group of Vienna-based software developers have created four new apps for smartphones, designed to make life easier for refugees fleeing from war and poverty - and to put them directly in touch with aid workers.... The software was programmed last weekend, as part of a ‘Refugee Hack Vienna’ event which saw 25 volunteers get together to see what they could create. “It’s amazing what people who have never met each other before can make in a short space of time,” one of the organisers, Helene Pattermann said."

How many refugee children can Sweden take? (UNHCR, link)

'Women put their babies into our arms begging us to keep them safe' (The Local.es, link): "As more and more refugees crowd into rubber dinghies to reach Europe, a Spanish volunteer lifeguard tells The Local how he's swapped the tourist packed beaches of Catalonia to go on patrol in Lesbos."

Norway to send some Syrians back to Russia (The Local.no, link): "Norway plans to send back hundreds of Syrian refugees who have crossed its northern border back to Russia, arguing that many had been living in its northern neighbour for a long time prior to applying for asylum. "

Refugees not 'invading' France, Hollande blasts (The Local, fr, link): "French President Francois Hollande has tried to put the record straight insisting that France is not being "invaded" by refugees as the far right would have people believe."

Germany passes controversial asylum seekers bill (DW, link): "Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has passed a new asylum seekers policy. The government's opposition and various refugee organizations have harshly criticized the reforms."

Eastern EU states agree joint border patrols (euobserver, link): "The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have agreed to send dozens of police and military officers to Hungary’s frontier with Serbia to reinforce border controls in a joint effort they say could serve as model for the rest of the EU. "

Angela Merkel at the European Parliament: from words to action? (eumigrationlawblog.eu, link)

MEPs caution against using our neighbours as border guards and challenge EU (GUE, link):"to deal with root causes of migration through coordinated international efforts"

Why was the EU not prepared for the refugee crisis and what to expect next? (epc.link)

Spain: Impunity for border control killings in the Canary island: No charges in case involving Guardia Civil patrol boat which sank dinghy near Lanzarote in 2012

On 13 October 2015, El Diario newspaper reported that the third instruction court in Arrecife shelved the case involving the sinking of a dinghy by a Guardia Civil patrol boat in December 2012 which resulted in a Moroccan boy's death and the disappearance of six other passengers.

UPDATE: EU: MED-REFUGEE SUMMIT: New European Council: 15-16 October 2015: Draft Conclusions (LIMITE doc no 11140-15, pdf)

Previous versions: European Council: 15-16 October 2015: Draft Conclusions (LIMITE doc no 11139-15, pdf) and European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no:1137-15, (pdf)

Frontex: 710 000 migrants entered EU in first nine months of 2015 (link) Frontex gets headline news with this kind of press release but are they accurate?

"Clarification: Frontex provides monthly data on the number of people detected at the external borders of the European Union. Irregular border crossings may be attempted by the same person several times in different locations at the external border. This means that a large number of the people who were counted when they arrived in Greece were again counted when entering the EU for the second time through Hungary or Croatia."

This is why the Frontex figures always exceed those of IOM and UNHCR: Mediterranean Arrivals Near Record 600,000 (IOM, link) and October 2 (UNHCR) refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015.With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000"

EU: SUMMIT ON THE MED: Council President Tusk invitation letter to Heads of State Summit: 15-16 October, 2015:
"Even if the influx of refugees slows down during winter, we must be ready for spring and the threat of bigger waves flowing to Europe".(pdf)

"Let us be clear about one thing. The exceptionally easy access to Europe is one of the main pull factors. In this context we should consider:

1. The future of the Dublin system, which is now in force - whether to keep it as it is or to look for alternatives;
2. The specific role of hotspots in light of different opinions as to their character and purpose;
3. The strengthening of our external borders, including a possible EU border guard."

News (14.10.15)

Immigrant kids may soon be 'de facto' Italians (The Local.it, link): "Italy’s Lower House has backed new legislation granting citizenship to babies born in Italy to foreign parents. Children born to immigrant parents in Italy have to wait until they turn 18 before being eligible for citizenship. But the new bill, which has now been passed to the Senate, would grant citizenship to babies born to foreign parents in the country if at least one of the parents has a long-term permit to stay."

SNCF to show 'humanity' to ticketless refugees (The Local.fr, link): "French rail operator SNCF has been forced to deny suggestions it is allowing refugees to travel en masse for free on trains across France after a leaked memo to staff provoked anger from those on the right"

EU Satisfied with Greece’s Processing of Refugees (Greek Reporter, link):"after the cooperation between Greek authorities and the Pakistani embassy, repatriation flights will start immediately"

Three People Missing After Shipwreck off the Coast of Lesvos (Greek Reporter, link) and see: Video Showing Coast Guard Officers Threatening Immigrants (Greek Reporter, 31 January 2015)

EU border guards to be considered as migrant crisis intensifies (FT, link): "The proposal is one of a series of hardline measures being considered by EU leaders in order to toughen the EU’s border controls, which range from more guards to increased use of deportations, and even biometric testing — encompassing everything from fingerprinting to eyeball scanning."

International Migrants Day - 18 December 2015 (UNHCR, link)

The snarling dud of May (The Economist, link): "Higher migration levels means lower public-sector borrowing figures and is one of the reasons why migration to Britain is a good thing."

Migrant crisis: Germany considers 'transit zones' on borders (BBC News, link): "Germany is considering setting up "transit zones" on its borders, where migrants would be kept while their asylum claims are assessed."

Commission: German transit zones only temporary (euobserver, link): "German government plans to establish transit zones for registering people seeking protection will have to be temporary and can only lead to a limited reintroduction of border checks, the European Commission said on Tuesday (13 October). Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, under pressure from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of her Christian Democrats (CDU), is mulling the idea of setting up transit zones along the German border. The idea, opposed by Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), is that the transit zones would facilitate the processing of migrants who are coming from safe countries, and are therefore not in need of international protection. "

Watchdog: Czech refugee camp offers 'worse conditions' than prisons (DW, link): "Migrants in a Czech refugee center were "debased in front of their children," according to human rights official Anna Sabatova. The conditions violate international conventions, she said after visiting the facility." and Ombudsman criticises conditions in refugee facility (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The Living conditions of refugees in the detention facility in Bela-Jezova, central Bohemia, are very bad and their children live there worse than Czech prisoners, Ombudsman Anna Sabatova told reporters yesterday."

Tusk: 'Easy access' to EU is main lure for migrants (euobserver, link)

Refugees themselves, Iraqis volunteer to help others reach safety in Germany (UNHCR, link): "SALZBURG, Austria, Oct 12 (UNHCR) – Childhood friends Hussein and Jaffa fled war ravaged Iraq together, crossing seven borders and the Aegean Sea to seek refuge in Europe. As they seek asylum in Austria, they decided to help those following in their tracks.Donning fluorescent jackets, they volunteer in a makeshift camp on the Austrian side of a bridge to Germany, helping 1,000 or so foot-sore refugees to get hot food, medical care, tents to sleep under and warm clothes to beat the autumn chill."

European Council President Donald Tusk told Turkey yesterday (13 October) that it could win concessions from the EU, such as visa-free travel, if it successfully reduces the flow of refugees reaching Europe (euractiv, link): "Three EU Commissioners are due to visit Ankara today, ahead of Thursday's (15 October) EU summit."

Brussels wants Hungary’s answers over migrants crackdown (euronews, link)

Lesvos, Greece: The refugee boats keep coming, but we’re making a difference - How a University of Melbourne Law student was moved by a harrowing image to help out on the frontline of Europe’s refugee crisis (unimelb.edu.au, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council Presidency Letter to the President of the European Council for the Summit meeting on 15-16 October 2015 (pdf): A summary of the actions taken and future plans: Includes two sets of Conclusions and 1994 Recommendations (EU return Laissez-passer) in which national and European parliaments have no say at all:

"To increase the effectiveness of the EU's return system, Ministers reiterated their willingness to implement all measures, including the use of detention as a legitimate measure of last resort. They underlined the need to reinforce pre-removal detention capacities to ensure the physical availability of irregular migrants for return....

an integrated system of return management by building on synergies between all relevant stakeholders [see footnote]....

The Council also highlighted the importance of all EU actors exploiting the full potential of EU diplomacy on the ground and prioritizing readmission in all relevant contacts at political level with countries of origin of irregular migrants, thus helping to identifying potential leverage. On this issue, Commissioner Avramopoulos stressed his strong support for the organization of planned joint return flights to Pakistan by the end of the month...

addressing the future management of the external borders of the European Union. In the current circumstances, further efforts need to be undertaken on hotspots, with a focus on green [land] borders....

Influx of migrants to the European Union will not abate in the short run."

Footnote: New initiatives to try and persuaded, or "bribe", the so-called "more for more principle" if African states agree to the return of refugees:

"Notably the European Integrated Approach on Return towards Third Countries (EURINT), the European Reintegration Instrument Network (ERIN) and the European Return Liaison Officers network (EURLO), as well as Immigration Liaison Officers (ILOs), Frontex Liaison Officers and European Migration Liaison Officers (EMLOs), to be deployed by end of 2015 to Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Pakistan, Serbia, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Sudan, Turkey and Jordan." [emphasis added]

EU: AUSTRIA: Xenophobia on the increase in Austria (euractiv, link): "The Council of Europe is concerned about a rise in racism in Austria. Certain political parties and organisations, as well as media outlets, are cultivating a chauvinistic discourse."

and see: European Commission against racism and intolerance (CoE): ECRI report on Austria (pdf)

Athens rules out joint sea patrols with Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): !Diplomatic sources in Athens Monday ruled out the prospect of Greek and Turkish naval forces conducting joint patrols in the eastern Aegean in a bid to curb a dramatic influx of migrants and refugees.

Speaking to Kathimerini, the same sources from the Greek Foreign Ministry stated that no official European documents raise the issue of joint sea patrols – which was first reported in the German press ahead of the draft action plan signed last week between the European Union and Turkey on the support of refugees and migration management."

Spain-Morocco: Two deaths at Spain-Morocco border after marines overturn raft

Two migrants died and 20 others were injured at the Spanish-Moroccan border on Friday 9 October after a raft on which they were travelling was overturned by the Moroccan Royal Marines, according to a report on the website of Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

Cadena SER cited eyewitness testimony from people working with the NGO Caminando Fronteras, who said: "The immigrants were travelling in a raft which was intercepted and overturned by the Royal Marines with great violence; they were subsequently beaten."

Watch The Med Alarm Phone‘s 1 Year Anniversary Statement 12.10.2015 (pdf):

"While we are confronted with a lot of despair, we have also been inspired uncountable times by the willingness to overcome the sea and to move on to desired places throughout Europe.

They grew stronger, louder and more visible every day in the past months: the incredible social and political struggles of refugees and migrants for the freedom of movement. To overcome the Mediterranean Sea in small overcrowded boats is one of the most dangerous aspects of these migration journeys towards the European Union as safe and legal pathways are closed down and fenced off by its government."

Website: www.alarmphone.org

ECRE Comments on the proposal for an EU common list of safe countries of origin (AIDA, link):

"ECRE seriously questions the compatibility of the safe country of origin concept with international refugee law, as it is at odds with the obligation on states under the 1951 Refugee Convention to treat refugees without discrimination based on their country of origin. The use of safe country lists, whether nationally designated or at EU level, further contributes to a practice of stereotyping certain applications on the basis of their nationality and increases the risk of such applications not being subject to a thorough examination of a person’s fear for persecution or risk of serious harm on an individual basis, which is at the core of the refugee definition and crucial to ensuring full respect for the principle of non-refoulement....

In that regard, ECRE is opposed to the adoption of a common EU list of safe countries of origin as proposed by the Commission, as it is part of a worrying development in EU asylum law to increasingly assume a negative outcome of an asylum procedure on the basis of the nationality or profile of the applicant as being manifestly unfounded prior to a proper examination of the application."

and see: ECRE Comments on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin and amending the recast Asylum Procedures Directive (COM(2015) 452) (pdf)

News (`13.10.15)

Turkish students attacked in Poland (.thenews.pl, link): "A group of students from Turkey were attacked and told to”'go back to their country” on Monday in Slupsk, northern Poland."

Drahonice detention centre opens to migrants (Prgague Daily Monitor, link): "The complex is closed and the refugees are not allowed to leave it"

EU migrant arrivals 170,000 in September, says Frontex (ekathimerini.com, link): "Some 170,000 irregular migrants entered the European Union in September, the bloc's border agency Frontex said on Tuesday, taking the total for the year so far to 710,000. That compares to 282,000 migrants crossing EU borders irregularly for the whole of 2014 as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II."

Migrant sea deaths top 3,000 this year, says migration organization (ekathimerini.com, link): "Ninety percent of the deaths this year were on the high Mediterranean, mainly between Libya and Italy. The IOM says that those arriving in Italy are much more diverse, with large contingents from at least 16 countries."

Tears, relief and joy: Lesbos - the tiny Greek island on the frontline of Europe's refugee crisis (ITV News, link)

Czech Prison Service to help guard detention facilities (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The Czech Prison Service will help guard migrants in detention facilities as from November 1 at the request of the Interior Ministry, for which Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (for ANO) has released up to 70 people, he told journalists yesterday."

AI: FENCED OUT: Hungary's violationd of the rights of refugees and migrants (pdf)

UK-GREECE: positive action. taking action. rebuilding lives: So you're interested in volunteering? We just need a few pieces of information to get things going.(Positive Action in Housing, link)

Angela Merkel au Parlement européen, des paroles aux actes? (EASFJ, link)

Winter Is Coming, But Activists Fear The Tide Of Refugees Isn’t Slowing Down - “What rational people would say is unsafe may not be enough to stop you if you’re a refugee,” one advocate said. (Buzz Feed, link)

“Migration in a World in Disarray”: IOM Director General (link): "IOM Director General William Lacy Swing yesterday (12/10) spoke of “Migration in a World in Disarray” and called for improved global migration management at a time of unprecedented human mobility.... “More people are on the move than ever before – more than one billion in our seven-billion person world. Of these, 250 million are international migrants, and 750 million are domestic migrants. International migrants have remained constant at about 3 percent of the world’s population for several decades, but numerically, migrants are more numerous than ever before,” he said." and see: IOM Launches Online Platform to Track Europe’s Migration Emergency (link) also: Mediterranean Arrivals Near Record 600,000 (IOM, link)

Greece promises five hotspots operational within month: Brussels, 12/10/2015 (Agence Europe) - "Hotspot" facilities should be operational in Greece in about ten days' time, with the first at Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, Luxembourg Immigration and Asylum Minister Jean Asselborn announced on Saturday 10 October, during a visit to Greece with European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. Four further hotspots on the Greek islands will be set up subsequently, with the Port of Piraeus currently the centre from which the logistics of these hotspots are being organised. Greek Minister Delegate for Immigration Yannis Mouzalas said that the country's five hotspots would be operational "in a month's time". Asselborn and Avramopoulos are expected to return to Mytilene to check progress at the end of this week."

EU Commission concerned by Hungary's migration laws (euobserver, link): "The EU Commission has expressed concerns over Hungary's new and amended migration laws in a letter sent last week which asked for clarification. The letter, published earlier by Hungarian media and now on Statewatch, a non-profit organisation committed to transparency, was sent on 7 October and was signed by the Commission's director general for migration and justice. The letter challenges recent Hungarian legislation that seems to fast-track people seeking refuge back to Serbia with a ban on entering the EU for a year." See: Letter to Hungary: and detailed Annex: Comments and preliminary concerns on recent legislative changes related to the migration crisis (pdf)

"Hotspots" in Germany: Germany will filter refugees in camps at borders (euractiv, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Bavarian allies have agreed on a plan to set up "transit zones" at the border, to identify migrants who are ineligible for asylum, Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer said on Monday (12 October). Seehofer, who heads the Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said a concrete proposal would be drawn up by the two parties, the Bavarian government and the federal government, this week. Speaking at a CDU event at the northern city of Stade, Merkel said the idea was to stop directly at the border those migrants who were coming from countries deemed as safe.

Greece: Chaos, Insecurity in Registration Center - Information, Attention to Vulnerable Groups Urgently Needed (HRW, link): "Poor organization and a lack of personnel is creating chaos and insecurity at a police registration center and surrounding informal camp for asylum seekers and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos, Human Rights Watch said today.In a visit to Lesbos on October 4 and 5, 2015, Human Rights Watch found that women with young children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities or medical conditions are often not identified as vulnerable groups nor ensured that they can register and get proper access to basic services such as food and health care."

EU: European Commission: Letter to Hungary: and detailed Annex: Comments and preliminary concerns on recent legislative changes related to the migration crisis (pdf)

"This preliminary assessment reveals a number of concerns and questions on substance and implementation relating inter alia to:

- a possible quasi-systematic dismissal of applications for international protection submitted at the border with Serbia

- a possible lack of sufficient safeguards in the asylum procedure implemented at the border, including as regards the existence of effective remedies to challenge a decision on the admissibility of an asylum application

- the criminal sanctions introduced relating to the crossing of the border and a possible lack of adequate safeguards ensuring respect of the rights of defence and effective remedies in the criminal proceedings

- the closing of border crossing points

- the powers granted to the military forces in border management and questions as to the existence of adequate safeguards and remedies

- a possible general lack of specific procedures or safeguards for children"

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: VALLETTA CONFERENCE: 11-12 November 2015: Council of the European Union: Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Two (LIMITE doc no 12560-rev-1-15, 7 October 2015, pdf)

EU SUMMIT: European Council meeting 15-16 October 2015: European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (pdf): "achieve concrete operational measures at the forthcoming Valletta Summit with African Heads of State or Government, focusing, in a fair and balanced manner, on effective return and readmission, dismantling of criminal networks and preventing illegal migration... See earlier version: Possible elements for the Outcome Document for Valletta - annotated version (LIMITE doc no 11534-15, pdf)

UK: REFUGEE CRISIS: Call from the Legal Community for Urgent Action:This statement calls for an urgent, humane and effective governmental response to the refugee crisis. Its signatories include retired judges, Queen’s Counsel, barristers, solicitors and law professors (Letter in Guardian and Times, link):

"Like many others, we consider that the UK Government’s offer to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East, spread over 5 years, is too low, too slow and too narrow."

Greek minister says EU refugee relocation program undermined by racism (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union must stop countries picking and choosing which refugees they accept in its relocation program, otherwise it will turn into a shameful "human market", Greece's new migration minister said....Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said in an interview that Greece was having trouble finding refugees to send to certain countries because the receiving nations had set what he called "racist criteria". He declined to name the states concerned....

"Views such as 'we want 10 Christians', or '75 Muslims', or 'we want them tall, blonde, with blue eyes and three children,' are insulting to the personality and freedom of refugees," Mouzalas told Reuters. "Europe must be categorically against that." ...

several thousand, mostly Afghans, have ended up trapped in Greece for lack of money. European authorities are reluctant to treat Afghans systematically as refugees, and a result, they are shut out of the relocation process. "It's absurd to think that Afghans are coming to find better work. There is a long-lasting war, you aren't safe anywhere, that's the reality," Mouzalas said."

EU: Council of the European Union: Council conclusions on Migration Foreign Affairs Council, 12 October 2015 (pdf):

"The Council recalls the importance to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with African countries of origin and transit in order to jointly manage migration and asylum flows in the spirit of partnership, ownership and shared responsibility. In this regard, the Council welcomes the efforts by the Presidents of the European Council, the Commission and the Presidency of the Council of the EU, in close cooperation with the HRVP, in preparation of the Valletta Summit on 11 and 12 November and encourages all those involved to find comprehensive and balanced solutions and make substantial progress on all priority domains of the draft Action Plan."

News (12.10.15)

EU's refugee relocation scheme 'not enough,' says UNHCR chief (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union's current relocation scheme for refugees is “not enough” to address the scope of the problem, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Monday.... “You cannot have a technocratic approach to relocation,” he told a news conference in Athens. “Without a human approach to relocation, this process could fail,” he warned."

Catastrophic moral failure as rich countries leave millions of refugees to cruel and uncertain fates (AI, link): "Eight-point plan to respond to global refugee crisis - Only a tenth of 1.15 million most vulnerable refugees being resettled - 86% of refugees now hosted in developing countries - UN refugee appeals chronically and severely underfunded"

Praise and concern for migrant, refugee facilities on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link): "The head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres has praised the efforts made by authorities on Greek islands to deal with the influx of migrants and refugees... “After months with huge numbers of people arriving in Lesbos, the authorities still don’t have an effective system for registering people so that they can travel onward,” said Eva Cossé, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch."

Austria's far-right makes gains but fails to topple Social Democrats in Vienna election (DW, link)

Czech Republic: Senate to select refugees to be accepted (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The Czech Senate should again reject EU mandatory refugee redistribution quotas, its European committee has said, adding that the upper house of parliament should also ask the government to maximally influence the selection of asylum applicants to be placed in the Czech Republic.... According to the committee, the government should also thoroughly check whether the migrants to be selected in Italy and Greece for relocation to the Czech Republic may pose a threat to national security and the public peace."

12,220 refugees enter Austria in 36 hours (The Local,.at, link): "A total of 12,220 people entered eastern Austria in the previous 36 hours as the flow of refugees from the Balkans to northern Europe continued, police said on Monday."

I'm not scared of polls or my own party: Merkel (The Local.de, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that she would not be turned from her course in the refugee crisis by headwinds in the polls or rumours of rebellion in her own party, repeating her insistence that Germany can weather the storm."

Migrants in Sicily befriend elderly Italians (The Local.it, link): "It's a win-win relationship: asylum seekers battling boredom in Sicily as they wait for their applications to be processed volunteer to keep elderly and lonely Italians company."

Sweden sees highest asylum levels in history (The Local.se, link): "More refugees have sought asylum in Sweden so far in 2015 than in any other year in the Nordic nation's history, new figures released by the country's Migration Agency have revealed."

MEP Ska Keller: Bulgaria Has Important Role in EU's Plans on Refugees (novinite.com, link): "Being an external border of the EU, Bulgaria has an important role in the plans of the Union on addressing the refugee crisis. This was stated by Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Ska Keller, in Plovdiv on Sunday, private bTV station informs"

Dublin is over: the rise of Europe's new migrant prisons (Open Democracy, link) "By getting the UNHCR and Frontex to more directly intervene in the first moments of arrival with identification and fingerprinting, the EU is attempting to retake control of movement throughout Europe."

V4 to jointly protect Hungary's border, Croatia really upset (portfolio.hu, link): "The Visegrad Four countries can start border authority co-operation from next week, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, told public television M1 late on Thursday. Croatia’s Interior Minister is not overly fond of the idea."

EU to open first refugee reception 'hotspot' in Greece (DW, link):"Greece is setting up its first refugee hotspot to receive migrants coming into Europe from the Middle East and Africa. The center, on Lesbos, is the first of five designed to register and screen all incoming migrants."

Alternatives to detention for asylum seekers and people in return procedures (FRA, link)

Ireland may help EU in expelling refugees (Irish Examiner, link): "Ireland is considering contributing personnel to help cope with the mammoth task of sorting and relocating asylum-seekers from camps in Greece and Italy to other member states.... While Ireland has opted-out of the EU Directive on Returns introduced in 2008, it has joined with other countries and Frontex in sharing flights to return refugees whose request to remain in the country has been rejected."

Trilateral centre for police cooperation at Bulgaria’s Kapitan Andreevo border crossing held up as example (focus-fen.net, link)

Greece: Chaos, Insecurity in Registration Center - Information, Attention to Vulnerable Groups Urgently Needed (HRW, link): "Poor organization and a lack of personnel is creating chaos and insecurity at a police registration center and surrounding informal camp for asylum seekers and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos, Human Rights Watch said today."

EU: European Parliament study: EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of EU funding and agencies in the field of migration, asylum and integration. It begins with a brief assessment of their effectiveness and efficiency before examining whether the design of management, budgeting and control systems is effective in preventing the misuse of resources. The study illustrates good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations on how to achieve greater transparency in the implementation of future EU funding programmes."

See: also: MED CRISIS: Billion-euro budgets to be distributed to Member States; plus latest news reports (Statewatch database): "The European Commission has announced the approval of 23 more national programmes for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund, paving the way for the release of up to €2.4 billion to Member States to "improve migration management, foster cooperation and make Europe safer".

UN: EU Med Operations: Resolution 2240 (2015), Security Council Authorizes Member States to Intercept Vessels off Libyan Coast Suspected of Migrant Smuggling (Full-text, pdf)

See: U.N. council OKs mission against human trafficking off Libya (Reuters, link):

" The United Nations Security Council on Friday authorized European Union naval operations for one year to seize and dispose of vessels operated by human traffickers in the high seas off Libya. The 15-member council adopted the British-drafted resolution with 14 votes in favor. Venezuela abstained.

The resolution approved the second of three phases of an EU naval mission intended to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe, which has escalated into a major crisis in recent months. The third phase of the EU mission, which is not covered by the resolution, would involve European operations in Libyan territorial waters and coastal areas."

EU: Declaration of the High-level Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean - Western Balkans Route (Full-text, pdf):

"Improve and share data collection, tracking of movements of population, joint needs assessments, mapping or analysis of socio-economic impact in order to ensure a more targeted and effective response and anticipate trends, while respecting privacy of personal data and legal safeguards...

Enhance capacity to manage borders and to ensure prompt registration of all refugees and migrants and effective, rapid and quality processing of asylum applications, in full respect of human rights and in line with international standards. Support swift return to their countries of origin of persons not entitled to international protection, in full respect of the principle of non-refoulement....

Enhance police and judicial cooperation, including intelligence-gathering, sharing and analysing, as well as capacity building of law enforcement and judicial authorities, with a specific focus on the conduct of financial investigations...."

NEWS (10-11.10.15)

Greece’s first ‘hotspot’ to open on Lesvos this week (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece’s first so-called migrant hotspot on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos will start operating next week, Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said on Saturday, adding that another four screening centers will follow on other islands."

Refugee crisis is a boon to Vienna's far-right party (DW, link): "The Freedom Party is tapping into anxiety over the high number of migrants in Vienna. The far right has become a challenge to the Social Democrats, who have ruled Austria's capital for decades, Alison Langley reports." and Could far-right leader conquer 'red' Vienna? (The Local.at, link): "

Big rise in German attacks on migrant homes in 2015 (BBC News, link):"The German government says there have been almost 500 attacks on homes intended for asylum seekers this year - three times more than in 2014. " and Protesters, police clash at refugee homes in Germany (DW, link): "Police have been attacked by protesters at asylum seeker shelters in the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg. The overnight unrest comes after the government reported a massive increase in attacks on refugee homes."

Eritrean refugees protest in Lampedusa - Want their freedom (ANSA, link): "Boosted by a surge in popularity in the wake of Europe's refugee crisis, the leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, hopes to finally break the Socialists' 70-year reign in Vienna in Sunday's regional election."

UNHCR head Guterres urges massive EU response to help Greece attend to refugees (link): ""We know how to winterize a camp. We know how to winterize a tent. We know how to winterize a building. We don't know how to winterize a crowd moving every day from one country to another. It's impossible … With the kind of weather that you have in the Balkans, we could see this turn into a tragedy at any moment."... "We have been insisting on this for months … but this is not something that we can ask Greece to do by itself. It is only with a massive investment by the European Union that Greece will be able to do it. Leaving Greece on its own in a situation like this would be totally unacceptable""

Commission’s proposal to put Turkey on ‘safe countries' list under attack (euractiv, link): "Commission plans to put Turkey on a list of "safe countries", to which migrants can be quickly returned as they would not risk oppression, have run into opposition from several European nations, sources said"

Greece: Islands see surge in refugee arrivals (ekathimerini.com, link): "The number of refugees arriving on Greek islands has risen from 4,500 a day in late September to 7,000 over the past week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday, as a toddler was found dead off the coast of Lesvos in the eastern Aegean.... sources said that a police officer who was photographed kicking a refugee in a temporary reception center on Lesvos had been identified. He is expected to be summoned to explain himself following an urgent investigation into the incident."

Macedonia Faces Massive Surge in Refugees (balkaninsight.com, link): "Macedonia says it faces the greatest spike in arrivals since the start of the refugee crisis, with about 10,000 people trying to enter and cross the country each day on their way to the West."

Update: Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria (w2eu.info, link): "Please note that up until now, nobody knows what will happen with these registrations in the future but so far there is no official confirmation that they will be conncected to the Eurodac database. Austria and Germany have both said in recent days that they will enforce the dublin regulation to its full extent. But the situation now is very chaotic and it might not be so easy for the countries to enforce dublin for the people who are crossing at the moment. "

János Lázár holds weekly marathon press conference (Budapest Beast, link)"Defending Hungary’s borders

Lázár said the Croatia border fence is 99 percent complete, but the government isn’t sure yet whether it should serve the same function as the fence erected along the Serbian border. He said the government will make the decision following discussions which presumably are to take place with EU and Croatian leaders. Beyond that, the government also plans on using personnel from Visegrád 4 countries to protect Hungary’s southern border with Serbia."

30 migrants reach north African Spanish enclave from Morocco (The Local.es, link): "Some 30 African migrants succeeded on Saturday in crossing a barbed wire fence into the Spanish enclave of Melilla in north Africa, authorities said.About 50 migrants attempted to cross the six-metre (20-foot) high fence on the border with Morocco at 7:00am (0500 GMT), a spokesman for the Melilla government told AFP. They were part of a group of 130 people who had attempted to make it to the Spanish territory, most of whom were arrested before they reached the fence."

EU SUMMIT: European Council meeting 15-16 October 2015: European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (pdf):

"achieve concrete operational measures at the forthcoming Valletta Summit with African Heads of State or Government, focusing, in a fair and balanced manner, on effective return and readmission, dismantling of criminal networks and preventing illegal migration... See: Possible elements for the Outcome Document for Valletta - annotated version (LIMITE doc no 11534-15, pdf)

"devise technical solutions to reinforce the control of the EU's external borders to meet both migration and security objectives, by making full use of technological developments in order not to hamper free circulation and to facilitate travel" See: France says protect free movement with mass fingerprinting, face scans and entry-exit logs and:

"press ahead with the establishment of further hotspots...

step up implementation by the Member States of the Return Directive...

development of a European Border and Coast Guard System...

enlarge the Frontex mandate on return to include the right to organise joint return operations on its own initiative and enhance its role regarding the acquisition of travel documents for returnees...

promote the acceptance by third countries of an improved European laissez-passer as the reference document for return purposes.[*]"

[*] The Council's legal basis is relying on 1994 Recommendations for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: Final Press release: 8-9 October 2015 (pdf) including:

The future management of the EU external borders
The future of the return policy
Visa policy

Commission’s proposal to put Turkey on ‘safe countries' list under attack (euractiv, link): "Commission plans to put Turkey on a list of "safe countries", to which migrants can be quickly returned as they would not risk oppression, have run into opposition from several European nations, sources said on Thursday (8 October).... Several member states refuse to add Turkey - home to two million refugees from the Syrian war - because of its poor record on judicial independence, minority rights and freedom of expression, several diplomatic sources told AFP." and see:

Turkey frowns at EU refugee aid plan (euractiv, link): "Turkey has given a lukewarm response to a European Union plan to assist Ankara in coping with over two million Syrian refugees, indicating that funding needs to be drastically increased.... Turkish officials, so far, are not rushing to embrace the plan."The EU is in a hurry but we are not," a Turkish official, who asked not to be named, told AFP."

See: Commission Press release: EU-TURKEY: Draft Action Plan: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq (6.10.15, pdf)

IOM Monitors Mediterranean Migrant Flows: 7,000 Crossing Daily to Greece (link):

"Despite the increased number of arrivals on the island of Lesvos, the congestion on the island has declined significantly. This is due in part to the fact that 70 per cent of migrants and refugees who arrived in Greece last week immediately crossed into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at Greece’s Idomeni border.... Migrants and refugees have to pay for their own tickets for all their transport in Greece and, according to people interviewed by IOM, nationality has become an important factor in determining how quickly they can leave the islands and travel to the FYROM border.

Syrians are now travelling faster from the islands to the border because they can afford it. They buy tickets for boats to Athens, buses straight to the border and sometimes even pay for taxis that can cost up to EUR 700 a family from Athens to the border.

Afghans, on the other hand, often have to work to get enough money to buy tickets or have to contract friends or relatives to borrow funds for onward travel. Consequently they spend more time transiting Greece."

See: Med infograpics with latest figures (pdf)

News (9.10.15)

Croatian Section Of Hungary’s Anti-Migrant Border Fence Completed (hungarytoday.hu, link): "The anti-immigration fence along the Hungarian-Croatian border is 99 per cent complete, Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár has said."

Czech NGOs call for better approach to migrants (Radio Praha, link) "A consortium of 18 Czech non-governmental organisations working with migrants last week issued a document in which it outlines the basic principles the country should adhere to in dealing with immigrants."

Alarm in Austria over Seehofer's Bavaria border plan (DW, link): "Alarm is growing in Austria over the Bavarian state premier's plans to reduce the number of migrants crossing the border. Austria had grown accustomed to its role as a transit country"

Lesvos struggles to be ready as EU 'hotspot' (ekathimerini.com, link): "Wet, scared and already weary from a dangerous sea crossing from Turkey, many Syrian families with small children are currently forced to walk a distance longer than the Athens Marathon from the beaches where they land to the points of registration near the port capital of Mytilene. Buses provided by local authorities and rides by volunteers do not suffice, especially as many refugees continue to land at night."

The EU’s Grapple with Hate Crime (liberties.eu): "If rising anti-Semitism is a sign that Europe is becoming hostile towards all minorities, it is difficult to understand why a recent European colloquium on hate crime focused on only two vulnerable groups."

The Latest: Czechs to boost migrant checks on Austria border (Yahoo News, link)

Norway to limit asylum grants to five years (The Local.no, link): "Norway’s right-wing government is to limit grants of asylum to a five-year term, after which refugees will be automatically sent home if the situation in their country has changed for the better. “If the war in Syria ends, or conditions in Iraq improve, they will have to prepare for the return trip,” State Secretary Joran Kallemyr, a senior official from the Progress Party in the Ministry of Justice told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK"

UN: Sweden is bearing brunt of migrant crisis (The Local.se, link): "Sweden and Germany cannot continue to take in the majority of refugees seeking new lives in the EU, a top UN official has said, days after Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that immigration could become a bigger challenge than the Greek debt crisis."

Bavaria threatens Merkel with court over refugees (The Local.de, link): "The Bavarian government is threatening to take Chancellor Angela Merkel to the country's highest court to make her change her refugee policy. If the federal government does not take the initiative itself to control the number of people coming into the country, the Bavarian government will force it to through the Constitutional Court, the Bavarian government announced on Friday after an emergency meeting of the state cabinet."

Denmark's refugee quota plan skips Copenhagen (The Local.dk, link): "The Danish Immigration Service has released its plan to distribute 12,000 expected refugees across Denmark and the nation’s largest city will take zero."

EU gets tough on expelling migrants, talks to neighbors (Reuters, link)

‘Refugees welcome’ say Sion demonstrators (The Local.ch, link): "Around 400 people joined a peaceful demonstration in support of refugees held in the centre of Sion on Thursday night."

Western Balkans migrant route in EU spotlight (euobserver, link): "The talks on Thursday also addressed how to help the capacities in the region for the countries to slow down the influx of people. On the sidelines on the meeting, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland agreed to participate in protecting the southern borders of Hungary and the Schengen free-travel zone."

EU moves first group of refugees to Sweden (aljazeera.com, link)"First 20 Eritreans will be relocated from Italy according to quota system, but experts question viability of scheme... Sweden committed to taking in 821 from Italy and 548 from Greece as part of a first total of 40,000 people from Eritrea, Iraq and Syria to be redistributed across the EU in the next two years." and First 19 refugees leave Italy as part of EU redistribution plan (ANSA, link): "The group, which included five women, arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa a few days ago."

Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn in Italy: First Relocation Flight and Hotspot visit (Coomiision, link)

Merkel slams eastern Europeans on migration - Chancellor makes emotional plea in closed-door meeting (politico.eu, link)

Baby dies after migrant boat breaks down off Greek island (ekathimerini.com, link)

Greece’s Tsipras in Lesvos: Hiding the refugee crisis under the carpet (link):

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Lesvos on Tuesday, Oct. 6, accompanied by Austrian chancellor Werner Feymann, to ostensibly appraise the refugee crisis on the islands firsthand, but what they saw there did not correspond to the everyday reality. Journalist Sofia Christoforidou was at the Mytilene harbor and tweeted updates on the preparations there while waiting for the PM’s visit....

“Tsipras and Faymann came from the back entrance, saw few refugees, everything in order at port, and they departed.”...

Boat arrivals in Lesvos’ northern beaches, which usually number in the dozens daily, practically stopped for the duration of the two leaders’ visit....

Hours after Tsipras’ visit, the boats came back, and the arrivals of refugees continued."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: "B" Points agenda (for discussion, including some non-legislative items), "A" Points - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points -non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and see: Background Note (9 pages, pdf)

Agreed: Council conclusions on the future of the return policy (pdf)

See: Director of IOM: Swing Asks EU to Respect Rights of Vulnerable Migrants Arriving on its Shores (to be delivered later today at a high level EU conference in Luxembourg on refugees and migration flows through the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans, link):

"Mr Swing underscored that care needed to be taken when dealing with asylum seekers who do not neatly fit into the category of refugees. “Many of those on the move defy easy categorization. Many will be covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention and many others will not. But it is too simplistic to conclude that all of them fall into a single broad category of “economic migrants,” he said.

“I am speaking of a wide range of vulnerable migrants - families with children; persons seeking to re-unite with their families already in Europe; unaccompanied and separated children; victims of trafficking; single and pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and the injured. The majority are coming from countries facing great strife, abject poverty or simply, hopelessness,” he noted."

and Migrant crisis: EU considers faster deportations (BBC News, link) also: EU to step up deportation of economic migrants (euractiv, link): "European Union governments are set to agree today (8 October) to accelerate the repatriation of illegal immigrants among the hundreds of thousands who have failed to win asylum, as they try to cope with a surge in refugees from war-torn Syria. Diplomats say interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg should agree, among other things, to back the detention of those who may abscond before expulsion and exert more pressure on African and other poor states, including via aid budgets, to make them accept the return of citizens refused entry to Europe."

News (8.10.15)

EU ministers to discuss 'smart borders' (euobserver, link): "Among the ideas is the future roll-out of a €1 billion digital dragnet known as 'smart borders'. Smart borders is a two-tiered system of biometric scans of visiting non-EU nationals – the registered travellers programme (RTP) and the entry-exit system (EES) The European Commission had presented the package in 2013 but it was temporarily shelved following concerns over projected costs and possible law enforcement access.An EU diplomat on Wednesday (7 October) said the Commission is set to make new smart border proposals before the end of year."

The refugee crisis: Four steps to be taken (euractiv, link) View of Bulgarian PM

EU to step up deportation of economic migrants (euractiv, link): "European Union governments are set to agree today (8 October) to accelerate the repatriation of illegal immigrants among the hundreds of thousands who have failed to win asylum, as they try to cope with a surge in refugees from war-torn Syria. Diplomats say interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg should agree, among other things, to back the detention of those who may abscond before expulsion and exert more pressure on African and other poor states, including via aid budgets, to make them accept the return of citizens refused entry to Europe."

The Latest: UN rights chief: EU should ensure migrant 'hotspots' aren't detention centers (USNews, link)

Merkel rules out freeze on refugee intake (DW, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out any freeze on migrants entering Germany, claiming that it would be impractical. In a television interview, the chancellor said she was "convinced" that the country would cope. "

Merkel and Hollande short of ideas on refugee crisis (euobserver, link): ""Pretending that Schengen, in its current operations, makes it possible to resist the pressure would be a mistake," Hollande said, calling for the creation of a European corps of border guards and coast guards. Merkel said the EU’s so-called Dublin system to mange asylum requests is "obsolete”."

Merkel, Hollande call for unity against nationalism (euractiv, link): "In a rare address to the European Parliament on Wednesday (7 October), French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, acknowledged that the refugee crisis was a “test of historic proportions” that was putting the EU at risk, and warned against the destructive power of nationalism."

UN council eyes vote on EU action against migrant smugglers (ekathimerini.com, link): "The UN Security Council is expected to vote, possibly as early as Thursday, on a draft resolution authorizing European military action against migrant smugglers in the high seas off Libya’s coast, diplomats said"

Do they want to abolish the Geneva Convention? GUE/NGL MEPs denounce draft Council conclusions on return as unacceptable and dangerous (Press release, link)

EU migration policy ‘will fail’ without comprehensive, human rights focus – UN rights chief (link): "“These ‘hotspots’ seem to be conceived not simply as a means of registering new arrivals, but also as a way of preventing them from moving further until it is decided whether they are in need of international protection or should be returned,” Mr. Zeid said.W"

EU ministers to step up deportations in bid to deter refugees (Guardian, link): "Draft documents for meeting of EU interior ministers says member states must do more to return refused asylum seekers.. The scale of the current emergency is complicating the response, say the officials. “The logistical problems in returning 200,000 people are immense,” said one." [emphasis added] and useful breakdown of where refu'gees are coming from and why: Refugee crisis: apart from Syrians, who is travelling to Europe? (Guardian, link) "Half of the 380,000 crossing the Mediterranean are from Syria, but refugees from other countries are also tackling tortuous routes to flee conflict"

Secret EU plan to throw out thousands of migrants (The Times, link):

" Hundreds of thousands of failed asylum seekers will be deported from Europe within weeks under secret plans leaked to The Times. Brussels will threaten to withdraw aid, trade deals and visa arrangements if countries such as Niger and Eritrea refuse to take back their economic migrants. The proposals also envisage EU states detaining thousands of migrants to prevent them from absconding to avoid deportation.....

Tony Bunyan, the director of Statewatch, an EU civil liberties watchdog, said: “Refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The returns policy proposed is not going to work,” he said. “It cannot be seriously expected that Turkey would accept the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

See: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015

EU ministers to step up deportations in bid to deter refugees

Draft documents for meeting of EU interior ministers says member states must do more to return refused asylum seekers

EU ministers to fast-track migrant deportation (euobserver, link):

"EU ministers are coming up with plans on how to best to use the deportation of failed asylum seekers as a deterrent for others. A leaked paper from the Council, representing EU member states, says some €800 million will be set aside on larger efforts to remove people without the proper paper work from the EU back to their home countries....

"The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws", said Statewatch director Tony Bunyan."

EU HOTSPOT" APPROACH UNDER ATTACK: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:EU migration policy will fail unless comprehensive and grounded in human rights – Zeid (link):

"He raised particular concerns about the nature of the ‘hotspot’ approach.

“These ‘hotspots’ seem to be conceived not simply as a means of registering new arrivals, but also as a way of preventing them from moving further until it is decided whether they are in need of international protection or should be returned,” the High Commissioner said. “While we welcome the efforts of the EU to offer support to the frontline Member States receiving large numbers of migrants, States must ensure that these ‘hotspots’ are not, in effect, detention centers in disguise.”

“Italy and Greece have both reduced the use of immigration detention. It is important to guard against a return to, or expansion of, a practice which is fraught with human rights concerns centred on the legality and conditions of detention,” he added. “I urge the EU and its individual Member States to avoid the ugly spectre of arbitrary or prolonged detention of people who are not criminals, and to ensure the adoption of human rights-based alternatives to detention.” "

EU-Africa: The 'Khartoum Process': beefing up borders in east Africa

The 'Khartoum Process' is intended to limit the number of people travelling to Europe via the "Horn of Africa migration route" and involves east African states, EU Member States, the European Commission and the African Union. Formally known as the 'EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative', it has been criticised by the human rights organisation AEDH as attempting "to arrange the material conditions to avoid that they [migrants and refugees] come to Europe, especially by establishing asylum processing centres" within African countries. The 'Process' foresees, amongst other things, the enhancement of law enforcement powers and border controls in east African states.

EU-TURKEY: Draft Action Plan: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq (6.10.15, pdf): Note it is a "Draft":

"The Action Plan identifies a series of collaborative actions to be implemented as a matter of urgency by the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Turkey with he objective to assist Turkey in managing the situation of massive influx of refugees and preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU....

Prevent further arrivals of irregular migrants to Turkey and irregular departures of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the EU...

Ensure prompt return to the point of origin of irregular migrants who are not in need of international protection and who were apprehended by the law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States or Turkey and support the reintegration of returnees to the countries of origin....

Support Turkey to strengthen its capacity to combat migrant smuggling, notably by reinforcing the Turkish Coast Guard patrolling and surveillance capacity...

The implementation of the Action Plan is set to start immediately; it will be jointly steered and monitored by the European Commission and the High Representative / Vice President and the Turkish government through the establishment of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogue on migration."

and Press release (pdf)

And see: "“The contents of this are not agreed,” said the Turkish official, who insisted the plan represented a European wishlist. “We see it differently from the EU. The EU is in a crisis and it wants things done very quickly. We don’t have the same urgency. And it’s basically money and nothing else that they are offering.” (Guardian, link)

European Parliament study: EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of EU funding and agencies in the field of migration,asylum and integration. It begins with a brief assessment of their effectiveness and efficiency before examining whether the design of management, budgeting and control systems is effective in preventing the misuse of resources. The study illustrates good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations on how to achieve greater transparency in the implementation of future EU funding programmes."

News (7.10.15)

Europe will end if it's not united, Hollande warns (The Local.fr, link): "In an historic speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday French President Francois Hollande warned of the "end of Europe" if EU member states failed to remain united to tackle a number of crises...."I acknowledge that Europe was slow in understanding that tragedy in the Middle East or Africa could not but have consequences for Europe itself," he said." and EU refugee rules are 'obsolete': Merkel (The Local.de, link)

Denmark eyes series of immigration law changes (The Local.dk, link): "The government has released an overview of 182 law proposals it hopes to pass this session and a large number of them focus on foreigners in Denmark. "

GUE/NGL MEPs on Turkey: We need to help refugees, but not Erdogan (GUE, press release, link)

Migrant crisis: EU to begin seizing smugglers' boats (BBC News, link)

CCC campaigns to provide Internet access to refugees in Germany (EDRI, link): "German EDRi member Chaos Computer Club (CCC), along with free network associations Freifunk Berlin and the Förderverein freie Netzwerke, is running a fundraising campaign in support of the non-profit organisation Refugees Emancipation (RE). The project, initiated by asylum-seekers, aims to prevent the isolation and enhance the connectivity of refugees in Germany by enabling their access to the Internet. To do this, RE has established several self-organised Internet cafés and offers computer courses in refugee accommodations."

Hungarian Roma regularly prevented from boarding Canada-bound flights (cbbcnews, link): "Air Transat, CBSA wouldn't comment on specific cases but advocate suspects Canada wants to curb refugee claims"

My Escape From Syria: Europe or Die (VICE, link) with video: "Syria's brutal civil war has created hundreds of thousands of refugees, civilians who have been forced to leave everything behind at home and travel in search of a new life in Europe. Ismail, 25, filmed his journey to Germany with 19-year-old Naeem, capturing the most dangerous parts of a perilous trip, including the boat crossing from Turkey to Greece where hundreds of refugees have died this year. In this exclusive footage, VICE News gives an insight into a desperate trek, as Ismail and Naeem give first-hand accounts of their journey, the life they left behind, and their hopes for the future."

IOM figures 6 October (link): "Mediterranean arrivals now stands at 557,899 – virtually double 2014’s full-year total of 219,000 migrants... 421,341 to Greece."

Refugee ‘hotspots’ to be operational within 15 days, EC says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece’s refugee “hotspot” centers will be operational within the next fifteen days, the European Commission has said. During comments made Wednesday, the EU executive’s deputy chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva also said that Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker had spoken on the telephone with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann who called for additional staff and experts to assist the bloc's border agency Frontex." and First migrant hot-spots in Greece to be ready in two weeks, EU Commission's Andreeva says (amna.gr, link)

EU to crack down on people refused asylum (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union countries are set to agree a crackdown on migrants refused entry into the bloc and move to swiftly send them home. More than 500,000 people have arrived this year seeking sanctuary or jobs, sparking the EUs biggest refugee emergency in decades. But some 40 percent of people who fail to obtain asylum or residency in the 28-nation EU over the past several years have been sent home. EU interior ministers will agree on Thursday that “all measures must be taken to ensure irregular migrants' effective return”

Roberta Metsola: EU leaders must show more responsibility in dealing with refugee crisis (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link)

Majority of German people want border control (New Europe, link)

Romania Withdraws Bid to Join Schengen Area (Balkan Insight, link): "Romania has abandoned hope of being invited to join the passport-free Schengen zone on Thursday, as it became clear that Bulgarian and Romanian admission is on hold"

EU starts military operation against ‘mafia of the sea’ (euractiv, link): "A military operation to catch migrant traffickers begins today (7 October), with European warships patrolling international waters in the Mediterranean to arrest smugglers dubbed the "mafia of the sea". The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced last month that EUNAVFOR MED, an operation launched to dismantle the network of smugglers abetting the migrant boat crisis, was to enter its second phase."

Commission details offer to Turkey to tackle refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "The EU has offered Turkey a plan under which it would resettle more refugees, but only if Ankara establishes new camps and boosts its coastguard to slow the flow of people to Europe, officials said on Tuesday (6 October)."

EU wants ‘stepped up’ action on migrants - New plan promises greater resettlement effort on asylum seekers in Turkey.(Politico, link): "New plan promises greater resettlement effort on asylum seekers in Turkey."

German anti-immigrant protests revive — and radicalize - “Lying” media targeted in weekly protests centered on Dresden (Politico, link)

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: RETURNS POLICY: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015. Includes:

"The visa regime in Turkey was a source of concern for many delegations. Both Egypt and Algeria have introduced visa requirements for Syrian nationals. Turkey maintained visa-free travel, which has been identified as a source of concern. Turkey had the capacity to act as a significant transit point for migrants from the wider Middle East-North Africa region: migrants may legally enter Turkey but then illegally enter the EU. Along with Syrians, Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan, Georgian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iranian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Turkey." and

"The Council invites the Commission and the EEAS, and the Member States, in particular through their representations outside the EU, in close cooperation with the liaison officers mentioned in paragraph 9, to promote the EU laissez-passer (standard travel document for the expulsion of third-country nationals) which should become the travel document commonly accepted for return purposes by third-countries. Moreover, Member States commit to using more regularly the EU laissez-passer in return operations." (Point 14, emphasis added])

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The Commission and the Council have never understood that refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws.

This is compounded by the Council is relying on 1994 Recommendations as the legal basis for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

The returns policy proposed is not going to work. There are currently 17 readmission agreements in place and national lists of "safe countries of origin". Very few of the refugees who have arrived in the EU come from either list of countries - with the exception of Turkey which has a readmission agreement and it cannot be seriously expected that Turkey - a transit country- would accept the return hundreds of thousands of refugees."

Currently 17 readmission agreements (link) are in force with the following countries: Hong Kong, Macao, Sri Lanka, Albania, Russia, Ukraine, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, Pakistan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Cape Verde and the "safe countries of origin" list (pdf) to which people can be returned. Very few of the refugees who have arrived in the EU come from either lists of countries - with the exception of Turkey which has a readmission agreement and it cannot be seriously proposed to return refugees there - only Bulgaria has Turkey on its list of "sate countries of origin. The Council of the European Union is proposing that Turkey be included - the European Parliament is opposed to this move. To return refguees to many African countries the EU has to rely on the controversial Article 13 in the Cotonou Agreement which " commits all participating States to readmit their own nationals without further formalities."

European Parliament failure to bring proceedings against Hungary: "According to internal European Parliament emails seen by Playbook (Politico), the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, chaired by Claude Moraes from U.K. Labour, has rejected a request by the Liberal faction ALDE group supported by Greens, far-left parties and Italy’s Five Star Movement to trrigger an “Article 7.1 procedure” against Hungary for its behavior towards refugees. The move was blocked by the two big parties, who instead put to a vote a Socialist proposal to request that the Commission follow through on a June request that it “present a proposal to establish an EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.”

News (6.10.15)

The CJEU’s Ruling in Celaj: Criminal penalties, entry bans and the Returns Directive (EU Law Analysis, link)

President Erdogan shames EU with Turkish stance on Syrian refugee crisis - Mr Erdogan wants to solve the refugee crisis by training the Syrian opposition, declaring a safe zone along the border in northern Syria, and creating a no-fly zone (Independent, link)

How the EU migration crisis will transform border security (defenceiq.com, link): " “I have never seen anything like this in my 40 years of border management,” says Tony Smith CBE, Former Director of the UK Border Force and now CEO at Fortinus Global. He is talking about the wave of migration hitting European soil as millions continue to flee war-torn Syria and North Africa in an exclusive interview"

Erdogan tells EU: Act in Syria, or get ready to accept more refugees (euractiv, link): ""The root cause of the refugee crisis today is the war in Syria," Erdogan told reporters following a series of meetings in Brussels with top EU officials. He called on the EU to do more to train rebels, set up a protected zone inside northern Syria, and enforce a no-fly zone to Assad's aerial attacks on civilians. The European Union, meanwhile, said Turkey must do more to stop the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have landed on its shores in the worst such crisis since World War II."

Turkey warns 3 mln more refugees may be headed to EU from Syria (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey has warned the European Union that 3 million more refugees could flee fighting in Syria as the EU struggles to manage its biggest migration emergency in decades. Around 2 million refugees from Syria are currently in Turkey, and tens of thousands of others have entered the EU via Greece this year, overwhelming coast guards and reception facilities."

EU seeks to contain migration flows, relocation program set for launch (ekathimerini.com, link): "According to sources, an estimated 600 staff will be posted across Greece’s “hotspots.” Operating under the Poseidon umbrella, these centers will help register and fingerprint new arrivals and start the process of relocating Syrians and others likely to be granted refugee status in other EU states. Meanwhile, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), an EU agency, called for 374 additional experts to be deployed in Greece and Italy to support asylum procedures in the two countries."

Tricky talks with Erdogan in Brussels (DW, link): "The EU is turning to Turkey for help with the refugee crisis. The political price is likely to be high, though, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the opportunity for his own ends. Barbara Wesel reports."

EU: Council of the European Union: The future management of the EU's external borders (LIMITE doc no: 12541-15, pdf):

"How can the collective responsibility of Member States and Frontex evolve, e.g. for ensuring a better and at times compulsory allocation of border guards and equipment from low risk areas to those most affected by illegal migration?" [emphasis added]

Moria camp on Lesbos: Registration chaos, police violence, hunger, thirst and sleeping rough (w2eu.net. link):

"In the first days of October 2015 Moria has become for one more time a nightmare to refugees and activists alike even though registration procedures have been speeded up since September. Anyhow, the system changes every day with no one knowing how to actually get documents. The despair of the people arriving wet from the coasts, staying outside in the cold without shelter, food or water, medication and without any information on what to do – specifically in the nights – is creating anxiousness and stress....

While many refugees are pushing to enter and get registered, riot police is controlling the gates with clubs and tear gas by force. Moria officially includes since a few weeks a First Reception Center (FRC) and a Pre-removal center. The different sections just look alike though."

EU: Council of the European Union: Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoðan (5.10.15, pdf):

"It is indisputable that Europe has to manage its borders better. We expect Turkey to do the same....

Turkey needs to be equally ready to act. The situation where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to the EU via Turkey must be stopped. And we cannot do it on our own, we need the Turkish side. Strengthened cooperation will benefit both sides. Europe wants a real solution to this very real crisis."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: Background Note (9 pages, pdf) Including "returns" policy.

The Humanitarian Caste System? (IRIN, link): "Syrians collect their registration papers from the Greek authorities at Kara Tepe camp. Queues here are calm and well managed... The difference? Kara Tepe is for Syrians only. Everyone else must go to Moria... At Moria camp, Greek riot police push back non Syrian refugees from the barbed wire surrounding the registration centre. Here, people wait for hours in the hot sun before they can complete papers... "

EU: TURKEY: EU Action on Migratory Pressures - targeted update and the outcome of discussion on Turkey (LIMITE doc no: 9491-15, 15 pages, pdf):

"Turkey had the capacity to act as a significant transit point for migrants from the wider Middle East-North Africa region: migrants may legally enter Turkey but then illegally enter the EU. Along with Syrians, Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan, Georgian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iranian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Turkey."

EU and Turkey to discuss plan to stem flow of migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet with Juncker on Monday.

A spokesman for the European Commission said the meeting was "precisely about seeing how to step up cooperation to jointly tackle the refugee crisis" and said any new announcements would be made at a news conference on Monday.

Asked about the newspaper report, a spokeswoman for the German government said Merkel, Juncker and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann had held a phone call on Wednesday but she declined to comment on the content of their discussion."

See also: Erdogan brings Turkish election campaign to Strasbourg, Brussels (euractiv, link): "Supporters and foes gathered in Strasbourg on Sunday (4 October) on the occasion of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has apparently turned his European tour into part of his election campaign..... The European Commission and Turkey have agreed on a plan to stem the flow of refugees to Europe by patrolling Turkey's frontier with Greece and setting up new camps, a newspaper cited sources in the Commission and the German government as saying yesterday.... However a senior EU official involved in the negotiations with Turkey told Reuters that the newspaper report went beyond what was currently under discussion between Brussels and Ankara. "It's a bit exaggerated," he said."

and EU and Turkey have struck plan to stem flow of migrants - newspaper (Reuters, link)

News (5.10.15)

Refugee centre daubed with swastikas (The Local.at, link): "A refugee centre in Hohenems, Vorarlberg, has been defaced with red graffiti - including swastikas and the words “stop the asylum flood”. The wall of the building in Erlachstrasse was defaced sometime during Saturday night, police said. A second building in Bahnhofstrasse was also daubed with similar graffiti."

501 illegal immigrants detained in Bulgaria (standartnews.com, link): "501 illegal immigrants were detained in Bulgaria in a joint operation of the MI, NSA and prosecution, said Interior Ministry Secretary in Chief Georgi Kostov and senior representatives of the Prosecutor's Office and the National Security Agency at a press conference today, announced Nova TV."

Danes donate record amount to Red Cross (The Local.dk, link)

Erdogan harangues EU at Strasbourg rally (euobserver, link): "Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “crush” Kurdish “terrorists” and harangued the EU over its handling of the migrant crisis at two rallies."

Germany: Report: Up to 1.5 million refugee arrivals in 2015 (The Local.de, link): "Authorities believe that up to 1.5 million refugees could arrive in Germany in 2015, according to an internal government document seen by Bild."

Minister: Detention centres for migrants must improve (Prague Monitor, plink): "The conditions in the Czech detention centres for migrants must markedly improve as these facilities are even worse than prisons in some aspects, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (for ANO) told public Czech Television (CT) Sunday. "The migrants do not stay in the facilities as punishment. They only committed an offence according to our law," Pelikan said."

EU and Turkey 'agree on refugee plan' (The Local.fr, link): "The European Union and Turkey have agreed in principle to a plan of action to help ease the flow of migrants into the bloc, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.... Under the plan, Turkey would agree to stepped-up efforts to secure its frontier with the EU by taking part in joint patrols with the Greek coastguard in the eastern Aegean coordinated by EU border protection agency Frontex, the report said.

Any migrants picked up would be taken back to Turkey, where six new camps for up to two million people would be built, co-financed by the EU."

Frontex asks for 775 border guards - refugees to be "nationality" screened (link):

"This is the largest number of border guards Frontex has ever requested in the history of the agency. The officers are to assist mainly Italy and Greece in the registration and identification of migrants coming from Libya and Turkey.

“Since the beginning of this year over 470 000 migrants arrived in Greece and Italy alone. No country can possibly handle such high migratory pressure at its borders by itself. It is crucial that all those arriving in the EU are properly registered and identified,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

Frontex requested 670 officers – mainly screeners, debriefers and interpreters to be deployed in Italy and Greece, in addition to 105 officers to be deployed at various external land borders of the European Union.

The screening officers play a key role in helping authorities to determine the nationality of the incoming migrants in order to identify and register them. Debriefers gather information about the activities of smuggling networks." [emphasis added]

Frontex "Screening officers" will be carrying out "nationality screening" (Frontex in European Parliament hearing on 23 September 2015), followed by registration and fingerprinting after which refugees will be divided into two groups, those destined for "return" to their country of origin to be held in closed camps and those to be relocated in the EU through asylum procedures in open camps.

Refugee sea arrivals in Greece this year approach 400,000 (UNHCR, link):

"ATHENS, Greece, October 2 (UNHCR) -- The UN refugee agency said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015. With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that the continuing high rate of arrivals underlines the need for a fast implementation of Europe's relocation programme, jointly with the establishment of robust facilities to receive, assist, register and screen all people arriving by sea. "These are steps needed for stabilizing the crisis," he said.

As of this morning, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea since the beginning of the year, more than 153,000 of them in September alone. The nine-month 2015 total compares to 43,500 such arrivals in Greece in all of 2014. Ninety-seven per cent are from the world's top 10 refugee-producing countries, led by Syria (70 per cent), Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Iraq (4 per cent)."

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 08-09/10/2015 (pdf):

"The Council will have a discussion on the future management of EU external borders and of the return policy. On the latter the Council is expected to adopt conclusions.... Ministers will also take note of a progress report on a directive on the use of passenger name record data (PNR) for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime....

Mixed committee: Under the visa policy, ministers will hold a policy debate and will take stock of work regarding a regulation on the Union code on visas (recast) and a regulation establishing a touring visa. As for the future of the return policy, they will discuss a Commission communication concerning an EU action plan on return, and a Commission recommendation establishing a common 'return handbook' to be used by member states' competent authorities when carrying out return related tasks. [emphasis added]

News (3-4,10.15)

Massive rally shows support for refugees (The Local.at, lkink): "A rally in support of migrants fleeing the Syrian conflict and other hardships drew tens of thousands to Vienna on Saturday, organisers and police said. Austria has been a key transit point for many refugees reaching eastern Europe, and organisers said their bid to show public solidarity drew some 60,000 into the capital's streets."

Let's Not Militarize the Refugee Crisis in Croatia (liberties.eu, link): "The Croatian president's announcement to raise the degree of readiness of the Croatian Army ahead of the UN Security Council session is an unnecessary and insensitive response to the migrant crisis."

Europe Begins at Lampedusa: Remembering the Tragedy of October 3 (liberties.eu, link): "Two years have passed from the tragic Lampedusa shipwreck stunned the world. Today more than ever, it is important to remember why we need to protect people, not borders."

Croatia President to Meet Orban to Defuse Crisis (Balkaninsight, link): "Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic will visit Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss the refugee crisis and the disputes that have damaged relations"

Refugee crisis: Greece finds a legacy for its Olympics by housing refugees in empty stadiums (The Independent, link): " Residents on Lesbos say the first Syriza government, which took power in January, did nothing about the refugees flooding through... "  and Athens has space but no cash to host migrants, officials say (ekathimerini.com, link): "As thousands of migrants and refugees continue to stream into Greece from Turkey, despite the worsening weather, authorities in Athens, where most of the new arrivals end up, say they lack the funding to host them all. Although there are several venues that could be transformed into temporary accommodation, there is no money for such projects, local authorities say."

Sweden: Funding questioned as refugee numbers rocket (The Local.se, link): "Sweden's government has promised to boost funding for refugees in its next budget, but with its forecast for new arrival numbers in 2015 set to be reached this month, official calculations are being called into question.... According to official statistics quoted by the TT news agency, 73,000 people had applied for asylum in Sweden by the end of September, close to the 74,000 expected in the country in the whole of 2015."

Vienna demo and concert in support of refugees (The Local.at, link): "A demonstration and concert to show solidarity for refugees is taking place in Vienna on Saturday - with tens of thousands of people expected to attend."

Minister: Abuse of fear of migrants is dangerous (praguepost.com/czech-news, link): "Jirí Dienstbier praises Angela Merkel for her approach... Abusing people's fear of migrants and Muslims in the political struggle is very dangerous mainly for mainstream parties most of which are moderate, Jirí Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD), Czech human rights and equal opportunities minister, told Czech journalists today. He said such procedure only plays into the hands of extremist groupings and it consequently turns against the mainstream parties."

Czech government prepares for tight-border security scenario (Radio Praha, link): "The Czech government on Wednesday approved a bill on state border protection which would enable the Interior Ministry to order the imposition of border checks in the event of a serious security threat to the country. Meanwhile, the army and police have been undertaking a joint training exercise along the Czech-Austrian border to prepare for such an emergency."

Refugee crisis puts Athens on the brink (DW, link): "The flow of refugees through Greece is greater than ever, but bad weather and border closures threaten to strand thousands and stretch coping mechanisms beyond control. Pavlos Zafiropoulos reports from Athens."

Refugee sea arrivals in Greece this year approach 400,000 (UNHCR, link): "The UN refugee agency said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015. With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000. As of this morning, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea since the beginning of the year, more than 153,000 of them in September alone. The nine-month 2015 total compares to 43,500 such arrivals in Greece in all of 2014. Ninety-seven per cent are from the world's top 10 refugee-producing countries, led by Syria (70 per cent), Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Iraq (4 per cent)."

Calais refugee camp conditions diabolical, says report (Guardian, link): "First study of conditions at camp known as the Jungle finds an ‘absolutely abject situation’, with ‘harmful levels of bacteria and appalling hygiene’"

Germany: Viktor Orbán, Bavaria’s hardline hero - Berlin seethed with anger, calling the visit a ‘backstabbing’ by Merkel’s allies.(Politico, link): "Angela Merkel’s conservative Bavarian allies fêted hardline Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán as the guardian of the EU’s external borders — a direct rebuke of the chancellor and her refugee policy."

EU hopes Turkey summit to ease migrant crisis (euobserver, link)

Nordic states fret over migrant threat to borders (The Local.dk, link): "Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in Copenhagen on Saturday said she feared for Europe's borderless Schengen zone and urged countries to shore up their external frontiers in the face of the migrant crisis.".

EU: Austria and Slovenia prolong border controls

Border controls reintroduced in central Europe in response to the refugee crisis are set to continue until at least the middle of October. Austria has announced its intention to "continue to temporarily position adequate police forces at the border crossings initially with Hungary and Slovenia," and "if necessary... with other neighbouring states." Slovenia is also prolonging controls on its border with Hungary.

FRONTEX & FORCED RETURNS: Decision of the European Ombudsman closing her own-initiative inquiry OI/9/2014/MHZ concerning the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) (May 2015)

and see: Closing Summary: Proposals to improve the monitoring of Frontex Joint Return Operations (link):"Frontex needs to enhance the transparency of its JRO work, amend its Code of Conduct in areas such as medical examinations and the use of force, and engage more with the Member States. Frontex must do all in its power to promote independent and effective monitoring of JROs." and Ombudsman: How Frontex can ensure respect for migrants’ fundamental rights during "forced returns" (link):: "She calls on the agency to ensure that families with children and pregnant women are seated separately from other returnees. Frontex should also promote common rules on the use of restraint, publish more information on JROs, including monitors' reports, and require the Member States to improve complaints procedures. The Ombudsman continues to be unhappy with the refusal of Frontex to establish its own complaints mechanism."

News (2.10.15)

Italy: Sicily ‘hotspot’ to be prison-like centre (euractiv, link): "It will be one of Italy's brand new hotspots for identifying newly-arrived migrants -- but as the Pozzallo reception centre in Sicily prepares its fingerprinting kits, the EU-led plan for these facilities is still plagued with unresolved issues... When Pozzallo becomes an official hotspot at the end of November, new arrivals will instead be obliged to provide their fingerprints as part of an asylum request, or be taken to a detention centre to await expulsion from Italy. The hotspots will be closed-door centres, sharply reducing the chance that people can flee and head north off their own backs. Those very likely to win refugee status -- Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis -- will be fast-tracked and taken to a separate centre, where they will be divided up and distributed to other countries within the European Union.... What will happen if Syrian or Eritrean nationals refuse to give their fingerprints, seeing as they cannot be expelled? Would they be kept in a detention centre until they change their minds?." See also: Centro accoglienza Pozzallo primo hotspot in Italia (corrierediragusa.it, link). And: Italy's migrant 'hotspots' face tough tests (The Local.it, link): "It will be one of Italy's brand new "hotspots" for identifying newly-arrived migrants - but as the Pozzallo reception centre in Sicily prepares its fingerprinting kits, the EU-led plan for these facilities is still plagued with unresolved issues."

Italy to relocate asylum seekers 'in coming days' (euobserver, link): "“Hopefully the plan is to start with the relocation process in the coming days”, a spokesperson from the European support asylum office (EASO) told this website on Wednesday (30 September).. The Malta-based agency says the receiving member states have already been identified but would not disclose which because the process “is ongoing.”

40 years a refugee: From Western Sahara to CPH (The Local.dk, link): "November will mark forty years since Morocco invaded and colonized Western Sahara, today Africa’s last colony. Abba Malainin was only a child when he had to flee the war by foot through the desert to Algeria, to refugee camps where his family and thousands of other refugees still live today."

UNHCR says weather causes lull in refugee arrivals in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "The number of migrants and refugees arriving on Greece's shores has fallen this week due to poor weather but the flow will pick up again if the weather improves, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday."

CDRE Crise des réfugiés : les propositions de la Commission concernant la politique de retour de l’UE [CDRE Refugee Crisis: the Commission's proposals for the EU return policy] (EASFJ, link)

EU: Commission wants member states to criminalise hate speech (euractiv, link)

Austria: Tensions in government as refugee crisis bites (The Local.at, link): "Tensions within Austria's government, stoked by the refugee crisis, burst into the open on Thursday as the head of the conservative People's Party threatened to scupper the ruling coalition after less than two years in office."

Commission: Most Muslims not a threat to Europe (euobserver, link)

Norway child champion calls for refugee camps (The Local.no, link): "Norway's children's ombudsman has called for the country to set up refugee camps, as the present poor level of refugee reception is actively harming child asylum seekers."

Swiss bunkers 'could house 50,000 refugees' (The Local.ch, link): "Switzerland's network of nuclear bunkers could house up to 50,000 refugees in an emergency situation, the country’s defence minister said on Thursday. Around one third of the capacity of the country’s emergency public bunkers is fully operational, meaning 50,000 asylum seekers could be given temporary shelter, defence minister Ueli Maurer said."

Czech Republic: MPs reject idea of permanent refugee relocation quotas (Prague Monitor, link): "The Czech Chamber of Deputies rejected yesterday the idea of a permanent mechanism of refugee relocation among the EU states and backed measures aimed to improve the protection of the EU's outer border, the readmission of migrants without the right to asylum and crackdowns on people smugglers."

Don't let Muslim migrants in, says Bulgaria's Orthodox Church (standartnews.com, link): "Bulgaria's Orthodox Church has called on its government not to let any more Muslim refugees into the country to prevent an "invasion"."

Bulgarian MPs to Vote on Migration Law Amendments (novinite.com, link): "Lawmakers in Bulgaria's Parliament are due to hold a final vote on amendments to current legislation on migrants. The move will introduce the notion of "international protection" which adds the terms of "refugee status" and "humanitarian status" in a way conforming Bulgarian legislation to common EU rules."

Germany Urges International Community To Solve Refugee Crisis - "The world has become smaller but the crises are no fewer" (Huffington Post, link): ". UNITED NATIONS -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country has spearheaded Europe's response to its ongoing refugee crisis, demanded in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that the international community "crawl out of [its] diplomatic trenches" to provide help for those seeking refuge."

Convicted foreigners may lose residence permit (Prague Post, link): "Lower house passes tougher rules, NGOs urge Senate not to follow suit - Foreigners who will be sentenced to more than three years in prison over a deliberate crime or who were repeatedly convicted will have their residence permit cancelled, the Czech Chamber of Deputies decided today.However, the lower house has refused to order the courts to expel the repeat criminals from the ranks of foreigners directly. The legislation is yet to be passed by the Senate and signed by President Miloš Zeman. The NGOs helping migrants have criticized the toughened rules and asked the lawmakers not to back them. “The proposals are to avoid the evaluation of the adequacy and to cancel the stays and expel automatically,” Pavel Cižinský, from the consortium of NGOs working with migrants, said recently."

"WORDS MATTER": Patrick Stewart and other celebs point out 2 words people keep confusing about the refugee crisis. (upworthy.com, link): "Bottom line: It's important that when we're talking about refugees, we say "refugees" and when we're talking about migrants, we say "migrants." Their needs are different and helping them requires different approaches."

Asylum seekers to leave Italy 'within days' (The Local.it, link): "A plan to move 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to elsewhere in the EU, including Estonia, Luxembourg and Sweden, will get underway “within days”, Ansa reported on Friday.... Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on Wednesday that 130,000 migrants had arrived in Italy since the start of the year, 8,000 less than during the same period last year. Most of the people had arrived by boat from Libya, with the majority being from Eritrea. Some 98,000 are currently housed in state-run refugee centres."

Italy's migrant 'hotspots' face tough tests (The Local.it, link): "When Pozzallo becomes an official "hotspot" at the end of November, new arrivals will instead be obliged to provide their fingerprints as part of an asylum request, or be taken to a detention centre to await expulsion from Italy. The hotspots will be closed-door centres, sharply reducing the chance that people can flee and head north off their own backs. Those very likely to win refugee status - Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis - will be fast-tracked and taken to a separate centre, where they will be divided up and distributed to other countries within the European Union.."

EU: What is the role of "hotspots"?: A European Commission official told the parliament's LIBE (Civil Liberties) Committee this morning (Thursday) that the 'hotspots' concept would mean:

"People may be placed in closed centres for the return procedure
- For relocation people will be the possibility of centres - which are open to a degree are necessary
- Attempts will be made to convince them to stay in the reception centre in order to be resettled
- Centres: Hotspots for relocation would be open centers and closed centres for returns"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"How many people are going to be forced to "return" and held in closed camps? The pre-screening process will be carried out by Frontex and member state officals who will decide who is to be "returned" - prior to them being allowed to make an asylum application. Will refugees being vetted for return have interpreters and lawyers to help and represent them? And is there a right of appeal?"

And see ‘Hotspots’ for asylum applications: some things we urgently need to know (EU Law Analysis, link)

Where will "hotspots be? In Lampedusa and Catania in Italy and in Greece in Piraeus, a port in Athens and Lesvos.

CoE: Anti-immigrant sentiment was rising in Germany before refugee influx: Council of Europe committee on national minorities (Press release, link):

"Before the recent flow of refugees from war-torn Syria and other parts of the Middle East and Africa entered Germany, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments and attacks against asylum seekers had been on the rise already, according to a new opinion by the Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). Adopted in March – but released today with a first reaction on the findings from the German government – the Advisory Committee opinion assessed data from 2010 to 2015, noting increased anti-Muslim sentiment and negative attitudes towards immigrants and asylum-seekers. It criticizes marches attended by thousands of persons, under the banner “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West” (“Pegida”, in its German acronym), for example.

Despite these developments, the Advisory Committee praises the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency for its “considerable efforts” to raise awareness of anti-discrimination legislation in place. The Advisory Committee calls on Germany to stop the practice of ethnic profiling and take steps to build trust between persons belonging to minorities and the police. It recommends ensuring that racist elements of criminal offences are systematically taken into account by law enforcement." [emphasis added]

See: ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES: Fourth Opinion on Germany adopted on 19 March 2015 (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

European rights body concerned over rising racism in Germany (DW, link): "The Council of Europe has said reports of rising racism against Muslims and refugees in Germany are concerning. However, the human rights body also noted that protection for minority rights is high." and Rising racism worries Council of Europe (The Local.de, link)

Council of the European Union: Eastern Mediterranean - Western Balkans route conference, 08/10/2015 (link)

News (1.10.15)

The Roots of Europe’s Refugee Crisis (carnegieeurope.eu, link): "At the analytical level, Europe was not unprepared for the large stream of refugees that developed into a trek of biblical proportions over the summer. Experts from various policy fields (migration, security, development, the environment) had frequently warned about the risk of unchanneled mass migration toward Europe. But politically, the EU was completely unprepared. Knowledge did not translate into action." [emphasis added]

Cyprus: OPINION: Why migrants try to avoid this EU country (ewn.co.za, link): "Tania Karas says Cyprus’ asylum policies are the main reason migrants shun that country. Nine months after Fadi, a refugee from Homs, Syria, landed in Cyprus on a boat carrying some 340 smuggled refugees, he still had not applied for asylum. He chose instead to attempt to reach mainland Europe by any means possible. Fadi’s reluctance to plant roots in Cyprus, the European Union country closest to Syria, stems from Cyprus’ policy preventing most of those granted asylum from bringing their family members to join them."

Ban call UN nations to share the responsibility of accepting refugees (http://neurope.eu, link): "The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stressed the need for responsibility sharing among nations, calling on states to “significantly boost” the number of refugee resettlement places and to “share equitably in this effort.”

Hungary government criticised for hyping fear of refugees, Muslims (Sofia Globe, link): "Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban raised eyebrows when he said refugees and migrants flooding through the country are a potential threat to Europe’s Christian values. Most of them are Muslim and fleeing war and poverty in Asia and the Middle East. The comments ruffled Hungary’s Muslim minority."

Czech police deploy to Austrian border (The Local.at, link): "Five hundred police officers and 300 soldiers held drills along the Czech border with Austria on Wednesday as Prague mulled reintroducing border checks in case of a wave of migrant arrivals."

Italy to relocate asylum seekers 'in coming days' (euobserver, link): "The relocation of asylum seekers from Sicily in Italy to other member states could start before the end of the week.“Hopefully the plan is to start with the relocation process in the coming days”, a spokesperson from the European support asylum office (EASO) told this website on Wednesday (30 September)."

East coast of Lesvos, Greece: The sea is starting to get a bit rough: Life Savers!!!!! (Eric Kempson, video, link)

Athens mayor calls for action as tensions rise at makeshift camp (ekathimerini.com, link): "The presence of hundreds of refugees and migrants in the capital’s squares continued to cause problems on Wednesday, with Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis calling for an immediate solution to the situation at Victoria Square, which has been turned into a makeshift refugee camp. A brawl broke out in the square on Wednesday night, reportedly between migrants and suspected people-smugglers. A group of local residents have called on shops to stay closed on Thursday in protest. Sources told Kathimerini that the group includes “extremists,” apparently referring to far-rightists who have staged protests in the area in the past."

Cold weather, new laws, harden EU refugee trail (euobserver, link): "Increasingly cold weather in Europe is making the already-perilous journey of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria and other troubled countries more difficult, as some EU states introduce stricter asylum measures to stem the flow of migrants.... After Germany scrapped some of the benefits for migrants on Tuesday, Finland said on Wednesday it has suspended decision-making on asylum claims by Iraqis and Somalis, indicating that some of the asylum requests were not based on persecution or on fleeing war. The Finnish Immigration Service also said it might tighten guidelines for asylum awards after completing an assessment of the situation in the next couple of weeks.... While sending refugees and migrants arriving from Croatia to Austria, Hungary is also making use of tough new laws to punish migrants for breaching its razor-wire fence on the border with Serbia. According to Reuters, in the 10 days since the new legislation took effect, courts ruled in 176 cases, sentencing migrants mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq to expulsion from Hungary back to Serbia. Nobody has been acquitted and only 10 cases were appealed."

Slovakia pushes ahead with legal action over EU refugee quotas (euractiv, link): "Slovkia agreed on Wednesday (30 September) to take legal action at the European Court of Justice against the EU plan to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers, Prime Minister Robert Fico said yesterday."

Bulgaria grateful to Turkey for stopping the migrants from entering the EU (standartnews.com, link): "The EU and Turkey are part of the solution to the refugee crisis. President Rosen Plevneliev and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rallied behind the idea during a bilateral meeting within the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York."

More Than 88 500 Migrants Enter Croatia in Two Weeks (novinite.com, link)

A bit late? New knowledge centre to help the EU minimise risk of disasters (EU Joint Research Centre, link)

Hungary: 'This is a creeping dictatorship' (DW, link): "Police in Hungary have allegedly beaten and detained foreign journalists covering the refugee crisis. DW spoke with leading Viktor Orban critic Kim Lane Scheppele, who says Hungary is becoming a police state."

Why the UN Meeting Is No Friend to Refugees (.telesurtv.net, link): "Resolving the refugee crisis requires understanding displacement and migration as central to anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles."

Refugee Crisis in Europe Prompts Western Engagement in Syria (NYT, link): "Suddenly, at the United Nations General Assembly this week, leaders of the world’s most powerful countries want to meet with him, all of them deeply worried about the refugee crisis.So what has changed? Well, nothing, Mr. Guterres said, “except refugees came to rich countries,” expanding the crisis from nations like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan to those in Europe."

Europe’s Migration Crisis in Context: Why Now and What Next? (MPI, link)

Walking with migrants: 'Arrested, nearly knifed, but I've made it as far as Serbia' (D.Telegraph, link) "A daily diary of migrants' stories as they travel from Greece to central Europe "

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Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.
© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.