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

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

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


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May 2018

EU-GERMANY: Germany's immigration offices lack technology to scan and compare asylum-seekers' fingerprints (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Officials at immigration and welfare offices attempting to identify asylum-seekers face serious difficulty ensuring people are not taking advantage of German social services, according to reports in Die Welt and the Nürnberger Nachrichten newspapers on Thursday.

A lack of fingerprint scanners at 200 of Germany's 494 immigration offices and all social service offices mean officials cannot use fingerprints to confirm people are not using multiple identities to apply for social benefits, the papers said, citing information from the Interior Ministry.

The immigration offices would receive the devices by September while job centers and other social service offices would be equipped with fingerprint scanners by the end of 2018, the Interior Ministry said."

Asylum Information Databse: Country Report: Greece (2017 update, pdf):

"29,718 persons arrived in Greece by sea in 2017, compared to 173,450 sea arrivals in 2016. The majority of those arrived in 2017 originated from Syria (42%), Iraq (20%) and Afghanistan (12%). More than half of the population were women (22%) and children (37%), while 41% were adult men.In addition, a total of 5,651 persons have been arrested at the Greek-Turkish land borders in 2017, compared to 3,300 persons during in 2016.

The Asylum Service registered 58,661 asylum applications in 2017. The number of applications submitted before the Asylum Service rose by 15%. Greece received the 8.5% of the total number of applications submitted in the EU, while it was the country with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita among EU Member States (5,295 first -time applicants per million population). In 2017, Syrians continue to be the largest group of applicants with 16,396 applications. A substantial increase of applications submitted from Turkish nationals was noted in 2017 (1,827 compared to 189 in 2016)."

EU-AFRICA: Niger: Europe’s Migration Laboratory (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The [European Union] has pushed for the mainstay of northern Niger’s economy to be criminalized but it remains wary of compensating the individuals and groups it has helped to brand as criminals. There is no precedent for demolishing an informal economy in one of the world’s poorest countries and replacing it with a formal model. Some 60 percent of Niger’s GDP comes from the informal sector, according to the World Bank.

As a senior government adviser put it, “When you slap a child you cannot ask it not to cry.”

According to an E.U. official who followed the program, “the law was imposed in a brutal way, without any prior consultation, in a process where the government of Niger was heavily pressured by the E.U., France and Germany, with a minimal consideration of the fact Nigerien security forces are involved in this traffic [of migrants].”"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-21.5.18) including: Frontex condemned for fundamental rights failings; Germany to open "mass holding centres" for asylum seekers; new EU proposals on Visa Information System and Immigration Liaison Officers
EU: Frontex condemned by its own fundamental rights body for failing to live up to obligations

Frontex, the EU's border agency, has been heavily criticised for failing to provide adequate staff and resources to its own Fundamental Rights Office, a problem that "seriously hinders the Agency's ability to deliver on its fundamental rights obligations."

Germany to roll out mass holding centres for asylum seekers (The Guardian, link):

"Mass holding centres that Germany’s interior ministry wants to roll out across the country will stoke social tension between locals and migrants and undermine the welcoming image the country has gained in the eyes of the world, aid organisations have said.

So-called anchor centres – an acronym for arrival, decision, return – are designed to speed up deportations of unsuccessful asylum seekers, by containing large groups of people and the authorities who rule on their claims inside the same holding facility.

Until now, Germany’s policy has been to embed new arrivals in communities across the country. But Angela Merkel’s government is seeking to reverse its strategy, as a populist backlash builds against the chancellor’s handling of the refugee crisis."

And see: German interior minister to keep migrants in asylum centers (Deutsche Welle, link): "Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is pressing ahead

PRESS RELEASE Last Rights Project announces the agreement and signing of the Mytilini Declaration (Lesvos, Greece, link) and:

"The Mytilini Declaration for the Dignified Treatment of all Missing and Deceased Persons and their Families as a Consequence of Migrant Journeys" (pdf):

"On the 11 May 2018, following two days of discussions between experts from across the world, the Mytilini Declaration was agreed. We believe this is a landmark in establishing the rights of and duties toward all those who experience suffering because of the death or disappearance of their loved ones as a result of migrant journeys and we now call upon all countries and international bodies to ensure that these rights are respected and that the standards contained in the Declaration are implemented as a matter of urgency."

The Greek language version can be found here.

Honouring Kamil: Disability and Migration - June 29th 2018 (poster, pdf):

Kamil Ahmad was a Disabled Kurdish man who came to Britain seeking sanctuary, having been imprisoned and tortured in Iraq.

He was murdered in Bristol on 7 July 2016.

Please join us at this event in Bristol, to honour Kamil, learn from Disabled asylum seekers and build a broader movement (evenbrite, link)

There is also a Crowd Funder page, to raise funds to cover costs of the event. Even if you can not attend, please consider sharing this message.

Refugees Deeply: When Refugees Lead: A Conversation With Wales’ Refugee Coalition Chair (link):

"As part of our series “When Refugees Lead,” we speak with Rocio Cifuentes, chair of the Welsh Refugee Coalition and director of the Ethnic Youth Support Team, whose family fled dictatorship in Chile when she was an infant."

EU: Court of Auditors says member states and Commission must improve integration policies: See Briefing (pdf)

Migrant unemployment declines in Sweden (New Europe, link):

"Sweden’s New Public Employment Service has revealed that migrant unemployment is falling, although it remains almost four times as high as the country’s average.

Unemployment among Swedish-born residents stands at 3.7%, whereas 20.5% of those born abroad remain without work. The drop was in part facilitated by subsidised employment programmes, funded by the public sector."

Italy's populists aim to challenge EU on debt and migrants (BBC News, link):

"Italy's two populist parties will try to reach a deal on forming a government after a leaked draft revealed plans to defy EU rules on migration and debt."

Some 2,500 children asked for asylum in Greece in 2017 (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Some 2,500 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Greece last year, around 8 percent of the total 31,400 child refugees who sought asylum in European Union countries in 2017.

Italy received a relatively large chunk of applications for asylum – more than 10,000, or 32 percent of the total – followed by Germany, with 9,100 applications (29 percent)."

EU: Immigration liaison officers network: Commission proposes EU-level coordination

The European Commission has proposed introducing EU-level coordination of the existing network of immigration liaison officers (ILOs), made up of some 500 national officials who work in non-EU countries to gather information and intelligence with the aim of "preventing and combating of illegal immigration, facilitating the return of illegal immigrants and managing legal migration."

EU: Commission: latest progress report on the European Agenda on Migration demands "vigilance and coordination across the board"

The Commission is today reporting on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and the Commission's roadmap from December 2017, and is setting out further key actions to be taken.

UK: New research reveals the human impact of Home Office asylum failures

New research by Refugee Action reveals Home Office failings, including long delays and poor decision-making, are having a devastating effect on people seeking safety in Britain.

EU-AFRICA: The new European border between Niger and Libya (Open Migration, link):

"The game for controlling what Marco Minniti defined “the southern border of Europe” to “be sealed” is still open. However, last year’s experience shows that focusing solely on control, while leaving aside the safety and well-being of communities living in northern Niger, especially in Fezzan, might prove counter-productive. For the people living in Fezzan, beaten by the conflict, for migrants, facing increasing risks, and – perhaps – for Europe itself in its attempt to contain migrations.

“We rebelled against Gaddafi but we have obtained nothing,” Joseph Moussa concludes, tens of cigarettes later, in an Agadez falling more silent by the minute. “Migrants are our sole currency: only when we find a new one we will stop transporting them.”"

EU: Visa Information System: proposal will "enhance internal security and improve border management" through interoperability and extended data collection

The Commission is today proposing to upgrade the Visa Information System (VIS), the database containing information on persons applying for Schengen visas, in order to better respond to evolving security and migratory challenges and improve the EU's external border management.

Ireland Says Welcome statement on the referendum on the 8th amendment: the impact of unwanted pregnancies on refugee, asylum-seeking and undocumented women

Ireland Says Welcome, in solidarity with refugee, undocumented and asylum seeking women in Ireland, wishes to draw attention to the situation of this group, who are easily forgotten in the upcoming referendum.

Greece changes asylum rules to fight camp overcrowding (ekathimerini, link)

"Greece’s parliament approved legislation Tuesday that is designed to speed up the asylum process for migrants, ease the overcrowding at Greek island refugee camps and to deport more people back to Turkey.

Under the new law, staff will be added at the office that handles asylum requests, the appeals process for rejected applications will be shortened and travel restrictions can be imposed on asylum-seekers who are moved from the Greek islands to the mainland.

Currently, restrictions on asylum-seekers are mostly limited to five islands near the coast of Turkey, where strained refugee camps are trying to cope with up to three times more residents than planned. More than 16,000 people are stuck there.

A group of 13 Greek human rights organizations, however, has accused the government of ignoring refugee rights."

Tensions with Turkey increase migration across Greece’s land borders (euractiv, link):

"Refugee flows through Greece’s land borders have started rising again, causing frustration among EU and Greek authorities. According to UNHCR data, in April alone 2,900 people entered Greece via land passages at the borders of Evros River, mainly families from Syria and Iraq.

Press reports say that increased migratory flows across the Evros are the result of the latest tensions in the Greek-Turkish relations."

UK: Capita staff used ‘excessive’ restraint on asylum seekers (Guardian, link):

"Damning report says staff used unnecessary force on low-risk detainees during removal flight.

Private contractors used excessive restraint on low-risk asylum seekers on a removal flight out of the UK, inspectors have revealed in a damning report.

Escort staff were led to believe by dire warnings during a staff briefing that they were dealing with a high-risk group, when the majority of passengers had no history of being disruptive, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said in a report."

The New EU Migration Fund Masks Deeper Questions over Policy Aims (MPI, link):

"The European Commission has proposed an 89.5 billion-euro fund to battle irregular migration by investing heavily in countries outside the European Union, but its plans raise deep questions about the bloc’s aims.

It is unclear what the extra money could achieve, and the ultimate aims of the policy remain obscure."

Refugees in Greece reflect on another year of waiting: More than 60,000 asylum seekers are stuck in Greece due to closed borders and the EU-Turkey accord on refugees. (aljazeera.com, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-14.5.18) including: Sudan's feared secret police aid European migration policy; the rise of 'hostile environments' for migrants; new report on externalisastion of EU borders
SPAIN: Migrants in Spain are dying after losing healthcare access (InfoMigrants, link):

"The mortality rate among undocumented migrants in Spain has risen by 15 percent since reforms denied access to free public healthcare, according to new research.

A public healthcare reform introduced by the Spanish government in 2012, which excluded illegal immigrants from access to public healthcare has caused an average 15 percent increase in the mortality rate among undocumented foreigners in Spain, a new study has said.

The research was jointly carried by the University of Barcelona's Economics Institute and the University Pompeu Fabra's Center for Research in Health and Economics (CRES). The study focused on analyzing any changes in mortality rates in the population residing in Spain between 2009 and 2015 compared to the previous period from 2009 to 2012. The research found that an additional 70 deaths per year were registered among undocumented migrants since the law was approved in 2012. The reforms were introduced by the conservative government led by the Partido Popular."

EU: Expanding the fortress: The policies, the profiteers and the people shaped by EU's border externalisation programme (TNI, link):

"The EU has made migration control a central goal of its foreign relations, rapidly expanding border externalisation measures that require neighbouring countries to act as Europe's border guards. This report examines 35 countries, prioritised by the EU, and finds authoritarian regimes emboldened to repress civil society, vulnerable refugees forced to turn to more dangerous and deadly routes, and European arms and security firms booming off the surge in funding for border security systems and technologies."

See: Europe's solution to migration is to outsource it to Africa (EUobserver, link)

EU: Punitive populism: The global rise of ‘hostile environments’ for migrants (Red Pepper, link) by Liz Fekete:

"The parameters of policies aimed at ‘aliens’ are set in the stone of social control. Immigrants can enjoy pathways to citizenship; but aliens, at every identity check or internal control, carry the border within them. Historically, aliens’ laws have reduced residency to a gesture of clemency, a temporary order of hospitality, rescindable at any point. The alternative history has been one of the integration of migrants through immigration policy, whereby they can access social rights, including social care for troubled youngsters at risk of marginality and crime. But now, switching the approach to treat juveniles from a migrant background as aliens ensures that those who ‘fall through the net’ and commit crimes will never be allowed to integrate. Punitive policies aimed at those deemed alien means that resources that were formerly allocated to social care, anti-discrimination and integration can be transferred into immigration enforcement, punishment, warehousing and banishment."

Council of the EU: EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia: operation to contribute to better information sharing on crime in the Mediterranean (press release, pdf)

"The Council today adopted a decision allowing for the creation of a crime information cell within EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. The information cell will be composed of up to 10 staff members from relevant law enforcement authorities of member states and from the EU agencies FRONTEX and EUROPOL in order to improve information sharing between them.

The cell will be tasked to facilitate the receipt, collection and transmission of information on human smuggling and trafficking, the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, illegal trafficking, as well as crimes relevant to the security of the operation itself."

See: Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project (Statewatch News Online, 29 November 2017)

The EU’s refugee crisis: Effective handling or botched up policy? (EurActiv, link):

"Dealing with the refugee crisis has proved to be an insurmountable task for Europe, due to the apparent lack of a coherent immigration policy and political indecisiveness. Europe’s cohesion comes out shaken as a result, EURACTIV.gr reports.

Poor reception infrastructure, and difficulties caused by a bureaucracy unable to meet the basic needs of the refugees have lead to overpopulation – and Aegean islands are a prime example. The direct outcome is an unprecedented emergency situation.


“As long as European countries arbitrarily replace their international obligations with volunteer humanitarian programs and do not establish safe passages to Europe for the people who need them, they still have responsibility for hundreds of dead people in the Mediterranean,” Takou said."

UK: Hostile Environments: The Politics of (Un)Belonging - public event at Tate Modern, London, 25 May 2018

Join us for an afternoon of collective imagining at the TATE Modern, Friday 25 May, 12:00-18:00

How does the creation of a hostile environment towards immigrants challenge the ways we create belonging, build communities and form solidarity? This symposium invites activists, practitioners, artists and academics to address the current hostile environment towards immigrants within and beyond the UK and Europe.

IRELAND: Asylum seekers waiting up to two years for decision, says UN (The Irish Times, link):

"Asylum seekers are being forced to wait an average of two years for a decision on their protection applications despite recommendations that the process be completed within 12 months, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned.

Retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon recommended in June 2015 that newly arrived asylum seekers receive a decision on their application within 12 months and that they be given the right to work after nine months. Nearly three years later, asylum seekers are waiting an average of 19 months for an interview at the Department of Justice, with the final decision likely to result in further delays. "

By Stifling Migration, Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Aid Europe (New York Times, link):

"At Sudan’s eastern border, Lt. Samih Omar led two patrol cars slowly over the rutted desert, past a cow’s carcass, before halting on the unmarked 2,000-mile route that thousands of East Africans follow each year in trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then onward to Europe.

His patrols along this border with Eritrea are helping Sudan crack down on one of the busiest passages on the European migration trail. Yet Lieutenant Omar is no simple border agent. He works for Sudan’s feared secret police, whose leaders are accused of war crimes — and, more recently, whose officers have been accused of torturing migrants.

Indirectly, he is also working for the interests of the European Union.

“Sometimes,” Lieutenant Omar said, “I feel this is Europe’s southern border.”"

UK: Government forced to stop making NHS give patient data to immigration officials for minor infractions (The Independent, link):

"The government has been forced into a climbdown over its use of NHS patient information for tracing minor immigration infractions, conceding the bar for breaching patient confidentiality “should be significantly higher”.

After years of pressure from doctors, MPs and charities, the government pledged to only seek patient data – which is handed to the Home Office by NHS Digital on request – in the event of serious crimes.

The concession comes after weeks of damaging revelations about the harm caused by Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy towards immigration offenders."

EXCLUSIVE: Niger sends Sudanese refugees back to Libya (IRIN, link):

"Niger has deported at least 132 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers back to Libya, drawing criticism that it is flouting international law by sending them back to dangerous and inhumane conditions from which they recently escaped.

The deportation, the first of asylum seekers from Niger’s migrant hub of Agadez, was confirmed by a high-ranking UN refugee agency (UNHCR) official, and later by an informed source in the Nigerien interior ministry who insisted those sent back were “criminals” fighting for militias in southern Libya. UNHCR put the number at 135, but the interior ministry said three people had escaped.

UNHCR said those deported were part of a group of around 160 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers arrested in Agadez on 2 May. The majority fled to Niger to escape harsh conditions and treatment in Libya and were receiving assistance from UNHCR."

EU: Budget proposals foresee big boost for spending on security, migration and border control

The European Commission has published proposals for the EU's budget for 2021-27, with significant increases foreseen in spending on internal security - with a proposal for a 180% boost compared to the 2014-20 period - and on migration and border management, with a 280% increase.


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.5.18)
EU: 87 European organisations call on Hungary to withdraw proposed laws targeting groups working with migrants and refugees (pdf):

"The new Hungarian parliament which will first assemble on 8 May is set to vote on draconian and regressive legislation which could arbitrarily restrict fundamental rights and freedoms of civil society. The proposed laws would further undermine and stigmatise organisations working to defend the human rights of migrants and refugees.

The treatment of our Hungarian members and partners and the laws being introduced to stifle civil society are deeply concerning. These will significantly limit their ability to carry out work independently, could ultimately lead to their closure and be damaging to the human rights of migrants and refugees. Such measures that penalise solidarity and support to migrants including asylum seekers and refugees should not be tolerated."

Mare Clausum: The Sea Watch vs Libyan Coast Guard Case: 6 November 2017 (Forensic Architecture, link):

"On 6 November 2017, the rescue NGO Sea Watch (SW) and a patrol vessel of the Libyan Coast Guard (LYCG) simultaneously directed themselves towards a migrants’ boat in distress in international waters. The boat, which had departed from Tripoli a few hours earlier, carried between 130 and 150 passengers. A confrontational rescue operation ensued, and while SW was eventually able to rescue and bring to safety in Italy 59 passengers, at least 20 people died before or during these events, while 47 passengers were ultimately pulled back to Libya, where several faced grave human rights violations – including being detained, beaten, and sold to an other captor who tortured them to extract ransom from their families. The unfolding of this incident has been reconstructed in a video by Forensic Oceanography in collaboration with Forensic Architecture.

To reconstruct the circumstances of this particular incident, however, Forensic Oceanography has produced a detailed written report which argues it is also necessary to understand the policies that shaped the behaviour of the actors involved, and the patterns of practices of which this event was only a particular instantiation."

See the report: Forensic Oceanography: Mare Clausum: Italy and the EU's undeclared operation to stem migration across the Mediterranean (link to pdf) and: Legal action against Italy over its coordination of Libyan Coast Guard pull-backs resulting in migrant deaths and abuse

GERMANY-LIBYA: Exclusive: Internal diplomatic report on "concentration camp-like" conditions in Libyan refugee camps (FragDenStaat, link):

"The EU is cooperating ever more closely with Libyan militias to prevent people from fleeing to Europe. A wire report published by the German Federal Foreign Office after our Freedom of Information request shows the conditions under which refugees have to live in Libya.

Seven years after the death of dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya is once again an important partner of the European Union. Although the country continues to be marked by internal power struggles, the EU's cooperation with the North African state is becoming ever closer. Italy, for example, recently decided to connect Libya to the Italian Navy's communication system.

Apparently, the European Union's asylum policy leads to refugees being deported to Libya in violation of international law. The German TV magazine Monitor, for example, states that "Libyan militias apparently have no inhibitions whatsoever to sacrifice human lives when it comes only to enforcing the European policy of isolation"."

See: NER-Migrationsknotenpunkt Agadez - Rückkehr aus der Hölle [Migration Hub Agadez - Return from Hell] (pdf) and: Libyan trafficking camps are hell for refugees, diplomats say (DW, link)

GERMANY: Security guard violence in the AEO Bamberg – state-sanctioned criminalisation and persecution of refugees (Culture of Deportation, link):

"The AEO Bamberg, a large reception and deportation camp in the state of Upper Franconia, Bavaria, is Germany’s flagship for refugee isolation. It faces now a scandal of systematic violence by private security guards against asylum seekers. We demand a thorough investigation to all the incidents.

We were alerted to these in the course of the ongoing support campaign for Kumba and Dia. The two Senegalese asylum seekers were criminalised after having witnessed an attack by the guards on a third West African asylum seeker in the AEO in early September 2017. A number of former security employees and numerous inhabitants informed us that this is not the sole case: The scale of security guard violence against refugees in the AEO has been systematic since the summer of 2017. According to the inhabitants, the violence has somewhat gone down since the fall of 2017, but continues. The latest incident was on May 7 as a Nigerian couple were badly abused by the guards."

GREECE: Moria 35 Update - 26 of the 35 remain detained - 7 face imminent deportation

Seven of the #Moria35 face deportation on Thursday 10 May 2018. In a process fraught with procedural violations, they have had their applications for asylum rejected. After over a year of dehumanizing treatment, from Moria Camp, to the vicious attack by the police, followed by nine months of unjust imprisonment, they now face being sent to Turkish prison, and likely deportation to the countries they fled.

EU: Legal action against Italy over its coordination of Libyan Coast Guard pull-backs resulting in migrant deaths and abuse

Seventeen survivors of a fatal incident in which a boat carrying migrants found itself in distress off the coast of Libya filed an application against Italy today with the European Court of Human Rights. The applicants included the surviving parents of two children who died in the incident.

GREECE: Rescuers from Denmark and Spain cleared of human trafficking by Greek court (The Local, link):

" A Greek court on Monday cleared three Spaniards and two Danes of trying to help illegal migrants enter Greece through the island of Lesbos while taking part in Aegean rescue missions.

"The accusation has not been proven," the judge said after the trial in the Lesbos capital Mytilene.

The firefighters from Spain and volunteers from Denmark, who faced up to 10 years in prison according to Amnesty International, enjoyed massive support from aid groups, with many sympathisers on hand for the verdict.

"A great victory for humanitarian aid," Spanish group Proem-AID tweeted after the ruling."

HUNGARY: Desperate times call for new measures (Migszol, link):

"Ever since Migszol began in 2012, we have based our work on information from the ground, on the situation at the borders, and testimonies of people from different camps. This has always provided the basis and the legitimacy to our activism.

But over the years things changed radically. Gradually the detention of practically all asylum seekers was implemented, while at the same time the space for civil society and independent media has become extremely narrow.

In the current situation, we find that we, unfortunately, cannot function the way we used to. We have no way of being in touch with detained asylum seekers, and even if we did, we would risk becoming targets of state-sponsored hate campaigns, also we would risk their personal safety during the asylum procedure."

EU-AFRICA: 5th Ministerial Conference of Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development Wraps up in Marrakech (MAP, link):

"The fifth Ministerial Conference of the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development ended Wednesday in Marrakech, with the adoption of the Marrakech Declaration and Plan of Action.

The Marrakech Declaration "constitutes a new brick in the edifice that we have been building together for twelve years and which has enabled Euro-African migration to be taken off the list of problems to be resolved and placed in the register of the main themes of our dialogue and cooperation", said minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, in his closing remarks."

See: Rabat Process: Marrakesh Political Declaration and Action Plan (pdf) based on five "domains": Development benefits of migration and addressing root causes of irregular migration and the phenomenon of displaced persons; Legal migration and mobility; Protection and asylum; Domain 4: Prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings; Return, readmission and reintegration.

The Displaced; Migrant Brothers; Lights in the Distance – reviews (The Guardian, link):

"Three powerful, conscience-stirring books [The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives Edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Migrant Brothers: A Poet’s Declaration of Human Dignity by Patrick Chamoiseau; Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe by Daniel Trilling] use personal testimony to help us see the refugee crisis through the eyes of its victims"

Libyan coastguard prevents NGO boat from rescuing migrants (AFP, link):

"The Libyan coastguard on Sunday prevented a rescue ship belonging to two NGOs from approaching a boat in distress carrying migrants, an AFP photographer witnessed.

The Aquarius, chartered by SOS-Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was informed by the Italian coastguard of the presence of an overloaded boat off the coast of Tripoli, reported the photographer on board the NGO boat.

But Rome also alerted the Libyan coastguard which took charge of coordinating the rescue operation and banned the NGO ship from approaching, also ordering it to move away when migrants jumped into the water to avoid being picked up by the Libyans.

The Libyan navy later announced it had rescued more than 300 migrants in three separate operations, reporting one dead and three missing.

The two victims were with 114 other migrants including 21 women and four children, said a Libyan navy spokesman, General Ayoub Kacem, although he declined to say whether they had been aboard the boat seen by the Aquarius.

And he warned that tensions between the Libyan coastguard and the NGO boats could worsen over coming days if they continued to approach stricken boats."

Greece: Overcrowded, dangerous and insufficient access to healthcare in Moria (MSF, link):

"As the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, visits Lesvos, Greece for a regional conference, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warns that the situation on Lesvos is, once again, reaching breaking point. As a result of the Greek government’s continued policy of containing migrants and refugees on the Greek islands at any cost, thousands of men, women and children in Lesvos are living in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with insufficient access to health care. With around 500 new people reaching Lesvos every week, the overcrowding, as well as increased demand for healthcare and other services, are pushing the camp to breaking point. MSF is calling on the Greek authorities to immediately transfer people from Lesvos to the mainland, and in addition, immediately scale up the provision of healthcare on the island.

In the government-run camp of Moria there are currently more than 7,000 people in a camp that was built for a maximum of 2,500 people. The living conditions and the reduction in the provision of medical care represent a high risk to the health and lives of the people trapped on the island."

Council of the European Union: ECRIS-TCN: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU No 1077/2011 - Updated four column table (LIMITE doc no: 8258-18, pdf):

"Please find attached an updated four column table as it results from the third trilogue on 24 April and technical meetings on 24 and 26 April 2018."

CROATIA: Statement by: Are You Syrious and CMS (Centar za Mirovne Studje (pdf)

"Organizations Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) and Are You Syrious (AYS) are hereby informing you about a series of pressures of the police and the Ministry of Interior on our work regarding human rights protection of refugees and migrants in the Republic of Croatia.(...)

In the last several weeks, we have noticed and experienced extremely dubious and illogical actions of the police towards our associations and attorneys with whom we are cooperating related to the case of the Hussiny family whose 6 year-old daughter died on 21 November 2017 from the hit of a train on the railway between Tovarnik and Šid, immediately after the illegal expulsion of the family from the Republic of Croatia, according to the family."

Cycle of exploitation proves relentless for African migrant workers in Sicily (Guardian, link)

"Foreigners who work long hours for negligible pay in the Sicilian countryside are having their settlements razed, exposing them to even worse treatment."

Scores of refugees attack German police cars over deportation case (DW, link):

"About 150 asylum seekers have confronted police officers in a small German town to prevent the deportation of a Togolese man. Authorities said, due to exceptional circumstances, they had no option but to release the man."

European Commission wants 10,000 border guards (euobserver, link):

"Some six years after Greece erected a 10km barb wired border fence along a stretch of the Evros river it shares with Turkey, the European Commission has announced plans to create a standing corps of 10,000 border guards.

On Wednesday (2 May), the EU executive proposed the idea as part of its aim to overhaul the EU budget for the years 2021-27."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.4-2.5.18)
EU: How age limits children’s access to rights: reports on minimum age requirements in asylum and judicial proceedings

Only four EU Member States prohibit the solitary confinement of child detainees even though such detention can harm a child’s health and development. This is just one of the many ways age limits can impact child’s rights, outlined in a new European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report. It suggests how Member States can remove inconsistencies to better deliver child protection.

Our data doubles: how biometric surveillance ushers in new orders of control (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The use of biometric data brings the border within the body: algorithms' apparent objectivity and efficiency obscure the brutality of the tasks they accomplish, deciding who is fit to stay or go, who to live or die."

GREECE: Lesvos: 17 locals to be charged for attacks against refugees, migrants and police (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Police authorities on the island of Lesvos have prepared case files against 17 locals for the attacks against refugees, migrants and police officers last Sunday. According to local media, 5 of the suspects will be charged with felony charges, while the remaining 12 will face charges for misdemeanors offenses.

The case files reportedly refer to the first group of people who have been identified as being involved in the attacks against refugees and migrants but also policemen on Sappho Square in the capital of the island."

UK: Who is immigration policy for? The media-politics of the hostile environment (Corporate Watch, link):

"Most basically, migration figures continue to rise, while the ineffectiveness of vicious Immigration Enforcement measures is an open secret amongst Home Office officials. In fact the level of resources – and violence – required to really seal borders would go well beyond anything yet seen.

So what really drives the hostile environment policies? Our new report “Who is immigration policy for?” examines the following key points:

You can read the full report here on the web – or download it here as a PDF document (60 pages)."

See also: Summary: Who is immigration policy for? Hostile Environment and anxiety media-politics (link to pdf)

Data shows migration more strongly linked to aspiration than desperation (EU Science Hub, link):

"A new global analysis of intentions to migrate suggests that individuals preparing to move abroad are more likely to do so out of aspiration for a better life, economic opportunities and development of skills, rather than sheer desperation.

While the analysis does not include individuals who are forced to migrate, such as refugees and asylum seekers, it provides valuable insights on voluntary migrants.

Between 2010 and 2015, around 30% of the population of 157 countries around the world expressed a wish to move abroad, while less than 1% have actually migrated.

The analysis finds that while being dissatisfied with one’s own standard of living is associated with a higher probability to desire and to plan a move abroad, the link with making concrete preparations is less clear."

See: EU Joint Research Centre technical report: A global analysis of intentions to migrate (pdf)

Greece reinforces land border with Turkey to stem flow of migrants (Guardian, link):

"Athens rushes to counter fears of new crisis after arrival of nearly 3,000 people in April.

Greece has rushed to reinforce its land border with Turkey as fears mount over a sharp rise in the number of refugees and migrants crossing the frontier.

Police patrols were augmented as local authorities said the increase in arrivals had become reminiscent of the influx of migrants on the Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast. About 2,900 people crossed the land border in April, by far surpassing the number who arrived by sea, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said. The figure represents half of the total number of crossings during the whole of 2017."

UK: Lord Dubs tables Brexit bill amendment to give young refugees sanctuary (Guardian, link):

"Refugee campaigner Lord Dubs has tabled a Brexit bill amendment to force the government to continue to give refugee children sanctuary post-Brexit.

Dubs has tabled an amendment to the European Union (withdrawal) bill that will include a specific provision for unaccompanied refugee minors stranded on the continent who have family in the UK already.

He said he found the Windrush scandal “shameful” and the amendment was important to ensure the “cold indifference” of the government was not the determining factor when it came to children seeking refuge for war and conflict zones."


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


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