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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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July 2017

MEDITERRANEAN: Defend Europe/Identitarian Briefing (Hope Not Hate, pdf):

"Defend Europe is an attempt by far-right activists to confront and block humanitarian rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean.

It is being led by key members of the European 'Identitarian' movement, a collection of far-right activists operating in France, Germany, Austria and Italy.

They aim to disrupt and inhibit the vital efforts of NGOs saving the lives of migrants and refugees - many of whom are children - crossing the Mediterranean this summer.

More than 2,000 people have died on the Mediterranean already this year, and over 5,000 last year.

This confrontational and dangerous project is organised by far-right activists with a long track record of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant activism and while organised by Europeans it is being supported, funded and promoted by the extreme far-right around the world.

So far the Identitarians have only launched one operation on a small boat, but they have now raised the funds to charter a sea-going vessel with space for a crew of 25."

UK-JAMAICA: Inhumane deportation (The Gleaner, link) by Luke de Noronha:

"Just over a week ago, two reports were published in Britain that might interest the Jamaican readership. They both concerned mass-deportation charter flights from London to Kingston.

(...)

The first report was an annual review by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) regarding several charter flights from Britain in 2016 - to Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Jamaica. I have met a few people who were on that charter flight to Jamaica in September 2016, and the majority of them left children behind in Britain. Theirs were stories of banishment from home, rather than a return to home. People had been away so long that they had few memories of the island, and no close family members to turn to. This is a familiar story.

What was significant about the report was the use of waist-restraint belts on the flight. Far more than any other nationality, Jamaicans were restrained in these belts, which act like straitjackets to prevent people moving their arms - often for hours at a time. On other chartered flights, only a few deportees are restrained in this way; it's the exception rather than the rule.

(...)

The second report, conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons, covered the last deportation flight from the UK to Jamaica in March 2017. Again, the independent inspectors found that force was used far too often."

See the reports: Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Boards Charter Flight Monitoring Team for the calenday year 2016 (pdf) and: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Detainees under escort: Inspection of escort and removals to Jamaica (pdf)

Teenage refugees in Greece are being labelled 'adults' if they have wisdom teeth (International Business Times, link):

"Children as young as 14 arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos are being identified as over-18s and forced to live with unrelated adults, without access to education and protective services, a shocking new report has revealed.

Greek authorities are quick to register teenagers as adults, without conducting a proper assessment, according to the Human Rights Watch report 'Lone Migrant Children Left Unprotected' published today.

If an assessment is carried out, it is often during a hasty visit to a dentist where any children whose wisdom teeth have come through are registered as adults. This was how 17-year-old Akash from Bangladesh ended up in the adult section of Moria refugee camp, where more than 3,000 people are living in "inexcusable" and "inhumane" conditions."

And see: Greece: Lone Migrant Children Left Unprotected (Human Rights Watch, link): "Unaccompanied migrant children on the Greek island of Lesbos are being incorrectly identified as adults and housed with unrelated adults, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and unable to access the specific care they need, Human Rights Watch said today."

Statewatch Analysis: The EU goes to war with African “elite” (pdf): by Tony Bunyan

EU to target African governments, officials and others with the threat to refuse or delay visas to enforce its returns and readmission policies
EU starts setting out the “consequences” of non-cooperation by agreeing “Measures targeting the "elite" of third countries”

See: Council of the European Union: "Link between return/readmission and visa policies" (RESTRICTED, EU doc no: 9097-REV-1-17)

Police clash with migrants at Lesvos camp for second time in a week (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Police were dispatched to the Moria reception center on Lesvos on Tuesday afternoon following clashes between groups of migrants in the camp while the local fire service tried to put out blazes that broke out in nearby olive groves.

The upheaval came a week after riots at the same camp when migrants, frustrated by poor living conditions and delays in processing asylum applications, set fire to tents."

And see: Asylum seekers clash with police in Moria frustrated about living conditions and asylum delays (Keep Talking Greece, link)

Indefinite detention is dehumanising for refugees. This practice must end (Guardian, link): "With its tales of terrifying journeys and hopeless days, a storytelling project is putting flesh on the statistics. We should be all be outraged."

Italy mulls temporary humanitarian visas to aid Libyan migrants (Guardian, link): "Move would provoke immediate Austrian response including closure of border with Italy at Brenner Pass"

What's the EU's vision to address the refugee crisis? (aljazeera.com, link): "The European Union restricts exports of inflatable boats to stem the flow of refugees and migrants from North Africa."

MED: Guidance on rescue operations in the Mediterranean: Know Your Rights (CILD, pdf):

"Is there a duty to rescue at sea?

Yes, there is. Maritime law and the Italian Constitution (Article 2) are based on cooperation which is a fundamental obligation. International law (the Montego Bay Treaty and others, see glossary) requires States to require any masters of ships flying their national flag to fulfil their duty to give assistance to anyone found to be in danger at sea, to inform the competent authorities, to provide initial medical assistance to the persons rescued, and to transfer the persons rescued to a place of safety (for a definition of ‘place of safety’, see question 8)."

Greece: Ministry refugee arrivals 18.7.17 (pdf)

251 refugees arrived in the past 24 hours: Lesvos 94, Samos 55, Chios 55, other islands: 47. Total in Greece: 62,327

Defend Europe boat tries to block migrant rescues - As Defend Europe sets sail in hope of turning refugees back, UK anti-racism monitor issues warning over migrant safety (aljazeera.com, link):

"Far-right activists have set sail in a boat with plans to prevent the arrival of Europe-bound boats carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, sparking criticism from an anti-racism monitor.
Italy struggles to cope with refugee influx

Defend Europe, the group behind the journey which began Sunday, said on its fundraising page that its members would set sail in a 422-tonne vessel with a 25-member crew after receiving more than $115,000 in donations in recent weeks....

HOPE not hate said in a statement that Defend Europe threatens to "hinder the lifesaving work of search-and-rescue NGO ships in the Mediterranean".

"This confrontational and dangerous project is organised by far-right activists with a long track record of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant activism ... and while organised by Europeans, it is being supported, funded and promoted by the extreme far-right around the world," HOPE not hate said in a separate press briefing."

Italy's migrant 'nuclear option' plot unravels (euobserver, link):

"Italy will likely meet a legal blockade if the country pursues its reported plans to issue temporary travel visas for migrants.

The Times newspaper said on Saturday (15 July) that senior government officials want to use a so-called "nuclear option", to grant migrants stuck in Italy the right to move to other EU states.

But the proposal is based on an obscure EU directive that can only be activated by a qualified majority decision in the Council of the EU, representing member states, and based on a proposal by the European Commission."

And see: Austria readies for migrant border surge (euobserver, link): "Austria is ready to "protect" its borders amid reported Italian threats to issue provisional visas to thousands of migrants.Speaking to journalists in Brussels on Monday (17 July), Austria's foreign minister Sebastian Kurz said the country would not allow large numbers of people to pass from Italy should Rome issue the documents."

EU curbs rubber dinghy, outboard motor sales to Libya to stop migrants (euractiv, link):

"The European Union yesterday (17 July) adopted limits on the export of inflatable boats and outboard motors to Libya in a bid to make it harder for smugglers to send migrants to Europe."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17.7.17)
GREECE: Serious gaps in the care of refugees in Greek hotspots; Vulnerability assessment system is breaking down (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

"Following the departure of Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), medical and social services have seriously been minimised in the Registration and Identification Centres (RIC), the so-called hotspots of the Aegean. Ever since the needs of refugees are not being covered effectively. Huge gaps have been observed concerning psychological aid, and this in a period where the mental health of refugees is deteriorating severely due to being stuck and under constant threat to be readmitted to Turkey. At the same time, the system of vulnerability assessment seems to be breaking down. It is not known, how far the state agencies who are planned in to take this job over, will be able to replace the work the NGOs had provided until recently.

The working contracts most of the NGOs had signed with the Ministry of Migration Policy ended end of May. As a result the staff left the RIC and dozens of people lost their jobs. More than that, a huge service gap emerged all of a sudden. Until recently those NGOs had been tasked with a large part of the medical and social services, which are among the responsibilities of the Reception and Identification Service."

And see: EU to scale back Greek asylum aid (EUobserver, link)

Italy’s Smuggling Prosecutions Ruin Lives While Real Criminals Go Free (Refugees Deeply, link):

"This improvised captain – a migrant just like everyone else aboard – had no idea what to do. The overloaded dinghy started spinning uncontrollably and taking on water. Yusuf stepped in and found himself at the helm until the dinghy was found by the Italian coastguard nearly two days after setting sail.

Upon disembarking, Yusuf was identified by fellow passengers as one of the scafisti, the Italian term for smugglers who pilot boats, and was arrested.

(...)

Between August 2015 and the end of July 2016, a total of 793 scafisti were arrested, according to Italy’s interior ministry. This is on top of the 1,511 arrested since 2013. Arresting migrant pilots has been central to the approach of the Italian government, with then prime minister Matteo Renzi boasting on Twitter in April 2015: “We have arrested 976 scafisti and rescued thousands of people.”

While Italy’s popular press paints them as ruthless criminals, the reality of the scafisti is more nuanced. Stories like that of Yusuf are common."

EU: Frontex cooperation with non-EU states: information from the agency

A November 2016 letter from Frontex provides an overview of the agency's cooperation with third states in the fields of risk analysis, return, research and innovation and joint operations. The information was provided in response to a parliamentary question from Sabine Lösing and Cornelia Ernst, two German MEPs from the GUE/NGL left group in the European Parliament.

EU: Parliamentary Tracker: The “qualification” Directive of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is moving forward… (FREE Group, link): A detailed overview of the Commission´s proposal and current positions of the Council and Parliament on the new Qualifications Regulation.

SAMOS Notes (link)

"Last week we asked a friend whose son works as a policeman in the port why he thought the police were so violent in searching out the refugees who tired of waiting and fearing a negative response to their asylum application tried to leave the island clandestinely – without the necessary papers. They do this in a variety of ways usually by hiding in or on the trucks leaving Samos for Pireaus. If they are discovered they are routinely given a beating before being released back to the camp.....

In the first week of July the police launched a major sweep to locate refugees who had exhausted the asylum process and are to be deported. 138 such refugees were caught although many more are thought to be in hiding....."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-14.7.17)
ECRE: Proposed Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue putting lives at risk (link)

"A Code of Conduct for NGOs active in search and rescue (SAR) operations that has been drafted by the Italian government was leaked this week by Statewatch. Human rights organisations are raising strong concern that initiative will endanger thousands of life’s on the Mediterranean....

The Charity Human Rights at Sea raised concern over the exclusion of SAR NGOs from the drafting process as well as its interference with the independence of NGOs and humanitarian principles. The organisation also highlights the existing voluntary Code of Conduct which was drafted by SAR NGOs earlier this year."

Serious problem regarding family reunification for asylum-seekers in Germany under Dublin III Regulation (aitima.gr, link):

"n the context of our project on legal assistance to asylum seekers, we deal with hundreds of cases of asylum seekers who are in Greece and have applied for family reunification under the Dublin III Regulation.

During the last months we have noted that there is a serious problem concerning the completion of the family reunification cases in Germany. More specifically we have found that in cases of asylum seekers for which Germany has accepted responsibility, the transfer to Germany has not been carried out despite the fact that the six-month time-limit provided by the Regulation has expired. So far our organization is aware of 21 such cases of asylum seekers, including particularly vulnerable people such as an eight-member family waiting to be reunited with the seriously ill father as well as unaccompanied minors."

Italy proposes Libya pact to curb illegal migration (euraciiv, link):

"Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti on Thursday (13 July) proposed a pact with Libya to combat human trafficking during a visit to Tripoli to meet mayors of cities affected by the scourge."

EU to scale back Greek asylum aid (euobserver, link):

"Stranded refugees on the Greek islands will soon have to rely on the Greek government for all basic services.

Athens is set to nationalise services over the summer that were previously funded by the EU amid concerns that it won't be able to deliver, as some 60 people continue to arrive from Turkey to the islands on a daily basis.

Greek socialist MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos, at a hearing on the issue at the European Parliament on Wednesday (12 July), said that the transition of aid from EU-funded NGOs to the Greek state will be a "disaster.""

Spain: Hunger strike in Barcelona migrant detention centre ends

A hunger strike undertaken by some 60 detainees in Barcelona's migrant detention centre (CIE, Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros) ended on Wednesday night, two days after it began.

The hunger strike was undertaken as a protest calling for detainees to be set free and against their planned expulsion, which they considered to be "collective" according to a lawyer for local campaign group Tanquem els CIE (Close the CIE).

Exposing hate crimes of successfully prosecuted beyond borders (IRR News, link):

" Eric and Philippa Kempson and their daughter are long-time residents of Lesbos, their home facing across the short stretch of idyllic but deadly water to the Turkish mainland and the first landfall for the many flimsy vessels of refugees seeking rescue and safety. In the months and now years that have passed since the initial arrivals, they helped bring to the world’s attention the plight of people arriving, and gave up their ‘normal’ lives to devote themselves to the needs of the most vulnerable – children, elderly, disabled, bereaved, nursing and pregnant mothers, the war wounded and traumatised...

Some sought to scapegoat the Kempson family and other human rights defenders for ‘encouraging’ refugees to come to Lesbos, and have continued a campaign of intimidation and threats of violence against them to this day....

As if local animosity were not enough, a regular British tourist to Lesbos, Richard Sturdy, a ‘respectable’ 72-year-old businessman from North Yorkshire, joined in the abuse, using online social media, Twitter, Facebook and even media interviews to denigrate and abuse the Kempsons. His personalised hate campaign also extended to racially and religiously abusive language against refugees as well as those trying to assist them. ...

At his trial on 25 May, Sturdy changed his plea to guilty on all charges and received a community rehabilitation activity order, was made to pay victim and court costs and subjected to a restraining order not to contact the victim (this non-custodial sentence reflected credit for a guilty plea)."

GREECE: NGOs fearful of handing island camps to state (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Seven top NGOs aiding refugees in Greece have issued a joint statement expressing their concerns over the handover of responsibilities at migrant camps on the Greek islands to the government as of August 1.

The NGOs say the Greek government has released few details about how it plans to continue providing existing assistance to residents at the camps. A deterioration of living conditions and diminished access to essential services are the main concerns cited if the Greek government does not communicate a plan to the NGOs before the handover."

European Par/liament: Smart Borders Entry/Exit System is unproven, expensive and violates right to privacy (GUE/NGL, link):

"The European Parliament's LIBE Committee today adopted the first part of the so-called Smart Borders Package; the Entry/Exit System (EES).

"The Entry/Exit System text that was voted on today is the result of negotiations with the European Council. It is complex, costly and dangerous to fundamental rights and freedoms. It conflates irregular immigration, border security and the fight against terrorism, and it's effectiveness has not been proven. This is particularly worrying, considering the huge sums of money that would be invested in it."

"In this text, the European Parliament has retreated on many of its initial positions, notably on the right to respect for privacy and data protection. All biometric and alphanumeric data recorded in the EES will be accessible to the member states, including their immigration authorities, law enforcement authorities and intelligence services.

"Even worse, it allows data sharing and cooperation with third countries without specifying the purposes for this.

"The EES therefore institutionalises the registration of personal details of all third-country nationals on a mass scale in violation of their fundamental rights. This is a big brother-style policy and it would set a dangerous precedent," warns the French MEP."

Mediterranean migration route: help for Italy and long-term solutions (EP Press release, link):

"Most MEPs in the debate defended the work of NGOs from criticism that their presence and rescue interventions are encouraging perilous journeys and even supporting human traffickers. Nevertheless, some MEPs also agreed that a code of conduct is needed to create order in operations at sea.

Many voiced doubts about the cooperation with Libya, pointing to the political instability in the country, the unreliability of its authorities and the heightened risk of abuse and violence faced by migrants who are returned to its shores."

Italy to impose tough rules on NGOs (euobserver, link):

"Italy is set to reveal an 11-point code of conduct to restrict NGO rescues in the Mediterranean sea. Those that fail to comply will be banned from disembarking rescued people at Italian ports, according to a draft copy of the proposal.

The issue is part of a wider Italian-led campaign following failed appeals by Rome to get help from other EU member states. "

See "Code of conduct" below


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-12.7.17)
SPECIAL: EU: Italy's proposed code of conduct for Mediterranean NGOs "threatens life-saving operations"

The European Commission asked Italy to draw up a "Code of Conduct" for NGOs carrying out search and rescue in the Mediterranean: See full-text of: Code of Conduct for NGOs involved in migrant's rescue operation at sea (pdf). The organisation Human Rights at Sea has said the proposed code "threatens life-saving search and rescue operations".

All NGOs operating in the Med are required to sign and obey the Code: "Failure to sign this Code of Conduct or failure to comply with its obligations may result in the refusal by the Italian State to authorize the access to national ports, subject to compliance with the existing international conventions.

EU: UK parliamentary report: "failed" Operation Sophia has caused more deaths, EU should "combat irregular migration" in southern Libya

A UK parliamentary committee has said in a new report that it sees "little reason to renew the mandate of Operation Sophia", the EU's anti-migrant smuggling mission in the Mediterranean, when it comes up for renewal at the end of July.

According to the report by the House of Lords European Union Committee, the operation "has not in any meaningful way deterred the flow of migrants, disrupted the smugglers’ networks, or impeded the business of people smuggling on the central Mediterranean route," while an "unintended consequence" of the mission "has been that the smugglers have adapted, sending migrants to sea in unseaworthy vessels, leading to an increase in deaths."

ITALY: Interior ministry statistics on migrant arrivals, January-July 2017 (Italian, pdf): including overall numbers, comparative statistics with 2016, distribution of migrants within Italy, ports of disembarkation, nationality of persons disembarked, data on relocations, unaccompanied minors.

SPAIN: Over 60 detainees in Barcelona migrant detention centre on hunger strike

On Monday night 52 detainees in Barcelona's migrant detention centre (CIE, Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros) began a hunger strike. On Tuesday morning another 11 detainees from a variety of countries joined the 52, who are said to be from countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The detainees are in "different administrative situations", although the hunger strike was started to protest against the impending deportation that many of them are facing.

EU: Crowdfunded far-right vessel to set sail for the Mediterranean to target refugee rescue boats (i News, link):

"At some point this weekend a 42-year-old former Finnish research vessel will set sail from the east African country of Djibouti bound for the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. In its previous life, the Suunta surveyed the Arctic seas but its latest voyage will see it enter far more contentious waters.

Re-named the Sea-Star, the 25-crew vessel has been chartered by European far-right activists to “intervene” in the ongoing humanitarian mission to rescue refugees and migrants seeking to cross from Libya to Europe – a journey which has so far this year claimed more than 2,000 lives.

The 422-tonne ship, whose running costs are being financed with more than 100,000 euros (£88,000) raised through crowdfunding supported by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, is expected to station itself off the Libyan coast within a fortnight to carry out its self-declared mission to “save Europe and to save lives”.

In reality, charities and anti-extremist campaigners believe the Sea-Star has but one mission – to directly interfere with and disrupt the humanitarian vessels which every week pluck hundreds of people from waters where they would otherwise perish."

GREECE: Migrants 'stuck and forgotten' in notorious camp on Lesbos (Sky News, link)

"They are tired of waiting for Greek authorities and the EU to decide whether or not to take them in, with some there for a year."

See also: Lesvos migrants clash with police (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Frustrated by poor living conditions at the overcrowded Moria reception center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, migrants clashed with police Monday afternoon.

The unrest was sparked during a protest outside the so-called pre-departure center that operates within the Moria camp aimed at drawing attention to the substandard conditions that people are forced to endure while awaiting deportation to Turkey. According to reports, police guarding the center came under a hail of stones when they tried to secure the area and responded with tear gas....."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Prague is to argue it cannot be blamed for not accepting refugees (Prague Monitor, link):

"The Czech Republic is likely to argue that it could not meet its pledge to accept asylum seekers from Italy and Greece due to bad conditions and inactivity of especially the Italian authorities, according to the information CTK has received.

On June 14, the European Commission opened legal cases against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland over their unwillingness to resettle migrants. The deadline for the Czech Republic to react within the proceedings is Thursday, July 13. The case may end up in the EU court.

(...)

The Czech Republic is to argue that it wanted to test the system and offered to accept 50 refugees in the spring of 2016, Greece did not use the offer and Italy only partly, according to CTK's information.

From Greece, only 12 of 30 asylum seekers were resettled. Italy at first did not let security interviews with the selected refugees to be held by the Czechs in its territory and it did not even react to the second Czech offer. As a result, no refugee was resettled."

Note: the Irish authorities have reported the same problem with Italian refusal to allow security checks by other states on their territory. See: Less than a third of promised 4,000 refugees settled here (Irish Times, link)

UK: Asylum seekers forced into homelessness by paperwork delays, study finds (The Guardian, link)

"The government has been accused of routinely denying support to asylum seekers, leaving them homeless and unable to feed their families, following analysis of more than 300 recent cases.

Research conducted by Refugee Action found that the Home Office was missing its own deadlines for finding emergency accommodation for homeless and destitute asylum seekers, and in some cases wrongly refusing those who make claims for emergency assistance.

In one case, it took more than 10 months to make a decision on whether to grant an applicant asylum support – so long that the person had already received refugee status."

See: Slipping through the cracks: how Britain's asylum support system fails the most vulnerable (Refugee Action, pdf)

UK: We came from Romania to build a life, and were locked up for sleeping rough (The Independent, link):

"We come from Romania. We left for the reasons most people do. It’s a corrupt country. If you have money you can do what you like, but if you have nothing, you can’t even get a doctor to treat you.

So we left. For twelve years we lived in Spain. It was difficult to find work that paid enough to live on but we survived. Marineta worked as a carer and Teofil did lots of different jobs.

In 2016 we decided to try our luck in the UK. We were curious about what life here was like. We hoped to find better-paid work, and improve our quality of life."

Myths of Migration: Much of What We Think We Know Is Wrong (Spiegel Online, link):

"Migration was the issue of the year in 2016 and it will likely remain important in 2017. The topic is, however, just as hotly debated as it is poorly understood. The so-called "refugee crisis" in Europe and the omnipresent images of overfilled boats arriving on Mediterranean shores give the impression that migration is threatening to spin out of control and that radical action is needed to curtail the uncontrollable influx of migrants. The fear of mass migration has fueled the rise of extreme nationalist parties throughout Europe and helped Donald Trump win the presidential election in the U.S.

This call for tougher migration policies is juxtaposed by another, albeit somewhat weaker, opinion voiced by the business sector, human rights and religious organizations and left-liberal parties. They argue that migration tends to be beneficial for both origin and destination societies, and that we should not see refugees as a burden but as a potential resource.

But in this polarized debate, the rather more sobering facts unfortunately get lost. Both the left-wing and right-wing narratives on migration are rooted in a series of myths that reveal a striking lack of knowledge about the nature, causes and consequences of migration processes. This text examines eight of the myths that I have often encountered in my research."

EU: Drowning mothers (OpenDemocracy, link):

"As late as June of 2015, men comprised nearly three-quarters of the world’s migration flow, according to UNICEF. This has been replaced by a major spike in the numbers of women and children across the Mediterranean and up through Europe.

More migration, unfortunately, has meant more deaths from people trying to cross borders. Although far more men than women undertake the perilous journey through the North African desert or across the Mediterranean in rubber rafts, it is the women who have a greater risk of dying along the way – most of them at sea.

Women’s increased risk of death is not only true for the Mediterranean journey. The same lethal pattern can be seen along other borders."

EU: Migration only factor bumping up EU population (euractiv, link):

"The European Union’s population increased last year, despite the same number of births and deaths being recorded. Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said the bump was driven by migration.

On World Population Day (11 July), it can be revealed that the EU’s population increased from 510.3 million on 1 January 2016 to 511.8 million on 1 January 2017. Eurostat said that in 2016 the same amount of births and deaths were recorded (5.1 million), meaning the 28-country bloc’s natural population change was in fact neutral.

That means the positive population change of 1.5 million was driven largely by an increase in net migration."

CoE: Hungary: Visit to transit zones to evaluate sexual abuse risks faced by migrant children (link);

"Council of Europe children’s rights experts concluded today a three-day visit to Hungary to evaluate risks of sexual abuse and exploitation faced by migrant children placed in transit zones. Their report is expected in October.

Hungarian authorities invited Lanzarote Committee Chair Claude Janizzi and representatives of the committee to visit Hungary, following a letter that Janizzi had sent to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in March, in which he expressed concerns that a new Hungarian law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – could increase the risks of sexual abuse of migrant children."

A crisis of definition, re-humanising the refugee (Media Diversified, link) by Olivia Woldemikael:

"The label of refugee is deceptive—it often hides more about a person than it reveals. In particular, when we refer to the ‘21 million refugees’ or ‘the refugee crisis’, we inadvertently strip people of their individuality and reduce their diverse lived experiences to the single narrative of displacement. Refugees, as a whole, have been so dehumanised that it is palatable to enclose them in congested camps and detention centres, to deny them access to education and opportunities to work, and to want to keep them out of our countries like a plague. Nothing has made this clearer to me than a meeting with one African refugee, in particular."

Turkey: EU funds, authoritarianism, and civil society (Osservatorio balcani e caucaso):

"For over 10 years, Turkey has received EU funds supporting reforms and democratisation. In light of the country's authoritarian drift, however, many wonder whether this strategy still makes sense

Relations between Turkey and the EU are undergoing a period of profound transformation. For Ankara – an official EU candidate since 2005 – the prospect of accession seems now unlikely. The process, which had already been stalling for several years, has been further damaged by the authoritarian positions taken by the Turkish government. They have worsened after the attempted coup of last summer, followed by a state of emergency which is still in place."

Hungary's Plan to Electrify Border Fence Draws Rebuke (liberties.eu, link):

"A Serbian NGO has strongly criticized the Hungarian government’s plan to electrify its border fence between the two countries in an effort to deter migrants. The Belgrade Center for Protection and Help for Asylum Seekers say the move was a violation of European human rights agreements..."

Watch: Technologies for borders and critical infrastructure showcased (IFSEC Global, link):

"Featuring L3, Satel, CLD Fencing, Genetec, AxxonSoft, Technocover, Morgan Marine, Gilgen Door Systems, UAS Flight Ops in the Drone Zone and BRE Global in the Attack Testing Zone, here are a selection of interviews, stand tours and product pitches from Borders & Infrastructure Expo at IFSEC 2017."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-7.7.17)
War and violence drive 80% of people fleeing to Europe by sea, not economics (Guardian, link):

"Report challenges economic migrant myth, revealing that most of those making perilous sea crossing were forced from their homes by persecution and fear.

The vast majority of people arriving in Europe by sea are fleeing persecution, war and famine, while less than a fifth are economic migrants, a report published on Friday reveals.

More than 80% of an estimated 1,008,616 arrivals in 2015 came from refugee-producing countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and a quarter of that number were children.

Researchers say the findings challenge the myth that migrants are coming to Europe for economic reasons."

EU-G20: Remarks by President Donald Tusk before the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany (pdf):

Tusk is seeking support to tackle "the unprecedented wave of illegal migration" through "targeted UN sanctions against smugglers" in north Africa. However, he notes that:

"Unfortunately I have to say that today we do not have the full support even for this minimum. If we do not get it, it will be a sad proof of the hypocrisy of some of the G20 members..."

Perhaps this is because he refers to everyone arriving in the EU as "irregular migrants" (who anyway have the right to claim asylum) and not as refugees and migrants. He also refer only to "smuggling" not trafficking - two legally distinct concepts.

EU plans on Central Mediterranean Route: old wine in new bottles (ECRE, link):

"EU Ministers once more set the wrong priorities. Reducing search and rescue capacity and increasing deterrence is not the answer when lives are at stake,” said ECRE’s Secretary General, Catherine Woollard, “Rather than a code of conduct on NGOs an action plan on the creation of safe and legal channels is urgently needed. “

Clock ticking on EU migrant quota deadline (euobserver, link):

"EU states are running out of time to comply with migrant relocation quotas on Italy and Greece, the European Commission has said.

“I’m not very happy with how some member states have so far responded to our call for more relocations,” the EU migration commissioner, Dmitris Avramopoulos, said in Tallinn on Thursday (6 July). ...

As of 3 July, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, and Slovakia had not relocated a single person from Italy. Germany and France were miles away from their full legal commitments, with Germany 20,477 relocations short and France 15,935 behind. Spain (8,254 short), the Netherlands (3,891), Romania (3,546), Sweden (3,100), Belgium (3,031), and Portugal (1,561) were also heading for major violations....

Human Rights at Sea, a UK-based charity, said on Thursday it had seen a leaked copy of the draft Italian code. There was “a distinct lack of ... explicit reference to the need to save life at sea” in the draft, the charity said. It said that NGOs who refused to sign could be denied access to Italian ports."

See: Relocations at 3 July 2017 (pdf)

Toddlers and babies forced to sleep rough in northern France amid rise in refugees (Independent, link):

"Photos show babies less than a year old sleeping and crawling in woodland of unofficial camps in Calais and Dunkirk."

Drowning mothers (Open Democracy, link):

"As refugees try to cross the Mediterranean Sea - women are more likely to drown."

Central Mediterranean: Death toll soars as EU turns its back on refugees and migrants (Amnesty, link):

"The soaring death toll in the central Mediterranean and the horrific abuses faced by thousands of refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centres are clearly linked to failing EU policies, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

A perfect storm: The failure of European policies in the Central Mediterranean finds that by ceding the lion’s share of responsibility for search and rescue to NGOs and by increasing cooperation with the Libyan coastguard, European governments are failing to prevent drownings and turning a blind eye to abuse, including torture and rape.

EU Ministers meeting in Tallinn today are set to discuss new proposals that will make a dire situation worse."

And see: Europe migrant crisis: EU blamed for 'soaring' death toll (BBC News, link)

EU: Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs ministers: Press statement following discussions on Central Mediterranean (pdf):

"In Tallinn, the Ministers of Interior acknowledged that the situation in the Central Mediterranean and the resulting pressure on Italy is of great concern to all Member States. In line with the European Council conclusions of 22-23 June, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to take urgent action by stepping up coordination and delivery of all the elements contained in the Malta Declaration, the Partnership Framework and the Joint Valletta Action Plan, as well as the need to continue steps towards finding the right balance between the principles of solidarity and responsibility and to provide adequate support to the most affected Member States.

The Ministers of Interior welcomed and based their discussions on the Action Plan presented by the Commission on 4 July 2017, containing immediate measures that can be taken by the Commission, the High Representative, Italy and other Member States."

See also: Ministers of Interior agree on more robust approach to migration pressure (press releaes, pdf)

And: EU: Action Plan for Central Mediterranean: mandatory code of conduct for NGOs, massive expansion of detention and hotspots in Italy

GREECE: Police detain dozens of migrants in Samos sweep (Ekathimerini, link):

"Police on Wednesday carried out a sweep of Samos to round up dozens of migrants whose applications for asylum have been rejected for deportation to Turkey, but officers struggled to locate them all.

Authorities detained 138 people though many more are believed to be hiding out across the eastern Aegean island. There has been tension on Samos and Chios amid local opposition to the creation of so-called predeparture centers to host migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected.

The situation is less chaotic on Lesvos, Leros and Kos, which have such centers, though overcrowding remains a problem, particularly on Lesvos, which smugglers have started targeting again."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.7.17)
EU: Action Plan for Central Mediterranean: mandatory code of conduct for NGOs, massive expansion of detention and hotspots in Italy

The European Commission has published an Action Plan containing a swathe of measures "to support Italy, reduce pressure along the Central Mediterranean Route and increase solidarity," in order to try to address the "structural challenge" represented by the "loss of life and continuing migratory flows of primarily economic migrants on the Central Mediterranean route."

This includes a proposal for Italy and the Commission to draw up a code of conduct for NGOs conducting search and rescue missions, and demands for Italy to massively increase the capacity of its hotspots and its detention centres as well as extending the maximum period of detention up to 18 months, the maximum allowed under EU law.

EU: Frontex in the Balkans: Serbian government rejects EU's criminal immunity proposals

The Serbian government is not happy with EU proposals that Frontex teams would be able to operate on its territory with total immunity from Serbian law. After two rounds of talks between the EU and Serbia, the text of a proposed agreement that would govern Frontex teams' joint operations, "rapid border interventions" or return operations in the Western Balkan country shows that the Serbian side rejects the EU's proposal that "members of the team shall enjoy immunity" from the administrative, civil and criminal jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia.

EU: EASO: Vast majority of migrants arriving in Italy not eligible for relocation (EurActiv, link):

"Quoting from a recent monthly statistic, Celis said that Nigerians were indeed the number one nationality applying for international protection currently in Italy, with more than 20%, followed by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, who were “the top three for the moment”. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are not considered eligible for relocation either.

Celis said that in 2016, of all Nigerians applying for asylum in the EU, 55% applied in Italy. The second country where applications were lodged was Germany. However Germany, in the vast majority of cases, is not the country of first arrival on EU territory.

The EASOs’ Ward Lutin explained that it was not correct to say that the nationals of a certain country were ineligible for asylum, as some certainly were, and this is why an individual assessment was needed. He also said that unlike the past, the vast majority of arriving migrants were applying for asylum."

See: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met (Statewatch News Online, 18 May 2017)

And: European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union 2016 (5.7MB, pdf)

Poland: EU Should Tackle Unsafe Returns to Belarus (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(London) The European Commission should take enforcement action to address Poland’s summary returns of asylum seekers to Belarus, three leading rights groups have said today. Amnesty International, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch highlight how Poland is in breach of human rights law, refugee law, European Union law and orders by the European Court of Human Rights.

“The Polish government is forcing asylum-seekers back to unsafe Belarus in defiance of its duties as an EU member state,” Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch said. “It’s time for the European Commission to step in and address this serious breach of EU asylum law.”

Since 2016, Polish authorities have been blocking entry to most asylum seekers at Brest-Terespol border crossing from Belarus by train, forcing them to return to Belarus the same day. Belarus lacks a functioning asylum system, and there are real risks that asylum seekers from Chechnya or central Asian countries could be returned to their countries of origin putting them at risk of torture or ill-treatment."

See also: Poland pushes back thousands of refugees, many fleeing crackdown in Tajikistan (Statewatch News Online, August 2016) and: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus (February 2017)

IRELAND: Right to work for asylum-seekers: Supreme Court judgment and Irish Refugee Council position

Following a judgment by the Supreme Court of Ireland calling on the government to consider giving asylum-seekers permission to work (there is currently a total prohibition regardless of how long an individual have been within the asylum system), the Irish Refugee Council has called on the government to give asylum-seekers the right to work after they have been within the asylum procedure for six months or longer.

EU and 'Eastern Partnership' countries discuss return, readmission and reintegration

The EU and the countries of the 'Eastern Partnership' (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) met in Yerevan, Armenia in late June to discuss "recent trends, developments and challenges in return, readmission and reintegration of migrants as well as to share national practices, experiences and lessons learnt."

EU: Rule of law: double standards undermine EU's role in the neighbourhood (CEPS European Neighbourhood Watch, pdf) by Toby Vogel:

"Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty defines the European Union as a community of values and then goes on to list them: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are supposed to inform all EU policies, including enlargement and foreign and security policy, which crucially depend on the strength of the EU’s ‘soft power’. But what happens to the EU and its power to persuade and lead by example when it fails to safeguard its values at home?

Several events in recent months illustrate what happens when the EU loses sight of its commitment to democracy and the rule of law."

GREECE: Waiting in Patras. Next stop: Italy (Athens Live, link):

"48 hours after I have travelled to Patras over the weekend, Greek police entered an abandoned factory in the port city in western Greece. In a unannounced operation, they started forcibly removing 70 refugees and migrants of the 170 who lived there. They were the ones without proper documentation.

I visited the abandoned wood factory while no one suspected such eviction would take place.

Under the scorching heat, the residents moved their tents to the roof so they can avoid the temperatures that reach over 45 degrees Celsius in the industrial hangar.Tired and exhausted, they continued their effort, unaware of what was to come."

Austria plays down spat with Italy over border controls (Reuters, link)

"Austria on Wednesday played down a dispute with Italy over possible controls at their shared border, saying Rome had misunderstood its intentions when it spelled out military preparations for any future influx of migrants.

Rome reacted furiously on Tuesday to Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil's comment that he expected controls at the border with Italy to be introduced "very soon".

His remarks were part of a report in Austria's top-selling tabloid, confirmed by an official in his ministry, that 750 troops were ready to be deployed and four armored vehicles had been sent to the province that includes the Brenner Pass, a gateway for Italy to important trading partners such as Germany."

Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants (ODI, link):

"Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants within their host communities is an increasingly important task. This working paper is intended as a primer – outlining current global polling data on public attitudes, and analysing what the literature has to say about the drivers influencing these attitudes.

This large evidence base has a number of implications for those working on refugee and migration issues:

- Engaging effectively with public attitudes towards refugees and migrants requires understanding the real world concerns, emotions and values around which attitudes are formed.
- These efforts work best when clearly rooted in national and local contexts, and the nuances of public attitudes within them.
- Traditional approaches to public engagement, such as ‘myth-busting’, may have exacerbated negativity and are unlikely to resonate beyond those who are already supportive. While evidence remains important in influencing policy debates, strategies must acknowledge its limitations as a persuasive tool.
- Emotive and value-driven arguments may have more traction than facts and evidence. Successful strategies might highlight the manageability of the situation, while emphasising shared values.
"

See: Working Paper (pdf)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1- 4.7.17)
European Border and Coast Guard report

- 72% of returns inside Europe: 101 return flights to the West Balkans and only 41 outside the EU
- Deploying
"assets" to frontline Member States: thermo-vision vehicles, dog teams, CO2 detectors and smartdeck cameras

The Commission Press release of 14 June (pdf) concerning the Fourth report concerning the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) stated on the question of "returns" that:

"The pace of return operations organised by the European Border and Coast Guard has continued to grow, with 6,799 irregularly staying migrants returned in 2017 so far, representing an increase of over 157% compared to the same period of last year." [emphasis added]

However, the Fourth Report on EBCG (COM 325-17, pdf) says that:

"Between 1 January and 9 June 2017, the Agency provided support to 144 return operations of third-country nationals during which 6,799 illegally staying third-country nationals were returned, with further 43 operations under preparation. This represents an increase of over 157% compared to the same period of last year. The majority of these operations (101 out of 144) concerned flights to the Western Balkans."

Thus 101 return flights concerned returns inside Europe to the West Balkans and only 41 outside the EU. There were an average of 42 people per flight.

A tragedy unfolding in Italy as migrant influx spikes (New Europe, link): "“What is happening in front of our eyes in Italy is an unfolding tragedy,” stated Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, remembering the estimated 2.030 migrants who died in the Mediterranean sea since the beginning of the year..... Italy’s Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, repeated his call for help stating that “it is necessary if Europe wants to stay true to it’s own principles, history and civilization”.

France, Germany pledge more support for Italy on migrants, offer vague (euractiv, link): "France, Germany and the EU executive on Monday (3 July) promised Italy more support in handling the influx of migrants arriving by boat from Africa, agreeing to bolster training and funding for Libya’s coastguard and to relocate asylum seekers more swiftly. But they made no direct reference to Rome’s appeal for European Union nations to ease the pressure by allowing rescue boats carrying migrants to dock in their ports."

Italian plan to curb Mediterranean rescue boat charities 'threatens lives' (Guardian, link): "New rules drawn up by Italy likely to bring NGOs under coast guard control, which they fear will hamper rescue attempts..... Charities that rescue migrants and refugees from the Mediterranean have reacted angrily to plans to make them subject to a new code of conduct drawn up by Italy and endorsed by other EU countries. The move is likely to bring them under the control of the Libyan and Italian coast guards, which might constrain their ability to save passengers from overcrowded and unseaworthy smuggling boats..... But a proposal by Italy to unilaterally close its ports to ships containing migrants is expected to be shelved because it is in clear breach of international maritime law."."

Caritas Europa: EU member states must help Italy (New Europe, link): "The European Union member states are showing a lack of solidarity towards Italy, according to Caritas Europa, a European confederation of Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in Europe. According to Caritas, Italy is delivering humanitarian assistance to children, women and men in desperate need who have been forced to leave their home countries. “But the heroic task of coping alone with 75% of all arrivals to Europe is becoming too difficult to fulfil without the support of all the other member states.”

Austrian military set to stop Italy migrants (euobserver, link): "The Austrian military is preparing to stop migrants coming from Italy amid sharpening rhetoric ahead of elections. Seven hundred and fifty soldiers, including Pandur armoured vehicles, stand ready to go to the Austrian-Italian border at 72 hours notice, Austria’s defence minister, Hanspeter Doskozil, told the Krone newspaper, an Austrian daily, on Monday (3 July)."

Italy imposing new rules on NGO sea rescues (euobserver, link): "The Forensic Oceanography branch at the University of London had also produced an extensive study that debunks arguments that NGOs operating near the Libyan coast lure people to take boats towards Italy."

UNHCR: MIXED MIGRATION: TRENDS IN LIBYA: Changing Dynamics and Protection Challenges (pdf):

"This report sheds light on the constantly changing flow of refugees and migrants into Libya and identifies their principal vulnerabilities and needs. It builds on previous studies that indicate that of the three main routes to Europe used by refugees and migrants - the Western Mediterranean Route, the Central Mediterranean Route and the Eastern Mediterranean Route – Libya has become the preferred gateway for irregular movement, despite also being the deadliest."

EU: Commission, France, Germany and Italy - Joint "Declaration": Italy to draw up a "Code of Conduct" to bring NGOs operating in the Med under state control: Press release, pdf):

The measures proposed contains many previous ideas: increasing "relocation" in the EU (which has failed miserably), increasing "returns" (which are low), helping Libyan Coast Guards and enhancing "readmission rates" to Africa.

But top of lathe list is a new proposal to:

"Work on a code of conduct for NGO's, to be drafted and presented by Italy, in order to improve coordination with NGO's operating in the Mediterranean Sea....

In order to allow swift progress in support of Italy, the Ministers of Interior of France, Germany and Italy and the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs call on all EU partners to consider these action points at the next EU informal Council meeting in Tallinn on 6 July."

EU: Entry-Exit system (EES): Nearing agreement - some "technical" issues still outstanding

EU: Centralised biometric database for convicted non-EU nationals also part of "interoperability" agenda

Proposals published last week by the European Commission will see the development of a new a centralised database holding the criminal records of non-EU citizens, alongside their fingerprints and photographs.

"Although it is possible to exchange information on convictions concerning third country nationals and stateless persons (hereinafter: TCN) through ECRIS [the European Criminal Records Information System] today, there is no procedure or mechanism in place to do so efficiently," says the Commission, and thus a new system is required that will simplify the process and leave the door open for future "interoperability" initiatives with other EU databases and information systems.

Historical amnesia and Europe’s migration relations with Libya
Craig Damian Smith 2 July 2017

Driven by domestic politics and the need to be seen to be doing something, Europe has locked itself in a cycle of dodgy deals (Open Democracy, link).

The detention of asylum seekers in Europe: Constructed on shaky ground? (ECRE, link):

"The detention of asylum seekers pending the examination of their application for international protection continues to provoke heated debates in Europe. While the use of immigration detention is generally on the rise in European countries as an integral part of their responses to migration flows, the detention of persons applying for international protection raises particular questions of legality and proportionality. International and European legal standards have established a clear presumption against the detention of migrants and refugees in particular."

97 migrants detained off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast (ahram.org.eg, link):

"Egypt’s navy foiled on Saturday an attempt at irregular migration by 97 people in a boat off the Alexandrian coast, the state-owned MENA news agency reported. According to a statement by the Armed Forces, the migrants included Egyptians, Eritreans, Somalis, Sudanese, Syrians, Yemenis, and Chadians."

Greek port of Patras becoming something like Calais in France (Migration News Sheet, link):

"An increasing number of migrants/asylum-seekers have been heading to the Greek port of Patras from where they hope to travel clandestinely to Italy. Patras is becoming a bit like the French port of Calais where migrants/asylum-seekers gathered and waited for an opportunity to smuggle themselves or get smuggled by traffickers to the UK."

German Plan to Deport Children to Morocco Ignores Lessons of History (Refugees Deeply, link)

"The leaked German proposal to build reception centers for unaccompanied minors in Morocco ignores the lessons from Spain’s controversial and ill-fated attempt to do the same thing 12 years ago, says researcher Lorena Gazzotti."

France: Detention still a primary instrument of migration control (ECRE, link):

"The annual report on administrative detention in France, published today by six civil society organisations present in detention centres, details the systematic use of deprivation of liberty as a primary instrument of migration control.

Last year, France detained 45,937 persons in administrative detention centres (CRA) and other places of administrative detention (LRA) scattered across the territory and overseas. The year 2016 drew a particularly strong link between detention and camp management policies, where the dismantlement of settlements in Paris, Calais and Metz, as well as unlawful evictions (décasages) in Mayotte, resulted in people being placed in detention, often to the detriment of their personal situation and in contravention of legal standards."

Refugees in Greece: Getting to grips with IT (Reliefweb, link):

"According to UNICEF, 20 000 refugee minors are currently living in Greece. Save the Children's Anna met one of them, Aarif, on her way to an education centre where refugee and migrant adolescents are given the opportunity to gain new skills. The project is run by Save the Children with funding from EU Humanitarian Aid.*

GREECE: LESBOS LEGAL CENTRE: Arbitrary Detention in Lesbos – Refugees Driven to Hunger Strike to Protest Inhumane Conditions (link):

"The Legal Centre Lesbos condemns the unlawful practice of indiscriminately detaining people who are in the process of applying for international protection. The Greek Asylum Service is currently automatically detaining applicants whose initial appeals have been rejected, and arbitrarily detaining people of certain nationalities for the entire duration of their applications.

International law forbids discrimination on the basis of nationality, and prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. It also provides that detainees have the right to meaningfully challenge any deprivation of their liberty. All these rights are being systematically violated in Lesvos."

 

June 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29-30.6.17)
Are You Syrious (29.6.17, link)

EU funds for refugee support in Turkey are used to detain and deport them: Feature

"The EU-Turkey agreement was always supposed to be a plan, according to the ones that design it, to stop to route though Greece and support the millions of refugees stuck in Turkey. Nevertheless the EU has not disbursed all funds under the EU-Turkey deal to NGOs but also to the Turkish government, FAZ reported on Monday....

So the EU funds do not entirely go straight to support the refugees but also to detain and deport them. In its report from 13.06.17 the Commission also stated: “Due to the lower than expected number of returnees, the Special Measure on returns is also being modified to improve the Turkish Directorate-General for Migration Management’s capacity to manage, receive and host migrants and returnees, especially as concerns human resources and infrastructure.....

According to the information from the Turkish authorities only 56 of the around 1000 non-Syrian refugees, who were transferred back from Greece to Turkey, applied for asylum in Turkey. Only two were granted international protection and 38 applications are pending, the rest was denied or rejected. But overall more than 700 people were returned to their countries of origin."

Afghanistan

"The afghan migration ministers is asking both Sweden and EU to stop the deportations instantly, was today reported by the Swedish paper SVD. A Swedish lawyer quoted is reading this info as if the Afghan government is looking for a way out from the previous agreement regarding returning citizens...."

Italy

"There has been a protest today at Cara di Mineo camp. 300 people blocked the main road Catania-Gela close to the entrance of the Cara to protest against local new rules. Plus, older problems like delays in receiving permits to stay and the diaria (daily allowance) converted into cigarettes.

Authorities announced the rule which prohibits migrants from cooking different food from the one provided by the Cara and from selling clothes and medicines inside the structure."

Migrant arrivals up in Aegean, as Juncker pledges support (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As official figures point to a significant increase in undocumented migrants seeking to enter the European Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday described Greece and Italy as “heroic” in their efforts to tackle the problem and pledged additional European support.

In the past week alone, a total of 813 migrants arrived on the Greek islands from neighboring Turkey, according to government figures made public on Friday.

Local reports suggest that conditions at migrant reception centers on Chios and Lesvos are becoming increasingly cramped and unpleasant, as arrivals have spiked due to the good weather and only a handful of migrants are being sent back to Turkey."

UK: Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber): No more returns to Libya

"The violence in Libya has reached such a high level that substantial grounds are shown for believing that a returning civilian would, solely on account of his presence on the territory of that country or region, face a real risk of being subject to a threat to his life or person."

See: Decision: full-text (pdf)

EU: President Tusk wants to turn the international sanctions machinery against migrant smugglers: See Council Press release (pdf):

"When it comes to migration just one remark: there is already a very ambitious and responsible language proposed by Chancellor Merkel. My suggestion is that maybe we could also add a very concrete reference to the fight against smugglers. We could appeal to the other G20 members to consider for example UN sanctions against the smugglers.

In order to put smugglers on the UN list we need the UN Security Council members to agree. The G20 format seems to be a good forum to bring it to the table."

ICC in The Hague to investigate Libyan Coastguard on the initiative of Sea-Watch (link):

"The International Criminal Court in The Hague is investigating the so-called Libyan Coastguard. This investigation is the result of the numerous attacks on civil rescue organisations as well as refugees and migrants, as highlighted by Sea-Watch. In several cases, the so-called Libyan Coastguard has put rescuers, migrants and refugees in mortal danger in order to bring the latter back to Libya at gunpoint – a clear violation of the internationally-accepted principle of non-refoulement.

For Sea-Watch, the specific reason for this legal investigation stems from an incident on 10th May in which a patrol boat of the Libyan Coastguard dangerously cut across the bow of the Sea-Watch 2 in order to subsequently reach a wooden boat with c. 500 people on board."

Italy considers closing its ports to boats carrying migrants (Guardian, link):

"Government reportedly seeking EU approval of drastic changes to asylum procedures after surge in refugee arrivals....The Italian government is considering blocking boats carrying migrants from landing at its ports after nearly 11,000 refugees arrived on its shores in five days.

It has been reported that the government has given its ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, a mandate to raise the issue formally with the European commission to seek permission for a drastic revision of EU asylum procedures. One idea being discussed is denying docking privileges to boats not carrying Italian flags that seek to land in Italian ports, mainly in Sicily or Calabria."

And see: Italy takes formal EU migrant step, ports cd be blocked (ANSA, link):

" Italy is taking a formal step with the European Commission in relation to the large numbers of asylum seekers landing on its shores, ANSA sources said. Over 10,000 asylum seekers arrived in Italy from Saturday to Tuesday and some 12,000 have arrived in the last 48 hours. The government gave its ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, a mandate to formally raise the issue with European Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, the sources said."

Number of refugees in east Croatian border town reaches nearly 200 (Dalje, link):

"The number of refugees arriving in the eastern Croatian town of Tovarnik on the Croatia-Serbia border has been rising since early Wednesday morning, and just before the noon, some 180 migrants were being on the premises of the local police station for registration.

The total closure of the Hungarian border (with Serbia) on Tuesday led to re-routing of refugees from Serbia towards the border with Croatia, the local police spokesman, Domagoj Dzigumovic, said."

Greek minister’s take on refugee crisis (New Europe, link):

"Greece’s Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas has praised his country’s efforts to manage the refugee crisis.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua News Agency, he said: “I think we did well. I clarify that by saying we did well, I mean we managed a very difficult issue with dignity, but that does not mean we did not make mistakes, that everybody is happy now, that there are pergolas with flowers all around......

The situation remains difficult, but manageable, Mouzalas said, noting that with 60,000 people trapped in Greece, the wager was big for a country with no previous experience in hosting so many refugees.”

UK: Immigration detainees bring legal challenge against £1 an hour 'slave' wages (Guardian, link): "Lawyers for 10 people held in UK centres want Home Office to raise minimum pay for voluntary but ‘essential’ work by detainees."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27-28.6.17)
EU effort to halt migrants founders in Libya's chaos (Reuters, link):

"When Libya's coastguard received the first of a long-awaited batch of patrol boats from Italy last month, two of the four vessels still had mechanical problems and one broke down on the way to Tripoli.

As Italy's interior minister later flew in to present the boats officially at a naval base in the Libyan capital, coast guards grumbled that the vessels were old and had little deck space for rescued migrants.

"They want us to be Europe's policeman. At the same time, that policeman needs resources," said naval coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem. "I challenge anyone to work in these conditions." "

EU: Council of the European Union: Draft reply to question for written answer: E-000945/2017 - Marina Albiol Guzmán (GUE/NGL): 'Provision of training, equipment and support to the Libyan coastguard' (LIMITE doc no: 10302-17, pdf). The MEP asked:

"Taking into account that three different governments and countless armed groups are controlling different parts of Libya, and that the country has at least seven different coastguard services, how did the Council select the coastguards and officials that will receive EU support? What criteria were applied?"

The Council says there is one government it recognises and one Coast Guard.

See also: UN report on Libya: serious abuses against migrants, "concerns" over vetting of coastguard members trained by EU (Statewatch)

UK: Right to Health for All: Why the Home Office should not have access to NHS patients’ data, and why NHS professionals should not be expected to guard our borders (if we are to take human rights seriously) (pdf) by Doctors of the World and Just Fair:

"A Memorandum of Understanding between NHS Digital (formerly Health and Social Care Information Centre), the Home Office and the Department of Health (“MoU”) came into effect in January 2017. The intention of this MoU is to formalise and facilitate the access to NHS patients’ non-clinical information, including their home address, by Home Office Immigration Enforcement authorities.

(...)

In accordance with international law, governments can control their borders and regulate migration, but not at the expense of human rights. Everyone is entitled to healthcare regardless of their immigration status.

This paper shows why and how the transfer of non-clinical personal data between the NHS and immigration authorities can seriously impair the enjoyment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health for thousands of people living in the UK, which constitutes a breach of the international human rights obligations of the UK."

Irish naval ship 'rescues 712 people' off Libyan coast (Al Jazeera, link):

"An Irish naval ship has rescued 712 people, including pregnant women and infants, off the coast of the Libyan capital of Tripoli as part of an international migrant-rescue effort, Ireland's Defence Forces say.

The Le Eithne ship led the rescue of multiple vessels in distress 40km north-west of Tripoli throughout Sunday.

Six migrants, including one baby, were revived from states of unconsciousness.

The ship will transport the people, including 14 pregnant women and four infants below the age of four months, to a designated "port of safety" to be handed over to Italian authorities."

EU: Council of the European Union: Schengen evaluation of GREECE - Action Plan to remedy the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System (LIMITE doc no: 10283-17, pdf):

Checklist of measures adopyed in Greece or planned:

- Including when and when not to record "nationality"

- "mobile devices to enable photographs and links to be displayed in case of a hit;",

- "Strengthen the use of discreet or specific check alerts for prosecuting criminal offences and preventing threats to public security (Article 36 (2) of Council Decision 2007/533/JHA) by the Hellenic Police";

- "The number of checks has been increased. During the period from 01/06/2015 – 01/05/2016 there were conducted 823.746 document checks of EU citizens, while for the period from 01/06/2016-01/05/2017 the checks reached the number of 1.274.436."

See also: At the behest of the EU Greece is to install a "coastal surveillance system covering the whole sea border between Greece and Turkey" (Statewatch)

French woman guilty of smuggling migrant partner but spared jail (BBC News, link):

"A woman put on trial in France for helping her romantic partner cross the border from the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais to the UK has escaped a jail sentence.

Béatrice Huret, a former supporter of the far-right National Front, was found guilty of aiding an Iranian man named Mokhtar to cross the English channel.

However, the court did not hand down any punishment for Mrs Huret.

Three others on trial for related offences were also convicted."

DENMARK: Government party wants to punish NGOs for saving refugees crossing the Mediterranean (Copenhagen Post, link):

"The government party Venstre wants to strip Danish aid funds from NGOs that take part in rescuing migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean via boat.

Venstre’s spokesperson on immigration issues, Marcus Knuth, follows the line set by the EU border agency Frontex, which has also criticised NGOs for funding or taking part in rescue missions.

“I agree strongly with the criticism. Aid organisations create a greater incentive to take the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea, and I look upon that gravely,” Knuth told Berlingske newspaper.

“So we should look at where these organisations get their funds from, and if it comes from Denmark, we should strongly reconsider continuing to give them support.”"

UK: European Court of Human Rights finds UK in breach of Article 5 over unlawful detention of Zimbabwean national (gardencourtchambers.co.uk):

"The applicant, S.M.M., is a Zimbabwean national who lives in London. Relying on Article 5 § 1 (f) (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention, he claimed that he had been detained unlawfully between November 2008 and September 2011. He was detained during that time on the basis that he was awaiting deportation from the UK. In September 2011, he was released on bail and one year later he was granted asylum in the country."

See: Judgment (pdf)

GREECE: In Athens (LRB Blog) by Daniel Trilling:

"My friend was tired, and a little bitter about the way volunteers have been treated. I think she’s right to be. When we look back on Europe’s refugee crisis, are we more likely to remember the stories told by the institutions responsible, or the connections forged between the people who found themselves at the centre of it?"

EU ringed by human trafficking offenders (EUobserver, link):

"The EU is encircled by a ring of the world’s worst offenders on human trafficking, a US state department report has said.

In the south, it neighbours the “special case” of Libya, and is ringed by Mauritania, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, and Iran - all of them countries that do not meet US “minimum standards” on prevention of trafficking and “are not making significant efforts to do so”, the report, out on Tuesday (27 June), said.

In the east, Russia and Belarus fell into the same category."

See: US Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report 2017 (link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21-26.6.17)
Report: Western Balkans route not closed, just diverted via Bulgaria (euractiv. link):

"A report by a German think-tank reveals the deficiencies of the deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees to Europe. Migration is on the menu of the two-day summit starting today (22 June).

Migration will be discussed on Friday (23 June), the second day of the summit. According to diplomats decisions are not expected at this stage, but a frank discussion “on the external aspects” is very likely to take place.

On Wednesday (21 June), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung released a 26-page report, pointing out at the fragility of the situation since the EU-Turkey deal, which in theory closed the Western Balkans route."

See: The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal and the Not Quite Closed Balkan Route (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, pdf) by Bodo Weber

EU should stop cooperating with Libyan coastguard, to avoid abuse of refugees: Amnesty International (New Europe, link)::

"Ahead of the European Council on 22-23 June, Amnesty International is calling on EU leaders to step up efforts to save lives in the Mediterranean, and stop cooperating in returns to Libya, before more drown as crossings increase during the summer months.

“The EU is allowing the Libyan coastguard to return refugees and migrants to a country where unlawful detention, torture and rape are the norm. They are increasing the capacity of the Libyan coastguard while turning a blind eye to the inherent, grave, risks of such cooperation,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office."

FRANCE: Petition calls on French president to end the detention of migrant children

La Cimade, with Réseau Education sans frontières (RESF), Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH), Anafé, MRAP, Syndicat des avocats de France (SAF), France terre d’asile and ASSFAM has launched a petition calling on the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, to put an end to child migrants' detention.

EU: Border management going virtual (EUobserver, link):

"Internal security and migration are merging under the guise of border management as the EU seeks to tighten controls on who leaves and enters the bloc.

Krum Garkov, who heads the Tallinn-based EU agency that oversees large-scale IT systems, described the merger as a fundamental shift that will also make border controls virtual.

"Border management today is going through a very fundamental transformation," he said earlier this week at a conference organised by Forum Europe in Brussels.

His agency, known as eu-Lisa, is also set for an overhaul, with the European Commission floating a bill next week to beef up its mandate."

EU: European Council meeting (22 and 23 June 2017) – Conclusions (EUCO 8/17, pdf):

"Today the European Council focused on strengthening Europe and protecting its citizens through effective measures to fight terrorism and develop its common security and defence, to ensure its economic development in a globalised world, to tackle migration and to protect its external borders. A strong and determined Union is the best way to promote our values and interests, support a rules-based multilateral system and mobilise partners for a positive climate policy. It will also help shape globalisation in order to reap the benefits of open markets while protecting against unfair practices and promoting the social, environmental, health and consumer standards that are central to the European way of life. The European Council paid tribute to Helmut Kohl, Honorary Citizen of Europe, who passed away on 16 June 2017."

And see: EU: European Council wants industry to develop automated censorship tools and "address the challenge" of encryption

EU: “E-smuggling”: Europol steps up efforts against online-assisted migrant crossings (Matthias Monroy, link):

"According to the EU police agency, in the past year 17,459 people operated as “human traffickers”. In the majority of cases, refugees and their facilitators communicate using Facebook or Telegram. Seizing of electronic evidence is thus to take on a greater role in investigations.

Last year, the EU police agency Europol received reports of 1,150 social media accounts apparently used by refugees to facilitate their entry into or travel through the European Union. This information is based on figures (PDF) published by the European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC) at Europol for 2016. The number of incriminated accounts in 2015 was just 148."

And see: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees” (pdf, March 2016) by Chris Jones

ITALY: Rome’s mayor adopts anti-migrant stance (New Europe, link):

"Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi has warned that the Italian capital is facing a new migrant emergency.

“We can’t afford new arrivals,” she wrote in a letter sent to Italy’s Interior Ministry. “Rome’s reception capacity is on its knee” and new arrivals would have “devastating social costs”.

As reported by local and international media, this was not Raggi’s view in December when she spoke at an event hosted by the Roman Catholic Church to showcase positive responses to refugees in European cities."

EU: Rescue organizations in Italy under pressure (Deutsche Welle, link):

Video: "There are over ten NGO-run boats patrolling the coast of Libya to help thousands of refugees. But Frontex, the European border control and coast guard agency, thinks they are playing into the hands of smugglers."

EU: Arrival of migrants in May: Numbers in Italy and Greece higher than month ago (Frontex, link):

"There were around 27 000 detections of illegal border crossings on the four main migratory routes into the EU in May. The total number of detections in the first five months of 2017 fell 75% from the same period of last year to 84 000, although the number of migrants arriving in Italy remained above the figures from a year ago."

EU-HUNGARY: Hungary is Taking European Values for a Ride (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Fidesz government has repeatedly undermined the rule of law, as well as checks and balances of the executive through the courts, media, and civil society. This year those attacks have intensified, with a law aimed at shutting down a reputable academic institution, the Central European University, another to curb the work of foreign-funded nongovernmental groups inspired by Russia’s foreign agents law, and a third that doubles down on the country’s abusive border regime for asylum seekers.

Yet Fidesz’ membership of the EPP [European People's Party] has helped shield Hungary from meaningful European Union action by blocking resolutions in the parliament aiming to address serious rule of law and human rights concerns, despite the fact that the government’s actions breach not only European values, but those of the EPP itself. Those values include respect for rule of law and human rights and encouraging a vibrant civil society.

(...)

By letting Fidesz take the country down an authoritarian path without any tangible consequences, the EU has signalled that other EU states can do the same.

If [Manfred] Weber [chair of the EPP] really wants to bring about positive changes both in Hungary and Poland he should urge EPP to reassess Fidesz’s membership in EPP, and consider expelling the party."

CoE: Anti-racism and discrimination experts publish annual Europe survey (Human Rights Europe, link):

"Surging nationalist populism, the integration of migrants and the response of European governments to Islamist terrorism, are key developments confirmed in the 2016 annual report of the european Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

“The rise of populist politics in today’s Europe is deeply worrying, especially when directed against the minorities, including migrants and refugees,” said Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland. “I call on all responsible politicians to do everything they can to stop this dangerous trend and to work towards creating inclusive societies.”

The Chairperson of the ECRI, Christian Åhlund, noted the rise of hate speech in political and media discourse: “It is not enough to criminalize hate speech and monitor it; we need to actively counteract it. Internal codes of ethics for media and parliamentarians should foresee sanctions for its use. Political, religious, cultural elites, artists and sports celebrities must actively engage in counter-speech.”"

See: European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI): Annual report on ECRI's activities covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2016 (pdf)

Is Greece ready to receive asylum seekers under the Dublin system? (Human Rights Centre Blog, link)

"On the occasion of Refugee Week, this blog entry aims to provide an overview of the reception conditions for asylum seekers in Greece under the prism of the so-called Dublin system. The Dublin system consists of regulations which purport to streamline the handling of asylum claims amongst most European Union (EU) member states and a small number of other non-member states. With a few exemptions, the core principle of these rules is simple: the member state responsible for an asylum claim will be the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.

(...)

In light of these developments, asylum seekers in Greece are in need of receiving legal assistance during the prolonged and stressful stages of their claim for asylum. The systemic failures they face are barely addressed by NGOs, legal practitioners and grassroots solidarity movements. In response to that need, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association set up the Athens Legal Support Project on 10 April 2017. The Project brings together a diverse pool of UK-based lawyers with the aim of working closely with a Community Centre in Athens and Greek lawyers to advise asylum seekers in relation to the Greek asylum process, relocation, family reunification and other issues arising from the Dublin system."

EU: Immigrants stuck between rhetoric and reality (New Europe, link):

"Migration will continue to be rein among the most favourite topics of any kind of populist in Europe. Based on sentimental grounds, it’s an issue used strictly for national electoral gains, ignoring the fact that Europe’s population is aging and EU economies need to renew their labour forces.

While politicians find it convenient and easy to hide behind alarming slogans concerning the Islamisation of Europe and the potential threat of immigration to national values, the economic world holds a different view.

Finance ministers, bankers and industry leaders constantly express concern about looming worker shortages in EU economies. They started sounding the alarm bells several years ago."

Are You Syrious (21.6.17)

EU

"Six countries in the European Union - Chech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia — are currently working on a military pact in order to be able to unite and coordinate their military forces in case another wave of refugees hit the EU. More details is hopefully, if not to say not hopefully, to come about this extremely terrible and mean idea. At this point it is known that the defense ministers from the six Central European countries promised closer cooperation over the migration crisis, including using armed forces where necessary.

The group, which includes two countries, currently being sued by the European Commission for refusing to participate in the E.U.’s internal resettlement mechanism, said this would allow countries to have control over who is entering their borders. Control and alienation, again, instead of understanding and solidarity towards people who’s homes aren’t as safe places as their own."

Lesvos

"A terrible incident has been reported from Moria detention center. A resident in the camp was today beaten up by police, and after that the police tried to delete everyone’s photos from the incident. Fortunately, they didn’t succeed in doing so."

Germany

"Since the EU Commission advised the member states to resume with the Dublin III transfers to Greece, Germany has sent them 50 cases to deport back. But the Greek ministry hasn’t answered yet, which means that Germany can’t transfer the people.

The situation is similar for returning people back to Italy during the same legislation, of the more than 6700 requests made by Germany only 370 people have been sent back. This has various reasons like courts blocking the deportation or there’s no EURODAC hit for the persons. Further Germany is not sending requests for families with children under three years. Tweets to follow in German."

Greece urged by European Court of Human Rights stop deportation (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The European Court of Human Rights is urging Greek authorities to hold off on deporting a Pakistani national who was due to be sent back to Turkey, from where he had traveled to Greece.

The man, whose name has not been publicized for his own protection, is being held at a migrant detention center on the island of Lesvos."

German deportations to Afghanistan to restart next week: reports (DW, link)

"Just weeks after a spate of attacks in Kabul forced Germany to halt deportations to Afghanistan, plans for more flights are reportedly afoot. Failed Afghan asylum-seekers could be forced home as early as next week."

Refugee campaigners launch legal challenge over Home Office 'failure' to implement Dubs scheme (Independent, link): "Help Refugees accuse Government of adopting 'seriously defective' process of measuring local councils' capacity to take in child refugees."

The way asylum seekers are treated in the UK is a silent scandal (Guardian, link):

"We may be on different sides of the table, but legal aid lawyers like me feel the anxiety of the Home Office caseworkers who lose sleep over a failing system."

EU: European Council wants industry to develop automated censorship tools and "address the challenge" of encryption

- Draft conclusions for 22-23 June meeting also back multi-billion euro military reserach programme
- Migration: "Training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard is a key component of the EU approach and should be speeded up"

EU: Say yes to human mobility and no to Fortress Europe (EurActiv, link):

"EU leaders will this week meet to agree, once more, on ways to keep migrants out of the EU. Out of sight may be out of mind but such a policy is only encouraging the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of people, warns Leila Bodeux.(...)

No walls, no human rights abuses, no coast guards or threat of return will stop desperate people from searching for a dignified life in Europe, no matter how deadly the attempt may be.(...)

The time is ripe to anchor policies in facts and evidence, rather than in fear and quick fixes.

Europe has the moral duty and the material means to welcome, protect, promote and integrate people in need. There are plenty of tools to open efficient, safe and legal pathways to Europe, such as humanitarian visas, resettlement, community sponsorship, humanitarian corridors, and family reunification.

In these unsettling times, Europe can take strong global leadership and promote a fair and humane world by dismantling old, stiff Fortress Europe and by investing in a modern and dynamic, welcoming Europe that fosters human mobility.

This is the future."

EU: The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal and the Not Quite Closed Balkan Route (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, pdf) by Bodo Weber:

"The effect of the two measures [the closure of the Balkan route and the EU-Turkey deal] on the Balkan route has been threefold: First, the number of refugees and migrants moving along the route has dropped dramatically, but tens of thousands still succeed to transit; second, the route has been redirected, with the southern entry point shifting from the Greek islands to Bulgaria’s land border with Turkey; and third, the form of transit has shifted back to the use of smugglers. The three EU member states located at the southern entry (Bulgaria) and northern exit (Hungary, Croatia) of the Balkan route have reacted to the inability to completely close the route with intensified efforts of systematic push-backs of refugees and migrants. Bulgaria has done so with limited success, the other two have been more successful. The attempts to physically close the Balkan route, especially in the case of Hungary, have included changes to asylum legislation that, taken together with the physical push-backs, amount to the systematic violation of human rights and the systematic violation of domestic, EU and international laws and conventions and constitutes a departure from core EU values."

UK: 28 Days Later… The Rule that Leaves New Refugees in the UK Destitute (one small window, link):

"For the lucky few, being granted refugee status should come as a relief. Instead, it is often the start of a new ordeal. The challenges that lie ahead for new refugees include integration, finding work, learning English, homelessness, medical care and racism. Yet these problems are exacerbated by the growing destitution among new refugees, who have not been granted this status under a special government resettlement scheme, such as that for some Syrian refugees.

In early 2017, the Red Cross reported a 10% increase in the number of destitute asylum seekers and refugees they helped in 2016, compared to 2015: 21% had been granted refugee status. The number of hungry refugees sleeping rough across the country is growing."

And see: All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees: Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK (April 2017, pdf)

SERBIA: Welcome to refugee purgatory on the Hungary border (IRIN, link):

"Thousands of migrants and refugees trying to reach northern Europe have become trapped in Serbia since neighbouring countries sealed their borders in early 2016. After months of living in squalid conditions in abandoned buildings or overcrowded reception centres, many attempt to cross into Hungary. Few succeed.

Filmmaker Jaime Alekos spent two months earlier this year interviewing dozens of migrants, many of them unaccompanied minors, who described being caught near the border by Hungarian police, beaten brutally, and forced back into Serbia. Their accounts are consistent with reports from Médecins Sans Frontières teams working in Serbia who regularly treat migrants for injuries inflicted by Hungarian border patrols. The abuse and pushbacks appear to be systematic and ongoing. This atmospheric film captures the migrants’ testimonies as well as their grim living conditions in Serbia."

European Court of Justice: Advocate General Sharpston considers that an applicant for international protection can challenge a Member State's decision to transfer him to another Member State on the basis that the 'take charge request' sent by the first Member State was not made within the time limits set out under EU law (press release, pdf):

"In the Advocate General's opinion, the Dublin III Regulation, the relevant legislation, is no longer a purely inter-State mechanism and the operation of time limits has substantive implications for the applicants and the Member States concerned."

See: Opinion in Case C-670/16 (pdf)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-20.6.17)
Commission report on relocation: Does it know how many refugees there in Greece?

Commission asks "the Greek authorities to clarify the total number of migrants present on the mainland and the islands."

A painful record (Ekathimerini, link) by Pantelis Boukalas:

"Tuesday marks World Refugee Day. Although a plethora of heartfelt statements will come from official lips about the plight of millions of people who have been displaced from their homes, very little will reach the ears of the actual protagonists of this drama.

In any case, the figures released on Monday by the United Nations are enough to make you gasp: About 65.6 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict or persecution by the end of 2016.

This is a painful record, which leaves an indelible mark on the face of humanity, especially considering that half of the refugee population is composed of children.

(...)

Sixty-five point six million people. With no freedoms, no rights, no future. This Europe which so touts its respect of human rights does not even respect the right of families separated by violence to reunite. Officials always find a way to bypass the rules or to turn a blind eye to the plight of these people, while at the same time bragging about their official signature at the bottom of agreements and protocols."

World Refugee Day - Reports of three new shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency received information last night about three new shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. We fear that at least 130 people are dead or missing.

The first and largest of these incidents involved a rubber dinghy that left Libya on 15 June and began taking on water just hours into its journey. From the Italian coast guard, and the four survivors - Sudanese and Nigerian nationals – we understand the boat was carrying at least 133 people. 129 people are missing.

The second incident involved a boat carrying at least 85 people which broke in two and sank yesterday. People who witnessed the sinking say the boat was among three that left Libya on the evening of 15 June. There were many families with children aboard. The nationalities of those lost are Syrians and people from North African countries.

A third shipwreck is reported to have left seven more people dead or missing. Survivors were disembarked yesterday in Messina, Sicily. Their boat left Libya on 14 June. A pregnant woman from Cameroon lost her husband in the shipwreck.

Today is World Refugee Day. These incidents are a reminder of the grave dangers that people confront when forced to flee their countries because of war and persecution. Since the beginning of the year, over 77,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. This is among the world’s most dangerous routes – a journey that no one takes lightly."

SPAIN: Thousands march for refugees, ask Madrid to honour commitment (Middle East Eye, link):

"Several thousand people marched in Madrid on Saturday to ask the Spanish government to honour its commitment to take in more than 17,000 refugees as part of Europe's relocation plan.

"No human being is illegal," the crowds chanted as they walked under scorching heat past clothing shops in central Madrid, holding banners that read "Bridges not walls" and "Enough with excuses, no more barriers".

The protest, organised by dozens of NGOs including Amnesty International, comes just a few days before World Refugee Day on Tuesday."

See also: Massive demonstration in Barcelona in support of migrants and refugees (Statewatch News Online, 20 February 2017) and: Milan like Barcelona. Together, without walls, against the racist criminalisation of migrants and the poor. For an international network of antiracist cities (27 May 2017)

   COE: European countries must lift obstacles to reunification of refugee families (link):

"reunification is a fundamental part of the right to family life, which is protected by international human rights law. This right is particularly important for refugees in Europe. Because of the dangers they face at home, their only option to enjoy their right to family life is to bring their families to Europe. Regrettably, many European countries are limiting refugees’ access to this right through restrictive measures which are unjust, unlawful and cause immense hardship for refugees and their families.

This has to change”, says today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a report which aims at helping Council of Europe member states adopt a more humane and human rights oriented policy on family reunification for refugees and beneficiaries of international protection."

See: Issue Paper (pdf) and Summary (pdf)

SWITZERLAND: Eritrean asylum seeker’s expulsion from Switzerland would not breach the European Convention (press release, pdf):

"The case M.O. v. Switzerland (application no. 41282/16) concerned the complaint brought by an Eritrean asylum seeker that he would be at risk of ill-treatment if deported from Switzerland to his country of origin. He essentially claimed before the Swiss authorities that he was a deserter from military service and, following a period of imprisonment, had escaped and left Eritrea illegally. The authorities found that his asylum claim was not credible and ordered his removal.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that:

there would be no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights if the expulsion order against the applicant, Mr M.O, were implemented."

See: Judgment (pdf)

EU: Schengen Information System (SIS): Returns, Border checks and discrete checks

 SIS AND RETURNS: Draft Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals - Draft compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 9592-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BE, BG, CZ, DE, DK, EL, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL, SE and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes."

 SIS AND BORDER CHECKS: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council
on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... draft compromise text
(LIMITE doc no: 9593-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: 73 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, and SI. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE and PL. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes."

 SIS AND "DISCRETE" CHECKS: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.... - draft compromise text regarding alerts on persons and objects for discreet checks, inquiry checks or specific checks (Articles 36 and 37) (LIMITE doc no: 9594-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: 98 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes.....

Article 2: Scope

This Regulation establishes the conditions and procedures for the entry and processing in SIS of alerts in respect of third-country nationals, the exchange of supplementary information and additional data for the purpose of refusing entry into and stay on the territory of the Member States."
[emphasis added]

SERBIA: Thousands of refugees left stuck in limbo in Calais of the Balkans (The Herald, link):

"In recent months, Serbian authorities have tried to provide shelter, food and medical care to thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa camping within its borders.

But the newcomers do not want any of it. This country is quickly becoming the Calais of the Balkans, a reference to the northern French city where refugees live in limbo while awaiting either deportation, asylum or continuing their journeys in hope of landing in a more welcoming European country.

“I tried to leave Serbia 17 times,” said Jawad Afzali, 17, an Afghan who has lived for the past six months with 1,500 other Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani migrants in abandoned warehouses and a tent village that sprung up behind the bus station."

HUNGARY: Asylum in Hungary: damanged beyond repair? ECRE's call for states to end transfers to Hungary under Dublin and bilateral arrangements

"A legal note published today provides a succinct analysis of the most problematic aspects of the Hungarian asylum system and legal framework, and the most egregious human rights violations asylum seekers currently face in the country, including at its external border with Serbia.

It concludes that Hungary’s legal framework, including alarming recent changes, puts rights at risk due to (1) the lack of access to asylum procedure (2) the application of “safe third country” concept to dublin returnees (3) the expansion of summary returns policy (4) inadequate reception conditions and automatic use of detention, and (5) increased risks of destitution.

Therefore, ECRE calls on all States not to transfer applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection to Hungary under the Dublin Regulation or any bilateral arrangements, and to assume responsibility themselves for the examination of these asylum claims."

See: Asylum in Hungary: damaged beyond repair? (link to pdf) and: SWITZERLAND: Court rules against sending asylum seekers to Hungary (Al Jazeera, link)

EU: Poland reacts to ‘non-compliance’ procedures (New Europe, link):

"In response to the European Commission launching procedures against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic over “non-compliance with their obligations under the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation” of migrants, Beata Szydlo has denied his country is refusing to show solidarity with its EU partners.

The Polish PM said her country is not alone in failing to relocate migrants under a 2015 deal designed to alleviate the pressure on Greece and Italy which have seen the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants and refugees.

In an interview with Belgian daily Le Soire, Szydlo said migrants were not interested in staying in Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic but wanted to head for richer countries."

See also: Orbán: No chance for single EU migration policy (EurActiv, link):

"Hungary’s populist prime minister said Monday (19 June) that he sees no chance for a single EU-wide migration policy, just days after the bloc launched legal action against Budapest for refusing refugees under a controversial solidarity plan."

And: Commission latest reports on the refugee crisis and "returns" to Turkey (Statewatch News Online, 14 June 2017)

IRELAND: Resettlement and relocation: Less than a third of promised 4,000 refugees settled here (Irish Times, link):

"Less than a third of the 4,000 refugees the Government promised to accept by the end of the 2017 have been resettled here, according to the most recent figures released ahead of World Refugee Day on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, charities have called for a reversal of parts of the International Protection Act 2015, which narrowed the definition of family and removed the possibility for refugees to apply for extended family members to joint them in Ireland.

(...)

Though we had promised to relocate refugees from Italy, none have yet been moved here. The Department of Justice said this was because Italian authorities have not allowed law enforcement agencies from other EU member states to conduct security assessments of candidates on its soil."

Are You Syrious (18.6.17, link)

Detention centres in Sweden are prisons

"Swedish Radio says the conditions in detention centres where people are placed before being deported have radically changed over the last couple of years, with these centres increasingly becoming like prisons. Staff members tell the radio that one of their main task and purpose was to talk, create relationships and prepare people in custody ahead of their deportation - now, they increasingly feel like prison guards. Clashes between staff and people who are about to be deported have increased and are now common events. The staff says the only training they have received in the last couple of years is on security and defense - nothing about how to treat vulnerable people......"

Greece: Arrivals

"52 people were rescued off Crete and transferred to Athens. Two boats arrived on Lesvos this morning, including one on the north coast with 55 people on board. Refugee Rescue, a sea rescue team, says people were forced to stay at the Stage 2 transit area yesterday night, as the Moria camp was apparently full."

Croatia: Police violence at the border

"A new case of police violence has been documented in Croatia. Five men including three minors crossed the border between Serbia and Croatia by train but were discovered at a train station near Zagreb. They then asked for asylum but were brought back to the border in a police van and beaten with batons. One of the minors was ill and beaten until he fell to the ground. The policemen then told them to “go back to Serbia” and not to come back, forcing the men to cross the border."

Italy:Situation in Gorizia

"Collettivo SPAM met with refugees in Gorizia, at the border with Slovenia, and says refugees living in governmental centres for accommodation of asylum seekers (CARA) and in the “jungle” are steadily increasing. Around 20 refugees are arriving each day in the jungle, with many kicked out of accommodation centres and others forced to live there after the eviction of the bunker, a basement that was managed by volunteers. The jungle is missing food and water and there is a constant danger coming from inundations and attacks by wild animals."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-18.6.17)
EU: Potential expansion of Eurodac database scope raises data protection concerns (ECRE Bulletin, link):

"The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament has adopted a report on the European Commission proposal to recast the Eurodac Regulation. It outlines a wide expansion of the scope of the Eurodac database that raises strong concerns about data protection.

These measures have raised serious concerns about asylum seekers’ right to data protection from a number of actors and organisations including ECRE, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the Meijers Committee."

See European Parliament adopted Report (its negotiating position, "orientation" vote) and the Council's position (LIMITE doc no: 10079-17,pdf) going into trilogue meetings.

Are You Syrious (17.6.17)

IMMINENT DEPORTATIONS FROM FRANCE TO AFGHANISTAN

"Calais migrant solidarity reports of 4 deportation planned for the 20th, 21st, 23rd and 24th of June.

4 Afghan men are facing direct deportation to Afghanistan, something that didn’t happen since 2009 in France. All of them have been arrested at the train station of Calais on May 10th, and transferred to the Mesnil-Amelot detention centre near Paris...."

Sea: MORE RESCUE OPERATION AND DISEMBARKING IN ITALY

"After a busy day on the sea rescuing 7 dinghies yesterday, MSF vessel Prudence approached and rescued one last boat last night. The boat had taken on a mix of water and fuel. A lady had to be urgently transported to a medical facility due to the effect of inhaling fuel fumes."

Spain: DEMONSTRATION FOR REFUGEES IN MADRID

"QuieremosAcogerYa was the slogan of the demonstration held today in Madrid to demand the Spanish government to take in more refugees. Spain, which had pledged to take in more than 17300, has so far only welcomed just over 1300, media sources report. After the huge demonstration in Barcelona last Febraury, today, with temperatures reaching 40°, more than 8000 people demonstrated through the streets of Madrid."

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 77,004 in 2017; 1,828 Deaths (IOM, link): Italy: 65,450, Greece 7,967, Spain 3.314 and Cyprus 273.

Are You Syrious (16.6.17, link):

Italy

"Four police officers were arrested and other four were dismissed, while another 18 officers and 4 civilians are under investigation in Lunigiana (between Liguria and Tuscany).They are accused of tens and tens of crimes, including 5 brutal beatings in the last year whose victims are a Polish homeless and some North African migrants. One of them, pushed to the ground, had his face squashed on the concrete with a shoe, the gun barrel in his mouth and was kicked and punched all over his body. In addition, when they didn’t feel like beating up someone, these police officers were peeing on the mattresses used as beds by the asylum seekers.

In their conversations other horrible details appear like their suggestion to stop thefts and crimes. By giving them total control, they could erase crime “even without killing”, just by taking all the criminals, once a day, put them in the car and beating them up hard. Destroy their houses, destroy everything they have, a bit of “healthy violence” will change the status of things in a month, according to these “men of justice”."

EU

"The European Parliament has recognised that refugees should get longer protection periods and suggests that Residence permits for all beneficiaries of international protection in the EU should be valid for five years and be renewable for additional five-year periods.

"Spain

"A petition has been lunched by Spanish Amnesty International to pressure the Spanish government to honor its promises and take more refugees into the country. The Spanish government has promised to relocate 17337 refugees until 26th of September of 2017, having only place so far 1304. Considering this, it’s highly unlikely that they reach the target, as they continue this widespread policy of looking the other way. The petition runs out on the 20th of June, Day of the Refugee. To support this movement please follow the link here."

Hungary

"Unfortunately, now, almost everyday we are getting new reports of violent push backs to Serbia. Refugee behind the closed borders reports that Hungary has begun to beat people again when they are caught trying to cross the border irregularly."

Greece

"The arrivals at the Greek islands continue at a high rate which means that the conditions only deteriorate. The situation continues to be particularly bad on Chios at the moment where the greater number of arrivals has brought the situation to a breaking point with refugees having to find a place to sleep almost anywhere and rising tensions with the local population."

Greece: Numbers

"A boat arrived to the north of Lesvos last night carrying 23 people, 5 men, 6 women and 11 children.

The official registrations today were: Lesvos - 58, Chios - 39, Samos - 48, Total - 145

For the first time this year, there has been around 150 being registered, 3 days in a row. Chios has now reached 3000 registrations this year, and Lesvos around 2200. The total of arrivals to the islands this year has now reached 8128 according to official numbers."

And see Statewtch story below.

Arrival in Greece show sharp rise in arrivals

Figures released by the Greek Ministry show that refugee arrivals on the islands are rising:

13 June: 146
14 June: 151
15 June: 145
16 June:   52

19 June:  98

Total on Islands: 14,322
Total in Greece:  62,258

European Parliament Briefings: Uncritical but useful summaries prepared for High-level Conference on migration management 21 June 2017:

  What has the European Union done in the field of migration since 2014? (pdf)
   European Parliament’s positions on key issues related to asylum and migration (pdf)

Greek Hotspots: Deaths Not to Be Forgotten (Pro Asyl, link):

"In an extensive policy paper, the team of Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) in Greece has observed that in numerous cases of refugee deaths at the hotspots on Greek islands, the Greek authorities have undertaken little or no investigation, turning the hotspots into an institutional gray zone."

Report: Refugee Support Aegean (RSA, link)

Spain’s handling of the Cayuco boat crisis (euractiv, link):

"Almost a decade before the deaths of 360 people in a shipwreck near Lampedusa, Italy, shook the world’s collective conscience about migration in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands – another southern European border – faced a similar challenge."

Polish PM under fire for using Auschwitz to make Poles fear refugees (euractiv, link)::

"Poland’s prime minister came under heavy fire yesterday (14 June) for appearing to defend her right-wing government’s anti-migrant policy during a memorial service at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German death camp."

Hungary’s transit zones are prisons where pregnant women are handcuffed and children go hungry (Budapest Sentinel, link):

"The Hungarian government set up transit zones along the border as a place for those fleeing war to request international protection.

These transit zones operate as though they are located in a “no man’s land”. In other words, Hungarian law does not necessarily apply at these locations. Until now, we had no knowle
dge of what happens behind the gates of these transit zones because the public access to these areas is restricted...."

EU: European Parliament Study: Children On the Move: A Private International Law Perspective (pdf):

"The child’s best interests are a primary consideration under international and EU law. EU migration and private international law frameworks regulate child protection, but in an uncoordinated way: the Dublin III and Brussels IIa Regulations are neither aligned nor applied coherently.

This should change. In particular, the rules and mechanisms of Brussels IIa should be used to enhance the protection of migrant children. These include rules on jurisdiction to take protective measures, on applicable law, and on recognition and enforcement of protective measures, and mechanisms for cross-border cooperation between authorities."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.6.17)
UN report on Libya: serious abuses against migrants, "concerns" over vetting of coastguard members trained by EU

"The Final Report of the Panel of Experts on Libya... discusses links between armed groups, criminal groups, and different coast guard factions, including involvement by coast guard factions in migrant smuggling and coast guard factions shooting at or sinking migrant boats operated by competitors. The report makes clear that after interception at sea, migrants are “often beaten, robbed and taken to detention centres or private houses and farms where they are subjected to forced labour, rape and other sexual violence.”

The report questions whether any of the coast guard factions are under the control of the Government of National Accord and questions the vetting of the coastguard trainees who are receiving training from EUNAVFOR MED. This information is further reason for the EU and EUNAVFOR MED to immediately suspend all collaboration with the Libyan coast guards and navy."

EU: Commission: latest reports on the refugee crisis and "returns" to Turkey

- Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland face infringement proceedings
- Greece: Arrivals outpace returns to Turkey
- Next steps - dodgy figures or wishful thinking?

EU: Relocation: Commission launches infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (press release, pdf)

"The European Commission has today launched infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for non-compliance with their obligations under the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation.

Despite the Commission's repeated calls for action, these three countries remain in breach of their legal obligations and have shown disregard for their commitments to Greece, Italy and other Member States.

The Council Decisions require Member States to pledge available places for relocation every three months to ensure a swift and orderly relocation procedure. Whereas Hungary has not taken any action at all since the relocation scheme started, Poland has not relocated anyone and not pledged since December 2015. The Czech Republic has not relocated anyone since August 2016 and not made any new pledges for over a year"

And see: EU opens legal case against Warsaw, Budapest and Prague over migration (Reuters, link)

Refugee rescue ships not acting as ‘pull factor’ or ‘colluding with people smugglers’, report finds (The Independent, link):

"Humanitarian ships rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea are not acting as a “pull factor” driving increasing refugee boat crossings or “colluding” with smugglers, research has found.

A report by the Forensic Oceanography department at Goldsmiths, University of London, rejected a “toxic narrative” seeking to blame NGOs for the worsening crisis.

Experts dismantled allegations made by agencies such as Frontex and leading European politicians, who claimed charities were encouraging smugglers to use more dangerous tactics on the treacherous passage between Libya and Italy."

See: New report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean (Statewatch News Online, 9 June 2017)

HUNGARY-SWITZERLAND: Court rules against sending asylum seekers to Hungary (Al Jazeera, link):

"Switzerland's highest administrative court on Friday ruled against the deportation of an asylum seeker to Hungary, citing humanitarian and legal concerns over conditions in a country that has been sharply criticised for its harsh treatment of refugees.

Judges at the Federal Administrative Court said the situation in Hungary is too insecure for asylum seekers, delivering a verdict in the case of a young male from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had filed a judicial complaint against his return to the Eastern European country, where he was officially registered.

Under the European Union's Dublin Convention, member states can return asylum seekers to the country where they first applied for protection. Switzerland is not an EU member state, but it is a signatory to the accord.

Seeing as the court issued a so-called "pilot ruling", its provisions automatically apply to all present asylum seekers in Switzerland who had registered a complaint against their return to Hungary.

Local media reported that 202 people would now have their asylum requests processed in Switzerland."

Germany's Sigmar Gabriel promises millions on surprise visit to Libya (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday made a surprise visit to Libya to announce a new tranche of aid to the conflict-ridden country.

Berlin will provide 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) to Libyan authorities to improve conditions at refugee camps in the North African country, Gabriel said. The money is expected to complement relief funds provided by Germany aimed at easing Europe's migration crisis.

"It is, therefore, our goal, together with the Libyans, to resist the instability that has arisen from the absence of established structures," Gabriel said. "Concrete progress is urgently needed.""

GREECE: Coast guard rescues 43 migrants off Farmakonisi (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 43 migrants and refugees were rescued off the southern Aegean islet of Farmakonisi on Tuesday, the Greek Coast Guard has said.

Officials said all 43 were transferred to the nearby island of Leros.

New figures released by the UN refugee agency on Tuesday show that the number of migrants who entered Europe in the first half of 2017 was 35 percent of the number a year ago."

IRELAND: Asylum seekers to get extra €2.50 per week to live on (Irish Times, link):

"People living in Ireland’s direct provision are have their weekly welfare payments increased, in a move announcd on Wednesday by Taoiseach-elect Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The increase of €2.50 per week for adults and €6 per week for children will benefit more than 4,000 adults and children living in direct provision. Mr Varadkar and Ms Fitzgerald will seek Cabinet approval for the increases.

The rate for children will rise from €15.60 to €21.60 per week and for adults from €19.10 to €21.60 per week from August."

See also: Direct Provision allowance increase does not go far enough, say the Irish Refugee Council (Irish Refugee Council, link) and: Judge McMahon urges action two years after Direct Provision report (Irish Legal News, link):

"Retired Judge Bryan McMahon, who produced a landmark Government report on Direct Provision, has urged the Government to act on its recommendations at a conference marking the two-year anniversary of its publication.

The McMahon Report was published in June 2015 and contained 173 recommendations to improve and reform Direct Provision and the asylum process in Ireland.

Addressing a conference hosted by the Children’s Rights Alliance, Judge McMahon said the Government had to address asylum seekers’ right to work and the length of time people spend in Direct Provision."

HUNGARY: Government squandered $15.3 million on “Let’s Stop Brussels!” campaign in April (The Budapest Beacon, link):

"The government acknowledged spending HUF 4.2 billion (USD 15.3 million) on April’s “Let’s Stop Brussels!” campaign after Átlátszó.hu’s public data request, reports index.hu.

Although the by now customary blue billboards appearing across the country constituted the most visible aspect of the campaign, more than half of the budget was spent on advertisements in Fidesz-tied media outlets."

Border Walls Don’t Stop Immigration, but They Do Undermine Integration (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The most visual form of increasing the cost of migration for undocumented migrants – the building of walls and fences – has recently regained popularity among policymakers in Europe and the United States alike.

In 2015-16, several European borders were fortified or fences were built, at Calais and other borders like Hungary-Serbia, Austria-Italy and Macedonia-Greece. At the same time, President Donald Trump is pursuing an extension of existing border walls and fences at the southern border of the U.S.

For many, building a wall at the national borders is the most appealing way to curb illegal immigration, to regain control over entry and to improve security.

But often little thought goes into the effects such a border wall can have beyond reducing the absolute number of immigrants in the short term."

Ukraine and Slovakia to strengthen cooperation in the field of readmission

"During the consultations held on 18-19 May, the experts of Ukraine and Slovakia agreed on an article-by-article basis the draft Implementation Protocol to the Agreement between Ukraine and the Slovak Republic on readmission."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.6.17)
EU: Partnership Frameworks in Africa: Commission publishes progress reports on first year

Partnership Framework on Migration: Commission reports on results and lessons learnt one year on (Press release, pdf):

"A year into its implementation and ahead of the June European Council, the Commission and the High Representative present today the fourth progress report on the Partnership Framework on Migration."

Fourth Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 350-17, pdf)

Annex 1: Progress in priority countries (pdf)
Annex 2: EU Trust Fund for Africa - state of implementation (pdf)

Mali (pdf)
Niger (pdf)
Nigeria (pdf)
Senegal (pdf)
Ethiopia (pdf)
Libya (pdf)

See also: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report (Statewatch) and Statewatch Analysis: EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (pdf)

Are You Syrious (12.6.17, link):

Feature

"Much has changed in Serbia the last couple of months. The police violence, that up until now hasn’t been that well reported or harsh, compared with the violence and also psychological abuse from the Croatian and Hungarian police, has increased.

Since the barracks were evicted the position of president Vucic also remains even more safe after being re-elected. The fact that he now has secured his position could be a trigger for more violence, since he isn’t known to be the biggest defender of human rights...."

Greece: Registrations

"Official numbers of new registrations are, Saturday to Monday, 124 people. Most people arrived at Lesvos. The average number per day in June has so far been just over 43 people, which brings the total up to 523 people. In addition to this seven people where deported last Friday, the 9th of June. Of them five was from Pakistan and two from Algeria. All of them were men.

Today a summary over refugee flows to the Greek Islands was released, and according to the information in the report there currently are 14 004 people residing on the islands all together. The total number for all Greece currently are 62 128 people. For more stats."

EURODAC: e-LISA: European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice: Eurodac - annual statistics (Press release, pdf):

"In 2016, Eurodac processed: "Over 1,000,000 fingerprints of applicants for international protection aged 14 or more - more than 370,000 fingerprints of persons aged 14 or older, apprehended when irregularly crossing the external border of a Member State - over 252,000 fingerprints of persons aged 14 or older, apprehended illegally present on the territory of a Member State."

In July 2015, the new Eurodac Regulation (No 603/2013) took effect and national police forces as well as Europol can now have access to the system but in 2016 only 327 searches were made by EU police forces.

See also: 2016 Report (pdf) and List of authorities with access (pdf)

Poland mulls refugee referendum (New Europe, link):

"Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has announced that a vote on whether the country should accept the European Union’s refugee quotas could coincide with general elections scheduled for 2019.

“I’m ready to put forward a motion for a referendum on this,” Duda said. “That would allow the new government to hear the clear voice of the nation on the issue.”

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s cabinet, led by the ruling Law & Justice Party, has said it won’t accept any of the refugees who have come to Europe from the Middle East and Africa in the continent’s worst migrant crisis since World War II."

In Greece, Allegations of Government Kidnapping and Forced Deportation (Pacific Standard, link): "The Hellenic League for Human Rights and the United Nations are calling on the government to investigate what they call a coordinated attempt to deport at-risk Turkish refugees."

Brussels takes on (most of the) Visegrad Group over refugees (Politico, link);

"The European Commission is this week expected to launch infringement proceedings against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic over their refusal to join in with the EU’s refugee relocation scheme, diplomats said.

In summer 2015 EU member countries agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees across the bloc and their decision is legally binding. However, Poland and Hungary haven’t taken in a single refugee between them, and they openly oppose the mandatory nature of the scheme."

Experts in tackling migrant smuggling meet to enhance cooperation and information exchange (Europol, link):

"On 9 June 2017, Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, as part of the tasks emerging from the Malta Declaration and associated Implementation Plan, organised an expert meeting focusing on cooperation and information exchange in tackling migrant smuggling networks operating from source and transit countries, with a specific focus on North Africa and the Central Mediterranean route.

The meeting brought together representatives from the (Immigration) Liaison Officers’ support units from 17 EU Member States as well as the European Commission."

Greece earthquake hits Lesbos: Tremors felt in Istanbul and Athens (BBC News, link):

"A strong earthquake has struck off the Aegean coast of western Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos, with tremors felt in Istanbul and Athens.

The epicentre of the 6.3 magnitude quake was 5km (3 miles) south of Plomari, a town on the coast of Lesbos, the US Geological Survey said. Several buildings were damaged but the village of Vrisa was worst hit with 10 people taken to hospital."

See also: Vrisa: The ghost village of Lesvos after earthquake strikes with 6.3R (Keep Talking Greece, link)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.6.17)
EU: Migration: EU and Member States work towards implementation of latest Action Plan on returns

The EU and its Member States are working towards the implementation of the European Commission's "renewed Action Plan" on European returns policy, published in March this year. At the latest meeting of the Commission-hosted 'Contact Group - Return Directive', which brings together EU and national officials, "Member States expressed general support in relation to the policy line and specific recommendations," but also highlighted that "on some specific recommendation, [sic] there may be divergences of views among Member States and with the Commission, and that some may be difficult to apply in practice for technical or political reasons."

EU: European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee position on recast Eurodac Regulation

New rules governing the EU's Eurodac biometric database are one step closer to being adopted following the approval by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of its position on the recast Regulation.

The recast Regulation will extend the scope of the database from holding the fingerprints of asylum-seekers to the inclusion of biometric data on irregular migrants. Facial images are also to be included in preparation for the future use of facial recognition systems.

EU-ITALY-LIBYA: Back to Old Tricks? Italian Responsibility for Returning People to Libya (EJIL: Talk!, link) by Jean-Pierre Gauci:

"On 10/11 May 2017 various news outlets reported a maritime operation by the Libyan authorities, in coordination with the Italian Search and Rescue Authority, in which 500 individuals were intercepted in international waters and returned to Libya. This operation amounted to refoulment in breach of customary international law and several treaties (including the Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights), and an internationally wrongful act is one for which Italy bears international legal responsibility."

1,000 Migrants Rescued Off Libyan Coast; Two Dead (Reliefweb, link):

"Two migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday during a rescue operation that saved more than 1,000 others who were attempting the dangerous crossing to Europe, according to a Spanish aid group.

Laura Lanuza, spokeswoman for Spain's Proactiva Open Arms, said that while two migrants perished in international waters off the Libyan coast, the Spanish aid group and five other humanitarian organizations saved 1,058 migrants after intercepting several smugglers' boats.

Lanuza said that in addition to the two deaths, another two migrants were in critical condition.

The Golfo Azzurro, Proactiva Open Arms' converted fishing trawler, pulled 243 migrants from two smugglers' boats. That group included one baby, a pregnant woman and several children.

The other boats that participated in the massive rescue operation belonged to Save the Children, Sea Watch, Moas, Sea Eye and Jugend Rettet Iuventa."

Ten migrants die, 100 missing off Libya (ENCA, link):

"GARABULLI - At least ten migrants have died after their Europe-bound boats sank off Libya's coast and some 100 people are missing, coastguard officials and aid groups said on Saturday.

Eight bodies were found on an inflatable craft that can carry up to 120 passengers, said Colonel Fathi al-Rayani, head of the coastguard in Garabulli, 60 kilometres east of Tripoli.

He estimated that "at least 100" migrants were missing.

(...)

Libyan navy spokesman General Ayoub Qassem meanwhile told AFP that coastguards patrolling off Zawiya, west of Tripoli, on Friday intercepted five inflatables and two wooden boats with more than 570 migrants on board.

He said the boats were being escorted by five Libyans on a jet ski and two outboards, and that three of the men were apprehended.

"The migrants are Africans, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Moroccans... and were delivered to the detention centre in Zawiya," Qassem said."

EU: European travel information and authorisation system - Council agrees negotiating position (press release, pdf):

"On 9 June 2017, the Council agreed a general approach on the proposal for a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS). The general approach constitutes the Council's position for negotiations with the European Parliament.

ETIAS will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorisation to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area. It will help improve internal security, prevent illegal immigration, limit public health risks and reduce delays at the borders by identifying persons who may pose a risk in one of these areas before they arrive at the external borders."

See: General approaches on the draft regulation establishing a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS) (9763/17, 1 June 2017, pdf) and on the draft regulation amending regulation 2016/794 for the purpose of establishing ETIAS (9763/17 ADD 1, 1 June 2017, pdf)

And see: Estonia heads EU interior ministers meeting for the 1st time (The Baltic Times, link): ""The foundation of the security of the European Union is solidarity and helping each other in a difficult situation. The key to success can lie only in cooperation, not in encapsulating," Anvelt said, adding that it's important for the member states that the problem is dealt with together. What is especially important for Estonia is that progress was made on several topics having to do with databases – such as the ETIAS travel authorization system, renewal of the Schengen information system and developing interaction between databases more broadly."

Anti-EU rhetoric props up Czech election race (EUobserver, link):

"The Czech government's decision on Monday (5 June) to stop taking asylum seekers from Greece and Italy is the latest sign of the development of an anti-EU stance in the country, with the elections approaching in October.

Interior minister Milan Chovanec said that pulling out of the EU relocation scheme was justified by an "aggravated security situation and the dysfunctionality of the whole system".

This new stance could largely be due to the upcoming elections in October of this year, as only 23 percent of Czechs think that the country should help refugees, according to a survey from March 2017.

After the elections, the Czech Republic may edge closer to Hungary and Poland, whose governments are very vocal in their criticism of Brussels."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.6.17)
Greek Ombudsman: Special Report: Migration flows and refugee protection: Administrative challenges and human rights issues (pdf):

"EU was called upon also in the past to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of its Member States,
to reconcile often diametrically opposite priorities within a common, European narrative of development and progress for all its citizens...

EU was called upon also in the past to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of its Member States, to reconcile often diametrically opposite priorities within a common, European narrative of development and progress for all its citizens...

One of the most characteristic expressions of the common, European political structure giving way before the individual priorities and imperatives of the Member States is the so-called EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016, which, without being a convention of the Union with a third country, from a legal aspect, introduced a host of derogations from the EU regulatory framework..."

GREECE: Ministry: 43 refugees arrived on Lesvos on Friday 9 June and 69 on Saturday 10 June.

Are You Syrious (10.6.17, link):

Feature

"Libyan Coast Guard rescued over 480 people today at sea off Azzawya, but at least eight people drowned and over 100 are still missing. Previously this week, only on Thursday and Friday, more than 900 people were rescued off Libya.

All the people who were rescued are taken to the detention center in Zawia, and probably they will be sent back to the countries they are coming from.

At the same time, over 1000 people were rescued closer to Italy in several operations. Sea-Watch crew at one point of time during a day had on board 220 people rescued from sinking inflatables, including one pregnant woman -Virtue from Nigeria - who as transferred to boat Pheonix for medical care. Unfortunately, two of the passengers did not make it....."

Bulgaria

"Local media are reporting about two Bulgarians and one Afghan man who are charged with human trafficking after nine people died when a minibus crashed in southern Bulgaria weekend before. The driver was 16-years old Bulgarian, who did not even have a driving license. He also got killed in this accident. One of the Bulgarians was also charged with causing the deaths through negligence.

Bulgarian police continue arresting people who are trying to cross the border. This year, 2,054 people on their journey were intercepted and arrested after crossing the border. At the same time, fifty-two traffickers were arrested."

France

"People from Afghanistan are being more often arrested and taken to detention across the country, the local activists are reporting. This year, a number of Afghans in detention centers has risen to 80, and six of them are facing deportation to Kabul soon. Several flights has been booked for June, despite reports from Afghanistan about increased hostilities.

La Cimade group strongly denounces deportations and calls on France to stop immediately all deportations to Afghanistan."

Airbnb to help host 35,000 refugees in houses across Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Short-term property rental platform Airbnb has announced that it will be helping to find housing for some 35,000 asylum seekers trapped in Greece, a representative for the company told the Concordia Europe Summit in Athens.

According to the representative, Airbnb is developing a special platform, airbnb.com/welcome, where property owners can offer their house or apartment to refugees for as long as desired or needed.

The company hopes that its campaign, which is Europe-wide, will help house a total of 100,000 people across the continent.

The initiative is run with the help of the nongovernmental organization Solidarity Now."

Training the Libyans is not enough to stop migrants (Open Migration, link):

"On the night of May 23, 2017, the captain of the Iuventa, a ship from the German NGO Jugend Rettet, reported a new attack at sea by a Libyan motorboat: the crew had shot at some boats overloaded with refugees, then brought two of them back towards Libya. Was it the Libyan Coast Guard? How is Italy training them, and to what end? And how many Coast Guards actually exist in Libya? Francesco Floris takes us into the details of training in Libya and its historical precedents."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.6.17)
EU: New report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean

A new report examines the accusations made by state officials, commentators and others that search and rescue NGOs operating in the Mediterranean are a "pull factor" for migrants and are effectively working in league with people smugglers. The report, Blaming the Rescuers, argues that as well as being false, those accusations have allowed state actors "to divert public attention from their own responsibilities and failures" and are part of "a wider attempt to criminalise solidarity towards migrants and refugees, which endangers the possibility of EU citizens standing in solidarity and exercising civilian oversight at the EU’s frontiers to contest their deadly effects."

Serbia-Hungary police cooperation deemed "excellent" (b92, link):

"Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic spoke on Thursday in Budapest with his Hungarian counterpart Sandor Pinter about illegal migration.

They also discussed cooperation in protecting external borders and exchange of information in the fight against human trafficking, the Serbian government announced.

It was assessed during the meeting that cooperation between the two police forces in the fight against organized crime is on an exceptional level, while the excellent results achieved through the work of joint investigation teams in combating human trafficking have been particularly highlighted.

Stefanovic and Pinter concluded that the involvement of police officers from EU countries, among them those from Hungary, who are, together with Serbian colleagues, securing Serbia's borders, resulted in better control of migrations and prevented illegal border crossings and human trafficking.

Stefanovic said that the Serbian police in the last two years arrested more than 2,000 persons suspected of smuggling people and filed more than 1,200 criminal charges."

HUNGARY: Will Hungary’s detention practices put an end to the Common European Asylum System? (Migration News Sheet, link):

"The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is today much less ‘common’ than it used to. Large-scale arrivals of refugees in 2015 have tempted Member States, starting with Hungary, to act unilaterally and in complete violation of EU rules.

Are Hungary’s unpunished waves of massive detention paving the way for other national governments to openly violate EU regulations?

Would this race to the bottom signal the end of CEAS and its Dublin System?

In turn, will European institutions manage to force governments to comply with its legislation?

This article will look into these questions."

EU-MALTA: €9.2 million in EU funds for police modernisation, border security projects

"€9.2 million in EU funds are being spent on modernising the Malta Police Force and on border surveillance, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and PS for EU Funds Ian Borg announced.

Mr Abela said five projects on border security, which is a priority, have been completed so far.

These include the acquisition of radios and biometric devices for border guards and modern equipment that can analyse a person’s unique physical characteristics, like fingerprints.

(...)

Mr Abela said the Malta Police Force is also benefitting from other projects falling under the EU Internal Security Fund 2014-2020.

These include the purchase of bullet-proof vests, riot kits and surveillance equipment; access to the Europol and Interpol databases; the Smart Policing project, which will see the Cyber Crime unit strengthened, the purchase of new forensic equipment; and the strengthening of the automated case management system."

See: Article in Border Security Report (in World Security Report, p.24, link to pdf)

Europol press release: Migrant smuggling organised crime group dismantled in Greece (pdf):

"An organised crime group involved in smuggling migrants from Greece to other European Union countries has been dismantled in Athens, Greece. The operation was jointly carried out by Attika Aliens Division, Europol and the UK’s National Crime Agency, following several months of investigations.

In this large operation in Athens at the end of May, a total of 12 individuals were arrested, of which seven were members of the organised crime group. Four arrestees were migrants that were about to be smuggled. In addition, one Afghan national was arrested for carrying a false identity card. Seven members of the organised crime group were already arrested earlier. The members of the network received up to EUR 16 000 per person that was illegally transported, with the money transferred via the Hawala informal money transfer system."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.6.17)
Greek police continues to illegally hand over Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey (FIDH, link):

"On 2 June at 9am, a family of six, including an infant, and three men who wished to apply for international protection in Greece because of persecution in Turkey were handed over by Greek police to a group of masked gunmen. The refoulement was witnessed and the HLHR has in its disposal the license plate numbers of the Greek police van that transferred the asylum seekers. The new refoulement took place in Evros by boat, near Didymoteicho, and involved Mustafa Can, his wife and their four children, as well as Yilmaz Erdogan, Fethullah Çatal, and one more man, whose name is still not known.

(...)

The informal and forced refoulement of any person is considered an act of violence and is a blatant violation of international law and the international obligations of our country."

EU: EP approves fingerprinting asylum seekers from age 6 (ANSAMed, link)

"The Civil Liberties Commission of the European Parliament on Tuesday [30 May 2017] approved fingerprinting asylum seekers as young as six in order to facilitate reunification with their parents. Under current EU law asylum seekers can be fingerprinted only from the age of 14. The measure was part of a package of amendments to an overhaul of the Eurodac fingerprint database, which were approved with 35 yes votes, 10 no votes and 8 abstentions. The MEPs also greenlighted the start of negotiations with the European Council in view of a definitive agreement. Under the changes, detention of minors should be prohibited. In addition, unaccompanied minors who disappear from reception facilities should be recorded in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and reported as missing persons. MEPs also voted to give the European police force Europol direct access to the Eurodac data base in order to prevent terrorist attacks and common crimes. In addition to fingerprints, the system should also allow the search and comparison of facial images and other personal data, such as name and identity document number when this information is available."

EP press release: Asylum: MEPs tighten internal security and improve safety for refugee children (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 June 2017: agendas and other documentation including draft conclusions heading for approval

Agendas and documentation in relation to the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 8-9 June 2017.

EU: 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe (MEDAM, link)

"How can the responsibility for refugees be distributed more fairly – globally and within the EU? And how can we curb irregular migration while expanding legal immigration to the benefit of all concerned? The large number of refugees and other migrants who have come to Europe over the last two years has caused the EU member states that received most of the asylum seekers, to reach their capacity limits. With a view to new arrivals and their long-term integration, it is now necessary to develop new and, above all, common strategies to address the migration flows to Europe.

The 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report focuses on two core Messages:

Distribute the responsibility for refugees more equitably
Extending legal immigration from non-EU Member States into EU member states
"

EU: Relocation and its Numbers – Which Role for the Courts? (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link):

"In spite of the quote attributed to Einstein “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”, a large part of the current European debate on relocation is about numbers. Out of 387,739 people requiring international protection who arrived at the borders of the European Union (EU) in 2016, 362,376 travelled by sea through unseaworthy boats and 5,082 were reported dead or missing. This year alone, 58,944 migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Italy and 7,676 in Greece, with numbers rising by the day. 73,900 refugees are stranded in Greece and the Western Balkans. In stark contrast stand the 18,418 people relocated to the other 25 EU Member States following the European Commission’s report of May 2017 on relocation, as opposed to the 160,000 relocations envisaged by the EU.

Even if the European Commission heralded the progress made, the underlying frustration with both the Commission and civil society is palpable. The Commission has already indicated that it will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties for those which have not complied with the Council decisions, noting that the legal obligation to relocate those eligible will not cease after September, hinting at its preparedness to start infringement proceedings under art. 258 Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). Judges could play a role in enforcing the relocation numbers. After providing a brief background to the relocation decisions and the underlying principles, we remind the upcoming case on relocation filed by Hungary and Slovakia at the European Court of Justice and underline a case started by the NGO “Let’s bring them here” in the Netherlands, both posing the question of what the numbers pledged actually count for."

EU: MORE FENCES: Lithuania starts erecting fence on border with Russia (The Washington Post, link):

"VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania has started building a fence on its border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in an attempt to curb smuggling and illegal immigration and strengthen the EU’s external border.

State border officials on Monday kicked off construction works of the first segment of the 130-kilometer (80-mile) -long metal fence at the Raminiskiu village in a ceremony attended by the Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas.

The installation comes complete with electronic surveillance systems and drones. It will cost some 3.6 million euros ($3.9 million) in total and is to be completed by the end of this year."

EU-CROATIA-SLOVENIA: ECJ: Advocate General considers that EU border states cannot be responsible for all asylum applications in context of mass arrivals

"[The Advocate General] reiterates the unprecedented inflow of persons into the Western Balkans and the fact that no bespoke criterion was inserted into the Dublin III Regulation to cover that situation. In the Advocate General’s opinion, if border Member States, such as Croatia, are deemed to be responsible for accepting and processing exceptionally high numbers of asylum seekers, there is a real risk that they will simply be unable to cope with the situation. This in turn could place Member States in a position where they are unable to comply with their obligations under EU and international law."

EU: European Parliament analysis: European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs: an overview (pdf):

"The interconnections between border management, migration and internal security have become more apparent recently in the context of high inflows of refugees and irregular migrants and of increasing terrorist activities in the EU. To address these challenges, the EU has taken steps to revise and develop the European information systems in order to improve the collection, processing and sharing of data among Member States and relevant EU agencies. This publication provides an overview of the existing and proposed European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs. It discusses the legal basis, the purposes, the scope of data and access, the utilisation and the proposed changes for each information system, including issues of interoperability."

EU-AFRICA: Migration: EU money in exchange for border controls in Africa (Afronline, link):

"European funds in exchange for greater border controls. Easier repatriations. Quicker expulsions. In a word: border externalisation. By now this is the main point of the external aspect of immigration and asylum policies, both nationally and internationally. The objective is clear: to get the countries of origin and the transit countries more and more involved in controlling the flows towards the European Union. Which is what Italy and Europe have chosen to do. They are doing this independently and also in the name of the European Union. The fact that this perspective on immigration policies has been intensified can be seen from the funds that have been allocated."

GREECE: The European Court of Human Rights communicated the case of B.J. (v. Greece) and has addressed the Greek government with specific questions (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

"A Syrian refugee, a Christian of Armenian origin, who lived for about a year in Turkey under the precarious ‘temporary protection’ regime without access to lawful work and housing and at risk of losing his temporary status and be deported to Syria has been under risk of readmission to Turkey in implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint statement. During his stay in Turkey, B.J. had to conceal his religious and ethnic identity for fear of being discriminated. The applicant entered Greece after the Implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement and applied for international protection. In June 2016. The competent Greek authorities issued a final decision on his request ruling his application as inadmissible considering Turkey as a safe third country for him.

RSPA’s Lawyers, members of Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) found the detainee in the Police station while at risk of readmission. RSA lawyers lodged all available domestic remedies against the rejection of his asylum claim as inadmissible as well as against the decision ordering his readmission to Turkey, requesting his release. They also requested to refer a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of the wording “international protection according to the Geneva Convention”.

B.J. and his lawyers also lodged an application before the European Court of Human Rights complaining for the violation of Article 3 and 13 of the ECHR (protection from inhuman or degrading treatment and deportation to a country where it may be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or torture)."

GREECE: Hands off from #CityPlaza and all other Refugee Squats! (Enough is Enough, link):

"At June 7th, 2017 the news came out that a court ordered the eviction of City Plaza Refugee Accommodation and two other refugee squats in Athens.

Projects like City Plaza succeed in where the Greek goverment and other EU member states fail; a self-determined life, a life with dignity for those who travelled to a putative Europe under extrem hard conditions. A life where it doesn’t matter which papers people have but instead a life where people can live together in a self-organised way.

Since the former City Plaza hotel was squatted more than a year ago, after the building was empty for several years, more than 1500 people lived in the building. 400 at any one time. Among them where many refugees and supporters from many countries. While EU member states closed their borders, sharpened their asylum laws, detaining and deporting more and more refugees, people in Athens have buildup self-organised projects like City Plaza together with refugees."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.6.17)
EU reassures Turkey over its €3bn refugee package (euractiv, link):

"The EU’s €3billion package to help refugees in Turkey will have been fully assigned to projects by the end of the year, the bloc’s envoy said Tuesday (6 June).

All the funds, part of a deal with Turkey to tackle Europe’s refugee crisis, will be fully assigned by the end of 2017, said Christian Berger, the EU ambassador to Turkey."

European Parliament: Background Information for the LIBE Delegation on Migration and Asylum in Italy - April 2017 (pdf):

"Upon request by the LIBE Committee, this paper provides some information on the current situation of asylum and migration in Italy, focusing in particular on the “hotspots” and on the asylum procedures. The paper describes the applicable legislative framework, as recently amended, as well as its practical application."

Migration Minister says 20,000-25,000 refugees to remain in Greece if EU Turkey deal continues (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greek Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said that 20 to 25 thousands refugees will remain in Greece if the EU Turkey deal stands. At the same time, he expressed concern about the increasing influx of refugees and migrants on the Greek islands.

Speaking to Skai TV on Tuesday, Mouzalas said if the EU Turkey deal “fails, things will be difficult.” He noted that after the clearing up of Idomenti camp in North Greece last year, 25,000 refugees have been transferred in one way or another outside of Greece. “We have 10,000 people with right to relocation and 6,000-7,000 with the right to family reunion,” the minister said.

He admitted that there is a problem on the islands because of the influx of migrants and refugees and that the plan for small pre-accession centers should go ahead on all islands."

Commission readies sanctions against the Visegrad Four (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission warned yesterday (6 June) it could sanction member states that don’t follow EU quota rules for asylum seekers by opening infringement proceedings against them as early as next week.

The warning came after the Czech Republic said it would not take in more migrants, citing security concerns."

EU threatens sanctions in Czech asylum row (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission threatened to take governments to court on Tuesday (6 June) following an announcement by the Czech Republic to halt asylum seeker relocation from Greece and Italy.

Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec had earlier this week said that the country would withdraw from the legally binding EU scheme, over broader concerns linked to security and the "dysfunctionality of the whole system"."

Pressure builds in Italy after G7 leaders fail to tackle refugee crisis (Guardian, link): "Taormina summit did not prove a turning point, and populist movements are growing more vocal as elections approach."

European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights: Following ECCHR complaint: Inadmissibility interviews in Greek hotspots: EU Ombudsman probes work of European Asylum Support Office (Press release, pdf):

"The European Ombudsman will examine practices by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) at “hotspots” (reception centers) in Greece. The move comes in response to a complaint about the inadmissibility decisions taken under the EU-Turkey agreement. The complaint was filed by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) with the support of Brot für die Welt in April 2017."

European Parliament Study: International protection in Greece Background information for the LIBE Committee delegation to Greece, 22-25 May 2017 (pdf):

"Greece remains under pressure with a government-reported number of 62,200 refugees and migrants still present in its territory, of whom around 14,000 on the Eastern Aegean islands and around 48,200 persons on mainland Greece."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 June 2017: Background Note (pdf):

"On Friday, ministers will take stock of the current situation on migration, in particular in the Central Mediterranean, and will discuss return policy. They will also touch upon the issue of improving the interoperability of information systems....

In the margins of the Council, the Mixed Committee (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) will take stock of work on the proposals on the SIS and on ETIAS. Exceptionally, the Schengen associated states will be present in the discussions on migration, return policy and information systems and interoperability.

Over lunch, ministers will discuss counter terrorism."
[emphasis added]

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Migration crisis in the Mediterranean: tangible improvements but additional efforts are needed (link):

"More than a year since the adoption of the EU-Turkey Statement, the implemented measures have delivered some tangible results with regard to the challenges underlying the refugee and migration crisis. While the situation in Greece has largely improved in terms of reception, registration and asylum processing, some outstanding concerns still persist and require further efforts and improvements, PACE Committee on Migration said today....

Adopting unanimously a draft resolution, based on the report prepared by Miltiadis Varvitsiotis (Greece, EPP/CD), the Committee stated that the reception conditions and asylum procedures in Italy, even if also improving, require urgent action. As with Greece, Italy has become a destination country and continuous mass arrivals risk saturating the country’s reception capacities. The question of return of rejected asylum seekers should be given immediate consideration; the large number of irregular migrants creates threats for the whole asylum system and social stability."

See: Report (pdf)

Czechs stop taking asylum seekers under EU quotas (euobserver, link):

"The Czech Republic will stop taking in asylum seekers under the EU quota scheme to distribute refugees who arrived in Greece and Italy, citing security concerns, the government said Monday (5 June). Prague protested the 2015 decision to share migrants, and has taken in only a dozen out of the 2,691 set by the quota. The Czech Republic holds elections in October and migration is a sensitive topic."

Are You Syrious (4.6.17, link)

Greece: Gaps are becoming bigger

"In Greece the situation in the governmental camps seems to worsen these days, even though this is hard to imagine. The announcement of some NGOs to leave the hotspot of Chios, this could be the case for some mainland sites too, as the budget is being cut. Another reason is, that they do not consider the situation as crisis anymore....

Obviously the Greek government is struggling with keeping even the bad conditions in some camps, as the bureaucratic part seems to be chaotic, the budget is being cut and there is no appropiate strategy to fit the needs of the people. The residents are the ones suffering because of this situation and living with this situation."

Bulgaria

"10 people died in a car accident on Trakia Motorway. Bulgarian National Television reports (via Sofia Globe), that a 16 year old drove the van, in which 17 or 18 people were. The police assumes, that the driver maybe felt asleep and crashed into the tree. It is said, that this is the worst incident with refugees involved in Bulgaria."

20 people landed on Lesvos

"The Portuguese Maritime Police, on a mission in Greece, has detected 20 people, 10 of whom are children, said the National Maritime Authority (AMN). In a statement, the AMN said that the 20 peope were detected as they had landed on the Greek coast near Molyvos (Lesvos) after crossing the Aegean Sea. The Greek authorities have already been contacted to pick up the people, who are from Afghanistan and Iraq."

Expulsions based on nationality must not repeat, Deputy PM says (Prague Monitor, link);

"Expulsions of people from their homes just because of their nationality, religion or race must never repeat, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat chairman (KDU-CSL) Pavel Belobradek said at the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft's congress today."

Report: Rate of deportations stagnating in Germany (DW, link)

"Germany's government is falling short of its goal to deport significantly more rejected asylum applicants, a newspaper reports. More than 8,000 migrants have been removed so far this year, compared with 25,000 in 2016."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.5.17- 4.6.17)
Far right raises £50,000 to target boats on refugee rescue missions in Med (The Observer, link):

"Aid charities have saved more than 6,000 from drowning this year. Now anti-Islam ‘Identitarians’ are crowdfunding to pay for vessels to chase them down...

Far-right activists are planning a sea campaign this summer to disrupt vessels saving refugees in the Mediterranean, after successfully intercepting a rescue mission last month.

Members of the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant “Identitarian” movement – largely twentysomethings often described as Europe’s answer to the American alt-right – have raised £56,489 in less than three weeks to enable them to target boats run by aid charities helping to rescue refugees..."

Twenty million in camps around the world: Migrant nation (Le Monde Diplomatique, link):

"Most places that house people on the move, for whatever reason, were set up in a hurry and meant to be temporary. The reality was quite different."

And see: The aid business (Le Monde Diplomatique, link)::

"In a world where everything must make a profit, refugees and aid to them are seen as just another opportunity for entrepreneurship."

Greece: Court acquits man who protested police brutality against migrant (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An Athens appeals court on Thursday acquitted an Athens resident who was arrested after challenging a group of police officers over their treatment of a migrant man.

Petros Kapetanopoulos was charged with resisting authority, attempting to free a prisoner and giving a false statement when he challenged officers of the DIAS motorcycle squad for using violence against a man who was already in handcuffs....".

Are You Syrious (1.6.17, link):

Feature

It took 90 innocent lives to convince German government that Afghanistan is not safe country. On Thursday afternoon, day after the big attack in Kabul, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that all the group deportations of rejected Afghan asylum seekers are suspended.

Until yesterday, Germany argued that much of Afghanistan is safe.

However, the German foreign ministry announced that they will reassess security in Afghanistan by July. Until then, Germany would carry out only “voluntary repatriations and deportations of violent extremists and criminals in individual cases,” Merkel said."

Turkey

"According to reliable sources, about 300 Syrian Kurds (some, if not all, registered) were illegally deported from Turkey to Syria on Thursday. They were being held in an army camp in Van (Eastern Turkey). Their phones were confiscated, but one of them managed to inform brother in Germany."

Greece

"This month, 717 arrivals were registered to this island. At the same period of time, 533 people were registered at Lesvos and 680 at Samos. In total, during May, 2090 people arrived in Greece, which is the highest number since November 2016....

Since the EU-Turkey deal was signed, more than 34.000 people were registered as new arrivals to Greece." [emphasis added]

Migrants: meeting of police chiefs from 9 countries June 7 (ANSA, link):

"Police chief Franco Gabrielli on June 7 will meet in Lampedusa with his counterparts from France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia and Slovenia to discuss immigration, terrorism and organized crime.

It will be the first meeting of the European Relationship for Mediterranean Security (Ermes), a gathering attended by representatives of nine countries on the Mediterranean to promote wider cooperation.

The meeting will take place in the conference hall of the airport of Lampedusa. (ANSAmed)"

EU/Greece: Pressure to Minimize Numbers of Migrants Identified As ‘Vulnerable’ (HRW, link): "European Pressure Affecting People with Disabilities, Others at Risk."

EU: Council of the European Union: New EASO Regulation & SIS:Returns, biometrics and "inquiry checks"

New EASO Regulation: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010: State of play and guidance for further work (LIMITE doc no: 9563-17, pdf): 4-column document with present state of play in trilogues and sets out issues where there is disagreement between the Council and the parliament:

"the Presidency started negotiations with the European Parliament in January 2017. To date, four informal trilogues have taken place on 7 February, 8 March, 21 March and 2 May (continued on 11 May). In preparation for these informal trilogues, numerous
technical meetings with the European Parliament have taken place.... See the attached 4-column table (Annex II) including the text agreed in political trilogues."

See also European Court of Auditors report: Migration hotspots are working, but critical issues remain, say EU Auditors (Press release, pdf):and Full report (pdf)

SIS & Returns, biometrics and "inquiry chexcks": Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (First reading) & Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... Policy debate / Progress report (LIMITE doc no: 9595-17, pdf):

"This package is composed of three separate proposals, in order to respond to the different degrees of participation in the SIS of several groups of States (the so-called 'variable geometry')...

These proposals contain a series of measures aimed at maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of the system – which is the most used of the IT systems in the area of freedom, justice and security in the EU – by technical enhancements, focusing on end-users and giving access to more national authorities and EU agencies. In particular, more categories of data, including biometrics, would be inserted, including for search purposes, and new types of alerts, including alerts on return decisions, would be inserted...

Chapter IX of the proposal on police cooperation (15814/16) introduces a new form of check, the 'inquiry check', besides the existing 'discreet check' and 'specific check'." [emphasis added]


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-29.5.17)
UPDATE: Near final version: Doc no: 9571-17: (29 May 2017, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (LIMITE doc no: 9082-REV-2-17, pdf): The Council preparing to take new moves to enforce return and readmission policies especially for Africa through so-called "Partnership Frameworks":

"Considers that it remains necessary to improve the rate of return of illegally staying third country nationals as a matter of urgency...

Agrees that comprehensive, [gradual - deleted] incremental, pragmatic and tailor-made solutions are required in order to improve cooperation with third countries in the field of return and readmission, in line with the Partnership Framework approach;

Recalls the views expressed at the JHA Council of March 2017, and agrees on the need to consider the use of the necessary leverage by using all EU policy instruments and tools, including visa policy;

stronger coordination [could - deleted] should be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve cooperation of third countries on return and readmission. Concerted action by the Member States within the applicable legal framework should continue to provide the possibility for achieving results." [emphasis added]

See: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report (Statewatch database) and Viewpoint; Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch)

European Commission: latests statistics: Relocations (26-5-17,pdf):

Italy: 6,189 refugees relocated out of 34,953 agreed since September 2015 and Greece: 13,600 out of 63,302 agreed. There are 78,466 remaining places yet to be offered by Member States.

and "Hotspots" (22-5-17,pdf)

Are You Syrious (28.5.17, link):

Greece: 68 refugees arrive on Samos

"Samos Volunteers reports 68 people landed on Samos this morning, bringing the total to 275 arrivals over the last six days. They add that as very few people leave for the mainland, the camp is getting overcrowded once again and the situation is becoming increasingly critical.

The European Commission had previously stated that transfers to the mainland should be limited in order to “avoid secondary movement to the rest of Europe”. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has argued that refusing transfers to mainland Greece “is an unacceptable excuse for condemning people to conditions that threaten their health and cause huge anxiety”, adding that the transfer of vulnerable groups should be accelerated.

According to official statistics, there are now close to 2,000 refugees on Samos, for a capacity of only 850. Refugee camps on Chios are over capacity as well and 72 people were registered on the island today alone, as well as 46 on Lesvos."

Concerns over “humanitarian gap” on Greek islands

"Despite critical conditions in refugee camps, some NGOs funded by the EU could be leaving Greek islands by the end of July, when the Greek government will take over funding and managing support services, as reported by The Independent. Some NGOS fear the prospect of a “humanitarian gap” resulting from a poorly planned transition, while No Borders worries about the state employees’ training in refugees’ rights and refugee protection. The group also worries about the lack of access to public services for refugees leaving camps for apartments or more remote locations. On Chios, the end of EU funding for NGOs could force organizations like the Norwegian Refugee Council and “Be Aware And Share” (BAAS) to leave. BAAS, which which oversees a multitude of education projects, is currently raising money in order to stay on the island at least until the end of the year."

54 dead, some 10,000 migrants rescued between Libya and Italy in 4 days (The Local.it, link):

" About 10,000 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya over the previous four days but at least 54 others died, Libyan and Italian officials said Saturday.

On Saturday, the Tunisian army also rescued 126 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa hoping to reach Italian shores, officials said. They were aboard a flimsy inflatable boat off the coastal town of Ben Gardane, near the Libyan border.

On Friday, more than 1,200 migrants were rescued by Libyan ships and taken to Tripoli or Zawiya, about 50 kilometres west, while the Italian coastguard and commercial boats rescued 2,200 others and took them to Italy."

Are You Syrious (27-5-17, link):

Greece

"People keep coming to Europe risking a lot to reach safety. But, what they are finding when arriving to the EU borders is not refuge and safety, but often just the beginning of the another phase of difficult journey.

According to volunteers from different islands the number of new arrivals to Greece today is 134. Officially, 144 people arrived on Saturday....

Volunteer’s sources: On Chios, two boats landed today, one with 23 people, 8 men, 7 women and 8 children and the other with 49 people, 18 children, 10 women and 21 men. One boat landed on the north coast Lesvos at Skalochori, carrying 46 people on board. Locals helped them and brought them up to the village.....

Volunteers are also reporting about a boat that was pushed back by the Turkish Coast Guard in the South of Lesvos carrying 74 people onboard today....

On Samos today, another protest. This time by right wing racists. For a while, the main gate to the camp was closed, but the secondary gate remained open. The protest lasted about an hour, but no reports of major violence."

ITALY: Milan like Barcelona. Together, without walls, against the racist criminalisation of migrants and the poor. For an international network of antiracist cities (by S. Palidda)

"Following the example of Barcelona, where between 160,000 and 300,000 people mobilised on the past 18 February in support of rights for migrants and to promote an international network of cities against racism where immigrants will be welcomed, around 100,000 people participated in a demonstration in Milan on 20 May.

The appeal for the demonstration (https://www.20maggiosenzamuri.it/ in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Arabic) was launched by the Milan mayor's office, several personalities from all walks of life, 600 associations, NGOs and institutions as well as 70 Italian city councils."

Hopes for refugee crisis plan fall into chasm between G7 and Trump (Guardian, link);

"Disagreements with US are so fundamental that Sicily summit might not be able to issue communique...

Divisions between Donald Trump and other members of the G7 at the summit in Sicily have become so broad and deep that they may be forced to issue a brief leaders’ statement rather than a full communique, dashing Italian hopes of engineering a big step forward on migration and famine....

A draft statement shown to the Guardian reveals Trump wants world leaders to make only a short reference to migration and to throw out a plan by the Italian hosts for a comprehensive five-page statement that acknowledges migrants’ rights, the factors driving refugees and their positive contribution."

Greek Ministry: Number of refugees arriving: Thursday: 48 Samos. Friday: 56 Lesvos and 45 Samos. On Saturday: 46 refugees arrive in Lesvos and 72 in Chios/

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 60,521 in 2017; Deaths: 1,530 (IOM link)

Halting migrant flows 'impossible', Libyan ambassador (link):

"(ANSAmed) - ROME, MAY 24 - Libyan ambassador to Italy Ahmed Safar noted Wednesday that the one in every seven people are in movement according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and that thus ''no one can stop a phenomenon like that of migration''."

The irregular border (ciutatrefugi.barcelona, link):

"Human rights. A report by Irídia, Novact and Fotomovimiento, subsidised by Barcelona City Council, details and denounces the racism, violence and illegality of migration control policies at the border areas between Ceuta and Melilla and Morocco."

See also: Frontera Sur (link)

EU: Challenge mounted to Court judgment on opposing access to the documents concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016

- the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction"

On 28 February 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rejected three applicants' cases requesting access to the documents held by the Council of the European Union concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016. The Court argued that:

"the three actions as inadmissible on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction. In particular, the General Court held that the EU-Turkey Statement did not relate to an act of the European Council nor of any other body, office or agency of the Union and hence that the actions fell outside the Court's jurisdiction." [LIMITE doc no: 9148-17, pdf) [emphasis added]

On 23 April 2017 the three applicants lodged an appeal against the judgment on the general grounds that:

"the appellants claim that the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction. They request the Court of Justice to rule that their actions for annulment of the EU-Turkey Statement are within the Court's jurisdiction and to send the cases back to the General Court for a decision on the merits of their claims." [emphasis added]

Court of Appeal finds Theresa May acted unlawfully in denying refugees access to UK (leighday.co.uk, link):

"Court of Appeal rules that Theresa May acted unlawfully when Home Secretary in denying refugees access to the UK who have been living on a British Sovereign Base since 1998... In a unanimous decision the Court of Appeal has today (25 May 2017) found that Theresa May acted unlawfully by refusing to consider allowing entry to the UK to a group of refugee families stranded on the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) in Cyprus.

The unlawful decision was made in November 2014 when Mrs May was Home Secretary. "

See: Full judgment (pdf)

Libyan coastguard opened fire at refugee boats: NGOs (aljazeera.com, link)

"Aid groups say 70 refugees jumped into Mediterranean waters to avoid being shot as speedboat interrupted rescue."

Italy inks deal with Libya neighbours to stem migrant flow (euractiv, link):

"Italy has signed a deal with Libya, Chad and Niger in order to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean through beefed up border controls and new reception centres in the African nations.

A joint statement by the interior ministers of the four countries said they had agreed to set up centres in Chad and Niger, key transit countries for migrants who travel to Libya and on to Italy from sub-Saharan Africa."

The character of citizenship: denying the rights of asylum seekers and criminalising dissent (Open Democracy, link):

"Refusing citizenship on grounds of 'character' reflects the criminalisation of global political dissent and resistance, while these subjective criteria normalise an imperialist system of citizenship."

The reception of Basque refugees in 1937 showed Britain at its best and worst (Guardian, link):

"Daniel Vulliamy and Simon Martinez on their family links to the children who fled the Spanish civil war on the Habana and were evacuated to the UK."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-22.5.17)
Council of the EU considers "introducing a legal link" between visa and returns policy

"The Council...

Recognises the importance of linking the negotiations of readmission and visa facilitation agreements...

Underlines the importance of introducing a legal link between readmission and visa in the Visa Code...

Considers that stronger coordination could be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve return cooperation of third countries on return and readmission..."

See: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (9082/1/17 REV 1, LIMITE, 19 May 2017, pdf)

SERBIA: Migrants and refugees in Belgrade evicted to camps

In early May volunteer group No Name Kitchen warned of the impending eviction of over 1,000 migrants and refugees living in disused buildings in Belgrade, who were recently removed by the government to camps, in some cases overcrowded and with poor sanitary conditions.

UK: The character of citizenship: denying the rights of asylum seekers and criminalising dissent (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Refusing citizenship on grounds of 'character' reflects the criminalisation of global political dissent and resistance, while these subjective criteria normalise an imperialist system of citizenship."

FRANCE: Paris: towards a new evacuation if nothing changes (ECRE, link):

"In the early hours of the 9th of May, more than 1 600 people have been evacuated from makeshift camps, at Porte de la Chapelle in Paris to (emergency) reception centres across the Ile de France region. NGOs like France terre d’asile were present to inform and accompany them. Evacuations of such camps have almost become routine in Paris, despite the opening of a “humanitarian centre” by the City of Paris in November 2016.

Afghans, Eritreans and Sudanese form the majority of migrants sleeping rough in Paris under appalling conditions. Among those evacuated in the beginning of this month, there were 75 women and unaccompanied children. For most of them, this is not the first evacuation, and many had come back from centres they were taken to during a previous operation."

EU: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met

The European Commission has published its 12th report on the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy and progress made in the EU's resettlement scheme, highlighting that while "the number of persons relocated so far in 2017 is almost as many as in the whole of 2016.... the current pace of relocation is still below what is needed to meet the targets set to ensure that all those eligible are relocated over the coming months."

European Commission press release: Relocation and Resettlement: Commission calls on all Member States to deliver and meet obligations (pdf)

Report: European Commission, Twelfth report on relocation and resettlement (COM (2017) 260 final, 16 May 2017, pdf)

And its annexes (pdfs):

EU: Is the refugee crisis going to disappear? Is the Council Presidency playing a cynical numbers game with the figures - or are we going to see mass returns?

There are currently 62,184 refugees in Greece.
The Council says that: 20,000 refugees in Greece are deemed eligible for relocation but are 13,758 refugees on the Greek islands, 28,426 on the mainland and those still arriving going to be subject to mass returns?

Book review: Refuge: Transforming a broken refugee system. Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, March 2017 by Frances Webber:

"when you dig beneath the benevolent surface, the book's message is profoundly objectionable, and dangerous. For the authors' take on the crisis of displacement wilfully ignores the role of the global economy, and their vision of autonomy for refugees is working for multinational corporations in special economic zones coupled with a ban on travelling outside their region of origin - a sort of captive reserve army of labour. It is hard to see the autonomy in that."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection.. Period of Validity of Residence Permits issued to Refugees and Beneficiaries of Subsidiary Protection = Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 9001-17,pdf):

"The Presidency proposed that both permits would thereafter be renewed in accordance with national legislation, including for an unlimited period. Although there was some support for this Proposal, it was opposed by those Member States which grant residence permits with a validity period of more than five (5) years to beneficiaries of refugee status, as well as by those Member States which grant residence permits with the same validity period of more than three (3) years to both beneficiaries of refugee status and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection status."

EU: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met

The European Commission has published its 12th report on the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy and progress made in the EU's resettlement scheme, highlighting that while "the number of persons relocated so far in 2017 is almost as many as in the whole of 2016.... the current pace of relocation is still below what is needed to meet the targets set to ensure that all those eligible are relocated over the coming months."

UK: MASS DEPORTATION Charter Flight to Nigeria and Ghana set for May 24th (The Unity Centre, link):

"A charter flight is scheduled to depart from London Stansted at 23:30hrs on May 24th for Nigeria and Ghana, part of the regular Home Office practice of forcibly removing up to 100 people on privately chartered ghost flights that leave from an undisclosed location in the middle of the night. On the basis of previous charter flight reports from Stansted, it is assumed the company contracted to operate this flight is Titan Airways."

UK: Iraqi deportations: the airlines helping the Home Office deport refugees to war zones (Corporate Watch, link):

"The Home Office is trying to deport dozens of refugees to Iraq, with at least 30 people currently held in detention centres awaiting forced removal. But instead of using high-profile charter flights, the Home Office is now turning to a handful of major airlines to take Iraqi deportees as scheduled passengers: Royal Jordanian, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways. Strong resistance by deportees and supporters may yet win out though, and several flights have been cancelled in the last week."

German Interior Ministry criticized for curbing refugee family reunions from Greece (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Germany’s Interior Ministry has come under fire from the left-wing opposition after a decision to bring down the number of asylum-seeking family members allowed into the country from Greece to 70 a month, Deutsche Welle reports."

58 migrants land on Greek islands in past 48 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 58 migrants and refugees have landed on Greece’s Aegean islands in the past 48 hours, authorities said Friday.

Officials reported 29 arrivals on Chios, 18 on Lesvos and 11 on Samos.

The official number of migrants and refugees awaiting processing on the islands of the eastern Aegean on Friday was 8,892."

Spanish fire-fighters who saved lives at sea must not be criminalised (IRR News, link):

"As petitions are launched to stop the criminalisation of humanitarians, calls for the European Commission to intervene to change the law intensify."

Lack of solidarity dogs EU asylum reform (euobserver, link):

""There is still no consensus in the Council. I don't hide to tell you I expressed my disappointment on that," said EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The European Commission tabled the Dublin reform bill last year, but Malta is looking increasingly unlikely to deliver an outcome.

It has floated a number of internal papers on how to parcel out refugees across all EU states. Most of them enter the EU via Italy or Greece and are meant to stay there, under the existing Dublin regime, until their asylum request is processed."

Poland defies EU over asylum seekers (euractiv, link):

"Poland refused yesterday (18 May) to yield to pressure from the European Union to take in any asylum seekers under a relocation scheme despite an EU threat of legal action."

EU plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece by September failing despite record deaths at sea - European Commission considering legal action as only 40,000 set to be transferred by deadline (Independent, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.5.17)
Italian commission says more controls needed on aid groups rescuing migrants (Reuters, link):

"An Italian parliamentary commission said on Tuesday more controls needed to be imposed on humanitarian organisations that are taking an increasingly significant role in rescuing migrants from the Mediterranean.

In a series of non-binding recommendations, the commission also said that Malta and Tunisia should do more to help Italy tackle the huge numbers of migrants who are using Libya as a springboard in search of a better life in Europe.

The Senate Defence Committee launched the inquiry earlier this year amid accusations that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were colluding with people smugglers to help with search and rescue operations close to the Libyan coast.

In their conclusions, parliamentarians said no NGO groups were under investigation, but they called for them to be put under greater scrutiny, saying their ship crews and financial backers should be registered with authorities.

They also suggested that police should travel aboard NGO vessels -- something most humanitarian groups have rejected."

EU: Commission takes first steps against Hungarian asylum law - for the second time

Following the passing of draconian new asylum legislation in Hungary, the European Commission has taken the first step in initiating infringement proceedings against the country by issuing a "letter of formal notice" - just as it did in December 2015, with the same warning that if no response is received in two months then "the Commission may decide to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure," which can ultimately end up in the European Court of Justice.

Frontex: minutes of all Management Board meetings, May 2014-February 2017

Minutes from all the meetings of the Management Board of Frontex held between May 2014 and February 2017, obtained through an access to documents request to Frontex.

DENMARK: Concerns about tightening of family reunification rules in Denmark, but good progress of diversity in policing (ECRI press release, pdf):

"Strasbourg, 16.05.2017 – The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fifth report on Denmark in which it analyses recent developments and outstanding issues and makes recommendations to the authorities.

ECRI welcomes the Danish authorities support to civil society organisations working with integration, including newly-arrived refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection during the migration crisis. The Council of Europe´s anti-racism body also notes positive steps to increase diversity in policing by recruiting more officers from ethnic minority backgrounds and to address the social marginalisation of members of the Greenlandic Inuit community residing in Denmark.

However, the report criticizes Danish policies vis-à-vis refugees, namely new rules for family reunification for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, including an extension to three years of the normal waiting period before a family can be united. This goes against ECRI´s previous recommendation to address the issue as a matter of priority through a wide-ranging reform."

See: ECRI report on Denmark (fifth monitoring cycle) (pdf) and: ECHR: Danish chairmanship of the Council of Europe to weaken the European Convention on Human Rights (ECRE, link)

IRELAND: Irish Refugee Council 2016 Impact Report (link)

"The Irish Refugee Council’s 2016 Impact Report, published on 13 May, highlights the growing diversity of Ireland’s refugee community and the variety of issues they face while attempting to move on with their lives."

Migrant in Greece: 'It is very dangerous here' (BBC News, link):

"Many migrants in the port of Patras, Greece, are prepared to take huge risks to try to reach Italy. BBC News spoke to one of them, 17-year-old Mustafa."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.5.17)
SPAIN: 388 people die on the Spanish coasts in one year including 122 children

Between September 2015 and December 2016, 388 people died in their attempt to arrive in Spain by boat. 31.4% of them were children and 7.9% of them women, according to an extensive report by the NGO Caminando Fronteras. The organisation documents that, behind these deaths, beyond the risk implicit in the sea crossing, are deficiencies in the rescue efforts at the southern border that "give precedence to migration control over saving lives."

Migrants in Libya forced by smugglers to kill sick or injured friends - by burying them alive (The Telegraph, link):

"Migrants in Libya have been forced by smugglers to bury alive fellow migrants who are too sick or injured to board boats setting off across the Mediterranean towards Italy, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Migrants often spend months in Libya, held captive in squalid compounds or trying to earn enough money for their passage, and suffer knife and gunshot wounds at the hands of Libyan militia or ruthless gangs of traffickers.

They are even sold as cheap labour in modern-day slave markets, humanitarian organisations say. If they are too badly injured to walk to the beaches from where the rubber dinghies set out or if they are perceived as being too much trouble because of illness, then they are killed, said Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration."

EU: Council pushes to "increase the feed and use of biometric data" in draft conclusions on security checks and irregular migration

"The effectiveness of cross-checking both regular and irregular migrants against security databases depends to a large extent on the availability of biometrics. Illegal border-crossings are often undocumented, which means that it is impossible to run a check against any security database unless biometrics are utilised."

ECHR: Danish chairmanship of the Council of Europe to weaken the European Convention on Human Rights (ECRE, link):

"Denmark, once a proud Scandinavian front runner in the global work to strengthen human rights, might have surprised some observers when it was announced in November 2016 that the government had formed a task force of civil servants that were going to lobby the other 46 governments in the Council of Europe in order to change the “dynamic interpretation” of the ECHR. Those closely acquainted with developments in Denmark, however, would have noticed a series of very restrictive legislative measures following the arrivals of asylum seekers in Europe in the autumn of 2015.

While the 1951 UN Refugee Convention does not contain a right to family reunification the ECHR’s Article 8 on the right to private and family life is a vital legal instrument for the protection of this right. When undermining the “dynamic interpretation” of the ECHR, practiced by the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, Denmark is in fact targeting the right to family reunification."

Italy, Germany call for EU mission on Libya-Niger border (EurActiv, link):

"The German and Italian interior ministers have called for an EU mission to be installed on the border between Libya and Niger to stem migrant crossings to Europe.

In a letter to the European Commission dated 11 May, of which AFP obtained a copy on Sunday (14 May), ministers Thomas de Maizière and Marco Minniti said they “are convinced that we all must do more” to “prevent that hundreds of thousands of people once again risk their lives in Libya and on the Mediterranean Sea in the hands of smugglers”.

Italy had already registered nearly 42,500 migrants coming by sea by mid-April this year and 97% of them arrived from Libya, the letter said.

It called for the setting up of “an EU Mission at the border between Libya and Niger as soon as possible”."

See also: Germany and Italy want EU to halt migrants in Libya (EUobserver, link)

Dead and missing at sea: Information guide for families and their supporters (Boats 4 People, link):

"Today, Boats 4 People published an information guide for the families of migrants –and their supporters- who died or went missing while crossing Central Mediterranean sea on their way to Italy.

This guide will be presented at a public conference held in Syracuse during the Sabir Festival, organized by the Italian association ARCI (Associazione Ricreativa Culturale Italiana).

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 2014, more than 12 000 people lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea during their migration to Europe, 5 022 of them in the year 2016 alone. Most of them remain “non-identified”.

These intolerable tragedies are the consequence of European migration policies, which, in their attempts to prevent migrants from coming to Europe, force them to take increasingly dangerous routes."

TURKEY: Torture & Tyranny in Europe’s ‘Safe Third Country’ (Right to Remain, link):

"The recent referendum in Turkey will significantly alter its political landscape and it is vital that torture does not play a part in shaping that landscape. Last summer’s attempted coup was a shocking reminder of the fragility of Turkey’s democracy and it highlighted to the world President Erdogan’s acceptance of torture as a form of retribution against the thousands of people who have been caught up in the subsequent crackdown.

Sadly, for the people we support at Freedom from Torture this is a story they know too well. The attempted coup shone a spotlight on Turkey’s human rights abuses but they are not new. Our new report examines the cases of 60 people who faced often repeated, detention and brutal torture at the hands of Turkish state forces."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-14.5.17)
UK: Police drop investigation into racist gang stabbing of refugee child and tell him 'don't go out alone at night' (Independent, link)

"Exclusive: Search for men who beat Eritrean boy in hate crime attack abandoned, in same week Britain First are accused of targeting asylum seekers in the area."

EU: Council of the European Union: SIS and the return of illegally staying third-country nationals

Proposal for a Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals - Revised compromise version of Articles 1 to 4 (LIMITE doc no: 8108-17, pdf):

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, EL, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL, SE and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes.

Changes to the original Commission proposal are marked as follows: new or modified text is in bold underlined. Deletions are in strikethrough."

Greek MInistry reports on 13 May that 153 refugees landed on the Islands: Official figures (pdf)

Are You Syrious (13.5.17, link)

Greece

"more people are arriving in Greece every day. Late evening on Saturday, a boat arrived on Chios carrying 55 people, including 20 children. During a day, 10 people arrived on Rhodos. The day before, to Rhodos 26 people arrived. After the arrival, people were taken to the detention center that is, as witnesses report, unsuitable for children. There is 23 child inside, including some young as 1 or 2 years."

Italy: Attack on the potential accommodation place

"The situation in Italy is less presented in the mainstream European media but is in the same way warring as in Greece. The latest IOM figures are showing that 53,386 people entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 10 May, and nearly 85 percent arrived in Italy. Among those who arrived there is notable increase of people from Bangladesh and Morocco. (In 2016 a record high 8,131 Bangladeshi nationals were registered by the Italian authorities at the landing points in Italy. In 2017, already 4,645 Bangladeshi have been registered.)"

Spain: Increase in number of arrivals

"The UNHCR report that 5,499 persons arrived by sea and land since January 2017. Last year at the same period, 2,973 people arrived, which is 85 per cent increase.

People who are arriving to Spain are mainly from Guinea (23 per cent), Côte d’Ivoire (17 per cent), The Gambia (11 per cent), Cameroon (10 per cent), Syria (9 per cent) and Algeria (7 per cent)."

Cyprus: Increase of arrivals

"Since January 2017, according to the UNHCR, 302 people arrived to Cyprus compared to 43 during the same period last year."

Hungary Helsinki Committee: Key Asylum Figures as of 1 May 2017 (pdf)

Eric Kempson reports from Lesvos that: "Two boats landed in the south east coast of lesvos early in the morning, 109 people, as far as we know every ones ok"

See also: Greek Ministry:
12-5-17 (pdf)

Hungary, Slovakia in EU court to challenge refugee quota (Daily Sabah, link):

"Amid the continuing row over migration that has strained EU unity over the last two years, Hungary and Slovakia havy challenged the quota system in the EU's Court of Justice, accusing tha EU of legal violations in adopting the refugee quota."

Finland: Make EU funding conditional for members turning away refugees (euractiv, link):

"The European Union should attach more conditions to cohesion funds earmarked for some member states in its next budget framework, Finland’s finance minister said today (11 May), saying they should do more to share the cost of taking in migrants."

ECJ: A third-country national may, as the parent of a minor child who is an EU citizen, rely on a derived right of residence in the EU (Press release, pdf)

"The fact that the other parent, an EU citizen, could assume sole responsibility for the primary day-to-day care of the child is a relevant factor, but is not in itself a sufficient ground to refuse a residence permit. It must be determined that there is not, between the child and the third-country national parent, such a relationship of dependency that a decision to refuse a right of residence to that parent would compel the child to leave the EU."

See: Top court rules on residence rights for non-EU parents (New Europe, link)

Schengen area: Council recommends up to six month prolongation of internal border controls (Press release, pdf):

"On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal
border controls in exceptional circumstances.

As from this date, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway may prolong
proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of six months at the following internal borders:

Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian land border and Austrian-Slovenian land border
Germany at the German-Austrian land border
Denmark in the Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border
Sweden in the Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge
Norway in the Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.5.17)
MEDITERRANEAN: Libyan coastguard turns back nearly 500 migrants after altercation with NGO ship (Reuters, link):

"Libya's coastguard said it had intercepted nearly 500 migrants packed onto a wooden boat and returned them to Tripoli on Wednesday after warning off a ship that was preparing to pick them up for passage to Europe.

Footage filmed by Sea-Watch, a non-governmental organization, showed a Libyan coastguard vessel coming within meters of its own ship as it sped to stop the migrants.

...Ruben Neugebauer, a spokesman for Sea-Watch, said the NGO had received instruction from Italy's coastguard control center in Rome that the Libyan coastguard would be taking over "on-scene command", and that the Sea-Watch ship had stopped to await further instructions.

"Without any warning, they crossed our bow on the way to the migrant boat," Neugebauer said. "They made an extremely dangerous maneuver. They nearly hit our boat, they endangered our crew.""

The EU is currently providing training to the Libyan coastguard. See: Why Cooperating with Libya On Migration Could Damage the EU’s Standing (Human Rights Watch, link):

"But Italy and the EU may also see another benefit [in giving training to the Libyan coastguard]: preventing arrivals on EU shores by getting the Libyans to intercept the boats before they reach international waters. Once there they could come into any contact with the EU operation in the central Mediterranean known as EUNAVFOR MED or Operation Sophia, the European border agency Frontex, or vessels operated by nongovernmental groups.

EU-flagged vessels are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which bars returning anyone to a place where they face threats to their lives and freedoms. If migrant boats intercepted in Libyan waters by Libyan vessels are taken back to Libyan shores, however, the EU non-refoulement obligations would not be triggered. Libya has not ratified the international refugee convention, does not have a functioning asylum system, and, as stated above, subjects migrants and asylum seekers to abuse."

See also: Italy investigating some migrant aid workers for people smuggling (Reuters, link)

GREECE: Between Deterrence & Integration (Refugees Deeply, link)

An in-depth examination of the attempts, succeses, challenges and failures in the integration of migrants and refugees in Greece:

"It has been tempting amid the fallout from Greece’s historic recession to dismiss the mishandling of the other crisis forced upon it – that of hugely increased refugee and migrant flows – as unavoidable or inevitable.

It is a temptation that Andreas Pottakis is determined to resist. A lawyer who took over as national ombudsman toward the end of 2015, a year that saw just over a million refugees and migrants enter Greece, he is putting the finishing touches to a report on the official response. It is expected to compound recent criticism of the Greek government and the European Commission, which, as by far the largest donor, has been party to all aspects of the handling of the crisis."

Hungary Indicts 11 for Truck Suffocation of 71 Refugees (OCCRP, link):

"Hungary indicted on Thursday 11 suspected people-smugglers for the death of 71 refugees whose bodies were found two years ago in a truck in Austria during the peak of Europe’s migration crisis.

Between February and August 2015, prosecutors say the smuggling ring moved more than 1,200 people into Western Europe. From June, they were transporting immigrants to Germany and Austria on a daily basis.

The alleged ringleader of the group was a 30-year-old Afghan man, who funded and orchestrated the operation. He is believed to have personally profited at least €300,000 (US$ 328,000) from the venture."

And see: Italy arrests Libyan suspected of involvement in migrant murder (Reuters, link):

"Italy has arrested a Libyan man suspected of involvement in the killing last week of a migrant, who was shot dead when he refused to take off his baseball cap, police said on Thursday."

EU: Hungary and Slovakia’s case against refugee quotas gets day in court (EurActiv, link):

"The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has begun deliberating on Hungary and Slovakia’s case against the EU’s refugee relocation quotas, which both countries initially opposed and which allegedly contain a number of procedural errors."

EU: 85% of refugees in Europe are fleeing explosive violence, new research finds (Action on Armed Violence, link):

"In the first research of its kind, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has set out to examine the impact of explosive violence on the refugee crisis in Europe.

Interviewing over 250 refugees in the UK Germany, and Greece, AOAV found in The Refugee Explosion, that 85% of those interviewed had witnessed explosive violence. In total, some 69% had witnessed shelling, 61% airstrikes, 58% Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and 39% suicide attacks.

Of those refugees questioned from Afghanistan, 92% had been directly impacted by explosive violence, and from Iraq 90% had been affected."

See the report: The Refugee Explosion: How Europe treats refugees fleeing explosive violence (pdf) and case studies: Germany, Greece and the UK (links)

EU: Schengen area: Council recommends up to six month prolongation of internal border controls (press release, pdf):

"On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.

As from this date, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway may prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of six months at the following internal borders:

- Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian land border and Austrian-Slovenian land border
- Germany at the German-Austrian land border
- Denmark in the Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border
- Sweden in the Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge
- Norway in the Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden"

See: Council implementing decision setting out a recommendation allowing for the prolongation of temporary internal border controls (9040/17, pdf) and: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU (Statewatch News Online, 3 May 2017)

Suspected people smugglers arrested in Maltese waters (Malta Today, link):

"Ilyya Iosifov, 28, Valentyn Mykhenvych, 25, and Roman Koloshva, 28, were detained at sea in Maltese territorial waters on the yacht Vino Tinto II in an operation involving AFM air assets, executing a European Arrest Warrant that had been issued by a Sicilian court just minutes before.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea heard how the yacht was intercepted en route to Italy from Turkey. The men were arrested on the strength of the warrant, which was issued following a Schengen Information System alert from EU border security agency Frontex.

The 35 people who were believed to have been on the vessel were to have been dropped off in Syracuse."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.5.17)
EU: Racism plays a key role in migrants’ exclusion and violations of rights in the European Union

Brussels, 2 May 2017 – Anti-migrant political discourses and exclusionary migration policies are having a disproportionate impact on racialised migrants, according to a new report by the European Network Against Racism, covering 26 EU countries. Migrants are increasingly the targets of racist violence and speech; and face discriminatory policies and attitudes hindering their access to the labour market.

ITALY/MALTA: 'You have to call Malta': recordings suggest Italy dallied while hundreds drowned (Times of Malta, link):

"By 1.48pm, Mohammed Jammo was on the verge of despair.

"We are dying, please! Don't abandon us! We have no captain, he ran away. I have no credit on my phone, please help," he pleaded with an official at Italy's rescue coordination centre in Rome.

By that time, Mr Jammo - a self-described Syrian doctor - and the hundreds of men, women and children aboard the rickety boat some 60 nautical miles south of Lampedusa had been waiting more than an hour for help to arrive.

The reply from Rome was chilling. "Yes, yes. You have to call Malta. You have to call Malta."

It would take a further four hours for a rescue vessel to make it to their position, despite an Italian warship being situated just an hour-and-a-half away. By then, Mr Jammo and the boat's other passengers were in the water. Hundreds were dead."

Germany grants asylum to Turkish military personnel (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Several Turkish soldiers and their families, all stationed at NATO facilities in Germany, have been granted asylum in a preliminary decision. The German Interior Ministry is said to have confirmed the reports.

According to numerous reports in German media, the soldiers in question and their families are Turkish nationals with diplomatic passports who had previously been stationed at NATO facilities in Germany. The military employees had filed for asylum in Germany after facing persecution following the failed coup of July 15, 2016."

Italy builds new detention centers to speed up migrant deportations (Reuters, link):

"Italy will open new detention centers across the country in the next few months as part of its push to speed up deportations of illegal migrants, despite critics saying that the centers are not only inhumane but also do not produce the desired result.

Violent protests and difficulty identifying migrants has led to the closure of similar centers over the past few years, but on Tuesday the Interior Ministry asked regional governments to provide a total of 1,600 beds in such centers.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti says migrants must be detained to stop them from slipping away before they can be sent home."

UK: Asylum seekers may have been wrongly deported to Albania (The Guardian, link):

"Hundreds of lesbian and gay asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and survivors of domestic violence may have been wrongly deported to Albania after courts and the Home Office relied on incorrect guidance, it has emerged.

In October 2011, the court of appeal ruled that the courts and the Home Office could no longer rely on expert evidence they had previously used, which stated it was safe to send these groups back to Albania. However, the Home Office and the courts continued to use this evidence for the next five years.

It is not clear why the Home Office or the courts ignored the court of appeal order made in 2011. The lawyers who brought the case said they had never before come across this situation, where the Home Office has in effect ignored a court of appeal ruling for five years."

UK: Britain’s brutal asylum rules allow a little girl to be uprooted with a day’s notice (The Guardian, link):

"During the London terror attack, trapped pupils from Birmingham represented all the good in the world. Now a 10-year-old from the same school has been forced to move"

Council of the European Union: Reception, Eurodac & Visas

RECEPTION: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 8258-17, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament. Lots of amendments from the Concil Presidency and with 134 Footnotes with Member States' positions:

"The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles except for the recitals: placed in square brackets, to be discussed at a later stage."

EURODAC: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application of [Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 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: 8502-17, 94 pages, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament.

"Delegations will find in Annex suggestions from the Presidency for modifications of the text of the draft Eurodac Regulation."

VISA FORMAT: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1683/1995 of 29 May 1995 laying down a uniform format for visas (LIMITE doc no: 8510-17, pdf): Almost final Council text.

One of the first times that the impending BREXIT is referred to in Council decision-making:

"This proposal envisaged a "hybrid" Regulation, applying to the Schengen States and allowing for Ireland and the UK to opt in by reference to Protocol 21 TFEU. However, the Council Legal Service (CLS) expressed the view that the proposal constituted a development of the Schengen acquis, and therefore it was not subject to Protocol 21 but to Protocol 19. This means that Ireland and the UK cannot opt in. At the same time, Member States agreed that a solution would need to be found to allow Ireland to use the visa sticker format in one way or another." [emphasis added]

'It's like Airbnb for refugees': UK hosts and their guests – in pictures (Guardian, link):

"Think of it as Airbnb for refugees, quips Robina Qureshi. It’s a simple premise: people with a spare room in their house are matched with a refugee or asylum seeker in need of somewhere to stay.

And it’s a popular one: before 2015, Qureshi’s organisation, called Positive Action in Housing (PAIH), used to provide about 600 nights of shelter a year to people with nowhere to go. In the 18 months since September 2015 this has risen to 29,000 nights."

Hungary withdraws from negotiations over asylum law, dares EC to take legal action (Budapest Beacon, link):

"The Hungarian government walked away from the negotiating table as discussions with the European Commission broke down over Hungary’s asylum policy. In a defiant statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office on Wednesday, the government insisted that “Since the … negotiations were unsuccessful, Hungary’s government does not wish to change the rules concerning immigration, and if the Brussels commission launches legal proceedings, we stand ready to fight the legal dispute.”

With this, the government has given up on all negotiations with the European Commission over its asylum policy, and openly invited the EC to take legal action. The government’s statement made clear that it would not budge on the existence of the so-called “transit zones” erected along Hungary’s southern border, designed to hold asylum-seekers in detention and house them in shipping containers while their asylum applications are being processed.

The Commission opposes the existence of these transit zones, arguing they break EU rules that prohibit the detention of persons based solely on their request for international protection.... "

The reality of NGO migrant rescues (euobserver, link):

"NGOs have become the largest provider of search and rescue (SAR) around Libyan waters.

Based on data from the Italian Coast Guard, NGOs rescued a total of 46,795 migrants in 2016, many more than EU border control and anti-smuggling missions Triton and EUNAVFOR Med.

Still, non-governmental SAR faces mounting criticism as a pull factor for illegal migration, a facilitator of human smuggling, and an obstacle to the identification of smugglers and asylum seekers."

Vessels deployed by Frontex help rescue 2 800 people in Central Mediterranean (link):

"Vessels deployed by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, helped rescue more than 2 800 migrants from 20 rubber and wooden boats coming from Libya this weekend."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-7.5.17)
Immigration detention and the rule of law: the ECJ’s first ruling on detaining asylum-seekers in the Dublin system (EU Law Analysis, link):

"One of the most controversial issues in immigration law is the detention of asylum-seekers. This issue was not initially addressed by the European Common Asylum System (CEAS), but is now addressed in some of the second-phase CEAS measures (the CEAS consists of the Asylum Procedures Directive, the Reception Conditions Directive, the Qualification Directive, the Dublin Regulation and the EURODAC Regulation).....

As we will see, the Court took a strong view of the need for the rule of law to apply in detention cases. Moreover, its ruling is potentially relevant not just to Dublin cases, but also detention of asylum-seekers and irregular migrants in other contexts too."

Are You Syrious (6.5.17, link)

Children suffering caused by the closed borders

The UNICEF issued a new report (“Refugee and migrant children stranded in European transit countries suffer psychologically in the face of uncertain future”) according to which it is estimated that about 24,600 children are currently stranded in Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Western Balkans. And all of them are at risk of psychosocial distress caused by living in a protracted state of limbo.

The situation is particularly acute for single mothers and children stuck in Greece or the Balkans waiting for reunification with family members in other EU countries."

Police violence against children documented

"Refugee Rights Data Project issued the new report this time about children who are left alone after the demolition of the Calais camp in October 2016, six months ago. Local charities are estimating that there are approximately 400 displaced people in Calais and the surrounding area.

The report concludes that many problems remain unsolved when it comes to basic rights and protection of these children.

“The majority have suffered from police violence, including tear gas and beatings. The lack of safety combined with an absence of recourse to information, advice, and support, is striking.”"

Greece

"More people arrived on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, two boats were picked up by Greek coast guard, one in Chios with 40 people and the other at Lesvos with 55 people. On Saturday morning, one boat landed on the north of Lesvos at Karakas with 15 people and one at Chios with 37 people, and one on Samos with 15 people on board."

Info guide for refugees - Italy

"Refugee Crisis Database provided an info guide for refugees and migrants, “an instrument designed to make migrants arriving in Italy aware of their rights and give them autonomy in pursuing the path they chose or who will choose.”

Are You Syrious (5.4.17, link)

Relocations

"The temporary EU emergency relocation scheme was established in two Council Decisions in September 2015 in which Member States committed to relocate 160,000 people from Italy and Greece (and if relevant from other Member States) by September 2017. Updated numbers show that 5413 people have been relocated from Italy and 12.555 from Greece, meaning that, after 20 months, 11,23% of the goal was reached. 4 months are left until deadline day.

From 4/4/16 to 3/5/17 5147 people have been resettled from Turkey to Europe under the deal. 801 people were deported under the deal in 2016, 293 so far in 2017. Remember that it was meant to be a 1:1 scheme, which only was meant to apply for Syrians."

LIBYA

"Rescuers picked up 560 people from unsafe boats off the coast of Libya yesterday, including the body of a young man. According to eyewitnesses, the teenager has been shot by human traffickers because they wanted his baseball hat, Reuters reports. Boat arrivals in Italy are still up 30 percent so far this year from 2016, when a record 181,000 arrived, they write."

Update on Leros attack

"After a series of attacks by right-wing groups on the island of Leros, 20 people were hospitalized yesterday. Among the people taken to the hospital was a pregnant woman who is in such a critical condition that she might lose her baby. It is still unclear if her condition is related to the attacks."

Passeurs d'hospitalités – English ~ Exiles in Calais and at the British border: Police Officers vs. Judges (link):

"Over the years successive laws have been passed that simultaneously undermine the rights of foreign nationals and diminish civil liberties. However, it seems that for successive governments whatever rights have stayed in place represent an obstacle to their policies sufficient to induce both the administration and the police to violate these laws, despite their severity, on a daily basis. And judges, when they sanction these violations of the law, become the embodiment of the obstacle in question. In this area, as in others, end-term Hollandism meets end-term Sarkosism.

It’s in this context that we see the meaning of the show of force put on by the police last Thursday during the distribution of meals – arrival with lights flashing, interruption of food distribution, racial profiling, and the spectacular arrest of one minor and three other individuals."

Germany to build orphanages in Morocco to deport minors (DW, link)

"Germany's migration office is considering plans to build homes in Morocco where they can send deported underage migrants, according to leaked documents. The plans have been criticized by opposition lawmakers."

LockedInLimbo – end arbitrary detention of stateless people in Europe (MRN, link):

"The European Network on Statelessness (ENS) is urging states to fulfil their international obligations towards stateless people and those at risk of statelessness by taking proactive steps to protect them from unlawful and arbitrary detention, and guarantee their fundamental rights and freedoms.....

A report by ENS makes a series of concrete recommendations in five priority areas for reform, so that law, policy and practice reflect – and apply without discrimination – international human rights standards. We hereby call on states to urgently bring about an end to the arbitrary immigration detention of stateless people in Europe..."

UNHCR: 44, 791 arrivals in the Med in 2017: 37,157 in Italy, 5,379 in Greece and 2,352 in Spain. 1,099 deaths.missing (4.5.17)

Playing Politics with People’s Lives - Attacks in Italy on Efforts to Save Migrants’ Lives in the Mediterranean (HRW, link):

"Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) searching for and rescuing migrants from rickety or even sinking boats in the Mediterranean are saving lives. Thousands of lives...."

Hungary withdraws from negotiations over asylum law, dares EC to take legal action (Budapest Beacon, link):

"The Hungarian government walked away from the negotiating table as discussions with the European Commission broke down over Hungary’s asylum policy. In a defiant statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office on Wednesday, the government insisted that “Since the … negotiations were unsuccessful, Hungary’s government does not wish to change the rules concerning immigration, and if the Brussels commission launches legal proceedings, we stand ready to fight the legal dispute.”

Skyrocketing costs for returning EU migrants (euobserver, link):

"The EU is spending millions forcibly sending people back to their home countries with one case costing up to €90,000 per head.

An EUobserver probe of some 100 joint return flights coordinated by the EU's border agency, Frontex, has revealed some startling facts."

Germany: Four men on trial over beating man to death amid 'hunt for refugees' (The Local.de, link):

" Four men are going to court on Tuesday accused of beating a man to death after prosecutors said they went out to "hunt refugees".

The four men ranging in age from 19 to 35 began their trial before a Bonn state court, charged with assault resulting in death, according to local broadcaster WDR.

Prosecutors accuse the quartet of beating a 40-year-old father, who they knew beforehand, so badly that he died a few days later due to his injuries."

Greece: More than 100 migrants rescued at sea Friday (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 105 migrants and refugees have so far been rescued at sea Friday, reports say.

Romanian staff of the European Union border agency Frontex reportedly rescued 45 people from a dinghy spotted off the eastern coast of Chios in the eastern Aegean.

Meanwhile, 60 people were rescued at sea off the eastern coast of Lesvos."

Europe’s stateless locked in limbo (euractiv, link):

"The European Parliament is currently holding intense discussions on the overhaul of the EU’s Common European Asylum System. But MEP Jean Lambert warns that one group of people remain absent from the debate: the stateless."

Greece paying asylum seekers to reject appeals (euobserver, link):

"The Greek government is giving cash incentives for rejected asylum seekers on the islands to forgo their legal rights to appeal their cases.

Some €1,000 and free plane tickets home are now part of a largely EU-financed package to send them packing as quickly as possible.

"This is quite complicated and quite immoral," a Greek lawyer working for Save the Children, an international NGO, told EUobserver...

People have five days to decide whether to take the cash, with reports emerging that even that short delay was not being respected by authorities. Previously, people were entitled to the assistance even if they appealed."

Italian prosecutor investigating NGO rescuers says has no proof of wrongdoing (euractiv, link):

"An Italian prosecutor who began an investigation into possible ties between humanitarian organisations that rescue migrants at sea and Libya-based people smugglers said on Wednesday (3 May) he had no proof of any wrongdoing.

Carmelo Zuccaro, the chief prosecutor of the Sicilian port city of Catania, previously said he had evidence of phone calls between people smugglers and aid groups, but on Wednesday he said he was expressing only a “hypothesis” and had no proof that could be used in court."

EU immigration 'likely to continue for some years' after Brexit (Guardian, link):

"Whitehall thinktank says it is unfeasible to fully create and implement a new immigration policy by the end of the two-year article 50 deadline"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-3.5.17)
Statewatch Viewpoint: Egypt: Europe’s other north African border (pdf) by Paolo Cuttitta (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):

"This year, there has not been any migrant boat arriving from Egypt so far. Is this an effect of the new Egyptian anti-smuggling law? In the meantime, migrants in the north African country experience arbitrary detentions for indefinite periods, deportations which violate international law and scarce or non-existent protection for those who supposedly have a right to it. Asylum is a taboo for the authorities in Cairo, and the UN agency for refugees does what it can (but also - according to accusations by several workers - a lot less than that), while the work of humanitarian organisations in this sector is limited by the Egyptian regime’s repressive actions. In the meantime, the IOM, Italy and other EU countries renew their programmes to support Egyptian border guards, and the EU has agreed a five-fold increase in its budget for Egypt from the Africa Trust Fund."

Greek Hotspots: ECCHR urges European Ombudsman to investigate conduct of European Asylum Support Office (EASO):

"Berlin, 02 May 2017 – The work of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the Greek Islands not only lacks a legal basis, it also fails to respect core standards of fairness. This is the conclusion of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) after analyzing a series of admissibility interviews conducted by EASO officers at the “Hotspots” in Greece. ECCHR – with support from Brot für die Welt – has therefore submitted a complaint against EASO to the European Ombudsman. The Ombudsman was established as an independent and impartial institution to hold the EU administration accountable for failures to respect fundamental rights or legal principles.

According to the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March 2016, “[a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey”. Under this arrangement, refugees are entitled to first have asylum claims considered before leaving Greece. The decision on their right to international protection – processed at the “Hotspots” on the Greek islands – are in effect not taken by the Greek Asylum Service but by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). ECCHR has serious concerns as to the legality and legitimacy of EASO’s actions in the context of the EU-Turkey statement."

See: EASO’s influence on inadmissibility decisions exceeds the agency’s competence and disregards fundamental rights (pdf)

European Commission: Third report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM(2017) 219, pdf):

"The number of European Border and Coast Guard Team members deployed has more than doubled from 3,584 in 2015 to 8,353 in 2016, and the total duration of deployments has more than tripled from 128,607 man/days in 2015 to 411,939 man/days in 2016. The provision of technical assets has also increased from 2015 to 2016: the patrolling hours of offshore patrol vessels increased by 14%, of coastal patrol vessels by 41% and of patrol cars by 34%.

(...)

As of 2017, the Agency will use EUR 10 million per year (EUR 40 million in total for 2017-2020) to acquire its own equipment, in particular small and medium size assets. The Agency is already examining the ways to build up its own permanent capabilities and/or to maintain them operational after acquisition.""

See also: Second report (March 2017, pdf) and: First report (January 2017, pdf)

EU: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU

"The EU member states imposing border controls to stop migration flows from Greece will have to remove them before the end of year.

EU migration and home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday (2 May) that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member state Norway will only be allowed to extend existing controls one last time.

"This is the last prolongation, I repeat it, this is the last prolongation," Avramopoulos told reporters in Brussels."

EU-TURKEY: It wasn’t me! The Luxembourg Court Orders on the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal (CEPS, link):

"We argue in this contribution that the EU institutions purposefully – and unfortunately, successfully – circumvented the democratic and judicial checks and balances as laid down in the EU Treaties. We find this problematic, especially as the Statement constitutes a measure that produces severe legal effects for the rights of asylum seekers and fundamentally alters the course of EU external migration policy. By choosing to conduct major policy decisions through press releases and refusing to take legal responsibility for the Statement, the EU institutions themselves jeopardise the Treaty-based framework that aims to ensure democratic rule of law and fundamental rights."

FRANCE/ITALY: From Solidar Passeurs to Smugglers: Dismantling Solidarity Through Criminal Convictions (Border Criminologies, link):

"Like other borders within the Schengen area, that separating Italy from France in the Maritime Alps, has witnessed considerable mobility of people. Over the years this mountainous stretch of land has represented salvation, freedom or opportunity... Being a passeur is part of a tradition and a local business. For Francesco Biamonti, passeurs were characterised by a strict work ethic: ‘We shared a lot of our path- he thought while going up the hill- we knew many nomads and wayfarers. We were two honest passeurs, he was of the trade I was not. We never left anyone behind the border’.

Today, as the populations crossing this border take a new form, those who assist the most recent groups of people trying to cross this border are no longer viewed through the noble frame of the ‘passeur’. Instead, the contemporary ‘solidar passeur’ has been criminalised under French and Italian national law. French and Italian national laws not only punish the transportation of irregular migrants beyond their borders but they also criminalise those providing help in the form of accommodation or any act which constitutes facilitation or help to people on the move."

And see: Viewpoint: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers

EU: What Does It Mean to Disrupt the Business Models of People Smugglers? (pdf) by Luigi Achilli, Migration Policy Centre, and Gabriella Sanchez, University of Texas at El Paso:

"Despite the scaling-up of EU surveillance, enforcement measures and patrolling operations aimed at border security, the flow of irregular migrants towards Europe shows little sign of abating. This policy brief shows, first, that border enforcement and barriers to mobility lead migrants to rely on clandestine mechanisms to reach destinations abroad, even if this involves significant risk. Second, policy interventions aimed at disrupting smuggling networks may make smuggling more lucrative and increase incentives for criminals to enter this market. Third, more stringent border policies and practices can facilitate involvement by irregular migrants in human smuggling. We conclude by showing that ending irregular crossings is an unlikely outcome so long as emphasis is placed on security vectors alone. If the intended goal of security initiatives is the suppression of smuggling networks, they must be accompanied by structural, comprehensive approaches and solutions. Accessible pathways for people to move across the Mediterranean into Europe are a necessary component of this response."

EU-ITALY: Humanitarian Corridors: A Tool to Respond to Refugees’ Crises (Border Criminologies, link):

"These deaths [in the Mediterranean] are a direct consequence of the international community's collective failure to implement a credible plan of humanitarian aid to refugees. As noticed by Roberts, Murphy and McKee, the refugee crisis has raised urgent questions about the quality of political leadership to ensure effective and adequate measures ‘both to stabilise the countries from which migrants are coming, thereby reducing the pressure to move, and to make the positive case for migration in a continent experiencing a rapid decline in birth rate.’ Civil society organisations have often filled the void of this political inaction, by providing adequate basic services to those in need. Their involvement should not abrogate states or for this matter, the EU from protecting people on the move. These initiatives instead indicate a new direction for effective and responsive interventions to the refugee crisis.

One of the best examples of civic actions can be found in the ‘Humanitarian Corridors’ (HC) pilot project, carried out in Italy by the Community of Sant'Egidio, in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches based on an agreement with the Italian Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. This initiative responded to the May 13, 2015 recommendation by the European Commission that ‘member states should use to the full the other legal avenues available to persons in need of protection, including private/non-governmental sponsorships and humanitarian permits, and family reunification clauses.’ "

The first in a series of articles. See: Seeking Refuge in Europe (Border Criminologies, link)

Bordering on inhumanity: refugees stranded between Morocco and Algeria (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Refugees from Syria, including about twenty children, have been left for over a week in the desert without any resources near the city of Figuig (Morocco). EuroMed Rights and its member organisations stress the urgency of the situation as well as the need for humanitarian support, unconditional access to reception means for these people and respect of their rights.

On 18 April 2017, over 60 people have crossed the Algeria-Morocco border in view of reaching the Moroccan territory. Eleven of them were deported back the same day: EuroMed Rights notes that these refugees have not been able or willing to claim asylum in Algeria, and that they have been deported from Morocco in breach of the non-refoulement principle and in violation of the procedural safeguards enshrined in Moroccan law. They have been left without any resources in Algeria since then, in violation of the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees.

Since then, about fifty people have been left alone, stranded at the border in a desert area near the city of Figuig (Morocco), with no other support than the help provided by non-governmental organisations and local residents (water, food, blankets). Among them were two pregnant women, one of whom has delivered birth on Sunday 23 April, with absolutely no support whatsoever."

NORWAY/DENMARK: The right job measures will lower the refugee bill (Nordic Co-operation, link):

"Getting newcomers into jobs as soon as possible is not the long-term answer to integration. New studies from Norway and Denmark reveal that poorly qualified refugees, in particular, run the risk of finding themselves out of work again later on. Research also shows that the biggest item associated with refugees consists of the lack of tax revenue generated because of unemployment."

 

April 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.4-1.5.17)
EU: "Hotspots": Court of European Auditors: Migration hotspots are working, but critical issues remain, say EU Auditors (Press release, pdf):

"The EU’s so-called “hotspot” approach for irregular migrants arriving in Italy and Greece has helped to significantly improve the registration, identification and security checking of migrants. But more needs to be done as thousands of migrants are still stranded on the Greek islands after their arrival, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Many of those affected are unaccompanied minors, say the auditors, and more should be done to help them.....

relocation is no longer an option, and returns are slow. As a result, there are still more migrants arriving at the hotspots than leaving, and they are seriously overcrowded." [emphasis added]

See: Full report (pdf)

Sweden mosque damaged in suspected arson attack (Daily Sabah, link):

"Swedish police said Monday they suspected arson in connection with an overnight fire that damaged a Shiite mosque near the capital, Stockholm.

The Imam Ali Islamic Centre in Jarfalla, a municipality north-west of Stockholm, said in a post on Facebook that about one-fourth of the building was destroyed.

No one was injured in the blaze that appeared to have started on one of the outer walls, according to police who have opened an investigation into arson."

Are You Syrious (30.4.17, link)

Feature: Another possible tragedy in the Mediterrenean

"While the MSF’s Aquarius arrived safely in Italy with 187 people rescued off the Lybian coast, the NGO Jugend Rettet fears another tragedy in the Mediterrenean, as it discovered an empty dingy this morning which could have had between 120 and 150 people on board. The group had looked all day for a boat in distress after getting an alert from the Italian coastguard. Meanwhile, the MSF’s other boat Prudence recovered four dead bodies....."

Germany: 1239 cases of church asylum in 2016

"Neues Deutschland reports on the increasing number of cases of “church asylum” in Germany. In 2016, 1139 people found protection against deportation in churches up from 1,015 refugees in 2015. Most cases fall under Dublin, with people facing imminent deportation to Italy, Hungary or Bulgaria, but there is also an increased number of Afghan refugees as Germany accelerates its deportations to that country."

Hungary completes second border fence with Serbia (News That Moves, link):

"The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, has announced that a second border fence on the Hungary-Serbia frontier has been completed.

The fence covers a length of 155 kilometers and is three meters high. Hungary had already fenced off the border with Serbia and Croatia in 2015.

The new fence on the Serbian border was designed as a “complementary line of defence” against irregular migration from Serbia, the government previously said.

The fence is equipped with an alarm system, thermal and video cameras, and sensors that send alert signals to border patrols if the fence is touched or damaged."

The war over distributing meals, it is constant (passeursdhospitalites, link):

"Police pressure is not limited to the distribution of evening meals, organized by the associations (see here, here and there), it is diffuse and also covers all distribution throughout the day.

As of last week, there are several testimonies from volunteers who made night marauds with tea and food, and who had to undergo identity checks, vehicle control, security palpations. Volunteers were told by the police that they were forbidden to return to those places and that distributions were prohibited."

Are You Syrious (27.4.17, link):

FEATURE: Are You Syrious and Center for Peace Studies publish detailed report calling out Croatian Ministry of Interior and Security and Intelligence Agency for “arbitrary and unlawful” practices in handling international protection applications

"Organizations Are You Syrious (AYS) and Center for Peace Studies (CPS) have published a damning report detailing misconduct in processing and not approving asylum applications of asylum seekers in Croatia. In a press conference on Wednesday, the organizations announced their findings which were published in the report titled “Report on arbitrary and unlawful practices by the Ministry of Interior and the Security and Intelligence Agency of the Republic of Croatia related to (non)approval of international protection or status of foreigners in Croatia” which analyzed thirty cases of individuals who, despite meeting multiple qualifications for protection, had their cases not approved.

Generally speaking, what made these cases in particular stand out was that the reason cited for the non-approval of their plea was that of stating that the individual possibly posed a threat to national security."

See: Read more about the press conference here (link)

TURKEY

Turkey has completed the first phase of the projected 900-km-long wall with Syria, as of recently, finishing over half of the three-meter-tall concrete barrier.

“The rest of the wall is due to be completed by the autumn, at which point it would be the second-longest structure in the world, after the 3,460-kilometre Great Wall of China,” according to the online publication Zeen ".

Greece: A violinist unable to pass visa barriers drowned in the Aegean Sea: He was found hugging his violin box (harekact.bordermonitoring.eu, link):

"Via Gazete Manifesto (Translation from Turkish) – This week, another boat carrying refugees drowned in the Aegean between Sivrice Burnu (Çanakkale) and Lesvos. 16 people died and only two people survived the shipwreck, they are now on the island of Lesvos.

On board of the ship was also a young Turkish violinist – Baris Yazgi, 22 years old, born in Siirt – who wanted to go to Belgium – where his brother lives – to study music. His dead body was found hugging a violin box. Inside his violin box he carried his instrument as well as handwritten compositions."

International Commission of Jurists: Briefing: Common Asylum Procedure Regulation ICJ comments on the current proposal of the Regulation (pdf):

"The areas most impacted include access to legal information; legal assistance, representation and legal aid; accelerated and border procedures; and access to an effective remedy.

The proposed Regulation is one of the instruments of the Common European Asylum System4 of the EU. It is intended to replace the current Asylum Procedures Directive with a Regulation and thereby aims to reduce the scope of discretion enjoyed by Member States in the implementation of matters covered under its provisions."

Greece: Migrants protesting on Lesvos (News That Moves, link):

"Migrants and refugees, supported by local activists, peacefully protested on April 26th in Mytilene, the main city on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Greek media reported that about 300 took part in the protest, mostly migrants of African origin. The protesters said they had been kept for months on the islands and asked to be allowed to leave Lesvos for Athens.

They also blocked the entrances to the port of Mytilene, before police showed up in force.

A leaflet distributed at the site of the protest, at the port of Mytilene, said that migrants and refugees were “treated like criminals” and that “a false border has been erected between the mainland and the islands”.

‘My Brother is Being Deported Today’ - Iranian Asylum Seeker’s Case Shows Flaws of EU-Turkey Deal (HRW, link):

"Yesterday I woke up to an alarming text message: “Hi, call me please. My brother today [will be] deported [to] Turkey.” The text was from Arash, a 30-year-old Iranian asylum seeker stuck on the Greek island of Lesbos, who was desperate to help his brother Amir, also stranded there. Less than an hour later, one of Amir’s lawyers confirmed the bad news. “They are deporting him in 15 minutes. Call whoever you can,” she urged me....."

Are You Syrious (25.4.17, link):

Feature

"Shocking new numbers reveal that Germany has become far less hospitable towards refugees from Afghanistan. In January and February of 2017, only 47.9% of refugees from the country had their application accepted. This is a stark drop in acceptance rates, as in 2015 77.6% of asylum seekers had their applications accepted. By 2016 the number had dropped to only 60%. These latest figures reveal a deeply upsetting downward trend towards. The move comes at a time when German Prime Minister Angela Merkel is seeking reelection, and as a sizable minority of the population is deeply opposed to Germany’s granting of asylum, now is the time to appear tough for the incumbent. Angela Merkel hopes that by doing this she will prevent the rise of the far-right AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) party, but the move only serves the interests of the violently xenophobic element."

Greece: Two hospitalized from Moria hunger strike

"Two people were taken to the hospital last night after getting sick from the hunger strike currently taking place in Moria owing to the poor living conditions and unacceptable wait times to be transferred to the mainland. After being discharged, the two have continued their strike. This is the fifth day of the hunger strike, and there are a total of 12 participants. Please see our special report on the situation for more information."

AYS SPECIAL: Refugees helping refugees (link)

"Almost one year ago, a group of young people from Syria formed Jafra R2R Team. R2R stands for Refugees helping Refugees. Their idea was to provide support from refugees for refugees, the idea that has huge support inside the community, but often lacks understanding from big INGOs and NGOs. AYS visited the shelter which Jafra Team runs in Athens to hear some very important lessons about life, respect, being refugee…"

35 migrants stopped from leaving Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"From the Associated Press: Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency has reported that 35 migrants were detained in western Turkey while trying to reach Europe.

They were intercepted while onboard an American-flagged sailboat off of Turkey’s Izmir coast. The migrants included 18 Syrians, 16 Pakistanis and one Iranian. There were ten children and two women among the group."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Migration crisis: call for improved funding for emergency situations (link):

"“It is the political and moral responsibility of all European countries to contribute financially to dealing with the current migration and refugee crisis, according to the means at their disposal,” declared PACE today. The Assembly went on to say that these countries must do their utmost to allocate funds where needs are greatest, keeping administrative costs and structural obstacles to a minimum.

Parliamentarians also expressed regret over the fact that the complex decision-making and budgetary procedures and slow implementation of EU programmes on the ground, make it difficult to put the necessary infrastructure in place and provide assistance in a timely manner."

See: Report (pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.4.17)
EU: Migration monitoring in the Mediterranean region – Libyan military to be linked up to European surveillance systems (Matthias Monroy, link):

"The Mediterranean countries of the EU are establishing a network to facilitate communication between armed forces and the border police. Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia are also set to take part. This would make them, through the back door, part of the surveillance system EUROSUR. Refugees could then be seized on the open seas before being returned to Libya."

And see: Answer to a parliamentary question given by Commissioner Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission (EP, link):

"The satellite-supported communication infrastructure of the Seahorse Mediterranean network will be established in 2017, if the security situation in Libya allows, and will enable the Libyan Coast Guard to exchange information on incidents and contribute to rescue operations.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will support this cooperation with regular monitoring and surveillance information.

Regional engagement of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt in the Seahorse network is ongoing. In the framework of the EU-Tunisia high political level dialogue on security and the fight on terrorism, held on 19 January 2017, Tunisia has been encouraged to join the Seahorse project by joining the network and participating to the training.

The same approach was followed in a bilateral meeting with Egypt in the margins of the Valletta Summit on 8 February 2017 and with Algeria at the 7th sub-committee on justice and home affairs on 22 February 2017."

GREECE: Refugees drown off Greek coast, others start hunger strike in Lesbos camp (Deutsche Welle, link):

"At least 15 bodies were recovered by vessels from Greece's navy and the EU's Frontex agency on Monday. The Greek coastguard said one of its patrol vessels rescued two women, including one who was pregnant.

Authorities said the dead comprised two children, four women and nine men.

(...)

On Saturday in Rome, Pope Francis described Lesbos arrival centers he visited last year as "concentration camps," and urged European nations to provide relief by receiving those "left there inside."

At Moria, one of the camps on Lesbos, where the statuses of 13,800 refugees remain unresolved, 14 Kurds from Syria remain on hunger strike.

They began their protest against the slow processing of their appeals on Friday, sitting in blankets in front of the camp's asylum bureau."

EU: International Commission of Jurists: comments on the new Asylum Procedures Regulation and Reception Conditions Directive

The International Commission of Jurists has published two new notes offering critical observations on the EU's proposed Asylum Procedures Regulation and Reception Conditions Directive, noting with regular to the former that "the areas most impacted include access to legal information; legal assistance, representation and legal aid; accelerated and border procedures; and access to an effective remedy."

Immigrant detention: a prospering business (The Prisma, link):

"Four multinationals manage 7 of the 9 detention centres in the United Kingdom, with the contracts they sign worth millions of pounds. Nevertheless, there are complaints, allegations and deaths amidst what is happening under their management. Which are they and how can this system be explained? "

And see: UK: Behave or get deported, says G4S (OpenDemocracy, link):

"EXCLUSIVE: The world’s biggest security company, landlord to asylum-seekers, threatens tenants with expulsion from the UK.

About 900 people who are seeking asylum live in the city of Sheffield, in South Yorkshire. For five years G4S, the world’s largest security company, has held the government contract to accommodate them whilst they await the outcome of their claims for asylum."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-24.4.17)
Migrants and refugees are "routinely abused by law enforcement officials in the Western Balkans"

Migrants and refugees in the Western Balkans who are trying to access the territory of the EU "are being routinely abused by law enforcement officials," who are "subjecting people to violence and intimidation and denying access to asylum procedures to those seeking international protection," says a new report by Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association and Oxfam.

GREECE: At least eight drown as migrant boat sinks off Greece's Lesbos island (Irish Independent, link):

"At least eight people, including a child, drowned when an inflatable boat carrying refugees and migrants sank off Greece's Lesbos island, the Greek coastguard said on Monday.

The United Nation refugee agency UNHCR said the number of dead was at least 12. Citing survivors, it said 25 people were on board.

Two survivors, one of whom is pregnant, were taken to the island's main hospital, the coastguard said."

Constructing a Deadly Void - How European authorities continue to use Migrant Death as Deterrent while criminalising Rescuers (Alarmphone, link):

"The Easter weekend saw one of the biggest Search and Rescue (SAR) operations carried out in the Mediterranean Sea in the past few years, with 8,360 people rescued between Friday the 14th and Sunday the 16th of April 2017. The WatchTheMed Alarm Phone network was involved in 2 emergency cases and could observe first-hand both the sheer inadequacy of rescue efforts of EU authorities and the crucial contribution of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in preventing instances of mass dying at sea, which we had to witness so often in the past."

EU pays for "watch towers" on the Georgia-Turkey border

The recent newsletter of the Eastern Partnership Panel on migration provides updates from the first quarter of 2017 on relations between the EU and the 'Eastern Partnership' countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. This includes events such as the EU providing €3.4 million of "communication, surveillance and detection equipment for the strengthening of Georgia’s capabilities of guarding the green border with Turkey," including "watch towers".

AUSTRIA-CZECH REPUBLIC: Chechen refugee "spent ten weeks in Czech custody because he found himself in a legal vacuum outside Austria"

"Mukuschev spent ten weeks in Czech custody also because he found himself in a legal vacuum outside Austria. For the Czech court, he was still a Russian citizen, in spite of his long stay in Vienna. The Austrian authorities could not support him like they support Austrian citizens, since asylum holders do not enjoy their host country's full legal protection abroad."

UK: Petition: Stop using NHS patients’ personal information for immigration enforcement (38 Degrees, link):

"The UK government and NHS Digital, the NHS body that stores patient information, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January to give the Home Office easier access to patient information. This allows immigration officials to use NHS patients’ personal details, such as their addresses, to track down, arrest and deport undocumented migrants.

Patient confidentiality is essential for NHS staff to be able to do their job – and yet there has been no consultation with NHS staff or the public about this deal. Concerns raised by medical organisations have been ignored and the agreement was made in secret.

The deal makes some of the UK’s most vulnerable people scared of getting healthcare. The medical charity Doctors of the World regularly sees people in urgent need, including pregnant women and cancer sufferers, who are scared to see a doctor for fear that their details will be passed on. Creating a society where everyone can see a doctor easily and safely is also important for public health.

Sign the petition to demand that NHS Digital withdraws from the MOU and no longer provides information to the Home Office, so that our healthcare service is safe for everyone living in UK."

See: Crackdown on migrants forces NHS doctors to 'act as border guards' (The Guardian, link)

GREECE: A Co-operative Way Out of Exploitation: Reflections on the Manolada Strawberries Case (Leiden Law Blog, link):

"It is important to not see this case as an isolated incident. Exploitative labour practices at the expense of irregular economic migrants continues to be a reality in Greece and other EU countries, with thousands seeking to eke a living as agrarian day labourers. Having indebted themselves and their families in paying the extortionate sums demanded by traffickers for their dangerous passage to Europe, these individuals are constrained to accept any form of work available, under any terms. Due to their undocumented status, they are at the mercy of anyone willing to hire them, thereby perpetuating conditions of modern slavery.

Yet in spite of the de-humanising conditions in which these men and women work, and despite their victimisation, they are not stripped of their agency or dignity. In the absence of supportive civic spaces, they create their own, in the shape of informal evening markets where they socialise and sell work gear and food products from home. They aid each other in making their living conditions more bearable by planting vegetable gardens, in remitting money to their families back in their home countries, and in reaching out to NGOs for support and legal advice, after incidents like the Manolada shooting. This is one of several examples of self-organisation around Europe where migrant workers create supportive structures for themselves. This solidarity among migrant workers can be institutionalised through forming social cooperatives for migrant workers."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency report on migration situation in the EU, 1-31 March 2017

"Since November 2016, FRA’s monthly reports highlight key developments in 14 Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. This month’s highlights are published alongside full country reports. No focus section is being published this month."

CYPRUS: NGOs call on the Ministry of Interior to re-examine the application of the stateless Kurds for citizenship (KISA, link):

"Last Friday, 07/04/17, stateless Kurds from Syria (Ajanib), decided to stage as yet another protest with the aim of getting their applications for Cypriot citizenship re-examined. The protesters have set up tents outside the presidential palace and are calling on the President of the Republic to intervene in order for the Ministry of Interior to re-examine the unjustified and arbitrary rejection of their applications. The undersigned NGOs consider the requests of the protesters to be legitimate and support their struggle.

It is reminded that the said persons have been fighting for access to their rights for more than two years now and that on 18May 2015, the Ministry of Interior himself and the General Director of the Ministry, blaming the inflexible attitude of the competent authorities for granting the status of recognised refugee, urged them to apply for Cypriot citizenship. In fact, three of the protesters were then granted the Cypriot citizenship, while the Ministry suggested to the remaining persons to reapply after a year, when they would have completed the required residence period in the Republic."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20-21.4.17)
Biometric data exchange with the US military: Europol seconds liaison officer for Operation Gallant Phoenix (link):

"Police forces in the EU member states could be able to use fingerprints and DNA traces collected by the US military in Syria and Iraq in the near future. Intelligence services would also be granted access....

Alongside Operation Gallant Phoenix, the US Government has offered to set up a database on “foreign fighters” for a number of EU member states and to compare this information with the biometric data of incoming refugees. According to another paper by the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union, this is “battlefield data from Syria and Iraq and other conflict zones”.

See: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting, Valletta, 1-2 March 2017 (LIMITE doc no: 7163-17, pdf) and Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no 6717-17, pdf)

Danish anti-immigration politics hurting national economy, Denmark’s Finance Ministry data shows (Daily Sabah, link):

"The Finance Ministry of Denmark, a country which has displayed a xenophobic attitude towards migrants in the past, has made calculations which show that immigration is indeed beneficial for the country and that Denmark's economy needs refugees and immigrants."

Are You Syrious (20.4.17, link)

Feature: Racist attacks on Chios

"Today a group of local radical right winged militants, reportedly Golden Dawn, attacked refugees whilst they held a protest against Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario, a Spanish NGO that has been helping refugees on Chios. The NGO is in the process of opening a new clinic on the island and was targeted today by a group of fascists that started protesting at in the morning and physically attacked some refugees outside the Chios Labor Center before they proceeded later in the evening to surround Souda camp and throw stones at the compound......"

Mediterranean Sea: Two NGOs have got together and managed to get and start using a plane to help in their rescue missions at sea

"Sea-Watch together with the Humanitarian Pilots Initiative - HPI deployed a small airplane in the area of the Mediterranean where most shipwrecks happen in order to patrol the Mediterranean graveyard as well from the air. “The “moonbird” will be operating the whole summer to help coordinate rescue missions, to reinforce the pressure on the EU which is letting people die in the Mediterranean and to prevent more shipwrecks from happening, as happened during this Eastern weekend...."

Greece: There was another busy day for the teams on the islands as boats keep arriving

"Today one boat landed on Samos in the morning with 27 people on board, 19 men, 3 women and 5 children from Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Dominican Republic and Iraq.

On Chios on boat arrived last night with 12 people on board, 4 men, 3 women and 5 children, all in good health."

Italy

"In another report of abuse of power, Baobab Experience told us how the police in Rome took 60 refugees to the station while their belongings were put in the trash."

Refugees stranded for 30 hours before rescue in Mediterranean - Maritime log passed to the Guardian reveals rising panic of 100 people during agonising wait on dinghy (Guardian, link):

"A hundred refugees and migrants crammed into a small dinghy that started taking in water in the Mediterranean endured an agonising 30-hour wait before they were rescued, a maritime log passed to the Guardian has revealed.

The incident happened over the Easter weekend, the unofficial start of the “sailing season”, which sees increased numbers of people attempting the crossing from Africa to Europe as the weather improves. Twenty children and 10 women, one of them pregnant, were among the passengers on the overcrowded dinghy. NGO rescues off Libya encourage traffickers, says EU borders chief...

The log was passed to the Guardian by Watch The Med’s Alarmphone network, an NGO which passes distress calls from migrant boats to the Italian coastguard so that a rescue can be coordinated."

Council of the European Union: Relocations, Eurodac & Skilled migrants

Implementation of Relocation Commitments (LIMITE doc no:, 8168-17, pdf):

The Note asks: "How many applicants for international protection will you be relocating from Greece and Italy over the coming five months (May-September) and how many will you be relocating per month?"

The latest 11th Report on relocation by the Commission says that: "Right now, Malta and Finland are the only two Member States so far on track to meet their obligations in time for both Italy and Greece."

And records that since September 2015 only 11,339 refugees have been relocated out of 63,302 from Greece (just 18%) and 5,001 of 34,953 from Italy (just 14%)

Eurodac Regulation: Inclusion of colour copies of passport or ID documents in Eurodac (LIMITE doc no: 8221-17, pdf):

"Where available, a scanned colour copy of an identity or travel document, and if not available, of any other document which could facilitate the identification of the third-country national or stateless person for return purposes.... Most Member States indicated that while the document should be scanned and uploaded in Eurodac immediately, establishing the authenticity of the documents should be done at a later stage."

Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 8280-17, 76 pages, pdf): Latest Council negotiating position with 152 Member State positions in Footnotes.

Inside Europe: A helping hand for refugees in Greece (DW, video, link)

"The Greek government has been trying to close refugee camps and rehouse about 10,000 migrants and refugees in the coutnry. Some have already been moved to apartments or hotel rooms in cities and are waiting for their asylum and relocation requests to be approved. In Thessaloniki Greece's second largest city the majority of local people have welcomed their new neighbours. Alexia Kalaitzi reports."

Greece: Two far-right bullies arrested for attacking refugees in Souda hot spot, Chios (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Two people belonging to the far-right political spectrum have been arrested and taken to the prosecutor. They are accused of attacking refugees in the surrounding area of ?? the hot spot of Souda on the island of Chios.

The two were identified by their victims, while one of them was being transferred to hospital to receive first aid for injuries."

Greece: Over 830 arrivals on the islands (News That Moves, link):

"Around 40 people per day are continuing to arrive on the Greek islands, data from the Greek government shows.

More than 830 people arrived on the islands between April 1st and April 20th. In March, 1,600 crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands, with 50 arrivals daily on average. In February, some 1,000 people arrived on Greek islands."

SPAIN: Report denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at Spain's southern border

Press release published by the Andalucian Association for Human Rights (Associación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) on 29 March 2017. Emphasis in original.

APDHA denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at the southern border - During 2016 deaths increased 34% at European coasts and 125% at Spanish coasts.

GREECE: MEDECINS DU MONDE - DELEGATION HELLENIQUE: Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on the follow-up to the concluding observations on Greece (pdf):

"MdM Greece has, since the first moment, been present and active in the refugee-migrant crisis, reinforcing its ongoing and already existing structures and programs to respond to the increasing and pressing needs of the high numbers of refugees arriving daily and residing for longer periods in Greece. At the same time, MdM Greece has undertaken new initiatives intervening in those places where third-country nationals concentrate, such as the usual entry and exit points for refugees in Greece."

Abandoned refugees will eventually leave Greece, legally or illegally (The New Arab, link):

"According to official sources, 62,156 refugees are at the moment living in Greece, with 14,268 accommodated in official facilities on the Aegean islands, prohibited from travelling to the mainland until their asylum applications are processed.

These refugees have been stranded since March 2016, in formal and makeshift camps around the country.

On the first anniversary of the EU-Turkey refugee deal in March, thousands of refugees, along with their supporters, gathered in central Athens.

"We are humans. We demand our rights," they shouted in the streets of the Greek capital. "Open the borders."

Return of the Fast Track? (Detention Action, link):

"ustice Secretary, Liz Truss, announced proposals to introduce a fast track system to process the deportation of detained asylum-seekers and ex-offenders who have completed prison sentences in the UK. The new proposals will be considered by the Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC), a non-departmental body, responsible for making rules that govern the practice and procedure in the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal. Last year, the TPC refused to set rules for a new fast track system."

See also: Government publishes plans for revamped express deportation system (Statewatch)

PORTUGAL: How to support refugees – European experiences of volunteer work for and with refugees (EUalter, link):

"Refugees are one of the most vulnerable populations, and therefore need safe and professional care and support. Volunteers’ contribution can be an important part of it as it is the collective work of people all around the world that will eventually make a difference."

Greece: Survey shows divided opinions on refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Only 5 percent of refugees currently living in Athens want to remain in Greece, with the rest all keen to continue their journeys toward western and northern Europe, particularly Germany, according to survey carried out by Public Issue on behalf of Athens City Hall’s observatory for refugees and made public on Wednesday.

The same research showed that most Greeks want authorities to show solidarity to refugees and provide them with schooling and healthcare, but do not want them to stay in the country permanently."

Hungary will cease providing Kiskunhalas asylum-seekers with food by end of April (Budapest Beacon, link):

"Asylum-seekers at the camp were first told last week that the funds they receive from the Hungarian state for purchasing food will be withdrawn, a source inside the camp told the Budapest Beacon. At the same time, refugees were told that the camp will not offer them food provisions directly either.

According to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, individuals currently in their first asylum procedure and those with protection status will be taken Thursday to Vámosszabadi refugee camp, near the border with Slovakia. An estimated eight to ten people, including a pregnant woman, will remain in Kiskunhalas but will not be provided with any food or medical services after April 28."

Attacks on migrant homes double in Austria (The Local.at, link):

" Austria recorded a sharp rise in attacks against migrant shelters last year, with 49 cases that mostly went unsolved compared to 25 in 2015, authorities said Friday.

The incidents, revealed in a response by the interior ministry to a parliamentary enquiry, ranged from racist graffiti to arson, stones being thrown through windows and gas pipes being slashed.

According to opposition lawmaker Albert Steinhauser who made the enquiry, 44 of the incidents that were clearly motivated by hatred.

Steinhauser told the Austria Press Agency (APA) that in 77 percent of the cases, police had not managed to track down the culprits."

Are You Syrious (19.4.17, link)

GERMANY

"The German State of Hesse plans mandatory residence for refugees. Political parties plan to dictate the place of residency for refugees in order to prevent the formation of ghettos in major cities, to ensure that no one can receive their social welfare more than once (by only paying it out at the mandatory place of residence), and to fight rural depopulation. As such, the entities behind the plan view it as a “win-win.” German integration law allows the States to issue such directives."

FRANCE

"Sursaut Citoyen has launched an interactive web map of relief and support efforts for refugees in France. It has a phonebook in order to help put everyone in touch with one another and speed communication and coordination. Check it out here.

In a report by Europe 1, information about the informal and formal camps around Paris was published."

MEDITERRANEAN SEA

"Horror and grief on the sea again as MSF Sea reported that a woman had a miscarriage after watching her husband drown as they attempted to cross the sea. Additionally, a boat with the bodies of 28 people was found floating off of Libya, highlighting that the dangers at sea are not only in the water.

Commercial ships continue to pick up the slack for EU as Opielok Offshore Carriers picked up a total of nine boats on the sea, rescuing a total of over one thousand people. Much thanks and support to the commercial ships who are saving lives around the clock.

Additionally, two boats carrying 199 people were intercepted by the Turkish coast guard on the 19th of April."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.4.17)
GREECE: Detention centres for migrants and refugees on Greek islands at 150% of capacity

The latest figures released by the Greek government show that the "strutures" and "hosting facilities" used to hold migrants and refugees on Greece's Aegean islands - principally Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos - currently have 13,003 "guests" but officially room for just 8,696 people.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 10:00 18.4.2017 (pdf)

EU-GREECE: Report on asylum process: delays, lack of advice and assistance, controversial involvement of EU asylum office

A new report by AITIMA details the problems faced by asylum-seekers in Greece, including a lack of access to the asylum procedure, the issues raised by restrictions on residence that confine people to islands in the Aegean, the "extremely limited" legal advice and assistance available, and the involvement of the European Asylum Support Office in the first instance asylum procedure that "raises issues of competence".

FRANCE-UK: Child refugees in northern France facing exploitation and violence on a daily basis, Unicef warns (The Independent, link):

"Child refugees in northern France are facing exploitation and violence on a daily basis?, including threats from adult men armed with knives and machetes, Unicef has warned.

An alarming report has revealed that unaccompanied minors who lived in the Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk before it burnt down last week were “constantly fearful” of sexual abuse and attacks with weapons, and that no one – including the police – was there to care for them or to protect them.

In a series of interviews conducted by Unicef last month, 13 unaccompanied minors said due to brutal treatment by the authorities in France during their journeys, they had turned to smugglers and traffickers who were offering information and apparent protection, but who in turn abused and exploited them.

The report also found that despite frequent contacts with the authorities in European countries on their journeys towards the UK, children have repeatedly been ill-informed about their legal rights to protection, including their right to be reunited with their families."

EU-AFRICA: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community report 2016: "an unparalleled platform for information-sharing and joint analysis"

The Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) "has now reached an enhanced level of maturity," according to the body's annual report for 2016, and is an "unparalleled platform for information-sharing and joint analysis with African countries" which has "captured further attention from the key policy makers in Europe and Africa."

UK: Government publishes plans for revamped express deportation system

"A new fast-track system to deport detained asylum seekers and criminals who are foreign nationals has been proposed by the justice secretary, Liz Truss.

Her proposed rules will mean the time taken to hear the appeals of about 2,000 people against being removed from Britain each year will be capped at between 25 and 28 working days."

UK: Probe into death at immigration detention centre (Migrants' Rights Network, link):

"An investigation has been launched into the death of a 43-year-old man in an immigration removal centre on 9 April. The 43-year-old man, who has not yet been named, was being held at the Verne immigration removal centre in Portland, Dorset."

EU: Thousands of migrants rescued from Mediterranean in three days (CNN, link):

"Italian authorities were still bringing migrants and refugees to shore Monday after one of the busiest weekends ever for rescue services operating in the central Mediterranean sea.
At least 8,500 refugees and migrants were plucked from small boats over the past three days in 73 separate rescue operations, the Italian Coastguard told CNN Monday.

Thirteen bodies were recovered, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old boy. It is not known how many died before they were sighted. "

ITALY: 200-bed Lampedusa center overflowing with 1,000 migrants (ANSA, link):

"Almost a thousand migrants arrived on the island of Lampedusa over Easter weekend. Four women were among the arrivals, including one pregnant one, as were four injured men.

The number hosted on the island's reception center and hotspot thus stands at 1,040, compared with a just over 200-person capacity. In order to deal with the latest arrivals, bunk beds have been set up and mattresses have been laid on the floors. The Red Cross, which runs the center, is in charge of the lodgings. During the day and while awaiting transfer to other centers, the guests leave through a hole in the fence and remain in the vicinity."

EU-LIBYA: Circumventing International Law: The EU’s Responsibility for Rights of Migrants Returned to Libya Under Operation Sophia (The Comparative Jurist, link):

"From January to October 2016, nearly 160,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean to Italy. In response to the smuggling and trafficking across the Mediterranean, the European Union created Operation Sophia. However, Operation Sophia has resulted in migrant and refugee boats being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and being returned to Libya. Through the Operation Sophia training program, the EU has effectively delegated European border control to the Libyan Coast Guard. This practice allows the EU to evade both their duty of non-refoulement and duty to rescue distressed persons at sea. The EU has trained Libyans to conduct actions which the EU could not legally accomplish itself under international law, and is therefore violating international human rights law by aiding and assisting Libya’s wrongful actions."

GERMANY: How does cleaning the Lager toilet for 80 Cents per hour integrate you into the society? (Refugee Movement, link):

"INTERVIEW WITH AN ACTIVIST FROM WOMEN IN EXILE

WIE: We hearing that they are forcing people to work in the Lagers, do you have any idea or experience about this?

A:Yes that is very true. They are forcing people to work in the Lagers and I am one of the victims of this policy. They told me I should work in the Lager and that they will pay me 80 Cents per hour. I told them I am going to school, and though I would like to work, I have no time since I cannot combine both. But they said no. I would have to work because if I didn’t they would cut my social money for food. They also said that I have to work because this work would help me to integrate with the society. I said: That’s not true because I know that without the language I can’t interact with the community. I told them to wait until I get done with my language course and then I can come back to work since then I will understand everything in German. But they said no. I would have to work first."

IRELAND: Mum forced to carry sick child home from hospital on her back (Connact Tribune, link):

"A mother of two carried her five-years-old sick child home from hospital to Salthill, because she couldn’t afford transport.

The woman and children are asylum seekers living at the Eglinton Direct Provision centre in Salthill. The family has sought asylum in Ireland within the past year.

After receiving treatment, the child was released from the care of UHG but they had no transport to bring them back to Salthill.

The Eglinton is on a bus route, the 401, but it does not pass-by UHG. In any event, it is understood the child was discharged late in the evening when bus services aren’t operating.

The woman receives a weekly allowance of €19.10 per week, and so could not afford to take a taxi home. Instead, she carried her son on her back and walked the two miles from UHG to Salthill."

EU: EIB: Council agrees to increase funding to address migration issues (press release, pdf)

"The Council has agreed to additional funding by the European Investment Bank for projects outside the EU that address migration issues.

Up to €3.7 billion would be earmarked for projects that address the root causes of migration and the needs of transit and host communities.

On 5 April 2017, EU ambassadors asked the presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament. They approved a mandate for the negotiations, on behalf of the Council.

A first 'trilogue' meeting with the Parliament and the Commission is scheduled for 12 April 2017."

ITALY: Refugees bring Italian village back to life (New Europe, link):

"The laughter of a small group of refugees has broken the silence of a once-dying village in the foothills of the Aspromonte mountains in southern Italy.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the tiny village of Sant’Alessio has been welcoming families and vulnerable migrants for three years in a project which not only provides humanitarian assistance but brings with it invaluable economic and social benefits.

Over the years the village has dwindled to only 330 inhabitants, many of them elderly. The steep cobbled streets are deserted and most windows are shuttered, residents having left over the years for better work opportunities in Turin, Milan or as far away as Australia.

In an attempt to reverse the trend, however, since 2014 the council has been renting eight of these empty flats to house up to 35 migrants at a time as part of the national SPRAR network (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees)."

UK: Charter flights: ‘when politics come before people’ (Detention Action, link):

"The use of charter flights to facilitate deportation is not uncommon. A Freedom of Information request by End Deportations found that more than 1,500 people were deported on charter flights to Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana and Jamaica in 2016. The flights come with little advance warning, people facing deportation often being informed shortly before the flight is due to depart.

After the departure of the flight to Jamaica in March, I caught up with one of our clients, David*. Just days before the flight was due to take off, David was told that he would be removed on a charter flight. Not long before the flight took off he was granted a last minute reprieve following an intervention from his lawyer."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-18.4.17)
Italy: 8,500 migrant arrivals in 3 days,13 dead (ANSA, link):

"Thirteen migrants died as some 8,500 asylum seekers washed up on Italy's shores over the Easter weekend, leaving the interior ministry grappling with thousands of resettlements..."

Fire at the Grand Synthe Camp : minors have been abandoned (passeursdhospitalites, link);

"The Grande-Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk was a place of contradictions. It had been created by the municipality and Médecins Sans Frontières to respond to a disastrous material situation on the site where an Exile camp was once and for several years. A disastrous situation due to the very rapid increase in the number of Exiles, from less than one hundred people in the Spring of 2015 to nearly three thousand in November of the same year."

Offenses against asylum homes in Germany remain high in number (Daily Sabah, link):

"German authorities say there were 169 violent offenses against homes for asylum-seekers last year, almost as many as in 2015, though the figures sank as the year progressed.

The Federal Criminal Police Office said Tuesday that the number of violent offenses compared with 177 the previous years.

In all, authorities counted 994 offenses against asylum shelters in 2016, a little below the previous year's 1,031. The police office said that most of them had a far-right motive."

Judges proposing tribunals for migrant cases (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"Czech courts are so overburdened with the cases relating to refugees that some judges have proposed the establishment of special tribunals to only deal with the asylum agenda, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Saturday.

There is the threat that if the measures are not taken, the verdicts on refugees, which have a priority under law, may paralyse courts if there is a large migrant wave, MfD writes.

In 2015, when the migrant wave came to a head, regional courts had to deal with some 586 new cases associated with "international protection," it adds.

However, the figure soared to almost 800 last year."

Are You Syrious (17.4.17, link)

GREECE: In case of rejected asylum request

"News That Moves issued new Rumors on what can be done if your application gets rejected. As confirmed by IOM, people hosted on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, who have entered Greece after March 20th, 2016 and whose asylum request has been rejected, have five days to either appeal against the rejection decision or ask for assistance from IOM for voluntary return to their home country if eligible, writes NTM. Find more information here."

ITALY

"This morning, ship Chimera arrived in Porto Empedocle with 447 migrants (352 men, 83 women and 13 minors). The people rescued from three boats totaled 451 (145, 157 and 149 migrants respectively). Four migrants were taken to Lampedusa. In the last two days, a total amount of 4,500 people have been rescued, including children."

Around 13,000 still on the islands (News That Moves, link):

"Despite arrivals dramatically dropping since the EU-Turkey deal was signed in 2016, the situation on the Greek islands remain difficult, with thousands of migrants and refugees stuck in substandards camps for many months, unable to leave for the Greek mainland.

Greek government data show that currently around 13,000 people are still hosted on the islands, with more than half in official sites and the remaining in other hosting facilities (UNHCR and other state run facilities)."

EU 'leaving migrants to drown' say rescuers who saved 2,000 from Mediterranean in single day (Independent, link) '

"We are where we’re needed, what’s the EU doing?'

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a medical charity which has carried out hundreds of rescue operations in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the migrant crisis, has criticised Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard agency, who operate official EU patrols on migration routes.

MSF said in a series of tweets that NGOs were being forced to fill gaps in service provision left by the EU coastguard.

“Frontex Director says it’s a paradox that a third of rescues are done by NGOs. We agree. Where are Frontex boats in a day like this?” MSF tweeted.

“Many more people could have died in a day like this if we arrived a few hours later. We are where we’re needed, what’s the EU doing meanwhile?"#

Are You Syrious (16.4.17, link)

Minors put into detention centres

"Passeurs d’hospitalités reports that five young refugees will appear in court on Thursday in Calais, to decide whether their detention is legal and whether to extend their detention. The refugees claim to be minors but were declared as “adults”, with the police report saying all five were born on 1.1.1999, allowing them to be put in a detention centre and later deported from the country. On Friday, a camp close to Calais was destroyed, including the tents and personal belongings of around 20 people. There was no legal decision for the eviction and the destruction of personal belongings is illegal anyways. Three NGOs, Cabane juridique, le Réveil Voyageur and Utopia 56 have published a press release protesting against police violence in Calais, the lack of access to shelter, especially for minors, and the acceleration of placements into detention centres."

Migreurop Brief - April 2017 (link):

"Externalisation across the board : from the EU-Turkey arrangement to Migration Compacts in Africa."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-13.4.17)
Greece: Latest arrivals on 13 April show a big rise: 205 come in a day: Greek Ministry figures (pdf): Lesvos: 46, Chios: 121 and Samos: 38.

Greece: Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on the follow-up to the concluding observations on Greece (Greek Helsinki Monitor, pdf):

"The three specific recommendations for which the HRCttee requested in 2015 from the authorities of Greece relevant information on their implementation so as to conducts in 2017 a follow-up are:

The State party should ensure that all allegations of unauthorized and disproportionate use of force by law-enforcement officials are thoroughly and promptly investigated by an independent authority, that the alleged perpetrators are prosecuted, that those found guilty are punished with sentences that are commensurate with the gravity of the offence, and that compensation is provided to the victims or their families....."

UK-EU: House of Lords Select Committee on the EU: External Affairs Sub-Committee Corrected oral evidence: Operation Sophia (pdf):

"Lord Horam: I think we should narrow it down a bit from this tour d’horizon, which is extremely interesting, and look from Europe’s point of view at the migration issues that Operation Sophia was trying to cope with. We are now trying to get better co-operation on the ground. Is that at all realistic, given the scenario?

Joseph Walker-Cousins: The chances of having any meaningful success as things are set up, under the political paradigm we have at the moment, are very limited. The EU and all its constituent parts and subordinate bodies now operating on the ground are being directed for political purposes to deal with the GNA.

Lord Horam: You think that is a mistake.

Joseph Walker-Cousins: The GNA are incapable as they currently stand of doing much."

Hungary: Calls for suspension of Dublin transfers and policy shift by Germany (AIDA, link):

"Following recent calls from ECRE and UNHCR for a suspension of transfers to Hungary under the Dublin Regulation, Germany announced steps to suspend transfers to the country on 11 April 2017."

Slovenia says tougher EU border checks ‘unacceptable’ (euractiv, link):

"Newly-introduced tougher checks on the EU’s external borders aimed at stopping suspected Islamist fighters from Iraq and Syria are “unacceptable” and should be amended, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said."

See: Statements by Slovenia and Croatia (pdf):

Slovenia: "In Slovenia's view, checks carried out systematically on all persons crossing the external borders, including those enjoying the right of free movement under Union Law, without targeted checks as a basic principle for efficient border checks and without taking into consideration justified exemptions, is a disproportionate measure in relation to the pursued objective of the change. Additional doubts to the efficiency of the new provisions of Article 7(2) of the Code are related to the possible transitional period for border checks at air borders that are especially vulnerable part of the external borders."

Croatia: "the Republic of Croatia regrets that these measures are to be implemented not only at the European Union's external borders but also at internal borders between Member States fully applying the Schengen acquis and Member States not yet fully applying the Schengen acquis. The title of the Regulation itself implies its application at the European Union's external borders, not at Schengen borders. For that precise reason, all Member States should have been treated equally."

Are You Syrious (12.4.17, link):

FEATURE: Europe’s response to Child Trafficking- ttoo little, too late.

"The relief efforts for Dunkirk after the devastating fire that leveled the camp are ongoing, however Calais Action released sobering information - 129 children still remain missing, most likely driven into the hands of traffickers lying in wait. Although we all anxiously wait for the recovery of these children, we know that the reality remains - that legislation targeting and marginalizing refugees only strengthens the power of evildoers...."

Rights of Child Ombudsman reports on Lesvos (News That Moves, link):

"Meetings were held with children and adolescents in eight shelters for unaccompanied minors, in a primary school, a secondary school, the informal school for refugee children at the open accommodation center of Kara Tepe, and at the Reception and Identification Center in Moria."

Refugee rescue group accuses EU border agency of conspiracy (euractiv, link):

"A Spanish NGO that has been rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean since 2016 accused the EU’s border control agency Frontex on Wednesday (12 April) of plotting to discredit private aid organisations in order to put off donors.

Allegations by Frontex that donor-funded rescue vessels may have colluded with traffickers at the end of last year prompted Italian prosecutors to begin an informal investigation into their funding sources.

“The declarations by Frontex and political authorities are intended to discredit our actions and erode our donors’ trust,” said Proactiva Open Arms head Riccardo Gatti."

Riot police stop refugees returning to Dunkirk camp destroyed by fire (Guardian, link): "Homeless families prepare for night on streets, refusing to sleep in cramped sports halls they say are unsuitable for children."

European Commission: 11th report on relocation and annexes

Relocation and Resettlement: Steady progress made but more efforts needed to meet targets - Today, the Commission adopted its eleventh progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 2 March 2017 (Press release, pdf):

"Whereas some Member States (Luxembourg and Portugal) are steadily progressing on their obligations for Greece and Italy, others (Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia) are relocating on a very limited basis. Whilst Austria has announced it will start relocating soon, others (Hungary and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the relocation scheme at all. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for both Italy and Greece in time."

Eleventh report on relocation and resettlement (COM 212-17, pdf)

Annex 1: Greece (pdf): Formally pledged: 19,603, Effectively Relocated: 11,339, Commitment legally foreseen in the Council Decisions: 63,302, % of legal commitment effectively relocated: 18%

Annex 2: Italy (pdf): Formally pledged: 10,659, Effectively Relocated: 5,001, Commitment legally foreseen in the Council Decisions: 34,953 % of legal commitment effectively relocated: 14%

Annex 3: (pdf): Relocations from Italy and Greece by 10 April 2017:

Annex 4: (pdf): Resettlement State of Play as of 10 April 2017, under 20 July 2015 Conclusions and under the "1:1 mechanism" with Turkey (in application since 4 April 2016)

A European Agenda: On security: State of play: April 2017(pdf): In same press release on terrorism and organised crime...

European Commission:

Protecting all children in migration: Commission outlines priority actions (Press release, pdf): "Over the past two years, a growing number of children in migration have arrived in the EU, many of them without their families."

The protection of children in migration (COM 211-17, pdf)

Implementation of the Action Plan on UAMs (2010-2014) (SWD 129-17, pdf)

Returns diplomacy: levers and tools (EU ISS, pdf):

"‘The EU has three main sources of leverage which it can put behind returns bargains: access to the single market (visa and trade concessions), its overseas spending (EU development aid and investment support) and diplomatic engagement.’"

Frontex: Arrival of migrants in March: Italy remains under pressure, Greece up from previous month (link):

"Italy remained under migratory pressure last month. The number of migrants arriving through the Central Mediterranean route in March rose by more than one-fifth to 10 800. This brought the total for the first three months of the year to nearly 24 250, almost 30% higher than the figure from the same period of 2016...

Better weather also helped boost the number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean to 1 690. This was up almost a half from February but only 6% of the figure from a year ago, when the EU-Turkey statement came into effect in the second half of the month.

Syrians, Iraqis and Pakistanis accounted for a majority of the detections on the Eastern Mediterranean route."

Italy: Migrants: 27,000 reported landings in 2017, up 35% on 2016 (ANSA, link):

" ROME, APRIL 12 - A reported 27,000 migrants have landed in Italy in 2017, up 35% on the same period last year, when a record 181,000 arrivals were overall recorded, according to data updated Tuesday and released by the interior ministry.

The majority of migrants hailed from Bangladesh (3,521), Nigeria (3,397) and Guinea (3,320).

Unaccompanied minors were 3,557, according to the data. Asylum seekers reallocated to other countries were 4,438, under a relocation program.

Despite a constant flow of arrivals, the number of migrants staying at reception centers was down to 175,480 people from the 176,554 registered on December 31 last year."

Hundreds of refugees missing after Dunkirk camp fire - About 900 people in temporary accommodation but 600 still unaccounted for, including unaccompanied children (Guardian, link):

"Hundreds of refugees and migrants are missing and facing a night in the open after a large fire ripped through the Dunkirk camp where they were living, destroying the wooden huts and leaving the site uninhabitable.

Officials spent Tuesday trying to find new shelter for the estimated 1,500 people who had been displaced. It is feared that the destruction of the country’s only official migrant camp will result in asylum seekers returning to sleeping rough along the coast near the Channel ports."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.4.17)
UNHCR urges suspension of transfers of asylum-seekers to Hungary under Dublin (UNHCR, link)

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today called for a temporary suspension of all transfers of asylum-seekers to Hungary from other European States under the Dublin Regulation. The Dublin regulation is an EU instrument that determines which European State is responsible for examining an asylum seeker’s application.

“The situation for asylum-seekers in Hungary, which was already of deep concern to UNHCR, has only gotten worse since the new law introducing mandatory detention for asylum-seekers came into effect,” said Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Given the worsening situation of asylum-seekers in Hungary, I urge States to suspend any Dublin transfer of asylum-seekers to this country until the Hungarian authorities bring their practices and policies in line with European and international law,” he added."

New evidence shows Frontex "quibbled with definitions of distress" to avoid search and rescue

A report recently published by The Intercept examines Frontex's Operation Triton - introduced as a meagre follow-up to the Italian-led Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean - and suggests that the available evidence shows that the EU border agency has been "deliberately patrolling in the wrong area and quibbling with definitions of distress, meaning that its ships would almost certainly arrive late [to distress calls], if at all." An accompanying article argues that recent claims by officials and politicians that non-profit search-and-rescue operations in and around Libyan waters act as a "pull factor" are overblown.

Evidence mounting for Hungary’s brutal treatment of migrants (Atlatszo, link):

"There is an increasing number of reports that Hungarian authorities are extremely brutal to migrants trying to get to Western Europe. Two representatives of the Helsinki Committee human rights advocacy visited a transit site in February and told Atlatszo.hu about experiences, where defenseless refugees were tied up with barbed wire or had dogs set on them."

Why jobs in special economic zones won’t solve the problems facing the world’s refugees (The Conversation, link):

"In a new book, two Oxford professors, Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, are calling on politicians to harness “the remarkable opportunities of globalisation” to reorient the refugee system away from humanitarian assistance and towards development. Focusing primarily on the arrival of large numbers of Syrian refugees in Europe during the course of 2015, they argue that the refugee system has failed to provide long-term solutions for refugees who are left festering in underfunded “humanitarian silos”.

(...)

The proposition is a simple one: provide companies with tax incentives and opportunities for trade in return for providing refugees with opportunities for work, autonomy and self-reliance. They argue this will create a “win-win” situation for both the developing countries which carry the burden of supporting the majority of the world’s refugees with limited resources, and the rich countries struggling politically to manage the consequences of increased irregular migration.

But as I argue in a review published in the journal Nature, neither the book’s diagnosis nor its vision take us closer to a solution because it engages only partially with the complex political and economic realities facing the world’s refugees."

EU: The case for a common European refugee policy (Bruegel, link):

"Legal and political issues left the management of the 2015-16 refugee crisis mostly in the hands of national governments, but this is incompatible with an integrated economic area that has largely abolished internal borders. It is also incompatible with some founding European Union principles, such as the existence of a common European policy on the mobility of people.

A greater role for European institutions and policies is needed both for policing the common borders and imposing common welcome policy standards for refugees, based on best practices. EU measures are also required to face the long-term problems related to immigration, as it is very likely that economic and demographic differences between the EU and neighbouring countries will lead to further crises in the future. Planning for this requires ample and dedicated resources, and a long-term strategy based on agreements with immigrants’ countries of origin, a task that no EU country can pursue alone."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.4.17)
EU-SUDAN: EU funds to Sudan may worsen fate of refugees (EUobserver, link)

"These improved EU-Sudan relations may also mean EU support for Sudan’s notorious Janjaweed militia, rebranded the Rapid Support Force (RSF) in 2013. And just like their Janjaweed predecessors, the RSF is well-known for its extensive human rights violations within Sudan...

the very same Rapid Support Force has also been hired to curb migration via EU funds. In January, the RSF thwarted an operation to smuggle a group of illegal migrants across the desert to Libya, according to what a state official from North Darfur told The Sudan Tribune, who added that the captured migrants came from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen.

The RSF also said that it had handed over 1,500 alleged illegal migrants to the interior ministry earlier that month, claiming to have captured the migrants near the Sudan-Libya border in Northern State. The RSF’s involvement in anti-migration efforts was corroborated last August after RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti”, explicitly claimed that his force had been patrolling the Sudan-Libya border on the EU’s behalf."

UK: The Hostile Environment: turning the UK into a nation of border cops (Corporate Watch, link):

"In 2012 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced a new approach to immigration: to make Britain a “hostile environment” for people who have “no right to be here”.The introduction of compulsory ID checks in hospitals, due to start this month, is just one element. The plan is to make it ever tougher for people without the right immigration papers to get a job, rent a flat, use a bank, drive a car, get medical treatment, send kids to school, or otherwise live a normal life.

This report outlines 13 of the main hostile environment policies introduced so far... [there are] three basic themes across all these measures: mass information sharing, criminalisation of migrants, and widespread citizen collaboration."

ITALY: Asylum system overhauled: "there are so many ways you can build walls: with concrete or with rules"

A new decree (the Minniti-Orlando immigration decree) has been heavily criticised by Lorenzo Trucco, president of the Association for Legal Studies on Immigration (ASGI), who notes that the new rules mean "the entire asylum system will be changed, for the worse," and that "there are so many ways you can build walls: with concrete or with rules."

See: Lorenzo Trucco (Asgi) on Minniti-Orlando decree : “A wall of laws that limit the right to asylum” (ASGI, link)

SPAIN: Interior minister announces three new migration detention centres

On Tuesday 4 April the Spanish interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, announced the creation of three new migration detention centres (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros, CIEs) in Malaga, Algeciras and Madrid.

UK: 'It's a shambles': data shows most asylum seekers put in poorest parts of Britain (The Guardian, link):

"More than five times as many asylum seekers live in the poorest third of the country as in the richest third, according to a Guardian analysis, which has prompted leading politicians to call for a complete overhaul of the dispersal system.

MPs have labelled the way asylum seekers are distributed around Britain “appalling”, “dreadfully designed” and “a deeply unfair shambles” because of the way it disproportionately houses people in poor, Labour-voting areas in the north of England and Wales, as well as Glasgow."

EU-LIBYA: Libya: The strategy that wasn’t (CEPS, link):

"As a failed state in the European Union’s immediate neighbourhood that serves as a base camp for terrorists and a conduit for irregular migration to Europe, Libya is precisely the kind of place for which the EU’s foreign policy instruments were designed, or so one might think. Since the NATO intervention that helped oust Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the EU has deployed most of its crisis response approaches and instruments in the country, including new procedures set out in the 2013 review of the European External Action Service (EEAS), most notably a Political Framework for a Crisis Approach (PFCA).

Yet, almost nothing in Libya has followed the liberal peacebuilding playbook, which assumes an improving security situation followed by reconstruction and sustained democratic political transformation. Instead, the EU has struggled to make any impact while the ongoing chaos in the country has deepened divisions among member states, with migration control emerging as the lowest common denominator for EU action."

AUSTRIA: Attacks on refugee homes double in Austria (New Europe, link):

"Attacks on refugee accommodation have doubled in Austria, according to data revealed by the interior ministry.

The data was presented at the request of Albert Steinhauser, an opposition Green party politician, who said he was dismayed to find out that more than three quarters of the 49 recorded cases remain unsolved.

“The most important thing is for the interior ministry to take these incidents seriously and make every necessary effort to investigate,” he told the Austria Press Agency."

GREECE: Regarding the rumors on the imminent evacuation of refugee squats and the escalation of the anti-refugee policy (City Plaza, link):

"It looks like the government attack against the refugee housing squats is being escalated. Following the evacuation of the Thessaloniki squats in the summer, the Alkiviadou refugee housing squat and Villa Zografou were evacuated a few weeks ago. Following the statements by Minister of Public Order Nikos Toskas last week, regarding the evacuation of refugee housing squats, rumors and leaked information has been circulating, setting the stage for a new round of attacks."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-9.4.17)
1,350 rescued in Mediterranean (News That Moves, link):

"From Reuters: Ships from humanitarian organisations and the Italian Coast Guard rescued 1,350 migrants in 12 separate operations in the Mediterranean Sea on April 6th.

The rescue operations were coordinated by Italian coast guard vessels and included ships from NGOs Proactiva Open Arms and Sea Watch."

EU: Council of the European Union: High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) (LIMITE doc no: 7430-17, pdf): With pages 5-32 on:

" GAMM UPDATE: 8 March 2017

This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

This covers: Part 1 - The regional processes; (A) The Prague Process (B) The Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum (C) The Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue (D) The Rabat Process (E) The Budapest Process (F) The Khartoum Process (G) The ACP-EU Migration Dialogue (H) The EU-CELAC Migration Dialogue (I) The Valletta Summit

Part 2 - The bilateral dialogues (A) Turkey (B) Southern Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon) (C) Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus) (D) Russia (E) African countries (Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, South Africa) (F) Asian countries (China, India) (G) United States of America (H) Brazil

Part 3 - The global processes: Global Forum for Migration and Development, United Nations

And see: EU: Beyond the borders: overview of "external migration dialogues and processes" (Statewatch database)

EU Commission: Latest statistics: Relocations in the EU (6.4.17, pdf):

Greece: 11,339 relocations out of 63,336 needed, Italy: 5,001 out of 34,953 needed. Overall 27,393 pledges from Member States out of 160,000 called for.

and "Hotspots" situation in Greece and Italy (3.4.17, pdf)

Are You Syrious (8.4.17, link)

Denmark: No more transfers of vulnerable

"Denmark stops transferral of vulnerable refugees back to Greece, who already got protection in Greece. They stop the deportation to Greece on the grounds that there is no accommodation, no proper social system and no economic support for them when they have got their protection status in Greece."

Feature: Refugees left unprotected in Turkey

"A mob of about 30 armed people attacked today unprotected refugees in Izmir’s Torbali neighborhood. About 30 people were wounded, and over 500 forced to flee due to this attack.

According to the reports, we received from volunteers in Izmir, the attack that took place in Pamukyazi and was carried out on a rumor that a child was beaten by the Syrians. The attackers used scrubs and sticks. While running aways, some Syrians, including families were children, tried to stop cars to take them away, but nobody stopped to help people. After they left, their tents in a makeshift camp were destroyed...."

Mediterranian: SafePassage

"Since the beginning of this year, according to the IOM, 29,811 people came to Europe by sea. Most of them, over 80 percent, arrived to Italy, while the rest arrived in Greece and Spain.

“According to MOAS figures, the people we rescue come mainly from Sub-Saharan African and both East and West African countries, the 3 most common countries of origin being Nigeria, Eritrea, and Gambia. Many others we rescue come from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. All of these are countries from which people are fleeing war, terrorism, poverty, repression and violence.”

Greece: While more people are coming, need for help is growing

"During Saturday, 38 people arrived at Samos, two from Syria and the rest from Algeria. For those who are already in Greece, and all those who are coming, more help is needed."

Macedonia; Unlawful detentions

"Macedonian Ombudsman on 4th of April visited the Reception Centre for Foreigners - Gazi Baba, only to discover a number of the people who have been kept in an unlawful detention. Those people are not registered and issued with documents for their detention...."

Viewpoint: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers

A new European Commission evaluation of EU laws on migrant smuggling concludes there is a need to improve the situation around "the perceived risk of criminalisation of humanitarian assistance" to "irregular" migrants. The Commission argues that the answer to the problem is "effective implementation of the existing legal framework" - but it is the laws currently in place, which let Member States decide whether or not to punish humanitarian assistance, that permits the existence in some EU Member States of a very real risk of criminalisation.

See: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers (pdf)


Eight European countries deport 50 more Nigerians today (Vanguard, link):

"Some 50 Nigerians were on Thursday deported from eight European countries for committing immigration-related offences.

The Nigerians were deported from Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Hungary. Their deportation is coming barely 48 hours after another set of 40 Nigerians were deported by the Italian Government, for similar reasons.

The fresh batch of deportees arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMlA), Lagos at about 7.36 a.m. The deportees, comprising of 48 males and two females, were brought back in a chartered Privileged Time aircraft, with registration number EC-L20. ":

Letting people drown is not an EU value (euobserver, link):

"595. A nice round number, right? It refers to the dead and missing in the central Mediterranean, mostly between Libya and Italy, in the first three months of 2017. The known dead died from drowning, exposure, hypothermia, and suffocation. Horrible, agonising deaths.

24,474. This is a nicer number. It refers to the women, men, and children who made it safely to Italy this year, all of them plucked from flimsy, overcrowded boats by European vessels. Many were rescued by teams from nongovernmental organisations patrolling international waters just off Libya, where most migrant boats depart."

Stop feeding the beast! A review of ‘My Country: A work in progress’ (IRR News Service, link) by LIz Fekete:

"A play built around seventy long interviews with ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’ about their feelings after the Brexit vote, inadvertently, provides insights into the immigration debate.

The liberal consensus on immigration has broken down. That’s what Brexit has taught us, or at least that’s what the establishment tells us that Brexit has taught us. The Conservative leadership risk no crisis of confidence within its ranks when it comes to pandering to anti-immigration sentiment – the nastier, the more hard-line, the better its coverage in the Daily Mail and the Sun.....

Once again, a door opens to a wider perspective – one in which immigration is merely a sign that stands in for something else, namely the indignities and dislocations that arise with the end of an era that promised full employment. Addressing the loss of meaning that ordinary people have experienced as their workplaces have been destroyed, and the dislocation of neighbourhoods and communities, that have been abandoned by successive governments, now that certainly is ‘a work in progress’."

Over 120 migrant arrivals recorded on Greek islands in 24 hours (.ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 124 migrants and refugees have landed on Greek shores in the past 24 hours, with 80 arriving on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, 30 on Chios and 14 on Leros."

EU migration crisis: border agency accused of stirring controversy - Aid agencies hit back after Frontex claims they are colluding with people-traffickers in Mediterranean (Guardian, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-5.4.17)
EU: Member States enthusiastic about Commission's "how low can you go?" deportation recommendations

The EU's Member States have given a warm welcome to recent proposals from the European Commission to lower human rights standards in order to increase the number of deportations, according to the secret minutes of a meeting of one of the Council's migration working parties which Statewatch is publishing here in full.

EU: Tusk on tour: statements from meetings in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Slovenia ignore the reality of the Balkan route

Donald Tusk, the recently re-elected President of the European Council, has recently been in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Slovenia where he emphasised the important role those countries have to play in guarding the "Balkan route" to central and northern Europe. The route has been followed by thousands of migrants and refugees and despite its official "closure" in March 2016, it remains in use and continues to be a lucrative business opportunity for people smugglers. Numerous countries have recently committed to working together more closely to try to ensure control.

BELGIUM: European Court of Human Rights: Detention of asylum-seeker at Belgian border did not infringe right to liberty and security

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Thimothawes v. Belgium (application no. 39061/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:

no violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the five-month detention of an Egyptian asylum-seeker at the Belgian border.

The Court found in particular that any measure depriving a person of his liberty had to be prescribed by law. Where the legal provision in question originated in international law, only the domestic courts, except in the case of an arbitrary or manifestly unreasonable interpretation, were empowered to interpret domestic law pursuant to the supranational provisions in question. The Court only scrutinised the conformity of the effects of that interpretation with the Convention.

In the present case, the scrutiny of lawfulness conducted by the domestic courts of the detention order had taken account of the case-law of the Court. Moreover, the issue of the applicant’s mental health was not, on its own, sufficient for a finding that his detention had been arbitrary. Finally, the assessment of the facts of the case supported a finding that his period of detention had not been unreasonably long."

See: press release: Detention of an asylum-seeker at the Belgian border did not infringe the right to liberty and security secured under the Convention (pdf) and judgment: AFFAIRE THIMOTHAWES c. BELGIQUE (French only, application no. 39061/11, pdf)

GREECE: Returns to be Turkey to be accelerated as Chios at "breaking point" following attempted self-immolation

"As the inflow of undocumented migrants to the islands of the eastern Aegean rises with the improving weather, the government is planning action to ease the pressure on increasingly overcrowded reception centers.

In the coming days, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas is expected to issue a circular, banning migrants who appeal against a rejection of their application for political asylum from a voluntary repatriation scheme being run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)."

See: Greece to accelerate return of migrants to Turkey as arrivals pick up (Ekathimerini, link)

And: Mouzalas says situation on Chios has reached breaking point (Ekathimerini, link)

"Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said on Friday that the situation at migrant camps in Chios has reached breaking point.

Speaking to Parliament in the aftermath of a suicide attempt of migrant that set himself on fire, Mouzalas said “the situation on Chios is exceeding its limits.”

According to the minister, 2,500 refugees and migrants have been transferred to the Greek mainland, while another 1200 moved by themselves."

TURKEY: Daily Sabah accusing foreign NGO’s working in humantarian aid for refugees (HarekAct, link):

"Daily Sabah published an article accusing foreign NGO’s active in Turkey “trying to degenerate the culture of Syrian refugees”, by teaching their children “how to become free”. The author, Yunus Paksoy, writes that “some vulnerable Syrians think that such foreign NGOs are being insensitive while others claim that they have a hidden agenda.”

As Harekact editorial team, we find the content of this news very controversial, but we think it should be published in order to show the exclusionary discourse of some newspapers towards foreign NGOs in the country."

See: Syrian parents feel threatened by foreign NGOs assimilating children (Daily Sabah, link)

EU: Council adopts conclusions on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child (press release, pdf):

"The Council adopted conclusions on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. These conclusions follow the 'Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (2017) - Leave No Child Behind' adopted by the Council on 6 March 2017. With these guidelines, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to comprehensively protect and promote the rights of the child in its external human rights policy.

In line with the guidelines, the conclusions focus on promoting gender equality, ensuring the empowerment of girls, mainstreaming the rights of the child in all sectors and in all programming, and encouraging partner countries to adopt a national strategy on the rights of the child. The Council reaffirms the EU's support for the work of relevant international and regional actors in the field of children's rights, in particular within the United Nations framework. The Council reaffirms the EU's active engagement in the processes protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all refugee and migrant children."

See: Council Conclusions on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (pdf) and: EU: Council adopts child rights guidelines days after Commission recommends more child detention (Statewatch News Online, 8 March 2017)

UK: New report on the impact of the "right to rent" scheme requiring immigration checks from landlords and letting agents

"This report examines the impact of the 'right to rent' scheme a year on from its nationwide roll-out in England. The scheme requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants and refuse a tenancy to irregular migrants. If they fail to fully comply with the scheme they face a fine of up to £3,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years. The report builds on JCWI's independent evaluation published in 2015.

The report reveals that foreigners and British citizens without passports, particularly those from ethnic minorities, are being discriminated against in the private rental housing market.

In addition, the Government is failing to adequately monitor the scheme to measure whether or not it is working as intended, or whether it is causing discrimination, enforcement under the scheme is low and there is no evidence to suggest that the scheme is encouraging irregular migrants to leave the UK."

See the report: Passport Please (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, link)

EU-BELARUS: Schengen visa facilitation: jeopardised by fear of migrants? (Belarus Digest, link):

"Recent statements by Belarusian officials have confirmed that the country's citizens should not expect a more liberal visa regime with Europe in the foreseeable future. Belarus's decision to introduce a conditional visa-free regime for nationals of eighty countries, many of them European, does not mean Europe has to reciprocate.

Georgia and Ukraine, Belarus’s fellow inmates in the Soviet camp, will soon join Moldova in the group of countries which enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen zone. Meanwhile, Belarusians are subject to the strictest Schengen visa regime amongst all Eastern European nations.

Differences between Minsk and Brussels over the readmission procedure, concerning migrants who attempt to cross the Belarusian border into the EU, have dashed hopes for imminent visa facilitation. Does this mean citizens of Belarus will continue to be targets of expensive, complicated, and sometimes humiliating visa procedures?"

And see: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus (Statwatch News Online, 1 February 2017)

Italy brokers deal with Libyan tribes to curb migrant influx (euractiv, link):

"The Italian government said yesterday (2 April) that dozens of rival tribes in southern Libya had agreed to cooperate on securing the country’s borders in an effort to curb the influx of migrants trying to reach Europe.

Italy’s interior ministry said the 60 tribal leaders, notably the Tuareg of the southwest, the Toubou of the southeast, and the Arab tribe of Awlad Suleiman, had reached the 12-point deal after 72 hours of secret talks in Rome."

EU-Turkey deal fails to stop refugee flow (DW, link)

"A year after the EU-Turkey Deal came into force, thousands of refugees remain stranded in Greece. The most desperate try to reach Europe by any means. Marianna Karakoulaki and Dimitris Tosidis report from Thessaloniki."

Sisyphus ordeal for refugees in Greece (DW, link)

Living in abandoned wagons near Thessaloniki's railway station, refugees squeeze into tiny holes inside freight trains as they try to sneak out of Greece. DW's photojournalist Dimitris Tosidis met them in Thessaloniki.

Scotland demands powers to bring in more migrants (euractiv, link):

"As British PM Theresa May presses ahead with a hard Brexit and a retreat from the single market, Scotland said on Monday (3 April) that its distinct demographic trends require powers over immigration to support public services and the economy.

The Scottish government predicts that 90% of the population increase in Scotland over the next decade will come from net migration, both from international migration and from the rest of the UK."

Tusk says EU determined to keep Balkan migrants routes closed (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The European Union is determined to stick to a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of undocumented migrants into the bloc, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday.

Tusk, who met Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev, welcomed Sofia’s efforts to boost security on its southeastern border with Turkey to prevent migrants from crossing. He said Brussels would provide additional financing if the situation worsened.

“We are determined to keep routes of illegal migration in this region closed,” Tusk told reporters. “We remain committed to the full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-3.4.17)
Greece: More than 1,600 new arrivals in March (News That Moves, link):

"March recorded a significant increase in arrivals of migrants and refugees to the Greek islands, month on month.

Data from the Coordinating Body for the Refugee Crisis Management shows that more than 1,600 people crossed by sea from Turkey to Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and other islands between March 1st and March 31th.

March was the month with the most arrivals to Greece in 2017.

In February, approximately 1,000 people arrived on Greek islands.

In January, about 1,400 crossed by sea from Turkey."

Afghans deported from Europe arrive home, to war and unemployment (Reuters, link):

"Two more planes carrying Afghans deported from Europe landed in Kabul this week, failed asylum seekers sent back under an agreement between the European Union and Afghan government.

The arrivals mean 248 people have been deported from Europe to Afghanistan this year, compared with 580 throughout 2016, said Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations.

The number of Afghans deported from Europe is small compared to the thousands returning voluntarily, but deportations are rising and some migration experts say expelling people to a country where the government controls less than two thirds of territory amid a Taliban insurgency is wrong.

Fifteen deportees arrived by chartered flight from Germany on Tuesday, while 19 landed on Wednesday from Austria and 10 from Sweden. Another flight, from Finland, is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday."

UK: Five appear in court following 'brutal attack on asylum seeker in Croydon' (Evening Standard, link)

"Five people have appeared in court charged with violent disorder after an alleged hate crime left a teenage asylum seeker fighting for his life in Croydon.

Daryl Davis, 20, Danyelle Davis, 24, Barry Potts, 20, George Walder, 20, and Jack Walder, 24, spoke only to confirm their names and addresses during the short hearing at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Monday afternoon.

George Walder was also charged with racially aggravated grievous bodily harm.

Kurdish Iranian Reker Ahmed, 17, was chased and subjected to what police described as a "brutal attack" after a gang discovered he was an asylum seeker."

EU: Council of the European Union: Eurodac and Posted Workers

Council documents proposing extending the reach of Eurodac and including an passports and ID documents in the system.

EU: Council of the European Union: Resettlement: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 7396-17, pdf): Extends its scope to include a "Humanitarian Admission Framework". With 128 Footnotes with Member States' positions

OPEN ARMS: PRESS RELEASE: Common Statement from the SAR NGOs operating in the Mediterranean Brussels – Badalona 31st March 2017 (pdf):

"As individual organisations, the attendees have come together in Brussels with the support of MEP Miguel Urban because of the on-going humanitarian crisis on Europe’s southern borders, and the Search and Rescue (SAR) NGOs ongoing essential efforts to save life at sea....

all attendees and representatives have agreed the objective and intent of the First Edition of the voluntary ‘Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue Operations undertaken by civil society Non-Governmental Organisations in in the Mediterranean Sea’ on the basis that the Code aligns with the three core areas for undertaking lawful SAR operations, those being; following accepted international humanitarian principles, defending fundamental human rights and the professionalization of operational conduct."

March 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UK: Charges brought against 17 Stansted deportation flight activists

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (29.3.17, link)

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

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

SEA

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

Hungarian detention centres ready to imprison hundreds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (25.3.17, link)

One-third of children in Afghanistan unable to attend school

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

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

Deportation to Afghanistan to take place on March 29

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

It should also be noted that:

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (23.3.17, link)


Another Mediterranean tragedy

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

Lesvos

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

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

SERBIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Letter (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Asylum seekers protest against the problematic asylum procedures in Finland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Also from the Valletta Plan:

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

"Reception capacities" equals holding centres.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (20.3.17, link)

Feature: New deal, new humanitarian nightmare?

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

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

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

Bulgaria

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

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

Hungary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FEATURE: Enough is enough!

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

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

Greece: New arrivals

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

3. European Union Agency for Asylum

4. Common procedure for international protection in the Union

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

6. Reception of applicants for international protection. Recast

7. Union resettlement framework

8. EU common list of safe countries of origin

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

North Shore Lesvos Night Watch (link)

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

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

Are You Syrious (15.3.17, link)

Feature: Will there be Dublin returns to Greece?

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

Greece: Arrivals

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

Rome: “Not in my name”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.3.17)

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

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

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

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

See: Facebook Events (link)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Judgment (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (13.7.17, link)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (11.3.17,link):

FEATURE: Children forgotten by Europe

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

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

Greece

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

Greece: Police violence reported, again

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

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

Austria: New deportations and calls for tightening of borders

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Sryious (6.3.17, link):

Islands

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

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

Hungary

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

Italy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(...)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (4.3.17, link):

FEATURE: Another life lost in Europe

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

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

BELGIUM: Deportation to start soon

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

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

DANMARK: More deportations

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And see:

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

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

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

Are You Syrious (1.3.17, link)

GREECE: Islands - official registration

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

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

ITALY: Higher number of arrivals to Italy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Risk of absconding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annex 1 (pdf): Detailed plan

FAQ: Returns and readmission (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•  Annex (pdf)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

February 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.2.17)
At the behest of the EU Greece is to install a "coastal surveillance system covering the whole sea border between Greece and Turkey"

The latest report from the Hellenic delegation to the Council of the European Union on "serious" deficiencies in the application of the Schengen acquis envisages the construction of a: "National Integrated Maritime Surveillance System (NIMSS)":

See: Schengen evaluation of Greece - 3rd Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders (LIMITE doc no: 6311-17, pdf)

EU tells France: Take "immediate measures" to identify and deport migrants living in and around Calais: Commission: Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of France (Pas-de-Calais) on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of return (Commission LIMITE doc no: 26-17, pdf)

Are You Syrious (27.2.17, link):

Push them back

"We are witnessing a continuous silent game of pushbacks from Europe to refugees’ so-called “safe” home countries. Since certain destination countries such as Germany have announced the start of new deportations, the Greek asylum system is under more pressure. People are pushed back to Greece, the Greek Government is working on cleaning up the islands and speeding up deportations to Turkey, where detention centers often have very limited or no access to legal or medical support and overall living conditions are bad, and from Turkey they are more easily deported back to their countries of origin. European countries are updating their policies on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and integration. Austria is now granting the right of residence to refugees for three years, instead of the previous indefinite right of residence...."

Lesvos - arrests and deportations

"No Borders Kitchen issued a statement about police arrests in squats, targeting specific nationalities (that are very unlikely to be granted asylum). Following the European Commission report on the EU-Turkey deal (which says that 1,187 irregular migrants were returned from Greece to Turkey in the course of 2016 ) the Greek government wishes to speed up deportations from the islands"

SWITZERLAND: Transfers from Switzerland to Italy under Dublin regulations

"Every year Switzerland sends thousands of immigrants back to Italy since the Dublin accords call for asylum seekers to be handled by the first European country where they arrive or land, most often Italy and Greece. What is surprising is that the vast majority of the cases Switzerland wanted to refer to Italy were immigrants who were never registered (didn’t leave fingerprints) there. Under Dublin people can be transferred to another country even if they weren’t registered if proven they were previously there (ie. with a train ticket, receipts or the asylum seeker’s own statement), Swiss Info reports."

Senior Arab diplomat derides EU migrant discourse (euractiv, link):

"A distinguished Arab diplomat remarked that EU politicians and think tank representatives did not make use of keywords such as “Iraq” or “Islam” while discussing the Union’s relations with its neighbours and the refugee crisis for several hours.

Former UN Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi told an audience in Malta on Monday (27 February) to look at the root causes of the unprecedented refugee crisis, which he said was triggered by destructive Western policies."

Migrant children endure horrors in Libya and Italy (euobserver, link):

"The UN's children's fund, Unicef, has said minors face shocking abuse in Libya and risk vanishing into crime and prostitution in Europe.

The Unicef report, out on Tuesday (28 February), said more and more children are arriving in Italy alone and required better protection to prevent them falling into the hands of criminals."

NGO rescues off Libya encourage traffickers, says EU borders chief (Guardian, link): "Head of Frontex calls for rescue operations in Med to be re-evaluated and says NGOs work ineffectively with security agencies."

See: Statewatch: EU agencies and officials accuse NGOs of assisting people smugglers off Libyan coast (16.12.16)

EU urged to end cooperation with Sudan after refugees whipped and deported (Guardian, link)

"MEP calls for inquiry as Ethiopian and Eritrean asylum seekers receive 40 lashes and $800 fines, while activists warn EU migration aid is emboldening Sudan.... The MEP Barbara Lochbihler, vice-chair of the European parliament’s sub-committee on human rights, said the EU should launch an inquiry. “The EU must voice clear criticism on the recent incidents, conduct a thorough investigation, try and help the people concerned, and draw the necessary conclusion: if projects such as Better Migration Management carry the risk for the EU to become complicit in human rights abuses, which I believe to be true, we should pull out immediately.”"

Greece: Migrants rescued off Kythira to be transferred to Piraeus (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A group of 41 undocumented migrants who were rescued off the coast of Kythira on Monday were to be relocated to Piraeus, authorities said on Tuesday."

Swedish asylum shelter in Vanersborg hit by blaze (BBC News, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.2.17)
EU: Visa waiver rules amended to allow suspension if third countries fail to cooperate on readmission

"On 27 February 2017, the Council adopted a regulation to revise the suspension mechanism which can be applied to all existing visa liberalisation agreements.

(...)

The objective of the revised regulation is to strengthen the suspension mechanism. It does this by making it easier for member states to notify circumstances which might lead to a suspension, by enabling the Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative, and by tasking the Commission to send annual reports to the European Parliament and Council on the extent to which visa-exempt third countries continue to meet the necessary criteria.

The possible grounds for suspension have been extended, and include a decrease in cooperation on readmission, a substantial increase in the refusal rate of readmission applications, including for third-country nationals in transit, and a substantial increase in the risk to public policy or the internal security of the member states."

See: Council of the EU press release: Visas: Council adopts a revision of the visa waiver suspension mechanism (27 February 2017, pdf) and European Commission: Revision of the Visa Suspension Mechanism - Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)

EU: New Court of Justice of EU ruling increases human rights protection for asylum seekers in Dublin system (ECRE, link):

"A new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) increases human rights protection for asylum seekers in the Dublin system. It establishes that a Dublin transfer should be halted if the asylum seeker to be transferred faces an individual risk of inhuman or degrading treatment because of his individual situation. This is notably the case in circumstances where the transfer of an asylum seeker, with a particularly serious mental or physical condition, leads to the applicant’s health significantly deteriorating, the Court says. A Member State should suspend the transfer for as long as the applicant’s health condition does not render him capable of such a transfer."

See the judgment (French): C.K., H.F., A.S. v Slovenian Republic (C-578/16, pdf)

BORDER WALLS: Hungary starts second wall, Turkey's wall with Syria half-finished

"Hungary has begun building a second line of fence along its southern border with Serbia, a government spokesman said on Monday (27 February), a move likely to exacerbate criticism from some of the country’s European Union partners.

...A barbed-wire fence is already in place, erected in 2015, when Hungary was part of the main overland route for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria.

It effectively blocked that route to Germany, where many were heading, but Hungary has said a second fence would make the barrier more effective and hold back migrants while processing their asylum requests."

See: Hungary starts construction of second border fence (EurActiv, link)

And: Turkey builds more than half of Syrian border wall (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Turkey has erected 290 kilometers (180 miles) of a planned 511-kilometer (317 miles) "security wall" along its border with war-torn Syria, local media reported on Sunday, quoting the head of the body building the structure.

The wall is made from portable concrete blocks each weighing seven tons. The blocks are 2-meters thick (6.5-foot) at the base and 3-meters (10-foot) high, topped by a meter of razor wire. Along the entire wall roads are being built for military patrols and watch towers are being erected."

EU: Europol report on European Migrant Smuggling Centre's first year of operations

"The EMSC one year activity report, published today, details how almost 12 000 operational messages were submitted via Europol’s secure communication network SIENA, representing a 34% increase compared to 2015. The operational messages contained data on over 17 400 new suspected migrant smugglers and helped launch 2057 new international investigations. Nearly a quarter of these investigations were related to identity and/or document fraud, as investigators reported detecting 2589 identity documents that had been forged, counterfeit or reported as lost or stolen. In addition, 22 print shops or document forgery factories were identified and dismantled. The EMSC’s ‘list of vessels of interest’ has grown and currently includes information on over 500 vessels that have potentially been used by criminals to smuggle migrants."

See: Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre: One year on (press release, pdf) and the report: European Migrant Smuggling Centre: Activity Report: First year (pdf):

"The EMSC was officially launched on 22 February 2016, during the 2nd Europol-Interpol Forum on Countering Migrant Smuggling Networks.

This report looks at the evolution of migrant smuggling and the development of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre in 2016."

Interview: detention as the new migration management? (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Certainly people fleeing Syria are in individual or personal crisis, oftentimes, and certainly people left behind in places of conflict or civil war are in crisis. But the states that are responding to migration are by and large not in crisis. These new immigration arrivals are largely manageable, and I think the solution is the way that migration has been managed for most of time immemorial. That is, legal pathways for people to enter a country, or to enter a country without prior permission, and to regulate their status after the fact.

This is something that has been done for centuries. It's only relatively recently, and I think it's important to note this, that we've turned to this really securitised approach of 'fix your status ahead of time or don't come at all'. I think that has real impact on things like right to asylum, the protection of children, victims of trafficking – it's really causing a fundamental breakdown in the way that the international protection regime is supposed to work."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive, "Blue Card" Directive, EES and ETIAS


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.2.17)
EU Council of the European Union: HLWG: Migration and GAMM report & European Council Draft Conclusions

High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG): Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 5657-17, pdf): Includes: Detailed Global Approach to Migration and Mobility: GAMM UPDATE: 19 January 2017 (pages: 4-29):

"This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

European Council (9 and 10 March 2017) - Draft guidelines for the conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5575-17, pdf): Includes:

"MIGRATION: On the basis of the report of the Maltese Prime Minister (see above), the European Council will take stock of the follow up to the guidance provided at the informal meeting in Malta on 3 February 2017, with a focus on operational measures. It will also encourage further efforts by the Council to rapidly deliver on all aspects of the EU's comprehensive migration policy during the current Council Presidency."

GUE/NGL report: High Human Rights costs of EU-Sudanese cooperation on migration control and support of appeal against Italian returns to Sudan in front of ECtHR (ECRE, link) See Report (pdf)

New detention centres at the external EU borders (ECRE, link):

"Greece is building pre-removal detention facilities on the Aegean islands with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement. These will be separate from the Reception and Identification Centres on the hotspots where newly arrived refugees and migrants are initially detained."

French-German proposal for CEAS and returns reduces protection to minimum standards (ECRE, link):

"A leaked joint policy note prepared by German and French governments strongly affirms the intention to further limit access to protection in Europe by curtailing procedural guarantees in the CEAS. The policy note lays out a plan for a “crisis mechanism”, to operate in times of “mass influx” of refugees."

The shame of asylum housing of child refugees in the UK (IRR News, link):

"John Grayson, a campaigner from South Yorkshire, examines the market in asylum housing in the UK."

Are You Syrious (23.2.1)

Mediterrenean: 2,500 refugees rescued off the coast of Libya

"Reuters reports that almost 2,500 refugees were rescued in the past three days, according to the Italian Coast Guard. Some 1,100 were plucked from nine flimsy vessels off the coast of Libya on Thursday after a total of 1,360 were picked up the two preceding days.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 10,700 sea arrivals, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, a third higher than the same period last year.

Proactiva Open Arms says its crew has had no respite since it entered the rescue zone, as it had to proceed to three rescues with only the support of a distant cargo ship.

“I prefer to die in the water than in Libya”, one woman has told MSF. She didn’t plan on going to Europe, but a rubber boat was the only way out of the horrors faced by refugees in Libya. In Libya itself, 13 refugees suffocated in a shipping container while being transported over four days between two Libyan towns according to the Red Crescent."

Registrations: Greece:

"145 people were registered in Chios until 7:30AM this morning. An additional 12 were registered in Kos and 8 on “other” islands. This is the second time in February that more than 100 people were registered on the islands?—?142 toal were registered on the 4th of February including 105 on Lesvos."

The kingpin of Libya’s human trafficking mafia (TRTWorld, link):

"Al Bija is the biggest player in the coast guard “mafia” that has established a stranglehold on the lucrative human trafficking business in Zawiya and the surrounding coastal region. Nancy Porsia has this exclusive investigation for TRT World....

"The Europeans should have all these details after they have been gathering for months information at sea as part of Operation Sophia," the man explains, referring to EUNAVFOR Med's training programme for the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy."

The articles note the training now being given to the Libyan coast Guard under the auspices of the EUNAVFOR MED operation, point out that:

"Although this is coordinated with Tripoli, not Al Bijaâ's rogue Zawiya coast guard, the nature of the growing EU-Libyan collaboration is nonetheless raising some eyebrows in Libya.

"This agreement between the European Union and the Libyan Coast Guard is ridiculous. They are calling for the smugglers themselves to stem the trafficking," TRT World's source says. "All smugglers [west of Tripoli] pay Al Bija his stake."

Smugglers who don't pay a cut of their earnings to Al Bija find their boats intercepted by his "coast guard," who either take their engines and leave the refugee-laden boats stranded at sea, or bring them back to the Al Nasser Detention Centre in Zawiya, which belongs to Al Bija's Abu Hamyra tribe."

See also: EU-Libya: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch)

UNHCR: Refugee situation:

EU: Seeking asylum: 884,461
Turkey: Registered refugees: 2,851,968
• Lebanon: Registred refugees: 1,011,366
Jordan: Registered refugees: 695,795 and Estimated: 1.3 million
Syria: Displaced: 6.3 million
Iraq: Registered: 223,224
Egypt: Registered: 116,013
North Africa: 29,275

USA: How US Intelligence Surveillance May Affect Immigrants (HRW, link): "Warrantless Monitoring Threatens Rights of Immigrants, Border Communities"

Greece okays asylum requests of 10,000 refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):

"At least 10,000 refugees, including around 2,000 minors, are expected to remain in Greece over the coming three years as their asylum applications have been approved.

The approved asylum claims account for about a sixth of more than 60,000 migrants who are currently stranded in Greece ...

According to the Greek Asylum Service, a total of 1,912 migrants lodged asylum applications in January of this year. Last year, when hundreds of thousands of migrants flooded through Greece toward other parts of Europe, a total of 51,091 people applied for asylum in Greece, compared to 13,195 in 2015, 9,432 in 2014 and 4,814 in 2013."

The migrant slave trade is booming in Libya. Why is the world ignoring it? by Ross Kemp (Guardian, link):

"I’ve seen the dangerous route to Europe through Libya, with thousands of people at the mercy of cruelty for profit. But our leaders prefer to keep them there."

3 migrants die as boat sinks on river marking Turkey-Greece border (Daily News link):

"Three migrants were killed when a boat carrying at least eight people sank on the Maritza River in northwestern Turkey early on Feb. 22, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Eight migrants of Pakistani origin were trying to cross the Maritza River that mostly marks the border between Turkey and Greece with a rubber dinghy when their boat capsized around the middle of the river near the Ipsala district of Edirne province.

Three of the migrants were killed when the boat overturned, while five others were rescued by Turkish security forces and fishermen. "

‘No one accepts responsibility’: thirteen refugees dead in Greece (IRR News, link):

"As refugees and migrants die in Greece’s ‘hotspots’, military camps and in transit, the EU, the UNHCR and Greek institutions must be held to account."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.2.17)
EU: Germany proposes EU rules making migrant deportations easier (EurActiv, link):

"German officials have proposed that the European Union relax some human rights safeguards so that more asylum seekers can be deported while awaiting the outcome of their cases, according to a working paper seen by Reuters.

The paper is among many under discussion in Brussels as the EU, which has taken in more than 1.3 million migrants and refugees since the start of 2015, makes it tougher for them to get in and be allowed to stay.

The paper said the proposal would only kick in at times of a “mass influx” of people to the bloc. “This is another element in efforts to energise readmission of people to wherever they came from,” said one Brussels-based diplomat."

And see: Refugee crisis: France-Germany Note - mass expulsion to subsistence conditions (Statewatch News Online): The "return of asylum seekers (without an assessment on the merits) in order to discourage illegal, smuggler-driven migration" and Germany-France Letter (20 February, French, pdf)

EU: Afghan Returns Built on False Policy Narrative (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The idea that returning refugees will drive development in Afghanistan ignores reality, says researcher Marieke van Houte. She argues that the mass return of Afghans will further destabilize the country and drive a new exodus.

(...)

The economic, security and political challenges of the current transition period have set in motion a new episode of large-scale outward migration of Afghans. Instead of trying to manage and contain these migration flows, and treating the next large-scale arrival of Afghans as a “refugee crisis,” we should facilitate the resilience and ongoing determination of people to find a better life. If migration is to contribute to development and security, it should be facilitated rather than contained."

EU: Ring of Pakistani migrant smugglers prosecuted (Europol press release, pdf):

"Law enforcement authorities of Germany, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia, in strong cooperation with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, have dismantled an organised crime group that arranged smuggling of migrants from Hungary to Italy.

Coordinated investigations revealed that members of the smuggling network were Pakistani citizens who formed their criminal enterprise in Italy. More than 100 migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan were smuggled by them in the last couple of years, to destinations in Italy or Germany.

On each occasion between 20 and 36 migrants were transported, hidden in the cargo bays of minivans. The perpetrators rented their vehicles in either Italy or Hungary using fake documents. The illegal transportation was always secured by lead cars, which were also rental vehicles."

IRELAND: Rush to implement new asylum procedure should not be at expense of quality legal advice and representation say Irish Refugee Council (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) today called for clarification from the International Protection Office (IPO) on the consequences of not submitting a questionnaire within 20 days and for more resources to be provided for comprehensive legal representation for people in the asylum process.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said: “The requirement that people complete a 60 page questionnaire within 20 working days, even with an ‘if possible’ caveat, has created understandable alarm. Our Drop-In Centre and Law Centre have seen a considerable increase in requests for assistance since the new application packs were sent out.”

He continued, “We are asking that the IPO state publicly on their website that flexibility will be provided so that people can obtain legal advice and representation and receive assistance in completing the questionnaire.”"

See: Government warned asylum seekers 'in distress' after changes to application process (Irish Examiner, link)

EU: Home Affairs Commissioner speech after meeting with German Interior Minister

"This morning our discussions focused on the internal and external dimensions of migration, security and border management. We agreed that in the coming months we need to find more common ground for the reform of Dublin based on the principles of solidarity and fair responsibility-sharing among Member States.

The Dublin reform is part of our wider effort to develop an effective and comprehensive asylum system. And I hope that we will find an agreement swiftly on the reform, which will improve our procedures, guarantee refugee rights and avoid abuses.

We need to protect those who need protection, prevent irregular migration and return those who have no right to stay.

With Thomas, we are on the same line on all these issues. In this context, I have also informed the Minister of the Commission's intention to put forward next week an Action Plan on Return and a Recommendation to Member States on the efficient implementation of return procedures."

See: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos after his meeting with German Minister of the Interior de Maizère (pdf)

EU: Amnesty: "we cannot rely on government to protect our freedoms"

Amnesty International has published its annual report on human rights around the world, noting a "pervasive weakening of the rule of law and an erosion in the protection of fundamental rights" across Europe that has often been led by "anxious establishment parties" borrowing many of the policies favoured by new and resurgent "populist" parties.

The report states bluntly that: "We cannot rely on governments to protect our freedoms, and so we have to stand up ourselves. We have to come together and resist the roll back of long-established human rights. We must fight against the deceitful narrative that we have to trade of our rights in exchange for prosperity and security."

Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil (EUobserver, link):

"An internal report from the EU's border mission for Libya provides a bleak account of the country's misfortunes, casting a long shadow over EU aims to control its migration flows towards Italy.

The assessment broadly echoes statements made by the UN's Libya envoy, Martin Kobler, who told BBC Newshour over the weekend that efforts to deliver services to Libyans "is getting from bad to worse."

Kobler's comments follow the EU's announcement last month to channel some €200 million into Libya-centric migration and border projects throughout much of north Africa.

It is not yet clear how much of that budget will go to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

An European Commission official said on Monday (20 February) that they are still in the "identification phase"."

See: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch News Online, 17 February 2017)

SPAIN-MOROCCO: More than 300 people climb the fence into Ceuta, eleven taken to hospital

Just days after some 500 people clambered over the razor-wire-topped fences seperating the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Moroccan territory, another 300 people reached Spanish soil by climbing the fence early in the morning of 20 February during heavy rain and high winds, according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Diario. Eleven people were taken to hospital, three with fractures and eight with other injuries.


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.2.17)
EXCLUSIVE: UK “voluntary” returns – refugee coercion and NGO complicity (IRIN, link):

"An IRIN investigation finds evidence the Home Office is using outside NGOs to pressure asylum seekers.

The UK Home Office is accelerating its drive for “illegal” migrants and those refused asylum to return home voluntarily – a tactic publicised as more cost-effective and “humane” than forced returns. But how “voluntary” are these returns really? And how have NGOs become complicit in this strategy?"

How E.U.'s Migration Policy Enables Migrant Smuggling (Real News, link): Interview:

Statewatch's Chris Jones says the European Union Border and Coast Guard Agency is less concerned with human rights and far more preoccupied with border control, surveillance and the interception of migrants.

NGOs Joint Statement: Asylum down the drain - Intolerable pressure on Tunisia (pdf):

"Brussels, 21 February 2017 - Lately, Tunisian authorities have been the target of intolerable pressure by Germany and Italy. Within a week, they have been forced to clarify their opposition to the German as well as to the Italian authorities which were allegedly planning to send migrants and refugees back to Tunisia. Domestic security issues appear as a cornerstone in the cooperation framework imposed to Tunisia albeit being attached to a domain which is clearly distinct from it: the right of asylum.

Pushing for the disembarkation in Tunisia of people intercepted by the Italian coast-guards in exchange for support in counter-terrorism policies, as suggested in an Italian press article, would be in blatant breach of the EU’s as well as Italy's legal obligations. The latter was actually already condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 for pushing back refugees to Libya and thus for resorting to the exact same practices. In so doing, Italy would act in pure and unbearable cynicism for the fight against terrorism is a matter of concern not only to Tunisia, but also to the European Union."

EU: See: Council of the European Union targets Greece and Italy's failure to implement the Schengen acquis and control-return refugee arrivals

Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System (EU doc no: 6354-17, pdf

• Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external border (EU doc no: 6365-17, pdf)

• Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the common visa policy (6352-17, pdf):

• Italy: Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Italy on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of return (6538-17, pdf)

• Italy: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Italy on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external border (EU doc no: 6357-17, pdf)

Oraiokastro: Ugly scenes as far-rights protest refugee children in Greek school (videos) (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"With hate slogans against nine refugee children, a group of far-right-wing members of the so-called ‘Patriotic Movement of Oraiokastro Citizens’ demonstrated their opposition to spread the Greek culture to “illegals” as they called the refugee children."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.2.17)
SPAIN: Massive demonstration in Barcelona in support of migrants and refugees

The organisers of a huge demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday 18 February have said it was the largest protest seen in Europe so far in support of migrants and refugees and estimated that half a million people attended. The police put the number of attendees far lower, at 160,000, but in either case it was the largest protest seen in the city since those against the Iraq war in 2003.

EU: New Asylum Information Database reports on France and Switzerland

Two new reports have been produced by the Asylum Information Database examining the situation in France and Switzerland.

For an overview see: New AIDA report: France and New AIDA report: Switzerland (ECRE, links)

The reports: France and Switerland (links to pdfs)

BELGIUM: Aliens’ Office Chief wants checks on migrants’ phones (Expatica, link):

"The Head of the Aliens’ Office (DVZ) Freddie Roosemont is in favour of measures that would see asylum seekers’ mobiles, smartphones, tablets and laptops be subject to screening for possible threats to national security.

Mr Roosemont was speaking during a session of the Parliamentary Investigative Commission into the terrorist attacks on the 22 March 2016.

Last summer the Federal Secretary of State Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) took a similar line after returning from a visit to Denmark.

"Between 60% and 70% of asylum seekers lie about their identity, whether it’s their name, their country of origin, their age, the route they took to get here or what they had done with their life prior to coming here. Indications can be found on a mobile phone or laptop that can help corroborate or dispel an asylum-seeker’s story”, Mr Francken said."

Italy curtails appeal rights and expands rebranded detention centres (ECRE, link):

"On 10 February, the Italian Council of Ministers adopted a law that foresees the acceleration of asylum procedures and returns, following heavily criticised plans set out in the second half of 2016. The Decree Law is only provisionally binding until it is voted on in the Parliament.

The new law creates specialised immigration chambers to hear asylum appeals. These chambers are established in 14 courts (Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari, Catania, Catanzaro, Florence, Lecce, Milan, Palermo, Rome, Naples, Torino and Venice), and are competent to decide on asylum appeal cases under a single judge. The reform also limits the possibility to be heard in such appeals: asylum appeal procedures are to be accelerated, as a decision by the specialised chamber must be taken within four months instead of six, and the decision can no longer be appealed to the Court of Appeal."

IRELAND: Government warned asylum seekers 'in distress' after changes to application process (Irish Examiner, link):

"The Government is being warned that hundreds of asylum seekers are facing extreme distress this weekend following changes to the application process.

They are struggling to complete a 60 page application form, with a deadline to submit it, and a shortage of legal advisers to help."

And see: Information note on the new single procedure process for international protection applicants (Irish Refugee Council, link)

BELGIUM-EU: ECJ to rule on humanitarian visas on March 7th (The Brussels Times, link):

"The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will rule in the Belgian case regarding visas for a Syrian family on Tuesday March 7th.

...This is a high profile case, relating to a family of four who wish to seek asylum in Belgium by means of a humanitarian visa initally requested from the Belgian embassy in Beirut (in the Lebanon).

Theo Francken is refusing to issue the humanitarian visa, despite several court judgments on penalties in such cases. The CCE is requesting that the Court rule on how the Visa Code should be interpreted.

On February 7th, the Advocate General, Paolo Mengozzi, opposed the Secretary of State's reasoning. Mr Mengozzi maintains the following. Member states should issue a visa “when there are substantial grounds for believing that refusing it will risk those seeking international protection being subject to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment.”"

See: ECJ press release: According to Advocate General Mengozzi, Members States must issue a visa on humanitarian grounds where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that a refusal would place persons seeking international protection at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (pdf)

In a seperate but related story, four Member States (Austria, France, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) recently demanded that it be made clear, in negotiations with the European Parliament on the EU's Visa Code, that the EP's demands for humanitarian visas were a "red line" that the Council would not cross. The minutes record that: "The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP." See: Visa Working Party: Summary of discussions on 17 January 2017 (5668/17, pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.2.17)
Refugee crisis: France-Germany Note - mass expulsion to subsistence conditions

- The "return of asylum seekers (without an assessment on the merits) in order to discourage illegal, smuggler-driven migration"

-
Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex comments:

"the plan is that (implicitly) all those entering the EU would be removed to non-EU countries willing to host them, and kept there in conditions which minimally guarantee their survival

Overall, the drafters of this proposal have made no serious attempts to think through its feasibility; and while they make a show of support for human rights principles, their plan demonstrates an underlying contempt for them.".

Italian investigators probe private migrant aid boats off Libya (The Local.it, link):

" The fleet of privately-run aid vessels rescuing migrants off the Libyan coast and bringing them to Italy is "of interest" to Italian investigators, a Sicilian prosecutor told AFP on Friday.

Catania prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro said the boats were not currently suspected of illegal activity but had drawn attention for their sophisticated and expensive operations.

"There is no investigation in progress, for the simple reason that we do not have information any crimes have been committed," the prosecutor said, refuting Italian media reports saying a probe had been opened."

Hundreds of migrants storm fence to enter Spain from Morocco (The Local.es, link):

" Hundreds of migrants smashed their way into Spain's North African territory of Ceuta from Morocco early Friday and some were injured doing so, the emergency services and police said.

"The Civil Guard at Ceuta estimates that 500 people could have succeeded in entering the town," the emergency services said on Twitter."

Greece-Turkey: NATO's Aegean patrols to continue (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Patrols by the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) in the Aegean to stem the flow of migrants into Europe will continue despite objections by Turkey, defense ministers agreed Thursday at a NATO summit in Brussels.

“The prevention of refugee flows with NATO ships will continue as long as there are prospective illegal migrants or refugees on the other side of the Aegean,” said Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos."

Are You Syrious (18.2.17, link)

Spain: Feature: Democracy killed by the borders

"Hundreds of thousands of people in Barcelona went out on the streets marching to urge Spanish government to take in at least 16,000 refugees, as they are obliged to do under a quota system agreed in 2015. The march was organized by a grass route group calling itself Casa Nostra Casa Vostra (Our home is your home). According to the independent sources, more than 300,000 people took part in the protest."

Greece

"Residents of the Elliniko camp in Athens protested today again against the terrible living conditions. This old, abandoned, Olympic complex has been turned into the refugee camp where over 1000 people are forced to live until today. Conditions are more than inhuman. The camp is under the control of the Ministry of Migrations that forbids access to independent volunteers and even friends of residents."

Italy

"People are continuously arriving in Italy, where living conditions for refugees and migrants are hardly improved. From 4 to 16 February, 1,018 persons, including 39 unaccompanied and separated children, arrived by sea. All of the new arrivals departed from Libya, coming from sub-Saharan African countries and Morocco. However, people from Bangladesh and Pakistan were among new arrivals."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17.2.17)
ITALY-LIBYA: Rome recruits desert mayors to stop flow of refugees from Libya (The Times, link):

"Italy has flown ten mayors from towns in southern Libya to Rome to persuade them to block tens of thousands of African migrants trying to travel to Europe.

The mayors were flown in on an unmarked aircraft for a secret summit with the interior minister, Marco Minniti. He outlined a plan to fund detention centres and boost patrols of Libya’s desert frontier, where traffickers bring sub-Saharan migrants into the country.

“The mayors overcame their tribal differences and offered their full collaboration with the deal — they even asked for its implementation to be accelerated,” an Italian government source said."

EU-TUNISIA: Report: Tunisia to receive intercepted migrants, process asylum claims on EU's behalf

According to a report in Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Italy is close to signing, with the support of the European Commission, a deal with Tunisia that would see the North African country agree to receive migrants of any nationality who departed from Libya by boat and were intercepted in extraterritorial waters by missions from Italy or other European states. Currently, in line with international law, people should be disembarked in the territory of the flag state of the ship that rescues them.

ITALY-FRANCE: "Migrant hunt" on trains between Italy and France violates the law and human rights

What is legal in the push-backs carried out directly on trains by French police? "Basically nothing," says ASGI lawyer Anna Brambilla, who has long been following the situation at the French-Italian border: "The problem is a very complex one, and there are many violations."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Hundreds of people reach Spain over razor wire-topped fences in Ceuta

The NGO Caminando Fronteras has said that there were "numerous injuries" during attempts starting at five o'clock this morning (17 February 2017) by hundreds of people to climb over the razor-wire topped barriers in Ceuta that seperate Spanish from Moroccan territory, with one person reportedly left unconscious after falling from the fence back onto the Moroccan side and others injured by climbing the fence or by Moroccan police attempts to prevent people from climbing. The Red Cross is apparently attending to some 400 people and the emergency services have been called to the scene. It is considered that some 500 people made it onto Spanish territory.

See: Cerca de 500 personas saltan la valla de Ceuta por la frontera del Tarajal (El Diario, link)

EU-LIBYA: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state

With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management".

See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

Press release: EU border agency targeted "isolated or mistreated" individuals for questioning

Statewatch press release, 16 February 2017. Also available as a pdf

Guidelines produced for border guards participating in an EU joint operation instruct the targeting of "migrants from minority ethnic groups, and individuals who may have been isolated or mistreated during their journey, as such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences."

Written by the EU's border agency, Frontex, the guidelines on the "debriefing of migrants for intelligence purposes" were attached to the 2012 plan for Operation Hera, a Frontex-coordinated joint operation that was launched in 2006 to halt irregular migration by sea from north-west Africa to the Canary Islands.

Debriefing officers were recommended to seek out potential interviewees as soon as possible after arrival: “Once arriving migrants integrate with others in the camp, there is a tendency for them to become more reluctant to cooperate.”

There are no instructions what to do regarding any possible need for medical attention, fundamental rights or legal information for any subsequent claims for protection.

The guidelines are one of many annexes to the Operational Plan 2012 for Operation Hera, which Statewatch has made available here (pdf) with the majority of the censored parts removed. The guidelines have also been reproduced in a more easily-readable format.

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf)

Amnesty International: EU-Turkey "deal": A Blueprint for despair: Human Rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal (pdf):

"The dramatic scenes that saw a million refugees and migrants cross the continent prompted a backlash that continues to echo resoundingly, prompting a raft of measures increasingly focused on blocking future arrivals. Solidarity between EU member states and solidarity with a record global number of refugees has been in short supply."

EU border agency expects same number of migrants via Libya this year as last (Reuters Africa, link):

"The European Union should expect as many migrants crossing from Libya this year as last, when a record number disembarked in Italy, the head of the bloc's border agency said on Wednesday.

Some 1.6 million refugees and migrants reached the bloc by crossing the Mediterranean in 2014-2016 and the main route now leads from the shores of the lawless Libya to Italy."

Migrants head to Switzerland amid Austria border crackdown (euobserver, link):

"Switzerland is turning into a transit country for migrants heading north as EU states impose internal border checks to stem their flows, according to Frontex, the EU border and coast guard agency.

African migrants arriving in Italy from Libya are avoiding Austria and are instead entering Switzerland in the hope of reaching northern EU states, Frontex said in a report on Wednesday (15 February)."

And see: Frontex: Annual Risk Report 2017 (10 MB, pdf)

Disabled refugees challenged by Greek camps (euractiv, link):

"Disabled refugees in Greek camps are faced with a number of obstacles, ranging from identification and bullying to a lack of access to appropriate services, according to migrant advocates."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.2.17)
Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf) by Vera Wriedt and Darius Reinhardt (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, ECCHR):

Operation Hera is coordinated by the EU’s external border agency Frontex and aims to stop migration along the maritime route from West Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands. According to Frontex, the operation has been a success: the scale of unauthorised maritime crossings along this route was reduced from five-digit to three-digit numbers. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) focused on Operation Hera, seeking to increase transparency about border enforcement operations and to reduce the agency’s unaccountability for human rights violations.

Frontex’s approach to transparency and accountability is evinced again in section 12.10 of the Handbook to the Operational Plan entitled "List of potential fundamental rights violations within Frontex activities". The whole section (including the headline) is completely redacted and could only be uncovered because the index lists the section. The argument that the publication of this section would affect public security seems particularly inappropriate in the context of human rights violations.

In conclusion, the partial concealment of border enforcement procedures underlines the inherent structural accountability and transparency deficits of Frontex specifically and EU agencies in general. Frontex redacted significant parts of the documents provided, including information on potential human rights violations. The provided documents do not give information on the methodologies of the operation in order to ascertain whether Frontex and the involved member states violate national, European and international human rights provisions.

From Hotspots to Repatriation Centres: How Italy Gets tough on Immigration Policies (Linkedin, link):

"the latest plan presented by the newly appointed Italian Minister of Interior seems to open a path towards the return to a fully operational reception system while restoring the confidence into the Schengen area. However, this strategy faces three major challenges in its implementation: redistributing migrants in every Italian region, strengthening international relations with key third countries and encouraging the externalization of border management through law-enforcement cooperation. Although the government promptly assured that the proposal to open a Repatriation Centre (hereinafter CPR) for every region is meant to simplify bureaucratic procedures and alleviate pressure on the overcrowded hotspot system, this burden-sharing mechanism among municipalities in proportion to its inhabitants has already sparked a heated debate."

Clingendael report: EU external migration policies misaligned with reality (ECRE, link):

"On the February 1, Dutch think tank Clingendael released a report on the relationship between irregular migration and conflict and stability in Mali, Niger and Libya. The report’s main finding is that current EU policies are misaligned with the reality of trans-Saharan migration.

The report argues that European external migration policies fail to take into account the diverse socio-political dynamics of intra-African migration. EU policies focus on stemming migration flows through securitised measures as a means to stop human smuggling. "

See also: The Niger-Libya corridor: Smugglers’ perspectives (ISS, pdf link)

Greece: Lesvos doctors accuse NGOs of failing to care for refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):

!State hospital doctors on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, which has been hard particularly hit by the refugee crisis, have complained that nongovernmental organizations receiving European Union funding to help migrants are not doing enough, resulting in them being forced to bear an excessive burden.

In a statement released on Monday, the island’s union of state hospital doctors said the two refugee camps at Moria and Kara Tepe do not have any pediatricians, meaning that all sick children from the camps must be treated at local hospitals, which are seriously understaffed.

Noting that the NGOs “get paid handsomely” by the EU to help refugees, the union claimed they had “totally failed to provide humane conditions for the refugees.”"

Comment: They mean IGOs not NGOs.

Cash assistance in Greece: An overview (News That Moves, link):

"Several non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and international agencies, including UNHCR, are distributing cash cards in Greece as part of an ongoing humanitarian aid project funded by the European Union.

The program aims to support families and individuals over 18 years old to meet basic needs for food, clothing, transportation, hygiene products and other essential items."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-13.2.17)
Hungary 'stoops to new low' over treatment of asylum seekers (Guardian, link):

"Plans to detain migrants in shipping container camps are in breach of EU law, says Amnesty International...

Hungary has been accused of “stooping to a new low” after it announced plans to detain all asylum seekers in shipping containers near the border with Serbia.

The government of prime minister Viktor Orbán says the measure is necessary to secure the EU’s borders and deter migrants coming into the country from the Middle East via Serbia. It has already set up two razor fences on the border with Serbia and is deploying more than 600 soldiers to guard the fence.

But Amnesty International said the measure was in clear contravention of EU law and the Refugee Convention."

Hungary ‘welcomes’ German, Dutch, French, Italian refugees (New Europe, link):

"Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has jokingly welcomed West Europeans who feel persecuted by liberal agendas to seek asylum in his country.

During his annual state of the union address on February 10, the right-wing conservative politician said: “Naturally, we will take in the real refugees. The panicked German, Dutch, French and Italian politicians and journalists, Christians forced to leave their countries will find here the Europe they lost at home."

Germany and Italy speed up deportations (New Europe, link):

"Germany: From the 280,000 asylum seekers that arrived in Germany in 2016, 80,000 were deported, of whom 54,000 voluntarily, AFP reports. The success of voluntary returns is owed in part to a government program that gives a €1,200 sum to each asylum seekers that returns home voluntarily....

Italy: Meanwhile, Italy’s Social Democratic government is said to follow with migrant deportations Interior Minister Marco Minniti said on Wednesday.

In 2016, Italy received a record 181,000 boat migrants from Libya, of which only 4,000 were deported. That is despite the fact that Italy rejected approximately 60% of the 124,00 first-instance asylum requests.

Addressing the Italian parliament, Minniti said that he would speed up the process of deportations for those not entitled to international protection. That will be achieved by increasing temporary detention centers from four to six."

Greece: Patra mayor vows to keep fighting neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Patra Mayor Costas Peletidis was cheered by a crowd of supporters on Monday as he left a courtroom in the western city following the postponement of his trial on charges of violation of duty.

The charges were brought against Peletidis in 2015 by Michalis Arvanitis, then a would-be MP for Golden Dawn, after the mayor refused to give the neo-Nazi party space in municipal offices during the pre-election period.

Peletidis’s trial is to resume on February 23."

Are You Syrious (12.2.17, link)

Protests against deportations to Afghanistan

"Enough is Enough says thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday, demanding a stop to deportations to Afghanistan.

This comes after German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called on states to accelerate deportations. A number of regional governments have resisted pressure from Berlin, pointing to security concerns. Afghan asylum seekers not only face security issues when returning home. News Deeply reports how Afghans’ mental health problems are exacerbated by “the psychological trauma caused by their treacherous journey and rejection in Europe” and adds that “some find themselves alone, without family or professional networks to rely on for support. With little left after the financial and social sacrifices they made to migrate, resuming a normal life in Afghanistan becomes nearly impossible”.

HRW: UNHCR Complicit in Pakistan’s Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees (Refugees Deeply, link)

"Human Rights Watch has accused the U.N. refugee agency of complicity in Pakistan’s forced return of refugees to Afghanistan in a new report documenting abuses.

At least 600,000 Afghan refugees, both registered and unregistered, have left Pakistan since last July. The HRW report called the exodus the “world’s largest unlawful mass forced return of refugees in recent years.”

Afghan refugees interviewed by the human rights group said the threat of deportation, police harassment and anti-Afghan sentiment in Pakistan forced them to leave."

Germany's Angela Merkel calls for faster deportations of rejected Tunisian asylum seekers (DW, link)

"The chancellor said in her weekly video podcast that she would push the Tunisian prime minister to help speed up deportations. She referenced the case of the Tunisian terrorist Anis Amri."

Road of broken lives (Globe & Mail, link):

"Once the gateway to the promise of new lives in places like Germany and Sweden, Southern Europe is now home to those fleeing war, oppression and economic deprivation, Mark MacKinnon reports...

To be Muslim and on the move these days can be a vexing challenge. As U.S. President Donald Trump battles his country’s courts in a bid to impose a ban on new arrivals from seven Muslim-majority countries, tens of thousands of mostly Muslim asylum seekers are trapped in Southern Europe, partway between the countries they’re fleeing and the new lives they dream of in Germany, Sweden and elsewhere."

Austrian FM defends closing borders to deter migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Austria's foreign minister says closing the so-called "Balkan route" to migrants seeking to reach central and northern Europe was the right move.

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz held talks with his counterpart of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Poposki, on Sunday. He told reporters afterward that closing borders to deter migrants has become an accepted practice despite initial criticism."

Italy: Area bans possible for misbehaving migrants - Minniti Minister says decree introduces new model of reception (ANSA, link):

"Interior Minister Marco Minniti said Friday that a security decree approved by Premier Paolo Gentiloni's cabinet brought in a "new model of reception" for asylum seekers. He said that, among the new measures is the possibility for asylum seekers who break the law to be banned from certain areas. "If there is repeated violate of some regulations on control of the territory, the authorities cane propose a ban on being in that territory in which the rules were breached," he said."

Anti-refugee rallies take place in Prague (Prague Post, link):

"Several anti-immigrant rallies took place in Prague, with a large gathering near Prague Castle at Hradcanské námestí and smaller ones at Wenceslas Square and Loretánské námestí.

The protests were part of a Europe-wide campaign organized by the German-based Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident).

The Bloc Against Islam and the Dawn movement were the main participants at the Hradcanské námestí event."

EU: Council of the European Union: Vulnerable refugees in four measures & Humanitarian visas

Vulnerable refugees - redraft of clauses: Theme: ‘Guarantees for those with special needs’ (LIMITE doc no: 5939-17, pdf) With 68 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"In the framework of the theme "Guarantees for those with special needs", delegations will find attached modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to:

- Articles 19, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 32 of the Asylum Procedures Regulation;
- Articles 11, 17a (3), 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the Reception Conditions Directive;
- Articles 22 (4) and (5) and 36 of the Qualifications Regulations; and
- Article 8 of the Dublin Regulation.

The changes in the text are marked as follows: added text is marked in bold and underline and deleted text from the original Commission proposal is marked in bold and single strikethrough."

• Humanitarian visas: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee - Outcomes (LIMITE doc no: 5668-17, pdf): Including Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code) (recast):

"AT, supported by FR, SK and CZ, reported that the EP had not yet given up on the idea of the humanitarian visa and strongly invited the Presidency to make it clear during the negotiations with the EP that this was a red line for the Council. Therefore, as long as the humanitarian visa was included in the compromise amendments, they stressed that the Council would not be in a position to agree on anything.

The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP."

Are You Syrious (11.2.17, link):

Turkey: French style evictions

"According to many independent sources, since February 8th, refugees living in makeshift tent camps in Torbali and Bayindir districts, Izmir area, are being evacuated by military police. Most of the people who are living here are refugees from Syria.

The exact number residents is hard to establish since people are coming and going all the time. Most of them are surviving while working as seasonal workers in the nearby farms, often exploited as cheap workers who are paid less than 10 euro a day for their hard work. Some of them receive their money only at the end of the season, and in some cases, those who hire them, do not pay them at all."

Relocation nightmare continues

"Despite the very difficult situation all over Greece, the relocations and resettlements are still happening very slowly. According to the official data, Hungary, Austria, and Poland remain the only EU Member States that have not relocated anyone so far. Slovakia continues relocating on a very limited basis and the Czech Republic has not pledged since May 2016 and has not relocated anyone since August 2016.

The goal is to have 2,000 monthly relocations, but that number has never been reached. In December, 1,162 people were relocated and 1,131 people in January."

Italy: New regulation for asylum seekers

"The situation in Italy remains alarming, even though hardly anybody is talking about it. Volunteers operating in the area of Como are reporting about 80 persons who slept out in the open last night while the temperatures were 2°C."

91 mosques were attacked in Germany in 2016: ministry (Daily Sabah Europe, link):

"The German government says 91 mosques were attacked in the country in 2016.

The interior ministry said in a report late Friday that most attacks - 21 of them - took place in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which is the country's most populous state with a high number of Muslim immigrants.

The report did not detail how badly the different mosques were vandalized. However, it said police identified suspects in 12 cases and made one arrest."

Switzerland backs 'simplified naturalization' for third-generation migrants (DW, link): "A measure to ease bureaucratic hurdles has passed with more than 60 percent, according to local media. Right-wing lawmakers said they were "alone against everyone" in rejecting the proposal."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.2.17)
Greek Ministry Press release: Press release: The pace of the relocation process (pdf):

"From the beginning of the relocation programme and until 20 January 2017 a total of 523 unaccompanied minors had been registered to participate in the relocation programme. 350 had been accepted for relocation until the same date, of whom 119 by Finland. However, many Member States do not accept certain categories of unaccompanied children.

The most serious cases concern girls under 18 years old, who are married, and sometimes even have children of their own. Many Member States refuse to accept these girls along with their families on the ground that the marriage is illegal (which is the case in all Member States), not taking into account either that this is not sufficient grounds for refusing relocation, under the relevant decisions of the European Council, or that relocation is definitely in the best interests of the persons concerned"

Are You Syrious (9.2.17, link):

Police violence - follow up

"Following the reports made by AYS and other Croatian NGOs (Centre for Peace Studies, Jesuit Refugee Service, “Welcome” Initiative) regarding police violence and push-backs of refugees on the Serbo-Croatian border, we are finally seeing a positive development of the situation. Continuous to our reports, a meeting with the Public Advocate was held yesterday in which Are You Syrious?, the Jesuit Refugee Service and Centre for Peace Studies were present."

GREECE: Out of sight, out of mind

"Our volunteer reported from Skaramangas, the biggest remaining camp in Greece with about 3,200 people (almost 50 percent are under 18). It is another place where strict rules are imposed for all those who want to visit. The camp is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Migration and run by the employees of this institution. For anybody who wants to visit, approval from the Ministry is required, even if it is personal visit to some of the residents. No independents volunteers are allowed inside. However, the person in charge of the camp does not see this as restriction of freedom for residents and explains that the reason is to keep people who are living inside safe. It looks more like keeping away all those who want to see the real situation inside the camp."

MACEDONIA: Refugees sent back to Greece in the middle of night

"Almost all the refugees that were placed in the transit center Tabanovce, yesterday night were unexpectedly and without any explanation sent back to Greece, TV Nova informs. It’s about 49 refugees from Syria and Iraq, family members, women, children, elderly people that were staying in the center for almost a year, reports Legis."

SWEDEN: Journalist convicted of smuggling

"Fredrik Önnevall, the swedish journalist who with his team was accused of people smuggling of a young Syrian boy, was convicted yesterday. It was, as AYS has been reported about previously, in 2014 that Önnevall and the team from SVT took the refugee boy with them from Greece when they traveled through Europe to make a documentary for SVT (public service channel) called Fosterland about right wing populism.

Önnevall, the photograph Claes Elofsson and the interpretor that also was a part of the team is according to the courts decesion guilty of people smuggling. They will all get three months probation and community service."

EU: European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC): Irregular Migration via the Central Mediterranean (pdf):

"Between 2011 and 2016, some 630,000 irregular migrants and refugees1 reached Italy via the Central Mediterranean. Some were successfully smuggled across, while others were rescued at sea and disembarked in Italy. More than 13,000 lost their lives attempting the crossing, and many more died on their journey through the Sahara."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Guidance on how to reduce the risk of refoulement in external border management when working in or together with third countries (pdf):

"This guidance on how to reduce the risk of refoulement in border management situations aims to support the EU and its Member States when implementing integrated border management measures with the assistance of third countries. It also intends to mitigate possible risks of being held accountable.

It is not comprehensive, and Member States have to comply with all applicable obligations both within as well as beyond the scope of these guidelines, including those set forth in international, European and national law."

Farmer given suspended €3,000 fine for helping migrants enter France - Cédric Herrou, an organic olive farmer who has become a local hero for providing shelter for Africans, convicted in Nice court (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer who became a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and providing them with shelter has been given a suspended €3,000 fine for aiding illegal arrivals.

Cédric Herrou’s trial in a court in Nice had become a focal point in the ongoing debate about refugees and migrants in France, and the French law against helping or sheltering them. The current Socialist government amended the law against assisting migrants, but it remains illegal to help them cross borders."

See also the campaign against the "solidarity offence": Delinquants Solidaires (link) and French farmer punished for helping migrants enter France from Italy (RFI, link)

UK: Mental health patient kept in Norfolk police cell for three days (Eastern Daily Press, link):

"A mental health patient was kept in a police cell for three days in King’s Lynn because no bed could be found for him.

A second person needing mental health treatment was detained at Aylsham police station for 36 hours as the region’s mental health service struggled to find a bed.

The two cases, both from January, raise further concerns about the number of psychiatric beds in Norfolk and Suffolk which have been cut by 136 - around a quarter - since 2012."

Germany to ‘speed up deportation’ of failed asylum seekers (euactiv, link):

"Germany, which has taken in over one million asylum seekers since 2015, on Thursday (9 February) announced plans to speed up the deportation of those denied refugee status – but controversy flared over sending people back to war-torn Afghanistan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel – who faces a re-election bid in September amid voter backlash over the mass influx – won agreement from leaders of Germany’s 16 state governments on a repatriation plan, which she said would “quickly” be drafted as a proposed law....

Among the planned measures is the establishment of national “deportation centres” aimed at coordinating federal and state operations. Financial incentives will also be offered for those who return voluntarily under the plan."

Hungary ready to build another fence on southern border (euractiv, link):

"Hungary is ready to build a second line of fencing on its southern border to keep out migrants if the situation worsens this year or next, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff said on Thursday (9 February).

Hungary has been building fences since the beginning of the migration crisis in 2015. Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees trekked through Hungary and Austria in 2015 as they sought to reach wealthy European nations."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.17)
European Parliament: Eurodac Regulation: Parliament committee report takes hard line on mandatory biometric registration of asylum-seekers

A draft report to be submitted to the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) proposes that Member States should be obliged to introduce "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" administrative sanctions for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants who demonstrate "non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image."

The Commission's text proposed an article that said:

"Member States may introduce administrative sanctions, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article. These sanctions shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. In this context, detention should only be used as a means of last resort in order to determine or verify a third-country national's identity."

The draft report proposes changing the word "may" to "shall", thus requiring Member States to introduce sanctions for people who refuse to submit to fingerprinting or the "capture" of their facial image for inclusion in the Eurodac database.

Two Turkish families, incl baby, arrested after fled to Greece (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Six Turkish nationals were arrested Wednesday after they illegally crossed the border, Greek police said. The two men, three women and a one-year-old boy were taken into custody by by border guard in the northeastern town of Orestiada....

The two families had not applied for asylum yet, but they intended to do so."

Are You Syrious (8.2.17, link)

Greek Forum of Refugees denounces brazen deportation of Afghans

"As Afghanistan has been reclassified as a safe country by the EU, many Afghan refugees now find themselves living with the fear of deportation looming. The agreement made between the EU and the government of Afghanistan essentially amounts to bribery, with EU promising money to the government in exchange for the relocation of refugees. In response to this travesty, the Greek Forum of Refugees has released a powerful condemnation. The statement brings attention to the reasons why Afghans find themselves compelled to flee all the way to Europe, namely that Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan find themselves discriminated against and denied entry into wider society. It also calls attention to the recent wave of suicide attempts undertaken by Afghan refugees across several countries."

Greek Asylum Service publishes press release on relocation

"The release contains a number of interesting facts and statistics, and tries to argue that EU member states are responsible for the slow pace of progress. The average time between registering a candidate for relocation at one of the asylum offices and submitting a request by Greece to another Member State to accept that candidate is 49 days. However, the average time required once a pledge by another Member State has been received and a request is made by the Relocation Unit is only six days. This is a result of the fact that the number of pledges made by other Member States remains insufficient. While until 1 February the Asylum Service had registered a total of 24,233 relocation candidates, the pledges received amounted to only 15,164."

See Greek Ministry Press release: Press release: The pace of the relocation process (pdf)

Hungarian government announces new measures against refugees

"János Lázár, the right hand of Orbán, has announced in a town hall meeting that the government is planning several legislative changes.

1. All asylum seekers will be automatically detained

2. This will happen at the border zone, and people will have to wait there for the decision

3. The 700–800 people currently in the asylum process will be transferred to the border area to be detained

These measures were first announced a number of weeks ago, but more detailed blueprints have been released and the implementation has begun. To justify the Hungarian government’s actions, which are a clear violation of refugees’ rights as put forth by international and EU law, Lázár said that, “although the applicants would not be be allowed to move freely in the country, the camps should not be described as detention” because people could supposedly go back to their country at any time. The official government press release makes further outrageous claims, namely that “immigrants staying in Hungary pose a security risk,” and that “tens of millions are waiting to start moving towards Europe.”

The measures are clearly meant to completely isolate refugees from society at large, to humiliate them so that they will have no desire to risk the journey to Europe."

49 people returned from FYROM to Greece (News That Moves, link):

"In a surprise move, on the 9th of February, FYROM authorities forcibly returned 42 Syrian and seven Iraqi nationals to Greece.

They had previously been hosted at the transit camp of Tabanovce, and they did not apply for asylum in FYROM.

Sources at the FYROM Centre for Crisis Management confirmed the returns to News That Moves and noted that the returns were carried out under a readmission agreement with the European Union."

EU: Commission threatens to sue countries that don’t take refugees (euractiv, link):

"The EU warned today (8 February) that it will consider punishing member states next month if they fail to share the burden of asylum seekers stranded in Greece and Italy.

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans criticised the bloc for having so far admitted only 12,000 of the 160,000 Syrian and other refugees required to be relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU countries by September this year.

He said Brussels still hoped “peer pressure” would convince recalcitrant countries, but that it would consider penalties if there had been no progress by the time its next report on the issue comes out in March. “That is the right moment to consider other options if they are necessary,” Timmermans told a press conference. “The Commission might start infraction procedures and we will certainly consider that.”"

And see: The Brief: Commission bares teeth over refugee crisis (euractiv, link):

"Today Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans threatened court action against countries that refuse to relocate refugees. The first infringement procedures, which could result in fines, may be launched as early as next month....

A good start might have been mentioning the soon-to-be-missed target in its press release, rather than all this talk of “encouraging progress”....

It could be a case of the Commission finally being willing to bite back only to find that its teeth are uselessly blunt."

Greece: No one accepts responsibility’: thirteen refugees dead in Greece (IRR News, link) by Liz Fekete:

"As refugees and migrants die in Greece’s ‘hotspots’, military camps and in transit, the EU, the UNHCR and Greek institutions must be held to account."

Libyan authorities oppose EU migrant plans (euobserver, link):

"Local authorities in Libya's capital city Tripoli and elsewhere are mounting resistance to EU plans to stem migration flows towards Italy.

The move is likely to further complicate efforts after the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced a €200 million plan to finance migration projects geared towards Libya throughout much of north Africa.

A large bulk of the money is likely to be shuffled into border control and surveillance in the hope of containing people likely to attempt the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing in the upcoming months.

But Mostafa Al-Barooni, the mayor of one of the largest cities in the country, told this website on Wednesday (8 February) that Mogherini's proposals were unacceptable."

Balkan states to introduce more anti-migrant controls (euobserver, link):

"Over a dozen European interior ministers vowed to impose more measures to curtail migrants from using the Western Balkan routes in their efforts to seek better lives outside Greece.

Austrian-led efforts to shut down borders throughout the Western Balkans last year managed to cut the numbers of people reaching EU states further north.

But ministers on Wednesday (8 February) in Vienna said they would come up with additional plans in April as many still continue to travel through the former Yugoslav countries with help from smugglers.

"We're sending a signal to the traffickers with this conference that there will be no illegal migration to Europe," Austrian interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters."

See also: SE, central Europe states eye closer border cooperation to deter migrants (channelnewsasia.com, link)

EU strategy stems migrant flow from Niger, but at what cost? (IRIN News, link)

"The EU-funded crackdown on migration through Niger has been effective at dramatically reducing the number of people heading northwards to the North African coast, and then Europe. But what has it left behind?"

Greece: NGOs: Campaign for the access to asylum (pdf):

"No more dead refugees – Immediate transportation of the asylum seekers from the Aegean islands to the mainland for a fair examination of the merits of their asylum applications in a context of freedom and decent living conditions."

Arrivals to Lesvos (UNHCR)

Arrivals from 25-31 January 2017 totaled 76 persons of concern (100% of arrivals in the North)

A total of 456 persons of concern have arrived on Lesvos since January 2017.

Departures from Lesvos

303 persons of concern departed from Lesvos to the mainland (25 ¡V 31 January)

Residual Population (as provided by the Hellenic Police):

3,548 persons of concern in Moria
818 persons of concern in Kara Tepe
171 persons of concern on the Navy vessel
337 persons of concern in hotels"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.2.17)
EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: Commission: