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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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September 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.9.17)
EU-AFRICA: New report says "development aid is misused and diverted through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa"

A new report by Global Health Advocates says that the EU's multi-billion euro 'Emergency Trust Fund for Africa', launched following the November 2015 Valletta Summit and designed to address "root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa", is prioritising "quick fixes driven by Europe’s short-term domestic priorities, with little involvement of local governments let alone civil society actors."

The EU’s militarisation of development aid (EurActiv, link):

"Security will be the keyword of the EU’s development policy in the near future.

On Thursday (14 September), the European Parliament gave a green light to start the discussion with other European institutions on the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).

This program allows member states to intervene to prevent or address a crisis.

For the first time, it will be possible to use it for military purposes, especially in African countries plagued by instability. The European Commission announced it will receive €17.5 million to “address the terrorist threat in Middle East and North Africa”."

See also: The new European consensus on development: 'our world, our dignity, our future' (pdf) agreed 8 June 2016 and: European Consensus on Development (European Commission, link)

The Wrong Catch: Italy Imprisons Refugees Who Were Forced to Pilot Smuggling Boats At Gunpoint (The Intercept, link):

"When the refugees disembark at port in Sicily, those with wristbands are handed off to Italian police, who will interview them again and arrest the suspected smugglers, in an effort to break up the criminal networks that have brought over 85,000 people to Italy this year. Regardless of whether rescued by the coast guard or ships run by NGOs, every boatload of refugees that arrives in Sicily goes through a similar process.

The Italian press cheer these operations as a key part of the fight against illegal immigration, lionizing figures like Carlo Parini, a former mafia investigator who is now a top anti-human trafficking police officer in Italy. Parini leads a squad of judicial police in the province of Siracusa in eastern Sicily, one of several working under different provincial prosecutors, and his aggressive style has earned him the nickname “the smuggler hunter.”

There is only one problem: the vast majority of people arrested and convicted by these police are not smugglers. Almost 1400 people are currently being held in Italian prisons merely for driving a rubber boat or holding a compass. Most of them paid smugglers in Libya for passage to Europe and were forced to pilot the boat, often at gunpoint."

Greece: No School for Many Asylum-Seeking Kids (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Greece’s Education Ministry should move quickly to implement positive new plans for the education of asylum-seeking children on the Aegean islands and make schools accessible to all of them, Human Rights Watch said today. When the school year began on September 11, 2017, hundreds of asylum-seeking children who are being prevented from leaving the islands due to a European Union deal with Turkey remained out of school.

Greece will extend a program that provides special Greek classes and integration support for non-native speaking pupils to asylum-seeking children on the islands. But this program excludes children in the so-called refugee hotspots and other reception facilities who cannot obtain the proof of address required to enroll in school. To reach children in these facilities, the Education Ministry recently announced it would open afternoon classes at public schools on the islands."

SPAIN: €12 million more for Ceuta's border fence to "fulfil its purpose"

The Spanish interior minister, Juan Iganacio Zoido, announced on 12 September that a further €12 million will go to the border fence in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in north Africa bordering Morocco, as the fence does not currently "fulfil its purpose".

EU: Study on the treatment of tortured and traumatised asylum-seekers in eastern EU Member States

A study by the Hungarian Helsinki committee (May 2017) looks at the treatment of asylum seekers who are victims of torture or traumatised in eight EU Member States and finds that while EU legislation generally "provides sufficient guarantees", tortured or traumatised asylum-seekers are not being identified or treated because of "the lack of or improper transposition" of the EU's Reception Conditions and Asylum Procedures directives, or because of "the lack of actual implementation in practice".

BELGIUM: On the unfolding situation of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants sleeping rough in the streets of Brussels – Interview with Jolien Potemans Policy Officer at the Flemish Refugee Action who has been on location several times (ECRE, link):

"Informal refugee camps in cities – a (new) European reality? Reports of informal refugee camps and mounting police violence against the people inhabiting them are coming from all over Europe at the moment: Brussels, Paris and Rome. In an interview on the situation in Brussels, Jolien Potemans, Policy Officer at the Flemish Refugee Action, explains what is at stake for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants sleeping rough at the city’s Northern train station and how this problem is interlinked with national and European policies."

EU: Time limits for detention of asylum-seekers for the purpose of a 'Dublin transfer': judgment in Mohammad Khir Amayry case

"...a national legislation such as that in Sweden, which allows for a detention to be maintained for 3 or 12 months until the transfer is carried out, is at odds with the DRIII and the guarantees under Article 6 CFREU."

Libya's migration crisis is about more than just security (IRIN, link):

"There’s no shortage of news on Libya’s migration crisis, but there is a serious dearth of policy solutions.

Late last month, the International Organization for Migration announced what passes for good news at the moment: no deaths on the Mediterranean for 20 days. This followed reports, later denied, that Italy had been paying militias to prevent people from leaving Libya’s shores.

But the risk of drowning is far from the only danger facing migrants attempting the central Mediterranean route into Europe. Migrants are subject to arbitrary detention, arrest, harassment, bonded labour, slavery, and sexual exploitation.

And even as drowning numbers are down, IOM says there has been an increase in trafficking rather than smuggling on the central Mediterranean route – the former distinguished by the coercion and extortion that continues after arrival at the destination. This trend is partly because fewer Syrians (and migrants in general) are making the journey, so those plying the route are seeking ways to keep profits up – sub-Saharan African women appear to be paying a horrible price in this shift, finding themselves forced into the sex industry in greater numbers.

Human rights groups, humanitarians, and governments are naturally concerned, but some rights advocates feel the anti-trafficking policies of the European Union and others are more aimed at stopping migration entirely."

LIBYA: How Libya’s Fezzan Became Europe’s New Border

"European policymakers increasingly are looking at the Fezzan, Libya’s vast and scarcely populated south west, as their frontier against sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees traveling the Central Mediterranean route to Europe. In 2016, over 160,000 took this route from Libya on makeshift boats; most had entered through this region, which connects the country’s southern border with its coast. Several European countries, chiefly Italy, hope that stabilising the situation in the Fezzan and reviving its economy will help curb migrant flows."

ROMANIA: Desperate Europe-bound migrants turn to capricious Black Sea (EurActiv, link):

"While the arrival of exhausted migrants may be common on Mediterranean shores, it’s a rare sight on the Black Sea coastline. But a string of recent arrivals from Turkey suggests it may be emerging as part of a new ‘Romanian route’ to western Europe.

Shortly before dawn on Wednesday (13 September), around 150 people, a third of them children, were rescued in the Black Sea – the fifth migrant boat to be intercepted by Romanian authorities since mid-August.

The arrival of some 570 Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Iranians and Pakistanis in less than a month remains modest compared to the influx recorded in the Mediterranean.

In 2014, the last year of relative activity, close to 300 migrants crossed the Black Sea to reach Romania."

And: Romania braces for migrant influx (New Europe, link): "Romania police reported that 2,800 migrants were caught trying to illegally enter the country since the start of this year. This is an increase of 1,624 compared to the whole of 2016."

EU: Commission: Italy free to "lump migrants together with prisoners" in complaints system

The European Commission has said is up to the Member States to determine the national authority responsible for dealing with complaints about the activities of border guards working in Frontex operations, in response to a question from an MEP who asked whether it was right that Italy "lump migrants together with prisoners" by giving the role to the 'Italian Authority for the protection of the rights of people who are detained or deprived of liberty'.

Lampedusa migrants condemned by Mayor Salvatore Martello (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The mayor of the Italian island of Lampedusa, destination for many migrants setting off from Tunisia, complained on Sunday that his town was on the verge of societal collapse.

Groups of migrants were flouting laws, harassing women and getting drunk, Mayor Salvatore Martello said in an open letter to Italian news agency ANSA and in comments to Italian news outlets.

"Threats, harassments, thefts, Lampedusa is about to collapse," Martello wrote, calling for the closure of the "useless" migrant center on the island. "Police are powerless," he wrote.

(...)

His comments were rejected by his predecessor Nicolini, who told ANSA he was vastly overstating the problem and that there were very few thefts.

"This is an attempt to restore the climate of fear that existed on Lampedusa before my election," she was quoted as saying."

GERMANY: 2-3 October 2017, Berlin: ConAction Conference: A public platform for grassroots initiatives providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Greece and Turkey (link):

"Since 2015, more than one million people have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the coastlines of Greece and Turkey. At present, there are still more than 60,000 refugees stranded in Greece and more than three million in Turkey, of which nearly half are children.

From the start of the current mass migration, refugees have to live under disastrous humanitarian conditions. Last winter was the second in which an alarming number of people had to survive in inadequate camps of tents - highlighting the failure to address this humanitarian crisis with European competency. Binding agreements, such as the Relocation Program and the Reunification of Separated Families Program, are only partly implemented and connected to long administrative processes. Basic humanitarian care for refugees in Turkey and Greece is mainly provided by private initiatives and small NGOs that receive little or no support from the EU or local governments.

Together with representatives of the civil society, the public and the political sphere, strategies and action plans will be developed. Participants are invited to inform themselves about the current refugee situation and receive up to date and first-hand factual information."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-17.9.17)
Who Protects Refugees? 15/09/2017 (Eric & Philippa Kempson, Lesvos, Greece, You Tube, link)

Britain faces rebuke over refusal to back more than 100 UN human rights targets (Observer, link)

"Civil society groups warn that further deterioration in protection is likely as Brexit looms.

Britain is heading for a confrontation this week at the UN human rights council over its failure to support more than 100 recommendations on subjects ranging from the rights of children to the international law on abortion.(...)

Among the recommendations that the government has declined to back, a number outline the need for the UK to limit how long someone can be held in an immigration detention centre. The UK is the only European country without such a time limit.

Britain has also declined to support recommendations on the detention of children in immigration centres. Of a total of 229 recommendations by UN members, the government will confirm that it is supporting just 96 – 42% of the total. The government has chosen simply to “note” the remainder."

They can't sail for Europe - so what's happening to migrants trapped in Libya? (MIddle East Eye, link)

"Militias are trying to take over government detention centres - and trade their occupants as human commodity (...)

Libya has become the preferred destination for migrants and refugees heading for Europe. In the first half of 2017, at least 2,030 people died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean for southern Europe. The greatest number set off from Libya.

The EU, and especially Rome, has tried to work with the Libyan authorities to return migrant ships back to North Africa."

Refugee surge on Greek islands (DW, link)

"As smuggling activity in the Aegean Sea has reached the highest level since last fall, the Greek islands are once again becoming overcrowded. Diego Cupolo reports that most new arrivals come via Turkey.

Aid groups are once again struggling to accommodate a rising number of people arriving on the Greek islands to request asylum. Despite heightened patrols in the Aegean Sea to deter smuggling activity between Turkey and Greece, about 3,700 refugees reached Greek shores in August and about 400 new arrivals have been recorded per week so far this month."

UK: Head of scandal-hit G4S detention centres is put on administrative leave (Guardian, link):

"G4S has placed Ben Saunders on administrative leave after undercover Panorama exposed abuse of detainees.

The head of two G4S-run detention centres has been placed on administrative leave after a series of scandals, the Guardian has learned.

G4S is believed to have placed Ben Saunders on leave from his role in charge of Brook House and Tinsley House immigration removal centres (IRCs) after an undercover Panorama exposed abuse of detainees there. Officers were seen to mock suicidal detainees and one officer is alleged to have attempted to choke a detainee."

Orbán wins the migration argument (Politico, link):

"Suddenly most EU leaders echo the Hungarian prime minister.

No one in Brussels wants to say it out loud, but Viktor Orbán is winning the migration debate.

The Hungarian prime minister may be much maligned in European capitals for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, his opposition to the EU’s refugee relocation policy, and for building a border fence.

But look closely at how EU leaders now talk about the issue and the policies they’ve adopted since the 2015 crisis, and it’s clear Orbán’s preference for interdiction over integration has somehow prevailed.""

Are You Syrious (15.9.17, link):

Feature

"Fascism is on the rise in Europe and around the world. Today this is illustrated by what is happening in Hungary, but we can easily find examples - some we will mention in today’s digest - all around the old continent.

The Hungarian media are reporting that the council of the southwestern village of Esztergályhorváti has adopted an ordinance obliging people who are renting accommodation to check refugees’ vaccination records before renting??!! If a person does not have proof of all the vaccinations obligatory in Hungary, she/he cannot rent a place in this village. Even before this order, not a single refugee had come to this village."

Mediterranean

"Today, 262 people were rescued from the in international waters off the Libyan coast to the west of Tripoli. Among those rescued were 56 women, 7 children under 5 years and 48 unaccompanied minors. In the evening, another 109 people were saved by humanitarian boats.

Today we came across a report about a rescue mission by the Irish Defence Force. They rasponded to a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre and found a boat with 285 people on board 44 kilometers northwest of Tripoli. During the rescue operation, three people were declared dead."

And this is just another day in the Mediterranean

"This week, hundreds were saved, people from sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, Mali, Sierra Leone, but also Syria. They all came from Libya testifying, again, about the appalling situation in that country.

SOS MEDITERRANEAN saved some of their stories."

Italy

"But none of these reports is enough for the current politicians in Europe. According to the Italian activist group Radicali Italiani, the contents of the agreements reached by Italy and Libya are not completely known to the citizens or the parliament. The groups reacted by filing a complaint to the Procura della Repubblica di Roma for criminal conspiracy/offences and international corruption in the framework of agreements between Italy, the Government of Sarraj and the wanted Ahmad Dabbash, indicated by the press as head of violent armed groups and, at the time of the agreement, as one of the principal persons responsible for the smuggling of migrants at sea, said the secretary of Radicali Italiani Riccardo Magi, author of the petition together with the lawyer Francesco Mingiardi, member of Radicali Italiani."

EU: Migrants stuck on endless ferry journey as countries refuse entry (Guardian, link)

"Men stowed away on Istanbul to Odessa ferry and are stuck at sea while both Turkey and Ukraine refuse to take them.

Twelve migrants, apparently from North Africa, have been sailing to and fro between Istanbul and Odessa on a Danish passenger ferry for the last seven weeks, locked in four cabins with no country willing to take them.

According to the operator, DFDS, Turkey and Ukraine both refuse to accept the men."

Secret aid worker: Greece has exposed the aid community's failures (Guardian, link)

"The usual excuses don’t work in an EU country. With funding, infrastructure, and a stable government, why are we failing refugees in Greece? (...)

In Greece the aid community is being exposed. Our exposure is further compounded when we are unfavourably compared to organised and efficient groups of volunteers who work with less and achieve more. In comparison INGOs and the UNHCR seem money-orientated, bloated, bureaucratic and inefficient."

Greek, Italian leaders call for fairer EU migration rules (ekathimerini.com, link):

"At a joint summit on Corfu on Thursday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni declared that European countries should share the burden of dealing with migration.

Mediterranean countries must “find a way to act decisively, taking a leading role in this debate and in developments,” Gentiloni said. Tsipras, for his part, noted that refugee crises should be handled with solidarity and a shared sense of responsibility, not with “fences and exclusions that undermine our European values.”"

EU deadline on refugee pledges misses mark (euobserver, link):

"A looming deadline for the EU states to commit to their pledges on how many refugees they will resettle appears to have shifted.

The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told reporters in Brussels that he had pressed interior ministers on Thursday (14 September) to come forward with numbers ahead of a deadline initially set during the summer. (...)

Of the almost 39,000 people resettled from Africa last year, only around 1,800 ended up in Europe. The vast majority went to United States, followed by Canada and Australia.(...)

Niger - through which the vast majority of migrants travel to reach Libya - has only resettled one person since 2015. Similar figures are cited for Bukino Faso and Mali.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said on Monday that the "response has been very far from adequate." "

Home secretary ignores court order and sends asylum seeker to Kabul (Guardian, link)

"Samim Bigzad says he is living in fear in hotel room in Afghan capital after armed men arrived looking for him...

Samim Bigzad, 23, says he is a prime target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and American companies before he sought sanctuary in the UK.

Denmark Suspends Refugee Resettlement Under UN Program (Bloomberg, link):

"Denmark won’t allow any refugees into the country this year under a United Nations program and will seek flexibility in determining how many may resettle in the future instead of a set quota, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration said."

GREECE: Occupy Lesvos: Refugee Resistance at the Heart of the Border Regime (Novara, link):

"Recent acts of dissent within Moria have met with harsh police violence, and few positive outcomes. So the Afghan protesters left the camp, thrusting the continued struggle of detained refugees into the laps of the cocktail-sipping yacht-owners around the harbour.

Facing down threats of eviction and arrest, and violent abuse from an off-duty Moria guard, they won the promise that asylum claims which have dragged on for 12 or 18 months will be resolved within days. If these decisions do materialise, the occupation can be counted as a major victory for self-organised refugee struggle. Novara Media was on the ground for the duration."

EU: New rules on Schengen Information System and border checks: Council's latest draft compromise text

"Delegations will find attached a Presidency revised draft compromise text of the abovementioned proposal, taking into account the discussions held at the Working Party for Schengen Matters (Acquis) on 19 June 2017 and 3, 4, 5 and 26 July 2017 and the written comments subsequently sent by the delegations."

As Europe refugee and migrant arrivals fall, reports of abuses, deaths persist (UHCR, link):

"On land, movements across Europe continued in the first half of 2017, although at a much reduced level compared to the same period last year. People moving onwards irregularly from Greece and Bulgaria reported abuses at the hands of smugglers, as well as being beaten, and set upon by police dogs. In addition there were reports of robberies, and kidnappings by smugglers for extortion.

During the period of the report UNHCR and partners continued to receive allegations of push-backs by State authorities, including in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There were also reports of access to asylum procedures being denied and allegations of violence in some instances. While some States have taken steps to address such actions, for example through investigating allegations of human rights abuses at borders, the report notes that further measures are required."

See: Desparate Journeys report (pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-12.9.17)
EU-LIBYA: UN report highlights abuses by Libyan Coastguard during search and rescue operations

"As at 19 July 2017, IOM estimates that 11,122 persons have been intercepted and rescued by the Libyan Coastguard, coastal security and fishermen in 2017, while 348 human remains were retrieved along Libyan shores. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern about abuses and violations against such persons by the Libyan Coastguard during search and rescue operations, which, in some instances, further endanger the lives of people in distress at sea. Intercepted or rescued migrants are rarely provided with life jackets."

New report highlights need to improve data on dead and missing migrants to better inform policy and public awareness (University of Bristol, link):

"University of Bristol Senior Research Fellow, Ann Singleton, who co-edited Fatal Journeys Volume 3: Improving Data on Missing Migrants, said:

“Since 2014, more than 23,000 migrant deaths and disappearances have been recorded globally by the IOM, although the real number is likely to be significantly higher because many deaths are unrecorded.

“Few bodies of missing migrants are formally identified leaving families in limbo, without perhaps ever knowing whether a loved one is alive or dead.

“The focus of this year’s report is how data on missing migrants can be improved, to inform policies that can prevent further deaths, to meet the needs of families and those left behind to learn more about the fate of their relatives, and to improve the chances of identifying bodies.”

See: Fatal Journeys, Volume 3 Part 1: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (pdf)

UNICEF: HARROWING JOURNEYS - Children and youth on the move across the Mediterranean Sea, at risk of trafficking and exploitation (pdf):

"Young migrants and refugees set out to escape harm or secure better futures – and face staggering risks in the process. For 17-yearold Mohammad, who travelled through Libya to seek asylum in Italy, violence and persecution back home meant the choice was clear: “We risked our lives to come here,” he says, “we crossed a sea. We knew it is not safe, so we sacrificed. We do it, or we die.”

For children and youth on the move via the Mediterranean Sea routes to Europe, the journey is marked by high levels of abuse, trafficking and exploitation. Some are more vulnerable than others: those travelling alone, those with low levels of education and those undertaking longer journeys. Most vulnerable of all are those who,
like Mohammad, come from sub-Saharan Africa.

These findings come from a new UNICEF and International Organization for Migration (IOM) analysis of the journeys of some 11,000 migrant and refugee children (adolescents aged 14–17) and youth (18–24),..."

Sea-Watch is called to rescue 27 refugees in the Aegean Sea (link)

"Laila is standing on the deck of the Sea-Watch 1, shivering. When speedboat driver Ben takes her hand, she doesn't let go. In her life, Laila has seen a lot more awful things than a German rescue ship. But last night she was scared to death again, when she was crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece. Together with her boyfriend, she left behind the war in Kobane, Syria. Everything she still carries with her from her past life fits into a small pink bag.

At 2.30 am, Sea-Watch captain Phil received an unusual call by the Greek coastguards in Kós: "Hello my friend, can you help us? Can you tug a refugee boat back to the harbor?" Since the start of the monitoring mission in the Aegean Sea, it seemed as though the Coast Guards did not appreciate the presence of NGOs in their waters. But for the Greek commander in Kós, it was a relief to be able to call the Sea-Watch crew for assistance. "This rescue was an important sign for us: Good cooperation with the authorities could always look like this", Captain Phil says.

All 27 rescued were taken to a camp in the interior of the island. Laila would not have had to risk her life again if there were legal ways to reach the EU for refugees. What she needs is security, no repression."

Eric Kempson reports from Lesvos (12.9.17)

"Yesterday we had two boats arrive, one on Kos with 29 people on board no breakdown.

The other arrived on lesvos, 81 people on board 44 children 17 women 20 men

Today two boats reportedly arrived in south Lesvos no numbers or breakdown at the moment."

Are You Syrious (11.9.17, link)

Chios

"In an unsettling follow up to the police actions on Saturday on Lesvos, there was a stunning and violent police action today in Souda camp on Chios. Twenty-three were transferred to the police station and four of these were arrested, three of them for possessing knives, one for possessing “untaxed cigarettes,” according to Theurgia Goetia. According to Enough is Enough, 350 police officers stormed the camp."

SEA

"Arrivals to Italy have dropped significantly in the wake of the policy change on July 16th, however a correspondent covering North Africa has grisly, uncomfortable details on the developing situation in Libya that shows there is another side to this story....

The new situation in Sabratah means actually more extorsion against migrants. Exploitation worsens."

BELGIUM

"There were over thirty arrests of people in Belgium this morning in a coordinated police operation. As is common, the police came in the early morning, first around five to a common sleeping location. The arrests also continued at 7, even after volunteers attempted to wake people up to warn them about the possibility. Many items were left behind, some of them recovered. One man was hit by a car in his successful evasion of police. The most shameful chapter of the story comes as volunteers report that police, unsatisfied with the number of arrested, targeted a food distribution line outside of an NGO office."

FIDH: France: The harassment of Cédric Herrou, defender of migrants’ rights, must end (Press release, link):

"The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) condemns the police and judicial harassment in France against Mr. Cédric Herrou, as denounced by the Observatory in an Urgent Appeal published on August 28, 2017. This harassment reflects a policy from the French Government to hinder the work of defenders of migrants’ rights and their organisations.

Mr. Cédric Herrou is victim of harassment for defending migrants in the Roya valley, in Alpes Maritimes, where a huge police operation involving several hundred officers is taking place, with the aim of deterring the passage and presence of migrants in the region."

And see: GISTI:Actualité des poursuites et des mobilisations relatives aux délits de solidarité (link) and Avis: mettre fin au délit de solidarité (legifrance.gouv.fr, link)

Migrant sea route to Italy is world's most lethal (The Guardian, link):

"More than 22,500 migrants have reportedly died or disappeared globally since 2014 – more than half of them perishing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean, according to a study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

A clampdown on Europe’s eastern borders has forced migrants to choose more dangerous routes as the death toll in the Mediterranean continues to rise despite a drop in the overall number of arrivals, data compiled by the UN’s migration agency shows.

“While overall numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean by the eastern route were reduced significantly in 2016 by the EU-Turkey deal, death rates have increased to 2.1 per 100 in 2017, relative to 1.2 in 2016,” reads the IOM report which is released on Monday. “Part of this rise is due to the greater proportion of migrants now taking the most dangerous route – that across the central Mediterranean – such that 1 in 49 migrants now died on this route in 2016.”"

See the report: Fatal Journeys, Volume 3 Part1: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (pdf)

HUNGARY: Life in the Hungarian transit zones: no proper food, medical care or education (Atlatszo, link):

"An Afghan-Iranian family with three children waited eight months at the Serbian-Hungarian border to be able to apply for refugee status. After the long wait, in April 2017 they were admitted to the so-called ’transit zone’ where they were practically locked up behind barbed wire for four months. They told Atlatszo.hu about the inhumane conditions in the transit zone: no food for the father, harassment and doctor’s visits in handcuffs. Hungarian authorities want to keep the conditions in transit zones a secret, but we were shown cell phone photos that were taken inside."

EU: Pathways towards Legal Migration into the EU: Reappraising concepts, trajectories and policies (CEPS, link):

"Finding that EU migration policies are still subject to inconsistency, legal uncertainty and discriminatory treatment, scholars call for the creation of new legal pathways.

Over the past 15 years, the ‘Europeanisation’ of policies dealing with the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals has led to the development of a common EU acquis. Yet questions related to policy consistency, legal certainty and fair and non-discriminatory treatment in working and living standards still characterise the EU’s legal framework for cross-border mobility. This book critically explores the extent to which EU legal migration policies and their underlying working notions match the transnational mobility of individuals today. It addresses the main challenges of economic migration policies, both within the EU and in the context of EU cooperation with third countries. Special consideration is given to the compatibility of EU policies with international labour standards along with the fundamental rights and approach to fairness laid down in the EU Treaties. The contributions to this book showcase the various uses and potential of social science and humanities research in assessing, informing and shaping EU migration policies. Leading scholars and experts have brought together the latest knowledge available to reappraise the added value of the EU in this area. Their reflections and findings point to the need to develop a revised set of EU policy priorities in implementing a new generation of legal pathways for migration."

EU: Refugees: Council next steps

- finance and train Libyan Coast Guard to end arrivals to Italy
- expedite "return" operations from the EU
- create "reception" centres across Africa
- continue actions under the "dodgy" EU-Turkey Statement
- yet another call for "relocations" within the EU
- redefine "safe third countries"

See: Note on: Migration: state of play and next steps - Exchange of views (LIMITE doc no: 11836-17, pdf).

European Commission reports on Partnership Framework, Relocations, EU-Turkey deal and European Border and Coast Guard

Includes in EU-Turkey deal report: "Additional Hellenic Police officers are needed to better control entry/exit points and for patrolling inside the hotspots. The Greek Reception and Identification Service, in cooperation with EASO, is looking into establishing electronic entry/exit control systems at all hotspots, starting with a pilot project in Moria [Lesvos]."

And: "The Hellenic Police to issue return decisions at the same time as the notification of negative first instance asylum decisions."

LESVOS GREECE POLICE RAID ON MOIRA: Report from No Borders KItchen on police raid (20 hours ago, link)

"Early this morning, hundreds of police once again invaded Moria prison camp. Waking the inmates as they lay sleeping in crowded containers, they made sweeping controls and detained many refugees - including those with papers and the legal right to be here.

as a consequence, eleven more people have been arrested and now face deportation. those with papers should eventually be released, back for another restless night of sleep. they do not know when the police will next invade their "home" or harass them in the street, or when their time will finally run out and they will be deported back into the violence and persecution they fled in their home countries.

one clear purpose of these massive and indiscriminate operations is to instill fear and uncertainty into the population of Moria. the last "sweep" of the camp followed political protests, subsequent arrests and violent police abuse of refugees inside Moria and behind closed doors in the police station.

That operation sent the message that dissent would not be tolerated. this new wave of arrests was a further reminder that Fortress Europe is closed, and that those clinging to its brink with their fingertips can be swept away at any moment.

with love and rage always

your NBK crew."

GREEK ISLANDS: ARRIVALS: Today (10 September, link)

LESVOS (206)

1st boat (South) 43 people
2nd boat (North) 32 people
3rd boat (South) 63 people
4th boat (South) 64 people
5th bost was pushed back by Turkish Coast Guard.

CHIOS 54 people

UPDATE:10.9.17:

"According to reliable information from LesvosNews.gr, the police found only four (!!!) of them in the Morissian Hotspot, of course, arrested them and would take the way back to Turkey.

But it ended up being a rather big fiasco that used about 300 policemen and only made 4 arrests. Of course, as it is understood, the expectations of the Police Directorate of Lesbos wanted a large number of arrests, so this giant business was done, with even a lot of secrecy."

And: Are You Syrious reports: "“As a consequence, eleven more people have been arrested and now face deportation. Those with papers should eventually be released, back for another restless night of sleep. They do not know when the police will next invade their “home” or harass them in the street, or when their time will finally run out and they will be deported back to the violence and persecution they fled in their home countries.”

LESVOS GREECE POLICE RAID ON MOIRA: Press report (ekathimerini.com, link)

"More than 350 police officers took part in a pre-dawn operation on Saturday at the Moria camp on the Aegean island of Lesvos to transfer an unspecified number of migrants to the pre-deportation center.

These individuals, who have all received a final rejection of their asylum application, will be returned to Turkey."

Greece: Lesvos: Saturday 9 September: SECOND POLICE RAID TO ARREST REFUGEES: NOW: Giant police operation at Moria's Hotspot to arrest immigrants for deportation (Translation from Lesvos News, link):

"A giant police operation at Hoto Spot in Moria, in order to capture immigrants for whom a rejection, final and irrevocable decision not to issue a political asylum, and a return to Turkey have been in progress since 6:00 am today.

The police drew up a plan and caught the migrants in Moria, because in previous such operations the migrants were uprooted and caused extensive damage.

After the entire encirclement encircled the entire area, HotSpot entered a large police force and police teams with their decisions, tapping the door on the container to proceed with the arrests.

More than 350 police officers are involved in the police operation, while a proactive force in the Hot Spot of Moria is a major force of the Fire Brigade and an ambulance of the EKAB for every eventuality."

It is reported that 14 people have been arrested so far. This follows: From Lesvos Legal Centre on 31 August 2017:

"Yesterday Afghan refugees in Lesvos began a sit-in protest in Sapfous Square in Mitilini. Their statement follows: "Today Afghan refugees are protesting our imprisonment on Lesvos. Many of us have been here for over a year trapped on this island, and we are still waiting for decisions. We join the struggle of protests held on 17 and 18 of July, and demand that the right to freedom of movement be granted for asylum seekers who have been here since 2016. We also join the call of Afghan refugees who protested last week in Athens, and call on Greece to halt all deportations of Aghans. From the recent massacres of unarmed civilians in Mirzaolang in northern Afghanistan, in which children, women, and elderly were ruthlessly killed, to the daily suicide bombings across the country, to the reckless US drone strikes in Nangarhar, Afghan Asylum Seekers in Greece say -- Afghanistan is not a safe country, and all deportation should stop." :

And: FREE THE MORIA 35 (30 July 2017) Lesvos Legal Aid Centre, link) Plus this update:

"31 of the 35 have now had preliminary hearings and 30 of these have been ordered detained while awaiting trial. 10 are detained in Chios, 7 in Avlona, and 13 in Korydallos. The nationalities of the defendants are: Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Iran, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

One (who had been hospitalized for a week following his arrest/beating) has been released awaiting trial with restricted measures following his preliminary hearing. Four others are temporarily released, awaiting preliminary hearings, which have been delayed due to lack of intepreters (Bambara and Wolof).

The judge has indicated that the trial will go forward as soon as possible (possibly in November or December), but the procedure is currently delayed until preliminary proceedings have finished for the four defendants who have been temporarily released.

The following organizations and lawyers will represent the defendants: Legal Centre Lesbos, Lesvos Solidarity, HIAS, Metadrasi, Solidarity Now, and five Athens based criminal defense lawyers: Vasilis Papasterios, Viki Angelidou, and Christodoulos Tsakirellis."

UN slams EU over brutality migrants face in Libya (DW, link): "The UN has accused the EU of "turning a blind eye" to brutality faced by migrants in Libya. It follows a report from Doctors Without Borders that made similar claims."

UNHCR urges action to ease conditions at Greek island camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The UN Refugee Agency on Friday expressed concern at deteriorating conditions on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, as the number of new arrivals, which accelerated in August, is putting pressure on overcrowded reception facilities.

Speaking at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said the situation is most worrying on Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Leros, which have received the largest number of arrivals, including many children. More than half come from conflict-hit Syria and Iraq, she noted, adding that arrivals in August came to 3,695 against 2,249 in July."

MOAS Suspends Mediterranean Rescue Operations (link) :

"The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) search and rescue NGO has suspended all rescue operations in the Mediterranean citing, among other reasons, concern about the lawfulness of returns to Libya and alluding to the conditions of those returnees held in detention facilities in Libya....

“MOAS does not want to become part of a mechanism where there is no guarantee of safe harbor or welcome for those being assisted and rescued at sea. In this context, and on the basis of our humanitarian principles, the decision has been taken to suspend our search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean. "

Statewatch Analysis: A Pyrrhic victory? The ECJ upholds the EU law on relocation of asylum-seekers (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law:

"How should the EU deal with the perceived ‘migrant/refugee crisis’? It has done a number of things, but back in September 2015, when the numbers of arrivals were peaking, it did something truly remarkable – requiring Member States to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from the ‘frontline’ states of Italy and Greece, which were bearing most of the burden of new arrivals....

The Court rejected the arguments that the decision was not suitable to obtain its objectives. True, as Commission reports have pointed out, not many asylum-seekers have actually been relocated, but that could not be foreseen at the time – and that was implicitly partly the fault of the plaintiff Member States for not implementing the decision in practice. (The Advocate-General’s opinion dismisses this “I killed my parents, give me sympathy as a poor orphan” line of argument more bluntly)." [emphasis added]

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-9.9.17)
EU-TURKEY DEAL: Operational implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf):

The total number of returns from Greece to Turkey under the "Bilteral protocol" since 21 March 2016 has been 588 people.
The total number of returns under the "dodgy" Turkey Statement in 2016 was 801
The total number of returns under the "dodgy" Turkey Statement in 2017 is so far 506.
Overall total: 1,895.

The total depoyment of Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and others in Greece is 1,177: The largest number 327 "Border Surveillance Officers and Crew Members assigned to Frontex (including the UK Border Force boat "Valiant" stationed in Mytilni harbour) plus 280 Security Officers - assigned to Frontex and 105 "Escort officers and readmission experts" under Frontex.

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

MSF: Libya: Open letter - European governments are feeding the business of suffering (link):

"An open letter from MSF International President Dr Joanne Liu to European government leaders...

What migrants and refugees are living in Libya should shock the collective conscience of Europe’s citizens and elected leaders.

Blinded by the single-minded goal of keeping people outside of Europe, European funding is helping to stop the boats from departing Libyan waters, but this policy is also feeding a criminal system of abuse.

The detention of migrants and refugees in Libya is rotten to the core. It must be named for what it is: a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion. And European governments have chosen to contain people in this situation. People cannot be sent back to Libya, nor should they be contained there."

ALARMPHONE: Deterrence no matter what - Europe escalates its War on Migrants (link):"Alarm Phone 6 Week Report, 24th July – 3rd September...

he EU and member states have sought to establish ever-more violent obstacles, and following the EU-Turkey deal of March 2016, they have focused their energies even more on Libya. The drastic consequences are currently becoming more visible than ever before."

Are You Syrious (7.9.17, link)

Feature: Human Cruelty - the cost of current “migration management

"Several groups of humanitarian workers and activists are trying to bring awareness to the corruption and dangerous collaboration between European leaders and Libyan officials in encouraging the harming of refugees setting out from Libya.

MSF has been extremely active on Twitter in calling for dissent and bringing awareness to the systematic human rights abuses against refugees in Libya....

Horrifying reports of sexual and all forms of violence against those pushed into the margins of society?—?at the mercy of smugglers or corrupt officials.

European officials hope to prevent further migration to Europe by blockading refugees in Libya, claiming they are not equipped to deal with this level of migration."

GREECE: GENERAL: REGISTRATIONS (Official) 6.9.17:

Lesvos 120
Leros 46
Total: 166

CRETE

"Around 73 people arrived to Crete today, with 100 being transported from Crete to Athens. It is clear that there is continued effort to transport people from the islands to the mainland.

Activists report that Crete not be overlooked in terms of overloaded, under-supported reception centers. There is a serious shortage of services on Crete, no lawyers, not enough volunteers. "

AUSTRIA: URGENT CALL TO PREVENT DEPORTATION IN AUSTRIA

"A refugee from Afghanistan who has been living in Austria since March of 2015 and has since learned German to B1 proficiency and is working in an NGO was taken into custody and is facing deportation! He was picked up in Niedernsill and is being transported to Vienna, where he will face deportation to Afghanistan.

It is recommended that citizens of Austria immediately send this form letter or one like it to this address (in German)...."

FINLAND

"According to activists in Finland, six more individuals of Afghan nationality were deported the night prior. Follow Afghanistan Migrants Advice & Support Org for more information."

Good source for daily arrivals on Greek islands: (link)

Where Dreams Come to Die Migrant Path in Europe Ends at Brenner Pass (Spiegel Online, link)

"Migrants who make it across the Mediterranean to Italy dream of continuing on to northern Europe. Most, though, are unable to make it past the Brenner Pass. A visit to Europe's waiting room.

"Whereas the number of migrants arriving in southern Italy has dropped recently, a new border has been established here in the north. In mid-August, the Austrian army sent 70 soldiers to the Brenner Pass, the Alpine border between Italy and Austria, and they use iron rods to poke through freight trains for stowaways. In addition, police are checking passenger trains more thoroughly than ever before. Austria is in the midst of an election campaign, and gone are the days when around 200 Africans, Pakistanis and Afghans heading north were waved through the border each day, while Bolzano residents handed out food and clothing. Today, says one railroad worker, residents are more likely to point out refugees hiding under the seats and say: "Look, mister conductor, there's another one trying to hide."""

European citizens want information on migration – not higher walls (The Conservation, link);

"The groups of citizens we spoke with did not see tougher border security measures by the EU as either an effective solution to the challenge of migration, or as reflecting their own views on the issue. Instead, they called for better information, greater dialogue with European citizens, and stronger efforts to manage integration between communities."

Dozens of migrants found in crippled yacht off Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece’s coast guard says it has located a crippled yacht carrying dozens of migrants in waters south of the Aegean island of Santorini, and is towing it to safety.

The coast guard says that between 50 and 70 people are believed to be on the vessel, which is expected to reach the port of Iraklion on Crete later on Thursday."

Fugees The Score (by Jan Piotrowsk) (fourmillionstepsblog, link):

"The military jeep at the entrance is the only overt clue the old factory is not what it seems. You could pass its unassuming walls everyday and remain unaware that hundreds of people live in purgatory within. The guards are to prevent unwanted visitors, and its refugee residents can leave whenever they want of course. However with international borders closed and the world looking at its feet, calling the camp anything but a prison feels like a semantic slight of hand. Among the scrubland pocked with industrial detritus, hope is a fragile thing, as insubstantial and difficult to grasp as the whirling dust clouds that whip across the hard, ocre dirt.

The camp I visited lies just outside Thessaloniki in northern Greece, but this scene is repeated again and again across Europe. Images of sprawling tent cities that populate peoples’ conceptions of refugees camps do exist: mostly at the entry points to the continent – Greek islands, Italy, increasingly Spain. Camps are more often are hidden away though, in warehouses, abandoned factories or stacked containers in remote border villages. Out if sight, out of mind...."

Court of Justice of the European Union: The Court dismisses the actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against the provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers (Press release, pdf)

"That mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate.....

Since the decision is a non-legislative act, its adoption was not subject to the requirements relating to the participation of national Parliaments and to the public nature of the deliberations and vote in the Council (as those requirements apply only to legislative acts)."

See: Judgment: full-text (pdf)

And: Hungary and Slovakia defiant after EU court rebuke (euobserver, link):

"Hungary and Slovakia pledged not to change their opposition to taking in asylum seekers after the EU's top court on Wednesday (6 September) dismissed the two countries' complaints over the EU's migration quota scheme.

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said his country respects the European Court of Justice's (ECJ's) decision to reject their complaints but that it will not change his position.

"We will continue to work on having solidarity expressed in different ways other than forcing [on us] migrants from other countries that don't want to be here anyway," he said. Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, called the court decision "outrageous and irresponsible"."

EU rejects Hungary's demand to finance border fence (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission rejected Hungarian demands to co-finance its fences along the country's shared borders with Serbia and Croatia.

"We are not financing the construction of fences or barriers at the external borders," EU commission spokesperson, Alexander Winterstein, told reporters in Brussels on Friday (1 September).

Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, in a letter addressed to EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, requested the money as a gesture of solidarity given the some €800 million Budapest has spent on the fences. Hungary now wants the EU to pay half.

But Winterstein also took issue with Orban's notion of solidarity, noting Hungary's refusal to take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy."

UK: Detainees 'mocked and abused' at immigration centre (BBC News, link):

"G4S has suspended nine members of staff from an immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport, following a BBC Panorama undercover investigation.

The programme says it has covert footage recorded at Brook House showing officers "mocking, abusing and assaulting" people being held there.

It says it has seen "widespread self-harm and attempted suicides" in the centre, and that drug use is "rife".

G4S said it is aware of the claims and "immediately" began an investigation."

And see: We are locking up people indefinitely. This inhumane practice needs to end (The Guardian, link) by Paul Blomfield: "We are the only country in Europe to hold migrants in detention centres with no time limit – some of them for years. We can’t let the government off the hook"

SPAIN: Outsourcing Border Control to Morocco a Recipe for Abuse (Human Rights Watch, link):

"“We had to get up at 4 in the morning to avoid the police. They caught me five or six times. They beat me with their batons. If you fall, they beat you. Each time, they sent me to Tangiers, Casablanca or somewhere else far away.”

Eighteen-year-old Emmanuel’s horrendous experience at the hands of the Moroccan police is a foreseeable consequence of Spain’s emphasis on deterrence and outsourcing of border control while turning a blind eye to Morocco’s abuses against migrants. This model also serves as an unfortunate blueprint for the European Union’s current approach to migration and asylum.

In 2015, Spain formalized in its law the longstanding practice of summary returns of would-be asylum seekers to Morocco, a move that breaches EU and international law. Spain’s close border control cooperation with Morocco, and wider EU investment in “effective migration management” in that country carries lessons as the EU pursues similar engagement with other countries, including Turkey and Libya. Morocco has taken positive steps but has yet to establish a national asylum system, and many of the abuses documented by Human Rights Watch in 2012 and by others continue."


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

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