Home | News Online | What's New | Publications | Analyses | Observatories | Database | SEMDOC | Journal | Support our work

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"

April 2020

'Coronavirus doesn't respect barbed wire': concern mounts for Greek camps - Calls grow for EU countries to accept refugees as outbreaks fuel fears that virus could rampage through overcrowded facilities (Guardian, ,link):

"In Aegean islands on the frontline of the crisis, health carers speak of days gained, not won.

But an outbreak of the disease in two facilities near Athens has intensified concerns over the estimated 36,000 men, women and children stranded on remote isles opposite the Turkish coast.

Installations on Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos – at six times over capacity, sprawling, wretched and congested – where social distancing, and other precautionary measures are an impossible privilege, offer fertile ground for Covid-19."

Second Greek migrant camp under coronavirus lockdown - Camp in Malakasa under 'full sanitary isolation' for 14 days after a 53-year-old asylum seeker tests positive (Al Jazeera, link):

"Officials in Greece have placed a second migrant camp near Athens under lockdown after an Afghan resident tested positive for the coronavirus, the migration ministry said.

Officials said the camp in Malakasa, some 38 kilometres (24 miles) northeast of Athens, was placed under "full sanitary isolation" for 14 days, with no one allowed to enter or leave."

And see: Greece quarantines camp after migrants test coronavirus positive (Reuters, link)

Greece/Turkey: Asylum-seekers and migrants killed and abused at borders (Amnesty, link):

"In the midst of violence at the Greek-Turkish border, at least two men were killed and a woman remains missing after Greek border forces reportedly fired live ammunition and tear gas against asylum-seekers and migrants. This occurred after Turkish authorities recklessly encouraged them to travel to Greece under false pretences, new research by Amnesty International has revealed.

From 27 February onwards, thousands of people headed to the Greek border after Turkish authorities encouraged and facilitated their movement there. Some asylum seekers and their families living in Turkey even gave up their accommodation and spent all their money to make the journey. However, Greek authorities repressed the movement of people attempting to cross by bolstering border control, sending in police and army forces who used tear gas, water cannons, plastic bullets and live ammunition."

SAMOS, GREECE: My open letter to the new manager of the Samos Hotspot (Samos Voice, link): by Professor Chris Jones.

From the « war against the virus » to the war against exiles : security responses to Covid-19 exacerbate violence at borders (migreurop, link)

"The Greek hotspots in which exiles are crammed without any protection of their rights or from the pandemic are an example of the precarization of their trajectories by the security policies of States. Migreurop denounces the violence inflicted onto exiles in the name of the “war against the virus”, their unequal treatment with regard to the pandemic, and demands the immediate closure of all spaces of migrant detention in order to ensure their right to be protected."


March 2020

Coronavirus: Urgent appeal for evacuation of Greek refugee camps (DW, link):

"Europe's biggest asylum seeker camp of Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos, was designed for 3,000 refugees but houses 20,000. Given the coronavirus, evacuating it is paramount, says migration expert Gerald Knaus."

AEGEAN Boat Report (link): 33 - 30 March, 2020.

‘Are we in Greece?’: Migrants seize their chance in Europe quest (EUractiv, limk):

"Some attempt to cut through a barbed wire fence while others hunt for wood and rocks to throw at police. The thousands of migrants at the Kastanies border town between Turkey and Greece are desperate to reach Europe and furious with Greeks who “won’t open the gates”.

Hundreds of Greek soldiers and armed police have fired tear gas in an attempt to hold back what they fear could become a flood of people trying to cross the border."

Portugal to treat migrants as residents during coronavirus crisis (Reuters, link):

"All foreigners in Portugal with pending applications will be treated as permanent residents from Monday until at least July 1, authorities said on Saturday, to ensure migrants have access to public services during the coronavirus outbreak.

Applicants including asylum seekers need only provide evidence of an ongoing request to qualify - granting them access to the national health service, welfare benefits, bank accounts, and work and rental contracts."

Greece: Nearly 2,000 New Arrivals Detained in Overcrowded, Mainland Camps - Citing COVID-19, Authorities Arbitrarily Detain New Arrivals (HRW, link):

"Greek authorities are arbitrarily detaining nearly 2,000 migrants and asylum seekers in unacceptable conditions, and denying them the right to lodge asylum claims, in two recently established detention sites on mainland Greece, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities claim they are holding the new arrivals, including children, persons with disabilities, older people, and pregnant women, in quarantine due to COVID-19, but the absence of even basic health precautions is likely to help the virus spread."

  Return to borderless Europe after COVID-19 will be difficult but not impossible. (EUractiv, link):

"If we do not start creating conditions for the return to a border-free Schengen zone now, the temporary measures introduced to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic risk becoming permanent, writes Alena Kudzko."

EU/Greece/Turkey: Crisis not averted: security policies cannot solve a humanitarian problem, now or in the long-term (pdf)

At the end of February, the Turkish government announced it would allow refugees to travel onwards to Greece and Bulgaria, in the hope of extracting from the EU further financial support as well as backing for its military operations in Syria. It has now taken up its role as Europe's border guard again, but the manufactured crisis induced by the Turkish decision and the EU response highlight the long-term failings of the EU's asylum and migration model.

Books for refugees in Greece: Help ECHO buy a new library van! (Chuffed, link):

"There are currently 115,000 refugees in Greece. Many are trapped in an asylum system that puts lives into a state of paralyzing insecurity and deep boredom. Isolated by a government that describes them as ‘dirt’, ‘dust’, and ‘parasites’, most are forced to live in peripheral camps far from the towns and city centres.

In five of the locations our library visits, it is the only source of education for adults. Meanwhile, less than 50% of school age children in these locations are in school. In these deplorable and ostracising conditions, both hope and relief can be hard to come by.

The ECHO mobile library travels 250km to 11 locations in and around Athens each week. We have; books in 13 languages, learning resources, lessons, whiteboards, rugs, tea and structured children’s activities.

Our faithful old library van is on the edge of collapse. It is twenty years old and has seen more than 200,000km on the road. Breakdowns have cost us three days of library sessions in two months - and we’ve been told that the next will probably be its last... With your help we can get our library back on the road. All donations, no matter how small, help us get closer. "

See: Good deeds: the mobile library reaching refugees' hearts and minds (The Guardian, link)

EU: MEPs, migration policy experts call for urgent action to uphold refugee rights

Over 100 MEPs from four political groups in the European Parliament have called on the European Commission to take action so that "fundamental rights and the right to asylum" are upheld in Greece. Their calls have been echoed by dozens of migration policy experts working on EU-funded projects.

Migration: tales of brutality along Europe’s borders (Financial Times, link):

"Violence, increasingly routine at the doorstep of the EU, is hardening into what asylum-seekers and rights groups see as brutal, if unofficial, policy.

Interviews with 25 migrants and several aid organisations suggest beatings and “pushbacks” — the forcing of asylum seekers out of a country before their applications can be reviewed — are now systemic, despite violating EU law. The normalisation of violence grows as migrants seek new routes. Initial criticism focused on Hungary, before allegations rose in Bulgaria and Greece. In recent months, as more migrants try Balkan routes passing through Croatia and Romania, accusations of violence along these borders have soared."

MALTA: Free the #ElHiblu3 (Alarm Phone, link):

"One year ago, a rubber boat with over 100 people on board left the coast of Libya to reach safety in Europe. Although they were found and rescued by the merchant vessel El Hiblu 1, its crew was ordered by European authorities to return the rescued to Libya. Through a collective protest on board, the 108 rescued people averted a push-back and prompted the crew to steer toward Malta. During the protest, nobody was injured and nothing was damaged. In public, they were described as ‘pirates’ and ‘terrorists’ but when the Maltese military stormed the vessel, they only met humans who were looking for protection.

...Our international solidarity campaign – Free the El Hiblu Three! – launches today. Passengers of the El Hiblu 1, sea-rescue organisations, international lawyers, researchers, activists, human rights organisations in Malta and beyond have come together to call for the immediate dismissal of the trial. Instead of being prosecuted, the El Hiblu Three should be celebrated for preventing an illegal push-back to Libya."

See: Free El Hiblu 3 (link) and: The Rescue: A flimsy raft, more than 100 souls, and three teenage heroes—or are they pirates? (The Atavist, link)

MEDITERRANEAN: Privatized Pushbacks: How Merchant Ships Guard Europe (New York Times, link):

"The Panther, a German-owned merchant ship, is not in the business of sea rescues. But one day a few months ago the Libyan Coast Guard ordered it to divert course, rescue 68 migrants in distress in the Mediterranean and return them to Libya, which is embroiled in civil war.

The request, which the Panther was required to honor, was at least the third time that day, Jan. 11, that the Libyans had called on a merchant ship to assist migrants.

The Libyans could easily have alerted a nearby rescue ship run by a Spanish charity. The reason they did not goes to the core of how the European authorities have found a new way to thwart desperate African migrants trying to reach their shores from across the Mediterranean.

And some maritime lawyers think the new tactic is unlawful.

...“We call them privatized pushbacks,” said Charles Heller, the director of Forensic Oceanography, a research group that investigates migrant rights abuses in the Mediterranean. “They occur when merchant ships are used to rescue and bring back migrants to a country in which their lives are at risk — such as Libya.”"

See: PRIVATISED PUSH-BACK OF THE NIVIN (Forensic Architecture, link)

EU asks Greece to move migrants most at risk from coronavirus out of crowded camps (ekathimerini, link):

"The European Union has asked Greece to move migrants most at risk of contracting the coronavirus from overcrowded camps on its islands, the EU's top migration official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said Athens had opposed moving the migrants to the Greek mainland, citing the absence of coronavirus cases in the camps while the disease is spreading elsewhere in Greece."

And see: Greece: Move Asylum Seekers, Migrants to Safety: Immediate Hotspot Decongestion Needed to Address COVID-19 (Human Rights Watch, link) and: COVID-19 PAVES WAY FOR MASS DETENTION OF MIGRANTS (Lesvos Legal Centre, link)

Senior MEP calls for EU action to stop coronavirus spreading to Greek migrant camps (Politico, link):

"There is no chance of isolation or social distancing,’ in overcrowded camps, says head of civil liberties committee.

The EU must come up with an “immediate" response to the problem of coronavirus spreading in Greece's overcrowded migrant camps, where social distancing is almost impossible, according to the head of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-23.3.20) including:

- Anti-migration cooperation between the EU, Italy and Libya: some truths
Erdogan in talks with European leaders over refugee cash for Turkey
- COVID-19: No one is safe until All are protected!

Statewatch Analysis: Italy renews Memorandum with Libya, as evidence of a secret Malta-Libya deal surfaces (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

The 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Italy and Libya was tacitly renewed without amendments on 2 February 2020, amid widespread criticism over its legality and effects since October 2019. This article outlines the parliamentary debate that accompanied the interior minister's declared intention to renew the MoU in November 2019.

Statewatch Analysis: Anti-migration cooperation between the EU, Italy and Libya: some truths (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

Apart from a regression in human rights standards that immigration policy is producing within the EU's borders by promoting racism in politics and institutional discrimination in pursuit of its strategic objectives, the effects of EU migration policy's externalisation to third countries are also harmful.

EU-ERITREA: European Commission: We will fight forced labour in Eritrea by financing projects that use it

"...The EU-funded project only finances the procurement and supply of material and equipment — the EU does not pay for labour..."

Samos Refugees: We see a Darkness (Samos, Chronicles, link):

"For the refugees, coronavirus is a fused bomb. When, rather than if it blows it will be devastating. The appalling conditions in which refugees are held which blatantly contradict all the government’s instructions on hygiene and overcrowding make the camps and detention facilities exceptionally vulnerable to the virus. The police describe the island camps as “health bombs”.

The police associations from Samos, Lesvos, Chios and the North and South Dodecanese are now demanding urgent action. The timing of their intervention is driven by the extremely cruel and unhealthy conditions for the 1,414 refugees who arrived on the islands after March 1st 2020. Following the Act passed on March 2 2020 all new arrivals are denied the right to apply for asylum. This is a major breach of international law, but more of that later. There is no registration or identification procedures for these new arrivals who are kept away from the pre March deadline refugees and detained, as the police noted in their letter to the government (14/3/2020);

Stacked like animals in temporary and inadequate infrastructure acting as ticking health bombs. On Samos there are 93 foreigners in a room of the Port Authority without a toilet or water supply.”

Erdogan in talks with European leaders over refugee cash for Turkey (The Guardian, link):

"Turkey has pressed European leaders to make fresh cash pledges to prevent tens of thousands of refugees from leaving the country and trying to reach Europe amid a Russian-Syrian offensive in north-west Syria.

After intense bombardment in Idlib province last month, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, encouraged thousands of refugees in the country to move on towards the Greek islands and the Baltics, in a repeat of the surge to Europe in 2015.

That push ended when the EU gave Turkey €6bn to house the refugees in Turkey. Nearly €4.7bn has been contractually awarded, but only about €3.2bn paid out.

In a phone call on Tuesday between the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Erdogan, the leaders discussed the possibility of a new refugee deal, ways to combat the continued Russian threat in Idlib, and the fear that coronavirus could sweep through the refugee camps bordering Syria in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan."

Open access book: Europe and the Refugee Response: A Crisis of Values? (Routledge, link):

"This book explores how the rising numbers of refugees entering Europe from 2015 onwards played into fears of cultural, religious, and ethnic differences across the continent. The migrant, or refugee crisis, prompted fierce debate about European norms and values, with some commentators questioning whether mostly Muslim refugees would be able to adhere to these values, and be able to integrate into a predominantly Christian European society. In this volume, philosophers, legal scholars, anthropologists and sociologists, analyze some of these debates and discuss practical strategies to reconcile the values that underpin the European project with multiculturalism and religious pluralism, whilst at the same time safeguarding the rights of refugees to seek asylum.

Country case studies in the book are drawn from France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; representing states with long histories of immigration, countries with a more recent refugee arrivals, and countries that want to keep refugees at bay and refuse to admit even the smallest number of asylum seekers. Contributors in the book explore the roles which national and local governments, civil society, and community leaders play in these debates and practices, and ask what strategies are being used to educate refugees about European values, and to facilitate their integration."

Over 400 migrants returned to Libya over weekend (InfoMigrants, link):

"Over 400 migrants have been picked up by the Libyan coast guard and returned to Libya over the weekend. That’s according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which called the action “unacceptable.”

The UN organization for migration decried the fact that this weekend, over 400 Europe-bound migrants were returned to Libya by the Libyan coast guard in several operations. The IOM counted 301 people who were intercepted and taken back to Tripoli on Saturday, March 14 and a further 105 on two different boats on Sunday, March 15.

The IOM communications officer Safa Msehli said: "It is unacceptable for this to continue despite repeated calls to put an end to the return of vulnerable people to detention and abuse.""

And see: 49 asylum seekers in Maltese waters taken back to Libya and beaten - NGO (Times of Malta, link)

COVID-19: No one is safe until All are protected! (Transbalkan Solidarity Group, link):

"Currently there are tens of thousands of refugees and other migrants in the Balkans. Some of them are accommodated in official collective centers, while a large number of people fall outside the system, surviving through the help of the local population and support provided to them by volunteers throughout the region. Yet with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the already difficult situation in which they find themselves is becoming even more challenging and demands urgent action of those in charge – local and international actors – and solidarity from all of us.

The State of Emergency now in force in many countries of the region is a basis for the continuation and reinforcement of social inequalities and unfortunately is already serving as a rationale for the further stigmatization and repression of the most unprotected among us. But this exceptional situation must not become an excuse for continued policies of exclusion, restriction and expulsion, suffering and distress."

And see: Us versus them? Covid-19 and its effects (MPC, link): "We now see that every one of us can suddenly can become vulnerable. As humans, we have much more in common, than what divides us: our fears, our anxieties, and how we react in difficult situations. Our humanity is also our strength, being able to put ourselves into the shoes of others, now more than ever."

UNHCR: Key Legal Considerations on access to territory for persons in need of international protection in the context of the COVID-19 response (pdf):

"This paper sets out key legal considerations, based on international refugee and human rights law, on access to territory for persons seeking international protection in the context of measures taken by States to restrict the entry of non-nationals for the protection of public health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reconfirms that while States may put in place measures which may include a health screening or testing of persons seeking international protection upon entry and/or putting them in quarantine, such measures may not result in denying them an effective opportunity to seek asylum or result in refoulement."

And see: EU border restrictions will hit transfers of child refugees - UN official (Thomson Reuters Foundation, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-16.3.20) including:

- Little new on migration in Commission's plan for a "comprehensive strategy with Africa"
More calls for EU and Greece to uphold international law and refugee rights
- Turkey steps back from confrontation at Greek border
- Border externalisation: agreements on Frontex ops in Serbia and Montenegro head for approval

EU: Little new on migration in Commission's plan for a "comprehensive strategy with Africa"

Last week the European Commission published a communication setting out a plan for a "comprehensive strategy with Africa", which includes "migration and mobility" amongst its five key themes. The document is intended to frame talks between the EU and the AU as they move towards a summit in October this year.

Xenophobia and racism are killing people on the Greek-Turkish border! The European Union is also! (Gisti, link):

"Over the past few days, people have been killed on the Greek-Turkish border! This is a direct consequence of political decisions by European leaders who would like to seal off European Union borders at all costs, notably by subcontracting the examination of asylum applications to non-European States and the encampment of undesirables. Everyday brings new unbearable images showing asylum seekers being pushed out or deliberately put in danger.


A recently established coalition of organisations against border violence has announced that complaints will be lodged against Greece and the EU for violating the rights of people fleeing Turkey. States and the EU decision-makers behind them must not be allowed to commit such abuses with impunity.

We support this initiative and call for protest rallies wherever possible. A demonstration is planned at Place de la République in Paris on 18 March at 6:30 p.m. Videos denouncing the border violence are to be shown. "

The European Parliament must intervene to stop violence, the use of force and human rights violations at the EU-Turkey border (change.org, link):

"We call on the European Parliament and the political groups representing the EU citizens to stop violence and the use of force against defenseless people at the EU-Turkey border and to restore legality and respect for human rights, firstly the right of asylum.

What is happening is the result of wrong choices made with the aim of externalizing borders and preventing people fleeing from wars and persecutions from arriving in Europe to seek protection.

Report ‘Follow the Money III’ - Solidarity: The use of AMIF funds to Incentivise Resettlement and Relocation in the EU (ECRE, link):

"The third ‘Follow the Money’ report maps and assesses the use of financial incentives (lump sums) allocated under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) to EU Member States (MS) participating in refugee resettlement and intra-EU relocation. The four case studies, France, Italy Portugal and Slovenia provide a range of national contexts and practices within the role and impact of EU funding is explored. The research draws on the first two ‘Follow the Money’ studies published by ECRE and UNHCR in 2017 and 2018 tracking the use of AMIF for asylum, integration and return.

Member States resettled 76,205 persons during 2014-18, via both EU schemes and national programmes with uneven participation among MS. The study finds that the funding under the lump sum modality, €6,000 per resettled person, increasing to €10,000 when the resettled person falls into one of the categories included under common Union resettlement priorities, is an effective mechanism to provide EU funding. The reduction or removal would most likely lead to reductions in resettlement numbers and/or programmes that offer less support to resettled persons."

ECRE on the situation for refugees in Greece: Weekly Editorial: About Time Too (link):

"At the EU-Turkey border the situation remains alarming, and ECRE continued to speak out against the actions of the Greek government and the apparent support from the EU’s political leadership, and to promote the alternative response set out in our statement and urged by Greek NGOs. It is a relief though to see some signs of a change in approach.

On Thursday, Commissioner Johansson gave an interview to the Guardian which contained a warning to Greece on the need to respect the right to asylum; this was – hopefully – followed by a presentation of these warnings in person during her visit to the country.

Separately, the Commission announced a plan to relocate to other Member States 1600 children from the Greek islands, a very welcome initiative, and one that ECRE and others have supported for years... All these developments are though just the first steps towards a positive and rights-based approach from Europe; following through on it will require the following."

See also: EU to take in some child migrants stuck in Greece (BBC News, link): "Five EU countries [Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal] have agreed to take in some migrant children who are stuck in Greece, amid continuing tension on the Greek-Turkish border."

Turkey Steps Back From Confrontation at Greek Border (New York Times, link):

"BRUSSELS — Turkey has signaled that it is winding down its two-week operation to aid the movement of tens of thousands of people toward Europe, following a tough on-the-ground response from Greek border guards and a tepid diplomatic reaction from European politicians.

Migrants at the Greek-Turkish land border began to be transported back to Istanbul by bus this week, witnesses at the border said, de-escalating a standoff that initially set off fears of another European migration crisis. Greek officials said the number of attempted border crossings had dwindled from thousands a day to a few hundred, and none were successful on Friday, even as sporadic exchanges of tear-gas with Turkish security forces continued.

Also Friday, Turkish officials announced that three human smugglers had each been sentenced to 125 years in prison for their roles in the death of a Syrian toddler, Alan Kurdi, whose drowning came to epitomize an earlier migration crisis, in 2015.

That announcement and the week’s other developments were interpreted by experts and European politicians as signals to Europe that the Turkish authorities were once again willing to police their borders and quell a second wave of migration."

Migrants on Greek islands to be offered €2,000 to go home (The Guardian, link):

"Migrants on the Greek islands are to be offered €2,000 (£1,764) per person to go home under a voluntary scheme launched by the European Union in an attempt to ease desperate conditions in camps.

The amount is more than five times the usual sum offered to migrants to help them rebuild their lives in their country of origin, under voluntary returns programmes run by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The offer will last one month, as the commission fears an open-ended scheme would attract more migrants to Europe. It will not apply to refugees who have no homes to return to, but is intended to incentivise migrants seeking better living standards to leave the islands."

Returned to War and Torture: Malta and Frontex coordinate push-back to Libya (Alarm Phone, link):

"On Saturday, 14 March 2020, RCC Malta coordinated a push-back operation from the Maltese Search and Rescue (SAR) zone to Libya in cooperation with the EU border agency Frontex and the so-called Libyan coastguards. Similar to the events we documented on 18 October 2019, the Maltese authorities instructed the so-called Libyan coastguards to enter a European SAR zone in order to abduct about 49 people and force them back to Libya. Instead of complying with refugee and human rights conventions, the Maltese authorities coordinated a grave violation of international law and of the principle of non-refoulment, as the rescued must be disembarked in a safe harbour. Clearly, Libya is not a safe harbour but a place of war and systemic human rights abuses. Every week, the Alarm Phone receives testimonies of torture, rape and other forms of violence against migrants detained in Libyan camps and prisons."

New EU migration pact must dust off fundamental rights (EUobserver, link):

"The EU's new Pact on Migration and Asylum is an opportunity to take a different approach. To take a breath, to remember the values that the European project was founded upon, and to dust off the good old fundamental rights and put them to use.

Not merely for the benefit of the European citizens, but also for those fleeing conflict and violence and seeking protection in Europe.

While the scale of global displacement is high and the challenges related to irregular migration are real in Europe and beyond, the situation remains manageable.

It requires the political leadership to insist on facts, instead of contributing to instilling unnecessary fear and insecurity in the European public by supporting unhelpful narratives of unmanageable movements and unprecedented crisis."

Frontex launches new operations in Greece (link): by Matthias Monroy:

"In two RABIT missions, the EU Border Agency is sending 100 additional officials to the Greek-Turkish land and sea border. Frontex currently have around 600 operational forces stationed in Greece.

Fontex has started two new missions in Greece. Following a decision by Director Fabrice Leggeri, the EU Border Agency is sending border guards with technical assets to the Aegean Sea. A further mission has been launched today to reinforce police and military units for border surveillance on the land border with Turkey. This follows a request by the government in Athens."

Revealed: the great European refugee scandal (Guardian, link):

"Evidence obtained by the Guardian exposes a coordinated and unlawful EU assault on the rights of desperate people trying to cross the Mediterranean by Daniel Howden, Apostolis Fotiadis and Zach Campbell. (...)

As night fell on 26 March 2019, two small boats made their way north across the Mediterranean. The rubber crafts were flimsy; it would be nearly impossible for those onboard to make it to Europe without help. From the north, a twin-propeller aeroplane from the European Union naval force approached. From the south, the coastguard from the country they had just fled, Libya, was coming. (...)

Seagull 75 circled overhead. The flight crew was part of Operation Sophia, an EU naval mission that has patrolled the south-central Mediterranean since 2015. After participating in thousands of rescues in its first four years, Sophia withdrew its sea vessels from March 2019, leaving only aircraft in the rescue zone. It came to be known as the naval mission without any ships.(...)"

Coronavirus: How are Middle East refugee camps prepared? (DW, link):

"With the Syrian health care system "on its knees," according to the World Health Organization, refugee camps across the region are also facing the potential threat of COVID-19. So far, no cases have been found."

Erdogan says border will stay open until EU meets his demands (New Europe, link):

"Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Wednesday he would keep the border open for migrants until the European Union had met all his demands.

“Until all Turkey’s expectations, including free movement, updating of the customs union and financial assistance, are tangibly met, we will continue the practice on our borders”, he said."

Greece denies report of secret ‘black site’ for migrants near Turkish border (Euractiv, link):

"The Greek government dismissed on Wednesday (11 March) a report in The New York Times that it was holding illegal migrants who cross the border from Turkey at a secret “black site” where they are denied access to lawyers and cannot file asylum claims".

EU: Justice & Home Affairs Council 14 March 2020 : Background Note (pdf)

"In the morning, home affairs ministers will exchange views on the strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs, with a view to their endorsement ahead of the March European Council meeting.Theywill then come back to the situation at the EU's external borderswith Turkey. The Council will further develop the EU's response to needs expressed by Greece.

Over lunch, ministers responsible for civil protection issues will discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

Representatives of the Schengen associated countriesIceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland will also be present for the point on the situation at the EU's external borders"

See: Greece warned by EU it must uphold the right to asylum (Guardian, link)

EU: Border externalisation: Agreements on Frontex operations in Serbia and Montenegro heading for parliamentary approval

On 29 January the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament (LIBE) approved the conclusion of status agreements on the actions on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) on the territory of two neighbouring non-EU states - Serbia and Montenegro.

Frontex border operation in Greece 'lacks legal basis' after Greece suspends asylum law (euronews, link):

"Experts have questioned the legality of EU border agency Frontex sending officers to the Greek-Turkish border.

Thousands have massed on the frontier after Ankara said it could no longer stop refugees in Turkey from heading to Europe.

Frontex, which manages the European Union's external borders, is deploying reinforcements to Evros from 11 March.

But experts have told Euronews this move "lacks proper legal basis".

This is because Greece - already with a huge backlog - suspended the reception of asylum applications for a month on 1 March."

Are You Syrious? Daily Digest 06/03/20 — MEP Joins Far-Right Vigilantes in Greece (Medium, link):

"Feature: Golden Dawn MEP Among Fascist Vigilantes Attacking People in Greece

Ioannis Lagos, a longtime member of the far-right Golden Dawn party, was spotted at the Greek-Turkish border in Evros. He was photographed with members of local so-called “protection” groups and at least two police officers.

A far-right website published his activities, saying he was “actively participating in patrols organized by locals, to locate & turn over to the authorities the illegal immigrants-jihadists, that are crossing the borders by the thousands.” Clearly, he is an active participant in the violence being perpetrated against vulnerable people at the border and is making no effort to hide his presence.

This is not the first violent action that Lagos has participated in."

Greek-Turkish border: MEPs reject Turkey’s pressure, demand common asylum rules (EP, link):

"The EU must help Greece manage its border with Turkey, while ensuring the right to asylum for those who need it, several MEPs said on Tuesday.

In a debate with Commissioner Johansson and the Croatian Presidency of the Council, a majority of speakers criticised Turkish President Erdogan for using people’s suffering for political purposes. Many also underlined that the 2015 refugee crisis should not be repeated and insisted that the EU needs to update its common rules on asylum.

Some political group leaders called for a revision of the deal with Turkey, which was hammered out in 2016 to stem the flow of migrants and asylum-seekers in exchange for EU financial aid. Others showed deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation both at the border with Turkey and on the Greek islands, where thousands of asylum-seekers, many of them unaccompanied minors, are stranded."

See also: Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson: European Parliament Plenary - Opening statement to debate on situation at Greek-Turkish border (pdf)

Bulgaria is not changing its push-back policy at its border to Turkey (Bordermonitoring Bulgaria, link):

"Media reported that FRONTEX installed 60 additional staff members to the already existing 50 ones at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. This raises the question of whether FRONTEX will only watch the Bulgarian authorities while they go on with their push-back practice in the upcoming days. Until now, the number of crossing incidents around the Turkish-Bulgarian border near Kapikule/Kapitan Andreevo seem much lower in comparison to the Greek-Turkish border around Pazarkule/Kastanies – both border crossings are only about 10 km away from each other."

HRW denounces Greece over migrants held on warship (Yahoo! News, link):

"Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday called on Greece to reverse its "draconian policy" towards over 450 migrants detained on a navy ship docked in Mytilene port in Lesbos.

The men, women and children were among those picked up by the Greek Coast Guard since March 1, when Turkey decided to open its borders and let make the crossing.

Since Turkey's February 28 decision, more than 1,700 people have arrived on the Greek islands in the Aegean off the Turkish coast."

Fire breaks out at refugee centre on Greek island of Lesbos (The Guardian, link):

"A fire at a refugee centre on the Greek island of Lesbos has caused considerable damage to a warehouse but no injuries, Greece’s fire service said.

It was the second fire at an installation built for migrants, after unknown perpetrators burned down a reception centre last Monday. The warehouse, which contained furniture and electrical appliances, was completely destroyed, a fire service spokesman said."

Bulgaria Floods Evros River to Prevent Migrants Storming Greek Borders (Greek Reporter, link):

"At the request of Greece, Bulgaria opened an Evros River dam located on its territory on Monday in order to cause intentional flooding and make it more difficult for migrants amassed at the Greek-Turkish border to cross the river.

The opening of the Ivaylovgrad Dam accordingly resulted in rising levels of the Evros River, Star TV reported.

As the standoff between thousands of migrants and refugees on the Turkish side of the Evros and Greek security forces continues, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis met his German counterpart Angela Merkel in Berlin and stressed that Greece and Europe cannot be blackmailed."

Statewatch Analysis: Frontex launches "game-changing" recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards (pdf) by Jane Kilpatrick:

On 4 January 2020 the Management Board of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) adopted a decision on the profiles of the staff required for the new “standing corps”, which is ultimately supposed to be staffed by 10,000 officials. The decision ushers in a new wave of recruitment for the agency. Applicants will be put through six months of training before deployment, after rigorous medical testing..

Aegean Boat Report

"Arrival number from 01.03.2020, 902 people and all arrivals in week 10, 816 People has not been added to the population number by greek government, reason unknown but can be related to lates Development on the greek islands where new arrivals are denied to seek asylum."

Amid migrant crisis, Greece-Turkey conflict plays out on social media (euractiv, link):

"Greeks and Turks are waging a proxy war on social media with photos, video and commentary purporting to show the other side behaving badly in a migrant crisis that has seriously strained already tense relations between Athens and Ankara."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.3.20) including:

- Open letters, joint statements, responses to the situation at the Greek-Turkish border
- Danish boat in Aegean refused order to push back rescued migrants
- EU governments ‘harassing’ those who help migrants

CYPRUS: KISA calls on the Minister to retract his defamatory statements and to proceed to a dialogue with the stakeholders and NGOs concerned (press release, pdf):

"The government has reacted to the increased refugee and migrant flows of the last 2-3 years with an ever more extreme right narrative, which comprises, among others, interconnecting migrants and refugees to matters of security, terrorism, unemployment and social cohesion. According to this narrative, refugees are channelled by Turkey following a plan that aims at changing the demographic nature and the full control of Cyprus.

It seems that KISA with its critical positions and views against this narrative annoys the establishment as well as other extreme right and nationalistic circles. That is why, there is lately a systematic attempt targeting, smearing and mudslinging of the work and action of KISA and its leadership by a section of the printed and electronic media that agrees and supports the extreme right policies of the executive branch."

See also: Letter from the European Network Against Racism to the Cyprus interior minister: Your statements on ENAR on Radio Proto 1, 24 February 2020 (pdf)


"The Aegean Islands have descended into crisis. 5 years of neglectful EU policy has finally culminated in days of protest ( 1 , 2 ), NGOs threatened with violence, and mass strikes across the islands. Whilst over 42,000 asylum seekers reside on these islands, there is capacity for just 6,178 ( 1 ). Now, communities are braced for a surge in arrivals as Turkey has opened its borders, reneging on the EU-Turkey agreement.

This ongoing political stalemate between the EU, Greece and Turkey must be resolved. This game, played by the powerful, is putting innocent human lives at risk. It must stop now. Added to this already volatile mix is rising panic over the coronavirus. With healthcare severely lacking in the hotspot camps, NGOs fear that an outbreak would have disastrous consequences."

Common statement: Transnational solidarity against racism and war! (link):

"Hundreds of groups and organizations worldwide sign multilingual statement demanding peace, fundamental rights and freedoms of every person on the move.

Five years after the so-called “refugee crisis” and almost four years after the EU-Turkey deal, we are once again witnessing the violence caused by security-centred migration policies. Since last Thursday (27.02.2020), thousands of people have been moving towards the Turkey-Greece border following the announcement that migrants wanting to reach Europe will no longer be stopped on the Turkish side. The announcement from Turkish government officials came after the death of 33 Turkish soldiers in the Idlib area, where conflict escalation has seen the civilian death toll rapidly increase by the day, with basic infrastructure and health facilities being blatantly fired at. Turkish government keeps its borders with Syria closed while seeing no harm in pushing thousands of migrants towards the doors of Europe, into a limbo."

"Protect our laws and humanity!" - Open Letter by 120 Organizations

The undersigned organisations are deeply concerned about recent developments at the Evros border and the Aegean islands where people are stranded at the borders of Europe, instrumentalized for political purposes, and subject to violations of their rights. We are also deeply concerned about the way the authorities of Greece and the European Union are handling new arrivals. Equally alarming are the extreme actions by security forces against refugees and by civilians against staff of human rights and humanitarian organizations. We would also like to point out that the climate of panic and rhetoric of 'asymmetric threat' -also promoted by the authorities- does not reflect reality and seriously affects not only vulnerable refugees- but also our society and the rule of law as a whole.

GUE/NGL MEPs' letter to the Commission and Council on the situation at the Greek-Turkish border (3 March 2020, pdf):

"We, as Members of the European Parliament call upon you to ensure immediate action in such a way that it will ensure that Turkey immediately stops end the use of people fleeing war as political bargaining chip and as a tool for geo-political pressure to Greece and Europe as a whole. We call upon you to ensure effective access to protection in full respect of the Geneva Convention and EU law and to do so based on equal sharing of all challenges and responsibilities among all the EU Member States.

We call upon you to take all necessary and immediate actions, including via an extraordinary EU Summit, in order to ensure the evacuation of seekers of international protection from the Greek islands and the land borders with Turkey, their immediate transfer to all the EU Member States and, in parallel, to enable the functioning of a fair and effective common asylum system and the creation of safe and legal pathways to the EU."

Council of the EU: Statement on the situation at the EU's external borders (Consilium, link):

"The EU and its Member States remain determined to effectively protect EU’s external borders. Illegal crossings will not be tolerated. In this regard, the EU and its Member States will take all necessary measures, in accordance with EU and international law. Migrants should not be encouraged to endanger their lives by attempting illegal crossings by land or sea. The Council calls upon the Turkish government and all actors and organisations on the ground to relay this message and counter the dissemination of false information. The EU will continue to actively fight human smuggling.

All Member States, the European Commission and EU Agencies stand ready to strengthen their support to areas under pressure, including through the deployment of FRONTEX’s rapid border intervention and additional technical assistance. Member States will swiftly provide the support necessary to ensure the immediate deployment of the relevant teams and assets. The Commission will play an active role in coordinating Member States' support."

EU: A coalition to “shield” migrants and refugees against violence at the borders - We will hold Greece and the EU accountable for the violations of the rights of migrants and refugees fleeing Turkey (Migreurop, link):

"We firmly condemn the instrumental use of migrants and refugees by the EU and Turkey, and the Greek and EU operations deployed to prevent them from reaching European soil. No policy aim can justify such gross violations. Exiles fleeing violence must not face the violence of borders while they seek protection. Our organisations are joining their efforts to hold states accountable for their crimes. We plan to document and take legal action against those responsible for the violations of migrants and refugees’ rights, as well as those of activists acting in solidarity with them. We will employ our investigative and legal instruments to block state violence and reverse the deeply worrying trend towards the multiplication of push-backs in Greece, – a trend observable to different degrees across the EU’s shifting borders. Migrants and refugees are not a threat the EU should shield itself against, but are themselves threatened by state violence all along their precarious trajectories. We aim to use the tools of human rights to shield migrants and refugees from the brutality targeting them."

Europe’s Morality Is Dying at the Greek Border (Foreign Policy, link):

"This week, Greece’s northern border with Turkey and the Bulgarian-Turkish borderlands, too, have witnessed brutal, violent scenes reminiscent of war zones. Thousands of desperate migrants fleeing war zones—including mothers with babies in their arms—are storming barbed-wire fences to get into European Union territory to apply for political asylum, while Greek security forces in anti-riot gear beat them back and shoot rubber bullets and billowing clouds of tear gas at them. On the easternmost Greek islands, such as Lesbos, the Greek coast guard and navy have been turning away dinghies of half-frozen, frightened refugees. More than 32,000 migrants have been arrested at the Greek land border."

Joint statement on the ongoing violence at the Greece-Turkey border (Forensic Architecture, link):

"Today, together with more than a dozen NGOs, legal agencies, and activist groups, we published a statement (below) on the ongoing violence against refugees and migrants at the Greece-Turkey border, which has already resulted in multiple reports of serious injuries, as well as the death of 22-year-old Muhammad al-Arab. Watch our preliminary investigation into his death here"

Danish boat in Aegean refused order to push back rescued migrants (Politico, link):

"A Danish patrol boat monitoring the Aegean sea refused an order to push back migrants they rescued, Danish officials told public broadcaster DR.

The Danish boat was patrolling the sea between Turkey and Greece's easternmost islands as part of Operation Poseidon, a border surveillance mission in support of Greece, coordinated by EU border protection agency Frontex.

Jens Møller, the police chief in charge of the Danish unit participating in the operation, told DR that the crew had rescued 33 migrants headed for Greece in a rubber dinghy when they received a radio order from Operation Poseidon's headquarters to put the migrants back into to their dinghy and tow it out of Greek waters.

The crew refused the order, believing it would endanger the lives of the migrants."

Migrants: EU commission not fit to guard treaties (EUobserver, link):

"Asked if it was legal for Greece to suspend asylum claims for a month as Greece has done, the commission announced it had no "authority to have a definitive legal opinion or legal doctrine."

Asked if it was legal to fire rubber bullets at asylum seekers, the commission also refused to comment.

"It is not up to the commission to offer any opinion or judgement on a situation which is exceptional, that is under certain constraints," said Margaritis Schinas, the vice-president in charge of "promoting our European way of life".

Eric Mamer, the commission's chief spokesperson, was even more blunt. "You won't get a straight yes or no answer from me," he said.

Instead, what you will get is a commission that has cowed to the far-right and one that is no longer fit to be the guardian of the EU treaties. That honour now belongs to EU citizens alone, it seems."

Briefing: A manufactured refugee crisis at the Greek-Turkish border (The New Humanitarian, link):

"Dramatic scenes have been playing out in recent days at the land and sea borders between Greece and Turkey: Greek police tear-gassing and pushing back crowds of asylum seekers at a northern border crossing; the Hellenic Coast Guard firing warning shots at a dinghy full of asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea; angry protesters preventing another group in a dinghy from disembarking in the port on the island of Lesvos.

The images have been exploited by a savvy Turkish media campaign aimed at maximising pressure on the EU to support Turkish action in northwest Syria and to share more of the burden for hosting refugees. According to refugee advocates and human rights groups, Turkey’s politicisation of the refugee issue and the suffering at the EU’s borders are a predictable outcome of the EU-Turkey deal – a cornerstone of EU efforts to curb irregular migration across its borders."

UNHCR statement on the situation at the Turkey-EU border (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing for calm and an easing of tensions on Turkey’s borders with the European Union in light of the present increased movements of people there – including refugees and asylum-seekers.

UNHCR is monitoring developments in Turkey and in Greece and is offering its support. As in all such situations it is important that the authorities refrain from any measures that might increase the suffering of vulnerable people.

All States have a right to control their borders and manage irregular movements, but at the same time should refrain from the use of excessive or disproportionate force and maintain systems for handling asylum requests in an orderly manner.

Neither the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees nor EU refugee law provides any legal basis for the suspension of the reception of asylum applications."

Greece/EU: Urgently Relocate Lone Children (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(Athens) – European Union (EU) Member States should urgently relocate unaccompanied children from the Greek islands to safety in their territory, while ensuring that the children’s best interests are taken into account, 64 human rights and humanitarian organizations said in a statement today. The groups warned of widespread violations of children’s rights and threats to their health and safety across the Aegean islands’ refugee hotspots. Action is all the more urgent in light of the escalating violence on Lesbos and as increased arrivals to the islands could lead to further deterioration of the dangerous conditions in the camps."

Greece: Inhumane asylum measures will put lives at risk (Amnesty International, link):

"The inhumane measures which the Greek authorities are taking to prevent people from entering the country are an appalling betrayal of Greece’s human rights responsibilities and will put the lives of people fleeing violence at risk, Amnesty International said today.

Yesterday, following a meeting of Greece’s National Security Council, the authorities announced they would temporarily suspend the registration of asylum claims from people who enter the country irregularly. This measure will be coupled with the immediate return without registration of new arrivals if the return to their country of origin is “possible.” It’s not clear how the Greek authorities are interpreting “possible” in this context."

At the Greek-Turkish border, politicians play with people’s lives (Alarm Phone, link):

"People trying to enter Europe in search of protection face brutal repression in the Aegean region. Although this is not new, we currently see an escalation of violence as Turkey and Greece play a dangerous game with people’s lives. The survival instinct and hope of many for a better future is exploited and manipulated for cynical political stunts. Greece has now declared a state of emergency and to remove people’s right to claim asylum."

EU governments ‘harassing’ those who help migrants: report (Politico, link):

"European countries are misusing immigration and counterterrorism laws to punish civil society organizations and private citizens who are trying to help asylum seekers, Amnesty International said in a report published Tuesday.

Those who have helped migrants by handing out warm clothes, offering shelter and saving lives at sea have been subjected to "unfounded criminal proceedings, undue restrictions of their activities, intimidation, harassment and smear campaigns" in multiple EU countries, Amnesty said.

...Amnesty recorded cases of restriction and criminalization of assistance to migrants in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. These included incidents in which governments seized boats used by NGOs to rescue migrants at sea, and brought spying and terrorism-related charges against people suspected of helping migrants, such as the case of a Frenchman who faced trial for “facilitating irregular entry” into France after giving asylum seekers tea and clothing."

The report: Punishing compassion: Solidarity on trial in Fortress Europe (pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.2-2.3.20) including:

- Greece: Situation for migrants and refugees goes from bad to worse
- Frontex wants to disembark refugees in Senegal
- Council Presidency and EU agencies want biometric databases for migrants and refugees in the Western Balkans

GREECE: Situation for migrants and refugees goes from bad to worse

The Greek government is in the midst of an unprecedented crackdown against migrants and refugees already on the Aegean islands, as well as against those who are attempting to reach Greece from Turkey. Deploying police and military forces to the land border with Turkey in an attempt to prevent crossings, Greece has also said it will suspend the possibility to request asylum, a clear breach of EU and international law.

Frontex wants to disembark refugees in Senegal (Matthias Monroy, link):

"The EU border agency Frontex wants to bring back refugees picked up in the Atlantic Ocean to Senegal. The EU Commission should therefore negotiate a so-called Status Agreement with the government in Dakar. The proposal can be found in the annual report on the implementation of the Regulation for the surveillance of external sea borders. It regulates the maritime „operational cooperation“ of Frontex with third countries.

It would be the first agreement of this kind with an African government. So far, Frontex has only concluded Status Agreements with a number of Western Balkan countries for the joint surveillance of land borders. The only operation to date in a third country was launched by the Border Agency in Albania a year ago."

See: Annual report on the practical application of Regulation (EU) No 656/2014 establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by Frontex (Council document 6294/20, pdf)

February 2020

Turkey says will not stop Syrian refugees reaching Europe after troops killed (Reuters, link):

"ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey will no longer stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe, a senior Turkish official said, as Ankara responded on Friday to the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in an air strike by Syrian government forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib region."

Greece invokes coronavirus to halt migration (EUractiv. link):

"In an unexpected move, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis decided on Thursday (27 February) to upgrade border controls to the “maximum deterrent” level to prevent migrants affected with coronavirus from entering EU territory.

“Migration is now taking on a new dimension, as flows to Greece include people from Iran – where we have had many cases of Coronavirus – and many passing through Afghanistan. Our islands, therefore, already burdened with public health issues, need to be protected twice,” the conservative leader said at a ministerial meeting.

The Greek premier added that everything should be done in order to avoid having the coronavirus on these islands. The maximum deterrent level is the last step before closing the borders entirely."

EU experts: closing borders 'ineffective' for coronavirus (euobserver, link):

"EU experts said on Thursday (27 February) that refusing entry to an EU country of people with coronavirus symptoms would be counter-productive and "ineffective" to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Refusal of entry is not considered an appropriate preventive measure as the virus would spread further" since those potential patients would keep moving in the region without being treated, EU sources said."

Analysis: Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders (pdf) by Matthias Monroy:

Instead of providing sea rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean, the EU is expanding air surveillance. Refugees are observed with drones developed for the military. In addition to numerous EU states, countries such as Libya could also use the information obtained.

Council Presidency and EU agencies want biometric databases for migrants and refugees in the Western Balkans

The EU should help introduce the biometric registration of migrants and refugees travelling on the 'Balkan Route', according to the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, as part of a series of measures to tackle the "threats arising from an increase in migratory flows and smugglers' networks".

'I want to restart the EU's migration debate from scratch': Commissioner Ylva Johansson on sea rescues, relocations and a secret Libyan deal (Times of Malta, link):

"The European commissioner for home affairs is in Malta for discussions on Tuesday in the latest attempt to agree a deal on how to handle the migration crisis. Ahead of the mission, Ylva Johansson answered questions from Jacob Borg about sea rescues, relocations and a secret Libyan deal."

Clashes on Greek islands over new migrant camps (InfoMigrants, link):

"Riot police have clashed with residents on two Greek islands over the construction of new migrant detention centers. The government is insisting that the closed facilities must go ahead to relieve pressure on overcrowded island camps.

On Lesbos, about 500 people reportedly tried to stop heavy machinery from being unloaded on Monday night to begin construction at the site of the new facility.

Police used tear gas on protesters close to the area, some of whom wore surgical masks, news agency reports said. On the island of Chios, at least three people were treated in hospital for breathing difficulties caused by the extensive use of tear gas, according to local officials."

‘Partnerships’ to be at heart of EU-Africa strategy, leaked paper reveals (EurActiv, link):

"The EU will seek to put a series of policy-themed ‘partnerships’ at the heart of its EU-Africa strategy which will be formally launched in early March, according to a leaked draft obtained by EURACTIV.

A draft outline of the strategy states that the EU executive wants to “change the narrative: look at Africa for what it is becoming: home to the world’s youngest population; largest trade area since the creation of the WTO; appetite for regional integration; women’s empowerment; all creating huge economic opportunities.”

It also spells out the areas the EU would cover: Partners for Sustainable Growth and Jobs; for a Green Transition; for a Digital and Data Transformation; Peace, Security, Governance and Resilience; Migration and Mobility; and Multilateralism."

Dodik Stops Bosnia From Cooperating With Frontex (Balkan Insight, link):

"Amid an ongoing dispute over a Constitutional Court ruling that has angered Bosnian Serb politicians, Milorad Dodik, the Serbian member of the state presidency, has stopped Bosnia from signing up to a status agreement with the European Union border agency, Frontex.

At the last session of the three-member Bosnian presidency, Dodik voted against all decisions that were on the agenda. One was the proposal of the Minister of Security, Fahrudin Radoncic, to accept an “Agreement on Status between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union on Actions Executed by the Agency for European Border and Coast Guard in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Frontex had offered to deploy its forces along the Bosnian border to prevent illegal migration – but for that to happen, it needs a so-called Status Agreement."

Analysis: Fort Vert: Nature conservation as border regime in Calais (pdf) by Hanna Rullman:

The construction of a nature reserve in Calais as a way to prevent the return of migrant encampments raises important questions over the political uses of the environment in Europe’s border regime.

Greece has to act regarding “unsustainable situation” for refugees on the islands (Brussels Times, link):

"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, called on Greece to act regarding “the unsustainable situation” for refugees on the Greek islands on Friday.

These refugees are mainly living on the islands opposite Turkey. Grandi said Greece would have “support from Europe.”

“The living conditions on the islands are shocking and shameful,” Grandi said, adding they had gotten worse since his last visit in November."

Commissioner urges Italy to suspend co-operation activities with Libyan Coast Guard and introduce human rights safeguards in future migration co-operation (CoE, link):

"In a letter addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Luigi Di Maio, published today, the Commissioner urges the Italian government to introduce human rights safeguards in the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya.

While noting that discussions to improve human rights compliance in the future are ongoing, the Commissioner calls on Italy to acknowledge the realities currently prevailing on the ground in Libya and to suspend co-operation activities with the Libyan Coast Guard that result in the return of persons intercepted at sea to Libya."

See: Letter (pdf) and: Italian government response (pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-24.2.20) including:

- European court under fire for backing Spain's express deportations
- Frontex’s History of Handling Abuse Evidence Dogs Balkan Expansion
- Italy’s Failed Migration Fix Has Led to Chaos in Libya

Back to Mauritania: Frontex repatriates migrants arriving on Canary Islands (InfoMigrants, link):

"On Monday, a Frontex operated repatriation flight took off from Spain’s Canary Islands for Mauritania. 51 African migrants were on board. This is the third such flight this year, says the Spanish Ombudsman. The repatriations are a result of a 2003 agreement signed between Spain and Mauritania.

As the Spanish civil guard was still looking for three boats reported missing off the Canary Islands, other reports were coming through of a Frontex repatriation flight. The flight took off on Monday according to the news agency AFP and the Spanish Ombudsman. It was carrying 51 people aboard."

European Court of Human Rights : Spain and the European Union will prevail the protection of European borders over the right to asylum. (Migreurop, link)

"The European Court of Human Right (ECHR) just took a decision in favour of the Spanish authorities, by endorsing the practice known as “hot push-back” of people trying to reach the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Although another body of the Court had already condemned Spain in 2017 for this illegal practice [1], its Grand Chamber decided this time that Spain had not violated the rights of the exiles who had already crossed its border by sending them back to Morocco quickly and widely. With this highly serious decision, the ECHR legitimizes the generalization of the principle of non-refoulement. Furthermore, it endorses the impossibility of applying for asylum in case of illegal border crossing and welcomes the good collaboration with Morocco in the repression of exiles."

EU stops Operation Sophia and sends warships to stop Libya weapons trafficking (Malta Today, link)

"The EU has agreed to deploy warships to stop the flow of weapons into Libya, and to wound down the military mission that rescues migrants and refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, said the new operation with naval ships, planes and satellites will enforce the United Nations arms embargo on Libya.

Countering critcis, especially Italy and Austria, that the operation could turn into a rescue mission, Borrell promised the ships would be withdrawn if they became “a pull factor” that encouraged people to attempt the risky crossing from Libya to Europe."

Ocean Viking saves 182 people in distress on Mediterranean (DW, link):

"At 5:30 a.m., the distress call goes out. A wooden boat overcrowded with displaced people is drifting 130 kilometers (80 miles) off the coast of Libya. When the Ocean Viking, a rescue ship operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), receives the call, it is 22 nautical miles (41 kilometers) from the boat. It will take an hour or two to reach it. Nicholas Romaniuk, the search and rescue coordinator aboard the Ocean Viking, changes the vessel's course to intercept the boat."

UN agency calls for new safe harbour rules for migrants from Libya (Euractiv, link):

"The International Organization for Migration on Wednesday (19 February) called on the world community to devise a “safe disembarkation mechanism” for migrants fleeing Libya, the day after a port in the capital of the war-torn country was hit by a barrage of rocket fire.

The IOM, a UN-related agency, called on nations and the European Union “to find an alternative safe disembarkation mechanism for migrants rescued fleeing Libya by boat”.

The call came after “roughly 200 migrants” were returned to Tripoli, hours after the city’s main port was heavily shelled on Tuesday."

Right-wing Serbian Party Launches Anti-Immigration Campaign (BalkanInsight, link):

"Dveri, part of an opposition alliance boycotting April’s parliamentary election, has begun collecting signatures against the government’s policy on immigration."

EU: EEAS calls for changes to Operation Sophia so "chances to conduct rescue operations are lower"

The European External Action Service (EEAS) has called on EU governments to limit the saving of lives at sea by Operation Sophia. A note sent to the member states' permanent representatives in Brussels says the mission should prioritise the enforcement of a UN arms embargo on Libya, rather than monitoring migrant smuggling activities, and suggests that ships could be placed "at least 100km off the Libyan coast, where chances to conduct rescue operations are lower."

EU: Joint statement: The new Pact on Asylum and Migration: An Opportunity Seized or Squandered? (ECRE, link):

"After years of treating asylum and migration in crisis mode, we believe the proposed Pact on Asylum and Migration is an opportunity for the EU and its Member States to change direction. It is an opportunity to develop a rational and rights-based asylum and migration policy. Recent cooperation among Member States signals the possibility of a fresh start, which should build on the lessons of the recently attempted and largely failed reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). However, there is a risk that the Pact may include or prepare the groundwork for damaging legislative proposals, in particular what has been termed the “border instrument”."

NETHERLANDS: Half the children in final refugee amnesty review can stay (DutchNews.nl, link)

"Just over half the refugee children hoping to be given residency rights in the Netherlands in a final review of the child refugee amnesty have won the right to stay.

In total, 569 out of 1,100 children have been given residency permits, along with 502 adult family members, junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol told MPs on Wednesday.

The cases of 263 children were given an automatic review, after MPs agreed to soften the criteria in a final attempt to end the problems around the amnesty early last year.

Of those 263 cases, 235 were granted residency. In addition, a further 837 children applied for the amnesty who were not part of the automatic review. Most of those cases were rejected, but 334 children were given a residency permit, Broekers-Knol said."

ECHR-SPAIN: European court under fire for backing Spain's express deportations

"The European court of human rights has been accused of “completely ignoring the reality” along the continent’s borders after it ruled that Spain acted lawfully when it summarily deported two people who tried to scale the border fence separating Morocco from Spanish territory six years ago."

Germany is not implementing its promise to accept refugees - Deutschland setzt seine Versprechen zur Flüchtlingsaufnahme nicht um (Tagesspiel, link):

Germany fails to keep its promise to relocate a quarter of migrants and refugees who arrived in Southern Europe since the Malta agreement in September, according to a list submitted to the Tagesspiegel by the Federal Minister of Interior of Germany. The only time Germany relocated people was one day after the Malta Agreement was signed; the country took in 47 shipwreck survivors. Germany indicated that 309 more persons were pending. Stephan Mayer, a German politician, declared in mid-January that 501 persons had been transferred to Germany so far and insinuated that the Malta agreement had been successful. However, the list now shows that this number is the sum of previous rescue operations since summer 2018, the year before the Malta Agreement.

Via: Europe External Policy Advisers (link)

GREECE: PRESS RELEASE: A criminal complaint was filed regarding the death of a 31-year-old Iranian national at the Pre-Removal Detention Centre of Moria (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"February 6, 2020, Mytilene, Lesvos – on 29th January a criminal complaint was filed before the public prosecutor of the first instance court of Mytilene by five NGO attorneys, offering free legal aid to the asylum seekers in Lesvos, with the request to investigate the precise reasons and conditions of the death of the 31-year-old Iranian man, who, according to the report of the online journal “StoNisi”, dated 06/01/2020, was found hanged in the pre-removal detention center of Moria in the morning of that day."

Refugee Camps at EU External Borders, the Question of the Union’s Responsibility, and the Potential of EU Public Liability Law (Verfassungsblog, link):

"‘The EU hotspot approach as implemented in Greece is the single most worrying fundamental rights issue that we are confronting anywhere in the European Union’. This quote by the head of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) might sound drastic. Yet, it is not far-fetched. EU bodies, national institutions, international organisations including the Council of Europe, and NGOs, have, during the past four years, continuously documented that the asylum processing centres at the EU external borders lead to fundamental rights violations on a daily basis. The EU hotspot administration indeed jeopardises the respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law as enshrined in Article 2 TEU.

Usually, when something is going wrong, a first step towards improvement is to ask: who is responsible? And yet, with regard to EU hotspots, this question is still subject to debate. Responsibilities are effectively blurred by the sheer number of actors operating in those centres combined with a lack of legal clarity...

It is argued here that EU public liability law—more specifically: an action for damages against the Union or its agencies Frontex and EASO—has a particular potential in this context. First, it would help secure the right to an effective remedy to concerned individuals. Second, it would thereby serve to address systemic deficiencies in the EU hotspot administration. Third, it could ultimately provide an answer to the crucial question of whether the Union is responsible for fundamental rights violations in EU hotspots."

UK: Psychological coercion in the hostile environment (IRR, link):

"Join us for a crucial seminar that will explore both the coercive and the exploitative sides of the government’s hostile environment policies.

Speakers will discuss a) the operations of a coercive psychological programme which stigmatises migrants and asylum seekers as ‘scroungers’ and ‘bogus’ and b) how hostile environment policies create profits for the state, through questionable charging regimes and the exploitation of the work of migrants in immigration removal centres."

French police clear last refugee camp in Paris (Al Jazeera, link):

"French police have cleared the last refugee tent camp in northeastern Paris, moving 427 people to shelters as part of a plan to take migrants off the streets.

The group, which included four women, were living in 266 tents and makeshift shelters in a canal-side camp "strewn with waste and refuse, overrun by rats and giving off a pestilent and foul-smelling odour of urine and excrement", according to the authorities."

Frontex’s History of Handling Abuse Evidence Dogs Balkan Expansion (Balkan Insight, link):

"Internal documents reviewed by BIRN show that the head of Frontex rejected a recommendation in 2016 from the agency’s own compliance watchdog to suspend operations on the Hungarian-Serbian border amid concerns of complicity in rights violations by Hungarian officers.

Among the reported acts of brutality: the use of batons, teargas and pepper spray on asylum seekers — including children — and violent “pushbacks” of refugees and migrants into northern Serbia.

Meanwhile, as Frontex expands its footprint into non-EU countries in Southeast Europe, critics say agreements between the agency and Western Balkan governments will allow Frontex staff to operate with a worrying level of impunity for any wrongdoing."

Italy’s Failed Migration Fix Has Led to Chaos in Libya (Foreign Policy, link):

"ROME—Over three days in May 2017, the Italian secret service—masquerading as a humanitarian nongovernmental organization—summoned to Rome two dozen delegates from the southern edge of the Sahara desert. The pretext was to promote a peace deal for their war-torn region; the real goal was to bring them on board with an Italian plan to curb migration.

The details of the meetings, published here for the first time, expose the pitfalls of a foreign policy that conflates peace and development with migration control. This was just one piece of a wider set of European initiatives with similar features, now widely regarded as a failure by analysts and policymakers. In Libya, they contributed to igniting a humanitarian catastrophe."

January 2020

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.1-3.2.20) including:

- EU aid increasingly taken hostage by migration politics
- New yearly report on torture of asylum seekers by Croatian authorities at EU external borders
- Death of a ten-year-old child in Roissy: another victim of European migration policies?
- Italy guilty of refoulements in 2009 handover of Eritrean shipwreck survivors to Libya

EU: New Council "strategic guidelines" frame the next five years of EU justice and home affairs policy

The Council of the EU is moving towards the adoption of its next five-year set of strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs policies. Priorities listed in a draft document include enhancing the powers of justice and home affairs agencies, such as eu-Lisa and Europol; preventing future migration "crisis situations"; and cooperating more closely with non-EU states to control migration. The intention is for the European Council meeting to adopt the guidelines in March.

Greece: Nationality-based Detention in the Moria Refugee Camp (ECRE, link):

"The NGO HIAS recently published a policy brief entitled ‘Locked Up Without Rights’ concerning the legal framework regulating the detention of asylum seekers in Greece and the use of automatic detention of single males based on their nationality.

The policy of automatic detention identifies single men arriving from “low profile” countries to be detained in pre-removal detention centres in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. It is thus used to provide for the speedy return of third country nationals who are identified as having arrived from “safe” countries. HIAS notes that the procedure lacks sufficient legal reasoning and fails to consider the potential vulnerability of those seeking international protection. Moreover, detained individuals are not informed of the reasons for their detention and do not have access to legal assistance."

Shots Fired, Arrests and Violent Push Back Reported at the Serbian Hungarian Border (ECRE, link):

"Warning shots were fired by a border guard on January 28 when a group of 60 people tried to enter Hungary from Serbia through the Röszke crossing. Witnesses reported violence by the Hungarian police during push back operations and Serbian police states that they made 37 arrests of people trying to “cross the frontier illegally”.

Hungarian Police reports on the incident at the Röszke crossing that three warning shots were fired by a border guard into the air causing no casualties “after which most of the group ran back into Serbia, while police reinforcements arrived”. Four men who ran 65 meters into the Hungarian border zone were arrested after police had sealed of the area."

See also: The migrants are coming, the migrants are coming! (Hungarian Spectrum, link)

NGO rescue boats do not receive Frontex alerts (EUobserver, link):

"The NGO rescue boat Sea-Watch says it does not receive any alerts of maritime distress from the EU's border agency Frontex, whenever the agency spots people in trouble in the Mediterranean.

"Frontex would not alert civil rescue ships like Sea-Watch of any distress cases they find, as they know we would then take people to a safe port in Europe," a spokesperson from the charity told EUobserver, in an email."

EU aid increasingly taken hostage by migration politics (Oxfam, link):

"EU development aid is increasingly being spent to close borders, stifle migration and push for returns of migrants to Africa, reveals new research published by Oxfam today. This approach is hurting the EU’s diplomatic standing and diverting aid from its true purpose of helping those in need, sometimes even worsening the situation of the people it should support.

The report, ‘EU Trust Fund for Africa: Trapped between aid policy and migration politics’, shows how development funds under the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) are increasingly tied to the domestic policy priorities of EU member states to curb migration, with over a billion euros allocated for this purpose. In contrast, just €56m is allocated to fund regular migration schemes, representing less than 1.5% of the total worth of the EUTF for Africa."

NIGER: The European chase for Saharan smugglers (Privacy International, link):

"The wars on terror and migration have seen international funders sponsoring numerous border control missions across the Sahel region of Africa. Many of these rely on funds supposed to be reserved for development aid and lack vital transparency safeguards. After Europes's shady funds to border forces in the Sahel area and Niger's new biometric voting system, freelance journalist Giacomo Zandonini looks at the attempts to dismantle smugglers networks in the region, powered by Europe's gifts of surveillance."

New yearly report on torture of asylum seekers by Croatian authorities at EU external borders (Border Violence Monitoring Network, link):

"Together with a number of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Are You Syrious / Centre for Peace Studies, and Amnesty International, the Border Violence Monitoring Network has been working to document illegal pushbacks and police violence along the EU’s external borders in the Western Balkans since the formal closure of the route in 2017. While the existence of systematic illegal pushbacks along the Croatian and Hungarian borders with Serbia and Bosnia is evidenced extensively, this report focuses on the increasing violence that is applied to refugees and migrants under the framework of the Croatian case."

Climate refugees: The fabrication of a migration threat (Hein de Haas, link):

"In recent years, it has become popular to argue that climate change will lead to massive North-South movements of ‘climate refugees’. Concerns about climate change-induced migration have emerged in the context of debates on global warming. Without any doubt, global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity, and the lack of willingness of states and the international community to address it effectively – particularly through reducing of carbon emissions – is a valid source of major public concern and global protest.

However, to link this issue with the specter of mass migration is a dangerous practice based on myth rather than fact. The use of apocalyptic migration forecasts to support the case for urgent action on climate change is not only intellectually dishonest, but also puts the credibility of those using this argument - as well as the broader case for climate change action - seriously at risk."

GREECE: Solidarity Statement: Freedom for Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar: The European Union must stop the arbitrary incarceration of refugees and migrants (pdf)

"We express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar who are currently being held in pre-trial detention in Komotini, Greece. Both are facing long prison sentences because they are being wrongfully and arbitrarily accused of "smuggling”.

Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are Moroccan citizens who fled their country searching for protection and better living conditions, Hamza Haddi in particular is a known political activist who was hoping to be granted political asylum in Europe.

...Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are now accused of and are facing trial for the "smuggling" of two persons - one of them being Hamza's own brother Yassine!

The accusations against Hamza and Mohamed are clearly unfounded. They are refugees, not smugglers."

The statement is also available in Italian, Greek, French, German and Arabic (pdfs)

800 migrants detained in Spain in poor conditions, says NGO (InfoMigrants, link):

"More than 800 Tunisian migrants have been detained in the Spanish enclave of Melilla for more than 5 months, Tunesian NGO Ftdes claims.

According to Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (Ftdes), "over 800 undocumented Tunisian migrants including women and children have been detained for more than five months in inhuman and humiliating conditions at the Melilla temporary residence for immigrants in Spain," Tap news agency reported.

In a statement, Amor said that the migrants are housed in cluttered and dirty plastic tents, exposed to cold and lack of food. He said that the migrants had applied for asylum in Spain, but have not received any response to their requests. The migrants had reportedly also staged a sit-in but neither the Spanish nor Tunisian authorities reacted."

EASO operations in Greece to expand significantly (EASO, link):

"On 28 January 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the Greek government signed a Seat Agreement for the Hosting of the EASO Operational Office in Greece...

The hosting agreement gives legal and administrative clarity to the status of EASO in the country, including that of its staff and assets, thus allowing the Agency to be better able to support the Hellenic asylum and reception authorities.

Based on an Operating Plan which was signed between EASO and Greece in December 2019, the Agency is already scaling up its operational presence in support of the Greek authorities. Deployed EASO personnel will double from approximately 500 to over 1000 throughout the year. They will work to support the Greek Asylum Service, the national Dublin Unit, the Reception and Identification Service and the Appeals Authority. The personnel will include caseworkers, field support staff, reception staff, research officers for the Appeals Authority, interpreters and administrative staff."

See: 2020 Operational & Technical Assistance Plan agreed by EASO and Greece (pdf)

FRANCE: Death of a ten-year-old child in Roissy: another victim of European migration policies?

This morning [8 January], the body of a child of around ten years of age was found in the landing undercarriage of an aeroplane arriving from Abidjan (Ivory Coast) to the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport (Paris).

Although tragedies are frequent in the Mediterranean, between the Comores and Mayotte, and in other parts of the world, this situation is more exceptional, or at least less well known, in French ports and airports.

EU-TUNISIA: About the plan to create a reception centre in Bir El Fatnassiya for asylum seekers who flee the degradation of the security situation in Libya

The Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux is following the news about the creation of a camp in the region of Bir El Fatnassiya, 15 km to the south of the city of Rmada in the governorship of Tataouine within the framework of an emergency plan. After the experience of the camp in Choucha, where volunteer citizens have taken on most of the responsibility and, after the withdrawal of international organisations, Tunisia has been forced to face the consequences of this camp's establishment, including providing accommodation for a group of asylum seekers in the youth centre in Marsa.

Statewatch Analysis: Italy guilty of refoulements in 2009 handover of Eritrean shipwreck survivors to Libya (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

An Italian court has ruled that the country’s Cabinet presidency and defence ministry were responsible for the refoulement of 14 Eritrean nationals in July 2009, when a warship rescued some 80 people and took them back to Libya, ignoring requests for international protection.

More than 150 migrants rescued by Open Arms, 400 others to disembark in Italy (InfoMigrants, link):

"The humanitarian rescue vessel Open Arms picked up 158 migrants in two rescue operations off the coast of Libya overnight. Since Thursday, three NGO ships have rescued nearly 640 people. Over 400 migrants on board the Ocean Viking will be allowed to disembark in Taranto, Italy.

The Spanish NGO Open Arms said on Twitter that it had taken on board 56 people during a first rescue operation late Monday evening. The migrants were travelling in international waters and the operation was completed after the Open Arms boat's engine was "provisionally repaired".

A few hours later the rescue vessel took on board another 102 migrants from a boat in distress. According to Open Arms, it saved them from "probable death"."

Eritrean asylum seekers hold protest in Slovenia over asylum process, rejected applications (InfoMigrants, link):

"A group of Eritrean asylum seekers have held a protest in Slovenia against asylum request procedures, which the community sees as unfair. They also demonstrated against the rejection of five asylum claims filed by Eritreans.

Eritrean asylum seekers protested Wednesday morning in front of the building hosting them in the center of the Slovenian capital. The demonstration was an attempt to draw the attention of the government and the public to asylum procedures, which the protesters see as unfair.

The approximately 15 protestors claim that Slovenia should grant asylum to all Eritrean citizens filing a request because the country is the "North Korea of the African continent," as one banner stated."

Historic UN Human Rights case opens door to climate change asylum claims (UN Human Rights, link):

"GENEVA (21 January 2020) – In its first ruling on a complaint by an individual seeking asylum from the effects of climate change, the UN Human Rights Committee* has stated that countries may not deport individuals who face climate change-induced conditions that violate the right to life.

...The Committee determined that in Mr. Teitiota's specific case, New Zealand's courts did not violate his right to life at the time of the facts, because the thorough and careful evaluation of his testimony and other available information led to the determination that, despite the serious situation in Kiribati, sufficient protection measures were put in place. "Nevertheless," said Committee expert Yuval Shany, "this ruling sets forth new standards that could facilitate the success of future climate change-related asylum claims.""

See the ruling: Views adopted by the Committee under article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, concerning communication No. 2728/2016 (pdf)

ITALY: Giving names to victims — deaths in Italian deportation centres (AYS Daily Digest 20/01/20, link)

"Twentynine people died in Italian deportation centres from 1998 until 2020.

The last death occurred on Saturday 18th January 2020 in the CPR of Gradisca d’Isonzo, when Vakhtang Enukidze lost his life, as he was surrounded by 8 policemen in riot gears and beaten heavily, causing him fatal injuries.

Therefore, today’s digest will, in a way, try to pay respect to those “invisible” deaths occurred by the hand of the Italian state, those deaths that are not investigated properly because the victims are “unwanted” in the country, guilty of being alone in a hostile land."

GREECE: January 2020 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

"A. Situation Report in Lesvos, as of 15/1/2020

  • Total population of registered asylum seekers and refugees on Lesvos: 21,268
  • Registered Population of Moria Camp & Olive Grove: 19,184
  • Registered unaccompanied minors: 1,049
  • Total Detained: 88
  • Total Arrivals in Lesvos from Turkey in 2020: 1,015
  • Over 19,000 people are now living in Moria Camp – the main refugee camp on the island – yet the Camp lacks any official infrastructure, such as housing, security, electricity, sewage, schools, health care, etc. While technically, most individuals are allowed to leave this camp, it has become an open-air prison, as they must spend most of their day in hours long lines for food, toilets, doctors, and the asylum office."

    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-20.1.20) including:

    - Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report
    - Greece: Migrants face increasingly harsh conditions
    - Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees

    DENMARK: 'Unacceptable for people': Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report (The Local, link):

    "The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture published on Tuesday a highly critical report on a detention centre in Denmark.

    The committee called the centre at Ellebæk in North Zealand “unacceptable for people”.

    ...The report is based on visits to Ellebæk and other detention centres including Nykøbing Falster Arrest.

    Both facilities house migrants who are under arrest based on Denmark’s immigration laws (Udlændingeloven), but not for committing crimes."

    See: Report to the Danish Government on the visit to Denmark carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumanor Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 3 to 12 April 2019 (pdf)

    EU: How do the European media cover migration? (European Journalism Observatory, link):

    "In the five years since the European refugee crisis began, controversies related to migration have deeply affected political landscapes across the EU, yet no “European solutions” have so far been found. A new study by the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) now shines a light on the media’s role in the migration debate.

    EJO’s comparative analysis reveals that in each country, the media tell different stories about migrants and refugees. Clear differences in the quantity and quality of coverage can be discerned not only between Western and Central Eastern Europe, but even within Western Europe. The study also reveals a number of blind spots in the coverage of migration."

    GREECE: Migrants face increasingly hostile conditions (Al Jazeera, link):

    "Refugees and migrants trying to make their journey into Europe are facing increasingly hostile conditions - forcing them to take huge risks to their safety.

    Closed borders, police brutality and a suspicious public are combining to make already desperate journeys often impossible.

    In the first of a series of reports on the main overland route from Greece to Croatia, Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee found refugees are becoming increasingly reliant on organised people smuggling."

    UNHCR’s Recommendations for the Croatian and German Presidencies of the Council of the European Union (EU) January - December 2020 (pdf):

    1. Moving ahead with sustainable asylum reform

    I. Foster responsibility sharing and solidarity within the EU;
    II. Ensure access to territory and fair and fast procedures;
    III. Support integration and efficient and rights-based return systems;
    IV. Invest in resettlement and complementary pathways; and
    V. Addressing statelessness.

    2. Providing more development and peacebuilding support for the countries where most refugees live and originate from

    I. Asylum and forced displacement in the new Neighbourhood, Development and
    International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)
    II. EU political leverage to promote inclusion of refugees.

    Greece: Chios: Protesters boo, throw water bottles at Dep Labor Minister over Migration policy (keeptalkinggreece.com, link):

    "Serious incidents erupted in the town hall of the island of Chios on Monday night, where Deputy Minister of Labor, Notis Mitarakis was booed and became the target of protesters angry over the government’s migration policy and the creation of a new structure for refugees and migrants.

    A group of protesters had gathered outside the town hall and started to boo and fire insults when the deputy minister arrived. Mitarakis was helped by to seek refugee inside the hall.

    The protesters finally broke the door outside and entered the building. Some of them reportedly threw water bottles and coffee cups at the minister.

    Police detianed two of the protesters, one of them was arrested."

    Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees (DW, link):

    "The European Union has decreased its Mediterranean rescue efforts, while Greece and Italy are struggling to deal with displaced people who have already arrived. German cities are demanding permission to take action."

    Greece to build new facilities for 15,000 migrants (euobserver, link):

    "The Greek government has decided to build 10 new facilities to house 15,000 migrants, as new irregular arrivals from neighbouring Turkey continue. Nine of the 10 centres will be built in western Macedonia and one on the island of Crete. The purpose is to relocate people from overpopulated migration camps on the Aegean island as soon as possible. The first 10,000 migrants should be relocated in February."

    Chios municipal council rejected plan for closed migrant centre (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "The municipal council of the island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean, rejected a government proposal to set up a new, closed pre-departure center for migrants on the island, in a marathon session that ended at midnight on Monday."

    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.12.19-13.1.20) including:

    - How Forced Labor in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects
    - Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP
    - Complaint filed with UN body over Italy’s role in privatised push-backs to Libya resulting in migrant abuse
    - Migrant arrivals from Turkey to Europe nearly double in 2019

    UK: No sanctuary for migrants: Undocumented migrants criminalised (Big Issue North, link):

    "Forces detain refused asylum seekers and undocumented migrants for a variety of immigration offences – with Immigration, Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) agents sometimes even working out of police stations. The trend reflects what Bhatia, from Birkbeck College at the University of London, sees as the merging of the UK immigration and criminal justice systems in recent years.

    He said: “Using a false passport, for example, used to be a civil offence but now it’s dealt with under criminal law. There are now 89 immigration-related offences on the statute books where a person can go to prison.

    “The focus on the inherent ‘dangerousness’ of this group and re-classification of immigration breaches as serious criminal offences mean the system frequently resorts to imprisonment for what are non-violent offences.""

    12 migrants found dead after boat sinks off western Greece (ekathimerini, link):

    "Greece's coast guard reports that 12 bodies of migrants have been collected from the Ionian Sea, southwest of the Greek island of Paxos in western Greece, after their boat took in water and sank.

    A coast guard spokesperson told the Associated Press that 21 migrants had been safely recovered from the sea. “The initial report is that 50 people were in the boat,” he said.

    There was no further information about the migrants, including age, gender and ethnic background."

    EU-ERITREA: How Forced Labor in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects (The New York Times, link):

    "BRUSSELS — The European Union spent 20 million euros last year in Eritrea, hoping to help stem an exodus from the repressive African country, which is consistently one of its biggest sources of asylum seekers.

    The money, about $22 million, bought equipment and materials to build a road, a seemingly uncontroversial task. The catch? Many workers on the construction site are forced conscripts, and the European Union has no real means of monitoring the project.

    The decision caused outrage in human-rights circles. But that did not stop the bloc in December from deciding to give Eritrea tens of millions more, funding a system of forced conscription that the United Nations has described as “tantamount to enslavement.”"

    The Hope Project Charity Auction London, 6–17 January 2020

    Christie’s is proud to present a charity auction to benefit
    The Hope Project, which is founded on the principles of dignity, compassion and safety for all.

    The Hope Project Arts is a safe place for refugees to express themselves through art, theatre, poetry, music, dance and so much more, while teaching others new skills and promoting a sense of community and understanding.

    The Hope Project’s overriding focus is the mental health of refugees on Lesvos. The artworks exhibited here were all created by refugees in The Hope Project art studio, many of whom are still living on the island.

    The sale will take place in London on 13 January 2020 at 7:15 pm Christie’s, King Street, St. James's, London SW1Y 6QT

    Viewing: 6 – 17 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm St James’s Piccadilly Church and 9, 10 & 13 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm Christie’s, King Street

    EU: EASO operations to double in size this year (EASO, link):

    "In December 2019, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) signed Operating Plans with the national asylum authorities of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta, following needs-based discussions on the support which the Agency will provide throughout 2020.

    In 2020, EASO will see its operational deployments double in size, with up to 550 personnel deployed in Greece, 150 in Italy, 120 in Cyprus and 60 in Malta. In addition, interpreters and security personnel will be deployed in the four Member States, bringing the total deployment up to as many as 2,000 personnel. Cyprus, Greece and Malta will all see a doubling of EASO personnel, while operational deployments in Italy will be decreased in light of changing needs on the part of the Italian authorities."

    EU: Irregular migration into EU at lowest level since 2013 (Frontex, link):

    "The number of irregular border crossings detected on the European Union’s external borders last year fell to the lowest level since 2013 due to a drop in the number of people reaching European shores via the Central and Western Mediterranean routes.

    Preliminary 2019 data collected by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, showed a 6% fall in illegal border crossings along the EU’s external borders to just over 139 000. This is 92% below the record number set in 2015.

    The number of irregular migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean fell roughly 41% to around 14 000. Nationals of Tunisia and Sudan accounted for the largest share of detections on this route.

    The total number of irregular migrants detected in the Western Mediterranean dropped approximately 58% to around 24 000, with Moroccans and Algerians making up the largest percentage.

    MALTA: UNHCR concerned about fire at reception centre, calls for urgent action on detention conditions (UNHCR, link):

    "UNHCR is deeply concerned about the fire that broke out at the Initial Reception Centre in Marsa on Wednesday 8th January 2020.

    It is a relief that there were no serious injuries. We thank the staff of the government Agency for the Welfare of Asylum-Seekers (AWAS) and emergency services for acting swiftly to make sure everyone was safe. There are currently around 450 asylum-seekers residing at the centre, including around 180 children.

    While condemning all forms of violence and vandalism, we reiterate that detaining people, including children, for prolonged periods has a detrimental effect on mental and physical wellbeing. The substandard conditions in the centres contribute to the feeling of frustration among asylum-seekers, many of whom arrived in Malta after having experienced inhumane treatment when fleeing their country and on their journey. Detention of asylum-seekers in a manner that is not within strict legal basis needs to be addressed as a matter of priority."

    See: 20 arrests after large fire at Marsa migrants centre (Times of Malta, link): "Hundreds of people were evacuated from an initial reception centre in Marsa on Wednesday after a large fire broke out inside one of its dormitories. "

    UK: MPs reject Labour's call to reinstate child refugee pledge (BBC News, link):

    "The Commons has rejected an attempt by Labour to reinstate child refugee protection rights in the Brexit bill.

    MPs voted 348 to 252 against the amendment, which would have guaranteed the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family living in the UK after Brexit.

    The pledge was included in a previous version of the Brexit bill, but was removed after the Tories' election win.

    The government said it had "a proud record of helping vulnerable children.""

    SPAIN-MOROCCO: Statement on the hot returns from the Chafarinas on 3 January: "a serious violation of human rights"

    Yesterday morning, on 3 January 2020, a group of 42 migrant people, including 26 women and two children aged three and four, reached Congress Island in the Chafarinas archipelago. That same evening, the Guardia Civil enacted the summary return of the 42 migrants. On this occasion, the Spanish government allowed the hot return of vulnerable minors and women.

    EU: Migration-related deaths: open access book provides "first interdisciplinary overview" of causes, dynamics and consequences

    A new book that is freely-available online claims to offer the "first interdisciplinary overview" of the causes, dynamics and consequences of migration-related deaths, with eight chapters examining issues such as the collection and use of data; the process of mourning missing migrants; and the causes of border deaths.

    MALTA: MV Lifeline captain conviction overturned on appeal (Malta Independent, link):

    "MV Lifeline captain Claus Peter Reisch is a free man, after the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned his conviction for ship registration irregularities.

    In May last year, Captain Claus Peter Reisch had been found guilty of not having his ship’s registration in order and was fined €10,000, with the court refusing the prosecution’s request to confiscate the vessel.

    Reisch had been in charge of the vessel when it rescued 234 stranded migrants at sea in 2018. The rescue had caused an international dispute, with the Lifeline eventually being allowed to dock in Valletta, after which the rescued migrants were distributed amongst a number of EU countries.

    Reisch had been charged with entering Maltese territorial waters without the necessary registration or licence."

    MALTA: 24 arrests made in Safi migrants' centre protest (Times of Malta, link):

    "The police made 24 arrests late on Monday after a violent protest by migrants at Safi Detention Centre.

    The protest started at about 7.30pm, with several people banging on fences and trying to rush the gate.

    Police said the migrants, many of them with hooded, also started removing stone slabs from their dorms, smashing them and throwing stones at the police.

    The administrative offices were also damaged.

    The police deployed reinforcements and a number of arrests were made.

    No one was injured. "

    Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP (Al Jazeera, link):

    "When the European Union started funnelling millions of euros into Libya to slow the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the money came with EU promises to improve detention centres notorious for abuse and fight human trafficking.

    That has not happened. Instead, the misery of migrants in Libya has spawned a thriving and highly lucrative web of businesses funded in part by the EU and enabled by the United Nations, an Associated Press investigation has found."

    Italy Faces Complaint at UN Over ‘Abusive’ Libya Asylum Returns (The Globe Post, link):

    "Campaigners filed a complaint with the United Nations on Wednesday against Italy over a teenage migrant who was sent back to Libya in 2018 along with other migrants, where he was shot, beaten, and subjected to forced labor.

    The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) lodged the case with the U.N. Human Rights Committee aiming to challenge the practice of E.U. coastal states like Italy engaging commercial ships to return vulnerable people to unsafe locations.

    The NGO says it is the first case of its kind to target so-called privatized push-backs."

    See: CASE: PRIVATISED MIGRANT ABUSE (Global Legal Action Network, link) and: Privatised Push-Back of the Nivin (Forensic Architecture, link)

    December 2019

    Brexit: Johnson condemned for dropping pledge to replace family reunion law (Guardian, link):

    "Lawyers warn loss of reunion rights for unaccompanied refugee children will put them in danger.

    The loss of family reunion rights for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children will leave them with “no options” except taking dangerous routes and using smugglers, charities in France and Greece are warning.

    The prime minister, Boris Johnson, faced criticism after he told parliament he had dropped a promise to replace the EU law that allows child refugees stranded in Europe to reunite with family members in the UK after Brexit.

    Clare Moseley, the director of Care4Calais, said the news was devastating for those working with young asylum-seekers."

    Greece: Unaccompanied Children at Risk - Arriving Alone in Island Camp, They Face Insecurity, Neglect (HRW, link):

    " Hundreds of unaccompanied children on the Greek island of Lesbos are exposed to inhuman and degrading living conditions, Human Rights Watch said today. Children, unable to secure a place in the overcrowded specialized accommodation for unaccompanied children, face unsanitary and insecure conditions sleeping rough, sometimes in the open, in other formal and informal parts of the camp on the island.

    “Hundreds of lone children on Lesbos are left to fend for themselves, sleeping on mats and cardboard boxes, exposed to worsening and dangerous weather conditions,” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Greek authorities need to urgently make sure these children are safe and cared for.”

    PRESS RELEASE: Complaint filed with UN body over Italy’s role in privatised push-backs to Libya resulting in migrant abuse (pdf):

    "Today (18/12/19), the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) filed a complaint against Italy with the UN
    Human Rights Committee on behalf of an individual whose journey from Libya was intercepted in the
    high seas by the Panamanian merchant vessel, the Nivin. The complaint is the first to tackle the
    phenomenon of “privatized push-backs”, whereby EU coastal States engage commercial ships to
    return refugees and other persons in need of protection back to unsafe locations in contravention of
    their human rights obligations.(...)

    The case breaks new ground as it calls attention to the ways in which merchant vessels are being
    implicated in border violence. Seafarers are increasingly being compelled to take responsibility for
    migrants and make risky choices of their own – choices that may lead them to act illegally and result
    in deaths not to mention bearing the costs of imposing border control. GLAN’s legal action is part of a
    broader effort to highlight and reaffirm the responsibilities of states around migrant rescue and to
    reveal the human rights implications of privatizing their response."

    Europe is home to a grave humanitarian crisis – but Brussels looks the other way (Guardian, link):

    "In a Greek refugee camp, adults are being stabbed or raped, while children freeze. This suffering shames our continent.(...)

    The lack of a proper processing system has created a state of dreadful limbo, where people live in horrendous conditions without an end in sight. Some have been waiting more than two years to receive news about their asylum application.(...)

    How could I be proud to be European – or even worse, proud to be a European representative – when I am standing idly by while people are dying avoidably, right here in Europe? The very place that pledges to become a leader in digital technology is also the continent that allows people to starve and die only five hours from Brussels."

    UN experts decry rise in migrant detentions in Greece (InfoMigrants, link):

    "UN experts on arbitrary detention have urged the Greek government to make urgent changes to the detention of migrants, stressing that the country was in continuing violation of various international standards.

    The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) presented its preliminary findings after visiting 20 detention-related facilities in Greece during the first two weeks of this month.

    In the report, the delegation highlighted multiple areas of concern ranging from lacking access of detained asylum seekers to interpreters and legal help to inflationary use of detention to prison overcrowding and various other issues involving both the criminal justice system and migration."

    See: Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Preliminary Findings from its visit to Greece (2 - 13 December 2019) (UN, link)

    EU: The “reliable neighbour” must recognise the rights of migrants, at last! (EuroMed Rights, link):

    "On this 18 December 2019, International Migrants Day, EuroMed Rights joins the calls from several organisations of promotion and defence of human rights and asks the European Union (EU) and its Member States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 18 December 1990.

    To this day, 55 states have ratified the Convention. Neither a single European state nor countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean like Tunisia are part of this list.

    The EU benefits economically from migration but refuses to recognise the rights that should be guaranteed to all migrants. The Convention does not add anything to the European or national protection instruments already in existence, but it clarifies the rights of migrant workers by reminding the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

    GREECE-TURKEY: Videos Show Apparent Illegal Pushback of Migrants (Der Spiegel, link):

    "The Greek government has repeatedly denied carrying out illegal "pushbacks" at its land border with Turkey. No asylum seekers, Athens insists, have been forced back across the Evros River into Turkey without a fair asylum process -- even if numerous refugees been claiming otherwise for years.

    Now, videos provided to DER SPIEGEL and analyzed by the Forensic Architecture research collective, show for the first time what appear to be exactly these kinds of pushbacks taking place on the Evros. Six active and former police officers and soldiers have also independently told DER SPIEGEL that pushbacks are systematically carried out on the Evros."

    Migrant arrivals from Turkey to Europe nearly double in 2019 (DW, link):

    "According to a confidential EU report, 70,000 migrants have crossed from Turkey to the EU this year. The numbers raise questions about whether a EU-Turkey refugee deal is unravelling.

    The number of migrants and refugees crossing from Turkey to Europe has nearly doubled this year compared to last, according to a confidential EU report published by German media.

    From January to the middle of December, 70,002 migrants reached the European Union from Turkey, representing a jump of 46% compared to the same period in 2018, Die Welt reported on Tuesday."

    Greece Under Water with Unceasing Refugee, Migrant Arrivals (The National Herald, link):

    "ATHENS – Mild late autumn weather has led to a constant stream of refugees and migrants being sent to Greek islands from Turkey, where they had gone fleeing war and strife in their homeland, sent by human traffickers being allowed to operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

    They are coming, wrote The Guardian’s Helena Smith, “sometimes en masse, sometimes alone … in rickety boats carrying men, women and children looking for a freedom they hope Europe will offer.”"

    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-16.12.19) including:

    - GREECE: No-Rights Zone: How people in need of protection are being denied crucial access to legal information and assistance in the Greek islands’ EU ‘hotspot’ camps
    - Europe spends billions stopping migration. Good luck figuring out where the money actually goes
    - Data watchdog raps EU asylum body for snooping

    GREECE: No-Rights Zone: How people in need of protection are being denied crucial access to legal information and assistance in the Greek islands’ EU ‘hotspot’ camps (Oxfam, link):

    "People who have fled war, violence and persecution need support to find safety and rebuild their lives. However, in the EU 'hotspots' in Greece, people are faced with an asylum process which is extremely complicated to navigate. Only 2 in 100 have access to a state-appointed lawyer.

    In addition, most people cannot access the basic information needed to help them understand the asylum process, resulting in an unfair, ineffective, and often erroneous asylum system that frequently violates the rights of people in need of international protection.In this context, legal support and information are key.

    However, the new law introduced by the Greek Government, and the announcements that they will replace the ‘hotspot’ camps with ‘closed centres’, could further undermine the rights of asylum seekers and create additional barriers to getting the crucial information and legal assistance they need."

    EU: New analysis: Monitoring "secondary movements" and "hotspots": Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency

    The EU's border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on "secondary movements" and the "hotspots" within the EU. The intention is to ensure "situational awareness" and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

    Greece: Six People Found Dead in Evros Region while Authorities Prop Up Border Security (ECRE, link):

    "The corpses of six people who had entered Greece irregularly were discovered between December 5 and 8 in the Evros region. Greek authorities are reportedly considering to extend an existing iron fence along the entire Evros River on the Northeastern border.

    According to the Greek coroner four men and two women under the age of thirty whose bodies were discovered in the Evros region died from exposure to the cold. They presumably entered Greece irregularly and none of them carried any ID.

    An estimated 14,000 people have taken the route through the Evros region to enter Europe from Turkey so far this year. Greek authorities announced in November the hiring of 1200 new border guards, 400 of which were to be located in that area. According to local media the Greek government further plans to extend an existing iron fence along the entire Evros River stretching 230 kilometers."

    Europe spends billions stopping migration. Good luck figuring out where the money actually goes (The Correspondent, link):

    "In a shiny new factory in the Benin forest, a woman named Blessing slices pineapples into rings. Hundreds of miles away, at a remote border post in the Sahara, Abubakar scans travellers’ fingerprints. And in village squares across Nigeria, Usman performs his theatre show about the dangers of travelling to Europe.

    What do all these people have in common?

    All their lives are touched by the billions of euros European governments spend in an effort to curb migration from Africa."

    See also: How the EU created a crisis in Africa – and started a migration cartel (link): "Europe’s largest migration fund bypasses its own rules. After declaring a ‘crisis’ in 26 African countries, the EU can now spend €4.6bn without a transparent bidding process."

    Data watchdog raps EU asylum body for snooping (EUobserver, link):

    "The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) monitored refugee networks to detect new routes and find smugglers – until the project ran into trouble with the EU's own data protection authority.

    EASO combed through social media to monitor refugee routes to Europe over the past three years. The agency sent weekly reports on its findings to member states, the EU Commission and institutions such as UNHCR and Interpol.

    The asylum agency, based in Malta, says its reports have helped to detect migrants on their way to Europe, but the monitoring activity has raised concern from data protection authorities."

    See: European Data Protection Supervisor: Formal consultation on EASO's social media monitoring reports (case 2018-1083) (pdf)

    Spain: Migrant hailed after rescuing man in wheelchair from fire (Guardian, link):

    "Spain could give residency to undocumented hero Gorgui Lamine Sow from Senegal.

    Spanish authorities are considering giving residency to an undocumented migrant from Senegal after he rescued a man who uses a wheelchair from a burning, second-storey apartment.

    Street vendor Gorgui Lamine Sow was walking in the coastal city of Denia on Friday when he heard screams nearby.

    He rushed over to a crowd watching black smoke pouring out of a second-floor window. “They told me there was a man trapped inside the apartment,” the 20-year-old said. “I didn’t think about it. I just dropped my things and started climbing.”

    He scaled the balcony, entering the burning apartment as smoke filled the street. Once inside he hoisted the resident over his shoulders and carried him down a ladder set up by a neighbour."

    Publication launch: "From Tampere 20 to Tampere 2.0 - Towards a new European consensus on migration" (Odysseus Network, link):

    "The publication is centred on the 20th anniversary of the Tampere conclusions of October 1999. It looks back at the Tampere legacy and puts forward proposals that can inform future EU migration and asylum pact. Its content was informed by the Tampere 2.0 conference hold on 24-25 October in Helsinki as a side event of Finland’s Presidency of the EU."

    PDF version available here (link).

    "Time might have buried some of the ideas and concepts developed in Tampere in 1999. However, this year’s 20th anniversary provides an adequate opportunity to revisit them. Finland holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, just like in 1999, and is as committed to finding compromises as it was back then."

    Bosnia: Police clear controversial Vucjak refugee camp (DW, link):

    "Several buses came to the squalid camp to move the hundreds of refugees following an international outcry. Bosnia along with Serbia has been experiencing an unexpected increase in migrant arrivals in recent months.

    Bosnian authorities said on Tuesday that they had moved 600 refugees from the squalor of the camp at Vucjak to a nearby army barracks. Journalists were not permitted to document the transfer, though they saw seven buses leaving the area near the Croatian border.

    The camp, composed of a collection of tents pitched in the frozen mud and snow, became the subject of recent controversy when pictures emerged showing children still wearing sandals and t-shirts in the snow."


    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.12.19) including:

    - Report on illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border
    - Ministers call for renewed migrant smuggling crackdown on "Eastern Mediterranean" route
    - Croatia Is Abusing Migrants While the EU Turns a Blind Eye

    LIBYA: Accountability for Serious Crimes under International Law in Libya: An Assessment of the Criminal Justice System (International Commission of Jurists, pdf):

    "The upsurge in hostilities in Libya since April 2019 has highlighted the devastating impact that impunity for crimes under international law committed by State actors and armed groups has engendered.

    Civilians taking no part in hostilities are being displaced en masse, unlawfully killed and subject to other violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and gross human rights violations, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, enslavement, and rape and other acts of sexual violence.

    ...despite the scale and magnitude of the violations and abuses committed by State and non-State actors, only a handful of investigations and prosecutions of such violations have been undertaken, resulting in a situation of near total impunity.

    ...The present report provides concrete law, policy and practical recommendations with a view to initiating such a process [to establish the rule of law] and enhancing the ability of the Libyan criminal justice system to deliver genuine accountability."

    Croatia Is Abusing Migrants While the EU Turns a Blind Eye (Foreign Policy, link):

    "BIHAC, Bosnia and Herzegovina—Cocooned in a mud-spattered blanket, thousands of euros in debt, and with a body battered and bruised, Faisal Abas has reached the end of the line, geographically and spiritually. A year after leaving Pakistan to seek greener pastures in Europe, his dreams have died in a rain-sodden landfill site in northern Bosnia. His latest violent expulsion from Croatia was the final straw.


    Near the Vucjak landfill, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders runs a small clinic opposite a church where sick and wounded migrants line up every day. Such is the sheer number and pattern of the reports that the project coordinator, Miroslav Ilic, believes the violence to be systemic and contends that the EU is complicit in a policy designed to render migrants physically incapable of crossing the border."

    See also: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

    Germany sets out plan for automatic relocation of asylum seekers (Politico, link):

    "Germany has proposed an automatic relocation scheme for asylum seekers in which their applications would be examined at the EU's external borders.

    A four-page document, seen by POLITICO, was distributed to member countries by Berlin last week in an effort to make progress on asylum reform ahead of the German presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of next year. European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, a former German defense minister, is expected to put forward her migration proposals in February.

    The German proposal is presented as a so-called non-paper, which means that it's meant merely for discussion — as is made clear in the title, which contains the words “food for thought.”"

    See the document: FOOD FOR THOUGHT (13 November 2019) Outline for reorienting the Common European Asylum System (pdf)

    Afghan refugee dies in container fire in Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "A 27-year-old refugee from Afghanistan died in a fire that started in the makeshift Kara Tepe migrant camp on Lesvos, state-run news agency ANA-MPA reported.

    The incident happened at dawn on Thursday when a fire broke out inside the container where the woman lived with her 28-year-old husband and their three children aged 5, 2 and an infant.

    The 28-year-old man managed to save the three children before he passed out from the smoke. He was transferred to Mytilene’s hospital where he is being treated for breathing problems."

    Grenade thrown at migrant children's centre in Madrid (Guardian, link):

    "Property in Hortaleza had previously been singled out for criticism by far-right Vox part.

    Bomb squad officers in Madrid have carried out a controlled explosion after a practice hand grenade was thrown over the wall of a centre for unaccompanied foreign minors in the north-east of the Spanish capital.

    A spokeswoman at the Madrid headquarters of the national police force said the grenade carried a small amount of explosive. There were no reported injuries."

    Greece: Camp Conditions Endanger Women, Girls - Asylum Seekers Lack Safe Access to Food, Water, Health Care (HRW, link):

    "Women and girls face relentless insecurity in Greece’s overcrowded Moria “hotspot” for asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos island, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a video that shows the dire conditions. The Greek government should take immediate action to ensure safe, humane conditions for women and girls in line with their international human rights obligations and standards for humanitarian emergencies.

    As of December 2, 2019, the Moria Reception and Identification Center was holding nearly 16,800 people in a facility with capacity for fewer than 3,000. Overcrowding has led authorities, as well as some asylum seekers and migrants themselves, to erect shelters outside Moria’s fenced boundaries, first in the adjacent area called the Olive Grove and now in a second olive grove, which has no water and sanitation facilities. In all areas."

    58 dead as migrant boat capsizes off Mauritanian coast - Mauritanian officials rescued the Gambian migrants from the shore (ibtimes.sg, link):

    "A vessel carrying 150 migrants from the Gambia capsized off Mauritania Coast on Wednesday killing at least 58 in the incident said the UN Migration Agency. This route has been used for the movement of migrants from the West African countries to Europe for a very long time. The sinking is being seen as one of the deadliest incidents to happen to migrants who were relocating."

    EU: Ministers call for renewed migrant smuggling crackdown on "Eastern Mediterranean" route

    The EU should put a "stronger focus" on "the fight against human smuggling" along the Eastern Mediterranean route, according to the interior ministers of almost two dozen central and eastern European states, who have called for joint investigations and enhanced cooperation with Turkey and Western Balkan countries.

    EU-NIGERIA: Europe wants to send migrants home—but what happens when they get there? (Prospect, link):

    "A huge experiment is underway in reversing migration and thousands of Nigerians represent the vanguard. But what are "Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration" programmes—and what are the human consequences?

    ...Calling for the removal of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants used to be the preserve of nativist politicians such as Italy’s Matteo Salvini. But there is less than there used to be between the far-right and an EU leadership that makes no secret of its intention to ramp up returns."

    Report on illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border

    On 15th of November Mobile Info Team published its first report about illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border. In several newsletters we have already informed you about our efforts to document and collect human rights violations at the Greek border, especially about so called pushbacks to Turkey. These pushbacks are very problematic on a lot of different levels: asylum seekers are denied their human right to apply for asylum, as well as the possibility to receive protection in Europe.

    Holidaymakers in Gran Canaria help 24 migrants after boat lands on beach (El Pais, link):

    "The bathers were enjoying the warm weather when they saw the small vessel approach the rocky coast with three babies and three children on board."

    GAMM UPDATE (Limite doc no: 13452-19, pdf) 6 November 2019: 63 pages:

    "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."

    See also: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report (Statewatch News)

    Commissioner seeks information from the Greek government on its plans to set-up closed reception centres on the Aegean islands (CoE, link):

    "Today the Commissioner published an exchange of letters with the Minister of Citizen Protection of Greece, Michalis Chrysochoidis, and the Alternate Minister for Migration Policy of Greece, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, concerning the plans to transfer migrants from the Aegean islands to the mainland and set up closed reception centres on those islands, as announced by the Government a few days ago."

    See: Letter from CoE to Greek government (link) and its Reply (link)

    EU commissioners to visit Greece and Turkey for migration policy overhaul (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "he European Union’s new commissioners responsible for issues related to migration and the refugee crisis will be visiting Greece and Turkey this week.

    Commissioners for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas and for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will be in Athens on Thursday, before traveling to Ankara the following day, Schinas said following a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Monday."

    GREECE: Samos Refugees: A reluctant update on enduring cruelties (Samos Chronicles, link):

    "On Samos, as with the other frontier islands, it has now become widely seen as a ‘bad thing’ for refugees to be detained for so long on the islands. But on Samos at least the reality is more paradoxical. Today increasing numbers of refugees on Samos would prefer to stay here rather than be moved to the mainland. Many know that camps such as Nea Kavala in northern Greece – an isolated former airfield- are far worse than Samos."

    Aegean Boat Report: 25 November - 1 December (pdf):

    "A total of 74 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 2873 people. However, 47 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1032 people arrived on the Greek Islands."

    La France renonce à la livraison de bateaux à la Libye : une victoire qui doit marquer un tournant dans la coopération sur la politique migratoire! (Migreurop, link):

    "In the context of the appeal brought by our associations before the Paris Administrative Court of Appeal, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has just announced that she is renouncing the delivery of six boats to the Libyan coastguard, a delivery that we were challenging. We welcome the abandonment of this initiative, which would have made France the official accomplice to the crimes committed against migrants and refugees in Libya."

    Africa relations are ‘not equal’, leaders warn EU (euractiv, link):

    "As the field of competitors for investing in Africa becomes more crowded, the EU will have to quickly improve its offer. The challenge for Ursula von der Leyen’s new European Commission will be to turn the so-called ‘partnership of equals’ promised by her predecessor into something concrete."


    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.11-2.12.19) including:

    - Med: Mounting Death Toll while NGOs Struggle to Keep up with Rescues
    - “How the hostile environment creates sites without rights": Evidence presented to the London Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
    - Questions surround Greece's stricter course on refugees

    Med: Mounting Death Toll while NGOs Struggle to Keep up with Rescues (ECRE, link):

    "Over the course of the last week at least 41 people have died in two separate shipwrecks, one off Lampedusa and one between Morocco and Spain. After disembarking a total of 353 people in Italian ports in the beginning of the week, NGO ships rescued another 213 people since Thursday.

    The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) confirmed that at least 21 people lost their lives in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, on November 23. The boat, carrying 170 Europe-bound people, capsized 1.6km from the island as it was being escorted by the Italian coast guard. Efforts to Recover and identify the dead bodies are still on-going. 149 people were rescued.

    Another 20 people are feared dead after a boat carrying 78 people got into difficulties while travelling from Morocco to Spain. After being alerted by an NGO, Spain’s maritime rescue service rescued 58 people, recovered four dead bodies and continued to search for those missing."

    “How the hostile environment creates sites without rights": Evidence presented to the London Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the violations with impunity on the rights of migrants and refugees (pdf)

    "On 3-4 November 2018, a number of organisations, under the umbrella of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT, Basso Tribunal), came together to put the ‘hostile environment on trial’ at the London Hearing of the PPT on violations with impunity of the rights of migrant and refugee peoples...

    The testimonies (oral and written) included evidence from Spain, Italy and Germany as well as the UK. We wanted to present all the evidence, and the rapporteurs’ contextualising reports, as fully as possible here, in an attempt to spread as widely as we can the knowledge contained in them, and to encourage groups around the country to organise local tribunals. During the PPT hearings we saw how the shameful hostile environment policy has legitimised racism and fostered a toxic social environment. We commend the courage of the witnesses and the commitment of the migrants’ organisations who participated. They are building a world that is better for everyone."

    EU: Guarding the Fortress. Frontex role in the militarisation and securitisation of migratory flows in the European Union (Centre Delas, link):

    "The new report “Guarding the Fortress: the role of Frontex in the militarization and securitization of migratory flows in the European Union” intends to study and analyze the context in which the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, is developed and implemented in the European Union, as well as its operation, mechanisms and main operations carried out. The research addresses the context that is built with respect to security policies in the EU, and specifically with regard to border and migration policy. As well as, the development of Frontex in this context.

    The report analyzes the role that Frontex has in helping to build walls around the European Union, building what is called the “Europe Fortress”, through maritime, area and land operations that criminalize people who have to flee their homes for force, whether from war or economic inequality. It is in this context that migratory flows are approached as a threat, so that they are approached with the same instruments as border crimes."

    European leaders: Stop punishing asylum seekers on the Greek islands (MSF, link):

    "Dear European leaders

    I have just come back from the Greek islands, and I was shocked by what I saw and by the accounts I heard from my colleagues on the ground.(...)

    Dr Christos Christou, MSF International President “The situation is comparable with what we see in war zones in other parts of the world. It is outrageous to see these conditions in Europe and to know that they are the result of deliberate political choices.” (...)

    Stop this deliberate collective punishment of people in search of safety in Europe. Urgently evacuate the most vulnerable people from these centres to safe accommodation in other European states. End the policy of containment."

    Refugees being 'starved out' of UN facility in Tripoli (Guardian, link)

    "Aid worker claims refugees are being denied food to motivate them to leave.

    The UN has been accused of trying to starve out refugees and asylum seekers who are sheltering for safety inside a centre run by the UN refugee agency in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.(...)

    Internal documents seen by the Guardian show that the UNHCR is also planning to withdraw food from 600 other refugees and migrants in the centre – who include survivors of bombings, torture, forced labour and other human rights abuses. The majority have already tried to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, but were returned to Libya by the EU-backed Libyan coastguard."

    UN refugees chief urges Greece to improve 'miserable' camp conditions (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "plans to shut overcrowded refugee camps and replace them with detention centres to be used both as an ante-room for deporting failed asylum seekers and as a reception and processing centre for new arrivals. (...)

    The government wants to move up to 20,000 people to the mainland by the end of the year and expects the new facilities to be ready by July 2020. State authorities believe that more than 80,000 migrants and refugees are currently in Greece."

    Four dead, 10 missing from migrant boat found adrift near Melilla (El Pais, link):

    "Rescue services took 55 survivors to the Spanish exclave city, where the holding center is over capacity."

    GREECE: History repeating itself: Winter warnings for Europe’s largest refugee camp (The New Humanitarian, link):

    "With winter approaching, aid workers and refugee advocates on Lesvos are worried: there doesn’t appear to be a plan in place to prepare Moria – Europe’s largest refugee camp – for the rain, cold weather, and potential snow that winter will bring.

    The road leading to Moria runs along the shoreline on the Greek island of Lesvos, passing fish restaurants and a rocky beach. On sunny days, the water sparkles and dances in the 20-kilometer stretch of the Aegean Sea separating the island from the Turkish coast. But in the winter, the weather is often grey, a strong wind blows off the water, and the temperature in bitingly cold."

    Frontex expands operations in EU neighbouring countries (link):

    "After Albania and Montenegro, the EU Commission has concluded a Frontex status agreement with Serbia, to be followed by Northern Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. A first deployment of the EU border troops has meanwhile been increased."

    Aid groups condemn Greece over 'prison' camps for migrants (Guardian, link):

    "Greece is poised to create “prison” island camps, say aid groups amid growing criticism of government plans to overhaul refugee reception centres on Aegean outposts facing Turkey.

    As the UN refugee agency’s top official, Filippo Grandi, prepared this week to fly to Lesbos, where almost 16,000 people are crammed into a single facility, Athens was criticised for adopting legislation in contravention of basic human rights.(...)

    Greece is poised to create “prison” island camps, say aid groups amid growing criticism of government plans to overhaul refugee reception centres on Aegean outposts facing Turkey.

    As the UN refugee agency’s top official, Filippo Grandi, prepared this week to fly to Lesbos, where almost 16,000 people are crammed into a single facility, Athens was criticised for adopting legislation in contravention of basic human rights."

    Questions surround Greece's stricter course on refugees (DW, link):

    "Athens has announced tougher action against migrants and refugees. New deportation camps are to be set up, while asylum applications are to be processed more quickly. But some doubt the efficacy of the planned measures."

    Greece makes course change in its approach to the refugee crisis (new Europe, link):

    "When Alkiviadis Stefanis was appointed as Deputy Defence Minister of Defence in the cabinet of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis some months ago it went relatively unnoticed. Stefanis, a 60-year-old ex-Chief of the Greek Army was not elected, but was placed in the Ministry of Defence as a “technocrat” due to the fact that he had good knowledge of military conduct. (...)

    After weeks of deliberation and a slow adjustment to its migration management policy, the Greek government appointed military-man Stefanis as the coordinator for the management of the ongoing crisis."

    Italy; At least 20 migrants feared dead after boat capsizes near Lampedusa (Guardian, link):

    "Five reported dead and 149 rescued from vessel attempting to carry group from Libya to Europe.

    At least 20 people were feared dead after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants to Europe capsized in stormy seas near the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to authorities.

    Following the accident on Saturday, 149 migrants have been rescued, including 13 women and three children, but dozens were still missing, the Italian coastguard said in a statement."

    November 2019

    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-25.11.19) including:

    - EU aid and development funding has provided €215 million for border security in Morocco since 2001
    - New Detention Centres Planned on Greek Islands Despite Ruling Against Island Conditions
    - EU countries warned of 'lost generation' of young refugees
    - Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance

    EU: 'Roadmap' for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead

    A 'roadmap' sets out the actions needed for "rapid and full operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) 2.0 Regulation," described as a "top priority for the EU."

    GREECE: Deportation of Legal Centre Lesvos client halted by intervention of the European Court of Human Rights (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

    "On 21 November 2019, in the case of Z.B. vs. Greece, ECHR?LE2.2bR, the European Court of Human Rights granted an interim application preventing the Greek authorities from deporting an Afghan man, ‘Z.B’, to Turkey from Lesvos. Z.B, who is represented by Legal Centre Lesvos, was due to be deported the next morning had it not been for the intervention of the Court. Amongst the various arguments raised in the application to the ECHR, was the concern that Z.B would be subjected to various serious violations of his human rights, including the very real possibility that he be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment in Turkey.

    The Court agreed to further examine Z.B.’s case, requesting further information regarding Z.B’s claim that the Greek State’s failed to consider the risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 prior to his scheduled deportation."

    Italian coast guard: migrant bodies washed ashore or in sea (AP, link):

    "The bodies of five migrant women, two of them washed ashore, were recovered Sunday, the Italian coast guard said, as search efforts continued in rough seas near the tiny island of Lampedusa for around another dozen people feared missing in the capsizing of a fishing boat.

    Three of the bodies were retrieved from the sea, where waves as high as three meters (10 feet) complicated the coast guard search by boat and helicopter.

    The Italian news agency ANSA, reporting from the Italian Mediterranean island, had said that a total of seven bodies had been brought ashore by mid-day. Later, ANSA said the number of recovered corpses had been confirmed at five."

    EU aid and development funding has provided €215 million for border security in Morocco since 2001

    Since 2001, almost €215 million has been provided to Morocco by the EU to finance border security projects. Human rights abuses against migrants and refugees committed by Moroccan authorities call into question whether financial support from the EU to Moroccan border security should continue.

    See Statewatch Analysis: Aid, border security and EU-Morocco cooperation on migration control (pdf)

    New Detention Centres Planned on Greek Islands Despite Ruling Against Island Conditions (Are You Syrious, link):

    "While the European Court of Human Rights has informed the Greek Government that they are in breach of the Human Rights Act and that the hotspot of Samos poses an “imminent risk of irreparable harm” to pregnant people, they have decided to further contain people seeking asylum within closed detention facilities.

    The Greek government announced to replace the camps on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in July 2020. The new so-called “pre-departure centres”, in fact once again closed detention centres, will be designed for at least 5000 people on Lesvos, Chios and Samos, 2000 on Kos and 1000 on Leros, local media reports. Presented pictures showed container villages instead of tents.

    These will likely be isolated spots, far from media and NGO attention. Aegean Boat Report states that one may be placed on the uninhabited island of Levitha south west of Leros another will be in an isolated region of Chios."

    Croatia: Border Violence Monitoring Network (pdf):

    "On Saturday 16th November 2019, a group of people-in-transit were fired upon by Croatian police with live rounds. The shooting occurred on Tuhobiæ mountain, Gorski Kotar ( HR ), an area close to the Slovenian border. One man was shot in the stomach and chest area and remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Rijeka ( HR ). The Croatian Ministry of Interior have stated this potentially fatal shooting to be an accidental outcome of regular border protection work. However, The Border Violence Monitoring Network are sharing their dataset of firearms incidents, proving the regular and systematic use of guns by the Croatian police during pushback operations. The statistics, drawn from the common database."

    CoE: Commissioner publishes observations on alleged human rights violations of migrants returned from Italy to Libya (link):

    "Today, the Commissioner published her written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the case of S.S. and others v. Italy. This case concerns the interception and rescue operation of a boat in distress in the Mediterranean Sea, carrying around 150 persons who had left Libya, and the alleged human rights violations resulting from this operation.

    The Commissioner underscores that changes adopted in member states’ migration practices in the Central Mediterranean, in particular certain types of assistance provided to the Libyan Coast Guard, have resulted in increased returns of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to Libya, despite the fact that member states knew, or should have known, about the risk of serious human rights violations they would face in the country."

    See: Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: S.S and others v Italy (pdf)

    #PrivacyWins: EU Border Guards Cancel Plans to Spy on Social Media (for now) (PI, link):

    "As any data protection lawyer and privacy activist will attest, there’s nothing like a well-designed and enforced data protection law to keep the totalitarian tendencies of modern Big Brother in check.

    While the EU’s data protection rules aren’t perfect, they at least provide some limits over how far EU bodies, governments and corporations can go when they decide to spy on people.

    This is something the bloc’s border control agency, Frontex, learned recently after coming up with a plan to monitor the internet use of migrants and civil society. After publishing a tender inviting surveillance companies to bid for the project, they mysteriously cancelled it less than a month later while facing questions as to whether such spying was even allowed under data protection regulations."

    Hundreds of refugees, migrants rescued from the sea in past 24 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "Greece’s Coast Guard said Friday it rescued 400 refugees and migrants in the last 24 hours in 10 different incidents in the sea area near the city Alexandroupolis and the islands of Lesvos and Chios."

    Italian Air Force MQ-9A Predator B Drone Allegedly Shot Down In Libya. Images Surface on Social Media (The Aviationist, link):

    "One of the Italian UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) has crashed in Libya. It’s not clear whether it was shot down (as claimed by some Libyan reports) or crashed for other reasons.

    Images showing the wreckage of an Italian Air Force Predator drone have started circulating on the social media networks in the afternoon on Nov. 20.

    While showing an Italian Air Force drone, the photographs don’t show an MQ-1 as some sources have reported: they actually show what remains of an MQ-9A Predator B, operated by the 32° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), based at Amendola Air Base, in southeastern Italy."

    The hostile environment confuses unlawful with undocumented, with disastrous consequences (Migration Mobilities Bristol, link):

    "If a policy that deprives residents of jobs, homes and money is going to be introduced, one would hope it would be targeted using the best available data with strong failsafe mechanisms in place to reverse any errors. It would, you would have thought, be a disaster if innocent individuals ended up being forced into penury and out of the country as a result of incorrect information."

    Greece migrant crisis: 'Horrible' camps to shut amid influx (BBC News, link):

    "Overcrowded, open camps that have become home to 33,000 asylum seekers on five Aegean islands are to be shut down and replaced with closed centres.

    Four or five new sites will be set up to house 1,000 to 5,000 people. (...)

    The proposed sites are being described as "closed pre-departure centres""

    See also: Migration plan foresees new restrictive facilities on islands, closure of Moria camp (ekathimerini.com, link)

    Comment: It appears that the current free movement of refugees on the islands after registration will end and they will be locked in the new detention centres until their return to Turkey has breen agreed.

    Greece: Turkey needs to end ‘blackmail’ for migrant aid (euractv, link):

    "Greece’s migration minister said that Turkey needs to stop “blackmail” if it wants more EU aid, saying its loaded language had prompted a spike in movement toward Greek shores.

    Speaking to AFP on a visit to Washington, Giorgos Koumoutsakos voiced alarm over threats by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials to “open the gates” to Europe if it does not provide more support.

    When Turkey “keeps repeating that we’re going to open the floodgates, what they (migrants) do is they move closer to the floodgates waiting for them to open,” said Koumoutsakos, citing a 240% increase in migrant arrivals on Greek shores since May."

    EU countries warned of 'lost generation' of young refugees (BBC News, link):

    "Europe is in danger of creating a "lost generation" of young refugees who have fled war and persecution in their countries, the EU's rights agency says.

    The Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said it had identified serious challenges in integrating people aged between 16 and 24 across the EU.

    It has urged member states to speed up asylum procedures, simplify family reunification and provide more housing."

    See: Integration of young refugees in the EU: good practices and challenges (FRA, pdf)

    Sea rescue NGOs : a pull factor of irregular migration? (European University Institute, link):

    "The argument that maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations act as a ‘pull factor’ of irregular seaborne migration has become commonplace during the Mediterranean ‘refugee crisis’. This claim has frequently been used to criticize humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conducting SAR off the coast of Libya, which are considered to provide “an incentive for human smugglers to arrange departures” (Italian Senate 2017: 9). In this policy brief, we scrutinise this argument by examining monthly migratory flows from Libya to Italy between 2014 and October 2019. We find no relationship between the presence of NGOs at sea and the number of migrants leaving Libyan shores. Although more data and further research are needed, the results of our analysis call into question the claim that non-governmental SAR operations are a pull factor of irregular migration across the Mediterranean sea."

    Why return from Europe is causing problems for The Gambia (The Conversation, link):

    "The government is frequently suspected to play an active role in returns and is accused of witholding information about their dealings with the EU and member states like Germany. Incidentally, President Barrow is currently seeking to extend his rule beyond the three-year transition period originally agreed upon, ending in January 2020. Opposition to these plans is widespread.

    In these politically tense times, pressing a pause button on returns fulfilled a symbolic function by defending Gambians against foreign national interests. The recent lifting of the moratorium is politically very risky. It paves the way for more of the deeply unpopular chartered return operations."

    Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance

    The Finnish Council Presidency wants EU member states to consider new methods for encouraging 'third countries' to accept their own nationals deported from the EU, according to a note (pdf) sent to the High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration and the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA).

    Greece: New closed centers, 1,700 hirings to improve response to migration challenge (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "As part of its plans to implement a stricter legal framework regarding asylum and border controls, the government aims to create between six and 10 closed pre-departure centers and is planning to recruit 400 border guards in the Evros region, 500 new asylum officers on the islands and mainland, as well 800 officers to guard sea borders and the centers.

    These pre-departure centers will hold migrants who are slated for deportation until their departure and will hold a minimum of 5,000 and a maximum in some cases of 10,000."

    GREECE: Aegean Boat Report 10-17 November 2019 (pdf):

    "A total of 164 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 6097 people. However, 91 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 2444 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

    So far this year 2849 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 95244 people. 50194 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1523 boats, so far in 2019."

    All but last resort: The last reform of detention of asylum seekers in Greece (http://eumigrationlawblog.eu, link):

    "The Commission has directly encouraged Member States to widely resort to detention to effect returns by laying down lengthy detention periods in domestic law and by bringing “detention capacity in line with actual needs”. There is thus little reason to believe that (the continuation of) Greek efforts to increase returns through more coercion will be met with anxious scrutiny, at least not without sufficient pressure on the Commission from accountability mechanisms in Greece and elsewhere."

    Balkan Region - Report October 2019 (pdf, link) :

    "The Border Violence Monitoring Network just published it's October report, covering pushbacks and police violence from Croatia (and Slovenia), into Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Highlighted by the trend analysis of this."

    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.10-18.11.19) including:

    - New report: What the EU's Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status
    - Refugee chaperones are accessories to traffickers, German court rules
    - New Greek deportation law approved; Italy renews cooperation with Libya
    - Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession
    - Exposed: Malta’s secret migrant deal with Libya

    EU: New report: Data Protection, Immigration Enforcement and Fundamental Rights: What the EU's Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status

    A new report published by Statewatch and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) explains the EU's new rules on interoperable information systems and databases and examines the potential implications for people in an irregular migration situation.

    The West’s Obsession With Border Security Is Breeding Instability (Foreign Policy, link):

    "An obsession with protecting the border—and with escalating the fight against migration—is actually an ideological choice that sets up a dangerous game. If policymakers and voters really want to be “realistic,” then it is essential to appreciate the full future costs of the path on which they are currently set and to acknowledge the dangerously perverse incentives for escalating violence, extortion, and authoritarian rule that it entrenches. Meanwhile, the fantasy of protecting Western democracies through the outsourcing of migration controls feeds the damaging delusion that these countries can seal themselves off from problems such as conflict and global warming to which they are themselves strongly contributing.

    The next step is to propose another frame. Instead of feeding instability abroad and normalizing shrill nationalist politics at home through obsessing over more short-term border security, there’s a better choice to be made—a choice that involves protecting people, not borders. Enlightened citizens and political leaders must start making the case for it."

    Berlin wall´s 30th anniversary: the businesses booming from Europe’s new walls (TNI, link):

    "On the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, a new report reveals the European businesses profiting from the construction of new walls across Europe. It identifies three key players – the arms firms Thales, Airbus and Leonardo – as well as a whole host of construction, shipping, technology and security firms from across Europe winning border militarisation contracts.

    The report, ‘The Business of Building Walls’, examines the industry involved in building the many different kinds of walls constructed - especially since 2015 - to keep refugees and migrants out of Europe. It looks at those involved in the construction of the walls and fences and the technology that accompanies them, as well as the ‘maritime wall’ built across the Mediterranean and the ‘virtual’ walls of surveillance and biometrics that extend across Europe. It argues that these are all walls as their primary objective is to keep people out, with often deadly consequences."

    EU: The Atlas of Migration in Europe: A Critical Geography of Migration Policies

    The Migreurop network, of which Statewatch is a member, has published a new edition of The Atlas of Migration in Europe, a book which "follows the journeys of those fleeing war, poverty or political crises, risking their lives as they attempt to find sanctuary in Europe."

    Asylum-seekers in Greece, Italy hotspots face ‘years of limbo’

    "Asylum-seekers crowded into “hotspots” in Greece and Italy face limbo that can drag on for years because of legal bottlenecks and poorly performing EU schemes, a report said Wednesday.

    The document, by the EU’s European Court of Auditors, also found that two agencies meant to assist the two countries with their overflowing camps and caseloads were failing in their missions, partly because of insufficient support from member states."

    Greece illegally deported 60,000 migrants to Turkey: report (DW, link)

    "Greece illegally deported 60,000 migrants to Turkey, documents released by Turkey reportedly show. The process involves returning asylum seekers without assessing their status."

    ECHR: Finnish decision to deport an Iraqi man who was killed when he arrived back in his country of origin violated the Convention (Press releaase, pdf):

    "In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of N.A. v. Finland (application no. 25244/18) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

    a violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights owing to decisions to deport the applicant’s father to his country of origin, Iraq, where he was subsequently killed."

    See: Judgment (pdf)

    EPRS: Situation of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina (pdf):

    "Recently, local authorities in the Una-Sana Canton (Bihaæ), which have been shouldering most of the burden of migration management, have resorted to action such as restricting movement and forcibly transferring migrants to the Vuèjak site, which is unsuitable for human occupation on account of severe health and safety risks for its residents. The government of Croatia has meanwhile been accused by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations of pushing migrants back into BiH, in violation of international norms on non-refoulement."

    "Welcome to Europe. Now Go Home." (The Atlantic, link):

    "The overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece is where Europe’s ideals—solidarity, human rights, a haven for victims of war and violence—dissolve in a tangle of bureaucracy, indifference, and lack of political will."

    Refugee chaperones are accessories to traffickers, German court rules (DW, link):

    "A refugee who was told by a smuggler to look after several women and children during the perilous journey to Europe also committed a crime, the court ruled. "The defendant is both victim and perpetrator," the judge said."

    AYS Daily Digest 12/11/19: Slovenian activists demand action after the recent deaths reported in the area (Medium, link):


    "Slovenian police has been systematically violating basic international law with the practice of illegal denial of right to asylum procedure and cooperation in conducting chain pushbacks of migrants from Slovenia to Croatia and from there on to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    After having pulished the results of an investigation of practices of the Slovenian police at the border, during which we found out that the Republic of Slovenia is systematically preventing migrants access to the asylum procedure, the Slovenian activist group InfoKolpa published a statement after the recent deaths in the border area, reminding that the Slovenian police is complicit with the systematic malversation of official procedures at the border."

    Europe’s Unauthorized Immigrant Population Peaks in 2016, Then Levels Off (Pew Research, link):

    "New estimates find half live in Germany and the United Kingdom .

    Europe has experienced a high level of immigration in recent years, driving debate about how countries should deal with immigrants when it comes to social services, security issues, deportation policies and integration efforts. Among these recently arrived immigrants are many who live in Europe without authorization. Coupled with unauthorized immigrants who were already in Europe, their numbers reach into the millions, though together they make up a small share of Europe’s total population."

    ICJ and others intervene in Mediterranean Sea search and rescue case before European Court (link):

    "Today, the ICJ, the AIRE Centre, ECRE and DCR have submitted a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of a 2017 rescue operation of migrants, including refugees, in the Mediterranean Sea that involved the SeaWatch rescue vessel.

    The case, S.S. and Others v. Italy, concerns the facts occurred during a rescue operation coordinated by the Maritime Research and Rescue Centre of Italy in Rome in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea."

    Update on the current situation at the borders to Greece and Turkey (Bordermonitoring Bulgaria, link):

    "In the first 10 months of 2019, the Bulgarian Border Police officers prevented 2,122 attempts at ‚illegal‘ entry at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and 3,795 attempts at the border with Greece. This was statet by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior (MoI). In September 2019 the number of people who were trying to attempt the Greek-Bulgarian border was rising. Due to the Bulgarian MoI Mladen Marinov further police units were installed at the border. The Bulgarian premier Boiko Borissow stated that at the moment around a daily amount of 150 migrants are being caught in the border region."

    European Court of Auditors: Special report No 20/2019: EU information systems supporting border control - a strong tool, but more focus needed on timely and complete data (ECA, link)

    "The abolishment of border checks at the internal Schengen borders reinforced the importance of effective control and surveillance of the Schengen area external borders. To help border guards control these, the EU has set up a number of information systems. Our audit examined whether the main EU information systems for internal security support border controls efficiently. We found that border guards are increasingly using and relying on the systems when performing border checks. However, some data is currently not included in the systems, while other data is either not complete or not entered in a timely manner."

    See: Press release (pdf) and: Report (pdf)

    Dear President Macron, being a migrant is not a crime (euobserver, link):

    "President Emmanuel Macron,

    I am writing to convey my intense shock and horror at the wilful, remorseless neglect of universal human rights, the frank disregard for humanity and the wanton abuse of European law at your country's border with Italy.

    During my heart-wrenching trip to Menton and Ventimiglia with Refugee Rights Europe, I saw refugees and displaced people of all ages and from all corners of our planet - compelled to flee poverty, persecution, war, ecological breakdown and compelled to traverse great distances in unimaginably traumatic journeys - dehumanised and demeaned, disregarded and discarded, and dealt with delay and disdain."

    Greek islands: Aegean Boat report: 4 -10 November 2019 (pdf)

    "A total of 105 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 3740 people. However, 74 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1078 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

    So far this year 2754 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police with 91591 people (and). 47548 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1450 boats, so far in 2019."

    News highlights: Italy and Libya prolong coast guard arrangement; Eritrea accuses CIA of plot against government; Greece formalises new law on deportation (EEPA, link):

    "In this week’s news highlights: Eritrea claims CIA has plot to overthrow the government; Eritreans protest against the regime in London; UN official allegedly spreads propaganda; South Sudan calls state of emergency; New measures for protection Kenyan domestic workers questioned; Greece formalises new law on deportation of rejected asylum seekers;

    Report urges the UK to change its migration policies; EU funds €663 million to support refugees in Turkey; Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland accused of breaking EU law in 2015; Refugees and migrants participate in local entrepreneurship;

    Deal between Libyan Coastguard and Italy continues; People from Libyan detention centre are released but left outside of rescue centre overnight; And Spain’s Prime Minister praises the efforts made by Morocco to lower number of illegal migrants."

    New report examines the brutal human costs of 'necroborders'

    "Over 1,000 people died or went missing whilst attempting to reach Spanish soil between January 2018 and April 2019, the result of 70 shipwrecks and 12 missing boats on routes crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, traversing the Alboran Sea and travelling to the Canary Islands.

    The figures - and the human stories behind them - are recounted in the report Vida en la Necrofrontera (Life on the Necroborder), which was published by the collective Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) in June this year (Caminando Fronteras, link)"

    AYS Digest 9–10/11/19: Bosnian police now beats and robs people, too (link):


    - 10 000 border guards
    - Meter-high fences
    - Border fortifications, 1000 kilometres long
    - The deadly moat of the Mediterranean Sea
    - Thousands dead

    30 years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall raised hopes for an open Europe; today we are surrounded by more walls than ever before."

    Exposed: Malta’s secret migrant deal with Libya - Office of the Prime Minister official Neville Gafà acted as intermediary in deal (Times of Malta, link):

    "Malta has secretly negotiated an agreement with Libya that sees the Armed Forces of Malta coordinating with the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants headed towards the island and returned to the war-torn North African country.

    The agreement for “mutual cooperation” was struck between members of the AFM and the Libyan coastguard, with government official Neville Gafà acting as an intermediary.

    Mr Gafà, who works out of the OPM in an undisclosed position, has faced repeated allegations of bribery linked to the issuing of medical visas to Libyan nationals, claims he denies."

    Belgian asylum centre set on fire (euobserver, link):

    "During the night of 10 November a planned asylum centre in the city of Bilzen, in the Belgian province of Limburg, was set on fire. According to fire services and the police it was an arson attack. The federal government was planning to use the building as a new asylum centre in December. There were no victims."

    Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more (Vestnik Kavkaza, link):

    "Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again used the millions of refugees hosted in the country as a bargaining chip against the European Union. As EU Observer reports, speaking alongside Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban on Thursday (7 November), he told reporters the refugees will be allowed into Europe unless the EU provides more support. "Whether we receive support or not, we will continue to aid the guests we are hosting. But, if this doesn't work out, then we will have to open the doors," he said."

    Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya (link):

    "A German public prosecutor’s office is investigating the shooting of the ship "Alan Kurdi". Its crew could be caught between the fronts of two coastguards equipped and trained by different EU missions.

    With the General Administration for Coastal Security (GACS) and the Libyan Coast Guard and Port Security (LCGPS), two authorities with overlapping functions exist in Libya. The Ministry of Interior Coast Guard is a law enforcement agency operating within the 12-mile zone and along the coast, while the Ministry of Defence Coast Guard is responsible for territorial waters."

    Migrations in Latin America and the Mediterranean compared: Violence, State cruelty and (Un-)Institutional Resistance (pdf):including: Presentation of the English version of the Atlas of Migrations 2019.

    Convened by Véronique Beneï (IIAC Paris), Thomas Lacroix (MFO) and Eduardo Posado-Carlo (Latin American Centre Oxford):

    Tuesday 12 November, 2.45pm, Latin American Centre, Oxford and Wednesday 13 November, 9.15am, Maison Française d’Oxford.

    Italy to renew 2017 bilateral deal with Libya to stem migration (New Europe, link):

    "Italy is calling for government-run migrant centres in Libya be taken over by UN agencies, public news agency ANSA reported on Wednesday. Rome wants to review a 2017 deal with Libya for combatting immigration.

    However, Rome wants the closure of centres criticised for human rights violations and their replacement with new facilities run by UN agencies. According to ANSA, the UN-backed government in Tripoli had voiced willingness to modify the terms of the 2017 deal accordingly."

    Human Rights Watch letter to Frontex (HRW, link):

    "I am writing in relation to a July 9 statement made by Croatian President Gabar-Kitarovic during an interview with Swiss channel SRF, where she admitted knowledge of pushbacks of migrants by Croatian border officials from Croatia to Bosnia Herzegovina and that sometimes force is used. The president’s acknowledgement is consistent with findings by Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, and other organizations.

    It calls into question the effectiveness of European Border and Coast Guard Agency operations on the Croatia-Bosnia borders, and in particular European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s mandate to ensure the protection of human rights through detection activities."

    EU: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

    The European Commission’s decision to give the green light to Croatia’s membership of the Schengen area has been condemned by human rights groups who say that it ignores “illegal and violent push-backs of migrants” at Croatia’s borders that violate EU and international law.

    According to the European Court of Human Rights, all is well in the Greek hotspots: Joint Press Release (migreurop.org, link)

    "The European Court of Human Rights has rejected for the most part the request made on 16 June 2016 by 51 persons (including many minors) from Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine, who were forcibly maintained in a situation of extreme distress in the hotspot of Chios, Greece [1].

    The 51 applicants, supported by our organisations, were identified during an observation mission led by the Gisti in the Greek hotspots in May 2016 [2]. These persons were deprived of their freedom and detained on the island of Chios, which had become an open prison since the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement of 20 March 2016, just like the neighbouring islands of Lesbos, Leros, Samos and Kos. The requestees invoked the violation of several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights [3]".

    See ECHR: Judgment (French, pdf)

    Migrants in Malta transferred after EU deal (euobserver, link):

    "Migrants were transferred on Thursday from Malta to Germany, Lithuania, and Romania after they were rescued by the NGO vessel Ocean Vikings last August, the Times of Malta writes. This follows an EU-brokered agreement reached between these member states before the migrants could disembark on Malta. However, the numbers of migrants transferred and those who remain in Malta are still unknown, according to the Maltese daily."

    THE ATLAS OF MIGRATION IN EUROPE: A critical geography of migration policies (Migreurop and Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Brussels, pdf):

    Presentation evening: 11 November 2010: 19.00 - 21.00: Rm G3, main College Building, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1H OXG.

    EU governments ignore Greek request to help 4,000 child refugees (euractiv, link):

    "Greece’s migration minister Michalis Chrisochoidis sent a letter to his EU counterparts asking them to help share the burden of 4,000 unaccompanied minor refugees on Greek islands, but just one responded.

    Speaking today (6 November) at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), the Greek minister said they are 4,000 unaccompanied minors on Greek islands who live in conditions that “do not honour the EU”.

    Chrisochoidis recently sent a letter to the EU-27 asking them to volunteer to share the burden, but received little response.

    “One member state responded. It’s not a matter of rules or solidarity, it’s a matter of civilisation,” he said."

    Data-driven policing: The hardwiring of discriminatory policing practies across Europe (European Network Against Racism, pdf):

    "We, as activists, as anti-racist organisations, and as racialised communities in Europe, know too well what it means to be over-policed and under-protected. Still, in 2019, we feel the need to evidence racial profiling, to contest narratives placing us as a threat to ‘security’ and essentially to unsettle presumptions as to our criminality.

    We are still mastering the techniques with which we contest over-policing, brutality and racial profiling. We must now contend with another challenge. When law enforcement resorts to new technology to aid their practice, we find ourselves at further risk. Not only must we consider our physical safety in our relations with the authorities, we also need to be informed about the security of our data."

    EU to support reinforcement of Turkey's coast guard (Prensa Latina, link):

    "The European Union (EU) will pay Turkey 50 million euros to reinforce its coast guard, as increasing numbers of migrants attempt to travel from this country to Europe, according to a senior EU official.

    The Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Maciej Popowski, said that part of the money would help 'improve the capacities of the Turkish coast guard to perform search-and-rescue operations,' for migrants trying to reach the bloc through the Greek islands.

    He noted that the rest of the funding would be used to improve conditions in migrant detention centers and to help those people allowed to stay in Turkey to better integrate into its society."

    European Commission: Answer given by Mr Avramopouloson behalf of the European EU Commission: The objective of regional disembarkation arrangements is to establish predictable disembarkation and post-disembarkation procedures in line with international law (pdf)

    Greece: Pork 'barbecue protest' plan near refugee camp raises hackles (DW, link):

    "A Greek nationalist group's plan to throw a pork barbecue near a refugee camp has led to a debate in the country's parliament. Critics want to do something, but some say that would mean attacking the Greek way of life."

    France to set migrant worker quotas in bid to appeal to rightwing voters - Policy seen as part of tougher stance by Emmanuel Macron as he prepares to take on Marie Le Pen (Guardian, link):

    "France will start setting quotas for migrant workers from next year as Emmanuel Macron toughens his stance on immigration in an apparent attempt to appeal to rightwing voters.

    The French labour minister, Muriel Pénicaud, said on Tuesday that France would set quotas for the first time, with the government working with employers to identify industries lacking qualified candidates and where foreigners could fill the gap."

    Number of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece rises to 4,800 (Keep Talking Greece, link):

    "They are the most vulnerable group among the refugees: unaccompanied minors in Greece. 4,800 children, aged 2 -17. A real challenge for those in and outside Greece dealing with their protection.

    30 percent of them are orphans. Seven out of ten have families in Europe and need to be reunited.

    The protection of unaccompanied minors is a major issue for the government, the creation of appropriate accommodation structures is imminent, their transfer from the overcrowded islands an urgent necessity.

    The number of unaccompanied children in Greece is increasing: while they are approximately 2,500 unaccompanied children in 2017, their number has reached 4,800 in 2019, according to data released by the National Center for Social Solidarity on October 15."

    'Repatriation' of Syrians in Turkey needs EU action (Euobserver, link):

    ""I was deported with about 35 Syrians on a large bus. They handcuffed us and…they beat some of the men on the bus with truncheons when they asked to go to the toilet or for water. We all spoke with each other [and] no one wanted to go back to Syria."

    Do those sound like the words of refugees who freely signed papers asking Turkey to return them to an active conflict zone in northern Syria?"

    European Parliament: Refugees in Turkey: MEPs to assess use of EU funds and cooperation with Ankara (europarl.europa.eu, link):

    "MEPs will assess on Wednesday the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey and the results of the budgetary support provided by the EU to the Turkish government."

    Migrants, the Libyan government issues a decree to neutralize NGOs (news1.news, link):

    "The decree, issued by the Presidential Council of the Libyan national agreement, bears the date of September 14 and has as its object "the special treatment of international and non-governmental organizations in the Libyan area of ??maritime search and rescue".

    He has also been sent to Italy and is a grotesque and dangerous attempt to hinder even more the work of humanitarian ships but above all to attack them with police operations with the threat of leading them and seizing them in Libyan ports."

    Briefing: How will Greece’s new asylum law affect refugees? ‘There's no justification for what we're seeing.’ (The New Humanitarian, link):

    "Nearly 44,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek islands so far this year, compared to fewer than 32,500 in all of 2018 – an annual increase of more than 30 percent, but still far below 2015 and 2016 levels.

    In response, the Greek government passed a new asylum law on Thursday, 31 October aimed at speeding up procedures and facilitating the return of more people to Turkey under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal signed in March 2016 to curb migration across the Aegean."

    Netherlands: Persisting delays in the procedure put strain on reception (asylumineurope.org, link):

    "Asylum seekers in the Netherlands are confronted with a shortage of reception places, in addition to long delays in accessing the procedure.

    As of 28 October 2019, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) counted 26,975 accommodation places. The Agency estimates that as many as 10,000 additional reception places will be needed as of January 2020 for the country to be able to house asylum seekers."

    Land migration in Africa twice as deadly as Mediterranean, says UNHCR (DW, link):

    "Even as a migrant rescue ship disembarks 88 asylum-seekers in an Italian port, a UN official says the Mediterranean isn't the most dangerous place for migrants. Many more die trying to reach the coast than in the sea.

    While the Mediterranean Sea remains a deadly route for migrants attempting to reach the European Union, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned that the African land journey to reach the Mediterranean coast remains far more lethal.

    Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR's special envoy for the central Mediterranean, said in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that around twice as many migrants die crossing Africa as crossing the Mediterranean."

    Call for Croatia to Be Kept out of Schengen Until it Improves Asylum Practices (liberties.eu, link):

    "Croatia has received the green light from the European Commission to enter the border-free Schengen Area, but nine organisations and initiatives working with the victims of border violence have made their objections clear."

    AYS Weekend Digest 02–03/11/2019: Italy-Libya deal renewed without changes (link)

    Feature Story: Italy-Libya deal renewed without changes

    "On Saturday 2nd of November the agreement between Italy and Libya which regulates the “cooperation in the fields of development, the fight against illegal immigration, human trafficking and fuel smuggling and on reinforcing the security of borders”, will be automatically renewed. Saturday was the deadline for proposing an annulment or any changes to the deal, but despite a lot of talk in the media, no official proposal was advanced. The deal is now valid for three more years."

    GREECE: Arrivals

    "Aegean Boat Report state that from Saturday to Sunday 8 boats arrived on the Greek Aegean islands, carrying 263 people, 7 of the boats arrive on Lesvos and the remaining one to Chios. However, in the last 3 days, a total of 97 boats carrying 3,519 people began the journey towards the Islands from Turkey, but only 28 % arrived — 27 boats carrying 1,098 people. 72 % were stopped."

    Full breakdown of arrivals and more detailed statistics here (link)

    GREECE: Residents of Chios block access to migrant camp in symbolic protest (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "Residents of Chios early on Monday blocked the road leading to the island's Vial reception facility in a protest against the camp's growing migrant population.

    The residents have said that they will scale up their protests if central government authorities do not extend an operation to decongest the camps on Lesvos and Samos to their island too.

    Some 5,000 migrants are currently being hosted at the camp which is several times above its maximum capacity."

    Outrage in Calais over death of Nigerian man in tent - Man tried to light a fire to keep warm and died from smoke inhalation (Guardian, link):

    "Aid groups have protested over “inhuman” conditions for migrants and refugees sleeping rough in Calais after a 25-year-old Nigerian man died from smoke inhalation in his tent. He had tried to light a fire in a tin to keep warm and prepare food.

    Police in Pas-de-Calais confirmed that a man had died from intoxication from smoke fumes at the end of last week and said an autopsy would take place. The man was the third migrant or refugee to die in Calais this year."

    Migrants continue to suffer as reception centres remain overcrowded and violence against migrants surges (FRA, link):

    "Significant increase in arrivals in Greece, overcrowding of reception centres and violence against migrants at the borders are some of the fundamental rights concerns FRA identifies in its latest migration quarterly report. It also highlights the situation in the Mediterranean, where boats with migrants were still being forced to remain at sea, waiting for weeks or days until they were allowed to disembark."

    GREECE: AEGEAN BOAT REPORT: October 2019 (link to pdf):

    "In 2019, people arriving is up 66%, compared to 2018. In October 270 boats made it to the Greek islands, carrying a total of 9251 people. Arrivals has decreased 13.8% compared to September, boats arriving is down 12.6%. Demographics on the islands: Men 44%, Women 21% and Children 35%."

    German migrant rescue boat carrying 88 people allowed to dock in Italy (DW, link):

    "After nearly a week stranded at sea, Italy granted permission for migrants on board a Sea-Eye rescue ship to disembark. The standoff ended after Germany and other EU countries agreed to take in the migrants."

    Advocate General Sharpston: the Court should rule that, by refusing to comply with the provisional and time-limited mechanism for the mandatory relocation of applicants for internationalprotection, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfil their obligations under EU law (pdf)

    "These Member States cannot invoke their responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security in order to disapply a valid EU measure with which they disagree."

    See also: Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland ‘breached EU law’ by refusing refugees (euractiv, link)

    GREECE: Leros turns away boat with migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "Residents and local officials on the Aegean island of Leros on Friday blocked a passenger ferry carrying 40 migrants from Symi from disembarking.

    Leros Mayor Michalis Kolias has protested against plans to move more migrants to the island where facilities, originally designed for 800 people, allegedly now hold around 3,000. The vessel was redirected to Kos."

    AYS Daily Digest 31/10/19: Ventimiglia, illegal pushbacks as a daily reality at the French-Italian border (Medium, link):

    "Illegal pushbacks at the French-Italian border are happening on a daily basis since few years, with an alarming increase in the past months, reaching a total number of 1.855 (sometimes the same person is counted multiple times) just in the month of October. More and more unaccompanied minors are being pushed-back by French authorities, in addition to adults, who are forced to spend the night imprisoned in containers and held in inhumane conditions. People are being denied any legal support and advice."

    Greece must urgently transfer asylum seekers from the Aegean islands and improve living conditions in reception facilities (CoE, link):

    "“The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the past 12 months. Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living,” said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, at the end of a five-day visit to Greece during which she visited reception facilities in Lesvos, Samos, and Corinth.

    The Commissioner is appalled by the unhygienic conditions in which migrants are kept in the islands."

    Libyan decree to affect NGOs, Protests in Ethiopia, EU Parliament rejects motion on search and rescue (link):

    "In this week’s News Highlights: Protests lead to killings of civilians in Ethiopia; Returnees to Ethiopia face difficult conditions; Follow the journey of Eritrean refugees; Human rights in Eritrea the topic of seminar in European Parliament; Right-wing groups in the European Parliament vote against improving rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea; Rescue ship waits 11 days at sea; Eritreans in the Netherlands protest against the presence of the Eritrean regime."

    Greece: Aegean Boat Report (pdf)

    "A total of 110 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 3940 people. However, 67 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1625 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

    So far this year 2559 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 84235 people. 44054 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1335 boats, so far in 2019."

    Migration and the Shrinking Humanitarian Space in EuropeFrom maritime search and rescue operations to contested humanitarian action in EU countries (CHA, link):

    "As of October 10th, 1071 deaths of migrants were recorded in the Mediterranean in 2019.[1] In their attempt to save lives, civilian maritime search and rescue organisations like Sea Watch or Proactive Open Arms have gained high levels of media attention over the last years. Cases such as the arrest of the captain of the Sea Watch 3, Carola Rackete, in June 2019 or the three weeks odyssey of Open Arms in August 2019 dominate the media and public discourse in Europe."

    Commission expects Greek reply to allegations of migrants’ mistreatment (euractiv, link):

    "The European Commission expects the Greek authorities to follow up on the allegations of the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs over migrants’ mistreatment and the illegal practice of “pushback”, a Commission spokesperson has said.

    The tension between Athens and Ankara has heated up recently following a statement by the Turkish foreign affairs ministry calling on Greece to end the illegal practice of “pushback” of irregular migrants at the Turkish border.

    Ankara said in the first 10 months of 2019, 25,404 irregular migrants were pushed back into Turkey by Greece compared to 11,867 in 2018."

    What drives African migrants to risk their lives? (DW, link):

    "A UN study says that a majority of irregular migrants who made the fraught journey from Africa to Europe would do so again, despite knowing the dangers of the trip. Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), explains why."

    Turkey: Sent to a war zone: Turkey's illegal deportations of Syrian refugees (AI, link):

    "This report reveals that, contrary to the Turkish authorities’ claims that they do not deport anyone to Syria, in mid-2019 it is likely that hundreds of Syrian refugees across Turkey were swept up, detained, and transported against their will to one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Deporting anyone to Syria violates the international law principle of non-refoulement, as it puts them at risk of serious human rights violations. For those who manage to re-enter Turkey, they find that their Turkish identification documents have been cancelled. Syrians without valid identification documents are unable to access essential services and are at heightened risk of deportation."

    Libya authorities 'fire warning shots' at migrant rescue ship (DW, link):

    "Libyan authorities fired warning shots in the air and pointed mounted guns at rescuers and migrants, according to the humanitarian group Sea-Eye. A group spokesman said the act was unprecedented."

    Greece: Asylum Overhaul Threatens Rights - Remove All Abusive Articles Before Passing Law (HRW, link):

    "Greece’s parliament should scrap provisions in a new bill that threaten to limit asylum seekers’ access to protection, Human Rights Watch said today. The draft law, to be debated in parliament this week, would reduce safeguards for asylum seekers from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq in an effort to block the arrival of migrants and refugees in Greece, per a 2016 European Union (EU) migration deal with Turkey."

    Back to the Libyan Warzone - How Malta Instructed Libyan Authorities to Intercept 50 Migrants within the Maltese SAR Zone (Alarmphone, link):

    "On Friday the 18th of October 2019, in the afternoon, the Alarm Phone was contacted by an overcrowded boat in distress, carrying approximately 50 migrants. They had fled from Libya and were in the Maltese Search and Rescue (SAR) zone when they first alerted the Alarm Phone. The Alarm Phone informed RCC Malta via email and received acknowledgement of its receipt."

    Did you say 'deal' on migration? ... or was it 'meal'? (Malta Today, link):

    Yet we still blame asylum seekers – and only asylum seekers – for a crisis brought on directly by the incompetence, nonchalance, and sheer ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude of the politicians we rely on to solve all our migration and national security problems (but who are really the cause of all these problems to begin with)."

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


    Statewatch home page

    Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.

    © Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.