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

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

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


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July 2018

Editorial: Towards a place of no return (ECRE, link):

"Horst Seehofer has managed to illustrate the inhumanity and futility of Europe’s return policy with a “joke” about the deportation of 69 people on his 69th birthday. The numbers no longer match: one of the group committed suicide after being returned to Afghanistan. He was a young man who had arrived in Germany as a child and had lived there for eight years, “returned” to a town he’d never been to.

For ECRE, return is a valid part of migration policy but only if certain pre-conditions are in place. First, fair asylum decision-making. Here, the huge variation in the rate of recognition of protection claims, particularly from key nationalities such as Afghanistan, demonstrates this is not the case – and probably indicates political interference in judicial decision-making. That the likelihood of a protection claim from an Afghan varies from 3% to 98% from one Member State to another with no objective explanation for the difference is evidence of injustice.

The second pre-condition is a return process that is effected in accordance with human rights; sometimes this is the case, often not. Finally, there should post-return monitoring. In many cases, including in Afghanistan, people just disappear after return, their fate unknown but unlikely to be positive. Without these preconditions, return should not be happening. But under no circumstances should people be “returned” to places they’ve never been."

EU: Informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers in Vienna: press releases

Three press releases were published by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU following an informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers in Vienna on 12 and 13 July 2018.

UN: At least 2.5 million migrants smuggled worldwide in 2016, says UNODC study

At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled in 2016, according to the first Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today. Migrant smuggling occurred in all regions of the world and generated an income for smugglers of up to US$7 billion, equivalent to what the United States or the European Union countries spent on global humanitarian aid in 2016.

Greece: immediate action needed to protect human rights of migrants (CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, pdf):

"“The humanity and hospitality that Greece’s people and authorities demonstrated towards migrants in recent years is truly commendable. In spite of these efforts, however, the situation remains worrying and much more needs to be done to protect the human rights of those who have had to flee their country”, said today Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of her five-day visit to Greece, which also focused on the impact of austerity on human rights (...)

Rapid action by the Greek authorities is required to improve migrants’ reception conditions, especially in the hotspots. The geographical restriction imposed on arriving migrants put the Eastern Aegean islands (on which the hotspots are located) and their population under heavy pressure, as the Commissioner could observe in Lesvos. “I am very concerned by the substandard living conditions prevailing in the Reception and Identification Centre of Moria, which is running at well over three times its capacity and has already expanded informally into the surrounding area, putting the human rights of its residents at risk. The combination of overcrowding, insecurity, poor hygienic conditions, the approaching high summer temperatures, and residents’ uncertainty regarding their future may lead to very serious problems if not addressed immediately”, said the Commissioner, who also warned about the increasing tensions that this situation inevitably causes both among the residents of the Centre and within the general population of the island. Underlining the need to act quickly, the Commissioner called on the Greek authorities to transfer more people to the mainland. She also called on the Greek authorities to speed up the processing of asylum applications, whilst ensuring all necessary safeguards for fair procedures are in place, increase the capacities of reception facilities across the country, and improve their quality. “Temporary camps can meet the standards, as I could observe at the Open Hospitality Centre for Refugees and Migrants ‘Kara Tepe’ run by the Municipality of Lesvos; however, given the length of the asylum procedure, there is also a need for more reception facilities adapted to prolonged residence,” she said. The Commissioner also praised the invaluable work of civil society actors and international partners in this field." (emphasis added)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9-15.7.18)
Are You Syrious (13.7.18, link):


"The Spanish Supreme Court condemned the Spanish Government for “partially failing to meet its obligation” to relocate a total of 19,449 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy between 2015 and 2017.

Spain met only 13 per cent of the goal.

But the other EU countries have not done much better. Only 12,692 people from Italy and 21,999 from Greece, were relocated, even though the goal set by the Relocation Decisions was 160,000 people initially. It was later revised to fall under 100,000."


"This year so far, 48,629 people arrived in Europe by sea. Forced to take this perilous journey due to closed borders, 1,422 people have lost their lives.

Only in the last four weeks, more than 600 people died while attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean."


"Samos Volunteers recorded 822 arrivals in June, which is more than double the number of people that arrived in May. On Friday, one boat landed on Tsipouri Beach, Eftalou, Lesvos, with 43 people, including 31 children.

At the moment there are 2,570 people living in the camp Vathy where the capacity is approximately 700 people.(...)

According to the latest official figures, 59,700 people are now in Greece, including 15,200 on the islands and 44,500 in the mainland."

Statewatch comment: As at 12 July the officials figures show that 18,054 refugees are on the Greek islands.

EU: Council plans to export refugees with negative asylum decisions to "Return Centres" outside EU

The Austrian Council Presidency has circulated the following to Member States' delegations: Presidency discussion paper on Return Centers (LIMITE doc no: 10829-18, pdf, 4 July 2018) calling for "the establishment of Return Centers in third countries."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"The idea of external "Return Centres" in Africa or elsewhere is objectionable in itself. Out of sight out of mind" would be the result.

And the notion that the EU would enforce European standards and be compliant with applicable international and European human rights law and the principle of Non-Refoulement" is highly questionable."

Where Are We Going? Italy (And Europe) at the Crossroads between Xenophobia and Hospitality (Border Criminologies. link):

"Salvini suggests that we (Italians and Europeans) are at a crossroads. Either we undertake an authoritarian, state-centred approach that is straightforwardly aimed at the exclusion of unwanted foreigners, shorn of humanitarian proclamations; or, we pursue full hospitality, integrating new arrivals in the social and economic EU fabric."

'Humanitarian crisis' cries out for EU values in Libya (euobserver, link):

"Last month, I visited a detention centre in Tripoli where the International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides health services to migrants who have been detained by the Libyan authorities.

The reports I'd read about these centres were grim, but seeing it first hand was even more alarming. The conditions were filthy, cramped and dangerous - among the worst I have seen in 12 years of humanitarian work. And this was one of the better-managed centres."

Greek islands: As at 11 July 2018: 18,018 on the islands including 9,584 refugees on Lesvos, 3,938 on Samos and 2,121 on Chios. (Greek Ministry)

Lesvos, Greece: Farmer shoots and injures 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker in Moria (Keep TalkIng Greece, link):

"A 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker is hospitalized in the hospital of Mytiline with injuries in the head and the feet. The teenager was shot by a local farmer of the Moria village around 6 o’ clock Tuesday afternoon.

The incident took place in a land plot north of the Moria reception and identification center (hotspot.)

The farmer’s motive for the shooting is not known so far, however the incident took place in front of the victim’s parents and an under-aged brother. The Syrian family reportedly arrived on the island of Lesvos two days ago, in the morning of July 8th.

The farmer run away but was apprehended by police later in the evening."

Austrian far-right minister doubles down on asylum reform plans (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s hardline interior minister Herbert Kickl said yesterday (10 July) he would push to change the EU’s migration policy to make it impossible to make asylum requests on European soil.

“That would be a proposal,” the minister of the far-right FPÖ party told journalists in Vienna.(...)

In the Austrian proposal, asylum requests would be made in refugee camps outside Europe to “a sort of mobile commission,” Kickl said.

Only exiles from countries that directly border the European Union would be able to make their asylum requests on EU territory."

MED RESCUES: I’m a doctor in Lampedusa. We can’t let these migrant deaths go on by Pietro Bartolo (Guardian, link):

"In the Mediterranean we’re witnessing a slaughter of innocents. I have seen the suffering, and I am ashamed of the Italian government’s response (...)

I stopped feeling proud to be Italian from the moment our government, denying all that had previously been done, decided to establish an agreement with Libyan groups in Tripoli – which meant, directly or indirectly, with people smugglers. I still remember how in 2016 my country had vigorously joined the outrage triggered by Europe’s decision to bankroll Turkey’s President Erdogan with €6bn so he’d ignore or stop the migration flows from Syria. Italy’s position was then sacrosanct. It has since been somehow inexplicably disavowed in deeds."

Safeguard lives of migrants at sea, human rights lawyer says in protest against PM - Decision to stop spotter planes from assisting in rescue operations 'unjustified, abusive, illegal' (Times of Malta, link):

"Human rights lawyer Tonio Azzopardi has filing a judicial protest against the Prime Minister calling upon him to respect human life and fulfill his duty of ensuring that fundamental human rights are safeguarded.

In his judicial act filed before the First Hall, Civil Court, Dr Azzopardi took upon himself the plight of the hundreds of migrants who perished in the Mediterranean while attempting to make the crossing from Libya after fleeing persecution in their home countries."

EU: Revising EU visa policy (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"Back in 2014, the Commission proposed a revamp of EU visa policy (concerning short-term visit visas), in the form of a proposal to revise the EU’s visa code. This proposal ultimately failed, because the EU Parliament and Council could not agree on whether it should include “safe passage” visas for those needing protection or not. Now the Commission is trying again, focussing this time on security concerns, rather than economic growth."

Greece: Islanders told they will not receive migrant returns (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas has sent a letter to the mayors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in an attempt to reassure them that asylum seekers will not be returned from Germany to hotspots on the islands.(...)

From June 22 up until on Monday, some 1,519 migrants and refugees arrived, bringing their total number on the islands to 17,924. Of these, 7,573 are at the Moria hotspot on Lesvos, 2,212 are at the Vial center on Chios and 3,914 are on Samos."

Comment: there are 9,573 refugee on Lesvos. See also: Berlin eyes deal for migrant returns with Greece by end July

Britain to double Western Balkans funding, security staff (euractiv, link):

"Britain is to almost double the funding it provides to countries in the Western Balkans to 80 million pounds (€90 million) and ramp up its number of security staff in the region to try and tackle organised crime gangs.

With Britain set to leave the European Union next year, the UK government said the moves, which also include improving the Western Balkans countries’ cyber capability and extending the presence of the pan-Balkans Strategic Reserve Force, showed it remain committed to the region’s stability.

“History shows that a stable and secure Western Balkans region means a more stable and secure Europe,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement ahead of summit of Western Balkans and some European leaders in London on Tuesday (10 July)."

And see: About the Western Balkans Summit: On 10 July 2018 the UK will host the Western Balkans Summit in London, the fifth summit convened under the Berlin Process (gov.uk, link)

Are You Syriious (9.7.18, link)

FEATURE: 5 People Arrested in Calais from the Solidarity Group: Committee of the Sans Papiers Paris. Face court tomorrow with fears of deportation.

"As the 54 walkers of solidarity from the CSP group (Committee of Sans Papers Paris) protested against border controls in Calais, 22 people without papers were stopped by the police and detained. They were taken to the Shells Administrative Detention Centre. 17 were released but 5 remain arrested and may be deported from French Territory.

The persons are currently being held in three different locations."

Norwegian Refugee Council: Principles under pressure (pdf):

"As states continue to adopt measures aimed at combating terrorist activity, humanitarian organisations remain concerned about the impact these measures have on their ability to deliver aid to populations in areas under the control of designated terrorist groups (DTGs). Counterterrorism measures apply to humanitarian organisations through legislation at various levels, and through relevant clauses in donor agreements."

EPIM (European Programme for integration and migration): Policy Update July 2018 (pdf) Very useful reportage.

GERMANY-GREECE: Berlin eyes deal for migrant returns with Greece by end July

"Even as Germany's interior minister Horst Seehofer threatens the launch of mass returns of migrants if bilateral agreements are not achieved, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen has suggested that such an accord with Greece may be signed by the end of the month."

EU: Frontex: Annual Activity Report 2017 (pdf)

"The first part (1. Developments and 2. Strategic Action Areas) of the Annual Activity Report contains comprehensive and easily understandable information regarding Frontex's work; it outlines:

the situation at the external borders in the course of 2017; developments achieved at policy and Agency level; the new and enhanced mandate of the Agency; and the main activities per Strategic Action Areas during 2017.

It also reports on cooperation with Third Countries, the way how fundamental rights underpin Frontex's coordinated activities, and the issue of public access to documents.

II. The second part (3. Key Results and Progress towards the achievement of general and specific objectives, 4. Budgetary and Financial Management, 5. Management and Internal Control) of the document represents a main instrument of management accountability...

III.The third part contains further detailed information to provide additional information on previous elements of the report."

BALKANS: Minister says "there will be no refugee camps in Bosnia"; Frontex to receive powers to intervene in Albania

The Bosnian Security Minister has reportedly said that "there will be no refugee camps in Bosnia" following a sharp increase in people arriving in the country and hoping to travel onwards to the EU. Meanwhile, the EU is close to finalising an agreement with Albania that would allow the border agency Frontex to intervene on Albanian territory for the purposes of border control and return operations.

Salvini to demand closure of Italian ports to 'international mission' migrant ships (The Local, link):

"Italy wants to prevent ships operating for "international missions" from bringing migrants rescued off Libya to Italian ports, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Sunday.

"On Thursday, I will put on the European table at Innsbruck a demand to close Italian ports to ships of international missions," Salvini said on his Twitter account, referring to a meeting with his EU counterparts in the Austrian town next week.

"Unfortunately, Italy's governments over the past five years signed accords allowing all boats to bring their migrants in Italy," he said.

Italy's new coalition government has set a goal of zero arrivals, and Salvini, who heads the far-right League party, has already banned boats chartered by charities to enter Italian ports."

And see: Migrants: Salvini tightens up asylum claims (ANSA, link)

EU: Temporary reintroduction of internal border controls: Council mandate for negotiations with European Parliament

"At its meeting on 19 June 2018 the Permanent Representatives Committee agreed on the mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament with regard to the above draft Regulation, as it is set out in the Annex.

The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in bold/italics and strikethrough."

Commission to table EU external border proposal by September (EurActiv, link):

"The Commission will translate the Council’s demands into a set of concrete actions in order to improve control of the EU external borders, Jean-Claude Juncker announced on Friday (6 July) during the visit of the College of Commissioners to Vienna.

The EU executive will present its proposal in September to increase European coastguards up to 10,000 by 2020 – ahead of the previous date of 2027. The Commission will also prose extending Frontex’s mandate in order to create a real EU border police.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a few Frontex ships and understaffed coastguards from member states at the front line,” EU sources warned.

This European border police will work in EU territorial waters in the Mediterranean. But it still needs to be clarified what will happen to those who would still manage to cross the maritime border."

European states must put human rights at the centre of their migration policies (CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, pdf):

"'European states’ current approach to the arrivals of refugees and migrants has transformed a manageable issue into an extremely divisive topic, in particular within EU member states. And it has caused immense suffering and hardship to thousands of people who sought our protection. It is time that European states put the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as the principle of responsibility sharing, at the centre of their migration and asylum policies.' said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, in a statement she released today.

'Whilst states have the right to control their borders and ensure security, this cannot come at the expense of human rights. The recent adoption of European Council conclusions, as well as decisions at national levels, raise a number of concerns that European states must address in order to meet the obligations under international human rights law which they have undertaken to respect.'"

And see: European Council on migration: documentation and reactions to the "summit of shame"

GERMANY: Full text of the interior ministry's 'Masterplan Migration': "even further restrictions"

German freedom of information website Frag den Staat (Ask the State) has published the full text of a "masterplan" on migration drawn up by the country's interior ministry, including a translation into English. In the words of the website (link): "The German Ministry of Interior is planning to put even further restrictions on Germany’s and Europe’s asylum and migration policies."

EU: Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, according to the EP

The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime, the European Parliament stated on Thursday.

In a non-legislative resolution (pdf), MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on help to irregular migrants are having “unintended consequences” for citizens that provide humanitarian assistance to migrants. The text was passed with by show of hands.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-8.7.18)
Are You Syrious (7.7.18, link);

Feature - "Human Life is Inviolable” Article 1 of the EU Charter

"Numbers of missing and dead people continue to rise in the Mediterranean while EU governments sit back, watch, close their ports and lock their doors. Since 2015 over 20,600 people have died at sea while attempting to travel from Northern Africa and Southern Europe. This June, since Salvini became Interior Minister of Italy and other EU states decided to follow his brutal lead, has been the month with the highest death toll since IOM began their records.(...)

These are crimes against humanity, illegal under the laws of the sea, the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Human Rights Act and of our collective conscience. When will an EU member state finally stand up and say enough is enough? When will a critical mass of citizens and civil society finally refuse to comply with these policies and through this simple tool end the murderous route that EU leaders are trying to force us down?"

EU position on the Global Compact on Migration advocates some of the worst features of its policies and actions

The Council of the European Union is negotiating its position on: HLWG/CONUN discussion of 15 June 2018 on the negotiations of the Global Compact on Migration - Chairs’ Summary (LIMITE doc no: 10636-18, pdf) includes "search and rescue" when current EU policies in the Med are colluding in the death of refugees by refusing to allow NGO boats to pick them out of the sea.

EU-MED: Witnesses not welcome: Civil search aircraft blocked from operation (Seawatch, link):

"The political offensive against civil sea rescue continues: Now the civil reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird was blocked from operations as well. The aircraft is operated by Sea-Watch and the Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative (HPI) and is supported by the Protestant Church of Germany (EKD). The Maltese authorities do not allow any kind of search and rescue operations. From now on no search flights in the search area north of the Libyan coast are possible anymore. Since operations started, Moonbird was involved in the rescue of 20 000 people and more than 1000 would have drowned, if the Moonbird Crew would not have found their sinking boats in the last minute."

Institute of Race Relations: Who we are is what we do (link):

"Jenny Bourne, IRR veteran, writes on what the memorial event for A. Sivanandan held on 23 June at Conway Hall, meant for her (...)

"This was a looking back only as a way of celebrating and honing a particular perspective and political practice. In the light of current moves – towards elevating identity politics, emphasising ‘unconscious bias’ and changing just attitudes and representation – the meeting was constantly recalling the aptness of Siva’s practice reflected in down-to-earth aphorisms: ‘who we are is what we do’, ‘the racism that kills not the racism that discriminates’, ‘thinking in order to do not thinking in order to think’; his method of ‘lived theory’ and the urgency to build ‘communities of resistance'."

UPDATED: UNHCR: Lesvos, Greece: Weekly Snapshot (pdf): "Some 8,000 refugees and migrants reside on Lesvos". Statewatxh adds: Greece Ministry of the Interior figures for 4 July 2018 show: 9,486 refugees on Lesvos with a total if 17,773 on the islands.

And: Islands: An update on the new arrivals to Greece (Are You Syrious, link):

"Aegan Boat Report has concluded that UNHCR’s figures on the new arrivals on the islands for the month of June are not correct, stating this week, that “Arrivals on Lesvos was 257, not 316. [As UNHCR stated]. The week before was 153, not 96. How hard can it be to put out correct information.”

It is somewhat shocking that UNHCR is not even able to put together reliable statistics for the number of people arriving on the Aegean Islands. The UNHCR has long failed to provide for the basic needs and rights of refugees on the islands, yet they have always prioritized putting out their glossy data sheets. Now it seems they cannot even do this properly."

EU: Calls by Orban, Seehofer for more migrant returns (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Amid a widening rift in the European Union over how to manage the bloc’s refugee problem, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Thursday separately called for more migrant returns to Greece and Italy.

During a tense press conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Orban called for undocumented migrants to be returned to Greece, noting that it is the first country of arrival even if all migrants are not registered there."

Right of asylum: Austria’s unsettling proposals to member states (euractiv, link):

"According to an article by French daily Le Monde, Austria, which currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, sent troubling proposals to EU member states to reform the right of asylum. EURACTIV.fr reports.

In a document given to member states and seen by Le Monde, Austria believes that “the EU and the political elites have lost control of the situation” on migration (...)

In a controversial move, the document also suggests a reform of asylum policy “which would allow for asylum procedures not to be processed on European soil”.

UPDATED: European Parliament: Refugee crisis and humanitarian help: Discussion and vote today: MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION further to Question for Oral Answer B8-0034/2018 pursuant to Rule 128(5) of the Rules of Procedure on guidelines for Member States to prevent humanitarian assistance from being criminalised (2018/2769(RSP)) Claude Moraes on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (pdf) and see Agenda (link) and Press release (link)

Domino effect of German border closure awaits crucial Vienna talks (euractiv, link):

"The Austrian government remains cautious but warned there will be consequences if the German border is closed, ahead of a meeting with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Thursday (5 July) in Vienna.

The decision of the German government to close the border with Austria and establish centres on the border to process asylum requests “came by surprise”, Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister Karin Kneissl told reporters in the nation’s capital."

EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean (link)

"The European Union has mandated Italy to set up several maritime control centres in Libya. The Coast Guard and Maritime Police will be linked to European surveillance systems, the authorities will communicate directly with Frontex. The project costs 46 million euros and starts in July. But the Libyan Coast Guard has since long been connected to Italian counterparts."

Macron warning over EU's Africa migrant centre plans (BBC News, link):

"French President Emmanuel Macron has told the BBC that EU plans to create migrant processing centres in North Africa will not work unless the process is led by those countries."

Europe is using smartphone data as a weapon to deport refugees (Wired, link):

"Smartphones have helped tens of thousands of migrants travel to Europe. A phone means you can stay in touch with your family – or with people smugglers. On the road, you can check Facebook groups that warn of border closures, policy changes or scams to watch out for. Advice on how to avoid border police spreads via WhatsApp.

Now, governments are using migrants' smartphones to deport them.

Across the continent, migrants are being confronted by a booming mobile forensics industry that specialises in extracting a smartphone’s messages, location history, and even WhatsApp data. That information can potentially be turned against the phone owners themselves. "

Children are separated from parents in the UK just like in Trump’s America (Metro, link)

"The desperate cries of children torn from their parents by US officials on the US-Mexico border have rightly provoked outrage and revulsion worldwide. Less well-known is that the UK government also separates parents from their children for the purpose of immigration control by sending the parent into immigration detention.

Every day, my charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) works with detained parents separated from their children to try and secure their release from detention.

For a child who has left for school in the morning thinking that their dad or mum will be there in the evening to come home and find that they have been taken away and detained is absolutely devastating. The long-term psychological impact of such trauma on children is well documented. The “lucky” ones are those who have another parent to take care of them. In some extreme cases, children left behind can be taken into care."

Italy to give Libya extra boats to deal with migrant crossings (The Local, link)

"The Italian government will give Libya 12 boats to help them "fight human trafficking" and curb the flow of migrants into Europe, Rome announced on Monday.

The announcement comes as several EU nations are pressuring Libya to take charge of migrant rescues in the Mediterranean, with the bloc debating how to handle the influx of migrants to the continent.

The measure, adopted during a cabinet meeting, "aims to strengthen the operational capacity of the Libyan coastguard" to ensure the "proper management" of the migrant situation in the Mediterranean, a government statement said.

The measure "prioritizes the need to fight human trafficking, to protect human life at sea and to curb migratory pressure," the statement added. The Italian government will also take responsibility for the maintenance of the 12 boats until the end of the year and offer training to the Libyan coastguard and naval authorities."

UN sets conditions for EU 'disembarkation platforms' - full-text of the letter from the IOM and UNHCR

"UN agencies are imposing conditions before agreeing to any new EU plans to prevent boats leaving from north Africa to Italy and Spain (...)

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, wants the platforms outside Europe with the cooperation of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

But a joint confidential letter [pdf] sent by heads of the UNHCR and IOM says any such country, as in north Africa, must first set up reception centres that provide "adequate, safe and dignified reception conditions."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.6.18 - 2.7.18)
Italy’s war on migrants makes me fear for my country’s future (The Guardian, link) by Roberto Saviano:

"I have never felt a greater need to speak out. I have never felt a greater need to try to explain why this new Italian government cannot be allowed to survive. Even before it has got down to real work, it has already done so much irreparable damage. The drama of the migrant rescue ship, Aquarius, which last week was denied permission to dock at Italian ports, drew everybody in – it seems there are those who, indifferent to the fate of 630 human beings at sea, think it was right to teach Europe a lesson on the migrant issue. Yet, of course, others think it preposterous to use 630 lives as bargaining chips. The trouble is that we have all lost sight of the bigger picture."

The French-Italian border reveals the essence of the European clash on migration (The Washington Post, link):

"MENTON, France — The trains coming from Italy arrive at a station one mile past the French border, and that is where the journey for migrants tends to stop. French police board the trains, walk past beachgoers, look under seats and force their way into bathrooms. They take undocumented migrants off the trains, drive them up a hilly road and deposit them back at the Italian border.

Those denied entry typically walk the five miles back to Ventimiglia, the Italian town they started from, where they can catch another train to France and try again.

“I’m already thinking about the next place I’ll hide,” said Mohammed Yaugoub Ali, 19, from Sudan."

EU: European Council on migration: documentation and reactions to the "summit of shame"

Documentation and reactions to the European Council meeting on 29-30 June, which the German NGO Pro Asyl referred to as the "summit of shame" after EU leaders agreed to further strengthening the Libyan Coast Guard and to "swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms". An editorial published by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, on the other hand, argues that although "nothing much has been decided," if one reads "between the lines of the European Council Conclusions there are some interesting developments – and not all negative."

UK: Updated profiles on the four companies running the UK's migrant detention centres

Corporate Watch has published updated profiles of the four companies that, through government outsourcing contracts, run the UK's migrant detention centres.

For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The current crisis surrounding migration is not one of numbers – migrants’ crossings of the sea are at their lowest since 2013 – but of policies. The drive towards closure and the politicisation of migration are so strong after years of tension that the frail bodies of a few thousand migrants arriving on European shores are triggering a major political crisis throughout the EU.

(...) As EU member states will most probably continue to prove unable to offer a common response to migrants once they have arrived on European shores, they will reinforce the policy they have implemented since 2015: preventing migrants from crossing the sea by outsourcing border control to non-European countries.

(...) This consensus towards closure is delusional. Policies of closure that are completely at odds with the dynamics of migration systematically fail in their aim of ending the arrivals of illegalised migrants, as the record of the last 30 years demonstrates."

EU: European Commission publishes two reports on "information channels used by migrants" in Italy and en-route to Europe

"The study findings will support the development of communication campaigns and activities aimed at informing migratory choices in countries of origin and transit. The overall objective of the EU and Member State funded migration information and awareness raising campaigns is to sensitise the target audience and provide prospective migrants, their communities and diaspora members with objective information on the risks of irregular migration as well as EU asylum, migration and return policies."

UNHCR: Projected global resettlement needs 2019 (link to pdf):

"...this 2019 Projected Global Resettlement Needs sets out in its detailed regional and country chapters information on the close to 1.4 million refugees identified as needing access to this key durable solution in the coming year. The total is 17 per cent higher than that of 2018 levels and reflects needs from more than sixty countries of asylum, from both protracted and more recent refugee situations. It captures the need to continue efforts to assist refugees in the Middle East, with an ongoing focus in Syrians, while also bringing the spotlight to the ever-increasing needs in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) countries hosting large numbers of refugees as well as countries along the Central Mediterranean Route (...)

Despite States’ commitments in the New York Declaration, the global resettlement landscape has recently been characterized by fluctuations in State quotas. The growth in resettlement quotas over the last five years (2012-2016) saw a steep reversal with declining resettlement opportunities in 2017; the 20-year high record of 163,200 submissions in 2016 was more than halved in 2017, in which only 75,200 refugees were submitted for resettlement. In a global context characterized by unprecedented displacement and approximately 1.19 million refugees estimated to be in need of resettlement in 2017, the impact of this decline in resettlement places was significant."

Over 200 Migrants Drown in Three Days in Mediterranean -- Death Toll for 2018 Passes 1,000 (IOM, link):

"On Sunday (1/07), a small rubber boat packed with migrants capsized off AlKhums, east of Tripoli, with an estimated 41 people surviving after rescue. Some 100 people were reported missing by the Libyan Coast Guard. On Friday (28/06), three babies were among the 103, who died in a shipwreck similar to Sunday’s incident, also caused by smugglers taking migrants to sea in completely unsafe vessels.

So far this year, the Libyan Coast Guard has returned some 10,000 people to shore from small vessels (...)

From Friday to Sunday, close to 1,000 migrants were returned to Libyan shore by the Libyan Coast Guard, who intercepted small crafts as they made their way towards the open sea. Upon disembarkation to shore, migrants have received emergency direct assistance, including food and water, health assistance and IOM protection staff has provided vulnerability interviews. Those rescued and returned by the Libyan Coast Guard are transferred by the Libyan authorities to the detention centres where IOM continues humanitarian assistance."

Lesvos, Greece: Message from Pikpa camp: Reaction to announcement to close Pikpa camp

See: https://twitter.com/lesvosolidarity?lang=en (Twitter)

"The North Aegean regional governor announced the closure of Pikpa camp on the basis of a report by the health inspection which found shortcomings in the common kitchen handled by the residents, a broken net in the food distribution area and a leakage to a water tank for washing machines. For these reasons, it considers Pikpa dangerous to public health and the environment.

It is important to remind that the forest and public health services visited at a time when Pikpa camp responded to the urgent need to host 350 Kurdish refugees who had left Moria camp after fights broke out. It was the police who insisted to host around 70 people who had fled to a park in Mytilini in Pikpa camp on Friday night 25 May. They guaranteed that the next day the families would be transferred to Kara Tepe. Instead the next day, up to 1000 Kurdish people left Moria camp and Pikpa camp did not hear back on the promise to transfer the people to Kara Tepe. As soon as the temporary emergency with the Kurdish refugees in Pikpa camp started, this extraordinary situation has been used against Pikpa camp. Apart from sending several inspection services to the camp in this period, a court case was launched by several hotel owners from the neighbourhood and a few individuals, which will be heard on 6 July."

EU-MED: In the new climate of fear, our rescue boat turned away from people drowning - Last week, our rescue crew was afraid and 120 people probably died as a result (New Statesman, link):

" We called the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), the governmental body which oversees and authorises rescue operations. Normally we need their permission before we can do anything. But this time they gave us no guidance, other than to tell us to call the Libyan coastguard. In the past, the Libyan coastguard has threatened NGO boats like ours. Perhaps because of this, the captain decided not to contact them. At the same time, our NGO’s board in Germany told us to go north, away from Libyan territorial waters (which end 24 miles from shore), since the MRCC had given us no express orders to get involved. We headed north and then west, towards Tunisia. The VHF radio was silent for the rest of the night.

How is it that a rescue boat was fleeing from, instead of going towards, a boat in need?"

Lesvos, Greece: Moria community leader ends hunger strike after talks (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The leader of the Moria community on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos ended on Wednesday a hunger strike which he had started on Sunday in protest at overcrowding at the Moria reception center.

Nikos Trakellis called off his protest following talks with Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Balafas, though it did not appear that the latter offered additional pledges other than those made by the ministry’s general secretary on Tuesday.

In comments to Kathimerini, Trakellis indicated that his hunger strike had been a symbolic action, aimed at drawing attention to conditions on the island where more than 8,000 migrants live in cramped conditions at the Moria center."

European parliament 'won't pay for offshore migrant camps' - Labour MEP Claude Moraes says body would not back ‘extreme’ move as migration crisis looms (Guardian, link):

"A senior European politician has warned that MEPs would seek to block any use of EU funds for offshore migrant camps in north Africa.

The opposition to offshore centres for processing asylum claims raises tensions before an EU summit that will be dominated by a political crisis over migration that threatens Angela Merkel’s future as German chancellor.

As Mediterranean countries spar over who is responsible for people rescued at sea, the EU is reviving the idea of processing asylum claims in countries outside Europe.

Claude Moraes, a British Labour MEP who chairs the European parliament’s influential justice and home affairs committee, said the parliament “wouldn’t cooperate on the budget” for such centres, because “we think these ideas are extreme and we are not going to touch them”.

The parliament must give its consent to the EU’s next seven-year budget, which foresees spending €35bn (£31bn) on border management from 2021-27, compared with €13bn in the current budget."

And see: EU: Decisive Moment for Migration Policy - Summit Should Reject Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers (HRW, link)

Tsipras to bail out Merkel on refugees (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is ready to sign a deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to make it easier for Germany to send asylum seekers back to other European countries, the Financial Times reported."

And see: France adds its voice to stop NGO ships from acting as ‘taxis’ (euractiv, link)

EU: Bulgarian Council Presidency: At today’s summit, Merkel will seeks bilateral deals on migrant ‘secondary movements’ (link):

"German chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking bilateral talks on managing so-called secondary migration, at the two-day summit starting today (28 June). Georgi Gotev has the story.

The dispute is over plans drawn up by Merkel’s interior minister Horst Seehofer, the head of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), to send back migrants who reach the German border after having registered in other EU states. Merkel needs to take home a significant number of bilateral deals to be able to save its coalition."

Council of the EU: Sahel/Mali - Council conclusions (25 June 2018) (10026/18, pdf) including on migration:

"10. The EU reconfirms its commitment to strengthen its engagement with the G5 Sahel countries on migration in the region in line with the five pillars of the Valletta Action Plan, the Partnership Framework, the AU-EU Abidjan Declaration and the work of the Tripartite AU-EU-UN Taskforce on the migration situation in Libya. The EU underlines the need for enhanced collective efforts with the G5 Sahel countries to save lives, assist and protect migrants and refugees, fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings, secure humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in conflict zones, while providing viable alternatives to irregular migration, in particular to communities along the main transit routes. Enhancing cooperation in the area of returns and readmission in accordance with international law and standards is also crucial. The EU reiterates its determination to support broad-based cooperation between countries in the Sahel and Libya in pursuit of these objectives and to tackle related cross-border challenges, including on the southern borders of Libya, while taking into account the security situation in this region."

Walk or die: Algeria strands 13,000 migrants in the Sahara (AP, link):

"ASSAMAKA, Niger (AP) — From this isolated frontier post deep in the sands of the Sahara, the expelled migrants can be seen coming over the horizon by the hundreds. They look like specks in the distance, trudging miserably across some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain in the blistering sun.

They are the ones who made it out alive.

Here in the desert, Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, stranding them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).

In Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 15-kilometer (9-mile) no man’s land to Assamaka, less a town than a collection of unsteady buildings sinking into drifts of sand. Others, disoriented and dehydrated, wander for days before a U.N. rescue squad can find them. Untold numbers perish along the way; nearly all the more than two dozen survivors interviewed by The Associated Press told of people in their groups who simply could not go on and vanished into the Sahara."

Destination Europe: Evacuation (IRIN, link):

"The EU is now teetering on the edge of a fresh political crisis, with boats carrying people rescued from the sea being denied ports of disembarkation, no consensus on how to share responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees within the continent, and increasing talk of further outsourcing the management of migration to African countries.

Against this backdrop, the evacuation and resettlement programme from Libya is perhaps the best face of European policy in the Mediterranean. But, unless EU countries offer more spots for refugees, it is a pathway to safety for no more than a small handful who get the luck of the draw. As the first evacuees adjust to their new lives in Europe, the overwhelming majority are left behind."

Bulgaria under fire for ill-treatment of asylum-seekers (Bulgarian Presidency, link):

"French lawyers will today (26 June) bring a complaint against Bulgaria and will ask the European Commission to start and infringement proceeding for inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by this country’s authorities, the Green/EFA group announced. Georgi Gotev has the story.

In the presence of the Green/EFA group co-chair Ska Keller, the lawyers presented a 20-page report, based on shocking testimony by Afghan asylum-seekers, and answered journalistic questions.

Chloé Gerbert Cahuzac who represents the 14 Afghan claimants who are currently asylum seekers in France said they were in a state of anxiety aid groups had “never seen before”.

She quoted them as repeating the same sentence: “We prefer to go back to Kabul than to Sofia. In Afghanistan people kill you right away with one bullet, in Bulgaria they let you die slowly”."

EU: European Parliament briefing: A Europe without internal borders? Free movement of persons (pdf):

"The free movement of persons is one of the four freedoms of the EU single market, the other three being the free movement of goods, services and capital. Since the founding of the EU, internal borders have been progressively dismantled and these freedoms have expanded. Today the rights of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States are for the most part based on Directive 2004/38/EC. Free movement may in practice entail different rights for different categories of people."


June 2018

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.6.18 - 26.6.18)
New interoperable, centralised, Justice & Home Affairs database: Adoption of Regulations a democratic shambles

On 12 December 2017 the Commission put forward proposals on "interoperability" which will bring together into a central source data held in the Justice & Home Affairs databases on asylum, migration and borders for the first time.

The European Parliament and the Council got to work quickly, after all the proposals concerned migration and terrorism and only covered non-EU citizens so they were thought to be uncontentious. By June 2018 both the institutions - as co-legislators - were well advanced on agreeing their negotiating positions prior to starting trilogue talks.

But in June 2018 the Comission produced two Amended Regulations dependent on five underlying mesures which have yet to be agreed.There is all the makings on a democratic shambles.

Are You Syrious (25.6.18, link)

Greece: Fascist Attack

"Activists report that a fascist attack took place on Sunday night against a squatted social health centre, PIKPA, at Petralona, Athens. Twenty men attacked the building with molotovs during an assembly of the neighbourhood. One antifascist was injured in the head, while police arrested the antifascists instead of the attackers. A spontaneous demonstration happened after the incident.

On Monday, Krypteia, a neonazi group responsible for many other attacks, claimed responsibility, also mentioning Manolada (the immigrant worker’s area) and an arson attack which took place there a few weeks ago."

European Parilament: Hotspots at EU external borders - State of play (pdf):

"As migration continues to be one of the EU's main challenges, the hotspots are a key element of EU support for Greece and Italy to help them face the challenges of the humanitarian and border management crisis. However, reception conditions remain a concern. The majority of the hotspots suffer from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regards to camp facilities and living conditions, in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for action to ensure that the hotspot approach does not endanger the fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants."

EU: Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, say MEPs (European Parliament, press release, link):

"The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime Civil Liberties Committee MEPs said on Monday.

MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on humanitarian help to migrants is having “unintended consequences” for EU citizens that provide it, in a non-legislative resolution passed by 38 votes to 16, with 2 abstentions.

Under the 2002 “Facilitation” directive, EU member states are required to introduce laws listing criminal penalties for anyone who “facilitates” the irregular entry, transit or residence of migrants.

However, the EU legislation also empowers member states to exempt “humanitarian” action from the list of crimes.(...)

They call on EU countries to include this exemption in their national laws, to ensure that individuals and civil society organisations who assist migrants for humanitarian reasons are not prosecuted for doing so."

Austria holds border exercises in response to Germany (DW, link)

"As Germany's government bitterly debates border protection, Austria is undertaking a large-scale border operation. Austrian leaders say the German squabble and possible changes to European policy triggered the move.

Austria held border patrol training exercises on Tuesday. The country's leaders told German newspaper Bild that they came in response to a rift in the German government over migration."

EU: Council largely rejects Commission’s proposals on migration — again - New draft conclusions essentially take just one Commission suggestion (Politico, link):

"The latest Council draft conclusions on migration circulated on Monday and obtained by POLITICO, which EU leaders will discuss at a summit this week, largely leaves out amendments proposed by the Commission."

See: European Council meeting (28 June 2018) – Draft conclusions (Statewatch, LIMITE doc on: 8148-18, dated 25 June 2018, pdf)

"What the latest draft summit conclusions say: “In this context, the European Council supports the development of a concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM [the International Organization for Migration]. Such platforms should allow for rapid and secure processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor.”

EU summit to focus on lowering Mediterranean immigration (euractiv, link):

"European Union leaders meeting over migration later this week will agree to further tighten their external borders, give more support to Libya and look at creating “disembarkation” centres outside of their territory for people who arrive by sea.

But a draft of their statement showed no agreement on distributing asylum seekers around the bloc, a measure strongly opposed by the Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia).

With anti-immigration politicians raising the stakes in EU countries from Germany and Austria to Italy and Hungary, the bloc is seeking more ways to curb Mediterranean arrivals."

And see: Italian minister calls for migrant reception centres south of Libya - Far-right Matteo Salvini’s proposal designed to crack down on migration (Guardian, link)

Council of the European Union: Letter from the High Commissioner for Refugees to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria (LIMITE doc no: 10316, pdf): Backing the need for solidarity between EU Member States to take their fair share of refugees.

See also: Conte and Macron compare notes on migration at mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Sixteen EU heads of state and government held an emergency summit in Brussels on Sunday (24 June) to discuss migration – a crisis with a destructive potential for the EU. No results were announced but sources said the discussions had largely revolved around a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte." and Migration is threat to EU free travel area, says Italian prime minister - Giuseppe Conte presents 10-point plan to solve migration crisis at emergency summit (Guardian, link)

And: Migration crisis risks Europe’s dream - Antonio Tajani (Times, Malta, link): Antonio Tajani is president of the European Parliament.

220 dead and counting: multiple drownings are a direct effect of the crackdown on sea rescue. Sea-Watch calls for humanitarian contingencies (Seawatch, link):

"The UNHCR reports that in the last three days approximately 220 have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This spike in death toll caused the UN agency to call for more rescue capacity at sea, while European governments, with Italy in a leading role, do everything to avoid effective sea rescue. Sea-Watch warned on Wednesday of deadly days on the horizon due to a lack of rescue capacity; these drownings are a direct effect of the current crackdown on sea rescue."

CoE: Unrelenting rise in xenophobic populism, resentment, hate speech in Europe in 2017 (link);

"Xenophobic populism and hate speech have continued to be on the rise in 2017, with high levels of migration and challenges of integration, religious extremism, terrorist attacks and the austerity-driven socio-economic climate observed all over Europe, says the annual report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today."

See: ECRI report 2017 (pdf)

EU: Europe’s asylum system is broken and leaders must fix it (AI, link)

Hungarian aid groups would rather go to jail than abandon refugees (VICE, link):

"Hungarian humanitarian groups that help asylum seekers are standing in defiance of new draconian laws imposed by Viktor Orban’s authoritarian government that criminalize their work."

Hungary: “Stop Soros” provision on illegal migration should be repealed as it seriously impairs legitimate NGO work, say Venice Commission legal experts (CoE, link):

"An opinion adopted today by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission criticises a key provision on illegal migration of the so-called “Stop Soros” legislation that the Hungarian Parliament adopted this week.(...)

the Hungarian provision goes far beyond what is allowed under Article 11, as it unfairly criminalises organisational activities not directly related to the materialisation of illegal migration, including “preparing or distributing informational materials” or “initiating asylum requests for migrants.” Criminalising such activities disrupts assistance to victims by NGOs, disproportionally restricting their rights as guaranteed under Article 11, and under international law. Furthermore, criminalising advocacy and campaigning activities – under the new provision – constitutes illegitimate interference with freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10, according to the opinion." [emphasis added]

See: Press release (link)

European border surveillance in Libya - The shifting of the EU’s external borders to North Africa is generating profits for defence companies (link):

"The European Union is stepping up efforts to protect its external borders. The focus is on developing the Frontex Border Agency into a European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Another pillar of EU migration policy is the transfer of border security to third countries. Particular attention is paid to the maritime borders in Libya and neighbouring countries. Furthermore, most of the migrants reaching the European Union via the Mediterranean come from Libya. Their absolute number is declining, yet in 2017 almost 119,000 people fled.

The fragile „unity government“ in Tripoli controls only a fraction of the land borders. However, their military coastguard and civilian maritime police are responsible for those stretches of the coast from which many depart for the EU."

EU: Visegrad Four to shun EU's weekend mini-summit on migrant crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday said leaders of the Visegrad Four countries Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will skip a European Union mini-summit on the migration crisis this weekend.

All four eastern EU states strongly oppose calls from western counterparts especially Germany for all member states to accept a quota of migrants who have streamed into the EU since 2015 in order to share the burden around the bloc."

EU: Tensions build ahead of hastily prepared migration meeting (euractiv, link):

"Jean-Claude Juncker’s invitation to a handful of EU leaders for an informal mini-summit on Sunday (27 June) to discuss migration and asylum appears to have raised more issues than the meeting can solve."

"The heart is where the battle is": A celebration of Sivanandan's legacy, Saturday 23 June 2018. The Memorial event at Conway Hall. London will be live-streamed on the Institute of Race Relations News Youtube Channel from 1.30 to 5.00pm: https://www.youtube.com/user/IRRnews

Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application.... Preparation for the trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 9848-18, pdf)

"It is of utmost importance to Member States that the European Parliament has accepted the possibility for Member States to use a proportionate degree of coercion as a last resort to ensure the compliance of minors with the obligation to provide biometric data."

EU countries prepare mini-summit as migration row festers (ekathimerini.com,link):

"Leaders from a group of European Union countries, led by Germany and France, will meet Sunday to thrash out possible solutions to a divisive row over migrants.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose own government is in crisis over the management of migrant arrivals, is expected to join the leaders of Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain for “informal talks” at European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday."

This unusual move just days before an European Council (Heads of State) meeting was unowned by the Commission in a minimal way see: Informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues (Press release, pdf). The text simply says:

"President Juncker is convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming European Council."

Hungary approves ‘STOP Soros’ law, prohibits ‘resettlement of alien population’ (euractiv, link):

"Hungary’s parliament yesterday (20 June) approved a package of bills that criminalises some help given to illegal immigrants, defying the European Union and human rights groups.

Parliament, where Fidesz has a two-thirds majority, also passed a constitutional amendment stating that an “alien population” cannot be settled in Hungary – a swipe at Brussels over its resettlement quota plan.

The legislation narrows the scope for action by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), making their workers liable for jail terms for helping migrants to seek asylum when they are not entitled to it."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.6.18-20.6.18)
EU: Court of Justice: Member States are entitled to adopt a return decision as soon as an application for international protection is rejected, provided that the return procedure is suspended pending the outcome of an appeal against that rejection (press release, pdf):

"In today's judgment, the Court of Justice finds that an applicant for international protection falls within the scope of the directive on returning illegally staying non-EU nationals as soon as his application for international protection has been rejected by the responsible authority. In that regard, the Court notes that the authorisation to remain in the territory of the Member State concerned for the purposes of exercising the right to an effective remedy against that rejection decision does not preclude the conclusion that, as soon as that rejection decision is adopted, the stay of the person concerned becomes, in principle, illegal (...)

The Court also notes that Member States are required to provide an effective remedy against the decision rejecting the application for international protection, in accordance with the principle of equality of arms, which means, in particular, that all the effects of the return decision must be suspended during the period prescribed for lodging such an appeal and, if such an appeal is lodged, until resolution of the appeal."

See the judgment: Sadikou Gnandi v Belgium (Case C-181/16, French only, pdf)

Belgium: Council for Alien Law Litigation rules that Dublin transfers to Greece require a case by case analysis

On 8 June 2018, the Belgian Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALLL) ruled on case no. 205104, which concerned an appeal against a Dublin transfer from Belgium to Greece of an applicant from Palestine. The applicant arrived and lodged an asylum application in Belgium in October 2017. Since he was in possession of a valid visa delivered by Greece, Belgium sent a “take charge” request to Greece on the application of the Dublin III Regulation. The applicant appealed against this decision before the CALL based on, inter alia, the alleged existence of systematic deficiencies in the asylum and reception systems in Greece.

EU-Ethiopia return procedures: Council fails to answer three simple questions

On 15 February 2018 Judith Sargentini MEP asked the Council of the EU three questions concerning procedures for returning Ethiopians to their country of origin, which were approved by the Council at the end of January. The Council's answer came over four months later, on 18 June, and fails to answer any of the questions effectively.

EU to consider plans for migrant processing centres in north Africa

"The EU is to consider the idea of building migrant processing centres in north Africa in an attempt to deter people from making life-threatening journeys to Europe across the Mediterranean, according to a leaked document.

The European council of EU leaders “supports the development of the concept of regional disembarkation platforms”, according to the draft conclusions of an EU summit due to take place next week (pdf).

HUNGARY: The “Stop Soros” bill revisited (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"Tomorrow is D-Day for the so-called “Stop Soros” legislative package. At 3 p.m. the Fidesz voting machine, perhaps with the assistance of Jobbik, will accept all of the provisions of the 7th amendment to the constitution.

Since January, when it was first proposed and failed to pass because Fidesz didn’t have a super majority in parliament at that time, the bill has gone through several iterations. In the first version, foreign-financed organizations “supporting illegal immigration” were to be registered and a tax imposed on them. The bill would have included the issuance of restraining orders in an 8-km border zone in the case of Hungarian citizens; non-Hungarian supporters of illegal immigration would have been barred from Hungary altogether. All this was unconstitutional as far as Hungarian law was concerned and illegal under the laws of the European Union."

115 rescued, 5 dead in Libya wreck - Libyan Navy (Info Migrants, link)

"Libyan coast guards have rescued 115 migrants off Mellitah, west of Tripoli, according to a statement posted on Facebook by Libya's Navy. At least five were reported dead in the shipwreck.

Libyan coast guards rescued 115 migrants, including two children and 22 women aboard a rubber dinghy taking on water some eight miles north of Mellitah, west of Tripoli, the Libyan Navy said in a statement published on Facebook Tuesday. They were also reportedly able to ''recover five bodies,'' including three men and two women, according to the statement.

The coast guard vessel "Ras Jedir" carried out the rescue operation and saved migrants from different African countries and four Pakistanis. The statement said high waves had "destroyed part of the dinghy" and "some undocumented migrants fell into the sea," without elaborating."

European Migration Network: Annual Report on Migration and Asylum 2017 (pdf):

Covers: 1. Legal migration and mobility; 2. International protection including asylum; 3. Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups; 4. Integration; 5. Irregular migration including border control; 6. Return; 7. Actions addressing trafficking in human beings; 8. Maximising the development impact of migration and mobility.

EU: Resettlement of refugees: 11 Member States insist on using resettlement as "a tool for migration management and cooperation with third countries"

11 Member States are insistent on the need for a new scheme on the resettlement of refugees into the EU to be used as an instrument for trying to ensure that 'third countries' cooperate with EU policies on migration.

Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Greece, Malta, Austria and Ireland have "[stressed] the need to retain in the text the idea that resettlement is a tool for migration management and cooperation with third countries," according to a note distributed by COREPER (the Committee of Permanent Representatives, made up of Member States' head officials in Brussels) in response to a Bulgarian Council Presidency note drafted at the beginning of this month.

Greece: A New Nightmare: Picked up in the Aegean and Returned to Syria (Samos Chronicles, link):

"For the past ten days I have been waiting for news from Mohammad. Like me he comes from Aleppo but for the past 6 years he has been with his mother and brother living in Istanbul. Mohammad is 18 years old.

We became friends through Facebook where he saw that I was involved with many refugees in Athens and in Samos. He had read my story in the Samos Chronicles. As a young gay man he turned to me for advice and help which I was happy to give. Over the past six months we have talked a lot and a good friendship has developed. I know that he trusts me...."

MEP: In the long term, migrants will be part of solution in Europe (euractiv, link):

"More and more voices are calling for an urgent reform of the strained Dublin asylum system as migrants continue arriving across the Mediterranean and migration takes centre stage in Europe again.

In an interview with EURACTIV’s Karolina Zbytniewska, Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP for the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, is positive: “If we did not have the Dublin rules or if we had changed them, we wouldn’t be having what is now happening in Italian ports and in the Mediterranean.”

Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek EU roadmap (euractiv, link):

"French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany tomorrow (19 June) seeking progress with Chancellor Angela Merkel on elusive eurozone reforms, but the deepening EU rifts over migration threaten to dominate an already daunting agenda."

EU: European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Annual report 2017 (pdf):

"Importantly, recognition rates tend to vary across EU+ countries, at both relatively low and high values of the recognition rates, in particular for applicants from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, where the recognition rate ranged between 0 and 100 %. For others, there was relatively more convergence at higher (e.g. Eritrea and Syria) and lower (e.g. Albania and Nigeria) recognition rates."

See also: Sharp fall in number of people seeking asylum in EU (Guarsian, link): "Almost 730,000 applications were made in 2017, a 44% drop on the 1.3m made in 2016."

EU: The future of free movement of persons in the UK (Part 1) (EU Law Analysis, lnk):

"Concerns about immigration were a - no, probably the - main reason why many voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. There was a strong perception that the UK had ‘lost control’ of its borders; a Leave vote would enable the UK government to take back that control."

EU: Refugees in Orbit – again! (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new far-right home secretary, tweeted “Vittoria!” after news broke that the 629 persons stranded aboard the M.S. Aquarius would be forced to proceed to the Spanish city of Valencia rather than being allowed to disembark at much closer ports in Sicily (...)

But is it a victory for Italy, as the home secretary presumably meant to suggest? There is no doubt that Italy (and to a much greater extent, Greece) has shouldered more than its fair share of refugees arriving to seek protection in Europe. Nor can it be doubted that Europe and the rest of the world have acted too slowly and undependably to share-out what is in principle a common responsibility to protect refugees, thus fueling frustration and even anger. The EU’s absurd “Dublin Regulation” rule that allocates nearly all protection duties to the first country in which a refugee arrives is both unprincipled and cruel. So while nothing can justify Italy’s flagrant breach of the duty to facilitate speedy disembarkation of those rescued, its determination to force a redistribution of responsibility is perhaps more comprehensible.

In truth, the real villain here is an outmoded system of implementing protection obligations under the UN’s Refugee Convention. Under the status quo, whatever country a refugee reaches is the one and only country that has protection obligations to that refugee. Accidents of geography, rather than any principled metric, determine which states are obliged to carry the burdens for implementing what is in theory a universal duty to protect refugees."

TURKEY-AFGHANISTAN: Their Road to Turkey Was Long and Grueling, but the Short Flight Home Was Crueler (New York Times, link):

"KABUL, Afghanistan — Their desperate journey out of Afghanistan, en route to safer lives in Europe, had taken months through high mountains and treacherous deserts.

They survived bullets, beatings and insults from border guards. Bandits stripped them of nearly everything except their shoes and clothes — which over the months of the journey they would wash in whatever puddle or pool was available, laying the clothes out in the sun to dry and then wear again.

But their migration halted suddenly in Turkey, and now they were being deported to a home country racked by war. I flew with them on the return flight to Kabul from Istanbul that finally ended their hopes. It took just five hours last month."

Italy bars two more refugee ships from ports (The Guardian, link):

"Italy’s interior minister has sparked a new migration crisis in the Mediterranean by barring two rescue boats from bringing refugees to shore, a week after the Aquarius was prevented from docking.

“Two other ships with the flag of Netherlands, Lifeline and Seefuchs, have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers,” Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant party the League, wrote on his Facebook page. “These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports [not Italian] where to go.”

Italy’s closure of its ports to the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, which was carrying 620 people, triggered warnings from aid agencies of a deadly summer at sea for people trying to cross the Mediterranean."

EU: The EU’s Answer to Migration Is to Triple Funding for Border Management. Will This Do the Job? (Center for Global Development, link)

"Earlier this week, the European Commission published its proposals on migration and border security for the next EU budget (2021–2027). Financial support for migration, asylum, and border management is to almost triple, from €13 billion to €34.9 billion. What might this mean for the EU and future migration flows? (...)

The Aquarius incident serves as a reminder of how much pressure the unresolved migration challenges put on the EU’s internal cohesion. There is major disagreement on the future of migration policy within Europe, with Southern European states disagreeing and a deep East-West divide, especially as Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic refuse to take part in resettlement efforts for a fairer European allocation of asylum seekers, leading to the Commission launching infringement procedures against these member states last year. The unprecedented increase in funding for border management in the MFF seems to reflect the “principle of hope” that more money will do the job in reducing internal tensions during the budgetary negotiations. However, in the long-term and given the absence of legal migration mechanism and the EU’s struggle to build a coherent asylum system by successfully revising the Dublin regulation, population growth, instability, and economic development in Africa could drive more people into risking the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean, irrespective of cutting-edge border management technologies."

See: Massive funding increases proposed for internal security, border security and migration: full documentation

Big Data, Big Promises: Revisiting Migration Statistics in Context of the Datafication of Everything (Border Criminologies, link):

"We are witnessing the datafication of mobility and migration management across the world. In the context of Europe, programs like Eurosur use satellite images for surveilling the EU’s maritime borders, while the so-called hotspot approach aims to register all newly arriving migrants in biometric databases. Similarly, in the field of asylum, biometric databases are built for purposes of refugee management, while asylum seekers in Greece are distributed cash-cards. These new types and collections of data do not only change border and migration management practices. They also reconfigure how human mobility and migration are known and constituted as intelligible objects of government. The crucial innovation driving this datafication is the digitization of information that was previously stored – if at all – on paper files. This information is now available in a range of databases and can – at least in theory – be searched, exchanged, linked, and analysed with unprecedented scope and efficiency (...)

The ‘huge potential of Big Data’ to provide accurate and up-to-date accounts of international migration is promoted. Nevertheless, the promises driving these efforts are just as big as the data they refer to. In this post, we briefly discuss three reasons why it is rather unlikely that Big Data will simply solve the most important known limitations of migration statistics. Each reason is related to a form of politics which, taken together, shape the quantification of migration."

EU: Mastermind smuggler involved in 2015 migrant crisis arrested in Greece (Europol press release, pdf):

"One of most prolific migrant smugglers along the Western Balkan route was arrested in Athens on 12 June 2018 after very close cooperation between the Hellenic Police (Aliens Division of Attica), the Hungarian National Police (National Bureau of Investigation Illegal Immigration Unit) and Europol. The suspect, a Syrian national, was apprehended in Athens together with an accomplice who is involved in document fraud.

The main suspect, based in Hungary, was involved in the transport of migrants in 2015 and 2016. At that time, he was under investigation in different EU Member States for facilitating several smuggling incidents between Hungary and Germany. The investigation showed that he moved to Greece after the closure of the Western Balkan route to continue his criminal activities. Based on this information, a European Arrest Warrant was issued by Hungary. After an excellent exchange of information via Europol, both the Hellenic and Hungarian authorities met for a final operational meeting with the European Union Task Force (EURTF) in Greece to discuss future steps in the investigation."

See also in a seperate case: Greece: Leaders of Smuggling Network get 1,400 Year Sentence (OCCRP, link)

EU: BARCA NOSTRA - A Monument to the European Union (link)

"BARCA NOSTRA, a migrant initiative, announces the launch of its petition for the procession ‘March from Palermo to Brussels - A Monument to the European Union’ to bring the recovered refugee shipwreck from the 18th April 2015 from Italy to Brussels and install it as a permanent monument in the heart of the headquarters of European politics.

The procession through Europe with the recovered shipwreck of the refugee boat that sank in the Sicilian Channel in spring 2015, will start in Palermo in summer 2018 - referencing the Charter of Palermo and the freedom of movement as a human right, as well as the local tradition of the syncretic Santa Rosalia procession as a victory over the plague and a celebration of life.

The procession will move through Italy, crossing the borders of France, Germany and Belgium, to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels. There the shipwreck will come to its final halt and be displayed permanently in front of the European Council and Commission as a reminder of and transnational monument to Europe’s failed migration policies and its legislative machine that creates illegality and social destruction."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.6.18-17.6.18)
Greece: Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre, link):

"In the months since our last update on rights violations and resistance in Lesvos, our advocacy and campaigning resources were almost exclusively focused on the two trials for the Moria 35 and Moria 10 that took place in Chios in late April and early May 2018."

Greece: Unbelievable: Non-Schengen nationals need passport for beach Tsamakia on Lesvos (Keep talking Greece, link);

"An organized beach on the island of Lesvos has introduced new practices that stun not only swimmers but also local media. Tsamakia Beach requests from visitors to show their passport at the entrance if they are from countries outside the Schengen zone. With a notice posted at the entrance, visitors are warned that will be not allowed to enter the beach without a passport.

The warning is in English, French and Arabic."

And see: Lesbos Legal Centre (link)

Uprooted and unprotected A multi-agency approach to safeguarding children forced into migration through northern France (NSPCC, link):

"This report highlights learning from CTAC’s work with the Refugee Youth Service (RYS), safeguarding children who had lived in the Calais 'Jungle'. RYS refers children to CTAC when it suspects they have moved from France to the UK. CTAC then shares child protection information with relevant UK agencies and tries to establish the children’s whereabouts."

French police cut soles off migrant children's shoes, claims Oxfam (Guardian, link)

"Charity accuses authorities of detaining minors without food before illegally returning them to Italy.

French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.

A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby."

See: Oxfam report (link)

Hungary: Four men jailed over deaths of 71 migrants locked in lorry (Guardian, link): "Members of people-smuggling gang sentenced to 25 years each over deaths of men, women and children in 2015."

MEPs again angrily urge EU to act on refugee crisis (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link)

"The Italian government has been roundly condemned by MEPs for its refusal to allow the 629 refugees stranded on board the Aquarius to land"

EU: Merkel under internal pressure to abandon EU-wide solutions to migration crisis (euractiv, link):

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a tense showdown yesterday (14 June) within her divided conservative camp over the flashpoint issue of immigration that could threaten her political future.

Merkel was confronted with an open rebellion by her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, long a fierce critic of her liberal stance on refugees who wants to toughen border controls.(...)

Seehofer has demanded as part of his new “migration master plan” that German border police be given the right to turn back all asylum-seekers without valid identity papers and those who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union."

GREECE: Still Here: Samos Refugees June 2018 (Samos Chronicles, link):

"The recent silence of this blog does not imply nothing is happening with 2,335 refugees currently on Samos. We should have written earlier. In our silence we unwittingly supported the forgetting of the refugees detained on the Greek frontier islands such as Samos. This forgetting is an insidious process. For the refugees it compounds their sense of isolation and abandonment."

EU migration row boils over as Italy and France trade insults (Guardian, link): "Austria calls for ‘axis of the willing’ to take action, and rifts widen in German coalition"

Aquarius: EU and Member States must stop treating migrants as "hot potatoes” (AEDH, link):

"Stupefied and worried by this modern Exodus, we see on the horizon the infinite cabotage of this boat which status of lifeguard becomes one of burden. Although Rinaldo Melucci and Luigi de Magistris, the respective mayors of Taranto and Naples, declared to be ready to welcome Aquarius migrants, the new Italian government, largely committed to the xenophobic and racist ideas of Matteo Salvini, flex its weak muscles and refuses the entry of Aquarius into Italian ports. AEDH knew that nothing was to be expected from a government whose partners had announced during the election campaign that it would not respect human rights."

Stranding People at Sea is an Abomination (HRW, link):

"Italy and Malta’s Move Puts Lives in Danger.

After a nerve-wracking stand-off and intense negotiations, 629 people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Aquarius, a rescue ship run by two nongovernmental groups, SOS MEDITERRANEE and MSF, are finally heading towards Spain. Spain’s humane gesture stands in stark contrast to the disgraceful behavior by Italy and Malta."

Salvini announces Italian-German initiative to shield EU external borders (New Europe, link):

"The Italian Minister of Interior and leader of the far-right Lega, Matteo Salvini, announced a common political initiative with the German government to safeguard the EU’s external border.

Salvini told the Italian public News Agency (ANSA) that he had a cordial conversation with the German Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, in which there was complete consensus on immigration policy. The two ministers agreed not to “waste further time” in dealing with the issue, while Seehofer invited Salvini for consultations in Berlin."

EU: How we all colluded in Fortress Europe (The Guardian, link) by Kenan Malik:

"That mass drowning off Lampedusa in 2013 is an apposite place from which to start a discussion on the dehumanising of the Other. Too often when we discuss hateful portrayals of migrants or Muslims or other minorities, we focus on the far right, or on groups such as Pegida, or on countries such as Hungary and politicians such as Viktor Orbán. It is certainly important that we call out such organisations and politicians and eviscerate their arguments.

But we need also to recognise that the truth about dehumanisation is far more uncomfortable and far closer to home. The ideas and policies promoted by the far right and by populist anti-immigration figures have not come out of nowhere. They have become acceptable because the groundwork has already been laid, and continues to be maintained, by mainstream politicians and commentators.

There is a tendency among liberals to see a great divide on immigration between the mainstream and the populists and between a more liberal western Europe and a more reactionary east. That is to distort reality. For, while differences clearly exist, the divisions are not nearly as sharp as often suggested. It is the rhetoric and the policies emerging from the mainstream and from western Europe that have helped legitimise the hostility to immigration expressed by the populists and in eastern Europe."

MED: Agence Europe reports that: "Greens/EFA group, Philippe Lamberts, called for an addition to be made to Wednesday’s agenda for a debate with representatives from the Commission and Council on the “closing of Italian and Maltese ports to migrants on the Aquarius ship” (see other article). His proposal for a debate, without resolution, was approved by 212 votes in favour to 62 against, with 18 abstentions, but with a different debate title, “humanitarian emergencies in Mediterranean and solidarity in European Union”."

Aquarius standoff: MSF calls for people's safety to come before politics (MaltaToday, link):

"MSF Sea said the best option for the rescued migrants would be to disembark at the nearest port and be transferred to a safe country. (...) .

MSF said that they rescued parties were receiving supplies onboard the Aquarius. The Italian Rescue Authorities would then transfer some people from the Aquarius to Italian ships and will head to Valencia, Spain.

“MSF calls for people’s safety to come before politics.”

New German 'migration master plan' delayed as conservatives bicker (DW, link)

"Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's new "migration master plan" for Germany was set to be published on Tuesday. At the last moment, apparently amid disagreement with Chancellor Angela Merkel, it has been postponed."

Spain 'will accept' disputed Aquarius migrant ship (BBC News, link):

"Spain's prime minister has said the country will take in a rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean, to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

Pedro Sánchez said he would give "safe harbour" to the Aquarius and the 629 people on board, after Italy and Malta both refused to let the ship dock.

The UN refugee agency and the EU had both called for a swift end to the stand-off between the two countries.

Mr Sánchez has said the ship will dock in Valencia.

The migrants aboard the Aquarius were picked up in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast, according to the German charity SOS Méditerranée."

Migrant rescue boat waits to dock as Italy and Malta refuse to grant entry (Deutsche Welle, link):

"With 629 people on board, NGO rescue ship Aquarius has been waiting for a secure place to dock. Italy and Malta have refused to allow the migrant vessel into its ports.

A French NGO's rescue ship, the Aquarius, was waiting for a port to dock at on Monday as a diplomatic standoff played out over where it should go next. On Sunday, Italy had refused to allow the vessel to dock in its ports, demanding that Malta should take it in. Malta refused, and when Italy instructed the ship to stay at sea, Malta accused Italy of violating international norms.

The French organization SOS Mediterranee said the ship was carrying 629 migrants picked up in the Mediterranean on Saturday, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women. Among those on board are 400 migrants rescued by the Italian navy and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius."

And see: Southern mayors defy Italian coalition to offer safe port to migrants (The Guardian, link): "Mayors across the south of Italy have pledged to defy a move by the new Italian government – an alliance of the far right and populists – to prevent a rescue boat with 629 people on board from docking in the Sicilian capital.

But the mayors’ defiance appears unlikely to serve any practical purpose without the direct support of the Italian coastguard."

Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged (The Guardian, link):

"“It’s a lovely place,” says Jens Kramer, as he gazes across the harbour from his seat outside the wooden shed that serves as Holbæk’s boat club. “But I think people here are becoming more and more hostile to foreigners and I’m not proud of it. It’s not the Holbæk I love.”

Kramer is not alone in thinking that the tone of Denmark’s immigration debate has changed. In recent years, the rise of the rightwing anti-migrant Danish People’s party has led to previously radical positions becoming mainstream. And the country’s Muslim population in particular feels under siege. Earlier this month Danish MPs passed a law that, in effect, bans the burqa. It imposes a penalty of 10,000 kroner (£1,200) for repeat offenders.

In another move greeted with dismay by Denmark’s Muslims, a citizen’s proposal to ban the circumcision of children got the 50,000 signatures it needed to go to a parliamentary vote.

In Holbæk, an attractive small town in Zealand, the latest legislation has had a mixed reception."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.6.18-10.6.18)
Lesvos, Greece: Persecuted Kurdish People in Lesvos Release Statement to Authorities (link);

"The Kurdish individuals who are temporarily living in Pikpa Camp in Lesvos have released a statement demanding that Greek and European authorities protect their rights. These individuals fled war and persecution in Syria and Turkey and on 25 May 2018 they faced further violence in Moria Camp. The extreme violence they have fled and that they continue to face in Lesvos, Greece has left several injured and traumatized. Their trauma has not ended however, as Moria camp administration have this week threatened them with deportation to Turkey if they do not return to Moria Camp, which would subject them to collective expulsion and persecution in Turkey, in violation of human rights and refugee law.

Their statement and demands are here in Greek and English."

Turkey suspends ‘migrant readmission’ deal with Greece (hurriyetdailynews.com, link):

"Turkey has suspended its bilateral migrant readmission deal with Greece in response to a decision by a Greek court to release eight former Turkish soldiers who fled the country a day after the July 2016 coup attempt, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on June 6.

“We have a migrant deal with the EU. It is being implemented. We have a bilateral readmission deal with Greece. We have now suspended this agreement. The process is not fully over but our works towards Greece will continue,” Çavusoglu told reporters in Antalya."

See: EU Council of the European Union: Council Decision of 23 March 2016 establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the Joint Readmission Committee on a Decision of the Joint Readmission Committee on implementing arrangements for the application of Articles 4 and 6 of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation from 1 June 2016 (pdf)

This Decision brings forward the starting date on the main Agreement adopted in 2014: AGREEMENT between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation (pdf) (Statewatch database)

See: Migrant deal with Turkey not having much effect anyway (ekathimerini.com, link) and Turkey's suspension of migrant deal with Greece doesn't affect EU, says Germany (ekathimerini.com, link).

Are You Syrious (7.6.8, link);


"The Italian justice has definitely dimissed the case against Proactiva Open Arms, that led to the seizure of their boat. It confirms Proactiva acted in accordance with international law. The investigation started after Proactiva rescuers refused to hand over people they had rescued to a Libyan coast guard unit in international waters, despite instructions from the Italian maritime rescue coordination center to do so. Despite these good news, the future of rescue organisations remains uncertain, as Italian Interior Minister Salvini recently called rescue organisations “smugglers” and said no rescue boat should be able to dock in Italian ports."

Sweden votes law for new unaccompanied minors

"Dagens Nyheter reports the Swedish Parliament has voted in favor of a new law that allows thousands of refugees, mostly Afghan minors that have already been rejected, to get a new chance of staying in Sweden. The law gives the opportunity for those who meet very specific criteria and study at a high school level to finish their education and get a job, and then apply for permanent recidency. Not everyone will be able to apply. Hundreds of activists in Sweden have been holding demonstrations, meetings with lawmakers and raising their voice to give the young boys a new chance."

Danish PM proposes asylum camps outside the EU (infomigrants.net, link):

"The Danish Prime Minister has proposed camps for processing asylum seekers to be set up outside EU borders. The idea reportedly has support from several European countries - including Austria.

The Danish government's latest policy move to tighten immigration came during a speech this week marking Denmark's Constitution Day: Prime Minister Rasmussen said he wanted to set up centers for the reception of migrants and camps for rejected asylum seekers in a European country outside the EU. He said that Germany, the Netherlands and Austria had been included in discussions about the project, which could get underway within months." [emphasis added]

EU asylum agency chief resigns amid bullying allegations - José Carreira had been accused of bullying and using ‘psychological violence’ as a management tool (Politico, link):

"The executive director of the EU’s asylum agency stepped down Wednesday amid allegations of staff harassment, including “psychological violence” and an investigation by the bloc’s anti-fraud office."

Greece: Asylum-Seeking Women Detained with Men - Urgently End Dangerous Detention Conditions (HRW, link):

"Greek authorities are routinely confining asylum-seeking women with unrelated men in the northern Evros region, at the land-border with Turkey, putting them at grave risk of sexual violence and harassment. Authorities should immediately stop holding asylum-seeking women and girls in closed facilities with unrelated men.

Human Rights Watch research in Northern Greece in late May 2018 found women and girls housed with unrelated men in sites for reception and/or detention of asylum seekers. Twelve women and two girls interviewed said they had been locked in cells or enclosures for weeks, and in one case for nearly five months, with men and boys they did not know. Four said they were the sole females confined with dozens of men, in some cases with at least one male partner or relative.

“Women and girls should not be confined with men who are complete strangers, even for a day,” said Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These women and girls came to Greece seeking security and protection, and instead they are living in fear.”"

Refugee numbers surge to 1% of the world’s population (New Europe, link):

"According to the 2018 Global Peace Index approximately 1% of the world’s population – or 65,6 million people – were refugees at the end of 2016.

The number of refugees is comparable to the population of France or the UK.

More than half of the world’s refugees (55%) are from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. The flow of refugees is not likely to subside as conflict remains at its highest level in a decade.

The surge in refugee flows has also become a major political theme with anti-migrant parties gaining ground across Europe."

Libya: Understanding the impact of EU migration measures on refugees and migrants (REACH, link):

"Despite the political instability which ensued the two civil wars in Libya in 2011 and 2014 persists, more than 700,000 refugees and migrants are in Libya today. They are among the most vulnerable population groups in the country with grave protection concerns reported both in detention and in urban areas. Some of these include arbitrary detention, systematic exploitation and kidnapping by militia groups. In this context, and in the backdrop of a rise in arrivals from Libya through the Central Mediterranean Sea route to Italy since 2016, the European Union and its member states have put in place a number of measures with the United Nations backed Government of National Accord in Libya in order to stem the flow of refugees and migrants towards Italy.

As a result of these measures, the number of refugees and migrants reaching Italy from Libya has drastically decreased. Yet, it is not clear how these measures impacted refugees’ and migrants’ lives in Libya. REACH conducted this study, in partnership with UNHCR, to provide an understanding of the impact of migration measures implemented in Libya since early 2017 on mixed migration routes, smuggling hubs, and the lives of refugees and migrants in the country. It is based on 75 in-depth semi structured individual interviews with refugees and migrants in urban areas across the country and 32 key informant interviews with smugglers, law enforcement officials and civil society activists, conducted from 21st March to 2nd of April 2018.

The assessment finds that migration routes to and within Libya have diversified since early 2017. It finds an increase in arrivals from Algeria and Chad and a multiplication of smuggling hubs along the eastern coast of the country. In the face of increased coastguard controls along the Libyan coast, the numbers of refugees and migrants held for long periods of time with limited freedom of movement in warehouses and unsafe accommodations along the coast have increased."

Spain: Ombudsman calls for access to asylum in detention (AIDA, link):

"The Spanish Ombudsman has recently urged the authorities to set up a system of immediate registration of asylum applications in Detention Centres for Foreigners (CIE). As the adoption of an Implementing Regulation for the Asylum Act has been pending since 2009, Spain has no rules in place to instruct CIE on the handling of claims made in detention.

At the CIE of Madrid, persons seeking protection are instructed to put their written intention to apply for asylum in a mailbox and to wait until the mailbox has been opened for the asylum procedure to start. According to the Ombudsman, this has resulted in a number of asylum seekers being deported before the authorities have opened the mailbox to find their applications."

Libya signs borders control agreement with southern neighboring countries (The Libya Observer, link):

"Libya’s Foreign Ministry announced that Libya had signed an agreement with its southern neighboring countries Niger, Chad and Sudan to secure the joint borders against human trafficking and weapons smuggling.

The Foreign Minister Mohammed Sayala signed on Thursday in the capital of Chad N'Djamena the agreement which will help jointly secure the borders, according to the ministry’s statement.

“Libya is working on supporting joint relations between the four countries and is keen to support all efforts to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime, smuggling of all kinds, illegal migration, mercenaries, arms smuggling, and smuggling of all kinds of subsidized commodities and petroleum derivatives." Sayala said, according to the statement."

EU: Abolish Dublin Regulation for a humane asylum system built on solidarity (EurActiv, link) by Cornelia Ernst MEP:

"The European Parliament and the Council will soon negotiate a revision of the Dublin regulation, concerning the EU’s asylum system. This is an opportunity for the EU to develop a more humane system based on objective criteria, and for every member state to take its share of responsibility, writes Cornelia Ernst."

German Cabinet approves new refugee family reunification law (Deutsche Welle, link)

"Beginning August 1, the new migrant family reunification law will:

- Expand the right to family reunification to refugees living in Germany with lower-level "subsidiary" protection, a status that falls short of full asylum and doesn't grant indefinite stay.
- Grant an additional 1,000 refugees per month the right to settle in Germany, provided they have relatives with subsidiary status already living in the country.
- Allow only refugees' spouses, unmarried minors and the parents of minors already in Germany qualify for the scheme.
- Give priority to humanitarian cases, such as those affecting young children, the seriously ill or people facing political persecution.
- Carry over unfulfilled quotas from one month to the next, although only for the first five months.
- Under exceptional circumstances, even allow migrants in Germany flagged as potential Islamists to apply for family reunification, provided they can prove to authorities that neither they nor their relatives will pose a threat.

New report by ECRE and AIDA: Access to asylum and detention at France's borders (link to pdf):

"The confinement of asylum seekers arriving at the borders in France in order to decide on their right to enter the territory for the purpose of examining their asylum application has been an integral and controversial part of France’s asylum system. The European Court of Human Rights held already in the 1996 landmark judgment of Amuur v. France that the placement of individuals in hotel accommodation near Orly airport constituted deprivation of liberty and therefore needed to comply with the safeguards set out in Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

At the same time, the creation of waiting zones is not limited to the country’s airports or ports. More recently, informal zones have emerged as spaces allowing the de facto detention without any formal decision of migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Italy. Parallel to counter-terrorism measures, culminating in the permanent anti-terrorism legislation adopted in October 2017,1 the French government has stepped up controls at its internal Schengen borders, as well as the use of asylum and immigration detention, thereby suggesting a policy link between migration and counter-terrorism, without such a connection being substantiated by evidence on the ground."

EU: Europe and nationalism: A country-by-country guide (BBC News, link):

"Across Europe, nationalist and far-right parties have made significant electoral gains.

Some have taken office, others have become the main opposition voice, and even those yet to gain a political foothold have forced centrist leaders to adapt.

In part, this can be seen as a backlash against the political establishment in the wake of the financial and migrant crises, but the wave of discontent also taps into long-standing fears about globalisation and a dilution of national identity.

Although the parties involved span a broad political spectrum, there are some common themes, such as hostility to immigration, anti-Islamic rhetoric and Euroscepticism.

So where does this leave Europe's political landscape?"

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council 4-5 June, Luxembourg: Ministers will discuss: Migration: state of play (LIMITE doc no: 9286-REV-1-18, pdf): Includes: "the Commission services and the Greek authorities agreed on a Financial Plan 2018. This plan ensures adequate support to reception facilities and related services for up to a total of 47 500 reception places."

Czech PM rejects Merkel’s European border guard proposal (New Europe, link):

"The Czech Republic rejected on Monday a proposal by Angela Merkel for a pan-European border police force.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis has opposed the policy for the distribution of asylum seekers, in line with the common position of the Visegrad group: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In this context, the German proposal of pooling EU-wide resources undermines the fundamental position of the group that migration policy is the preserve of the nation-state."

EU ministers to debate compromise plan to break asylum impasse (euractiv, link): "EU interior ministers meet today (5 June) to try to break a two-year deadlock over reforming asylum rules with a deadline looming and pressure from Italy’s new populist leaders. The ministers will hear Bulgaria’s new compromise proposals on how to close an east-west rift over the reforms before a 28-29 June summit in Brussels."

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


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