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

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

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

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

October 2016

USING THE ISLANDS AS HOLDING CENTRES: Greece: Minister admits gov't struggling to tackle migration (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities face a range of problems in dealing with the refugee crisis, Immigration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas admitted in comments to Parliament on Friday while calling on opposition parties to back the government’s efforts to tackle the crisis.

“It is true that we overburdened certain municipalities,” Mouzalas said, conceding that northern Greece has borne a large share of the burden.... “Islanders are struggling to deal with overpopulation,” he said, referring to thousands of migrants in crowded camps.

Responding to the calls of mayors on the islands for migrants to be transferred to the mainland, Mouzalas said only unaccompanied minors and people who are protected from deportation will be transferred to the mainland.

Transferring all migrants to the mainland could undermine a deal between the European Union and Turkey to curb human smuggling in the Aegean."

September 2016


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.9.16)
EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal

- Deal to be signed next week to start immediate refugee "return" flights
- Is Afghanistan a "safe country"?
- Quick return of 80,000 refugees planned
- "effectively implement readmission commitments"
- by-passing parliamentary scrutiny

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Under the dodgy EU-Turkey deal we have two Letters and a Statement now for the Afghanistan deal there is to be a "Declaration" - yet again by-passing formal law-making and parliamentary scrutiny. Yet again the Council demonstrates its contempt for the rule of law. There is no way Afghanistan, even in Kabul, is a safe country to return refugees to."

See: Dated 22 September 2016: Draft Joint Way Forward on migration issues between Afghanistan and the EU - Adoption (LIMITE doc no: 12191-16, 2016, pdf). And a joint "non-paper" from the European Commission and the European Action Service (EEAS) in March 2016: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan (Restricted do no: 6738-16, pdf)

Athens: Appalling abuse of 5 refugee children by policemen, Greek Police ordered investigation (Keep TalkIng Greece, link):

"The appalling case of abuse of several refugee children by Greek police has been denounced in social media by several members of solidarity movement. According to the reports, Greek police allegedly detained and abused 5 refugee children, aged 9-14.

The incident occurred on Tuesday, September 27th 2016, at 12 o clock noon, when the refugee children together with two companions (aged 20-22) from the solidarity movement were walking in downtown Athens in order to participate in a theater play.

The police stopped the group, sized plastic toy-guns which were to be used in the play, their mobile phones and one laptop. Police took the children to the police station in Omonoia square and allegedly abused the minors, forcing them to strip, making racist and sexual comments and denying them access to their parents."

No Border Kitchen Lesvos: Arrests and deportations happening on a daily basis

"Repression is high on the island at the moment. We hear from different sources about an increasing number of deportations. According to our information a lot of people were deported in the last days directly from Mytilini to Turkey. We heard about 175 people but cannot confirm this number or the exact way of deportation at the moment. What we are sure about is that there are a lot of arrests and that the people are brought on ferries."

GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands overcrowding growing

Overall the number of refugees ("Guests") at 29 September was 14,003 and the capacity in detention/hotspots was 7,450. THere were 151 arrivals that day

Latest Greek government figueres: 5,942 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,684 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,573 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,813 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 733 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000. Rises in all centres except Leros.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 29-09-16 (pdf)

Are You Syrious (29.9.16, link)

No Border Kitchen Lesvos issues a harrowing report on the situation in Lesvos.

"The post, which may be accessed in its entirety here, speaks of an unprecedented wave of deportations from the island, with random arrests happening throughout, and reports of violence being employed by the police. Some of the people arrested and slated for deportation were in the middle of applying for asylum. They report that a total of 136 people were deported on Monday alone."

Numbers

"There are a total of 151 new arrivals in the last 24 hours: 104 on Lesvos and 47 on Samos. This brings the total number of refugees on the island to 14,003. This is the first time that the figure has been over 14,000. The population continues to grow despite official camp capacity remaining at 7,450.

In the last 24 hours, Megisti formerly housing 14 refugees has been removed from the list of camps. Skaramagas Dock witnessed a drop of 121 people, bring the number from 3,500 to 3,379. The complete figures provided by the Greek government may be found here."

In the Loop has published an excellent newsletter on the Moria Fire.

2The newsletter features the testimony of the camp’s inhabitants and may be accessed here."

Italy: Refugees in Treviso protest living conditions.

"More than 150 asylum seekers - most of them residents of the Centro di Accoglienza Temporaneo per Migranti, situated at the ex barracks “Serena”- are protesting in front of the city’s prefecture. Since yesterday, they have been hoping to meet with the prefect in order to receive clarifications on the long waiting time to receive ID documents, or even to get an interview with the commission. They are also denouncing the inhumane conditions in which they live, overcrowded spaces (more than 880 people are hosted in the ex barracks), lack of proper hygienic standards, and and poor food servings. Moreover, there is no legal service active in the center. The asylum seekers are worried about the large number of international protection requests which have been rejected and complain about the no clear policy and system of the local authorities."

Dresden counters right-wing extremism following bomb attacks: Earlier this week, the Saxon capital of Dresden was rocked by two apparently xenophobic bomb attacks. Linda Vierecke reports on how people are coping after the explosions.(DW, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.9.16)
Brussels pushes Greece for action on migrants sought before Dublin pact reboot (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European officials are calling on Athens to take action by the end of this year ahead of the review and reactivation of the Dublin Regulation, which would lead to EU member-states returning migrants to Greece.

The European Commission on Wednesday asked Athens to improve reception facilities, accelerate the processing of asylum claims and create separate facilities for unaccompanied minors.

European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said there will be no returns to Greece in the months leading up to the review of the pact, which stipulates that migrants lodge their asylum appeals in the first EU country they enter."

Comment: Once it is agreed that refugees, who entered the EU through Greece, can be returned to Greece it is up to each EU Mmber State to activiate the "return" provisions under the Dublin rules.

Closing off the Balkan corridor: Brussels, Sofia on track to sign the grant agreements that will strengthen the management of migration flows (New Europe, link):

"“By fast-tracking the requests, we will make available up to €108 million in emergency funding to Bulgaria to strengthen the management of migration flows and strengthen border surveillance and border control activities,” the Commission said in a presse release.

Following constructive meetings between the Commission and Bulgaria on September 26, both sides are on track to sign the grant agreements and proceed with the first disbursements quickly, the Commission said."

Are YouSyrious (28.9.16):

79 refugees arrive in Greece

"A total of 79 refugees have been registered in the last 24 hours up to 7:30am this morning?—?49 in Lesvos, 9 in Samos and 21 in Kalymnos. Two boats arrived on Lesvos today according to volunteers, one with 55 people on the southeast coast, and the other with 47 on the north coast. The number of refugees in Skaramagas has increased from 3,382 to 3,500 according to official statistics."

Chios residents protest and demand measures to reduce the number of refugees on the island

"Chios residents held a protest today, demanding immediate measures to reduce the number of refugees on the island. Organizers said the rally will be closely monitored to avoid the intrusion of far-right elements. Employees of the Greek and European Asylum Service on Chios also staged a symbolic protest on Tuesday, by blocking the entrance to the overcrowded Vial camp, demanding greater policing."

France: Donations needed in Paris

"Aid Box Convoy says it will be opening a new warehouse in Bristol next week to respond to the crisis in Calais and Paris, and asks people to have their “tents, sleeping bags and camping equipment ready for drop off”. These items are especially necessary in Paris, as people arrive there to claim asylum and are often forced to sleep in the streets without protection from cold or rain. The group plans to buy things directly from shops in Paris until their physical donations can get there."

Turkey to complete Syria border wall within 5 months, official says (Reuters, link):

"A concrete wall being built to stop illegal crossings along the length of Turkey's 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria will be finished by the end of February, an official at a Turkish state institution with knowledge of the project said on Wednesday.

Ankara has long been under pressure from its NATO allies to seal off the border with Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria and is also concerned by the presence of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which controls most of its Syrian border."

Greece: Deputy FM Xydakis: “7,000 refugees ready to relocate, but some EU-states don’t even respond to Greece’s requests” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greece plans to relocate a large number of migrants to the mainland to relieve the islands on the Eastern Aegean Sea, despite the fact that EU Turkey Deal provides that new arrivals after march 20th should stay in hot spots on these islands and be prevented from further travel.

Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, told German conservative Die Welt, that Greece “will soon begin to bring a large number of migrants to the mainland to relieve the islands in the eastern Aegean. This will be very well organized and conducted in a legal manner. We will accommodate them in guarded premises”...

The minister blamed the EU for the appalling situation and the occasional unrest in some refugee camps on the islands as a result of member-states reluctance to relocate refugees as well as lack of support. And he warned that with refugees and migrants keep coming to Greece “the situation in the camps can easily escalate.”

“For the time being, 7,000 refugees could be immediately relocated from Greece to other EU countries, all formalities for this procedure have been met. But it does not happen."

Turkey denies protection to returning Syrians (euobserver, link):

"A migrant swap deal with Ankara is progressing well despite returning Syrians being denied guaranteed protection status in Turkey, says the EU commission.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters on Wednesday (28 September) that "adequate standards" were in place for those returned under the March deal.

But earlier in the day, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said not a single Syrian returned from Greece has been granted any temporary protection status, despite the "formal guarantees" under the EU's deal with Ankara.

"As we speak today, none of the Syrians that have returned to Turkey have got temporary protection," Vincent Cochetal, UNHCR's Europe director, told this website."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.9.16)
Turkey denies protection to returning Syrians (euobserver, link):

"A migrant swap deal with Ankara is progressing well despite returning Syrians being denied guaranteed protection status in Turkey, says the EU commission.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters on Wednesday (28 September) that "adequate standards" were in place for those returned under the March deal.

But earlier in the day, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said not a single Syrian returned from Greece has been granted any temporary protection status, despite the "formal guarantees" under the EU's deal with Ankara.

"As we speak today, none of the Syrians that have returned to Turkey have got temporary protection," Vincent Cochetal, UNHCR's Europe director, told this website."

EU's secret ultimatum to Afghanistan: accept 80,000 deportees or lose aid (Guardian, link):

"Memo leaked in advance of Brussels aid summit reveals EU plans to make assistance to Afghanistan ‘migration sensitive’ despite security concerns.

When international donors and the Afghan government convene in Brussels next week, the EU secretly plans to threaten Afghanistan with a reduction in aid if the war-torn country does not accept at least 80,000 deported asylum seekers.

According to a leaked restricted memo (pdf), the EU will make some of its aid “migration sensitive”, even while acknowledging that security in Afghanistan is worsening.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government is also struggling with internal turmoil, and has failed to revive the economy or produce jobs for the young who leave the country in droves.

It would be challenging for Afghanistan to absorb 80,000 deportations. So far, in 2016, about 5,000 Afghans have returned voluntarily from Europe

The EU said in the leaked memo that it is “aware of the worsening security situation and threats to which people are exposed” and that Afghanistan is suffering “record levels of terrorist attacks and civilian casualties”.

The memo added: “Despite this, more than 80,000 persons could potentially need to be returned in the near future.”

An EU official said in an email: “We don’t comment on leaked documents.” He added that the EU and Afghanistan have a “constructive dialogue” on migration." [emphasis added]

Based on a document made available by Statewatch: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan (Restricted doc no: 6738-16, pdf).

European Commission: EU-Turkey-Greece-Italy-returns-relocation

- EU-Turkey deal: The Commission is today reporting on the progress made on the EU's relocation and resettlement schemes and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (Press release,pdf)

- EU-Turkey deal: Third Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM 634-16, pdf)

- EU-Turkey deal: Implementing the EU-Turkey Statement – Questions and Answers (pdf) includes:

"What is the state of play as regards visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens? As regards the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, the Second Report of 15 June 2016 described seven benchmarks that remain to be met:

- issuing biometric travel documents fully compatible with EU standards;
- adopting the measure to prevent corruption foreseen by the Roadmap;
- concluding an operational cooperation agreement with Europol;
- revising legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards;
- aligning legislation on personal data protection with EU standards;
- offering effective judicial cooperation in criminal matters to all EU Member States;
- implementing the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement in all its provisions."

Still negotiating.

And: "there are still shortfalls for both EASO and Frontex experts for the period of September to December 2016."

Also: "Since the Statement entered into force, there have been 578 returns from the Greek islands to Turkey, including 53 Syrians. Other nationalities returned have included Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, Iranians as well as people from Iraq, India, Congo, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Nepal, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority." and:

For returns to Turkey: "Frontex has mobilised the following resources for the time being: 1 ferry - 5 buses for transportation from the hotspots to the ports - 1 charter plane - 56 Frontex escort officers."

- Sixth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 636, pdf)

- Annex 1: Relocations from Greece (COM 636, pdf):

Commitment legally foreseen: 63,302: Pledges: 9,776 and Pledges effected: 4,455.

- Annex 2: Relocations from Italy (pdf) Commitment legally foreseen: 34,853: Pledges 3,544, Pledges effected: 1,496

- Annex 3: Resettlement in the EU (pdf)

- Management of the Migration Crisis in Greece since October 2015 and Implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement
since 20 March 2016
(pdf)

Includes general; charts on: Registration rates (now said to be 100%), Assisted Voluntary Returns (AVR): 582 in August 2016, Hotspot capacities, Deaths in Aegean (said to be 11 post EU-Turkey deal 18 March) and returns to Turkey (1,078 post 28 March 2016).

European Commission: Schengen border checks: Report on the application of Council Implementing Decision of 12 May 2016 setting out a Recommendation for temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 635, 28.9.15, pdf):

"The present report contains the findings of the Commission after monitoring the manner in which the current temporary internal border controls are carried out, as foreseen by the Council Recommendation. It focuses on whether, as recommended, the reintroduced internal border controls by the above Schengen Member States have been limited to what is strictly necessary and proportionate in light of the serious threat to public policy and internal security posed by the persistent risk of secondary movements of irregular migrants entering via Greece and who might move to other Schengen Member States. It also analyses whether the circumstances have changed so as to require an adaptation of the Council Recommendation." [emphasis added]

See also: Back to Schengen: Commission proposes Roadmap for restoring fully functioning Schengen system (pdf, March 2016 , pdf)

Greece: Another 70 People Deported To Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"On September 26, Greek authorities returned 70 people from the Greek island of Lesvos to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal.

According to official information (link in Greek only) from the Hellenic government, the group included “70 irregular migrants” – 51 from Pakistan, nine from Sri Lanka, seven from Algeria, and one each from Morocco, Turkey and Afghanistan. All are men.

Out of the total, 63 did not seek asylum in Greece, whereas the remaining had their asylum claims withdrawn or rejected....

Altogether, 578 people of different nationalities have been returned to Turkey from Greece under the EU-Turkey deal."

Migrant Arrivals in Mediterranean Reach 302,149; Deaths at Sea: 3,501 (IOM, link):

"Italy - IOM reports that 302,149 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 25 September, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

By comparison through first nine months of 2015, a total of 508,347 arrivals were recorded crossing the Mediterranean – some 206,000 more than in 2016 thus far."

Greece: Chios residents plan rally as frustration over migrant crisis mounts across Aegean (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Chios residents plan to hold a protest rally Wednesday demanding immediate measures to reduce the number of migrants on the island. Along with other eastern Aegean islands, Chios is engaged in an uphill struggle to cope with the increasing number of migrants and refugees. The total number of people stranded on eastern Aegean islands now stands at 13,863."

The EU’s new offer to Africa (euobserver, link):

"As with the original European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main plank of the Juncker commission’s economic policy, there’s not much hard cash behind the initiative.

The investment vehicle will be based on a €1.5 billion guarantee from the EU budget, and a further €1.85 billion from the European Development Fund and EU budget. It will subsume the existing EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, which has paid out more than 90 grants to infrastructure projects since 2007.

At a time when European governments are seeking to increase their deportation rates, the fund is a bid to sweeten the pill on tackling migration to their African counterparts."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.9.16)
France urged to house children living in Calais camp on their own (Guardian, link):

"Children’s commissioners for France and England call on French government to rescue 1,000 asylum-seeking children as a ‘matter of urgency’"

New EU border guard agency is no magic bullet (euractiv, link):

"The European Union’s new border guard agency is meant to remedy the failings of its predecessor, Frontex. Dr Lisa Watanabe asks whether the EBCG will be endowed with what Frontex lacked....

But, the new agency will still encounter difficulties in improving situations on the ground where border management and asylum systems are severely deficient or where national agencies are reluctant to cooperate with intervention teams that have not been requested. As such, the new agency will not be a magic bullet, but it should go some way to reducing the scale of emergencies."

Maarten Verwey: EU-Turkey agreement is working, unaccompanied minors a challlenge (New Europe, link):

"However, the implementation of the deal has not been easy for all sides. The Greek side is facing issues with Asylum, Migration & Integration Fund (AMIF), Internal Security Fund (ISF) and EU funding absorption, an issue that the European Commission plans to tackle by assigning the process to the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, that is also responsible for EU’s Structural funds in Greece."

EU migrant quota idea is finished, Fico says (euobserver, lkink):

"Slovak prime minister Robert Fico, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has declared the idea of migration quotas “politically finished”.

"Quotas today clearly divide the EU, therefore I think they are politically finished," he told journalists in Bratislava on Monday, according to Reuters.

The quotas were introduce last year at the peak of the refugee crisis with an aim to distributing asylum seekers streaming into the continent among European Union member states based on solidarity....

The Visegrad countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - have long opposed the scheme, and presented an alternative proposal at the Bratislava Summit two weeks ago.

It calls for “flexible solidarity”, whereby countries that do not want to take migrants could contribute to the EU’s migration policy with other means, financially, with equipment or manpower, something the Visegrad countries are already doing in the Balkans."

Germany: CSU warns against Turkish visa liberalisation (euractiv, link):

"Bundestag Vice-President Johannes Singhammer (CSU) has warned that refugee numbers would increase if plans to grant visa liberalisation to Turkey come to fruition."

Amnesty International slams treatment of refugees in Hungary (DW, link):

"A new report from human rights group Amnesty International has accused Budapest of allowing police to abuse refugees. It also suggested that the government has purposely made applying for asylum difficult"

See: AI report: Stranded (pdf)

Are You Syrious (26.9.16):

Greece: 51 new arrivals to Lesvos

"There were no new arrivals this weekend to Greek islands, but up until 8 o’clock this morning 51 people arrived to Lesvos. As for changes in the rest of the camps since Friday - Vagiohori dropped from 132 to 81 (-51) with overall capacity of 631 and Skaramagas jumped in numbers from 3450 to 3597 (+147) with only 3200 in official capacity. Still, there are over sixty thousand people stuck in Greece with numbers slightly rising daily."

New deportations to Turkey

"While we are playing the numbers game?—?76 people were returned from Greece to Turkey today on account of being deemed as “irregular migrants”.

Hungary: Fear and hate referendum to be held in Hungary this Sunday

"As the right wing government of Hungary is set to push this country into more hate by organizing a referendum on October the 2nd with the question: Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly. There are strong left wing parties campaign and civil society one trying to advocate for abstinence and make this shameful fear mongering referendum invalid. 22 Hungarian NGO’s and the Hungarian satirical party, the so-called Two-Tailed Dog Party, teamed up to campaign for invalid votes. They are spending the second biggest amount on its campaign (after the government), making fun of the government’s messages, using money donated by people."

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the refugee crisis

This speech is from the UN high commissioner for human rights a must to read.

"When millions of people see freedom's invitation only through the flapping canvas of a tent. When they carry their children and possessions on their backs, walking hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles. When they and their families risk drowning, and are kept cramped in appalling detention centers and, once released, risk abuse by racists and xenophobes. There is no cause for comfort here."

New powers for the German Federal Police: undercover agents to combat unwanted migration (link)

"In the future, the Federal Police will also be able to deploy undercover agents. The provision is part of the new “Act to Improve Information Exchange in the Fight Against International Terrorism”, which the Grand Coalition adopted on 24 June 2016 and the parliamentary groups of the opposition voted against."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.9.16)
European Parliament: From 42 MEPs: Letter to Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex concerning "Shoot First" policy (pdf):

"We are contacting you with reference to a number of incidents reports documenting the recurrent use of weapons by coast guards within Frontex operations to stop boats driven by suspected smugglers, injuring or killing refugees. The documents, published on August 22nd 2016 by the online publication.

The Intercept (“Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show”), show multiple cases of firearms use against boats carrying refugees by the Greek and FRONTEX’s operators leading to severely endangering refugees in the process. The reports cover a 20-month period from May 2014 to December 2015. Each case of firearms use — even if it resulted in someone being wounded — was described “as part of the 'standard rules of engagement' for stopping boats at sea”."

See: Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show (The Intercept, link) and full file: Serious Incident Reports (190 pages, pdf) also Frontex rules: Serious Incident Reporting (pdf).

Number of asylum seekers slightly up again: Eurostat (New Europe, link):

"The number of first time asylum seekers went slightly up again to almost 306 000 in the second quarter of 2016, with Syrians continuing to be the most numerous, according to data released today by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency.

During the second quarter of 2016 (from April to June 2016), 305 700 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the member states of the European Union, up by 6% compared with the first quarter of 2016 (when 287 100 first time applicants were registered)....."

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Committee calls for the protection of unaccompanied minors in Europe to be harmonised (link):

"PACE Migration Committee today called on European governments to improve the protection of unaccompanied migrant minors and to avoid them going missing. The present migration and refugee crisis, the committee said, has exacerbated the challenges of how to treat and assist these children on the move, and “generated new problems with the realisation that large numbers of children are going missing at different stages of their journey”, especially directly after arrival at reception centres.

Adopting a draft resolution, based on the report prepared by Manlio Di Stefano (Italy, NR), the parliamentarians called on Council of Europe member States to protect children from trafficking and criminal activities to which they are particularly vulnerable, uphold the right to family reunion in the case of separated migrant minors and harmonise the rules concerning the establishment of guardians and legal representatives."

See: Draft report and resolution (pdf)

Are You Syriuos (24-25.9.16)

AUSTRIA: Austrian government statistics reveal twofold rise in attacks against centers for asylum seekers.

"In 2015, there was a total of 25 attacks against centers. In the first 6 months of 2016, there had already been 26 such attacks, ranging from hateful posts on the internet, to arson and acid attacks. The situation in Austria is particularly tense given the near-victory of the presidency by the candidate of the Freedom Party, a far right nationalist group. Another election for the post is scheduled to take place on December 4, and with the Freedom Party’s marginal loss, the results of the election are anybody’s guess.

The rise of far-right wing parties is widespread throughout Europe, having recently been stoked by xenophobic attitudes against refugees. These anxieties have caused in neighboring Germany the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, previously an extremely marginal group, to come in second place in the parliament of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Bundesland."

GERMANY: Afghans protest discriminatory asylum system

"Hundreds of Afghans gathered in Hamburg today to demonstrate against discriminatory behavior of German authority in processing their asylum claims in Germany. They also called on the Afghan government to withdraw the decision of signing MOU that will encourage forced return of Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan."

DENMARK: Danish couple fined over 5,000 euro for helping refugees.

"A disturbing new development has come from Denmark which has officially convicted a Danish couple of “people smuggling” for giving refugees rides and some small food items. The woman who did not know she was breaking the law transported the family from the south of Denmark to Copenhagen, not ever crossing international boundaries. They were initially prosecuted under the Danish Aliens Act in March, but appealed their sentence. Now the Danish High Court has upheld the sentence and increased the penalty by five hundred British pound. They now must pay 5,700 British pounds for their act of kindness."

FINLAND: 15 thousand gather in Helsinki to protest racism

"In the aftermath of the death of a man at the hands of neo-Nazi radicals, 15 thousand have taken to the streets of Helsinki in a protest against fascist violence. Thousands more participated in similar demonstrations across the country. Among the participants is the current Premier of the country, Juha Sipila, who vowed that the government will soon be tackling such groups."

Migration Summit in Vienna: They agreed that they mainly disagree (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The so-called Balkan migration route has been the focus of attention at a mini summit in Vienna of leaders from affected countries. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern welcomed head of states form Germany,Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia as well as the European Council President Donald Tusk...."

Greece: Another parents' group votes to block refugees from schools (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Two parents' associations voted over the weekend to block child refugees from attending local schools, the latest in a string of objections to the government's initiative."

Violence against refugees, attacks on shelters rising in Austria (Daily Sabah, link):

"Attacks on centres for asylum seekers in Austria are on course to double this year, according to government figures released on Saturday.

Twenty-four were recorded in the first half of 2016, compared with 25 for the whole of 2015, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said in reply to a parliamentary enquiry. The incidents ranged from arson to acid attacks to stones thrown through windows, or racist or Nazi graffiti and hate postings on the Internet....

The far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), in common with similar parties across Europe, has stoked concerns about the influx to boost its support.

Polls put the FPOe's Norbert Hofer neck-and-neck with independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen to be elected to the largely but not entirely ceremonial post of president on December 4."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.9.16)
EU's Tusk demands closure of Balkan route to refugees 'for good' (DW, link):

"European leaders have met in the Austrian capital to find a common solution to the wave of migration to the continent. The European Council's president has called for restoring control over the EU's external borders...

"Obviously, an essential precondition for achieving this goal is close cooperation with our partners in the Balkans and Turkey," he said. "(But) we need to confirm - politically and in practice - that the Western Balkan route of irregular migration is closed for good."

Merkel wants to send back dud migrants (The Local.at, link)

"Echoing Merkel, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Saturday that this showed that the EU needed to send people back to Egypt, Libya and other countries. Orban, who has been scathing about Merkel's "open-door" policy and has called immigration "poison", has refused to take in a single migrant under the EU relocation scheme.

Attacks on asylum seekers

Meanwhile, attacks on centres for asylum seekers in Austria are on course to double this year, according to government figures released on Saturday. Twenty-four were recorded in the first half of 2016, compared with 25 for the whole of 2015, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said in reply to a parliamentary enquiry."

European Parliament Study: Overview on the use of EU funds for migration policies (pdf):

"The aim of this document is to give an overview of the use of EU funds on migration policies during the first two years (2014-2015) of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and present a preliminary budgetary outlook for 2016---2017 and the remaining MFF period, taking into account the uncertainties relating to the evolution of the migration situation and pressures on EU funding....

Within the current EU framework, potential changes in policy and practice to deal with the migration crisis are under discussion. Such changes include revisiting legislative instruments on asylum and legal migration, as well as (within an overall vision adapted to the needs of the crisis) the competences of the EU agencies involved in migration management. Any revision of the latter should involve a budget increase accompanied by the necessary staff reinforcements."

Hungary PM suggests giant migrant city in Libya (BBC News, link):

"The European Union should set up a "giant refugee city" on the Libyan coast to process African asylum seekers before they reach Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.

Mr Orban, who has taken a hardline stance against migration, suggested a new Libyan government run the camp. He made the remarks at a Vienna summit of European and Balkan leaders....

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has faced criticism from the Hungarian prime minister over her so-called "open-door" policy towards refugees and migrants, said the solution was to secure deals with African countries to send back migrants who do not qualify for asylum. "

Greek positions on refugee crisis reiterated at Vienna mini-summit (Tornos News, link):

"In Vienna, Tsipras will be able to highlight the challenge facing Greece due to the migration crisis, noting that 60,000 refugees and migrants were now trapped in the country since its northern borders were unilaterally closed. He is also expected to make clear that if Greece fails in its efforts to cope with the crisis, only the most xenophobic, nationalist and far-right forces in Europe stand to gain, as reflected in elections and polls in Austria and neighbouring countries."

Are You Syrious (23.9.16, link)

Greece: Today, 241 new arrivals were registered in Greece (1 at Lesvos, 123 at Chios, 41 at Samos, 58 at Kos, and 18 at Kalumnos). Unofficial number could be higher.

"For a long time we are reporting about dire situation on overcrowded islands, but until now little has been done to improve the situation. Those responsible?—?authorities, UN and the EU?—?are not finding any solution. Chios will soon have 4,000 people, and that means that the capacity will be at 400 percent. Skaramangas increased from 3362 to 3450 refugees. People have no place to stay, no warm clothes, or anything. In total, 13,983 refugees are currently on the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean while the maximum capacity of the camps is 7,450."

Macedonia

"While nobody is watching, more people are arriving to Macedonia, while about 180 are stranded in the camps of Tabanovce and Gevgelija since February. After so many months, the UN human rights team visited Macedonia and raised some concerns about the conditions in “transit centers” in Macedonia, noticing that people’s freedom of movement is restricted, while kids do not go to school."

Serbia

"There is no improvement of living conditions for refugees in Serbia, another country that hardly anybody pays attention to at this moment. Hundreds of refugees are arriving every day, while hundreds are already in different centers, private accommodation, or out in the streets. Last night temperature warm 8 degrees. People who are in centers have limited freedom of movement, and people in the streets are in constant fear of police that is every day in the are near a train station in Belgrade. Most of the people have the only document saying they can stay in Serbia for 72 hours, but many of them are there for a couple of months waiting to cross to Hungary and continue their journey."

New fears for 1,000 lone children in Calais refugee camp (The Observer, link):

"French authorities hope Britain will honour pledges and rescue minors when the bulldozers move in....

Up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors will be left to fend for themselves when the so-called jungle camp for refugees in Calais is bulldozed next month. The French authorities have made no plans to rehouse the children, the Observer has learned, because it is hoping to force Britain to honour a promise to help child refugees.

The French interior ministry has informed charities and aid organisations that it intends to destroy the camp in less than four weeks."

And see: Panic sweeps Calais camp as refugees await the bulldozers (Guardian ,link): "With demolition of ‘the Jungle’ only weeks away, the fate of some of its most vulnerable residents hangs in the balance."

Pope says journalism based on fear-mongering, gossip is form of 'terrorism' (Reuters, link):

"Journalism based on gossip or rumors is a form of "terrorism" and media that stereotype entire populations or foment fear of migrants are acting destructively, Pope Francis said on Thursday."

Greece: PM to join more talks on refugees amid unrest (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras joins nine of his European counterparts, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Vienna on Saturday to discuss the refugee crisis, authorities on the Aegean islands on Friday struggled to keep order at overcrowded migrant reception centers.

Another 241 migrants arrived on islands of the northern Aegean from Turkey on Thursday, according to government figures released on Friday, including 123 on Chios, where violent clashes broke out between migrants at the local camp.

In total, 13,983 migrants are currently being hosted at camps on the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean while the maximum capacity of the camps in question is 7,450.

The overcrowded conditions at the camps, where most migrants have been waiting months for their asylum applications to be processed, often fuel unrest and, occasionally, riots.

In the early hours of Friday morning, unrest broke out at the migrant reception camp on Chios when a group of Algerian nationals, who are believed to have been inebriated, started breaking beds and throwing stones."

Greece: Inside Moria's African neighborhood (DW, link)

"Following the fire that destroyed a large part of the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, life seems to be back to normal - but not for everyone. Marianna Karakoulaki and Dimitris Tosidis report from Lesbos."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.9.16)
Photo Exhibition “Reaching Europe – Refugees arriving on Lesvos” in the European Parliament: Tuesday 27 September at 18:30, in the ASP building (link):

"Ska Keller, spokesperson on migration and Vice-President of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, and Philippe Lamberts, Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group, are hosting the Photo Exhibition “Reaching Europe – Refugees arriving on Lesvos”next week in the European Parliament. The exhibition documents the arrival and the situation of refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos. All photos have been taken by Members of the Mytilini Photo Club.

The opening of the exhibition will take place on Tuesday, 27 September, at 18:30. We will have the great pleasure and honour to welcome the photographers of the Myrtili Photo Club on this occasion, as well as refugees and activists from Lesvos."

If you want to attend the opening, contact us by Monday morning at 10.00, please at: ska.keller@ep.europe.eu

The hidden failure of Europe’s migration policy billions (IRIN, link):

"It’s tempting to think that Europe’s migrant and refugee “crisis” is largely behind us, that the EU’s desperate deal with Turkey has had the desired effect – images of dozens of boats depositing refugees on Greek shores and trekking through the Balkans have largely disappeared from our TV screens....

Even more worrying are the wider, ripple effects as other countries are encouraged to emulate Europe’s approach with their own deterrence policies.

“It’s highly risky because if others join this race to the bottom, it could result in even greater flows to Europe,” said Foresti.

The forced closure of Kenya’s camps in Dadaab, hosting more than 300,000 Somali refugees, for example, could see some of those refugees making their way towards Europe."

Greece: Moria: Local threatens refugees & migrants with rifle (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"A local resident of the village of Moria on Lesvos grabbed a rifle and threatened to shoot at refugees and migrants standing outside the hot spot that was burned down on Monday evening. The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon, when the 84-year-old man appeared with his rifle in front of refugees and migrants hanging around outside the burned camp. He threatened to shoot at them.

In panic, the crowd started to flee in all directions. Police was called in and detained the local before he made his threat true.

He was a permission to own the rifle."

And see; At this turtle pace, “Europe will need 18 years to fulfill its relocation commitments” to Greece (Keep Talking Greece, link) also: Tensions building on Lesvos over migrants (ekathimerini.com, link)

EU and Greece: Stop fanning the flames in Lesbos (Lesbos Legal Centre, link):

"We, the Lesvos Legal Centre, publish this statement to call on Greek and EU authorities to protect the rights of all individuals seeking protection in Europe who have been subjected to detention at the Moria camp, where a fire spread on Monday 19 September, destroying a large section of the camp."

Are You Syious (22.9.16, link)

GREECE: The people stranded in Greece are living in “appalling conditions” and face “immense and avoidable suffering”

Another report shaming the European countries for their lack of political will and poor response to the refugee crisis, along with the recent harsh critics from the president of the EC, comes from Amnesty International. “The organization noted with regret that Greece’s current response to the refugee crisis, including the European Union (EU) -Turkey Agreement of 18 March 2016, is not consistent with international human rights and refugee law, including the principle of non-refoulement. Amnesty International urges Greece to refrain from returning asylum-seekers to Turkey under this deal.”

Arrivals: Greece:

92 people were registered arriving to the Greek islands by 7:30 in the morning on Thursday, according to the official government statistics: 50 on Lesvos, 19 on Samos and 23 on Kos. 125 arrivals were registered on the island Chios during the morning, according to the Chios Eastern Shore Response Team."

Serbia: A shift in the approach?—?The Daily Center for Refugees

"The Daily Center for refugees in Belgrade opened in this September and more than 70 refugees visit them daily. It was formed by a small group of diverse, but experienced volunteers and their aim to provide a place to relax, get together for cultural and sport activities, learn languages, use the internet, take a shower and have a warm beverage. They also plan to prepare and serve warm soup for the refugees. Apart from the great need for financial support, they could also use: male shoes, underwear, trousers, backpacks, beanies and gloves."

L'Autriche envisage de fermer sa frontière avec la Hongrie (link):

"Preparations, which involve digging and implementing vertical pipes, began Monday. But the decision to the eventual establishment of a fence
has not yet been taken, said a police spokesman.

Such fence near the crossing point of the town of Nickelsdorf in Burgenland, Austria will be erected if [there is a decision] to activate drastic measures, quickly stemming the bulk of migrants on their arrival at the border"

CEAS: Coercion,prohibition and great expectations: The continuing failure of the Common European Asylum System (pdf) by Maarten den Heijer, Jorrit Rijpma and Thomas Spijkerboer:

"It has to be emphasised that the present European crisis is a crisis of refugee policy, not a refugee crisis. The numbers in themselves are not the problem; the way in which the European deals with them is. The direction in which the European Union is now taking asylum law and policy mainly reproduces, and in important ways intensifies those elements of European law and policy which have caused the crisis. Therefore, the European response is likely to make the crisis worse. This is tragic, all the more so because it is not necessary. A less disastrous approach would require doing away with the tunnel vision in which European policy makers are presently caught - would rrequire doing away with the idea that if policy does not work, more of the same policy is the appropriate response. It would require a reconsideration of the very fundaments of the Common European Asylum System: coercion, prohibition, unrealistic expectations of what borders can do, and a confederate approach without addressing legitimate concerns of Member States, third states and refugees."

EGYPT: At least 162 bodies recovered after boat carrying hundreds of refugees sinks - One man at the scene appears to shout 'the sea is littered with bodies' (Independent, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.9.16)
EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Migration, security and fundamental rights: A critical challenge for the EU (Press release, pdf):

"it is vital that the reform of the EU’s border policy be further assessed to ensure its full consistency with the respect for the fundamental rights of those who enter and leave the EU.

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “The EDPS understands the need for the EU to better address the challenges of migration, borders and refugees. However, we recommend considering additional improvements in the revised proposals which will involve a significant collection of data concerning non-EU nationals whose freedoms, rights and legitimate interests may be significantly affected. Border management and law enforcement are distinct objectives and need to be more clearly distinguished. Refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and ordinary travellers may require separate considerations”.

The EDPS recommendations to enhance data protection in these proposals relate in particular to retention periods, the collection of the facial images of travellers requiring visas, the use of sensitive information such as biometric data, and to security measures.

In his Opinions, the EDPS draws attention to the role of eu-LISA and Frontex performing specific processing operations such as those related to statistics, as well as to the situations of minors when subject to the collection of fingerprints."

See also: EDPS Opinion on the First reform package on the Common European Asylum System (Eurodac, EASO and Dublin regulations) (pdf), EDPS Opinion on the Second EU Smart Borders Package Recommendations on the revised Proposal to establish an Entry/Exit System (pdf) and Commission Press release:Commission launches discussion on future framework for stronger and smarter information systems for border management and internal security (pdf)

EU: Frontexit: A reinforced Frontex agency: EU turns a deaf ear to NGO’s warnings (pdf):

"More powerful than ever and enjoying complete impunity, the EU border management agency has a new name with a reinforced mandate. The European Union has indeed opted for an increase in the means allocated to deportation, control and external cooperation activities, with no regard for the rights of migrants and refugees....

Yet, the agency continues to put a number of rights at risk: first and foremost, the right to leave any country including one’s own; but also the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement, the right to personal data protection and the right to an effective remedy."

Are You Syrious (21.9.16, link):

Greece: No Border Kitchen statement on Moria fire

"In a statement, the No Border Kitchen in Lesvos said “Moria camp is completely overcrowded, now housing double its intended capacity. The people are forced to stay in overcrowded tents or outside, there is not enough food or water, and hygienic conditions are very bad."

More than 5,777 people on Lesvos despite capacity for 3,500

"100 people were registered on Aegean Islands in the 24 hours up to 7:30 this morning?—?74 in Lesvos, 1 in Chios, 13 in Samos, 2 in Leros, and 10 in Rhodes.

The speedboat that landed in Rhodes had two Turkish families seeking protection from alleged political persecution in Turkey.

According to volunteers, one boat with 22 people landed on the north coast of Lesvos this morning and two other boats with 12 and 11 people respectively landed later during the day. More than 5,777 people are now on Lesvos, despite an official maximum capacity of only 3,500. The maximum capacity number has not been updated after the fire in the Moria camp.

The ferry that was supposed to accommodate more than 1,000 people in Lesvos will not arrive as planned, as the Greek shipping ministry has cancelled the tender. Bids are open until Friday."

Austria: Protest over Austria’s asylum policy on Saturday

"The ‘Platform for a human asylum policy’ will be holding a protest this Saturday, during the same time as the European asylum summit in Vienna. The organizers will protest against the Austrian emergency decree and upper limit on refugees and insist on the rights of refugees. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are willing to accept and help refugees, while the government is doing everything it can to stop refugees from entering the country."

Germany: Accommodation center set on fire this Monday

"Several right-wing protests against refugees have shocked Germany in the past few weeks. On Monday night, a still empty accommodation centre for refugees was set on fire in Bremen. 500 individuals spontaneously marched against right-wing violence on Tuesday night."

NGOs: EU Failed In Lesvos (News That Moves, link):

"The fire at the overcrowded Moria detention centre in Lesvos is an indication of Europe’s failure to tackle the refugee crisis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Greek branch of Medecins du Monde (MDM) said, in the aftermath of the blaze."

Austrian election set for early December after 'gluegate' (The Local.at, link):

"Austria's parliament has approved December 4th as the new date for the presidential election re-run in a scandal-ridden race that could usher in the European Union's first far-right head of state."

Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration (The Local, ch, link):

"Never has a proposed law diverged so far from the text of a publicly-voted referendum..

In its decision, parliament voted to maintain the free movement of people and its related bilateral agreements with the EU rather than implement fixed immigration quotas as voted for, in principle, by the Swiss people in the legally-binding 2014 referendum."

Migrant deaths at sea signal Egypt becoming departure country (euractiv, link):

"A boat carrying up to 450 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean off Egypt’s north coast yesterday (21 September), drowning 42 people and prompting a search operation that rescued 163 passengers, officials said.."

Report: Hungary could push for treaty change on migration (euobserver, link):

"Hungary's government might push for a treaty change to keep asylum rules in national competences if it wins a referendum on migration quotas on 2 October, Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag reported Wednesday (21 September).....

According to the paper, Hungary would propose exempting national migration rules from the common European policies."

MEPs urge Sweden to end border checks (euobserver, link):

"Five MEPs from the European parliament’s civil liberties committee (Libe), who visited Sweden on Tuesday and Wednesday (20-21 September), urged it to end checks on the border with Denmark as soon as possible.

The head of the delegation, Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes, said border checks were an exception to EU rules and must be a temporary solution....

Sweden reintroduced the borders last autumn after the arrival of a record number of refugees. Some 163,000 people were registered by the Migration Agency last year. EU rules say that a country can temporarily reintroduce borders as "a measure of last resort" when faced with a threat to public order and safety. "

£100m of UK aid budget to be spent controlling immigration from Africa - Theresa May uses UN speech to outline plans to return Somali refugees and stop people trying to cross Mediterranean (Guardian, link):

"More than £100m of the UK aid budget will be spent on returning Somali refugees to the country they fled and encouraging people escaping war zones not to cross the Mediterranean under plans outlined by Theresa May in New York....

Her plans attracted criticism earlier in the summit over the suggestion that those fleeing war zones should stay and claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, rather than seeking sanctuary in European nations such as Britain."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.9.16)
Are You Syrious (link)

How European inefficiency and disregard caused the fire at Moria

"The yesterday’s fire at Moria camp forced the evacuation of the camp’s estimated 4000 residents, who ran into fields in the vicinity, tried to seek shelter in the nearby village of Moria?—?where, according to some reports, they were thwarted by disgruntled residents?—?and even trekked 25 kilometers to the island’s capital of Mytilene.

Videos posted on social media on Monday night showed elderly men and women and families with children trying to flee the burning camp with little but the clothes on their backs, many squeezing through an opening in a fence as they scrambled to get away....

Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection says protests happened particularly because of the such lack of information and rumors, while Lesvos mayor PASOK, ND and Golden Dawn supporters propagate xenophobia and try provoking already frightened refugees."

Local extremists attacked refugees and volunteers who were escaping the Moria fire

"As No Border Kitchen reports, around 200 fascists attacked refugees and their supporters in Moria village yesterday. One volunteer car was smashed but, luckily, all volunteers and refugees managed to escape the fascists’ violence."

In the fire’s aftermath, unaccompanied refugee children to be transferred from Lesvos to mainland

"The government on Tuesday put into motion the transfer of 91 unaccompanied refugee children from Lesvos to the Greek mainland, following a destructive fire in Moria. The 91 kids were transferred to a separate site at the PIKPA summer camp when rioting broke out at the government-run Moria camp. Several families with children were also transferred from the Moria hot spot to unofficial center run by non-governmental organizations and the municipality at Kara Tepe."

Statement by the Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza blaming the government and police for events in Moria

"The government and police are responsible for the explosive situation in Moria yesterday. On the one hand, the police showed provocative tolerance to fascist bullies pretending to be “indignant citizens”?—?exactly as they did in Chios recently. Fully armed riot police stood idly by as the Nazis bullied defenseless people. On the other hand, the government (with the EU’s blessing) insists on the unacceptable policy of detaining refugees inside terrible camps, with no future in sight."

Asylum-seekers flee fire at Greek hotspot as tensions flare (euractiv, link):

"No casualties were reported from the fire and its cause was unclear. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, linked the fire to poor living conditions and a sense of insecurity among many of the residents...

Roland Schoenbauer, UNHCR’s spokesman in Greece, said people were “sick of waiting” in the camps. “They don’t know when their asylum claims will be processed. Some people feel they don’t have enough information,” he said."

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants (euobserver, link):

"Leaders along the Western Balkan migratory route, which saw 1 million people pass through last year on their way to Germany and northern Europe, pledged not to let the influx repeat this year ahead of a migration summit in Vienna on Saturday (24 September)....

"There is now an understanding in the European Union that we have to stop the flow of illegal migrants, and that we need border controls to our external borders," Kurz said, according to the AP news agency....

The European Commission said on Tuesday transfers from the island to the mainland would be limited.

"To avoid secondary movement to the rest of Europe, that means keeping asylum seekers on the islands for the most part," said a commission spokeswoman.""

UK delays resulting in exploitation of Calais children, says anti-slavery chief (Guardian, link):

"Kevin Hyland says lack of urgency in UK response has left unaccompanied children vulnerable."

Migrant boat carrying 600 capsizes off Egypt, at least 29 dead (Reuters, link):

"A boat carrying around 600 people capsized off Egypt's coast, killing at least 29, officials said on Wednesday, in the latest disaster to befall migrants attempting to make the crossing to Europe.

The boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Burg Rashid, a village in the northern Beheira province. Of the 29 bodies found so far, 18 were men, 10 were women and one was a child, local officials said.

Rescue workers have so far saved 150 people, officials said. The boat was carrying Egyptian, Syrian, and African migrants"

Federal report laments rising xenophobia in Germany (DW, link):

"The federal government has released its latest evaluation on the country's status, 26 years after reunification. Leaders are worried about rising xenophobia and lagging economic progress in the east.

In a report on the Status of German Unity released by the cabinet on Wednesday, leaders expressed concern about the increasing incidents of anti-immigrant and right-wing attacks, especially in eastern states that were part of the former German Democratic Republic."

Lawmakers slam diversion of EU aid to ‘Trust Fund for Africa’ (euractiv, link)

"A little under a year since its launch, the EU’s Trust Fund for Africa is largely financed with EU development money and has failed to convince Members of the European Parliament, who warn about diversion of aid to stem migration flows from authoritarian regimes.:.... The report was voted by a comfortable majority, of 511 to 126....

First among the report's criticisms is the lack of funds allocated to the instrument proposed at last year's migration summit in Valletta.
"The contributions from member states have been too small," the report said. "As a result, they are a long way from meeting the official commitment, with a total of just €81.71m in April 2016 (4.5% of the €1.8bn planned)," it added....

Member states' minimal contributions to the fund have generally been just generous enough to grant them access to the fund's council of administration, but have gone no further."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.9.16)
Greece: Lesvos: Golden Dawn supporters stir up ugly scenes and "Guantanamo-style" Moira detention centre set on fire

Nine arrested after Greek refugee camp burns (BBC News, link):

"Nine people have been arrested after a large fire destroyed parts of the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Up to 4,000 migrants were evacuated from the camp, as the blaze destroyed tents and prefabricated homes. No fatalities were reported, but large areas of the camp, which was already crowded, were left unusable. The Greek government said it would send a ship to hold at least 1,000 people as a temporary overflow area.

Early reports suggested a riot broke out as rumours of imminent mass deportations to Turkey spread. Other witnesses said it was the result of an argument over food.

The nine people arrested under suspicion of starting the blaze included people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Senegal, Syria and Cameroon, the AFP news agency reported, citing a police source. Additional riot police have been dispatched to the island."

See also: Fire At Moria: Thousands of Refugees Flee (News That Moves, link) and see: EU: Migrants to stay on Greek islands despite fire (ekathimerini.com, link).:

"“The EU and Greece cannot carry on stockpiling refugees indefinitely on the Greek islands,” Amnesty International's Giorgos Kosmopoulos said.

“Witnessing the charred remains of Moria camp is shocking but comes as little surprise. Holding thousands of vulnerable people on Lesvos in appalling conditions with no knowledge of their fate inevitably creates an incendiary atmosphere of fear and despondency.”

Also: EU Commission found THE solution: Migrants will remain on Greek islands “as much as possible” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Finally! The European Commission found a solution for the Migration crisis in Greece and the Greek islands. During a press conference on Tuesday, the EC coordinating spokesperson, Natasha Bertaud, revealed the well-hidden plans:... EU Commission spo Bertaud says migrants will remain on islands "as much as possible"

To avoid secondary movement to the rest of Europe, that means keeping asylum seekers on the islands for the most part,” Bertaud said also and threw the ball in the court of the Greek government. She said “the Greek government had described the situation as being under control. Transfers to the mainland would remain limited,” Bertaud said.

If this is all the EC can say after the ugly incidents of Monday on the island of Lesvos, it is clear that the migrants will remain indefinitely on the Greek islands, the EU Turkey Deal was just a bunch of papers to use for packing Fish & Belgian Fries and that the European Union will send prayers and good vibes."

Statewatch correspondent reports (20.9.16): "Volunteers trying to get in to help. There are a lot of fascists around after weekend fascist rally who stirred up the locals, pretty ugly. The volunteers got in around the back in the end through a hole in the fence. At the weekend people trying to get in were greeted by angry mobs."

Lesvos, Greece: Moria hot spot on fire – 4,000 evacuated, among them 150 unaccompanied minors (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The hot spot in Moria was set on fire on Monday night after clashes between migrants and refugees groups of different nationalities. Some 3,000 to 4,00 people have been evacuated. Around 150 unaccompanied minors were brought in safety into a state nursery home.

The volume of the damage is not known, some tweet from the area that the camp has burned down. Greek police told foreign reporters that “all tents have burned down and some prefabricated units. A total disaster?

According to official figures, a total of 5,600 refugees and migrants are on the island of Lesvos in the eastern Aegean Sea. Some 4,000 are estimated to be in the Moria hot spot, the rest in the reception center of Kara Tepe."

See also: Thousands flee as blaze sweeps through Moria refugee camp in Greece - An estimated 4,000 people have been forced to leave the camp on Lesbos as strong winds fan the flames (Guardian, link)

Comment: Moira is a closed detention centre with "Guantanamo-style" fencing, razor wire, steel cabins and floodlights. It holds refugees mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan and over a hundred unaccompanied children. Adjacent to it is the "open" Kara Tepe camp.

Are You Syrious (link):

Greece: More people in the already severely overcrowded islands

"As the overall number of people stranded in Greece continues to inch upwards, while relocation programs proceed at a snail’s pace, we take a look at the overall statistics.

In Chios, the number of refugees has reached an all-time high. Almost 4 000 people currently reside in its reception centers, exceeding the official capacity by 336%. As AYS has reported previously, this overcrowding creates a breeding ground for clashes, unrest and all sorts of mental and physical problems that can accompany such ill treatment of people."

Numbers in the islands reach an all time high

"Over the weekend, 308 people arrived in the northern Aegean islands over this weekend. For the first time since the border closings, more than 10 000 are stranded in the northern Aegean islands. Taking the other islands into consideration, a tota of 13 536 people are currently stuck in Greek island centers."

Volunteers needed!

"With these increasing number of arrivals, the volunteer group om Samos is announcing through all reliable channels that they urgently need more volunteers. Please, if you are willing and able, contact them here."

With solidarity and organization, people take over two camps in the Greek mainland

"In news that bring hope, we bring you stories from two camps in Greek mainland. In Lete Derveni, as were have reported, people were increasingly disillusioned by the empty promises of UNHCR and IOM to meet their basic needs. Refugees and independent volunteers raised their voices in protest and petitioned these big organizations to leave and let them, through their organized bodies for decision making, organize the camp. In an unprecedented turn of events, they succeeded. Currently, decisions in the camp are made by refugees and independent volunteers.... Power to them and all of us rooting over here! Follow them on their FB page

Parents at northern Greek elementary school oppose admission of refugee children (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The parents’ association of an elementary school in the northern Greek town of Filippiada on Tuesday sent a memo to education authorities expressing their opposition to government plans to use school facilities to hold classes for refugee children staying at nearby camps...

The memo comes in the wake of a protest by parents in Oresteiada, also in northern Greece, opposing the admission of refugee children into the local school and threatening sit-ins if the government proceeds with its plans to provide schooling to hundreds of migrant and refugee children trapped in Greece."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.9.16)
Lesvos, Greece: “NGOs Out Of Kara Tepe Camp”

"From ANA-MPA, the Lesvos municipal council has requested all NGOs leave the island’s Kara Tepe refugee camp. Mayor Spiros Galinos accused aid groups working there of “deceiving him,” claiming they were helping create a new refugee camp without his knowledge. The resolution was passed during an emergency council meeting and includes almost all aid groups operating at Kara Tepe, adding that the municipality should have exclusive jurisdiction over the camp, limiting NGOs to support roles. Galinos called the meeting after media reports that a new camp was being built at a former military base. Work was halted after Defence Minister Panos Kammenos intervened." and:

Lesvos in Migration Crisis: Situation at risk of getting out of control with protests, attacks and unwanted NGO’s (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Hundreds of residents of Moria village and surrounding areas on the island of Lesvos took to the streets on Monday morning protesting the presence of refugees and migrants outside the hot spot of the same name....

The protest rally turned really ugly when extremists from the ultra right-wing Golden Dawn who joined the protest attacked three women, one of them a volunteer at a refugees reception center. The woman was transferred to the local hospital for treatment. According to local website Empros.net, the police that was present did nothing to hinder the attack.

According to the same website, the injured were four university student attacked by 15 GD members while others from the same party were shouting “throw them to the sea...

Kara Tepe has been a model refugee camp, often visited by international VIPs who come to Lesvos to express solidarity with the refugees.”

(19.9.16) Report from Mytilene: "Neonazis are having gatherings all over town."

ECHO budget almost doubles – but migration strings attached (IRIN, link):

"But it’s not so straightforward, according to some observers.

“Totally extraordinary,” said Kathrin Schick, director of VOICE, a network of European NGOs active in humanitarian aid. “The scale and nature of the Turkey portfolio for ECHO goes beyond the ‘harmonica system’ of expanding and contracting budgets that ECHO has become used to.”

There are many international NGOs in Turkey that have standing partnerships with ECHO, but their ability to operate is limited, their registration in Turkey short-term, and restrictions on visas and internal travel hampers their ability to work, Schick said....

She and other NGO analysts pointed out that the needs of unregistered refugees and asylum seekers, and their protection, should not be left out. And what about other nationalities? Only Syrian refugees may to be eligible for the safety net, according to a fact sheet: “Whilst the monthly cash-transfer under the ESSN will reach the most vulnerable families among registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, a referral system will be put in place as part of the ESSN to address the needs of other persons of concern too.”"

When is "solidarity" not "solidarity"? When Its "flexible": ‘Flexible solidarity’ becomes new tool in response to refugee crisis (euractiv, link):

"The Bratislava summit marks a turning point in the evolution of the EU’s response to the migration crisis, as Germany and other Western nations appeared to accept the Visegrad Group’s alternative to relocation and migrant quotas, called ‘flexible solidarity”.

At the summit, the Visegrad Group (V4), consisting of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, submitted an appropriately-titled Joint Statement consisting of proposals for the future of the Union after Brexit.....

The idea that relocation doesn’t work seems to be accepted by Germany. The European Commission is the only one to religiously promote the concept."

See: Papering over overt racism: Visegard Group: Joint Statement of the Heads of Governments of the V4 Countries Bratislava, 16 September 2016 (pdf):

"Concerning migrations, it is necessary to halt the number of irregular migrants and to guarantee the security of the EU, the Member States and individual citizens. The countries of the Visegrad Group have therefore been underlining that enhanced cooperation with third countries, including with Turkey, whether transit or origin, as well as protection of EU external borders are key tools."

Bulgaria: Report from the project: Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants (pdf):

"Since 2013, Bulgaria, as an external border of the EU, has experienced an unprecedented for its history number of migrants passing through its territory, primarily asylum seekers and refugees. The majority of the arriving migrants are subjected to administrative detention, where the decisions made by the administrative bodies appear to be dictated by policy rather than by individual and objective assessment.

The current project “Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants” examines this proposition, while aiming to contribute to increasing the transparency in the decision-making process for the administrative detention of migrants in Bulgaria and to the adopting of transparent and just detention practices that are in line with the principles of proportionality and individual assessment defined in international and European law."

EU: Council President Tusk speech at UN: Speech by President Donald Tusk at the UN summit for refugees and migrants (pdf):

"You have to know that today the European Union has a clear objective to restore order on its external borders. As a result, this will lead to the further reduction of the irregular flows to the EU. There will be no repeat of the year 2015 with more than 1 and a half million irregular migrants....

We are also setting up new partnership agreements with African countries. Moreover, we are determined to continue our cooperation with Turkey and with the Western Balkans countries." [emphasis added]

Comment: President Tusk fails to mention that the "new partnership agreements with African countries" are intended to stop refugees reaching the EU and if they do to send them back to countries of origin or transit.

Fundamental Rights Agency: Monthly data collection: September 2016 (link)

Video from Lesvos: Bridget Bardot in Skala 17/09/2016 (Eric Kempson, link) and "Hope Centre": Hope Is Not Lost 17/06/2016 (video link)

Hungary’s War on Refugees (HRW, link):

"Throughout this period, the Hungarian government has stirred up xenophobic sentiments against refugees and migrants and has gone to great lengths, and cost, to spew hateful messages nationwide. Along with restrictive new laws making life difficult for asylum seekers and refugees, anti-migrant rhetoric by decision makers and high-ranking politicians is commonplace.

Asylum seekers and refugees are called, “intruders,” and “potential terrorists,” all bent on destroying Western civilization, burying Christianity and the Western culture. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself in July referred to migration as “poison.”"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-18.9.16)
The Bratislava Declaration - appeasing "extreme or populists" causes?

EU: European Council meeting: The Bratislava Declaration and The Bratislava Roadmap (16.9.16, pdf):

In his "State of the Union" address Commission President Juncker said:

"“The recent terrible events in the Mediterranean have shown us that Europe needs to manage migration better, in all aspects. This is first of all a humanitarian imperative. I am convinced that we must work closely together in a spirit of solidarity.”

In response to "extreme or populists forces", which include a number of EU Member States, the EU promises to try and complete "Fortress Europe".

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The " principles of responsibility and solidarity" and hunanitarianism have patently failed so the EU answer is to concede to and appease "extreme or populists forces" arguments."

See also: The Bratislava Declaration and The Bratislava Roadmap (16.9.16, pdf):

- Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the Bratislava summit (pdf): "Never to allow for the return of uncontrolled refugee flows of last year and to ensure full control of our external border to get back to Schengen. We are determined to continue our co-operation with Turkey and Western Balkans but also to establish migration compacts with African countries"

- STATE OF THE UNION 2016 by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission 14 September 2016 (pdf)

Europe’s refugees and migrants: hidden flows, tightened borders and spiralling costs (Overseas Development Institute (ODI), link):

"The European response to the current migration ‘crisis’ has been swift. Since 2014, at least €17 billion has been spent on deterring refugees and migrants through tighter border controls and bilateral agreements, such as the EU-Turkey deal. These measures have been effective in reducing flows – as few as 330,000 refugees and migrants are likely to arrive in Europe this year via the Mediterranean through ‘overt’ routes.

However, Europe will still see 890,000 asylum applications in 2016. This discrepancy between overt arrivals and asylum applications shows that there are many people whose journeys to Europe we know little about. Border controls have, in many cases, simply rerouted refugees and migrants towards alternative, ‘covert’ routes."

See report: Europe’s refugees and migrants: Hidden flows, tightened borders and spiralling costs (pdf)

Are You Syrious (17.9.16)

New arrivals: Kos: 10, Chios: 46 and Lesvos : 51

"Currently, 60.079 refugees are in Greece, but people are arriving all the time. Volunteer Rafat Hammoud posted a story about a group of refugees he found near the road on the south coast in Mytilini."

Serbia: Ultra right protest announced

"Ultra right organization Nacionalni srpski front announced anti-migrant protest for the beginning of October to be held in Belgrade. This organization, which is officially registered in Serbia, as one of the goals of their work, puts “to stop migrant invasion”.

At the same time, Srpski narodni pocket Zbor announced a public event for the end of September with the guests from ultra right German groups."

Bulgaria: 2776 asylum seekers in August

The State Agency for Refugees (SAR) registered 2,776 asylum seekers in August, that is 1,543 asylum seekers more than in July.

From January the 1st until August the 31st, the SAR granted refugee status to 376 people and 302 got humanitarian status, 597 people were refused. Until the end of August, 11,952 people were registered by the SAR to have sought “protection” in Bulgaria in 2016.

The number of people in camps is also rising and currently, 93 percent of the overall capacity is filled, the Border monitoring reports.

According to the Ministry of Interior, from the 2nd-8th of September, the 664 people have entered Bulgaria. During this year, police in Bulgaria arrested 12,500 people who tried to cross the country, most of them from Afghanistan."

Germany: Another attack on refugees

"Refugee home in Erbach, southern Germany, was set a fire yesterday. Five people were injured and taken to the hospital.

Police said the place was deliberately set on fire overnight while 26 people were inside. In 2015, there were 1,047 attacks on planned and completed refugee shelters across Germany, and authorities warn the tally could be even higher for 2016."

Refugees are welcome in UK

"Big solidarity march was held today in London with tens of thousands people on the streets wishing welcome to refugees. They urged the government to take more action and help refugees, demanding that the UK take a “fair and proportionate” share of international refugees, provide more safe routes to the UK and offer more support to those already in the country.

Solidarity with Refugees director Ros Ereira said: This demonstration is the public’s best opportunity to show the Government that’s what we want them to do. Britain is a country that should welcome people fleeing desperate situations?—?let’s make that message heard loud and clear.”"

Push-Backs at the Greek-Macedonian border violate human rights (Pro Asyl, link):

"From Idomeni to Strasbourg: Refugees demand their right to have rights at the ECtHR

Strasbourg/Berlin/Frankfurt, 14 September 2016 – Eight individuals from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are resisting the violation of their human rights on the route across the borders of Europe. They submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against their unlawful push-back from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the border camp Idomeni in Greece in March 2016. The claimants assert that FYROM’s practice of collective and often violent expulsions breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Pro Asyl provide support for the complaints. They see these legal proceedings as an important step in the struggle against push-backs at European borders and for refugees’ fundamental “right to have rights.” The applicants are represented by ECCHR’s cooperating attorney Carsten Gericke from Hamburg."

See: ECHR Case report

Greece: Police Use Tear Gas on Chios Residents Protesting Migrant Situation (Greek Reporter, link):

"Greek police used tear gas against Chios residents during a protest march to the Suda migrant camp, causing a riot in the island’s capital central square....

Chios residents gathered at 6:30 pm at the capital’s main square to protest the overflowing migrant camps and the rising number of petty crimes committed by stranded migrants.

Initially, the demonstration was peaceful. Then protesters decided to hold a protest march towards the Souda camp where about 1,800 migrants and refugees are accommodated."

EU: Council of the European Union: EU Border Guard and Maritime Safety Agency

- Extending Frontex's roles: REGULATION on the European Border and Coast Guard and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (176 pages, pdf): Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.

- European Border and Coast Guard: final approval (Council press release, pdf)

- REGULATION amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (pdf):

Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.Involves all EU maritime roles in cooperating with Frontex and other agencies for the purpose of gathering intelligence, border control and search and rescue:

"National authorities carrying out coast guard functions are responsible for a wide range of tasks, which may include maritime safety, security, search and rescue, border control, fisheries control, customs control, general law enforcement and environmental protection.... strengthen their cooperation, within their mandate, both with each other and with the national authorities carrying out coast guard functions, in order to increase maritime situational awareness and to support coherent and cost-efficient action....

providing surveillance and communication services based on state-of-the-art technology, including space-based and ground infrastructure and sensors mounted on any kind of platform...

enhancing the exchange of information and cooperation on coast guard functions including by analysing operational challenges and emerging risks in the maritime domain..."

  Bulgaria To Receive EUR 108 M in Emergency Assistance (novinite.com, link):

"Bulgaria will receive EUR 108 M in emergency assistance for border defence and for dealing with the migrant flow, stated President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.".

Hungarian European Society: Make the Referendum Invalid! (link)

"Hungarian non-governmental organisations, including the Hungarian Europe Society, condemned the anti-refugee referendum announced by the government in a joint declaration on 14 September 2016. They advice citizens to boycott the referendum or to submit an invalid vote.

The question put to referendum fails to promote our common concerns. It does not offer a solution either to the situation of refugees or the future of the European Union. It rejects solidarity with our fellow human beings in plight, just like with the other European member states. It has no intention to create a framework for peaceful coexistence. We are convinced that nobody can feel safe in the long run where public discourse is defined by hatred."

Greece prepares to induct 22,000 refugee children in schools (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The government has launched an awareness campaign ahead of plans to induct some 22,000 child refugees into the Greek school system early next month.

The children will join 800 classes at schools across the country, according to the government’s plan. The schools that will participate in the program are to be announced in the coming days amid concerns of more reactions like the backlash in Oraiokastro, near Thessaloniki, where a parents’ association last week threatened to occupy a local school if refugee children are admitted."

UK Foreign Secretary: Britain says EU mission should turn back migrant boats (Reuters, link):

"A European Union naval force deployed in the Mediterranean should turn back migrant boats after they leave Libya and prevent them from reaching Italy, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday. ...

"I think personally (the boats) should be turned back as close to the shore as possible so they don't reach the Italian mainland and that there is more of a deterrent," Johnson said, speaking alongside his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni.

"I think I am right in saying we have turned back about 200,000 migrants," Johnson said, before a nearby diplomat hastily corrected him. "Sorry, saved, saved. Thank you. We have saved 200,000 migrants and turned back 240 boats."

See: Britain’s Foreign Secretary Gets it Wrong on Boat Migration from Libya - Forcing Migrants Back is Uninformed and Inhumane (HRW, link)

GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands a drop but still overcrowded

Latest Greek government figueres on hosting capacity for refugees.4,369 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,072 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,349 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,015 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 737 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 16-09-2016 (pdf)

IOM Aids EU Relocation of 5,000 Asylum Seekers in First Year, Urges Renewed Effort (link):

"As the European Union (EU) relocation scheme reaches its one year anniversary, only 5,000 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States with IOM assistance. The EU programme adopted a year ago was set up to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from frontline EU Member States. Since then, IOM has assisted 4,954 people relocate from Greece and Italy.."

Germany: Confrontations between refugees and extremists in Bautzen have made international headlines this week. So what is going on in the east German town? And how do locals feel about the unrest? Kay-Alexander Scholz reports. It is illegal to turn back migrant boats once they reach international waters. (DW, link): ""Bautzen is my favorite town," says Menekse, a Kurd, in the town's central Kornmarkt square. This is also where violent clashes between refugees, police and right wing protesters have erupted in recent days. "

Ninety per cent of migrants and refugees crossing Sahara in hope of reaching Europe have witnessed death, torture and beatings (Telegraph, link):

"Ninety per cent of refugees and migrants crossing the Sahara in the hope of reaching Europe have seen fellow migrants murdered, beaten or drop dead of exhaustion during their nightmarish journeys, a humanitarian organisation said on Tuesday.

Doctors for Human Rights, an Italian humanitarian group, based their findings on interviews with 1,000 African migrants who trekked across the desert to Libya and from there paid smugglers for their passage across the Mediterranean in ex-fishing boats and rubber dinghies."

Libya frees German migrant aid workers: NGO (News 24, link): "Two migrant aid workers from Germany who were held by Libyan coastguards have been freed, the group Sea Eye said Wednesday, adding that the circumstances of their arrest remain unclear. The two were released late on Monday, said Hans-Peter Buschheuer, spokesperson for the humanitarian group that rescues migrants at sea who are trying to reach Europe from North Africa."

Are You Syrious (15.9.16)

New right-wing riots expected on Chios: Last night’s protests attracted 800 residents who rallied against the refugees.

"Following yesterday’s right-wing riots on Chios, when riot police had to intervene to keep a crowd of 800 people from approaching two refugee camps, new protest is announced for Friday, 16th of September. Volunteers on the ground say the same group of thugs leads all the extremist riots, but they have never seen any of them arrested, while several volunteers were taken in to police station yesterday after trying to prevent the mob from approaching the refugees in Souda camp. Both volunteers and refugees are adviset to try to remain calm and not engage in potential conflict. You can find a disturbing volunteer report from yesterday’s demonstrations here."

Greece: Number of refugees in camps drops on daily basis

"Following our reports about refugees who are leaving the camps and continuing their trip irregularly after loosing hope in EU administration, official numbers of camp residents in Greece keep dropping on daily basis: Today, Lesvos had 33 fewer officially registered refugees than yesterday, Chios 20 less. Daily drops have been registered in the mainland as well: Skaramagas dropped from 3450 yesterday to 3286 today (official capacity is 3200), and we couldn’t track the people who left the camp in the official statistic of the refugees in Greece. Attiki total dropped from 8757 to 8593 people. Andravida also dropped from 246 to 215, but has a capacity of 300. Larissa “lost” 9 residents. We have also noticed the increase of UNHCR host families from 269 to 284 and hotel accommodations from 2562 to 2617, but apartment accommodation dropped from 4692 to 4684 today."

Cruelty and care in Chios, Greece (IRR News, link):

"an article by Malcolm James* on a visit he paid to Chios in Greece and what he witnessed while volunteering in early 2016 and the contradictions between caring for refugees and the cruelty meted out to them....

In the everyday actions on the island cruelty and care were also intertwined. Coastal rescue, the registration centre, food provision and the registering of volunteers provided different sites and practices through which these tensions could be understood......

Coastal rescue on Chios has been devolved to the Beach Team which has lookouts at strategic points on the coast and lit safe landing areas (such as beaches) with cars’ headlights to help refugees avoid the rocks. When the boats got close enough, volunteers would wade into the water and help people ashore. The volunteers worked to ensure that those lives, which they valued, could be saved."

Greece: PM seeks relief from immigration pressure (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heads to a crucial European Union summit on Friday in Bratislava hoping for progress with regard to the refugee crisis as the numbers of migrants stranded in Greece continue to climb, putting additional pressure on already overcrowded reception centers and camps across the country."

Migrant death toll expected to exceed 10,000 in 2016 (The Observer, link): "Projected figures on migrant fatalities released as US prepares to host two major summits on refugee crisis."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.9.16)
Juncker signals about-face amid refugee quota opposition (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says solidarity cannot be imposed on EU member countries amid vehement opposition in some states to his refugee quota scheme.

Juncker told EU lawmakers Wednesday that "solidarity must be voluntary, must come from the heart.""

OXFAM: Different conflict, same crisis (link):

"Close to four million refugees and asylum seekers have fled from one conflict zone to another, Oxfam said today ahead of two summits on migration in New York next week. Oxfam analysis shows that these millions of vulnerable women, men and children were registered in 15 countries - having fled their own - where conflict had caused a total of 161,250 deaths. That’s almost 16 percent of all people who have fled violence, persecution or war at home as they have ended up in another country that is itself in conflict or in a state of insecurity."

See: Briefing (pdf)

Europe Pledges to Help Migrant Children in Greece - Funding Should End Unjustified Detention of Children in Deplorable Conditions (HRW, link):

"In his State of the Union address this morning, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asked the EU and Greece to take strong and immediate action to help unaccompanied children: “without protection of these children, Europe is betraying its historic values.” On September 10, the European Commission announced €115 million in new emergency funding to improve conditions for refugees in Greece, including for facilities for unaccompanied children. ...

Leaders in Greece and other EU countries should heed Juncker’s call, and act in concert to put an end to the unjustified detention of children and ensure these children get the care to which they are entitled."

How a media mogul helped turn Czechs against refugees - Politics in central and eastern Europe are increasingly driven by the businesses that own media outlets (Economist, link):

"In a report issued in June, the Czech broadcasting regulator found that the station’s tone shifted dramatically after the September 2015 meeting. It condemned the broadcasts for “not pay[ing] much attention to the perspectives of the refugees themselves and depict[ing] them rather as a source of problems”. It plans to release a longer report this month that may recommend sanctions. Robert Brestan, the reporter who broke the story of the TV Prima meeting, called it “a clear attempt to manipulate public opinion”. With media in central and eastern Europe increasingly controlled by politically connected owners, that description is starting to fit more and more of the region’s news."

Croatia can accept migrants allocated to it, says FM (dalje.com, link):

"Croatia is ready to take in 550 migrants and can also provide for an additional 1064, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said on Wednesday after the European Commission unveiled a plan for the refugee crisis under which a total number of refugees who should be redirected from Greece, Italy and Hungary to Croatia is 1,614.....

“It remains to be seen whether the states (EU members) will accede to the obligatory refugee quotas or if they will be for non-binding quotas,” the Croatian minister said. Pusic said that migrants needed help, and she called for cooperation with countries neighbouring the EU, primarily Turkey as well as Lebanon and Jordan, and Egypt that are “neighbours across the Mediterranean” and that have already received a huge number of refugees."

Are You Syrious (14.9.16)

Anti-refugee riots on Chios

"International volunteers have reported a anti-refugees rally that was held on Chios last night. According to the people on site, loud explosion was heard around 8pm at the main square before some of the thugs moved to Souda trying to intimidate the refugees. The crowd was much bigger than the last protest and refugees were frightened. Riot police had to intervene and the protest caused a massive backlog of traffic in the town. Some of the volunteers were taken to the police station and held for few hours after standing up against the riot. There are no reports about arrests of the local thugs yet. Our fellow volunteers have expressed their frustration following the arrests, saying most of the thugs who are constant presence were never taken in."

UK must do more to stop migrants from Libya drowning due to its role in country’s destabilisation

"The report from the Foreign Affairs Committee said: “Given its role in the conflict and subsequent destabilisation in Libya, the UK has a particular responsibility in relation to migrants and refugees, an issue which has been exacerbated by the collapse of the Libyan state.”

The cross-party group of politicians claimed the UK bears “particular responsibility” for the migration crisis that the Libya intervention sparked and called on ministers to reassess their claim that rescuing people from sea creates a “pull factor” for more to come.

The demands were included in a damning report on the 2011 Libya campaign, which concluded that it lacked both “accurate intelligence” and a coherent strategy for the aftermath of removing Colonel Gaddafi."

New from Migszol: Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary (links)

- Greetings from Belgrade, from the other side of the fence

-  Analysis of the 2nd October referendum

- Overview of developments in Hungary between August 4 and September 4 : "Out of sight, out of mind? Violence continues on the anniversary of the Hungarian-Serbian border closure "

Refugees and vulnerable migrants in Europe by Humanitarian Practice Network (link):

"This edition of Humanitarian Exchange is dedicated to the humanitarian response to the influx of refugees and vulnerable migrants into Europe over the past year."

Secret Aid Worker: Greece has exposed the failures of the aid community (Keep Talking Greece, link)

"The usual excuses of the international aid community as to why planned projects do not materialize do not work in an EU country like Greece. So why does the international aid community fails to meet the needs for the refugees in Greece, when there is an EU funding of €86million, infrastructure and a stable government?"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.9.16)
EU: Expel Hungary from EU for hostility to refugees, says Luxembourg (The Guardian, link):

"Luxembourg’s foreign minister has called for Hungary to be thrown out of the European Union over its increasingly hostile approach to refugees, as campaigners accuse Viktor Orbán’s hardline government of whipping up xenophobia to block a European plan to relocate asylum seekers.

Jean Asselborn said Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the EU for treating asylum seekers “worse than wild animals”.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, he said: “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.”"

MALTA: Calls for preventive action against vigilante group Soldiers of Odin (Malta Today, link): "The Soldiers of Odin, a vigilante group that has been branded as “anti-immigrant”, has found a following in Malta and begun patrolling the streets, according to local media reports.

The group is part of a controversial international network with same name, which proclaims that its goal is to protect people – especially women – from migrants committing crimes.

The first Soldiers of Odin group was set up in Finland during the European migrant crisis last year, and several other groups have sprouted across Europe since."

GREECE: Syrian refugee’s wait for asylum in Greece is ‘like death’ (Business Insider, link):

"Life in Greece has become so difficult for Amir and Walaa, teachers from Syria, that they sometimes think about returning to the home they risked everything to flee.

"I know in Syria we have war and bombs every day," says Amir, visibly exhausted. But there, "every Syrian dies once. Here we die every day. Every day is bad."

For the past six months, home is a bleak tent on the Aegean island of Chios, pitched in a dusty medieval castle moat, where they wait without work or money for a verdict on their asylum claims."

FRANCE: Photo-reporting at Visa pour l’Image describes refugee sorrow (RFI, link): "Reflecting the headline news stories of the past year, migrant issues are prominent again at the annual international photojournalists’ meet in France. RFI’s Rosslyn Hyams reports from the host city of Visa pour L’Image, Perpignan.

Two of the event’s 20 selected exhibitions focus on the plight of people escaping from conflict, famine and poverty to countries where they have nothing and often aren’t welcome."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.9.16)
Reflections on a Crazy Summer; Samos Island 2015 (Samos Chronicles, link):

"Samos is close to the coast of Turkey and has long been one of the gateways into western Europe for refugees. What made the summer of 2015 so distinctive were the very large numbers of refugees coming to the island, as to all the frontier islands of Greece in the eastern Aegean. It was a tsunami of people fleeing mainly from Syria but also from other war torn places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine as well as from countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Pakistan where widespread corruption and mafia politics makes ‘normal’ living virtually impossible for many."

Are You Syrious (12.9.16, link):

3400 people rescued in Mediterranean over the weekend

"This weekend saw the another surge of rescues in the Mediterranean, with 3400 people saved in just two days. These rescues form part of a wave of migrations that began in August and is still ongoing."

Overcrowding in camps on the islands

"With new arrivals coming every day, many shelters on the islands have once again become overcrowded. Sometimes there are almost two times more people than the official capacity. Currently, there are approximately 13,080 people are living in camps whose capacity is only 7450. As Ekhathimerini news reports, “Thousands of migrants have been cooped up in overcrowded reception centers on the Aegean islands for weeks or even months awaiting a decision on their applications for asylum.”

Italy/ Switzerland: Protest on the border

"With the Italian and Swiss border becoming increasingly difficult to cross, clashes between the No Border Group and the police in Chiasso broke out yesterday afternoon. A group of people gathered to protest against the policy of ejecting migrants from Switzerland. The crowd, about 250 people from Switzerland and abroad, as reported by police, walked to the city centre, with a stop at the international station, where protests threw paper bombs and smoke bombs. The group then moved to the border."

RETURN TO SENDER: Italy has forcibly deported Darfur migrants back to Sudan (Quartz, link):

"A group of 48 Sudanese migrants are back in Sudan, after Italy delivered them to Khartoum last week with seemingly no questions asked.
According to eyewitnesses, Italian police detained the Sudanese from Ventimiglia, a border town near France, and then loaded them on two buses and deported them from Turin-Caselle Airport via a chartered EgyptAir flight."

CoE: Spain: Commissioner Muižnieks calls for guidance to border police on how to handle migration flows in Ceuta and Melilla (link):

"In a letter to the Minister of Interior of Spain published today, Commissioner Muižnieks has urged the Spanish authorities to adopt a procedural framework to ensure that border police in Ceuta and Melilla have clear instructions on how to handle mixed migration flows in full compliance with human rights."

See: Letter (pdf):

"Given the seriousness of the human rights violations at stake, I should like to request you to provide me with further information on your authorities’ position as regards the adoption of a text regulating the work of border police in Ceuta and Melilla. I would also like to strongly reiterate that the practice of summary expulsions must be stopped."

Juncker promises Bulgaria aid to strengthen border with Turkey (euractiv, link):

"Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in a letter seen by EurActiv.com that he is aware of the “fragile situation” of the country and that considerable support for the consolidation of the country’s border will be made available.

The letter, dated 12 September, comes ahead of the Bratislava summit on 16 September, where Borissov is expected to voice his concerns of a worst-case scenario – the collapse of the EU-Turkey deal and a massive arrival of migrants across the Bulgarian border."

Provide Genuine Refuge to World’s Displaced - At Global Refugee Summits, Commit to Resettlement and Aid (HRW, link):

"The massive refugee crisis demands an unprecedented global response. At two summits on September 19 and 20, 2016, at the United Nations, world leaders should take bold steps to share responsibility for millions of people displaced by violence, repression, and persecution.

Leaders will gather in New York to discuss providing greater support to countries where refugees first land, just as many of those countries are at breaking point. There is a grave risk to the bedrock foundation of refugee protection, the principle of nonrefoulement – not forcibly returning refugees to places where they would face persecution and other serious threats. People are fleeing violence in Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Honduras, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria, among others."#

Hungary’s Xenophobic Anti-Migrant Campaign - Government Has Spent €16M Spreading Distorted Facts About Refugees (HRW, link):

"“Forced settlement endangers our culture and traditions.” This is one of many fearmongering anti-migrant messages included in an 18-page booklet – just part of Hungary’s tax-payer funded anti-migrant campaign designed to counter a binding EU relocation quota, which asks Hungary to take in a mere 1,294 asylum seekers."

and see: “We must stop Brussels!” referendum booklet warns Hungarians (Budapest Beacon, link)

More than 60,000 migrants and refugees stranded in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The number of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece is estimated to be over 60,000, according to reports Tuesday.

A total of 143 individuals arrived on the Aegean island of Lesvos on Tuesday. Another 40 arrivals were recorded on Chios. The number of migrants and refugees on Greece’s islands has reached 12,171."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.9.16)
GREECE: Open letter from Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Ritsona camp

A translation of a letter written by Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in the Ritsona camp near Chalkida in Greece, around one hour north of Athens. It was originally published on the website R Project in Greek; the text below is a translation of that in Spanish published by Diagonal on 27 August 2016.

EU: HOTSPOTS: Council, Europol and "expert group" press on with plans to boost "information exchange and information management"

In May this year the Council of the EU drew up an extensive "roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management" in relation to justice and home affairs policies - principally policing, migration and counter-terrorism. A recent leaked document provides a summary of progress on a number of those actions, including detailed information on how security checks in the "hotspots" in Italy and Greece function.

EU-TURKEY: 13 migrants returned from Greece to Turkey with no opportunity to access legal assistance

On 8 September, 13 migrants were returned from Lesvos to Turkey without being given the opportunity to access legal assistance. 10 of the migrants - from Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Palestine and Lebanon - were dismissed at first and second instance while the other three had waived their right to file an application against their return.

UK: Help reunite refugee families, faith leaders urge May (BBC News, link): "More than 200 religious leaders have urged the UK to relax immigration rules so refugees from Syria and other areas can be reunited with their families.

In a letter to the prime minister, they say close relatives of Britons and refugees already in the country are living abroad in "desperate conditions" and should be given a legal route in.

People are now making "unsafe" journeys with "avoidable tragedies", they say.

Ministers say the UK has been at the head of the response to the crisis.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is among representatives from the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faiths to have signed the letter to Theresa May."

See: REFUGEE CRISIS: Faith Leaders' Open Letter to the Prime Minister (pdf) and: interfaithrefugeeinitiative.org (link)

EU-GREECE: EU announces new €115 million in emergency support to improve conditions for refugees in Greece (European Commission, link): "Today, the European Commission has stepped up its funding to improve living conditions for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Greece. New funding worth €115 million will be released to humanitarian organisations operating in the country."

UK-FRANCE: ‘Kindertransport’ Britons help today’s child refugees in Calais (The Guardian, link): "British beneficiaries of the Kinder-transport programme, the organised effort to rescue thousands of children from Nazi Germany, have begun raising funds to help the scores of unaccompanied refugee children stranded in Calais.

Almost 80 years after Britain sanctioned a mission to help children escape the antisemitic aftermath of Kristallnacht, Britain’s Jewish community is raising funding to evacuate at least 120 child refugees identified as having the legal right to be reunited with their families in the UK but who remain trapped in northern France."

GREECE: Seven sketches inspired by Athens' refugee squats – in pictures (The Guardian, link):

"Illustrator Ella Baron spent the summer volunteering in Athens in squats occupied by some of the thousands of refugees prevented from continuing west by the EU-Turkey deal. Her drawings capture their struggles"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.9.16)
UNCHR (10.9.16): 292,113 Arrivals in the Med: 164,730 in Greece and 124,449 in Italy. 3,196 dead/missing.

And: GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands still massively overcrowded

Latest Greek government figueres on hosting capacity for refugees. 5,545 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,528 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,353 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,517 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 717 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 08.00 09.09.2016 (pdf) and:

UNHCR Weekly Report (7.9.16):

Update on Relocation

"From Italy, nine Eritrean nationals were relocated to Malta on 29 August and six Eritrean nationals were transferred to Romania on 02 September, bringing the total number of departures from Italy since the adoption of the relocation scheme to 1,026 -only 2.6% of the 39,600 target of those to be relocated by September 2017.

From Greece, there were 82 asylum-seekers relocated to Finland including 11 unaccompanied children during the reporting period. Thus far, a total of 3,493 (5.2%) asylum-seekers against the targeted 66,400, have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries since the beginning of the relocation programme in November 2015."

Are You Syrious (10.9.16)

GREECE: Closing of camps on Chios announced

"Refugees staying at the Greek island of Chios, one of the prominent Greek islands that only today counted together 52 new arrivals, those who had submitted their papers for asylum would very soon be moved to the mainland, Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said this Friday, after the meeting with the officials on Chios. The expected result of that is closing of the two camps on the island and a reduction of numbers at the notorious VIAL facility, Ekathimerini reports."

HUNGARY: Indignation

"As the situation concerning the refugees in Hungary is getting more and more serious, dangerous and uncertain for many, the members of the Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary are extending their invitation to join a protest that will be held this month in solidarity with the Roszke11, but also as a gesture to call for a boycott of the upcoming referendum imposed by the government. The event will take place on September 22 in Budapest and also the following day, September 23, in Szeged, in front of the court where Ahmed H. of the Roszke11 will have a trial.

As the situation concerning the refugees in Hungary is getting more and more serious, dangerous and uncertain for many, the members of the Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary are extending their invitation to join a protest that will be held this month in solidarity with the Roszke11, but also as a gesture to call for a boycott of the upcoming referendum imposed by the government. The event will take place on September 22 in Budapest and also the following day, September 23, in Szeged, in front of the court where Ahmed H. of the Roszke11 will have a trial."

ECRE-AIDA: New report (link)

"A report launched this week by the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), managed by ECRE, documents the limited and fragmented application of admissibility and safe country concepts in 20 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Serbia and Turkey."

See: Report: Admissibility, responsibility and safety in European asylum procedures (pdf)

Irish Refugee Council: One year on, Government needs to act fast to keep its promise on refugees (link):

"A year since Ireland pledged to take in 4,000 refugees, the Refugee and Migrant Coalition has called on the Government to ensure it keeps its promise."

Libyan coast guard detains German charity rescue boat (DW, link):

"The Libyan coast guard has detained two people from the German rescue charity Sea-Eye after they entered the North African country's territorial waters. Sea-Eye has rescued nearly 4,000 migrants at sea in four months."

Forgotten inside Greece’s notorious camp for child refugees (The Observer, link):

"Many of the 3,000 refugee children in Greece are housed in ‘deplorable’ conditions with poor food and few facilities. They are the lucky ones."

Five Syrians Returned To Turkey (News That Moves, link)

"The Greek authorities returned five Syrian nationals from the islands of Lesvos to Turkey on September 7. The returns were carried out under the EU-Turkey deal.

The five Syrians, one woman and four men, did not apply for asylum in Greece and requested to be transferred to Turkey, according to the Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection (link in Greek only). They were transferred by plane from Mytilene to Adana, Turkey. Since March 20, 489 persons have been returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal." "

No security in Austria for migrants as many consider leaving (Daily Sabah, link):

"In the face of growing anti-Muslim rhetoric and rising far-right parties in Austria, over half of the migrants are considering leaving the country as they have been gradually feeling insecure in Europe."

EU ups Greece refugee aid after damning report (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The European Commission announced 115 million euros in extra funding Saturday to help Greece deal with migrants, a day after a damning report into conditions migrants face.

The new EU money aims “to improve conditions for refugees in Greece, and make a difference ahead of the upcoming winter,” said EU aid and crisis management commissioner Christos Stylianides.

The extra funding will focus on improving existing shelters, building new ones but also on helping refugees get access to schooling and providing for unaccompanied minors.

The EU announcement came after Human Rights Watch published a report Friday slamming the “prolonged arbitrary detention” of child asylum seekers in Greece."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-9.9.16)
10,000 MISSING CHILDREN: Petition: To The Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union (wemove.eu, link):

"10,000 of these children are currently missing in Europe - many trafficked into sex slavery and other forms of exploitation. Tens of thousands more are at risk of a similar fate.

We demand that the EU takes immediate action to protect this most vulnerable group of people."

GREECE: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Greece: Migrant Children Held in Deplorable Conditions - End Unjustified Detention of Vulnerable Unaccompanied Kids (link):

"Greek police routinely lock up unaccompanied children in small, overcrowded, and unhygienic cells for weeks and months, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The 27-page report, “‘Why Are You Keeping Me Here?’: Unaccompanied Children Detained in Greece,” documents arbitrary and prolonged detention of children in violation of international and Greek law. Children are held in unsanitary conditions, sometimes with unrelated adults, in police stations and detention centers where they have little access to basic care and services. The report is based on interviews with 42 children who were or had been detained, as well as visits to two police stations and two detention centers in mainland Greece."

Also: Conditions for Greece's migrant children shocking, says Human Rights Watch - They are being made to live in filthy, bug-and-vermin-infested cells, sometimes without mattresses or access to showers, claims report (link)

Afghan refugees in PakistanHomecoming spleen - One of the world’s largest refugee populations is being driven out of Pakistan (The Economist, link):

"FOR weeks the voluntary repatriation centre run by the United Nations on the outskirts of Peshawar has been besieged by trucks laden with Afghan refugees and their worldly possessions. Inside the compound hundreds of men, children and burqa-clad women wait bad-temperedly in the sun to complete the achingly slow formalities of leaving Pakistan, a country that has hosted legions of displaced Afghans since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, but now wants to be rid of them."

Germany: CSU comes under fire for 'catalogue of inhumanity' over refugee policy - A list of the CSU's demands regarding Germany's refugee policy has been leaked to the media, prompting a backlash of criticism. Included are a proposed burqa ban and an upper limit on refugees. (DW, link)

EU wants Greece, Bulgaria to jointly patrol borders, while member-states are 90% behind the relocation target (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greek and Bulgarian police are to start joint patrols along the Greek-Bulgarian and Bulgarian-Turkish borders in a bid to prevent undocumented migrants from continuing their journeys via the so-called Balkan Route."

GREECE:
Unknown rightwing group claims attack on refugee squat (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An unknown group calling itself the Lone Wolves of Radical, Autonomous, Militant National Socialism has claimed responsibility for an arson attack last week on an abandoned building being used a squat for refugees on Notara Street in Exarchia, downtown Athens."

Are You Syrious (8.9.16, link):

GREECE

"164 refugees landed to Greek islands today. Volunteers from Chios have reported three boats with 16, 42 and 45 persons this morning, but the government has only registered the boat with 45 people. According to official numbers, additional 61 people have arrived to Lesvos."

Support groups for LGBT refugees in Greece

"LGBT refugees are one of the most vulnerable groups, but often not recognised as such. News That Moves has bundled a list of groups working with LGBT individuals, including umbrella organisation OLKE, Geeek Transgender Association and Colour Youth for young refugees."

FRANCE: Serious food shortage in overpopulated Calais

"Our colleague Rando Wagner has published a report from Calais camp, warning that both Belgian and Malaysian kitchen desperately need rice, tinned tomatoes, chick peas, cooking oil and milk in order to feed up to 10,000 refugees. As result, many are left without their daily meal."

People Leaving Camps In North Of Greece (News That Moves, link):

"as of September 6, 1,975 were hosted in Polykastro (Nea Kavala), down from 2,378 on August 16 and 3,682 on August 5. The capacity of Nea Kavala is 4,200.

This is not part of an organized transfer by the government. Rather, people are leaving the sites on their own, the Coordinating Body for the Refugee Crisis Management confirmed to News That Moves. The Coordinating Body estimates that as many as 8,000 migrants and refugees ‘self-settled’ on mainland Greece and are living outside organized sites and camps. That number is up from 2,200 on August 5."

Refugee Boat Capsized Amidst Rescue Operation (The Libyan Gazette, link):

"Over 1,000 refugees were rescued from sinking boats just under 20 kilometers off the coast of Libya in a rescue mission that lasted more than three hours. Refugees were found on dinghies, and some were carrying as much as 160 people.

A Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) rescue boat was radioed by the Italian Coast Guard early Monday morning.

Of the 1,000 refugees were three babies. Marco Cauchi, the MOAS Onboard Operations Officer, said “Today it was intense for the fact the rubber boats were jam-packed… they put as many people as they can… they put in 160 people it was incredible.”

“These boats are built to only take 100 people. It was dangerously loaded,” he said. “People were jumping out, fumes were coming up, people were fainting, so it was horrible.”"

More refugees, migrants arrive on Greek islands (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Over one hundred refugees and migrants have entered Greece by sea over the past 24 hours, the Athens-Macedonian news agency said on Thursday. According to the agency, 106 people reached islands in the northern Aegean."

No New Sites On Greek Islands (News That Moves, link):

"Greek authorities have no plans for opening or building new sites on the islands to decongest the camps because many people gradually leave to the mainland for their asylum procedures, the governmental Coordinating Body for the Refugee Crisis Management told News That Moves.

There will be no massive and organized transfer of people from the islands to the mainland, a Coordinating Body spokesperson said, noting that authorities are still building smaller long-term camps on the mainland.

More than 12,500 people who crossed to Greece after March 20 are now hosted in sites on the Greek islands, according to official data. The capacity of organized sites on the islands is 7,450.

Yesterday, the mayor of Lesvos asked for the transfer of a large number of people from the island to mainland Greece, describing the situation on the islands as “particularly worrying and dangerous.” More than 5,800 are hosted in Lesvos, where the capacity of organized sites is 3,500." [emphasis added]

Greece, Bulgaria to jointly patrol borders (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek and Bulgarian police are to start joint patrols along the Greek-Bulgarian and Bulgarian-Turkish borders in a bid to prevent undocumented migrants from continuing their journeys via the so-called Balkan Route....

A Greek Police official involved in the planning for the joint patrols told Kathimerini that both Greece and Bulgaria have come under European pressure to thwart migrants and refugees who entered Greece from Turkey and aim to continue on to Central and Western Europe."

European Commission: DG Home: Study on smuggling of migrants: Characteristics, responses and cooperation with third countries - Case Study 3: Pakistan – Turkey – Greece (pdf):

"In this case study, Pakistan was selected as the country of departure, with Turkey chosen as a transit country and Greece as the country of first entry to the EU. This case study covers the land border from Pakistan to Turkey, as well as the sea border from Turkey to Greece. It focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean land and sea routes....

Smuggling along this route is not organised by mafia type organisations, but rather more horizontal networks, which enables flexibility and poses particular challenges for apprehending migrant smugglers...."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.9.16)
REPORT: Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children (Unicef, link):

"Across the globe, nearly 50 million children have been uprooted – 28 million of them driven from their homes by conflicts not of their making, and millions more migrating in the hope of finding a better, safer life. Often traumatized by the conflicts and violence they are fleeing, they face further dangers along the way, including the risk of drowning on sea crossings, malnourishment and dehydration, trafficking, kidnapping, rape and even murder. In countries they travel through and at their destinations, they often face xenophobia and discrimination."

And see: Nearly half of all refugees are children, says Unicef (Guardian, link): "Report shows child refugee figures have jumped by 75% in five years to 8 million, and calls for urgent action to protect the 50 million child migrants worldwide."

European Commission urges Greece to implement Dublin regulations (ekathimerini.com, link):

"One day after a senior German official suggested that his country could send migrants back to Greece, the European Commission on Monday urged Greece to implement the so-called Dublin Regulation.

The agreement, which is currently under review, stipulates that migrants who have traveled on to other nations in the bloc via Greece be returned to Greece.

In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said: “We have done a lot in Europe in order to improve the refugee situation in Greece. This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to Dublin regulations.”"

Slovenian PM: Greece needs to do more to secure Schengen border (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece needs to do more to secure the Schengen external border, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar has said adding that failure to do so could mean exit from Europe’s 26-nation zone of passport-free travel.

“Let’s be honest. The Greeks are not doing enough to secure the Schengen border,” Cerar said in an interview with the German Die Welt newspaper adding that migrants were still crossing the country’s northern frontier.....

Asked whether Greece could face a Schengen exit, the Slovenian prime minister said: “If Greece does not show enough responsibility and solidarity, then other Schengen members will soon have to consider all available options.”

Turkey won't accept delay in EU visa liberalization: spokesperson (Finland Times, link):

"Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said on Tuesday that Turkey will not accept a delay for visa-free travel to the European Union (EU) until the end of the year, Daily Sabah reported.

Speaking in an interview with NTV, Kalin said that such delay is out of question, and he believed the remaining issues would soon be solved.""

UK immigration minister confirms work to start on £1.9m Calais wall (Guardian, link): "Robert Goodwill says four-metre high wall to stop refugees boarding lorries is part of £17m Anglo-French security package"

Danish premier to defy EU with tough asylum law (euractiv, link):

"Denmark’s prime minister on Wednesday (7 September) said his minority government would push ahead with a bill to reject asylum seekers at the borders in times of crisis even though such a move might breach the EU’s Dublin System.

Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he wanted to guard against a situation like last year when 21,300 asylum seekers entered the country and the rules that say people must stay and claim asylum in the first EU country they reach were discarded."

Greece balks at ‘unacceptable’ German plans to send back refugees (euractiv, link):

"Germany’s interior minister wants to start sending refugees back to Greece next year, but Athens has already given the plan short shrift. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports...

According to the Interior Ministry, 521 refugees were returned to Italy, 311 to Poland and 165 to Hungary during the first six months of 2016. However, Germany has not sent anyone back to Greece since 2011, since the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that there are serious shortcomings in the Greek asylum system.

But de Maizière has now said that returns will be possible once again starting in January 2017, a stance that he first shared with his EU colleagues at a meeting in Slovakia in July."

Are You Syrious (6.9.16)

Turkey: Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Istanbul

"Istanbul is the city with that hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees, around 500.000 only from Syria. New research, supported by Support to Life Association (HDD, Hayata Destek Dernegi) pints out toward some of the needs of refugees in Istanbul, and warns about their bad position.

Prof. Ayaan Kaya (Istanbul Bilgi University) and Aysu Kiraç (HDD) prepered an extensive report, which warns about “anti-immigrant, anti-Arab, racist and xenophobic discourses” that have surfaced among the Turkish public.

See: Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Istanbul (researchturkey.org, link)"

Greece: Boat report

"One boat with 25 people, of whom 11 are men, 6 are women, and 8 are children, landed in the north-east Lesvos around midnight. They were found walking on the road passing Kapi Petro station. Most of them have been already picked up by police. It looks like more refugees are still walking and, therefore, land teams of volunteers are still searching for them.

3 boats with a total of 107 people landed on Chios this morning."

The bare life of refugees at Softex camp

"On several occasions, AYS warned about inhuman conditions in Softex camp. UK daily the Guardian visited this place, and several other in Northern Greece reporting about “prisoners of Europe”, refugees who are agains their own will kept in these camps."

Serbia: New danger for refugees in Serbia

"Volunteers from Info Park in Belgrade reacted after, what they call, “a disturbing joint press conference of Victor Orban and Aleksandar Vucic, Hungarian and Serbian Prime Ministers in Belgrade”.

On Monday, Orban was in an official visit to Serbia where he talked with his local government representatives about the economic cooperation, but the main topic of the meeting was refugee route.

A number of the newcomers in Serbia has gone up from 2700 in mid July to more than 6000 today. At the press conference, Vucic mentioned that 81% of the newcomers are Afghan economic migrants, emphasizing “the increasing cases of violence and robbery in the shopping malls”. There is omnipresent fear among volunteers of radical actions from the authorities, including arrests and deportations."

Austria threatens to sue Hungary for refusing to take migrants back (hurriyetdailynews.com, link):

"Austria’s interior minister threatened on Sept. 7 to sue Hungary if it refused to take back migrants who had crossed their shared border, as political tensions mounted over immigration before presidential elections.

Austria’s government, facing a challenge from the far-right Freedom Party, has repeatedly accused Hungary of letting migrants enter its territory in the face of EU rules that asylum seekers must stay in the first country they enter in the bloc.

Hungary, itself preparing for a referendum on whether to accept a Europe-wide asylum quota, has insisted that most refugees enter its territory from other EU states, notably Italy and Greece, in a growing blame game. "

Greece Urged by EC to Implement the Dublin Regulation (Greek Reporter, link):

"The European Commission (EC) on Monday urged Greece to implement the Dublin Regulation that stipulates that migrants who have traveled to other nations in the bloc via Greece be returned to the country of arrival.

The report comes one day after German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, in an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, said that a lot has been done in Europe to improve the refugee situation in Greece. “This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to Dublin regulations,” he said.

EC Spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said on Monday that although the EU’s refugee system is set for a shake-up Greece should implement the Dublin Regulation until these provisions are reviewed. Berlin has suspended deportations to Greece since 2011 due to deficiencies in the Greek asylum processing system and the number of arrivals in Greece."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.9.16)
'Prisoners of Europe': the everyday humiliation of refugees stuck in Greece (Guardian, link)

"Europe’s migration policies are turning the country into a giant holding pen, with the people trapped in it close to breaking point.

But most observers acknowledge the general situation is dire – and has the potential to turn into a long-term tragedy.

The EU relocation scheme and the EU-Turkey deal are collectively meant to see most asylum seekers moved out of Greece. But with both schemes faltering, one of the early architects of the EU-Turkey deal believes many refugees may end up never leaving.

According to Gerald Knaus, the thinktank chief who first envisaged the deal last September, Greece could end up becoming a giant holding pen for refugees, performing the same controversial role for Europe that Nauru and Manus Island perform for Australia in the Pacific."

Help to vulnerable on Lesvos wins Efi Latsoudi 2016 Nansen Award - Efi Latsoudi named as one of two winners of the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award for her tireless work helping refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos (UNHCR, link):

"Efi Latsoudi doesn’t keep fresh milk at home. With so much time spent helping refugees, there’s never chance to use it. “It’s dried, I hope that’s okay,” she says, apologetically, stirring powder into coffee.

Today is a rare morning off from her work at "PIKPA village", on the Greek island of Lesvos, where Latsoudi has been helping vulnerable new arrivals – including children, pregnant women and people with disabilities – find sanctuary since 2012. At the height of the influx in 2015, when more than 10,000 people per day were reaching the shores of Lesvos, her volunteer-run initiative became a lifeline for thousands. Now, having been named one of two winners of the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award, her extraordinary efforts are finally receiving the recognition they deserve."

Are You Syrious (5.9.16)

Greece: 110 new arrivals to Greek islands

"As of 8 o’clock this morning, 110 new arrivals had reached the Greek islands. Most of them arrived to Leros, where 72 people landed, and the rest to Lesvos. In total, 59,569 people are now stranded throughout Greek territory."

Deaths in the Mediterranean. Again

"Reuters reports that “fifteen bodies were recovered and more than 2,700 boat migrants rescued off the coast of Libya on Monday, the Italian coastguard said, in another day of mass departures from north Africa. Italy’s navy and coastguard, ships patrolling on a European Union anti-smuggling mission, vessels run by humanitarian groups, and a commercial tug boat aided in the rescues.”

Call for donations to Samos

"Samos volunteers report that they have seen an increase in arrivals in the last two days and are low on donations. “The long process of applying for asylum means many asylum seekers are spending a very long period of time at the camp,” the says. “This is an alarming prospect and due to the low stock on items of clothing and an increasing number of arrivals we are in need of donations.” If you are able to help, please follow this link."

Croatia approves international protections for Syrians and Iraqis

"Initiative Welcome from Croatia has recently received statistics from Croatian Ministry of Interior that say that in a period between 15 July and 01 August 2016, 831 people applied for protection. Out of that number, 81 were denied and 34 approved. 486 of the total left Croatia “willingly,” according to the Ministry. In the same period, Croatia received 162 people that previously been in other EU countries. These returns were carried out under the provisions of Dublin agreement."

European Parliament: Study: Reception of female refugees and asylum seekers in the EU Case study Belgium and Germany (pdf):

"Commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, this study provides an overview of the implementation of Directive 2013/33/EU laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection. It outlines the legal framework and examines how gender related aspects and the reception needs of vulnerable groups are considered in practice in Munich (Germany) and Brussels (Belgium)."

Greece: IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC): Missing Migrants: Management of Dead Bodies in Lesbos (pdf):

"In this report we seek to survey how the bodies of migrants who die or go missing in their effort to cross the Aegean Sea are managed in Greece, and what laws, policies and practices are in place to ensure that the dead are identified and families informed. Our research focuses on the Greek island of Lesbos, one of the key entry points to Europe for migrants and refugees during the recent crisis, and close to of which a number of deadly shipwrecks have occurred.

Our aim is to both identify apparent deficiencies in current approaches to migrant fatalities in Greece, as well as noting where good practice exists that should be duplicated. We identify a policy vacuum around the problem, marked by a lack of cooperation among different state agencies and the absence of standard operating procedures."

One year after launch, EU fails on relocation (euobserver, link):

"EU-led efforts to relocate people seeking international protection from Italy and Greece to other EU states remain dismal.

The two-year plan, broadly hatched last September, aims to dispatch some 160,000 people arriving on Italian and Greek shores to other EU states.

But one year in and less than 3 percent of that total have found a new home outside either country. Some ended up in non-EU states like Norway and Switzerland, which are also part of the scheme. As of earlier this month, just over 1,000 people left Italy and 3,493 people left Greece."

Small Percentage Of People Relocated (News That Moves, link):

"The pace of relocations of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other European countries remains slow, with only 4.2% of the 106,000 target, European Union data show.

As of September 2, only 4,513 people have been relocated from Greece and Italy to another European country:

3,493 people have been relocated from Greece, out of a target of 66,400 (5.2%of target);
1,020 people have been relocated from Italy, out of a target of 39,600 (2.5% of target).

The plan for relocating people stranded in Greece and Italy was the cornerstone of the EU strategy to deal with the refugee crisis, helping the countries on the frontline of the crisis coping with the flow of migrants and refugees."

EU: Relocation statistics: As at 5 September (pdf): 13,288 places offered by 25 EU Member States out of 160,000 needed.

Europe’s Last Chance (New Europe, link):

"Instead of sustained peace and “ever-closer union,” Europeans are experiencing episodes of disorder and violence almost on a daily basis. These include the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU; a spate of terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice, Normandy, and elsewhere; renewed aggression by Russia; and a bloody failed coup in Turkey, followed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on Turkish civil society, which has raised concerns about Turkey’s reliability as a partner to the West.

Moreover, Europe’s refugee crisis, with asylum-seekers pouring in from the Middle East and North Africa, has yet to be resolved."

Greece: Overnight Clashes at Lesvos Hotspot among Child Refugees (Guardian, link)

"Five minors were hospitalized and many more were injures late on Sunday night after major clashes broke out at the Moria hotspot in the Aegean island of Lesvos. About 40 children refugees are believed to have fled the venue."

Cities for Migrants (New Europe, link):

"the news is not all bad. Even as corrosive political discourse impedes effective action at the national and international levels, at the municipal level, progressive and effective immigrant-integration initiatives are flourishing.

Mayors and local administrators are building social and physical infrastructure that supports the reception of migrants and refugees into local communities. For them, the newcomers are not just statistics; they are real people – and potentially productive members of the local community. The key to tapping their potential, city officials recognize, is a well-managed integration process."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.9.16)
UN to Greece: end automatic detention of migrants, improve reception standards

The UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on the Greek government to end the automatic detention of migrants arriving on the Aegean islands, to improve living conditions and ensure the rule of law is upheld in detention centres, and to do more to protect and provide for migrant children.

See: United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 'Concluding observations on the twentieth to twenty-second periodic reports on Greece', 26 August 2016 (pdf)

GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands still massively overcrowded

Latest Greek government figueres on hosting capacity for refugees. 5,388 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,316 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,351 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,531 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 719 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 08.00 05.09.2016 (pdf)

GERMANY: Interview with Angela Merkel on the refugee crisis: much left unsaid on safe passage

An interview between German tabloid Bild and the country's chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been translated into English. The interview focuses almost entirely on the arrival in Europe of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and Germany and the EU's response. Although it touches on many aspects of the situation, the interview leaves much unsaid.

UK-FRANCE: Sarkozy promises to move Calais ‘Jungle’ across the Channel (EurActiv, link): "“As most foreigners come to Calais to try and reach Great Britain, I want our British friends to start dealing with requests for asylum in the UK in a closed centre on their own territory, and to take responsibility for returning those whose requests are rejected,” he told the regional newspaper on Monday (5 September).

The former French president suggested that “teams of French and British police and customs officers” should carry out preliminary checks on migrants in France, so their asylum applications can be processed as quickly as possible."

EU: First Vice-President Timmermans visits Italy for discussions on migration and the future of Europe

"On 1-3 September, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will visit Italy to hold a Citizens' Dialogue meeting with members of the public in Sicily and a series of meetings. The First Vice-President will meet with staff from EU agencies at the European Regional Task Force in Catania, which was set up in June 2015 as part of the European Agenda on Migration to coordinate the work of the EU agencies involved in the management of migration crises in the most affected Member States. He will then engage with the public in the open forum format of a Citizens' Dialogue at the Teatro Greco in Siracusa, Sicily at 19:00 on Thursday 1 September. The event will be live streamed online. On 2 September the First Vice-President will be in Milan meeting business and political leaders as well as innovative entrepreneurs turning the circular economy into a reality. He will then participate in the Ambrosetti Forum on 2-3 September. First Vice-President Timmermans will deliver a speech at the Forum on Saturday morning during a session on 'The Agenda to Change Europe', and will then take part in a question and answer session with young business leaders."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-4.9.16)
EU-TURKEY "DEAL": A reminder of the conditions Turkey has to meet before visa-free travel becomes a possibility:

Overview: Turkey meets 65 of 72 requirements for visa liberalisation (Statewatch, link):

As part of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, signed on 18 March 2016, the EU agreed:

“to accelerate the implementation of the visa liberalization roadmap with all Member States with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016.”

On 4 May the Commission published the ‘Third Report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap’.

Turkey ‘must meet conditions’ for visa-free travel, says Merkel (ekathimerini.com, link):

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted that Turkey must fulfill all 72 preconditions before the European Union grants visa-free travel to its citizens.

“These 72 conditions have not yet been met, and of course we will insist that agreements are honored by our side and Turkey,” Merkel told private TV network RTL."

Turkish EU minister says no deal on migrants without visa-free travel (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Turkey will not apply a readmission agreement with the European Union meant to stem the flow of illegal migrants if it does not get the visa-free travel to Europe it has been promised, its EU affairs minister Omer Celik said on Thursday."

EU: DG Home Commissioner:
Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Press Conference with Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik (pdf):

"Let me be clear on a very important issue: the EU remains committed to keep up the momentum and dialogue on visa liberalisation. A lot has been achieved during the past months and we want to further build on these achievements.

Since March, Turkey has made considerable progress but there are still outstanding benchmarks to be met, and the EU is fully committed to help Turkey achieve those."

Europe swings far-right, leaving fate of thousands of refugees in limbo (Daily Sabah, link):

" With no solution to the refugee crisis, racism, xenophobia and ultra-nationalism have dominated the social and political environment in Europe, which is gripped by anti-Muslim hysteria

Europe, gripped by anti-Muslim hysteria, which often goes to the extent of associating Islam with terrorism, now seeks comfort in extremist right-wing political figures who have been drumming up support with ultra-nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric bordering on racism."

German interior minister floats idea of returning migrants to Greece (link)

"German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Sunday that he wanted to send migrants back to Greece.

"We have done a lot in Europe in order to improve the refugee situation in Greece," de Maiziere told the "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper. "This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to the Dublin regulations.""

Are You Syrious (3.9.16, link)

Greece: 11,662 people arrived this year

"While tens od thousands of people are stuck in inhuman conditions in camps for over six months now, relocation remains shamefully slow: only 5 percent (3,386) so far.

Meanwhile, people are arriving continuously to overcrowded islands. Over the last three days, 78 people reached #Kos. According to the #UNHCR data, between 22 and 28 August, 521 people crossed the sea, which is less than the week before (923). But overall, more people arrived so far in August (2,810) than in July (1,920). The total since April is 11,662 (same period last year it was 225,505).... Capacity at the islands is 7,450 and currently there are 11,690 persons there."#

Borders will remain closed

"Today, we heard several rumors about possible opening of the borders. Unfortunately, there are no official plans for something like that anytime soon....

The borders are officially not open, but some people are crossing while risking their lives. Those who manage to enter #Serbia irregularly, do have a chance to enter #Hungary after several weeks, sometimes even months of waiting at the border in Northern Serbia....

There’s no way to enter Croatia or Slovenia legally. However, if a refugee is found on Croatian soil, he or she can ask for asylum (there are no guarantees he or she will get it)."

Italy: Number of new arrivals to Italy on par with the last year

"During the last week, UNHCR registered 1,953 new arrivals to Italy by sea. The number of arrivals in 2016 continues to be on par with 2015: 105,628 this year, compared to 116,149 in the same period the previous year.

Most of the people coming to Italy are from #Nigeria, #Eritrea, and #Gambia, while 15 percent of all arrivals are unaccompanied and separated children."

British warship sent to Libya to target people-smugglers - Deployment of HMS Diamond part of EU crackdown as number of migrants trying to cross Mediterranean reaches record level (The Observer, link):

"But the plan to deploy HMS Diamond was met with scepticism by Crispin Blunt, head of parliament’s powerful foreign affairs committee, who is due to grill British officials about Libya policy later this week.

Blunt said that without Libyan cooperation naval forces could achieve only partial success, with the smugglers having impunity to operate inside coastal waters. “The smugglers are taking advantage of the fact there is no coherent government in Libya,” Blunt told the Observer."

Are You Syrious (2.9.16, link)

Greece

"985 people reached Greek islands from 29th of August to 2nd of September.

One speedboat dropped off 20 people (ten men, five women, four children and one baby) today on Korakas’s cliffs, in northern Lesvos."

Protests in Thessaloniki

"A group of refugees held a protest in Thessaloniki, demanding open borders and expressing their frustration with delays in the asylum processing system and the relocation procedure."

40 refugees relocated to Finland today

"42 refugees were relocated from Greece to Finland on Monday and 40 today, including 38 Syrians, one Iraqi and one Eritrean. Ten unaccompanied minors were among them.

Since the beginning of the relocation program, 419 people have been relocated from Greece to Finland, including 38 unaccompanied children. Only four unaccompanied children have been relocated to other EU Member States."

Bulgarian government looking to set up closed refugee camps

"Balkan Insight reports on a massive fight between over 500 people of different nationalities inside the Harmanli refugee centre on August 28th. Following this brawl, the government decided to allow the State Agency for Refugees to set up closed refugee camps, or transform existing open camps into closed facilities if they assess that it is necessary.

The decision has drawn criticism from human rights activists, who argue that existing Bulgarian laws should simply be applied to individuals that break them.

Harmanli, the largest refugee camp in Bulgaria, hosts around 1,500 asylum seekers mainly from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan."

Europe’s migrant crisis is back with a vengeance - The Mediterranean remains the world’s deadliest maritime area for refugees (FT, link):

"In rubber dinghies and ramshackle wooden boats, refugees and migrants have been risking their lives in the Mediterranean this week in one desperate expedition after another. These voyages mock the notion that the EU is in command of the emergency engulfing its southern borders. Since Saturday, the Italian coastguard and other rescuers have saved about 13,000 people trying to make their way from north Africa to Italy."

France vows to dismantle 'Jungle' refugee camp in Calais - Interior minister says France will create accommodation for thousands of refugees elsewhere in France ‘to unblock Calais’ (Guardian, link):

"France is to gradually dismantle the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais, the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has vowed.

Cazeneuve told the regional newspaper the Nord Littoral he would press ahead with the closure of the camp “with the greatest determination”, dismantling the site in stages, clearing the former wasteland where record numbers of refugees and migrants are sleeping rough in dire sanitary conditions as many hope to reach Britain.

He said France would create accommodation for thousands elsewhere in the country “to unblock Calais”"

Child refugees struggle alone in Bulgaria (DW, link)

"One of the more disturbing effects of the refugee crisis is the increasing number of unaccompanied minors. As Emanuela Barbiroglio and Ambra Montanari report from Sofia, the situation in Bulgaria is particularly bad."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.9.16)
Switzerland pushing back people to Italy (ECRE, link):

"Switzerland is facing wide criticism for turning back thousands of people at the Swiss-Italian border. Between July and August, the Swiss authorities have pushed back 7,000 at the Como(Italy)-Chiasso(Switzerland) border. The Swiss Refugee Council (OSAR), the Italian Association of Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), the Swiss Organization Firdaus as well as Amnesty International Switzerland have criticised the Swiss government for violating the right to claim asylum.

The Swiss Refugee Council has told the ECRE Weekly Bulletin that they have a well-founded suspicion that some people who want to claim asylum in Switzerland are not being admitted into the asylum procedure and are instead immediately pushed back to Italy."

Poland: Worsening restrictions and refusals of entry at the Eastern border (AIDA, link)

"A protest by approximately 150 asylum seekers, mainly of Chechen origin, who are denied entry into Poland, was recently held near the Brest crossing point of the Polish-Belarussian border.

Ongoing barriers to accessing the asylum procedure in Poland have been reported by civil society organisations including the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Association for Legal Intervention (SIP). A recent report by SIP documents systematic refusals by border guards in Brest and Terespol to allow entry to persons expressing the wish to apply for international protection."

And see: Poland pushes back thousands of refugees, many fleeing crackdown in Tajikistan (Statewatch News Online, August 2016)

French interior minister says Calais camp will be removed (again)

"France is to gradually dismantle the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais, the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has vowed.

Cazeneuve told the regional newspaper the Nord Littoral he would press ahead with the closure of the camp “with the greatest determination”, dismantling the site in stages, clearing the former wasteland where record numbers of refugees and migrants are sleeping rough in dire sanitary conditions as many hope to reach Britain."

EU: One year after the death of Alan Kurdi

One year after three-year-old refugee Alan Kurdi drowned in the Aegean Sea, his father "has urged Europe to keep its doors open to migrants," while his grandfather has made a "plea for world leaders to end the war in Syria." Amnesty International's general secretary said on the anniversary of the child's death: "The outpouring of sympathy for Alan Kurdi seen last year must be extended to the countless other refugee children who are in dire need of help," with the organisation noting the "dismal failure of world leaders to tackle the refugee crisis."

BULGARIA: Battle in Refugee Camp Leaves Bulgarian Town Nervous (Balkan Insight, link):

"Following the brawl in Harmanli, the government decided to allow the State Agency for the Refugees to set up refugee camps of a closed kind, or transform existing open camps into closed facilities if they assess that it is necessary.

The decision has drawn criticism from human rights activists, who argue that existing Bulgarian laws should simply be applied to individuals that break them.

Harmanli, the largest refugee camp in Bulgaria, hosts around 1,500 asylum seekers mainly from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan.

While the camp held just over 150 asylum seekers only few weeks ago, the number of refugees stuck in Bulgarian refugee camps has steadily grown since Serbia tightened controls over its border with Bulgaria in July, sending army units to join border patrols."

14,000 migrants saved in Med in five days (The Local, link):

"The Italian coastguard said that 1,725 migrants were rescued off the Libyan coast on Thursday, bringing the total number saved since Sunday to at least 14,000.

Those plucked from the Mediterranean Thursday were on 16 small boats, mostly dangerous inflatables, and were rescued by Italian naval vessels, ships from the EU's "Sophia" anti-trafficking mission, NGO boats and two passing merchant ships, the coastguard said."

Migrant crisis: Bavaria asylum claimants told where to live (BBC News, link):

"Migrants in the German state of Bavaria will no longer be able to choose where to live, as instead they will be told which town will become their new home.

The new ruling applies to anyone whose application for asylum has been accepted in Bavaria, but who is still dependent on the state for housing.

Once the claimants have found a job and can support themselves financially, they are then free to move.

The aim is to help refugees integrate into German society."

Asylum seekers in Germany and Austria are already obliged to remain within their state of residence while their claim is processed, under the Residenzpflicht requirement. See: Mass protests across Germany for the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants (23 October 2012, pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.9.16)
EU: Commission: Relocation from Greece and Italy (30.8.16, pdf):

- 1,020 relocations from Italy out of 39,600
- 3,435 relocations from Greece out of 66,400

- Overall: 12,990 relocation places made available out of 160,000 from 24 EU Member States

Denmark seals gate to immigrants as numbers hit new low (Daily Sabah, link):

"As part of plans to make the country even less attractive to newcomers at a time when asylum numbers and overall immigration are already down, the Danish government released its 2025 Plan to introduce more restrictions on border controls. According to the plan, the Danish police would be able to reject asylum seekers at the borders in times of crisis like in 2015 when thousands of migrants sought to enter the country."

Greece: Stranded migrants stage protests outside camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migrants are staging demonstrations at four sites around Greece, to protest delays in asylum procedures promised under a European Union agreement with Turkey.

Around 500 migrants chanting "open the borders" gathered Thursday in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki.

Protests were also held on the islands of Chios and Lesvos, while scores of migrants at a camp near Greece's border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) blocked the main highway linking the two countries for about 30 minutes."

Turkish EU minister says no deal on migrants without visa-free travel (ekathimerini.com,, link)

"Turkey will not apply a readmission agreement with the European Union meant to stem the flow of illegal migrants if it does not get the visa-free travel to Europe it has been promised, its EU affairs minister Omer Celik said on Thursday."

Jump In Arrivals To Greek Islands (News That Moves, link):

"More than 460 migrants and refugees crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands between August 29 and August 30, the highest number over 24 hours since April.

According to data from the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body, 462 persons arrived to the islands, including 176 on Lesvos, 128 on Kos, 86 on Chios, and 70 on Rhodes.

On August 29, 149 people arrived on Greek islands from Turkey, while 23 arrived on August 28.

The numbers may indicate a steady increase of arrivals from Turkey to Greece, despite the EU-Turkey deal. As of August 19, only 482 people have been returned from Greece to Turkey under the agreement.

Almost 1,500 migrants and refugees crossed from Turkey to Greece in June; more than 1,800 in July; more than 3,200 in August.

Including the new arrivals, more than 12,100 people are now waiting on the islands, where the capacity of overcrowded organised sites is 7,450."

Are You Syrious (link)

Italy: 13.000 people arrived over four days

"More than 1,000 people arrived in Lampedusa, where the hotspot is beyond its capacity since it can accommodate only 480 people, the local media reports. Currently, there are 1,580 people in the hotspot. One thousand landed in Palermo and more than 600 in Cagliari. Altogether, 13,000 people arrived in Italy from North Africa in the last four days, mostly from Libya and Egypt.

On August 30th alone, 3,000 people arrived."

Germany and Italy to step up repatriations of economic migrants (euractiv, link)

"Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed Wednesday (1 September) to step up efforts to send migrants with no right to asylum in Europe back to their homelands....

“It is important that we make deals with the countries of origin,” Merkel said, giving the example of the deal struck between Italy, France and Germany and Mali and Niger to promote economic growth in the sub-Saharan countries."

See also: Merkel-Renzi: more migrant repatriations needed (DW, link):

"During talks in Italy, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that failed asylum seekers will have to leave the country. Her Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi, said there were limits to the EU's migrant policy."

How NGOs took over migrant rescues in the Mediterranean (euobserver, link):

"The launch of Operation Triton in 2014 shifted the focus of EU efforts in the Southern Mediterranean from Search and Rescue (SAR) to border control. Several NGOs have since attempted to fill the gap left by the absence of large-scale humanitarian operations....

In late 2014, philanthropists Regina and Christopher Catrambone set up the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), equipping a former fishing vessel with two drones and staffing it with former Maltese Navy personnel.

MOAS offered an example that has been imitated by other NGOs. In 2015, the Brussels and Barcelona branches of MSF developed their own SAR capabilities using their own vessels, the Bourbon Argos and Dignity I.

German NGO Sea-Watch also purchased a vessel to search for migrant boats in distress in 2015. In February 2016, SOS Mediterranee chartered a 77 metre ship to conduct operations in partnership with the Amsterdam branch of MSF.

The non-for-profit spin-off of the Spanish lifeguard company Pro-Activa and two other German NGOs – Sea-Eye and Jugend Rettet – also started rescuing migrants in the Central Mediterranean a few months later. The Dutch charity Refugee Boat Foundation and Save the Children are set to start SAR operations soon.

All these organisations usually conduct rescues between 20km and 50km off the coast of Libya upon authorisation of the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC)."

August 2016


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (31.8.16)
UK-FRANCE: Response to Calais situation: more security measures

The UK and French governments yesterday issued a joint statement setting out what they plan to do "to strengthen the security of our shared border, to strongly diminish the migratory pressure in Calais and preserve the vital economic link supported by the juxtaposed controls in Calais."

See: Joint statement by the governments of France and the United Kingdom (pdf) - also includes joint statements on terrorism including intelligence cooperation, prioritising information sharing and "interoperability", and implementation of the EU PNR Directive.

“Nobody is ever just a refugee”: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s powerful speech on the global migrant crisis (Quartz, link): "The Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called on attendees of the United Nation’s World Humanitarian day last week to rethink the refugee crisis.

“Nobody is ever just a refugee,” said the novelist and non-fiction writer, delivering the keynote address at the event in New York. “Nobody is ever just a single thing. And yet, in the public discourse today, we often speak of people as a single a thing. Refugee. Immigrant.”"

Tens of thousands migrate through Balkans since route declared shut (The Guardian, link): "At least 24,000 people are believed to have made the journey along the Balkans migration trail since European leaders declared the route shut in early March, highlighting how migration continues despite the construction of several fences along borders in eastern and central Europe.

On 9 March the president of the European council, Donald Tusk, declared that “irregular flows of migrants along western Balkans route have come to an end”, after the closure of a humanitarian corridor that funnelled asylum seekers from Greece to Germany and the erection of fences along parts of the Macedonian, Hungarian and Austrian borders.

But although this brought migration numbers down considerably, since 9 March 24,790 people are estimated to have passed through Serbia, a key waypoint on two major migration routes across eastern Europe, according to Guardian analysis of daily records and estimates by the UN refugee agency."

FRANCE-ITALY: When Italy deports from the French border to Sudan (Passeurs d'hospitalités, link): "Italy has just expelled forty-eight Sudanese exiles arrested in Ventimiglia on the French border, to Sudan...

The Franco-Italian border once again has border controls. On the French side, racial profiling, unlawful refoulement of asylum seekers and minors, police violence, arrests, detention and deportation to their country of European showing solidarity, legal poursuits against French citizens, solidarity offence has never been used as much as by the current government. On the Italian side, using an old law from the Mussolini regime to prohibit the stay people showing solidarity on the territory of Ventimiglia, raids and sending people to ‘reception’ centers in the south of Italy, police violence, and now roundups and deportation to Sudan, where the dictator is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Sudan says 816 African migrants heading for Europe arrested in 2 months (EurActiv, link): "Some 800 African migrants and a group of smugglers were arrested near Sudan’s border with Libya while trying to reach Europe between June and August, security officers told reporters yesterday (30 August).

Thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa try to reach Libya daily, from where they embark en masse for Europe on flimsy and overcrowded boats.

Sudan is a key transit route for these migrants, especially those arriving from Eritrea.

Between June 27 and August 16, security forces arrested 816 African migrants attempting to enter Libya, senior army and police officers said."

EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says (EUobserver, link): "German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that she and other EU leaders are to blame for waiting too long to react to the migration crisis.

"There are political issues that one can see coming but don't really register with people at that certain moment - and in Germany we ignored both the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution," she told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on Wednesday (31 August)."

Turkey: handling of aftermath of coup attempt is a crucial test, say MEPs (European Parliament press release, pdf):

"The respect of human rights and the rule of law in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt will be a crucial test for the state of the country’s democracy, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday. They assessed the results of last week’s fact-finding mission to Turkey by the committee chair and rapporteur and stressed the need for constant monitoring."

UK: LONDON: Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move (Verso, link): "Reece Jones in conversation with Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi and Daniel Trilling

All proceeds from this event will be donated to Medecins Sans Frontieres

Forty thousand people died trying to cross international borders in the past decade, with the high-profile deaths along the shores of Europe only accounting for half of the tragic total.

Join us for a conversation between Reece Jones, author of Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, who writes about British immigration policy, detention centres and women, and Daniel Trilling, currently writing a book about refugees, in which they examine how these deaths are not exceptional, but rather the result of state attempts to contain people from accessing a better future: the border itself produces the violence that surrounds it."

GREECE: Migrant crisis: Meet the refugee camp psychologist (BBC News, link): "With refugees spending long periods of time at camps in Europe, organisations are seeking to cater for their mental as well as physical health.

Kiki Michailidou, a psychologist for the International Rescue Committee, explains what is being done at the Kara Tepe refugee camp in Lesbos."

UK-FRANCE: This couple travelled to Calais to help refugees – and never came back (The Independent, link): "When a couple from County Durham took their family caravan to the 'Calais Jungle' in September last year, they were planning to stay less than a week.

A year later, Jamal Ismail and Sofinee Harun are feeding free meals to 1,500 people in the camp every day. Working from sunset to sundown all-year-round, they say “we never close”."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.8.16)
6,500 migrants rescued off coast of Libya in one day (euractiv, link):

"Around 6,500 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Monday (30 August), the Italian coastguard said, in one of its busiest days of life-saving in recent years....

“The command centre coordinated 40 rescue operations” that included vessels from Italy, humanitarian organisations as well as the EU’s border agency Frontex, saving 6,500 migrants, the coastguard wrote on Twitter."

See also: Dramatic photos show refugees fleeing Libya being rescued at sea (Guardian, link)

Mediterranean Missing: Understanding Needs of Families and Obligations of Authorities (mediterraneanmissing.eu, link):

"Project findings are all available here through public reports, covering legal analysis, and empirical work with families of missing migrants, and in the contexts of Lesbos, Greece, and Sicily, Italy."

See: Missing migrants and managing dead bodies in the Mediterranean A briefing note (link)

And: Fatal Journeys Volume 2: Identification and tracing of dead and missing migrants (GMDAC, link)

Turkish FM warns migrant pact will collapse unless EU meets committments (ekathimerini.com. link):

"In an interview with Kathimerini published on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has warned the EU that if it doesn’t grant Turkish citizens via-free travel to Europe by October “at the latest,” then Ankara will not continue implementing a deal struck in March with Brussels to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

“Despite the fact that irregular migration in the Aegean is now under control, we do not see the EU keen on delivering its promises,” he said, insisting that Turkey cannot continue on its own to stop irregular migration toward the EU while the latter does not assume its obligations."

See: Full interview (link)

Greece: 462 refugees arrive in last 24 hours, as Turkey insists: No visa liberation, no EU Deal (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Slowly but gradually the number of refugees and migrants arriving from the Turkish coast started to rise again and the flow is on daily basis. In the last 24 hours alone, a total of 462 refugees and migrants arrived on the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean Sea in the last 24 hours, that is from morning of August 29th until morning of August 30th 2016.

According to Migration Ministry data, 176 people arrived on the island of Lesvos, 88 on Chios, 124 on Kos and 70 on Rhodes.

At the same time, Turkey insists on trading visa-free for its citizens in order to keep implementing the EU Turkey Deal."

Greece: New inflows stretching migrant, refugee centers on islands (ekathimerini.com. link):

"As the number of refugees and migrants trapped on Greece’s islands officially rose to nearly 12,000 Monday, concern is mounting regarding overcrowding at camps.

At the country’s main island of entry from Turkey, Lesvos, official figures put the number of people at the hot spot in Moria and at an open facility at Kara Tepe at 5,059, which is twice the facilities’ capacity. Another 124 migrants who landed on the island Monday were allowed to camp at the port after staff at Moria – an official camp set up in cooperation with European authorities to process all new arrivals – said they could not take in anymore arrivals."

More than 300 refugees, migrants arrive on Greek islands (ekathimerini.com, link)

"More than 300 refugees and migrants reportedly crossed from Turkey to Greece to reach the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Kos, early on Monday, according to Kathimerini sources.

According to reports, 176 refugee and migrants arrived on Lesvos, 89 on Chios, while 50 ended on Kos. The figures were confirmed by local authority officials on Monday."

Polish foreign minister criticises EU actions in refugee crisis (Daily Sabah, link):

"Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski on Monday criticised the European Commission's handling of last year's migrant crisis, saying that Brussels had exacerbated the problems rather than offering real solutions.

The EU took "hasty, irresponsible and not-fully thought through steps" in response to a massive influx of refugees from Iraq, Syria and other war-torn regions, Waszczykowski said at a news conference with his German and French counterparts."

Wasted Lives. Borders and the Right to Life of People Crossing Them (2017) (link) by Thomas Spijkerboer, Professor of Migration Law:

"States are obliged to protect the right to life by law. This paper analyses the way in which states do this in the field of aviation law, maritime law, and the law on migrant smuggling. A comparative description of these fields of law shows that states differentiate in protecting the right to life."


See:
Article (link)

Interior Minister: Czechs not to accept any migrants from Turkey (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The Czech Republic will not accept any migrants from Turkey due to the unclear situation after the coup there till the end of the year, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told the public broadcaster Czech Television (CT) on Sunday.

The Czech Republic should start a tough diplomatic offensive in order to make Greece fulfil its duties over the displaced persons, Chovanec said."

News (30.8.16)

Home secretary stands firm as row over Calais border deal intensifies (Guardian, link): "Home secretary to visit Paris, with talks set to be dominated by border controls as Nicolas Sarkozy calls for the Jungle to be relocated to UK." and Britain maybe forced to “take back control” of its border, along with asylum processing (New Europe, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27-29.8.16)
GLOBAL MIGRATION DATA ANALYSIS CENTRE: Data Briefing: Dangerous journeys – International migration increasingly unsafe in 2016 (link)

See: The deadliest route (IRIN, link)

"Until quite recently, no international agency tracked how many migrants died or went missing during journeys that often involve crossing deserts and oceans and relying on smugglers. Thanks to the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project, which launched in 2013, we now have a better idea of how many migrants die before they reach their destination. A report released by IOM this week, covering the first six months of 2016, shows a 28 percent increase in migrant deaths compared to the same period in 2015. Although part of the reason for the increase is probably better reporting, increasingly dangerous smuggling strategies in the Central Mediterranean are also to blame. A staggering one in 29 migrants died attempting the Central Mediterranean crossing between North Africa and Italy in the first six months of 2016. By comparison, the much shorter Eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece claimed the lives of one in 410 who attempted it."

LEGAL CHALLENGE TO EU-TURKEY REFUGEE DEAL:

Interesting Irish case dealing with the legality of the so-called EU-Turkey "deal" raised before an Irish Court on the 24th June 2016 and naming the European Council, the European Union, Ireland and the Attorney General as defendants. All the defendants have now entered conditional appearances (nominated their legal representatives). It has to be seen if the Irish Judge will refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a decision on the legality of the European Council’s actions

See: McGarr Solicitors representing Syrian refugees (link)

Some 9,000 refugee children reported to have disappeared in Germany (DW, link):

"Germany's federal police says the number of missing refugee children has doubled since the start of the year. Most of the children are aged between 14 and 17-years-old."

Libyan navy admits confrontation with charity's rescue boat - Navy spokesman reportedly says its patrol fired warning shots to MSF refugee vessel, but aid group says attackers fired at boat (Guardian, link):

"The Libyan navy’s claims are inconsistent with MSF’s account. The aid group says the attackers fired at least 13 bullets directly at its boat, some of which hit the ship’s bridge, or control room. MSF also says the attackers boarded the boat for approximately 50 minutes.

Qassim’s claims are further complicated by the fact that the Bourbon Argos has been working openly in international waters off the Libyan coast for over a year, rescuing tens of thousands of asylum seekers. Its activities have long been known to Libyan authorities, it is clearly branded with MSF’s logo, and its identity is visible on the automatic identification system (AIS) to which all ships and naval authorities have access."

Sarkozy campaign targets Calais migrants (euobserver, link):

"French presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy has joined the chorus of French right-wing politicians that want migrants in Calais moved to the UK."

Migration pressure remains immense, says Frontex chief (euobserver, link)

"Migration pressure on Europe "remains immense", the head of the EU border agency Frontex has said. Fabrice Leggeri told Germany's Die Welt migration was being driven by poverty and conflicts, particularly with the Islamic State militant group in the Middle East and North Africa. He said he had "no hint" that Turkey was sending more refugees to the EU because of tensions between Turkish authorities and Europeans."

Are You Syrious (link):
AYS SPECIAL: Europe has no idea what happens in Greece

"Volunteers of the Mobile Info Team are present in Northern Greece since April this year after the eviction of Idomeni and other independent camps in this part of the country. Their mission started when they realized that refugees are seeking for information are as much as for food and today they are doing their best to provide answers to many questions that are left unanswered by the official organizations and big NGOs. However, they feel it is not enough and that life in uncertainty for refugees becomes unbearable"

And AYS (26.8.16)

Greeece 143 refugees arrive in Greece

"143 refugees arrived in Greece between 7:30 this morning and yesterday— 93 on Lesvos and 50 on Kos."

Bulgaria looks to secure its border as it fears end of EU-Turkey deal

"Speaking to the FAZ, Bulgarian PM Bojko Borissow calls on the EU to help the country secure its border with Turkey, saying the country currently feels ‘abandoned’ by the EU. He adds the failure of the refugee agreement with Turkey could be ‘fatal’ for Bulgaria and would see Europe ‘flooded’ with migrants. He asks for help from the EU to protect the border with Turkey as he fears that Erdogan could end the EU-Turkey deal.

During a joint press conference today between Borissov and his Turkish counterpart Yildirim, Yildirim insisted that unless the EU guaranteed visa-free travel by the end of October, Ankara could back out of the deal, saying “We want our European friends to understand that the time to take more responsibility on the migrant question has come”."

and AYS 28.8.16

DrawS attention to this news story: Greece can handle volume of migrant arrivals, minister says (ekathimerini/news, link):

Greek government promises and reality of refugees

"Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas responded on criticism about conditions at refugee camps in Greece saying that they were “created in order to take in evacuees from a large makeshift camp that had been set up last year on the country’s border” (eg Idomeni) and that they would either be “shut down or rebuilt”.

He also said that the government plans to keep between 30 and 33 of the current 50 camps operating on the mainland, adding that new facilities will be made to hold a smaller number of people, while many will be relocated to apartments and hotels within the next few months. However, minister gives no details about these plans, even though the summer is almost over."

Distracting attention from real issues

"While people is camps are too afraid to walk around because of gangs that are present inside, smugglers are operating freely, the Europe is announcing that a team of 200 counterterrorism officers will be deployed to the Greek islands over the next few weeks “to track down jihadists”. The officers will be placed even in camps. And it does not look like there are any plans to open borders or improve life of people in camps."

Hungary: Hate atmosphere created by the government

"Despite public pressure, the Hungarian government is doing nothing to stop systematic abuse of refugees at the border. People are being beaten and tortured and bitten by police dogs. Most of these people are pushed back to Serbia. This has to be stopped.

Lydia Gall, a European researcher at Human Rights Watch, in her opinion piece for the EUobserver, describes the atmosphere of hate created by pro-government media."

“Border hunters” join soldiers and policemen at the Serbian-Hungarian border (Hungariam Spectrum, link):

"It was about a month and a half ago that I wrote two posts dealing with the abominable circumstances along the Serbian-Hungarian border where hundreds of refugees wait for admittance into Hungary but authorities process only fifteen people a day. The authorities could easily handle ten times that number, but they purposely slow the process to discourage those waiting on the other side of the fence. In addition, a new directive now allows Hungarian soldiers and policemen to catch and forcibly remove anyone who gets through the fence illegally and is found within eight kilometers of the border. This government order can easily lead to violence."

Bulgaria-EU: Borissov: ‘Absolute non-solidarity’ reigns in the EU (euractiv, link):

"Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov made use of anti-EU rhetoric ahead of a visit to Turkey tomorrow (26 August), describing Ankara as Sofia’s only ally in the context of the refugee crisis.

Speaking at a government session on 24 August, Borissov said he sees “no perspective” for a solution to the migration crisis.

“To the contrary, I see country after country in panic, individual solutions, and to point at a certain article in the EU treaties which gives them such right, because even the big countries in Europe are not only overwhelmed [by refugees], but their societies panic and fight back,” he said...

In this context, he blamed EU countries who want to return migrants to Bulgaria.

“Germany says – we will return 20,000 to Hungary. Hungary says – we will return them to the Balkans. And we from the Balkans, to whom shall we return them? We didn’t want them. We didn’t invite them. We cannot be blamed for the bombardments there [the 1999 NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia]. Where can we return them? What kind of Union is that”, Borissov lamented.".

Pigs' heads and propaganda: Hungary's war on refugees (euobserver, link):

" Over the past two years, I have documented abysmal conditions in camps, detention of children, abusive legal changes designed to deny asylum seekers access to protection, and brutal pushbacks at the Hungary-Serbia border. The authorities are undoubtedly hoping the abuses will deter others.

Throughout this period, the Hungarian government has stirred up xenophobic sentiments against refugees and migrants and has gone to great lengths, and cost, to spew hateful messages nationwide.

Along with restrictive new laws making life difficult for asylum seekers and refugees, anti-migrant rhetoric by decision makers and high-ranking politicians is commonplace.

Asylum seekers and refugees are called “intruders,” and “potential terrorists,” bent on destroying Western civilisation and Christianity. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban himself in July referred to migration as “poison.”"

Refugees Help Italian Town Hit Hard by Quake - These refugees wanted to come to the Italian town ravaged by the earthquake to help with relief efforts. So they did. (link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.8.16)
New routes to reach Spain lead to more deaths at sea

In the first half of 2016, more people have died at sea trying to reach Spain than during 2015 as a whole. The reinforcement of border security measures and raids against undocumented migrants by Moroccan gendarmes has led to the development of longer, more treacherous routes, with new ports of departure emerging near the Morocco-Algeria border and the sea route to the Canary Islands re-opening.

At least 208 people are thought to have died during the crossing to Spain in the first six months of 2016, although the true figure is almost certainly higher. In 2015, the total number of known deaths was 195.

Norway building fence on border with Russia to deter refugees

Norway has begun building a steel fence on its border with Russia due to the growing number of refugees arriving in the past year. The deision to build the wall has provoked protests by refugee rights groups and has revived fears that relations with its former Cold War rival are deteriorating.

The wall, 200 metres long and 3.5 metres high, has been installed along the length of the frontier in Storskog. The government has defended its decision, citing the need to increase security.

EU: Common list of safe countries of origin: Parliament concerns over Commission proposal

The Commission originally proposed adopting a European list made up initially of six "safe countries of origin": Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. The report by the civil liberties committee cites a number of concerns and significantly alters the Commission's proposal, including by refusing to include any specific countries before opinions from the European Asylum Support Office have been completed.

See: Explanatory statement (pdf) and full report (pdf) by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Via Migreurop (link): GREECE: Housing squat for refugees and immigrants at the center of Athens (Notara 26 at Exarchia) burned after attack with molotov cocktail; all the residents are safe but the building is seriously damaged and the provisions and personal belongings of 140 refugees destroyed.

GREECE: Migration Minister: Without EU-Turkey deal, another 180,000 refugees would be in Greece by now (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greece’s Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas warned on Tuesday that another 180,000 refugees and migrants would have come to Greece in the last three months, if there was no EU – Turkey deal.

During a press conference, Mouzalas stressed that Greece would face an unprecedented wave of refugees and migrants, should the EU – Turkey deal collapse. However, he assured that Greece persists and will persist so that the agreement with Turkey would not collapse. He also denied scenarios about Berlin preparing a Plan B."

EU-TURKEY: The saga continues: Turkey threatens to scrap refugee deal, again (EUobserver, link): "Turkey said on Thursday (25 August) that EU accession remained its "strategic aim”, but threatened, once again, to scrap the migrant deal with the EU if it does not quickly get visa liberalisation.

The two-sided message came a day after EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn asked Ankara to respect the rule of law in its post-putsch crackdown if it wanted to join the bloc."

Refugees welcome map (link)

An interactive map displaying "initiatives and activities of higher education institutions and related networks and organisations in supporting refugee students, researchers and academic staff."

Changing mood in Europe a year after Austria refugee disaster (EurActiv, link): "The gruesome discovery of 71 dead migrants in a truck in Austria last August shocked Europe and led countries to open their borders to a massive influx of people fleeing war and poverty, mainly from the Middle East.

But a year on, the mood in Europe has changed.

Razor-wire fences have gone up, borders are firmly shut again, and the European Union has struck a controversial deal with Turkey to keep migrants from reaching Greece — the main entry point into the bloc, along with Italy.

While the measures have led to a sharp drop in arrivals, experts warn the crisis is far from over."

GREECE: Migrant pre-registration Completed in Greece (The Press Project, link): "During a press conference Mr. Mouzalas called the situation “manageable now that there is a clear view”. Along with Mr. Mouzalas were the director of the Asylum Service Maria Stavropoulou, the head of the UNCHR in Greece Phillip Leclerc and Dimitris Pagidas, spokesperson for EASO.

Mr. Leclerc noted that the procedure was extremely fast and he added that according to his experience in other parts of the world this was a “world record”.

The registered migrants will be provided a card which will allow them access to education and health services as well as some form of occupation since such a thing is not covered by the current laws of the land."

Asylum seekers in Italy donate to earthquake victims in country that took them in (Metro, link): "Following the quake that killed at least 120 people in Italy, asylum seekers taken in by the country have decided to donate what little they have to help victims.

Around 75 asylum seekers living in Gioiosa Ionica, south Italy, have pledged to give a portion of their weekly allowance to assist those affected."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.8.16)
Syrians Alarmed by Bulgarian Media’s Anti-Refugee Rhetoric (Ballkan Insight, link):

"The Syrian community in Bulgaria wants the state authorities to investigate the growing number of xenophobic media articles that denigrate refugees and migrants. The Bulgaria-based Free Syria Association and the Association of Syrian Refugees warned at a press conference on Thursday that the country’s media was negatively distorting the image of refugees.

“We feel obliged to thank [Bulgarian society] for the tolerance and empathy it demonstrated so far, but also to note that propagating xenophobia and intolerance towards others… is a precondition for new conflicts and divisions,” the Syrian organisations said in a joint declaration.

Their reaction was provoked by an article, broadly shared on social networks, in which someone identified as a 16-year-old Syrian girl claimed that the majority of the Syrian refugees hate Christians and “only think about how to cut their throats”.

But Akram Nayuf from the Free Syria Association said this was completely incorrect."

UNHCR Weekly Report: Europe (24.8.16)

Update on Readmissions from Greece to Turkey

"The total number of readmissions to Turkey from Greece is 482 as of 21 August."

Update on Relocation

"From Italy, no transfers under the relocation programme took place during the week. The overall number of relocations from Italy remains at 961, corresponding to 2% of the target of 39,600 agreed upon in September 2015 to be relocated from Italy.

Thus far, a total of 3,016 asylum-seekers, 4.5% against the targeted 66,400, have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries since the beginning of the relocation programme in November 2015."

Situation in Serbia and at the Serbia-Hungary border

"The estimated total number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants in Serbia continued to grow to around 4,400 in comparison to 4,000 the previous week... The current admission rate to Hungary remains limited to 15 people per day per transit zone, with many asylum-seekers waiting a month or more as a result." 

Trends of Sea Arrivals

"Between 15 and 21 August, 923 refugees and migrants crossed the sea to Greece, a continuation of the steady increase in arrivals observed during the earlier part of the month."

From 15 to 21 August, 2,055 refugees and migrants arrived to Italy by sea as a result of 11 search and rescue operations (SAR), seven of which occurred over the weekend. Arrivals during the reporting period have seen a slight increase from 1,777 the previous week."

Situation in Greece

"With the slight increase of arrivals in the previous weeks, the capacity on the already strained accommodation spaces on the islands have exceeded their limit estimated by over 3,000 individuals. The maximum capacity on the islands rem ins 7,450 while the total presence on the islands was 11,343 until 21 August."

Hungary: Orbán hopes to trigger referendum tsunami across Europe (Budapest Beacon, link):

"victory in the anti-EU refugee quota referendum on October 2 will only happen if at least 4 million voters go to the polls and the majority of them vote “No”. It is wrong to assume that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán considers the voter turnout to be irrelevant, a source with insight into the ruling party’s communication campaign told....

Ruling party politicians, experts and jurists are making every possible case to encourage voters to reject the EU’s compulsory resettlement plan."

Denmark: New bill wants Danish Refugee Council out of the Refugee Appeals Board (refugees.dk, link)

"The government’s wish to cut down the Refugee Appeals Board from 5 to 3 members worries experts.

In a new bill put forward, the Danish government expresses a specific wish to exclude the Danish Refugee Council from appointing board members to the Refugee Appeals Board. The board was expanded in 2012 to enhance the expertise, and the members pointed out by the council represents some of the most respected experts in the country within this field. To maintain an uneven number of members, the person appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark will also have to go."

Are You Syrious (24.8.16, link)

Greece: New arrivals

"One boat was brought to safely to Skala, the north shore of Lesvos with 36 people on board. One boat with 10 people (5 men, 2 women, 3 children) landed between Skala Sikamineas and Eftalou. Proactiva took part in the rescue. Also, there is an ongoing search by several coast guard vessels for a boat believed to be carrying some 60 refugees and migrants off the coast of Rhodes. In the past week at least 581 arrivals were registered, coming from Turkey across the Aegean."

ITALY

"Italian minister of interior Alfano said an agreement to relocate refugees from Italy to Germany was reached between the two countries. Alfano also urged the other EU countries to fully participate in the relocation of refugees, Repubblica reports in detail. Italy, the main entry point for Africans but rarely their planned destination, is struggling to house migrants turned back from neighboring countries, Switzerland and France."

FRANCE: Paris

"Thousands of people, including infants, are sleeping on the pavements of Paris. Many of those people have family members in the UK, but can’t join them until their asylum case is completed. This can take up to one year. While they wait, they will be living on the streets of Paris or in Calais, the two refugee hubs of France. The local police frequently arrest and/or evacuate the refugees, explaining they would be brought to a shelter. In fact, some of them are just arrested and released and a lot of refugees return to the camps after a few days or weeks. The tents, however, are often destroyed. The goal is probably to prevent these camps from becoming permanent street lodging."

Calais

Although not as frequently talked about, Calais hosts the largest number of refugees so far, Liberation confirms. There are now more people crammed into 35% of the originally planned space. Meanwhile, police prevent wood from entering the camp because they do not want permanent shelters to be built. Only tents are authorized. NGOs say there are more than 9,000 people and approximately 10 more tents put up per day. Calais Kitchens are in need of more tea, while the Care4Calais team has conducted a survey among the refugees and are now asking for the items mostly requested by the Calais residents: joggers, hoodies, shirts, boxers, spray deodorants, shampoo and shower gel, socks, shaving kits, torches and lanterns, SIM cards etc. If you can help, contact them at: www.care4calais.org.

UNHCR chief to push for more migrant relocations (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece and the United Nations refugee agency on Wednesday agreed to strengthen cooperation in handling migration flows to Europe’s external frontier while urging the European Union to hasten the relocation of migrants and refugees elsewhere within the bloc.

“Challenges are very serious and we need to continue to address them together. Especially living conditions, security in refugee sites, overcrowding in islands,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens."

Germany: Record number of refugees ask Red Cross to find family members (DW, link): "The German Red Cross expects around 3,000 calls for help by the end of 2016 from refugees who have lost track of family members on their perilous journey. A large number of requests come from minors."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.8.16)
Afghan migrant 'shot dead by hunting party' in Serbian woods (Telegraph, link):

"olice have arrested a member of a hunting party in Serbia after a young Afghan migrant was shot dead in the woods near the Bulgarian border.

Security forces in Pirot were patrolling the woods, in the southeast of Serbia, when they "heard a shot and then met six migrants, one of whom had been shot in the chest." They then came across four hunters at the scene and arrested one of them on suspicion of shooting the 20-year-old migrant.

A Serbian defence ministry spokesman said: "Upon the arrival of emergency services, doctors could only establish the death of a 20-year old male citizen of Afghanistan." It gave no further details"

Germany’s new problem border: Poland - The southern migratory route may be closed, but the eastern one is open (Politico, link):

"Angela Merkel thought she had regained control over Germany’s borders. Turns out the problem might have just shifted.

The German chancellor’s decision to open up the country to refugees led to wave after wave arriving through the so-called Western Balkans route into the south of Germany. That route’s now all-but closed but official statistics, and local law enforcement, suggest Merkel now needs to look east, to the border with Poland, where the number of illegal crossings has skyrocketed. That is putting pressure on the police and raising concerns about radical Islamists slipping through the cracks."

Germany to accept hundreds of migrants to boost EU program: Italy (Reuters, link):

"Germany has agreed to take in hundreds of migrants who are blocked in Italy in a move that might revive the European Union's failed relocation program, Italy's Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on Tuesday.

As part of a deal to relieve pressure on Europe's frontline states in the migration crisis, the European Commission last year devised a plan aimed at moving thousands of new arrivals away from Italy and Greece towards other EU members.

Under the scheme, up to 40,000 migrants could be relocated from Italy over two years, but so far only a few hundred have been flown out with many EU allies apparently reluctant to welcome in asylum seekers and refugees."

European Court of Human Rights: General deterioration of security situation in Iraq entails a real risk for the applicants if returned to their country of origin (pdf):

"The case concerned three Iraqi nationals who had sought asylum in Sweden and whose deportation to Iraq had been ordered....

Against a background of a generally deteriorating security situation, marked by an increase in sectarian violence and attacks and advances by ISIS, large areas of the territory were outside the Iraqi Government’s effective control. In the light of the complex and volatile general security situation, the Court found that the Iraqi authorities’ capacity to protect citizens had to be regarded as diminished. Although the current level of protection might still be sufficient for the general public in Iraq, the situation was different for individuals belonging to a targeted group. The cumulative effect of the applicants’ personal circumstances and the Iraqi authorities’ diminished ability to protect them had to be considered to create a real risk of ill-treatment in the event of their return to Iraq."

Are You Syriuos (23.8.16, link)

Number of arrivals

Despite a deal between the EU and Ankara, the number of arrivals on Aegean islands continues to soar. A total of 1,138 migrants and refugees landed on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros over the past 10 days, bringing the total number to 11,343. Greece has at least 41,000 refugees and migrants who are seeking asylum, mostly Syrians eligible to relocate within the EU, the migration minister said on Tuesday. Yiannis Mouzalas told a news conference that Greek and UN services had recorded 54,000 refugees and migrants on Greek territory between June and the end of July. Over 41,000 of them on the mainland have expressed interest in asylum, or have made formal requests. Another 2,000 have agreed to be returned home. At the same time, there are another 11,000 people currently being processed on Greek islands after landing there from neighboring Turkey. The migration minister admitted that there are additionally “around 4,000” people who are avoiding follow-up registration as they hope to cross the border with the help of smugglers. But denied reports that hundreds of people were being allowed to sneak across the border to the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria. New arrivals, total of 18 today all landed on Lesvos."

Volunteering opportunities in Athens

"If new to volunteering in Athens, please consider spending your first couple of days at the Ellinikon Warehouse helping with the sorting of donations. If you can only volunteer for 1 day or a few hours then the Warehouse is the best place to help. Please contact the project/team leaders directly to sort out your volunteering arrangements and more info can be found http://www.greecevol.info/

RefuComm team looking for volunteers

"In Athens the team have been setting up in squats, printing, flyering, translating information building up new teams for advice clinics to go into the squats. In Germany they have been getting ready to add new information on the Greek Islands, reunification and educational materials to the website and we have been improving ease of use for the website. Volunteers are needed in the following area: Media Management, Social Media, Fundraising, Researchers, Writers, Translators, Administration if you can help out, email refucomm@gmail.com "

Bad conditions in Samos camp

"The conditions in the camp are still very bad with very poor quality food, lack of drinking water and not enough capacity to house the many people there, some for over five months!

There are still unattended minors living there, You can help out by: mobile pay: +45 60 10 66 24 (DK), AL-bank: reg. nr. 5358, konto nr. 0244228. (DK) or International donations: IBAN nr. : DK4853580000244228 / SWIFT adr. : ALBADKKK "

Austria's refugee crisis: One year on (The Local.at, link):

" Crisis dissipates in Austria: The number of asylum applications fell dramatically in Austria in 2016 compared to the previous year. The solidarity movement has also become less conspicuous. Politicians who helped to care for and manage the movement of refugees last year are now preparing to implement some of Europe’s toughest asylum measures. How might the country react today if another group of 71 refugees was found in the back of a van having suffocated? No doubt with sadness, but it would be unlikely to elicit the same powerful solidarity movement. At the other end of the scale, the earlier rise in anti-Muslim extremist protests this year has also somewhat calmed in the summer. Is there less fire in the belly of the anti-refugee movement now the crisis is less acute? The far-right’s presidential candidate Norbert Hofer is tipped to win the presidential election re-run in October but the question remains whether he'll be able to secure the same support without a refugee crisis to talk about."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.8.16)
FRONTEX: Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show (The Intercept, link):

"a Greek court ruled that the coast guard officers, including the one arrested, did nothing wrong; they were shooting to stop a suspected smuggler.

Yet a collection of incident reports from Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, obtained by The Intercept, reveals a broader Greek and European tactic of using weapons to stop boats driven by suspected smugglers — and injuring or killing refugees in the process. (In the Greek islands, Frontex operates alongside the coast guard, patrolling the sea border with Turkey. In many cases, the information in these documents was reported to Frontex by the Greek coast guard as part of their joint operations.)

The documents, which were meant to be redacted to shield operational details but were inadvertently released by Frontex in full, reveal multiple cases of firearms use against boats carrying refugees (The Intercept has elected to publish the unredacted versions to demonstrate how refugees’ lives were endangered during these incidents). The reports span a 20-month period from May 2014, two months after the Chios shooting, to December 2015. Each case of firearms use - even if it resulted in someone being wounded - was described as part of the standard rules of engagement for stopping boats at sea....

After the shooting, Rawan, Amjad, and Akil were taken to the general hospital in Chios to be treated, where they stayed for two weeks. Doctors’ reports from Germany and Sweden, where the three were eventually given asylum, as well as from the hospital in Chios, confirm that the injured refugees were released from the hospital in Chios with bullets still in their bodies. All three victims speculate that the hospital responded to pressure from the coast guard, who, they say,
didn’t want evidence of the shooting in Greece.""

See full file: Serious Incident Reports (190 pages, pdf) and see Frontex rules: Serious Incident Reporting (pdf)

EU Commission reiterates €250,000 fine per refugee for member states that deny relocation (New Europe, link):

"The €250,000 per applicant solidarity contribution to the member states responsible for asylum applications was put again on the table by the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Avramopoulos suggests that the EU Commission’s proposal for a Dublin III Regulation recast that aims to complement the current system with a corrective allocation mechanism for situations where some member states turn a blind eye to refugees relocation.

“The new Regulation will be binding once adopted by the European Parliament and the Council for all Member States, except for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark which have the right to decide themselves about their participation in accordance with the relevant Protocols,” adds the Commissioner answering at Greek MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Dimitris Papadimoulis’ question, as only a 1% of the refugees in the EU Commission’s emergency relocation programme have actually been relocated, while the target figure remains at 160,000."

Urgent need for refugee relocation, says Irish Refugee Council (link):

The Irish Refugee Council is calling on the Irish government to honour its commitment of relocating asylum seekers from Greece and Italy as quickly as possible. To date no people have been relocated from Italy and only 38 people have been relocated from Greece. This is in stark contrast to the number of asylum seekers relocated from Greece to Member States such as France, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Maria Hennessy, Legal Officer at the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, has just returned from a fact finding mission in Greece where she witnessed first-hand the situation facing refugees in Athens and on the Islands of Lesvos and Chios.

“The situation in some camps for refugees is alarming, with people, including families with young children, living in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions where access to basic needs such as healthcare and nutritious food is extremely limited,” said Ms Hennessy."

Greece says at least 41,000 asylum seekers on its territory (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Yiannis Mouzalas told a news conference that Greek and UN services had recorded 54,000 refugees and migrants on Greek territory between June and the end of July.

Over 41,000 of them on the mainland have expressed interest in asylum, or have made formal requests. Another 2,000 have agreed to be returned home."

"Dangerous Journeys”: International Migration Increasingly Unsafe in 2016: IOM (link):

"As the number of migrant deaths worldwide continues to rise significantly, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 23 per cent more migrant deaths during the first half of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015.

The latest IOM GMDAC Data Briefing, “Dangerous Journeys,” released on Tuesday 23 August, was prepared by the International Organization for Migration’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in Berlin. It takes an in-depth look at the available global figures for migrant deaths and disappearances during the first half of 2016.

The data collected by Missing Migrants Project indicate that the number of people who go missing or die in the process of migration has increased significantly since 2014, especially in the Mediterranean region. The increase can partly be attributed to improving data collection. However, it also speaks to the level of risk associated with attempting to migrate by irregular means across international borders in 2016, as well as the desperation that motivates people to take these migration journeys."

Are You Syrious (22.8.16, link)

Refugee flows to Hungary constantly on the rise despite the wire fence and border patrols

"According to a report from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, the number of irregular migrants apprehended by the Hungarian police has been constantly on the rise since the beginning of 2016, despite the construction of a fence on Hungary’s borders with Serbian and Croatian.

However, since the “8-kilometre rule” legalizing push-backs came into force on 5 July, the number of registered asylum applications has radically decreased. In July alone, 575 irregular migrants were apprehended, while 4,396 entries were blocked by border patrols. During the first six months of 2016, the majority of asylum-seekers (65%) in Hungary came from war-torn countries, including 16% from Syria, 37% from Afghanistan, 11% from Iraq and 1% from Somalia. Of all the applicants, 26% were children and 20% women."

Many children among the refugees arriving to Italy

"MSF, Proactiva and others who are tirelessly saving lives in the Mediterranean keep reporting the steady flow of refugees on one of the most dangerous refugee routes towards Europe. Almost half of the refugees crossing the sea from Libya to Italy in packed boats are minors, MSF warns."

Greece: Plans for new migrant centers as arrivals soar (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities hope that the construction of a new migrant reception center in Thiva, central Greece, which is set to be completed in the coming days, will ease congestion in camps on the country’s eastern Aegean islands, while plans are also under way to open a refugee facility on Crete.

“The situation on the islands is only marginally under control,” a source inside the Public Order Ministry told Kathimerini on condition of anonymity on Monday.

Authorities are said to be drawing up plans to create so-called “closed-structure” detention camps on the islands to separate individuals who are scheduled to be repatriated – as well as troublemakers – from those who have passed a first screening in their claim for international protection."

News (23.8.16)

EU-LIBYA: EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia signs agreement to train Libyan Coast Guard and Navy (pdf) and see: Libyan parliament scuppers UN-backed unity government (DW, link) "Libya's internationally recognized parliament has voted no confidence in the fragile UN-backed unity government.".


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.8.16)
Hungarian politician suggests hanging pigs' heads along border to deter Muslim refugees (The Telegraph, link):

"Severed pigs’ heads should be hung along Hungary’s border to deter Muslim refugees and migrants from entering the country, an MEP has suggested.

Gyorgy Schopflin, a member of the Right-wing government of Viktor Orban, the prime minister, sparked outrage and disbelief with the suggestion.

He made it during an ill-tempered exchange on Twitter with a human rights campaigner."

UK: Britain wants to save refugee children - so why is government shunning these helpless infants? (International Business Times, link): "It is now several months since the Immigration Act became law. It contained one crucial amendment, that the UK should take an unspecified number of unaccompanied child refugees from Europe. So far very little seems to have happened."

EU: Rumours and lies: 'The refugee crisis is an information crisis' (The Guardian, link): "“You need to puncture your raft before you arrive, or they’ll send you back.” “If you apply for the relocation programme, they send you to Venezuela.” “In Europe you won’t need money, everything is free.”

These are just three of the many confusing rumours that migrants and refugees might hear. Some of them are downright dangerous, like the one about the raft. Others cause people to make the wrong decisions or take risks.

In response, the Mediterranean Rumour Tracker project has been launched to better inform migrants of the facts. Fieldworkers who speak Arabic or Farsi engage with people in the Greek camps, collect the rumours that are circulating, and then verify or dispel them. This information is posted on a dedicated website and corresponding Facebook pages in English, Arabic, Farsi and Greek."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20-21.8.16)


Greece: Gov’t seeks alliances as arrivals in Evros rise (ekathimerini.com, link):

"With scores of people arriving on the islands of the eastern Aegean every day, state-run facilities are already filled beyond capacity and there are fears of tensions escalating as thousands of frustrated migrants wait for news of their fate.

According to sources, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is intent on forging a regional alliance to support Greece’s position on the migration crisis at a meeting of European socialist heads of state scheduled to take place in Paris on Thursday....

Meanwhile, as activity in the Aegean increases, sources have indicated that arrivals via the land border with Turkey have also risen."

Are You Syrious (20.8.16)

Shameful court case against Spanish lifeguards accused of human smuggling still pending

"Spanish firemen from PROEM-AID NGO have published a video to remind us about the shameful legal case that’s pending against them. They have rescued thousands while working as an emergency team on Lesvos, but their lifesaving actions were seen by the Greek government as human smuggling. The legislation which allowed Julio, Manuel and Enrique to be accused of smuggling is being revised by the European Commission, but they could still face a sentence of 10 years of imprisonment. Here’s their story. You can show your solidarity by signing the petition to support their cause.."

Thousands of refugees returning to Milan after being rejected from Austrian, French and Swiss borders

"Milan is becoming the new refugee bottleneck as thousands of refugees from Africa, many of them Eritreans, retreat to the city after being turned back at the borders to France, Austria and Switzerland. According to The Times, “church buildings, army barracks, gyms and even the Holocaust memorial have been converted into dormitories” for refugees. Refugees from Syria and Eritrea have been arriving in Milan since 2013, but their number has been sharply increasing in the past couple of days. Officials are worried that another 1,000 refugees massed at Ventimiglia, on the French border, and at Como on the Swiss border will give up and return to Milan."

Concerns rise amid migrant uptick, news of German plan to pressure Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The steady increase in refugee and migrant arrivals from neighboring Turkey to the Aegean islands fueled concerns in the ranks of the government on Friday amid reports that German authorities have a contingency plan to apply pressure on Greece in the event of the collapse of a deal between Ankara and the European Union to curb migration....

Citing a non-paper issued by the German government, Der Spiegel reveals a contingency plan foreseeing the possible application of economic pressure on Greece to oblige it to cooperate more closely with the EU’s monitoring agency Frontex in policing the bloc’s external borders."

Are You Syrious (19.8.16, link)

331

"refugees have arrived to Greek islands between Thursday and Friday morning, according to government data. This is a jump compared to recent figures, which had ranged from a few dozen to a maximum of 150 new people daily, bringing the official count of refugees stranded (and registered) in Greece to just over 58,000. Today, volunteers on Lesvos have counted 146 new refugees on Lesvos alone."

More drownings off Lybian coast: how to call for help if you encounter distress at sea

"Proactiva Open Arms reported about yet another harrowing case occurring on August 18th, off the coast of Libya. Twenty people were rescued, while six have drowned and only four bodies have been recovered. While the institutional disregard for the lives of those embarking on the dangerous sea journey to refuge continues, we once more urge anyone who finds themselves in distress at sea to contact Watch The Med Alarm Phone, at +334 86 51 71 61. Please take note of the fact that this is an alarm number to support rescue operations, and NOT a rescue number. Alarm Phone’s aim is to help those in distress connect with the coast guard and attempt to monitor the rescue operation in order to avoid violations of human rights."

Sindos-Frakapor camp: unbearable stench, malaria and newborn babies in the middle of nowhere

"AYS voluneers have visited 550 refugees from Idomeni who are accomodated in Sindos-Frakapor in Northern Greece, where multiple cases of malaria were unofficially confirmed to us by independent medical professionals, but still not officialy acknowleged by the authorities.

Approaching the camp by abandoned road, one can feel the unbearable stench rising from nearby heaps of fertilizer. We were appalled to see at least 20 newborn babies in completely unacceptable living conditions in Sindos-Frakapor, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by swamp and piles of trash."

Greece: More Returns Under EU-Turkey Deal (News That Moves, link):

"On August 18, Greek authorities returned another group of people from the Greek islands to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal. According to a press release from the Greek government, a total of “six irregular migrants” were returned to Turkey: four Pakistani nationals and two Algerians.

Frontex, the EU border management agency, returned the migrants on chartered boat from Lesbos to the Turkish port of Dikili."

and see: Eight refugees return to Turkey after implementation of EU-Turkey agreement (AMNA.gr, link):

"Eight Syrian refugees returned to Turkey after the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement. Eight of them left with a special flight of Astra Airlines chartered from Frontex with destination Adana, Turkey."

Serbia intercepts over 3,000 illegal migrants in a month (euractiv, link):

"Serbia detained over 3,000 migrants illegally entering into the country in one month, a military spokesman said, suggesting many were still trying to make their way along a Balkan corridor to the European Union despite border closures.....

With a steady trickle of migrants mainly from conflict- and poverty-wracked areas of Asia and the Middle East continuing, Serbia on 16 July decided to form joint police and army patrols to intercept them.".

News (20-21-8-16)

Children at risk in crowded camps as number of refugees arriving in Greece more than doubles (Save the Children, link): "The average number of refugees and migrants arriving daily in Greece is at its highest since May, causing serious congestion in the camps on the islands and putting children at risk, Save the Children said today. ... “We’re nearly back at square one. As the number of arrivals creeps up again, we’re starting to see scenes reminiscent of last summer. Except this time, most asylum seekers are unable to continue their journeys, and are trapped on the islands, in overcrowded facilities, and under the blazing sun,” said Katie Dimmer, Save the Children’s Director of Operations in Greece."

Italy: Show acceptance for migrants, beat terror says Mattarella - 'Don't let ourselves be overcome by fear' (ANSA, link): "Italy must show solidarity for migrants but make sure they respect the law, President Sergio Mattarella said at the annual meeting of the influential Catholic lay organisation Communion and Liberation Friday. "We must not allow ourselves to be defeated by fear," Mattarella said."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.8.16)
AP witnesses rescue of migrants off Libya, 4 bodies found (AP, link): "A Spanish aid group rescued more than 100 migrants Thursday from three separate migrant boats off Libya's coast and recovered at least four bodies after one of the vessels sank. Relatives reported another two people drowned but rough seas hampered search efforts.

The Associated Press was aboard the Astral rescue ship of the group Proactiva Open Arms when a Libyan fisherman flagged the sunken migrant boat some 20 miles north of the western Libyan city of Sabratha."

EU: Thematic focus: Migrants with disabilities (Fundamental Rights Agency, link): "Persons with disabilities make up around 15 % of the global population, and comprise a significant minority of refugees and migrants. In addition to pre-existing physical, sensory, intellectual or psychosocial impairments, people may acquire or develop impairments during the migration process. When identified, these impairments place an obligation on Member States to provide specific support throughout the arrival, registration and asylum process.

There is little information available on the situation of migrants and refugees with disabilities recently arrived in the EU, resulting in anecdotal evidence and individual reports of particular challenges faced. This thematic focus explores practices in four areas crucial to persons with disabilities and victims of torture in the current migrant situation:

1. Identification of persons with disabilities in reception and detention centres
2. Reception conditions for persons with disabilities
3. Mental health determinants and support
4. Identification and rehabilitation of victims of torture
"

And see: Fundamental Rights Agency: Monthly data collection on the current migration situation in the EU: Thematic focus: Disability (pdf)

Covers 1-31 July 2016; contains the full text of the "thematic focus" report on disability and detailed information on the situation in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, looking at:

FRANCE: New report on women living in Calais camps

"Since the publication of The Long Wait, we have processed and analysed additional data relating to women in Calais, which we are presenting in this report. Media coverage consistently tends to highlight that the majority of residents in the Calais camp are men and boys, while reports and news stories relating to women and girls in the settlement are few and far between.

This report hence aims to fill some of the information gaps relating to these women. It sheds light on the specific adversities they face, including gender-based violence, a lack of access to reproductive healthcare, and an absence of safety and security, amongst others."

See: Unsafe Borderlands: Filling the data gaps relating to women in the Calais camp (Refugee Rights, link)

Migration through Egypt: The Safe Alternative to Libya? (Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, link): "The Greek Coast Guard rescued 340 migrants off the coast of Crete after a boat carrying the migrants bound for Italy capsized in the Mediterranean Sea on June 3, 2016. Four migrants were less lucky: they drowned in the Mediterranean. The boat reportedly originated in Egypt and capsized in waters in Egypt’s exclusive economic area.

The Crete incident cast a spotlight on Egypt as a country of transit and its policies towards the mixed migration flows from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. "

EU: 4 maps that will change how you see migration in Europe (World Economic Forum, link): "Did you know that Polish people represent the highest percentage of the foreign-born population in Norway? Or that the largest proportion of immigrants to the Republic of Ireland hail from the UK?

These four maps, created by Jakub Marian, a Czech linguist, mathematician and artist, are based on a 2015 study by the United Nations on international migration. They show European migration split into various numbers:

1. The percentage of the population of each country that is made up of foreign-born migrants

2. The most common country of origin for that number

3. Whether that number has gone up or down in the past five years

4. The immigrant populations that are expanding the most"

EU: Sharing responsibility for refugees in Europe: the logic of identity (openDemocracy, link): "Values such as ‘shared responsibility’ that define the EU on paper do not appear to be powerful in practice. But across Europe national identities are a different matter. "

Refugees find chance to flourish in German workforce (UNHCR, link): "Meet some of the refugees who are rolling up their sleeves in Germany, after finding work with a car maker, train operator and technology giant."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.8.16)
Long Read: Minor Miracle or Historic Failure Ahead for U.N. Summit? (Refugees Deeply, link):

"In the lead-up to September’s U.N. summit on refugees and migrants, Jeff Crisp, associate fellow at Chatham House, warns that growing isolationism will prevent a successful initiative and further weaken refugee protection."

UNHCR Weekly Report (18.8.16): 265,985 arrivals by sea in 2016. 265,985 in Greece and 162,015 in Italy. 3,155 dead/missing

Update on Relocation

"No relocations took place from Italy last week. Thus far, 961 people, only 2.4 % of the targeted 39,600 for the period of September 2015 to September 2017, have been relocated from Italy.

On 12 August, 400 pledges for Greece were opened by France. As of 12 August, 2,986 have been relocated from Greece of the 66,400 targeted total up to September 2017, representing only 4.5%."

Hungary

"During the week, Hungarian police reported 74 apprehensions for irregular entry, while 453 people were pre-vented from irregularly crossing the border and another 445 people were intercepted inside Hungary and escorted back to the other side of the border fence. The Hungarian government decided on 10 August to deploy an additional 3,000 police personnel to the border in response to irregular migration."

GREECE: official figures of number of "guests" in detention centres (57,828 refugees) on the islands and the mainland: 18.8.16 (pdf): Lesvos, Chios and Samos have more "guests" than their capacity.

GREECE: Gov't seeking revision of Dublin Regulation returning migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Intent on tackling the refugee crisis head on, the government aims to push for an overhaul of the so-called Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that migrants must apply for asylum in the first European Union country they enter, a provision that has put much of the burden on Greece....

Indications by Turkey that it might not honor a migrant deal with the EU have fueled concerns in Greece that a slowed migrant influx could pick up again. Greek officials insist that a slight uptick in migrant arrivals on the Greek islands remains manageable but in private they are concerned....

diplomatic sources have indicated that any such change is unlikely during Slovakia’s presidency of the EU, which finishes at the end of the year."

Asylum Applications In Greece Increase Over 264% (News That Moves, link)

"The Greek Asylum Service (GAS) released data on asylum applications filed in Greece in 2016. Between January and July, 21,833 asylum claims have been submitted in Greece, an increase of 264.8% compared with the same period in 2015.

Most asylum applications in 2016 have been filed in Athens (8,731),Thessaloniki (5,079) and Lesvos (2,393). In July alone, 2,543 men and 1,470 women applied for asylum in Greece.

Asylum applications in Greece started to increase in March 2016 after the closure of the Balkan Route and the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement."

Greece: 8 refugees sent back to Turkey - On Wednesday, Greek coast guards rescued 70 refugees and migrants (AA, link)

A special flight was chartered by Frontex and the eight refugees flew by Astra Airlines to Adana, southern Turkey, according to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).

Meanwhile, refugees continue to enter the Greek waters from the Aegean sea.

On Wednesday, the Greek coast guards rescued 70 refugees and migrants in an inflatable dinghy in off the coast of the Kos island, reported the state new agency AMNA. The migrants, who came from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, were transferred to a reception center.

In the last 24 hours, a total of 44 refugees and migrants have arrived at the Lesvos island."

Greece plans new refugee facilities to cut overcrowding on islands (euractiv, link)

"Greece plans to reduce overcrowding at migrant camps on its islands, a government official said yesterday (17 August), to ease growing tensions and improve conditions that campaigners have called “disgraceful”."

New migrant center to open near Thiva as Cretan authorities protest plans for four local camps (ekathimerini.com, link)

"The government is planning to host around 1,000 migrants in a former cotton mill near the city of Thiva in central Greece, it emerged Tuesday, as authorities on Crete expressed objections to plans to accommodate another 2,000 migrants in four migrant centers on the island."

Aid and Attention Dwindling, Migrant Crisis Intensifies in Greece (NYT, link):

"NEA KAVALA, Greece — As her young children played near heaps of garbage, picking through burned corn cobs and crushed plastic bottles to fashion new toys, Shiraz Madran, a 28-year-old mother of four, turned with tear-rimmed eyes to survey the desolate encampment that has become her home.

This year, her family fled Syria, only to get stuck at Greece’s northern border with Macedonia in Idomeni, a town that had been the gateway to northern Europe for more than one million migrants from the Middle East and Africa seeking a haven from conflict. After Europe sealed the border in February to curb the unceasing stream, the Greek authorities relocated many of those massed in Idomeni to a camp on this wind-beaten agricultural plain in northern Greece, with promises to process their asylum bids quickly.

But weeks have turned into months..."

Turkey struggling to cope with refugees (euobserver, link):

"Host to the world’s largest refugee population, Turkey is struggling to meet its international obligations and secure dignified living conditions for the more than 3 million people that fled to the country.

In a report published on Wednesday (17 August), the Council of Europe’s special representative on migration and refugees, Tomas Bocek, praised Turkey for its efforts to help people displaced by conflicts in neighbouring states.

But the report by the Czech official, who visited Turkey in May and June on a fact-finding mission, raises doubts whether Turkey can cope with the challenge. "

See: Council of Europe: Turkey: Migrant children and refugees living precariously outside camps (link):

 Are You Syrious (17.8.16)

Thessaloniki

"Teams from multiple organizations, including AYS, report that police are evicting refugees from the park and treating volunteers with some hostility, blaming them for making the location habitable and therefore incentivizing more refugees to come and wait in the park.

The term “people hunting” seemed fitting today to describe what’s happening at Thessaloniki Park’s unofficial gathering. This morning, police came at 7 am without announcement and picked up refugees, taking them to other camps in northern Greece. There were around 400 people in the camp last night. Many kept trying to return throughout the day, but police stayed there during the whole day and through the evening, searching for people. Many of the camps in northern Greece are in a state of decay?—?the smell is so bad that people cannot breathe without covering their noses and mouths to keep from coughing...."

ITALY

"A man has been arrested for attempting to bring people into France. The man, a native of Nice, France, was apprehended by Italian police near the French-Italian border. The man was previously known to police due to his affiliation with no-border activist groups. "

Are You Syrious (16.8.16, link)

Slovenia reinforcing wire fence after reported increase of irregular border crossings

"Slovenian authorities have announced they will reinforce the wire fence along the border with Croatia, following the reported increase of irregular refugee arrivals. According to unnamed government official cited in local newspapers, several smuggling attempts and irregular border crossings have been detected recently. Some of the refugees who were caught were pushed back to Croatia, while others have asked for asylum in Slovenia."

Slovenian reception centres on standby in preparation for possible further increase of arrivals

"According to Slovenian police, last week there were 311 refugees in accommodation and detention centres, but more people are thought to have passed the country without being registered. Slovenian officials are getting ready for the possible scenario of re-opening the route if Turkey decides to abandon its deal with EU and start letting more refugees to proceed to their journey towards EU countries."

Italian municipalities propose a plan for equal redistribution of migrants in the country

The national association of Italian municipalities (ANCI) has proposed a plan to redistribute the presence of refugees in an equal way, considering the possibility to host an average of 2.5 refugees for each 1,000 inhabitants in municipalities throughout the country."

Swiss-Italian frontier becomes flashpoint in Europe’s migrant crisis (euractiv, link):

"Nine months pregnant and desperate to cross from Italy into Switzerland after fleeing Ethiopia, a young woman along with her husband are among hundreds stranded by a Swiss border clampdown that is drawing international scrutiny.

Swiss authorities reject accusations they are violating would-be refugees’ rights to seek asylum. But a growing throng of migrants waiting near Como in northern Italy and aid workers tell a different story: The Swiss border is effectively closed."

 Refugees create flag for their Olympic team as a 'symbol of solidarity' (Mashable UK, link):

"When the first ever Olympic team made up of refugees entered the opening ceremony last week, not much united them beyond their desires to compete and unwilling separations from their home countries. Now, a new organization wants to give them their own symbol.

The 10 athletes walked under the Olympic flag during the Parade of Nations and they continue to compete under those five rings, since their members come from four different countries. But a newly-formed organization, The Refugee Nation, has designed a flag it hopes will become part of the identity of the team and inspire goodwill for forcibly displaced people around the world."

CZECH REPUBLIC: People from Ukraine, Iraq, China, Cuba mostly seek asylum in 2016 (Prague Monitor, link): "Czech asylum was sought by 872 people from January to July, which is nearly the same number as in the first seven months of 2015 (884), and the highest number of asylum seekers were from Ukraine, Iraq, China, Cuba and Syria, according to the latest data released by the Interior Ministry. The largest group of asylum seekers continued to be Ukrainians (289), though their number considerably decreased compared to last year. Thanks to a resettlement project for Iraqi refugees, Czech authorities received 133 applications for asylum from citizens of Iraq this year. In the previous years, very few Iraqis applied for asylum in the country."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.8.16)
Migration: Cracks widen in “impossible” Italian asylum system (IRIN, link)

"Closed borders in the Balkans and the EU-Turkey deal have drastically reduced arrivals of migrants and refugees to Greece, but arrivals to Italy have continued at a similar rate to last year. The key difference is that fewer are able to move on to northern Europe, leaving Italy’s reception system buckling under the pressure and migrants paying the price.....

Yasha Maccanico, an Italian researcher for civil liberties monitoring organisation Statewatch, says Italy has been placed in an “impossible and unsustainable” position.

“Relocation was meant to be the justification for the hotspot system, but it simply has not happened,” he told IRIN. “And no matter what effort the state makes in providing adequate reception facilities, it will not be enough to match the numbers of migrants arriving.”"

Greece: Arrvials in Lesvos (UNHCR, 16.8.116) in the last week:

09/08/2016:  34
10/08/2016   31
11/08/2016:  44
12/08/2016:  80
13/08/2016:  22
14/08/2016:  13
15/08/2016:  51

Council of Europe: Turkey: Migrant children and refugees living precariously outside camps (link):

"Action needed to tackle child labour, encourage school attendance and improve the precarious living conditions of those outside refugee camps in Turkey.

“The Council of Europe should assist the Turkish authorities to develop effective policies to prevent refugee and migrant children working and to encourage their attendance at school”, says the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomáš Bocek in a report published today. He also called for the Council of Europe to work with the Turkish authorities to help improve the precarious living conditions of the millions of refugees outside camps, in particular by making it easier for those of working-age to access the labour market."

Are You Syrious (15.8.16)

Dramatic increase in refugees on the streets of Thessaloniki

"In the past two days, the number of refugees living in the streets and parks of Thessaloniki has dramatically increased, reaching almost 500, up from 200 on Monday, with around 200 new people coming from Athens. Only a few volunteers are currently active and long-term volunteers are desperately needed. Police is coming everyday, asking for people to join the camps but they are unwilling to do so."

Volunteer kitchen ransacked in Chios

"Gabrielle Tan in Chios reports a volunteer kitchen was ransacked on Saturday night and describes the overall situation on the island: On Sunday morning when they went to open the kitchen, preparing to feed the refugees on Chios as usual, the volunteers from Zaporeak Proiektua had a nasty surprise. Their kitchen was raided and damaged. This morning, they found their locks glued.

The doors of the European Union remain shut and none of the prosperous nations are living up to their promises of help. Greece remains its whipping boy, holding 57,000 internationally displaced people in distressing limbo. Chios holds about 3000ish?—?and numbers increasing steadily when the weather is calm. Athens is scrambling to put an emergency plan together?—?which will probably take months."

Give us EU visa freedom in October or abandon migrant deal, Turkey says (euractiv, link):

"Turkey could walk away from its promise to stem the flow of illegal migrants to EU if the European Union fails to grant Turks visa-free travel to the bloc in October, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a German newspaper....

Asked whether hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey would head to Europe if the EU did not grant Turks visa freedom from October, Cavusoglu told Bild: “I don’t want to talk about the worst case scenario – talks with the EU are continuing but it’s clear that we either apply all treaties at the same time or we put them all aside.”

News (16.8.16)

Danish politicians face charges for housing migrants (The Local.dk, link): "An Aarhus City Councilwoman and a parliamentary hopeful were in court on Tuesday to face charges of violating Denmark’s immigration laws by housing two African refugees."

Inclusion Of Refugee Children In Schools In Athens (News That Moves, link): "The Greek Ministry of Education and the Municipality of Athens announced a new pilot program that will give refugee children access to local public schools in Athens in September."

Europol to send terror experts to Greek migrant camps (euobserver, link): "The EU joint police body, Europol, will deploy a team of anti-terror experts to Greece in an attempt to single out potential jihadis among the 60,000 people stuck in the country. The team of 30 European experts will land in Athens by 20 August and travel on to the refugee camps, France24 reports . "


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.8.16)
Poland pushes back thousands of refugees, many fleeing crackdown in Tajikistan

"With the election of a right-wing government in Poland in late 2015 boasting an openly anti-migrant platform, things are looking increasingly bleak for Tajik refugees headed to Europe. While the Polish Border Guard insists that it is merely upholding Schengen regulations and “fighting illegal migration,” Polish NGOs and human rights organizations accuse the Polish authorities of engaging in illegal push-backs of Tajik asylum seekers in particular in the buffer zone between the Polish and Belarusian checkpoints, away from the eyes of UNHCR and other outside observers..."

FRANCE: Illegal shops in Calais 'jungle' cannot be destroyed, court rules, as charities say numbers surpass 9,000 (The Telegraph, link): "A French court has rejected a state request to tear down more than 70 "illegal shops" inside Calais' notorious "jungle" as associations say the numbers in the migrant camp have swollen to 9,000.

Lille's administrative court rejected the request by the state "prefecture" of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region on the grounds that while the informal shops and restaurants were undoubtedly illegal, they served an important purpose as "calm meeting places between migrants and volunteer workers".

In his ruling, judge Jean-François Molla said while local state authorities' concerns that the shops "benefit from no administrative authorisation" and some "don't respect the most basic of sanitary norms", they were were "understandable"."

More border fences in Bulgaria

"Meanwhile, a 30 kilometer long, 3.5 meter (12 foot) high fence has been erected along the Bulgarian border with Turkey. Now the fence is to be extended along the entire length of that border.

Officials want to secure the country's 484 kilometer southern border to Greece with a fence as well. This is because the Bulgarians have witnessed an increase in the numbers of refugees attempting to cross their border to get to the EU as a result of Macedonia having closed its border with Greece."

UN rights chief sees ‘worrying signs’ in Bulgaria’s detention regime for migrants (UN News Centre, link):

"United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today expressed serious concern that virtually all people entering Bulgaria in an “irregular manner” are subjected to detention, and that they could be prosecuted and even jailed if they try to leave, “placing many of them in an invidious Catch-22 situation.”

“This means that people who do not qualify under the strict definition of a refugee, but still have legitimate reasons for being unable to return to their home country, have hardly any avenues open to them,” said High Commissioner Zeid, in a news release issued by his Office (OHCHR)."

CZECH REPUBLIC: MfD: Anti-migrant parties run in Czech regional polls (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "At least seven of the parties running in the Czech regional polls rely on an anti-immigration approach, present themselves as anti-Islamist, anti-refugee and nationalist and some have included anti-migrant slogans in their names, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Monday.

Most of them are opposed to the Czech acceptance of any refugees, the paper writes.

These parties include well-known groupings such as lawmaker Tomio Okamura and his Party of Direct Democracy (SPD), the Dawn movement, the far-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) and the Republicans, but also a completely new group named "No Illegal Migrants - Let Money Go to Our People.""

Sweden rebukes Hungary in row over asylum seekers (The Local, link): "Sweden has said it will summon Hungary's ambassador to Stockholm to protest against her country's refusal to take back asylum seekers who first registered in Hungary.

Swedish Migration Minister Morgan Johansson told news agency TT that Hungary had informed Sweden it would not apply the EU's Dublin Regulation, under which asylum seekers may be sent back to their first country of arrival in the EU to have their application processed there."

ITALY: EU agency: Number of migrants arriving in Italy rises 12% in July (EurActiv, link): "More than 25,000 migrants arrived in Italy in July, 12% more than in the same period last year, EU border agency Frontex said on Friday (12 August).

Most of the migrants who made the trip across the Mediterranean from North Africa were Nigerians and Eritreans, Frontex said. The number of migrants arriving in the January to July period was stable compared to last year at 95,000.

Frontex said the quality of the boats people smugglers were using to transport migrants was deteriorating."

And see: Number of migrants arriving in Italy up 12% in July (Frontex, link)

FRANCE: Escaping “the jungle” must be done in an orderly manner (UK Human Rights Blog, link)

Brief analysis of the Secretary of State for the Home Department v Zat and others case, an appeal by the UK Home Office regarding child asylum-seekers who were living in Calais but filed asylum applications in the UK and were granted permission to do so by the courts.

"Since the UT decision, systems have been put in place for the French and UK governments to improve the operation of the Dublin processes. But there is still concern that the French government is reactive and not proactive, which requires human rights organisations to locate and help unaccompanied minors before they fall to human traffickers or otherwise disappear.

But this judgment does not condemn asylum seekers to indeterminate delays in “the jungle”. It may be that applying under Dublin III will ensure a better chance of escaping intolerable conditions, even if there are delays. The right to an effective remedy under article 27 of Dublin III means that once an application is made, a lower threshold test is applied."

See the judgment: Secretary of State for the Home Department v Zat and others ([2016] EWCA Civ 810) (pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-14.8.16)
French police confront migrants with pepper spray (Daily Sabah, link)

"Migrants attempting to reach France from Italy were stopped by French police, who confronted the migrants with pepper spray. More than 100 migrants broke through police barriers at the Italian border town of Ventimiglia and made their way into France last Friday, the local Italian police chief said....

A video posted on the website of Nice Matin newspaper showed a stream of people picking their way across rocks, followed by police in riot gear. A few started to walk into the sea."

Are You Syrious (12,8,16, link)

Deportations in Lesvos

"Last night a refugees summary deportation took place by Turkish coast guards in Greek waters, half a mile away from the maritime border between both countries. It is terrible that, following the EU-Turkey agreement, the Greek authorities may deport those fleeing their countries, but it is illegal, and so we denounce, for Turkish authorities entering European maritime territory to carry out hot deportations to Turkey. Not only the law in force is broken but also, and most serious, fundamental human rights"

See also: post by Proactiva Open Arms (link)

Arrivals today

"Todays new arrivals Chios 44, Samos 8, Kalymnos 49 and Rhodos 2; making a total of 147. Second boat today brought into Myitilni by coast guard, 43 people on board and all doing well."

New Plan to Relocate Refugees to New Centers on Crete

"Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas presented a plan to move some 2,000 people to four new centers on Crete by the end of the summer due to overcrowding of the migrant reception centers on the islands of the eastern Aegean as arrivals from neighboring Turkey increase. Four centers are to be set up on the island, one in each of its prefectures, where the migrants are to be accommodated in prefabricated homes, and will be provided with food, medical care and schooling for children. Efforts will be made to keep migrants of different ethnic groups separate as tensions relating to ethnicity have been occurring. He has also stated that the government has pledged to improve accommodation for migrants. The migrants the government is planning to move from the islands are those who have completed the first phase of their asylum applications. A total of 22 unaccompanied minors who had been staying at the Aliens Bureau on Petrou Ralli Street were moved to hostels for children in Volos and on Crete."

No Border Kitchen Lesvos Stands Its Ground

"After being threatened with a (repeated) eviction of the social center at Mytilinis beach for the past week, No Border Kitchen Lesvos decided to not give in so easily and stay put. So far the police did not come to make their threats true."

New Plan to Relocate Refugees to New Centers on Crete

"Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas presented a plan to move some 2,000 people to four new centers on Crete by the end of the summer due to overcrowding of the migrant reception centers on the islands of the eastern Aegean as arrivals from neighboring Turkey increase."

BULGARIA: Inspections of IDs and Detentions in Sofia

"More then 300 people’s documents have been inspected during the last 24 hours in Sofia, according to police sources who are claiming that the operation is still ongoing and that as many as 166 irregular migrants have been detained. Bulgaria’s treatment of migrants and refugees arriving in the country may be violating international law, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned."

Adrift: At Sea With a Search-and-Rescue Mission in the Mediterranean (Pacific Standard, link)

"Eritrea, a sliver of a nation wedged between Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Red Sea, is experiencing an exodus at a scale rivaled only by war-torn Syria. An estimated 200,000 Eritreans have left the country of six million since 2009."

News (13.8.16):

Turkey Offers Bulgaria Bilateral Mechanism on Migration (novinite.com, link): "Turkey and Bulgaria have agreed to set up a bilateral mechanism to address the issue of migrants, the Bulgarian National Radio says."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.8.16)
GREECE: In bid to decongest migrant centers, gov't to move 2,000 people to Crete (Ekatimerini, link): "In a bid to decongest overcrowded migrant reception centers on the islands of the eastern Aegean as arrivals from neighboring Turkey increase, some 2,000 people are to be transferred to four new centers on Crete by the end of the summer, according to a plan presented by Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Thursday.

Four centers are to be set up on the island, one in each of its prefectures, where the migrants are to be accommodated in prefabricated homes, not tents, and will be provided with food, medical care and schooling for children, according to Mouzalas, who presented his proposals to regional and local authority officials."

HUNGARY-SERBIA: In the long crossing to Hungary refugee families get stuck in transition (New Internationalist, link): "‘The journey has been so difficult, especially for my child,’ Noor*, a 27-year-old woman from Afghanistan tells us. ‘I have had to watch her be scared every day, dry her tears every day.’

Noor is in Horgoš on the Serbian-Hungarian border, a tented pre-transit camp beside a high barbed-wire fence. Each morning she joins hundreds of others, crowding around anxiously to look at a list, to see where their name is and how much longer they have to wait. It is a document which directs the fate of hundreds of people – some of them months into their journey, some of them years. This is the waiting list for refugees and asylum seekers trying to move on to Hungary and the European Union.

Noor asks to speak to us away from children who have, she says, already seen and heard too much."

EU: In pictures: Where have all the migrants gone? (Politico, link): "While the migration crisis that has gripped Europe is far from over, hotspots that attracted thousands of refugees (and scores of photojournalists) in the last half of 2015 look very different a year on.

On the shores of the Greek island of Lesvos, the mountains of discarded orange life vests are gone — but so are the tourists. “It’s a catastrophe,” one hotel operator told the Financial Times. “Bookings for the high season are the worst we’ve seen in two decades of operating.”"

The changes noted in the article are due to the "closure" of the route from Turkey to Greece (although arrivals in Greece are rising again) and the closure of the "Balkan Route". The article does not mention the "Central Mediterranean Route", from northern Africa to Italy, where arrivals so far this year are broadly consistent with those of 2015.

According to the UNHCR weekly report on 28 July: "Between 18 and 24 July, 8,157 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea which is a significant increase to the previous week’s arrivals of 2,148. However, overall sea arrivals to Italy remain consistent with those of 2015. As of 24 July, 88,009 persons arrived by sea to Italy in 2016, compared to 93,540 persons whom disembarked at the end of July 2015."

GERMANY: German proposals could see refugees' phones searched by police (The Guardian, link):

"Refugees moving to Germany may in future have to give police permission to search their social media accounts for suspicious posts, the interior minister has announced.

Presenting a raft of anti-terror measures at a press conference on Thursday, Thomas de Maizière announced that border police would pilot a scheme whereby refugees resettled in Germany under the deal between Turkey and the EU would have to hand over their smartphones for security checks if they did not have passports.

“If you want to come to Germany, we have to make safety checks on you. And to make safety checks, we will ask you to show us your Facebook contacts from the last few months, which are public in principle anyway,” he said. However, De Maizière admitted that it remained to be seen whether the time and cost would justify the effort."

And see: German intelligence warns of ISIL ‘hit squads’ among refugees (Politico, link)

LPHR and MAP launch Palestinian refugees from Syria protection initiative (Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, link): "On the week of 65th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, LPHR and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) are today launching an initiative – outlined in a joint briefing here – that aims to ensure that the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees from Syria are given equal access to international protection by the UK government’s relevant resettlement schemes.

We have identified and received confirmation that Palestinian refugees from Syria are excluded from the UK government’s flagship Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. Furthermore, we have obtained information from the UK government which reveals that no Palestinian refugees from Syria have to date been resettled in the UK through the ‘Gateway’ resettlement programme that it operates with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)."

Mapping and Documenting Migratory Journeys and Experiences (Warwick University, link): "Migrant deaths en route to the European Union are by no means new. Yet the level and intensity of recent tragedies is unprecedented: More than 3770 deaths were recorded in 2015, demanding swift action on the part of EU Member States.

Dr Vicki Squire (PaIS, Warwick), together with an international and multidisciplinary team of Co-Investigators including Dr Dallal Stevens (Warwick Law School), Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams (PAIS, Warwick), Dr Angeliki Dimitriadi (ELIAMEP, Athens), and Dr Maria Pisani (Malta), have been awarded an ESRC Urgency Grant (150K) for the project entitled 'Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat: Mapping and documenting migratory journeys and experiences'."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.8.16)
Migrant children are living on their own in the streets of Sicily after risking their lives in the Mediterranean

The story of a group of at least 15 children, most of whom are Eritrean, struggling to survive in the station in Catania as they attempt to put together the 38 euros they need to travel to Rome, sometimes by washing cars as they hope to reach northern Europe. A recent UN report claims that Eritrea "systematically commits crimes against humanity".

The migrant camps of Chios: Greece's ongoing refugee crisis (OpenDemocracy, link):

"There are three refugee camps on the Greek island of Chios. Your quality of life depends a great deal on where you've been placed, and where you’ve been placed is mostly down to luck."

Greece considers migration ’emergency plan’ (euractiv, link):

"Athens is making “immediate and short-term” plans to cope with a possible increase of refugee flows, Greek media reported.Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras will interrupt his short vacation and hold next weekend meetings with ministers on the issue....

Tsipras is expected to warn EU leaders that Athens will not be able to cope with a large increase in refugee flows from Turkey as a result of the internal situation after the failed coup attempt."

EU envoy to sound out Ankara on migrant deal (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Following a barrage of statements by Turkish government officials effectively threatening to break a pact struck between the European Union and Ankara to curb migrant smuggling across the Aegean, European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos is planning a visit to Ankara in the first 10 days of September to gauge sentiment and determine whether the crucial deal remains on track, Kathimerini understands.

ITALY: Unaccompanied foreign minors between dispersal and criminalisation (by Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, 20.5.2016)

This article notes that the media are increasingly reporting cases of unaccompanied foreign minors who are disappearing in Italy, linked to alarming phenomena including people trafficking, the trade in organs and exploitation. While traffickers exist and the trade organs does not appear to be especially relevant at the moment, the author argues that other important issues are not being spoken about or reported.


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.8.16)
GREECE: official figures of number of "guests" in detention centres on the islands and the mainland: 9.8.16 (pdf): Lesvos, Chios and Samos have more "guests" than their capacity.

Are You Syrious (9.8.16)

A rumour on impossibility for relocation for post March 19th arrivals is false!

"Nothing has changed in the law which makes people who arrived after 19 March not eligible for relocation. The EU-Turkey deal says nothing about cancelling the eligibility for relocation of people who arrive after 19 March, and even if it did, it is not itself legislation so it cannot amend the Relocation Council Decision 2015." [See Chart, link)

2016 is set to be the deadliest year yet for refugees. Why is no one talking about it?

"At least 3,034 refugees have died in the Mediterranean since the start of this year?—?almost as many as the whole of 2015. According to figures revealed by the International Organization for Migration, there has been an alarming surge in the death rate on Europe’s shores. Last year, 3,771 people in total are known to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean. Only halfway through 2016, the current death toll is very close to surpassing this."

CHIOS, Greece: Today on Chios we spotted a boat that was filled with refugees, trying to make the dangerous crossing from Turkey (link)

We soon realised it was in difficulty and followed it for four hours nearly to the end of the land, throughout this time the authorities were repeatedly called and asked to pick it up. They did not, despite being aware it was adrift and in severe danger.

There were 9 children onboard this boat. Even worse, a team of rescuers were prevented from going to save them. After the boat was nearly away from land and completely out to sea, they eventually went to collect the people.

EU-Turkey Deal: Returns On Standby (News That Moves, link):

"UNHCR data suggests that only 468 people were returned from Greece to Turkey under the EU-Turkey agreement as of the end of July.

No returns have been carried out since June 16, a UNHCR spokesperson confirmed to News That Moves today." (10.8.16)

Bulgaria fears a tide of refugees (DW, link):

"Now that the western Balkan route is closed, refugees are increasingly trying to reach the EU via its eastern Bulgarian border. The government in Sofia wants to stop this and is planning to install more fences....

a 30 kilometer long, 3.5 meter (12 foot) high fence has been erected along the Bulgarian side of the Rezovo. Now the fence is to be extended along the entire length of Bulgaria's border with Turkey.

Officials want to secure the country's 484 kilometer southern border to Greece with a fence as well. This is because the Bulgarians have witnessed an increase in the numbers of refugees attempting to cross their border to get to the EU as a result of Macedonia having closed its border with Greece.".

News (10.8.16):

Majority of Germans against EU-Turkey refugee deal - Two thirds of Germans are in favour of halting aid to Turkey and more than half want to end refugee deal, survey says.(aljazeera.com, link): "the Emnid survey for German weekly Bild am Sonntag showed 52 percent were in favour of the migration deal being terminated, compared with 35 percent who wanted it to continue. More than two thirds of the 502 people surveyed on August 4 also wanted an immediate freeze of aid payments to Turkey, and 66 percent wanted the EU accession talks entirely broken off."

90 migrants and refugees arrived on the Greek islands in the last 24h (ANA-MPA, link): "57,098 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Wednesday while 90 arrivals were reported in the last 24 hours.
According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 21,777 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 9,881 are hosted in the region of Attica and 2,698 are hosted in facilities of central and southern Greece. 7,638 refugees and migrants are hosted in several facilities rented by the UNHCR, 2,756 in non-organised facilities 2,300 persons are living outside organised facilities. 10,042 refugees and migrants were recorded on the eastern Aegean islands."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.8.16)
Are You Syrious (9.8.16)

A rumour on impossibility for relocation for post March 19th arrivals is false!

"Nothing has changed in the law which makes people who arrived after 19 March not eligible for relocation. The EU-Turkey deal says nothing about cancelling the eligibility for relocation of people who arrive after 19 March, and even if it did, it is not itself legislation so it cannot amend the Relocation Council Decision 2015." [See Chart, link)

2016 is set to be the deadliest year yet for refugees. Why is no one talking about it?

"At least 3,034 refugees have died in the Mediterranean since the start of this year?—?almost as many as the whole of 2015. According to figures revealed by the International Organization for Migration, there has been an alarming surge in the death rate on Europe’s shores. Last year, 3,771 people in total are known to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean. Only halfway through 2016, the current death toll is very close to surpassing this."

Out of sight, out of mind: Externalisation of migration and refugee policies (Pro Asyl, link):

"Position paper by PRO ASYL, medico international and “Brot für die Welt” about european policy of externalisation of border controls that lead to massive violations of human rights."

UNHCR weekly Update (5.8.16): Update on Relocation

"Last week, Netherlands pledged an additional 100 places for relocation candidates from Greece in addition to the previous 450. A total of 6,961 places have been pledged by 22 countries for those in Greece. As of 28 July, a fast decreasing number of only 211 places, were left open for relocation candidates, in relation to those who have been referred for relocation. The number of actual relocations and scheduled departures remains low at 3,018 - only 4.5% of the 66,400 people who are supposed to be relocated from Greece by September 2017.." [emphasis added]

Germany's Steinmeier says no visa talks until Turkey meets criteria (DW, link):

"German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the EU isn't currently on the agenda. European leaders have balked at such concessions after Turkey's post-coup crackdown.

Lifting travel restrictions for Turks in the EU bloc would only be considered "when the associated conditions are met," Foreign Minister Steinmeier told Germany's mass circulation "Bild" newspaper on Tuesday. "This is currently not the case," he added."

Italy: ASGI: Unaccompanied foreign minors: the new temporary reception measures are discriminatory and unconstitutional (pdf):

"In a letter sent on 28 July 2016, ASGI’s president Lorenzo Trucco intervened in the ongoing debate on the approval of “Extraordinary reception measures for unaccompanied foreign minors” envisaged by article 1-ter of the bill to convert law decree no. 113 of 24 June 2016 into law which details urgent financial measures for the territorial bodies and the territory, approved by the Chamber of Representatives [the lower house of parliament] on 21 July 2016, which is currently being discussed in the Senate."

Greece: Arrivals rise as Lesvos officials monitor activists (ekathimerini.com, link):

"There was a notable rise Monday in the number of refugees reaching the Greek islands over the previous 24 hours, as local officials on the island of Lesvos attempted to convince a small group of “No Borders” activists to leave.

According to data provided by the Greek government, a total of 126 migrants and refugees crossed the Aegean between Sunday and Monday morning, which was higher than the average of around 80 on previous days. The majority of new arrivals landed 99 on Chios, while 27 reached Samos....

On Lesvos, local officials continued efforts to convince a group of 30 to 40 pro-immigration activists to abandon a self-administered camp they had set up in the island’s Epano Skala area. The activists moved to the open-air camp after being forced out of an abandoned building owned by Alpha Bank. They are making food for refugees at the new site but local officials argue that they have taken over public land without permission...."

EU-Turkey: Turkey won't reform terrorism law to conform with EU deal (euobserver, link)

"Turkey won't amend its anti-terrorism law, a blow which could upend the EU-Turkey migrant-swap deal signed off with Ankara in March. In an interview with the Financial Times on Monday (8 August), Turkey's EU minister Omer Celik said it would be "impossible" to overhaul the law in the immediate future.

EU imposed conditions require Turkey to narrow its definition of terrorism in the law, as part of a broader deal to free-up short term visas for Turkish nationals to travel in the European Union. But the initial plan to ease visa waivers following the migrant deal over the summer failed, Ankara unable to meet all 72 visa liberalisation benchmarks."

Note: The granting of a visa waiver scheme for Turkey requires the agreement of the European Parliament.

Are You Syrious (8.8.16, link)

Greece

"29 arrivals were registered in Greece since this morning, for a total of 57,047 refugees currently officially registered in the country."

ITALY: Instead of safety, women arriving into the hands of smugglers

"There has been an increase in the numbers of unaccompanied Nigerian women arriving in Italy on migrant boats from Libya. These women are regularly going missing from the reception centers as the traffickers are using migrant reception centers to collect and force women into prostitution across Europe. According to the Guardian, IOM’s anti-trafficking expert said that instead of being processed in reception centers, these women should be placed in specialist shelters where they can be given the advice and support needed to break the chain of sexual exploitation."

Greece: HELLENIC ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - Pleiades: Report on Vasilka refugee camp (link):

"The official NGOs allowed in the camp are: UNHCR, InterVolve, WAHA, MDM, Save The Children. All organizations report to UNHCR. Independent volunteers and journalists are not allowed. A number of organizations willing to provide additional medical assistance and services for the camp’s residents failed to obtain authorization and were unable to operate."

News (9.8.16)

Germany: migrant arrivals steady in July at around 16,000 (AP, link): "German authorities say the number of asylum-seekers arriving in the country remained steady in July, with some 16,000 new arrivals registered. The Interior Ministry said Monday that 16,160 people were registered as asylum-seekers in July. That's around the same as each of the previous three months and far below last autumn's levels."

Ethical Journalism Network: Worth a thousand words – how photos shape attitudes to refugees (link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.8.16)
SERBIA: Afghan Exodus: In transit through Serbia (Afghanistan Analysts Network, link): A detailed account of how changes in border regimes and policy in Serbia and, more widely, the Balkans, have affected refugees in Serbia and the civil society groups working to support them:

"The unprecedented flow of people through the Western Balkans in late 2015 and early 2016, and the opening of a humanitarian corridor, provided a brief and unique opportunity for people from war-torn countries to reach the European Union. When the corridor closed in March 2016 many people, including many Afghans, found themselves stranded and, again, at the mercy of smuggling networks. In this second dispatch of a three-part series, Jelena Bjelica and Martine van Bijlert discuss how the migration flows have impacted Serbia, a key transit country on the way to Europe, and how the situation for Afghans, and others, is becoming ever more precarious."

Migration Fact vs. Migration Fiction (Project Syndiate, link) by Peter Sutherland:

"Migration continues to dominate political debate in many countries. Rightly so: the issue affects economies and societies worldwide. But public opinion on this crucial topic tends to be shaped by emotions, rather than facts. The result is a lack of open and effective dialogue about migration’s risks – or its many benefits."

EU: Beyond the borders: overview of "external migration dialogues and processes"

An official overview of the EU's "external migration dialogues and processes" demonstrates the sprawling nature of the EU's efforts to manage and control migration and provides some details on the recent history of different processes, as well as forthcoming events.

It was presented to Member States' officials at a meeting of the Council of the EU's High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration in mid-June and was drawn up by the European Commission and the European External Action Services.

See: Annex to High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration on: 13 June 2016, Summary of discussions (10349/16, LIMITE, 22 June 2016, pdf)

Is Germany trying to set Migration “Plan B” Agenda using Greece? (Keep Talking Greece, link): "Greek Migration Ministry denied the report of German daily Bild that an alternative Plan B is needed should Turkey walk out of the EU-Turkey Migration Deal to stem flows to Europe.

“The minister denies Bild’s translation of his comments,” the immigration ministry said in a statement, publishing what it said were Mouzalas’s answers in Greek to Bild’s questions.

According to the statement, Mouzalas had actually said: “Greece is committed to the EU-Turkey deal, which depends on both the EU’s support and on Turkey’s duty to respect it.”

“Clearly we are concerned, but for now the number of people arriving on the Greek islands (since the deal was enforced in March) does not indicate that the deal is not being respected,” he said."

Child refugees: Vanessa Redgrave delivers urgent letter to Downing Street on lone child refugees in Calais (Citizens UK, link): "Vanessa Redgrave, Lord Alf Dubs and Aislin McGuckin today delivered a letter to Downing Street calling for an immediate amnesty for the unaccompanied minors in Calais identified by Citizens UK as having family in the UK. This action follows Wednesday’s Home Affairs Committee report, Migration Crisis, which called for the 157 unaccompanied minors in Calais identified by Citizens UK to be brought to the UK in a one-off amnesty."

See: the letter (pdf) and the Home Affairs Committee report: Migration Crisis (pdf)

EU: Press Release: EASO launches ‘EU Relocation Programme’ mobile app (EASO, link): "Today, the European Asylum Support Office launched its first mobile app for smartphones and tablets, allowing asylum seekers to quickly find information in English and various non-EU languages (English, Arabic, Sorani, Kumjani and Tigrinya) about the EU Relocation Programme, their rights and obligations when applying, contact points and more. The app is the latest initiative in the implementation of EASO’s integrated information and communication campaign on relocation. With the app, EASO aims to promote relocation as the only safe and legal way from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States. The EU Relocation Programme app can be downloaded from the AppStore and Google Play."

Relocation may be "safe and legal", but Member States have failed to meet their commitments under the scheme. Until they do so the EASO's attempts to promote the scheme seem doomed to fail. See: Refugee relocation scheme "has clearly failed", says Italy's immigration chief (Statewatch News Online, July 2016)

EU: Migration crisis: 74% of Europeans want EU to do more (European Parliament press release, link): "The EU has experienced an unprecedented influx of migrants over the last few years. 74% of Europeans want the EU to do more to manage the situation, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll commissioned by the European Parliament. In addition two thirds of respondents said EU action on migration was insufficient. Read on to discover what measures the European Parliament is working on."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-7.8.16)
Greece: Official figures on refugee arrivals (pdf): Lesvos, Chios and Samos have more "guests" than capacity in camps/detention centres. A total of 57,015 refugees are in Greece.

MSF report on asylum seekers in Italy: an investigation on mental problems and access to territorial health services

The catastrophic consequences of the 8km law and violence at the Hungarian-Serbian border (migszol.com/blog, link):

This is a Migszol update on the general asylum situation in Hungary between 4th July - 4th August 2016. For information for people seeking asylum, please see the information provided by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee in here.

- The 8km law and violence on the border
- Escalating situation on the transit zone
- Continuous protests in the detention centers and emptying camps
- Propaganda and conspiracy theories

Are You Syrious (6.8.16)

Smile agains borders

"Contaminando Sonrisas, went on tour and visited several military camps, houses occupy and settlements not controlled by the state, where they met thousands of people who are hoping to find safe heaven. What they found is rather desperate picture of inhuman conditions people are left to live in. They were shocked by the conditions in the outskirts of Athens where up to 3.800 people are living in the streets. “No trees, just asphalt and barracks… this is horrible, heinous, inhuman.”

They also visited refugees living in the military field of Elefsina, more than 300 Afghans. They live in large rooms, and have no privacy, school, or any daily activities. On their short tour, they also encounter people living in ship by the road. To all of these places, they came with the smile and open heart, and they will continue touring."

Bulgaria: Volunteers and human right lawyers?— be alert

"More arrestes in Bulgaria. This time, 15 foreigner withouth identity documents were arrested near the town of Tsarevo, on the border with Turkey. Apparently, refugees were found in a car which police stopped for inspection on a road linking Tsarevo with the village of Lozenets on Friday. All of the people who were arrested claimed to be Iraqi citizens. The 23-year old Bulgarian driver of the vehicle was detained, too and police have launched criminal proceedings over people smuggling against him."

Frontex at the border: Bulgaria-Turkey

"At the same time, Frontex announced they will strengthen its activities at Bulgaria’s borders with Turkey and Serbia. This decision came after Bulgarian government asked for help.

In the coming weeks, Frontex will deploy border surveillance officers, patrol cars, thermo-vision vans and dog teams to the land border with Turkey,” Berndt Koerner, deputy executive director of the European border management agency said. “At the same time, border surveillance will also be reinforced at the Bulgarian-Serbian border.”

Female asylum seekers in Greece face sexual harassment, assault (Reuters, link):

"ATHENS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Warda left her hometown of Idlib in Syria, she knew she had a long, difficult journey ahead, but it never crossed her mind that she would face increased danger as a young woman.

For the past four months, the 18-year-old has been living in a makeshift refugee camp by Pireaus harbour in Athens with her fiancé and six relatives, who also made the perilous journey to Greece via Turkey.

Forced to share a tent with her parents and use a mixed bathroom, the lack of privacy is stifling. The large numbers of young, single Syrian and Afghan men, many of whom sit in groups, commenting on the women they see, is also unnerving.

"It's hard for everyone here, but particularly for women," said Warda, who like many asylum seekers declined to give her full name."

Are You Syrious (link)

No Border Social Center in Lesvos notified by police to leave

"The No Border Social Center in Lesvos has been notified by the police to leave its place near Mytilene within several days, with police saying “we don’t need your help”. The situation in Moria remains desperate, as the camp is overcrowded and lacks basic amenities. The NoBorder Social Center provides food, drinks and activities and is situated in a factory hall near Mythilene, owned by Alpha Bank. The Bank has given NoBorder an eviction notice on the 22nd of July."

United Rescue Aid needs help for new alarm phone system

"United Rescue Aid, a group that has been providing assistance for refugees in distress at sea, still needs €3,000 to establish a new alarm phone system. The organisation tells us that they are currently using a Skype number as an alarm phone, but got blocked a couple of months back and fear that they will be blocked again if they keep logging on from more than 2 devices. It’s therefore a matter of “personal survival at this point” to get a new system, as it is impossible to cover 24h shifts with only two people. The new system will allow multiple caseworkers to use the same number across multiple locations."

Bulgaria: Frontex to assist Bulgaria at the Turkish border

"Frontex says in response to the request from Bulgarian authorities it will “significantly strengthen its ongoing activities at the country’s land borders”. Additional assistance will focus on the border with Turkey but surveillance of the border with Serbia will also be reinforced. Frontex Deputy Executive Director Berndt Koerner says Frontex will deploy “ border surveillance officers, patrol cars, thermo-vision vans and dog teams to the land border with Turkey”."

Italy: 250–300 migrants occupy area near French border

"Around 300 migrants left the Red Cross camp in Ventimiglia during the night because of bad conditions and arrived at the woods of Balzi Rossi around 3am. Police asked them to go back to the Red Cross centre, but they refused. According to No Border activists they demanded an end to forced relocations, freedom for one Sudanese man, condemned last Monday and now detained in a CIE in Brindisi, and a better management of the Red Cross centre. Two Italians and one French were arrested and volunteers were prevented from providing water and food by the police. During the evening, police closed in on the group, clearing the woods, while some migrants tried to swim to France. According to No Border, ten volunteers were arrested."

Germany: Kurdish asylum-seekers from Turkey on the rise

"Der Tagesspiegel says growing domestic tensions in Turkey are causing more Turks to look to Germany for refuge, with most of them appearing to come from Turkey’s conflict-ridden Kurdish regions. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees says 1,719 Turks applied for asylum in Germany between January and June, with 1,510 of Kurdish origin. In 2015, only 1,767 Turks applied for asylum. Only 5.2% of Kurdish Turks’ asylum requests were approved this semester."

Migrants break through Italian police barriers to enter France - Italian police said more than 100 migrants took forces by surprise at border town of Ventimiglia (Guardian, link)

"More than 100 migrants have broken through police barriers at the Italian border town of Ventimiglia and made their way into France, the local Italian police chief said.

They stopped on rocks near the port at the French Riviera town of Menton after breaking through on Friday afternoon and were still there in the evening under the surveillance of French police, said the Ventimiglia police commander, Giorgio Marenco.

A video posted on the website of Nice Matin newspaper showed a stream of people picking their way across rocks, followed by police in riot gear. A few started to walk into the sea."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.8.16)
SERBIA: Refugees mount hunger strike and march to protest closed borders (Waging Nonviolence, link): "A seven-day hunger strike organized by refugees along the Serbian-Hungarian border came to an end last Friday, when the strikers were disbanded by authorities. Many wore silver duct tape over their mouths, while holding signs that said “Fleeing war is no crime,” “Stop wars if you want to stop refugees,” and “Prove that humanity is still alive.” At least 12 required medical attention after refusing food, blankets and tents from humanitarian agencies.

The demonstration — which began on July 22 by mostly young men from Afghanistan and Pakistan — reached around 300 people at its height, but was down to 60 men by the end of the week. Specifically, the strikers were demanding that higher numbers of refugees be allowed to enter the European Union through Hungary, but they were also expressing a generalized outrage at the mistreatment and inhumane conditions they’ve experienced while trying to pass through the Balkan countries."

EU: The Nansen Passport – A Solution To The Legal Statuses Of Refugees (Social Europe, link): "More than 1.2 million migrants have come to Europe in the past year – most of them from Syria. One year after the ‘long summer of migration‘ in 2015, Europe is still facing two severe problems: first, the lists of safe countries of origin differ in many states of the EU and secondly, further large-scale deaths by drowning of migrants and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean. The reintroduction of the Nansen passport – a EU-wide ID card for refugees guaranteeing asylum – at the European level might be a useful and even necessary instrument to solve this legal uncertainty for refugees and to promote a common migration policy."

Welcome to Greece’s refugee squats (Washington Post, link): "Welcome to School Squat 2. This is one of seven major squats in the city where approximately 1,500 refugees have found an alternative to government camps that have rampant health and safety issues.

Many of the roughly 57,000 refugees now stuck in political and physical limbo in Greece never expected to spend more than a season here, but they found themselves still sweltering in tents at a makeshift camp at Piraeus Port this spring and summer. Camps were usually either full or host to a range of problems: scabies, knife fights, food poisoning, inadequate facilities, snakes and scorpions. In response, frustrated local activists and refugees started teaming up to house people in abandoned schools, hotels, apartment buildings and hospitals."

Evictions of a number of refugee squats in Greece have recently been undetaken by the authorities. See: “Solidarity is being criminalised”: Anger as Greek police raids refugee housing squats and camps (Ceasfire magazine, link)

When is a crisis not a crisis? When migration commentators go into battle with mainstream media (Migrants' Rights Network, link): "Migration experts are debating the extent to which the increased numbers of those seeking refuge across Europe can be considered a ‘crisis’. But rejecting the idea that there is a crisis and reducing the current migration situation to a ‘numbers game’ risks negating the real lived experience of migrant destitution. So how can the voluntary sector respond to such a crisis given its increasing reliance on government contracts? "

Man dies after push-back from Bulgaria (Border Monitoring Bulgaria, link): "Several Turkish speaking news sites (citing an article of a journalist from the Anadolou Agency) were reporting about a new victim of the European Border Regime. The 28 year old Iranian Reza Hassani was missing for about 18 days. He was found dead in the jungles of Karacadag. It was reported to Bordermonitoring Bulgaria (BMB) from another source that he was beaten up together with a friend and pushed back „by Bulgarians into Turkey“. After the push-back he was rarely able to move and got stuck in the middle of nowhere without a phone or food. The police showed a photo of Reza Hassani’s dead corpse to his friend and told him that they will transport the body to the forensics-center in Istanbul."

Number denied entry into Ireland rises as deportation orders fall (Irish Legal News, link): "The number of people refused entry into Ireland has risen sharply while the number of deportations ordered from the country has fallen, The Irish Times reports.

The number of “leave to land” refusals increased from 1,935 in 2013 to 3,450 in 2015, while the number of deportation orders signed has declined from 1,777 in 2013 to 765 in 2015.

However, human rights groups pointed out that only 209 deportation orders were enforced in 2013, while 286 have already been enforced in the first six months of 2016."

Juncker clashes with Austria over Turkey (New Europe, link): "European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in remarks published on Thursday that it would be counterproductive to freeze accession talks with Turkey, rejecting a push by Austria to halt membership talks.

On Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said the EU should abandon talks with Turkey on its prospective membership in the EU, a “diplomatic fiction”, as he called them.

But Juncker told German public broadcaster ARD that Turkey is currently unfit to become a member of the European Union, in comments that could further strain relations between Ankara and the bloc it is seeking to join after a failed military coup."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.8.16)
United Nations High Commission for Refugees: The EU-Turkey Agreement is De-Facto On Hold (The Press Project, link)

"The UNHCR states that the agreement between Turkey and EU on a way to deal with the refugee crisis has, in reality, collapsed. At the same time it underlines the lack of deliberations between the two sides as well as the inability of the humanitarian organizations to operate in Turkey....

In a comment about the relocation mechanism, the head of the European UNHCR office, mentioned that it is operating at a slow pace since, out of 66.400 people who are to be relocated from Greece to other EU countries, only 2.681 have been relocated so far (according to data given by the Commission on July 27). Mr.Cochetel concluded that there are still problems in the registration of asylum requests in Greece while the other EU countries “even before the terrorist attacks, did not offer to accept refugees”."

UNHCR Weekly Report (28 July)

"Between 18 and 24 July, 8,157 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea which is a significant increase to the previous week’s arrivals of 2,148. However, overall sea arrivals to Italy remain consistent with those of 2015. As of 24 July, 88,009 persons arrived by sea to Italy in 2016, compared to 93,540 persons whom disembarked at the end of July 2015. On three separate disembarkations this week the bodies of 39 individuals were discovered, bringing the total number of people dead or missing at sea to 2,990. Their cause of death is believed to be from inhaling engine exhaust fumes or suffocation. The top nationalities of origin among arrivals include Nigeria, Eritrea, Gambia, Cote D’Ivoire, and Sudan."

Are You Syrious (link):

France: Calais population on the rise

"Despite the partial eviction of the Calais camp, the population continues to increase, with Help Refugees believing the camp could reach 10,000 people by September. Help is therefore needed more than ever— the evacuation has not diminished the camp’s population, but has created the illusion that the problem has been solved, leading to a drop in donations."

Greece: Eric Kempson (link): "One boat with 70 people on board was picked up south east of Lesvos, 4 people were taken to Hospital and two were missing but later found due to search and rescue, well done to every one involved great job."

News (4.8.16)

Austrian chancellor wants EU to end accession talks with Turkey (euractiv, link): "Austria’s Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday called on the European Union to end membership talks with Turkey in the wake of a massive government crackdown following a failed coup..... “We have to face reality: the membership negotiations are currently no more than fiction,” Kern told Austrian media. “We know that Turkey’s democratic standards are far from sufficient to justify its accession.”"

EU, US reject UN plan to resettle refugees (euractiv, link): "The European Union and the United States among other heavy-weight countries have rejected a UN proposal to resettle 10% of the world’s refugees annually as part of a new global effort to tackle the worst refugee crisis since World War II. A document adopted late on Tuesday (2 August) failed to include the resettlement proposal from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that would have been the centerpiece of a UN summit on refugees in New York on 19 September".

Bulgarian Police Detain 65 Migrants in Sofia (novinite.com, link): "Police in Sofia have detained 65 migrants carrying no identity documents in less than 24 hours, the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior announced on Wednesday. Eight migrants claiming to be of Afghan origin were detained on Tuesday night in an area of central Sofia

Thousands of migrants return home through IOM program (ekathimerini.com, link): "the International Organization for Migrants, the agency said on Wednesday. According to the organization, 3,691 migrants were repatriated from the beginning of the year until July 31."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.8.16)
Greece asks for EU-Turkey migration deal ‘Plan B’ (euractiv, link)

"Greece’s migration minister has warned that a back-up strategy – a Plan B – is needed in case the EU-Turkey refugee deal collapses amid escalating tensions between the bloc and Ankara.

In an interview with the German daily Bild, Yannis Mouzalas said, “We are very worried. We need a Plan B in any case”."

Amnesty International: Greece: address inhumane conditions for refugees now (link):

"As Europe drags its heels on providing solutions to move refugees and asylum-seekers on from Greece, thousands of men women and children are staying in filthy and unsafe old warehouses or tents, or simply sleeping rough and under the relentless summer heat. The Greek Government must act swiftly to improve their living conditions and well-being.

Elderly people, heavily pregnant women and new-born babies are sleeping on the floor. People with chronic illnesses and physical disabilities are stuck in unsuitable locations, far away from hospitals.

Thousands of children are out of school for yet another year."

UK court rules against decision to accept Calais migrants (euractiv, link):

"The British government on Tuesday (2 August) won its legal appeal against a decision to let four Syrian refugees living in France’s “Jungle” camp come to Britain, but they will not be deported. A British immigration tribunal in January ordered the interior ministry to allow the four to enter Britain while their asylum claims were considered.

However, three Court of Appeal judges on Tuesday upheld a challenge by the interior ministry, saying they were “not entirely persuaded” by the justifications used by the tribunal. The three teenagers and a 26-year old with mental health problems had been living in the sprawling Calais camp for over two months."

See: Judgment: Full-text (pdf)

UK: House of Common Select Committee on Home Affairs, Report: Migration Crisis (pdf):

Covers a wide range of issues like border security and terrorism. Observes that:

"The initial prompt for our inquiry was the issue of border security in relation to Calais and Dunkirk that arose in summer 2015. However, our concerns range much more widely that that. That there are unofficial migrant camps at the border of two of Europe’s wealthiest nations is a matter of serious regret and concern. A wide range of the evidence submitted to us by experts and volunteers confirms that the conditions in the camps are absolutely atrocious and are directly causing suffering and ill health for many residents....

It is clear that there are many people in these camps entitled to humanitarian protection or refugee status, including some who should have their claims processed in the UK....

Europol estimates that there are 85,000 unaccompanied minors amongst the migrant population in the EU. We were astonished to hear reports that large numbers of these children go missing from reception centres shortly after arrival and that they then face abuse, sexual assault and discrimination."

See also: UK unlikely to reach target of resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 -MPs condemn response to refugee crisis as a ‘Europe-wide failure’ in which ‘too little, too late’ was done (Guardian, link)

UNHCR (3.8.16) There have been 256,319 arrivals by sea in the EU in 2016: 160,232 in Greece, 93,611 in Italy. 3,116 dead/missing in the Med.

Are you Syrious (link)

Greece: Athens Mayor Calls on Gov’t to Empty Squats Used for Housing Migrants

"Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis sent a letter to Citizen Protection and Migration Policy Ministers Nikos Toskas and Yannis Mouzalas asking for the evacuation of squats used for migrant accommodation....In the letter, that was also forwarded to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the mayor complains about the growing phenomenon of so-called solidarity groups occupying vacant public and private buildings and house migrants and refugees. The mayor asks for the migrants to be taken out and transferred to official migrant hospitality structures."

Refugees in Nea Kavala clash with the UN forces for the latter’s lack of care and inefficiency

"Refugees attacked the UN caravans (cabins ) after the UN told them that no refugees will be allowed to get out of Greece within, at least, the next 2 years.

Refugees are threatening to burn tents and walk to the borders. One refugee injured himself severely while attacking the Praxis container. He was hospitalized."

Two boats with, overall, 55 refugees landed on Chios

"The first boat landed near Souada camp. The other one was picked up by Oinassus."

Two boats with, overall, 47 refugees landed on Lesvos

"One boat in Turkish waters heading to the south of Lesvos was pushed back to Turkey by Turkish Coast Guard. One boat with 16 people was brought into Skala Sikamineas harbor by Frontex. One boat with 31 people spotted north east of Korakas was picked up by Norwegian Frontex and brought into Mytilene harbor."

News (3.8.16)

Czech president warns of migrants' 'barbaric acts' - Czech President Milos Zeman has said migrants pose a security threat to his country. He also criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policies (DW, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.8.16)
Hungary uses ‘excessive’ violence against migrants, says MSF (euractiv, link)

"The situation on the Balkan migration route is getting increasingly worrying, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The organisation blames Hungary for using “excessive” violence against migrants stranded in the area....

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) blamed EU leaders for the shortsightedness of their “closed-borders” policy, saying that the refugee problem was not solved and that thousands of vulnerable people were stranded in the Balkans."

Bar Human Rights Committee publishes report on police violence and access to justice in Calais migrant camps: Report: Camps at Calais and Grande-Synthe (France): Policing and Access to Justice (pdf):

" highlighting allegations of police violence, police failure to protect residents within the camps, and a lack of access to justice.

BHRC representatives visited the Jungle and Grande-Synthe camps in March 2016, meeting with residents and NGOs working within the camps, including Médicins San Frontières, the UN and Help Refugees UK.

The report highlights specific allegations of police violence documented by the Legal Advice Centre in Calais...

Speaking on behalf of BHRC, Chairwoman Kirsty Brimelow QC said:

“The lack of effective legal protections in the Jungle and Grand Synthe for vulnerable refugees, including women and children, should be of huge concern.

The UK and French governments must jointly ensure accountability for all human rights violations inflicted on camp residents. The treatment of refugees is one of the historic wrongs of our time. It is happening on the shores of Europe. Urgent action is required.”

Greece: Migrants on mainland Greece pre-registered (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The pre-registration of thousands of migrants stranded on the Greek mainland, a process that gives them access to the country’s asylum procedure, has been completed, authorities said Monday....

A total of 20,100 migrants registered between June 9, when the European Union-funded scheme was established, and July 9, according to official data. A 56 percent majority of them were men. The number includes 690 unaccompanied minors, most of them from Afghanistan....

A total of 57,115 migrants and asylum seekers are currently in Greece, according to fresh data provided by the government Monday. Of these, an estimated 9,399 are on the eastern Aegean islands."

Italy says 6,000 migrants saved and two drowned since Thursday (Middle East Eye, link):

"The Italian navy on Sunday said it had recovered the bodies of two people in an operation that, along with aid agencies, had helped pick up 6,000 people since Thursday.

Navy ships patrolling off Libya intervened to help four rubber dinghies and an overcrowded fishing boat, it said....

According to the latest figures from the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - issued on 28 July before the latest migratory wave - 89,217 people, most from sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived in Italy by sea since the start of the year.

The tally is comparable with the total of 93,000 recorded for the January-July period last year."

Italy: AYS SPECIAL: Situation of refugees in northern Italy (link):

AYS team gathered information about situation of refugees in Italy, northern part. We looked into situation in Como and Milano. Help is needed in both areas and volunteers are urged to contact team in the field.

Are You Syrious (1.8.16, link):

Libya: 120 bodies found at the shores of Libya

"More than 120 bodies of people who were trying to cross the sea and reach freedom, were found in July at the shores of Sabratha city, western Libya. Bodies are found on a daily basis, and the victims are mainly sub-Saharan Africans. The bodies are buried in a cemetery for unidentified remains in Sabratha."

Water needed in Agios Andreas camp (Lesvos)

"We received the alarming call for help from the camp of Agios Andreas. According to volunteers, there is a possibility of waterborne diseases as several children fall ill. Refugees reported the change in taste and color of water that is available in this camp. The residents of the camp have no more drinking water.... Contact person on site is Fatima Hammeed."

Lesvos: Greece: Eric Kempson (link): "Second boat this morning picked up of north east coast of Lesvos 32 people on board". (2.8.16)

Greece: Lesvos: Aid workers accused of trying to convert Muslim refugees at Greek camp - Asylum seekers held at detention centre on Lesbos describe Christianity conversion forms seen by the Guardian as insensitive (Guardian, link): "Christians working in Greece’s most notorious asylum detention centre have tried to convert some of the Muslim detainees, who have been held under the terms of the EU-Turkey migration deal. On at least two occasions in recent months, aid workers have distributed conversion forms inside copies of Arabic versions of the St John’s gospel to people held at the Moria detention camp on Lesbos.

The forms, seen by the Guardian, invite asylum seekers to sign a statement declaring the following: “I know I’m a sinner ... I ask Jesus to forgive my sins and grant me eternal life. My desire is to love and obey his word.” Muslim asylum seekers who received the booklet said they found the aid workers’ intervention insensitive."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.8.16)
EU-TURKEY: Turkey to back out of EU migrant deal if no visa-free travel (EurActiv, link):

"Turkey would have to back out of its agreement with the European Union to stem the flow of migrants into the bloc if the EU does not deliver visa-free travel for Turks, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.

Visa-free access to the EU – the main reward for Ankara’s collaboration in choking off an influx of migrants into Europe – has been subject to delays due to a dispute over Turkish anti-terrorism legislation and Ankara’s crackdown after a failed coup.

Cavusoglu told Germany’s daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in an interview to be published today (1 August), the agreement on stemming the refugee flow had worked because of “very serious measures” taken by Ankara.

“But all that is dependent on the cancellation of the visa requirement for our citizens, which is also an item in the agreement of 18 March,” Cavusoglu said in a release in advance of comments to be published in the newspaper’s Monday edition."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Presentation of the new Migreurop report: Ceuta and Melilla, open-air migrant sorting centres at the gates of Africa

On 25 July 2016, Migreurop published a joint report resulting from cooperation and missions conducted in 2015 in northern Morocco in the proximity of Nador and in the Spanish north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. The missions were carried out by GADEM, La Cimade, Migreurop, and Migreurop Spain. These fact-finding missions included visits to detention centres and border fences in Ceuta and Melilla, as well as interviews with institutional actors, activists, members of associations and migrants themselves.

EU: Commission awards €11 million in emergency funding to Greece and Italy

"The European Commission has today awarded an extra €11 million in emergency funding to Greece and Italy under the Internal Security Fund (ISF) to strengthen the reception and registration capacity in Greece and support search and rescue activities by Italy at sea."

EU: No one knows how many children are dying in the Mediterranean (The Telegraph, link): "In the end, there was nothing more to do but tie lifejackets to the bodies to stop them sinking, in the hope they would be picked up by another boat.

As they went about their grim task, at the scene of a capsized wooden boat in the central Mediterranean, the volunteers spotted another body floating beneath the surface.

It was a baby, around one year old, with its little arms outstretched beneath the waves."

See also: In Potters' Fields (pdf): what happens to those who die in the Mediterranean?

July 2016



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.7.16)

Turkey-Greece: More Than 33,000 Apprehensions In Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"Since January until July 21, 33,396 people were apprehended or intercepted while trying to cross from Turkey to Greece.

According to data from the Turkish Coast Guard, Turkish Armed Forces and UNHCR, 79 per cent of interceptions and rescues occurred at sea, 21 per cent on land borders. Of the total, 68 per cent of people intercepted were Syrians and 20 per cent were from Afghanistan"

See: UNHCR report on interceptions and death/missing (pdf)

Lesvos, Greece (UNHCR) Arrival of refugees in last week:

22/07/2016: 108
23/07/2016:  114
24/07/2016:    51
25/07/2016:    60
26/07/2016:    43
27/07/2016:    35
28/07/2016:  104

And see: Islands appeal for measures to deal with influx of migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As the influx of migrants from neighboring Turkey continues – with a slight but noticable increase – regional authorities and tourism professionals are calling for measures to support communities on the Aegean islands.

Over the past two weeks, following a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, the influx of migrants has increased, according to government figures. Overall, more than 1,000 migrants landed on the five so-called hot spots: Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros since the failed coup....

In a letter to Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas and Alternate Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas, the governor of the northern Aegean region, Christiana Kalogirou, asked for immediate steps to decongest the islands.

“We are seeing a constant and apparently increasing flow of migrants and refugees toward the islands of the northern Aegean,” she wrote, noting that the maximum capacity of state reception centers has been exceeded on all the islands.""

Also: Refugee flows to Greece increase after Turkish Coup attempt, as Erdogan plays the Migration Card again (Keep Talking Greece, link)

Greece: Over 13,000 migrants have applied for asylum (ekathimerini.com, link):

"More than 13,000 migrants have lodged applications for asylum in Greece since the beginning of this year, according to government figures, but it could take months for the requests to be processed even as the Aegean islands are seeing hundreds of new arrivals every week.

According to the most updated available government figures, 13,583 migrants made asylum applications between January 1 and May 31.

Of those, 5,731 lodged their applications in Attica, 3,007 in Thessaloniki, 1,918 on Lesvos, 526 on Samos, 210 on Chios and 130 on Leros.

A total of 7,032 of the asylum applicants are from Syria, 1,248 from Iraq, 1,030 from Pakistan, 568 from Afghanistan, 544 from Albania, 518 from Iran, 372 from Bangladesh, 257 from Georgia, 212 from Morocco and 163 from the Palestinian Territories.

So far, just 588 decisions have been issued, 410 of which have been rejections."

Greece: The dangers of reporting on the refugee crisis: Mapping Media Freedom correspondent Christina Vasilaki looks at the treatment of journalists covering the refugee crisis in Greece (Index, link)

"As Greece tries to deal with around 50,000 stranded refugees on its soil after Austria and the western Balkan countries closed their borders, attention has turned to the living conditions inside the refugee camps. Throughout the crisis, the Greek and international press has faced major difficulties in covering the crisis.

“It’s clear that the government does not want the press to be present when a policeman assaults migrants,” Marios Lolos, press photographer and head of the Union of Press Photographers of Greece said in an interview with Index on Censorship. “When the police are forced to suppress a revolt of the migrants, they don’t want us to be there and take pictures.”"

Are You Syrious (29.7.16, link)

Italy: Flow of refugees into Italy remains constant, according to the UNHCR weekly report

"Between 18 and 24 July, 8,157 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea which is a significant increase to the previous week’s arrivals of 2,148. However, overall sea arrivals to Italy remain consistent with those of 2015. As of 24 July, 88,009 persons arrived by sea to Italy in 2016, compared to 93,540 persons whom disembarked at the end of July 2015. On three separate disembarkations this week the bodies of 39 individuals were discovered, bringing the total number of people dead or missing at sea to 2,990. Their cause of death is believed to be from inhaling engine exhaust fumes or suffocation. The top nationalities of origin among arrivals include Nigeria, Eritrea, Gambia, Cote D’Ivoire, and Sudan."

Are You Syrious (30.7.16, link)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention called for the closure of reception centers for refugees across Greece. Place refugees into local communities instead!

"This plea followed the organisation’s officials carrying out inspections on 16 centers in northern Greece and findingthe conditions there to pose a public health risk.

According to KEELPNO’s findings, which were forwarded to the ministries of Migration Policy, Defense and Health, the cramming of hundreds of refugees into disused military barracks and industrial sites present a series of health risks for both the migrants and the general public."

A refugee baby, Joy Aurora, born on a rescue ship

"This morning, a Congolese woman gave birth to a little girl Joy Aurora on Italian navy ship Bettica. Both mother and child are fine.

The health team on board supported the operation, from Foundation Francesca Rava, Red Cross and the Italian navy. This is the third birth on board of Bettica."

EU: Council of the European Union: Eurodac Regulation (revised text)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of [Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person] , for identifying an illegally staying third-country national or stateless person and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States' law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 10531-16, 112 pges, pdf)

Council developing its negotiating position:

"The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency on the basis of these discussions. Other comments made by delegations appear in the footnotes.

All delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the proposal. New text to the Commission proposal is indicated by underlining the insertion and including it within Council tags, deleted text is indicated within underlined square brackets..".

See also: Compulsory fingerprinting of migrants (Statewatch database, link)

News (30-31.7.16)

Spain: Barcelona unveils digital 'shame counter’ to track refugee deaths - Mayor Ada Colau begins counter with 3,034 – the number of migrants and refugees killed trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in 2016 (Guardian, link): "Barcelona’s leftwing government has unveiled a large digital counter next to one of the city’s popular beaches that will track the number of refugees who die in the Mediterranean.“We are inaugurating this shame counter which will update all known victims who drowned in the Mediterranean in real time,” said mayor Ada Colau... The monument consists of a large metal rectangular pillar that comes decked out with a digital counter above the inscription “This isn’t just a number, these are people.”"

Refugees scapegoated after wave of attacks in Germany (Daily Sabah, link): "Since the influx of refugees in Germany, the country's atmosphere has been tense. The call by Chancellor Angela Merkel of "We can do this!" raised a bit of hope, but didn't quite stop the rise of extreme right wing parties, such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD)."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.7.16)

EU: Over 3,000 migrants dead or missing in 2016

The latest figures from the IOM show that 3,034 migrants have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe in 2016. The organisation has recorded 251,557 arrivals by sea this year so far. May was the deadliest month so far, with 1,138 people dying.

See: IOM: Mediterranean Update: Migration Flows Europe: Arrivals and Fatalities (29 July 2016, pdf)

EU: Policy cycle on serious and organised crime: "illegal immigration" report and other documentation

The EU's policy cycle on serious and organised crime is supposed to coordinate the actions of Europol and Member States' law enforcement priorities in order to deal with a series of cross-border "threats", identified by Europol and subsequently approved by the Council of the EU. Amongst the current priorities is "facilitated illegal immigration". A leaked Europol report gives an overview of work undertaken during 2016.

Turkish coup ‘increases’ migration flows to Greece (EurActiv, link): "Since the failed 15 July coup attempt, increased numbers of new arrivals have been recorded from across the Aegean Sea in the last ten days, according to Greek coastguard sources.

“It seems that the routes have re-opened, so the chasing game has started again,” sources said.

The island of Lesvos is currently hosting 3,495 migrants and refugees, Chios 2,509, and Samos 1,030.

Reports in Athens suggest that it is the first time since the EU-Turkey migrant deal that the number of refugees has exceeded 7,000 in the North Aegean Sea alone."

HUNGARY: Referendum on refugee relocation quotas: The quota system – what it actually is about? What Migszol thinks about the plans of the European Union (Migszol, link): "On the 2nd of October, 2016, the Hungarian people will be asked to vote on the following question: Do you want to allow the European Union to mandate the resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the Parliament?

There is much to be said about the way the question is formulated, the bias it includes and the way in which it pre-empts the answer favoured by the government. Yet, we should not forget what lies beneath the workings of rhetoric and deception: What is the relocation scheme of the European Union actually about?"

See also: Hungary’s Orban says “every single migrant is a terror risk” (New Europe, link): "Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban said “every single migrant represents a public security and terror risk” and made clear his country refuses to accept the quota system that the EU Commission tries to impose."

And: Refugee relocation scheme "has clearly failed", says Italy's immigration chief (Statewatch News Online)

Turkey recalls officials from Greek islands (ekathimerini, link): "Turkish officials stationed on Greek islands overlooking the implementation of a migrant relocation deal between the European Union and Turkey were ordered to return to Turkey a week ago, sources said.

According to the sources, Turkish authorities informed their Greek counterparts that the officials were being recalled from eastern Aegean islands because their passports had expired, but that they were expected to return or be replaced."

GERMANY: Angela Merkel Sticks With Her Plan to Integrate Migrants (New York Times, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel doubled down on Thursday on her pledge that Germany would achieve what she called the “historic” task of integrating hundreds of thousands of migrants, while defending freedom and democracy against the hate sown by terrorists.

“Today, as in the past, I am convinced that we can do it — to live up to our historic task, which is a historic test in the age of globalization,” she said, in an attempt to reassure the nation after three recent violent attacks, two of them linked to the Islamic State. “We can do this.”""

UK: People smugglers caught in sinking dinghy jailed for more than four years each (The Telegraph, link): "Two British people smugglers who were caught in a sinking dinghy off the Kent coast with 18 illegal immigrants have received lengthy prison sentences.

Mark Stribling, 35, and Robert Stilwell, 33, a former Judo champion from Dartford pleaded guilty to conspiring to assist unlawful immigration following their bungled smuggling operation in which they had to be rescued by lifeboat crews."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.7.16)
Greece: Refugee flows remain a concern (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As the last of the refugees and migrants stranded at the port of Piraeus were bused on Wednesday to organized accommodation shelters of their choice around the country, authorities are reportedly concerned by the continued flow of asylum seekers to the islands.

According to the latest official data, there were 9,140 refugees and migrants on the islands of the eastern Aegean on Wednesday, while 100 more arrived throughout the day. This is a significant increase compared to the 8,475 on July 13, when arrivals began to pick up again at a daily rate of between 40 and 120 people.

The situation has been further compounded by the failed coup attempt in Turkey and its aftermath, which, authorities say, has practically “frozen” the return of refugees to the neighboring country."

Greece: Police Raids Refugee Squats in Thessaloniki, Greece (The Press Project, link):

"Early on Wednesday morning, police forces raided three occupied buildings in Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece, where refugees were hosted thanks to solidarity groups and citizens. Police is moving refugees to state camps while Greek nationals from squats face arrest..."

See also: SYRIZA vs SYRIZA: Ruling Party against Government for refugees’ evacuation from occupied buildings (News THat Moves, link):

"Greece’s ruling party SYRIZA condemned a decision of the SYRIZA-Indepenten Greeks government to have police raid and evacuate three buildings in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. The buildings were occupied by anti-authoritarians and members of Solidarity movement who had settled refugees and migrants there.

“Criminalizing solidarity projects is a method that has nothing to do with the principles and values of the Left. We are against the evacuation,” the press office of SYRIZA party said in a statement. "

Are You Syrious (link)

Bulgaria and Greece joining forces in fear of potential migration pressure

"Bulgaria and Greece have agreed to hold a joint exercise of their Special Forces at the common border „to demonstrate unity and strength in the face of a potential surge in migration pressure“, Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev has said."

The top 10 refugee-hosting countries may surprise you

"Misconceptions about the refugee crisis (and especially the position of the EU countries in welcoming those fleeing war and persecution) are many and, whether they come from lack of information, fear or other reasons, it is necessary to avoid drawing coclusions without the entire picture in mind. Check out the current official UNHCR infographics."

News (28.7.16)

Populism, racism and xenophobia have infected Europe (euractiv, link): "We have been infected. The virus of populism, racism, xenophobia has affected Europe. This virus in Europe is named Le Pen in France, Farage in Great Britain, Orban in Hungary, 5 Star Movement in Italy, Kaczynski in Poland, writes Gianni Pittella."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.7.16)
Dispatches: Italy Illegally Returning Migrant Children to Greece - Children Held Arbitrarily in Degrading Conditions (HRW, link):

"“Akram,” a 17-year-old Kurdish boy from Iraq, hid under a truck on the ferry from Greece to Italy for 18 hours without food or water. When he arrived in Italy, the police locked him in a small room on the ferry and sent him right back to Greece.

“I showed my passport and that I’m under 18 but the Italian police told me to ‘go back, go back.’”

This unlawful practice is not new. In 2013, Human Rights Watch documented the failure of Italian border police to screen adequately for people in need of protection, including unaccompanied children, who stow away on ferries from Greece to Italy’s Adriatic ports. Placed in the custody of the captains of commercial ferries for the return journey to Greece, adults and children were sometimes subjected to abusive confinement and treatment. Back in Greece, unaccompanied children faced police abuse, degrading detention conditions, and xenophobic violence."

More than 57,000 migrants, refugees stranded in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 57,182 migrants and asylum-seekers are currently in Greece according to fresh data provided by the government.

According to the data, 22,692 individuals are currently in northern Greece, 2,279 in central Greece, and 251 in southern Greece. An estimated 9,140 people are scattered around the eastern Aegean islands. The government said a total 85 arrivals were recorded in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, up to 10,168 refugees are currently staying at official centres set up in Attica region, while the number of those camping out at makeshift facilities is 5,423.

On Tuesday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) called for the closure of reception centers for migrants across the country after its officials carried out inspections on 16 centers in northern Greece and found the conditions there to pose a public health risk.

Orbán says migration is Europe’s ‘poison’ (euractiv, link):

"Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Tuesday (26 July) described the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe as “a poison”, saying his country did not want or need “a single migrant”.

“Hungary does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself, or for the country to have a future,” he told a joint press conference in Budapest with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.

“This is why there is no need for a common European migration policy: whoever needs migrants can take them, but don’t force them on us, we don’t need them,” Orbán said. The populist strongman added that “every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk”."

Greece: Lesvos: Eric Kempson (Twitter) reports: (27.7.16): "One boat picked up on north Lesvos this morning 26 men 4 women 2 children. 1 needed medical assistance."

Are You Syriuous reports (26.7.16):

60 persons, mostly families, arrived by rubber boats two nights ago on Kos.

"Now there are about 800 persons seeking refuge at the small island."

Report from our friends at Action from Switzerland

"37 new arrivals on Chios, as is usual these days the mix of groups and nationalities was Libyan, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian, and Western Saharan."

SERBIA: Detailed video reveals true conditions of Horgoš transit zoneat Serbian-Hungarian border

"Courtesy of noborder activists in Belgrade, we understand that the hunger strikers at Horgoš who arrived recently now number around 300. Twelve are in need of medical aid due to the toll taken on their bodies after the grueling march, and striking in the summer heat. Twenty-six more have set off from Belgrade to join their compatriots in Horgoš."

AUSTRIA: Court-certified interpreter reveals the complete lack of oversight and responsibility in providing adequate interpreters to refugees

"Read the following distressing news from a court-certified interpreter on the irresponsible behavior that is present not only in Austria, but across the route. This report was written by Border Crossing Spielfeld."

According to data released by UNHCR, 70% of those participating in pre-registration exercises in Greece in the last month were women and children

"22% were women and a staggering 48% children. 690 of the total number were unaccompanied minors. Reports across Europe thoroughly demonstrate how unaccompanied minors are specific targets of exploitation and abuse. It is crucial to treat these cases with care and to also take great precautions to preserve family groups and not inadvertently separate families."

News (27.7.16)

Turkish coup suspects in Greece win asylum case delay (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Eight Turkish military officers who fled the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey by traveling to Greece have been given more time to press their asylum claim, their lawyer said on July 27. Lawyer Vassilis Terzidis told Agence France-Presse that the men “fear for their lives” if they were to be returned to Turkey, where authorities have been waging a massive crackdown against suspects in the July 15 military coup bid."

Pay up on migrant deal, Turkey tells EU (euobserver, link): "Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told the EU to pay its dues if it wants to keep a migrant deal with Ankara intact. Speaking to German ARD television on Monday (25 July), Erdogan said the EU had promised €3 billion in aid to help improve living conditions of the some 3 million Syrian refugee it hosts. “Ask them [the EU]. Did you pay? But Turkey still hosts 3 million people. What would Europe do if we let these people go to Europe?”, he said."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.7.16)
Greece: GISTI report on Greek hotspots in Lesbos and Chios after the EU/Turkey deal

"On 25 July 2016, GISTI published a report on its fact-finding mission to the hotspots set up on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios and on the effects the EU/Turkey deal, entitled "Accord UE-Turquie: la grande imposture. Rapport de mission dans les hotspots grecs de Lesbos et Chios, juillet 2016....

The facts speak for themselves: in order to put an end to the serious violations of the rights of migrants detained in the Greek "hotspots" under threat of an expulsion to Turkey, it is indispensable for the EU and its member states to, at the very least:

Give up on the idea of implementing the 18 March 2016 Statement;

Conduct an in-depth review of the system for allocating responsibility to an EU member state (the "Dublin III" regulation) to evaluate an asylum application in order for the asylum application to be examined in the applicant's country of choice."

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits Greece (link):

"Strasbourg, 26.07.2016 - A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to Greece from 19 to 25 July 2016.

One of the primary purposes of the visit was to examine the situation in the “Reception and Identification Centres” (so-called “hotspots”) on the islands of Chios, Lesvos and Samos and to evaluate any developments since the Committee’s April 2016 visit. The delegation also visited a number of police stations and holding facilities for irregular migrants in Athens, Thessaloniki and on the Aegean islands. A further focus of the visit was to look into the treatment of criminal suspects held in police custody and the safeguards afforded to them."

EU: UK House of Lords, European Union Committee: Children in crisis: unaccompanied migrant children in the EU (94 pages, pdf):

"The current refugee crisis is the greatest humanitarian challenge to have faced the European Union since its foundation. Although the outcome of the referendum on 23 June 2016 was that the UK should leave the EU, the UK remains a full member of the EU, with all the responsibilities that entails, until the final withdrawal agreement is ratified. It is vital, both on moral grounds and in order to help maintain good relations with the other 27 Member States, that the UK Government should participate fully in EU action to resolve this humanitarian crisis.

It has become increasingly clear that children, many of them unaccompanied by a parent, relative or guardian, are in the forefront of the crisis. In 2015 88,245 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU, including 3,045 in the UK. In May 2016 alone, 3,133 unaccompanied migrant children arrived in Italy. Many children do not even reach the EU’s shores: at least 137 children have drowned in the Mediterranean since the start of 2016."

See: Migrant children are being failed by UK, says Lords committee report - Government accused of dismissing its responsibility to care for unaccompanied minors as ‘somebody else’s problem’ (Guardian, link)

Passeurs d'hospitalités – English ~ Exiles in Calais and at the British border: Destruction of the northern part of the shantytown: statement of the Defender of Rights (link):

"While early July the pressure for the destruction of the northern part of Calais shantytown was increasing, the mayor of Calais had been to announce the imminence of it (and it is probably for respond to these pressures that the police operation against the restaurants and shops of the slum is conducted – see here, here, here and here), the Defender of Rights issued a statement reminding the conditions so that this destruction can be respectful of human rights. It also stresses the precariousness in which the risk of expulsion maintains people, and that previous destructions have only worsened their living conditions."

GREECE: Volunteers and Refugees on Samos (link):

"On Samos at least, the term ‘volunteer’ now has a specific meaning referring to those from outside the island who sign up to work with an NGO called Samos Volunteers. The term volunteer for example does not include the many local people who over the past 12 months did so much to support and sustain the thousands of refugees who landed here. Nor does it include the refugee activists who come to work on Samos but refuse to be bound by the rules and regulations of the authorities....

We all need to remember that we are not the story. We can never hope to get near to the experiences of the refugees but we can at least try and stand in their shoes and make that the starting point of our activity. It will not be enough but it might mean we can help in ways which shames and highlights the system’s inhumanity to our fellow human beings as well as demonstrating our solidarity and providing something however small which makes refugees stronger and not weaker."

News (26.7.16)

Libya: 87 refugee bodies wash up on beach (aljazeera.com, link): "Bodies began washing up on the city's beach west of Tripoli on Friday, but more have since been found, official says."

Report from Lesvos:Eric Kempson: 26.7.16: "A boat of 30 people landed in skala north coast Lesvos every one ok." and Coast Guard rescues 61 migrants off Kos (.ekathimerini.com, link): "A Coast Guard vessel was dispatched early in the morning after a smuggling boat was seen to be foundering a short distance from the shore. The vessel was found to have sprung a leak and was letting on water."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.7.16)
Balkan Route: migrants march to Serbia-Hungary border

"Hundreds of refugees and migrants have set off marching from the Serbian capital to the Hungarian border in protest against closed borders and European Union restrictions on entry.

A group of several dozen refugees and migrants first arrived on Sunday in northern Serbia's Subotica, a town situated around 10km from the Hungarian border, after taking a train part of the way from Belgrade."

EU: Policing the internet: 91% of Europol's 11,000 requests for content removal succesful

"Since its launch one year ago, Europol’s European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) has assessed and processed for the purpose of referral towards concerned internet service providers over 11 000 messages across some 31 online platforms in 8 languages. The content had been put out by criminals to spread violent extremist online content materials.

91.4% of the total content has been successfully removed from the platforms by the social media and online service providers.

Additionally, EU IRU has expanded its open-source and internet monitoring activities in order to contribute to the disruption of illegal migrant smuggling networks. Content advertising smuggling services for migrants and refugees was referred for the purpose of removal." [emphasis added]

EU: Council pushes for big increases in EU migration and security budgets

With the Council and the Parliament moving towards negotiations on the EU's budget for 2017, the Council has agreed its position and is calling for "€5.2 billion in commitments for specific migration-related expenditure" and increases of millions of euros in both commitments and payments from the Internal Security Fund.

EU: Austria, Hungary and Europol dismantle migrant smuggling ring (Europol press release, pdf): "Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) has supported the Austrian and Hungarian authorities to detect and dismantle an Austrian-based organised crime group involved in migrant smuggling.

On 21 July 2016, Europol deployed a Mobile Analysis Support Team to Austria and Hungary to support the local authorities in organising a joint action day against the network. Law enforcement officers arrested 7 individuals in Austria and one in Hungary.

The group was composed of 25 Russian nationals of Chechen origin residing in Austria. The Austrian-based key facilitator was recruiting drivers in Austria and deploying them to Hungary. He was in permanent contact with the recruiters who had been tasked to recruit migrants in refugee camps in Hungary."

News (25.7.16)

SPAIN: Algeciras abre la puerta a un nuevo CIE mientras las grandes ciudades plantean su cierre general [Algerciras opens the door to a new immigration detection centre as Spain's big cities plan for their general closure] (El Diario, link):

Following a local council vote in which only representatives of the Partido Popular voted in favour, Algeciras will use some 10,000 square metres of land ceded to the town by the Ministry of Interior to construct a new immigration detention centre (CIE, Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros). The new centre will be located next to a prison, which campaigners have said will add to the stigmatisation suffered by people held in the CIE. The move to open a new centre comes as the administrations of cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia have shown their support for the closure of CIEs within their jurisdiction, although the power to do so remains with the Minstry of Interior.

GERMANY: Ansbach blast: Syrian asylum seeker kills himself and injures 12 in Germany (The Guardian, link): "A Syrian man has killed himself and injured 12 others after setting off an explosive device outside a music festival in the German town of Ansbach.

Authorities said the 27-year-old had been denied asylum a year ago and had a history of making attempts on his own life. Three of those injured are in a serious condition.

It is believed a device he was carrying exploded although it is not clear whether it was a suicide bombing or whether the man intended to plant it and harm others."



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.7.16)
Council of the European Union: New EU "returns" document & Turkey visa "benchmarks"

- EU Returns document: Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (first reading) - Confirmation of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (LIMITE doc no: 10638-16, pdf)

This draft Regulation replaces the Maastricht era Council Recommendation of 30 November 1994. The Council reached its negotiating position on 23 May 2016 and the European Parliament did the same on 30 May. At the trilogue meeting on 23 June a "compromise" text was agreed. The parliament will formally adopt the measure at its plenary session of 12-15 September.

The document will be valid for a single journey to the country of origin or transit for refugees and migrants who have been found to be "illegally staying" in the EU and is "essential for increasing rates of return, which are unsatisfactory."

The Regulation states that the 1994 Recommendation is not widely accepted by authorities of third countries, for reasons including its inadequate security standards - the unstated primary reason is that third countries do not accept the idea of the return by the EU of maybe thousands of its people who fled the country or who have transited through it - and there is an understandable fear that most refugees do not want to be returned to the country they have fled from. It does not apply to the UK or Ireland.

- TURKEY: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee (EU/Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, Liechtenstein): Summary of discussions: (LIMITE doc no: 11065-16. pdf)

Minutes from a meeting held on 14 June 2016. For visa waivers with Turkey to be agreed:

"COM confirmed that there are still seven benchmarks to be fulfilled, and gave a brief update on the ongoing discussions. This file would be followed up at the next meeting, depending on the progress achieved." [emphasis added]

No doubt there will be a few more after the Turkish government's reaction to the coup.

Lesvos, Greece: Numbers arriving start to rise: In the last week UNHCR reports that in the last week (17-23 July) a total of 390 refugees arrived on the island.

Average daily arrivals during July 2016: 36 and Average daily arrivals during June 2016: 16.

Early Sunday morning (24.7.16):
Eric Kempson (link) reports: "2 boats one north east of Lesvos one in the south, 46 people in total every one OK."

Are You Syrious (link):

Refugee protest march from Belgrade to Hungary

"About 300 people took part in protest in Belgrade, while some of them started marching toward Hungary asking for border to be open. While the Europe is not ready to admit that the deal with Turkey was never really alive, more and more people are arriving to the continent every day, risking their lives and hoping to be safe. New route is created at the north of Italy."

100 new arrivals to Greece

"Two boats with approximately 100 people were intercepted today (22.7.16) in the south of Lesvos by Frontex and brought into Mytilene harbour."

Serbia / Hungary: Serious harm on the physical and mental health of refugees

"In their latest report, MSF warns that restrictive policies at the Serbia/Hungarian border having a serious impact on the physical and mental health of already vulnerable refugee communities

MSF teams at the ex so called Balkan route have seen an increase in the level of violence against migrants since the route was “closed”."

UNHCR Weekly Report: Euro/pe (20.7.16):

Trends of Sea Arrivals

"Between 11 and 17 July, 453 refugees and migrants crossed the sea to Greece, a slight increase from the 258 that crossed the previous week. Thus far in 2016, 158,937 have arrived to Greece by sea, contributing to a total of 241,263 arrivals that crossed the Mediterranean.The primary landing places of sea arrivals in Greece continues to be on the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios. However, during this reporting period there were spontaneous arrivals to Kos and Leros as well. Until 14 July, the countries of origin of those who arrived in Greece are mainly from the Syrian Arab Republic (48%), Afghanistan (25%) and Iraq (15%).

During the same period in Italy, 2,143 refugees and migrants reached the country by sea, which is a decrease in arrivals from the 6,437 who arrived the previous week. As of 17 July, 79,851 persons arrived by sea in Italy in 2016, compared to 93,540 persons whom disembarked at the end of July 2015. Overall, sea arrivals in 2016 are in line with 2014 and 2015 trends. The top nationalities of origin among arrivals include, Nigeria, Eritrea, Gambia, and Sudan."

Situation in Greece

"The pre-registration exercise conducted by the Greek Asylum Service, with support by UNHCR and EASO, continued smoothly. Since 8 June 2016, a total of 25,202 people have been pre-registered and 25,700 have been provided with a wristband to prepare for their pre-registration, seeing an increase from the previous week. In addition, a total of 571 unaccompanied children and 471 separated children were identified and directed to UNHCR along with other child protection partners."

Situation at the Serbia-Hungary border:

"On 15 July, UNHCR in Geneva issued a statement about its concern of the new Hungarian restrictive law, increased reports of violence, and the deterioration of the situation at Serbia-Hungary border. The number of refugees and migrants at the Serbia-Hungary border has reached over 1,400, including people waiting to enter the transit zones, as well as those at the Refugee Aid Point at Subotica, 42% of which were children, 35 % men and 23% women. The majority are Afghans (65%) and Syrians (21%), followed by Iranians (8%) and Iraqi (5%)."

Italy/Switzerland: New refugee route

"Italy is struggling to deal with the thousands of refugees who are rescued in the Mediterranean each week and brought to ports in Sicily and elsewhere in the south.

So far this year, around 84,000 have been intercepted in rubber dinghies and ex-fishing boats and brought to the safety of dry land. Many have later continued towards Switzerland. But Switzerland is now beefing up its border security, deploying border guards and a drone to fly over the region in an attempt to catch the migrants, Telegraph reports."

Thousands of refugee children alone in Germany

"According to the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees, at the end of January 2016 there were more than 60,000 children and adolescents in Germany who entered the country as a refugee without a parent or guardian."

News (23-24.7.16)

Greece Fears Wave of Political Asylum Seekers from Turkey (Greek Reporter, link): "The Greek army across the border with Turkey is on high alert after recent developments in the neighboring country, following the failed coup and the Turkish government’s punitive tendencies."

Serbia Braces For Rise in Refugee Numbers - Serbian authorities are expanding capacities in refugee camps following reports that the number of migrants and refugees could rise.(Balkan Insight, link): "The number of refugees in Serbia has been increasing steadily since Hungary tightened security on its border with Serbia early in July."

Refugees: Sharp increase in violence against migrants since border closures in the Balkans (ReiefWeb, link): "MSF consultations for violent trauma doubled since March."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.7.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.7.16)
Council of the European Union: From: Greek Delegation; Temporary entry/exit of persons into/from the Greek territory (LIMITE doc no: 10008-26, pdf):

"We kindly ask you to take note of the Joint Ministerial Decision dated 12.05.2016 and published on issue 1373/17.05.2016 of the Official Journal... on the temporary entry/exit of persons into/from the Greek territory via the sea ports of Kalymnos, Petra, Lesbos, Agia Marina/Leros and Karlovasi/Samos and the airports of Karpathos and Chios accordingly by the date of its entry into force (17.05.2016) until the 31st of October 2016.

We therefore wish to inform you that according to the aforementioned Decision, the relevant checks at the sea ports of Kalymnos, Petra, Lesbos, Agia Marina/Leros and Karlovasi/Samos will be conducted under the full responsibility of the Police Departments of Kalymnos, Kalloni, Leros and Karlovasi/Samos. With reference now to the airports of Karpathos and Chios, the relevant Police Department of Karpathos and the Security Subdivision of Chios aretasked to carry out those checks."
[emphasis added]

France: Passeurs d'hospitalités – Exiles in Calais and at the British border (link): Calais Jungle : July census:

"The census carried out in early July by the associations Help Refugees and Auberge des Migrants (see here and here) shows that increasing the number of migrants in Calais continues at the same pace despite Ramadan: 7037 people including the structures set up by the state (containers camp andwomen and children shelter at the center Jules Ferry), 5307 people in the Jungle alone. The main nationalities are Afghans (38%) and Sudaneses (32%). We can foresee 10,000 people in September.

The issue of children keeps all its acuteness: they are 761, including 608 unaccompanied. This shows yet again the derisory nature of the measures that the state and the county timidly begin to put in place under pressure (see here and here)."

Are You Syrious (link)

Xanthi and Paranthesti

"According to reports from Beyond Europe, two protests were organized at closed camps today?—?Xanthi and Paranthesti. Both protests were organized similarly, with delegations of lawyers and doctors requesting access in order to check on the conditions of the camp. In Xanthi, the delegation was refused and pushed back. The crowd pushed back, breaking through some of the walls, to which the police responded with batons and tear gas. At Paranthesti, the protests went much more smoothly as the delegation was given access, although journalists were barred."

Malakasa: Desperate situation reaches critical mass in Malakasa

"A volunteer delegation reports truly disturbing conditions at a camp in Malakasa. Nearly one thousand people, mostly Afghan, languish in what is basically captivity, slowly burning under the merciless Greek sun. Water supplies are limited, medical care even moreso, and this combination with limited waste facilities makes for a potentially disastrous situation. Refugees are pitted against one another as interpreters are given special privileges which are sometimes abused. The lack of any psychosocial care and any legal aid only further intensifies already desperate and at-risk minds. As a result, domestic violence is rampant."

CROATIA: Possibly 1,700 refugees may be imminently pushed back to Croatia

"Citing the re-establishment of the Dublin regulation, Croatian NGO The Welcome Initiative warns that up to 1700 refugees may be pushed back to Croatia from Austria. The group has released a comprehensive statement including that “These are refugees who came to Austria via the so-called Balkan refugee route. Although the information about their return to Croatia is two weeks old, Austrian organization Interkulturelles Zentrum and the Welcome Initiative stress that there has been no official reaction to the announcement of their arrival, let alone any plan how they will be accommodated, taken care of and integrated.” All that can be done is to watch and wait."

HUNGARY: New billboards repeat old talking points in campaign about Hungarian refugee referendum

"Hungarians will vote on October 2nd on the question: “Do you want the European Union to be entitled to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of parliament?”"

Ireland: Report calls for 'immediate improvements' in asylum seeker supports (Utv Ireland, link)

"A new report by the Irish Refugee Council has called for immediate improvements in the supports given to asylum seekers...

The report highlighted the loneliness and frustration of many asylum seekers in Direct Provision centres and is recommending that settlement grants be introduced to help those who've been processed to help them to rebuild their lives.

It found many reception centres lack basic facilities, like self-catering kitchens, leaving many people to become insitutionalised and suffering mental health difficulties."

See report: Transition from Direct Provision to life in the community: The experiences of those who have been granted refugee status, subsidiary protection or leave to remain in Ireland (pdf, link)

News (21.7.16)

Greece moves Turks seeking asylum further inland (ekathimerini.com, link): "Authorities in northern Greece say eight Turkish military officers seeking asylum here after Turkey’s failed coup attempt have been moved to a different police detention site for security reasons. The officers flew to neighboring Greece in a military helicopter in the wake of Friday's deadly coup attempt, triggering demands for their return from Ankara.... The helicopter has already been returned to Turkey.".

Libya-Italy: MSF ship recovers 22 bodies in Mediterranean - Medical-aid association saves 209 asylum seeker (ANSA, link): "The Acquarius rescue ship run by medical-aid association Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recovered 22 bodies after saving 209 asylum seekers in the southern Mediterranean near the Libyan coast, ANSA sources said Thursday. The ship rescued two boats that had run into difficulty and is expected to arrive in the Sicilian port of Trapani on Friday. The sources said that 21 of the victims were women."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.7.16)
Greece Prepares For Long Term Accommodation Of Migrants (News That Moves, link):

"The Greek government appears to be preparing for long term accommodation of the migrant population currently in Greece.

Greek media reported this week that the Greek government plans to close 70 per cent of the country’s migrant reception centers by September, replacing them with small sites with better living conditions, more suitable for the longer term accommodation of the migrant population....

The Ministry of Defence is responsible for the construction of the new camps."

Electra (Facebook, link): Greece: Unaccompanied children:

"This is the camp where the Government intended to "host" the unaccompanied minors in the Sh.D. case. I refused to cooperate in something which I thought would violate these children's rights and was ultimately harassed by authorities for not "taking the children to them". I answered that they can contact the children themselves, if they wanted to take them there. The case has been communicated by the ECtHR to the Greek Government and amazing legal entities have intervened as 3rd parties, among which Statewatch and ECRE."

Günther Oettinger: No visa waiver for Turkey this year (politico, link)

‘Erdogan has to make concessions to us regarding the respect of the rule of law, and it doesn’t look like it is happening now,’ the digital commissioner told German media.

European Commissioner Günther Oettinger has ruled out visa-free travel to Europe for Turks this year, after Friday’s failed coup prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch a purge in the administration, the army, the police and the judiciary, German media report.

“Erdogan has to make concessions to us regarding the respect of the rule of law, and it doesn’t look like it is happening now,” Oettinger, the EU’s commissioner for the digital economy and society, told Funke Mediengruppe. “It is not possible to strip MPs of their immunity to bully them. It is not possible to intimidate journalists. And it is not possible to withdraw thousands of unwanted judges from service.”"

Are You Syrious (Link)

Who are the Mobile Info Team, what can they do for you and what you can do for them

"The Mobile Info Team are a group of volunteers dedicated to bringing refugees reliable information and up-to-date news on asylum. Based in Northern Greece, MIT makes weekly visits to 8 different camps in the Thessaloniki area, as well as taking on some specific cases they feel they can help with and bridging the gap between on-the-ground needs in camps and other groups who can meet them. Their aim is to give refugees enough verified info that they can make the informed decisions that best suit them....

If you can help them with either, please write to: https://www.facebook.com/mobileinfoteam/ or mobileinfoteam@gmail.com"

Serbia: Are deportations from Serbia to start soon?

"Last Friday, the AC Krnjaca started to be emptied. First to be kicked out were the refugees without valid documents. Thereafter, all the rest were moved to Sid, Adasevci and Principovac. These places now hold about 600 refugees, while there are less then 100 in Krnjaca. This is a really strong indication that these refugees may be transferred to Croatia."

Austria: Refugees started a hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions of the food they are given

"The food given to refugees is of sub-human condition. For example, a bottle of an expired juice and 200g of the worst quality mortadella makes a lunch for 3 children and 2 adults!"

France: Welcome to Our Jungle — Refugee Voices, a participatory photography project by the refugees of the Calais camp

Welcome to Our Jungle’ is a participatory photography project based in the refugee camp known as the ‘Jungle’ in Calais, giving a much needed platform for the voices of those directly affected by the crisis.

Participatory photography involves empowering participants by putting the cameras into their hands and giving them the skills to tell their own stories."

Greece must end migrant kids detention, says human rights group (ekathimerini.com. link):

"The rights group Human Rights Watch is calling on Greece to immediately end the holding of unaccompanied migrant children in police station cells, saying the country must find space for them in facilities where they can receive adequate care.

In a Tuesday announcement, HRW said a shortage of places in shelters had led to “arbitrary prolonged detention in places unfit for children.” The group said that according to Greece’s National Center for Social Solidarity, about 18 children were awaiting transfer in police stations, and hundreds were in detention centers."

See: Greece: Migrant Children in Police Cells: Dreadful Conditions; Transfer Them to Open Facilities (HRW, link):

"Greek authorities regularly detain asylum-seeking and other migrant children traveling on their own in small, crowded, and unsanitary police station cells, Human Rights Watch said today. They are held there for weeks and months, waiting for space in shelter facilities.

Greece should immediately end this practice and find space for unaccompanied children in open facilities with decent living conditions where they can receive care, counseling, legal aid, and other basic services."

News (20.7.16)

South Tyrol braces for outcome of Austrian election (The Local.at, link): "The migrant situation at the Brenner crossing point is not as intense as it was in 2015, Arno Kompatscher, the governor of South Tyrol said on Wednesday. But that could change if Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party claims victory in the country’s upcoming presidential election re-run."

More than 3,200 boat migrants rescued: Italian coast guard (The Local.it, link): "The latest arrivals take the number of migrants to have landed in Italy this year to more than 80,000."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.7.16)
Greece: Most migrant centers to be replaced (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Three quarters of the country’s migrant reception centers are to close by September, according to government plans.

The second phase of a government scheme to deal with the fallout of the refugee crisis, which has left some 56,000 migrants stranded in Greece, foresees the closure of most facilities currently hosting migrants and their replacement with several small state facilities with better conditions. These facilities are to be modeled on a center in Elaionas, near downtown Athens, where migrants live in prefabricated homes with electricity and running water....

Ministry officials have already started assessing the country’s 42 reception facilities..."

Are You Syrious (link):

Serbia: Hundreds of people asking for help in Belgrade

"Situation in Serbia is not improving. More and more people are arriving every day and they are asking for help.... Last night in Belgrade, around 300 people slept in the open. Among them were many women and children, including babies."

Border are between Serbia and Hungary

"People lost shelter due to heavy rain - situation at the border, Kalebija, is not improving even though volunteers and human rights organizations are warning for days about how bad it is. IHO volunteers are still there helping in every possible way. Currently, over 400 people are stuck in this area.... Over the last three days, there have been heavy rain in the area, and many people lost their tents."

Greece: More migrants, refugees reach eastern Aegean islands (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migrants and refugees arriving on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos last week came to 270 people, the Greek ANA-MPA news agency reported on Sunday. The figure represented those who reached the island from Tuesday to Sunday. On the island of Chios, arrivals reached 84 people, while only three arrived on the island of Samos, during the same period."

France: Recent Forced Evictions in France: the Calm before the Storm (ERRC, link):

"Budapest, Paris, 13 July 2016: A report released today by the European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, shows a marked decrease in the number of evictions taking place in France during the second quarter of this year, compared with previous quarters and years. These most recent figures are likely not all they seem however, and probably represent only a lull in the storm of relentless and uncompromising forced evictions which have plagued French Roma over the past few years."

See: Census of forced evictions in living areas occupied by Roma (or persons designated as such) in France (pdf, link)

The daily harassment of the refugees and migrants on Kos (Sofiane Ait Chalalet and Chris Jones, link):

"We came for a week but in those 7 days we yet again confronted the same cruelties we had seen before in Samos and in Athens. We saw police who were totally unsuited for working with vulnerable people, we saw agencies like UNCHR whose contributions were so limited and seemed incapable of offering what was needed. And we met refugees and migrants who despite all these humiliations struggled to stay sane and human and who showed us kindness and friendship which stood in the starkest contrast to the authorities. They knew they could expect little or nothing from the system and placed much hope in ordinary people who they thought could help if only they knew what was going on. Sadly, we are not so sure……."

UNHCR concerned Hungary pushing asylum seekers back to Serbia - Agency worried by reports of violence and worsening conditions at Hungarian-Serbian border (link):

"The UN Refugee Agency said today it was deeply concerned that asylum-seekers were reportedly being forced back across the border into Serbia under new Hungarian regulations and called for an investigation into reports that they were being subjected to violence and abuse.

UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told a press briefing in Geneva the new restrictions contravened EU and international law. "We are deeply concerned about further restrictions by Hungary leading to push-backs of people seeking asylum and reports about the use of violence and abuse," Spindler said.

The number of refugees and migrants at the Serbian-Hungarian border had reached more than 1,400, the agency said. “These restrictions are at variance with EU and international law and reports of abuse need to be investigated,” he added."

News (18.7.16)

Italy says 675 migrants died in April 2015 shipwreck (Daily Sabah Europe, link): "The remains of up to 675 victims have been recovered from a 2015 migrant shipwreck, Italy's navy said on Thursday, as it concluded an operation to retrieve corpses from one of the worst disasters in the Mediterranean."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.7.16)
Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meeting under the Slovakia Council Presidency, 7 July 2016 provide minimalist background documents:

- Schengen Borders fit for the future (pdf):

"Ministers will discuss the implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation as well as interaction of the new Agency with neighbouring countries....

The Presidency attaches great importance to the Smart Borders project and is committed to bringing it closer to reality. A proposal on the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is expected to complete the picture in a not too distant future. Ministers will discuss how the system should look like."

- European Asylum Policy, addressing common challenges (pdf)

"The Commission’s legislative proposals, both those already adopted and those expected in the nearest future, aim at improving many aspects of the CEAS. One of the leading concepts of the proposals is solidarity."

Comment: There has not been much solidarity between Member States on the refugee crisis.

"Reforming the Common European Asylum System - the way ahead: The package of asylum proposals submitted by the Commission is one of the most important elements of the legislative work ahead."

UNHCR (15.7.26): 239,879 arrivals in 2016: 158.927 in Greece, 79,124 in Italy. 2.944 dead/missing

Migrant Detention in Bulgaria: Numbers and Graphs (Detained, link):

As part of the Who Gets Detained? project, over the course of 10 months starting in August 2016, the team of the Center of Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria collected statistics on the number and characteristics of the people who end up behind the walls of the closed centres for foreigners, and of those who are arrested and found to be “illegal” and are issued deportation and/or detention orders

See: Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants (pdf, link)

Unaccompanied Minors in Greece (Nrew That Moves, link):

"Almost half of people currently in camps in mainland Greece are under 18 years old, according to data made public by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Since the operation to pre-register asylum applications began, 45% of the total of those pre-registered have been identified as being under 18 years old of age, according to Kathimerini.

According to UNCHR data, 524 unaccompanied children and 426 separated children have been identified during the pre-registration exercise."

A year on, no business as usual at Austrian border (euractiv, link):

"It’s holiday season at Nickelsdorf on Austria’s border with Hungary as families hit the highway. But although the huge numbers of refugees seen here a year ago have gone, things are far from normal.

Police officers in fluorescent jackets in the July sunshine stand at the border. They wave through the car with the bikes on the back, but the van with the tinted windows is pulled over and checked. Since 1 July, checks have even been stepped up, causing major traffic jams at this border — a frontier within Europe’s Schengen zone where until recently, goods and people could pass freely."

Italy the new Greece on migration frontline: Frontex - EU-Turkey migration deal has slowed migrant flows to Greece (politico, link):

"Italy has overtaken Greece to become the country on Europe’s migration frontline, with about 750 people arriving per day, the head of the EU border control agency Frontex said on Tuesday.

Around 50 migrants per day arrive in Greece, which used to be the main point of entry for migrants."

Are You Syrious (link)

SPAIN: Victory and solidarity for refugees and migrants as “migrants prison” is shut down!

"Subsequent to a protest movement, the Barcelona City Council has barred the re-opening of the local “Foreigners Prison,” on both technical and safety grounds. This humanitarian victory would have been impossible without the work of volunteers and activists!""

Around 1,200 refugees remain in Belgrade, putting local aid efforts under heavy strain.

"The asylum center Krnjaca is full to capacity; as a result the number of refugees who sleep outside every night is only increasing, averaging around 150–200 per night. Info Park, Refugee Aid Serbia, Covekoljublje, Caritas and Jesuit Refugee Service are all in collaboration to support aid initiatives in the park. The numbers in the park are almost equal to last year’s high point in August."

HUNGARY: 10,000-strong army to “manage” Hungarian border.

"Despite massive international criticism on the deplorable treatment of refugees by Hungarian authorities, Hungarian officials have moved forward on a massive military and police initiative to repel any refugees trying to enter from Serbia. Around 10,000 military and police are being mobilized.

Human Rights Watch researchers have decried the abuse of refugees, stating, “Hungary is breaking all the rules for asylum seekers transiting through Serbia, summarily dismissing claims and sending them back across the border.”"

Austria to deport rejected applicants by military plane.

"In an interview with Die Welt, Austrian interior minister, Wolfgang Sobotka says that the 37,500 asylum request limit will not be reached in 2016. Sobotka is firmly opposed to the harmonisation of asylum across Europe.

Austria is going to deport 14 rejected asylum applicants next week to Bulgaria, using a military C-130. Government plans to deport 50,000 rejected asylum applicants by the year 2019. One flight hour of the plane costs 11,800 Euro. Critics from the Green Party say that the money could be instead invested in integration programmes. The government argues that the flight hours are included in the yearly flight hours quota."

European Parliament: Migration: MEPs assess refugee camps in Calais (Press release, pdf):

"A delegation from the civil liberties committee went to Calais in northern France yesterday to assess the situation of people gathering there with the aim of crossing the Channel. The delegation, led by Portuguese S&D member Ana Gomes, visited facilities for migrants and refugees and met with representatives from local authorities,"

EPIC & EPIM: EPC Policy Update for the European Programme for Integration and Migration (pdf)

News (15.7.16)

Calais mayor says UK border deal must be part of Brexit talks (euobserver, link): "The mayor of the French port city Calais has demanded that a 2003 border deal between France and the UK allowing both sides to carry out immigration checks on each other's territory be renegotiated as part of Brexit talks. Natacha Bouchart told this website on Wednesday (13 July) that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created an opportunity to shift the burden of thousands of migrants living in a camp around Calais on to the British authorities."

Greece’s island refugee camps strain under EU-Turkey deal deadlock - Moria is a symbol of mounting frustration for asylum seekers (FT, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.7.16)
European Commission: Asylum, relocation, resettlement, legal channels - package

European Commission: Completing the reform of the Common European Asylum System: towards an efficient, fair and humane asylum policy (Press release, pdf)

"The Commission is proposing to replace the Asylum Procedures Directive with a Regulation establishing a fully harmonised common EU procedure for international protection to reduce differences in recognition rates from one Member State to the next, discourage secondary movements and ensure common effective procedural guarantees for asylum seekers."

- Proposal for a: Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (COM 466, pdf)

- Proposal for a: Regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union and repealing Directive 2013/32/EU (COM 467, pdf)

- Reforming the Common European Asylum System: Frequently asked questions (pdf)

- The reform of the Dublin System (pdf)

- Proposal for a Directive: Laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (COM 465, pdf)

- Enhancing legal channels: Commission proposes to create common EU Resettlement Framework (Press release, pdf)

- Proposal for a Regulation: Establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council (COM 468, pdf)

REACTIONS to above: EU officials finalise common asylum system to resettle refugees - Advocates say people can expect similar treatment wherever they settle, but critics say scheme is betrayal of refugee rights (Guardian, link):

"It is hoped that the proposed system would discourage the kind of country-hopping that saw hundreds of thousands of refugees settle in Germany last year having passed through other European countries such as Hungary and Greece....

Under the plan, refugees will only be formally resettled in Europe from third countries that agree to readmit migrants who arrived in Europe by informal means.

Additionally, the plans make it easier for refugees to be expelled from Europe in the first place. Brussels would be given greater say over which countries are deemed safe for refugees – overriding the wishes of independent appeals boards in nation states. In the current context, this would theoretically allow the EU to expel more people from Greece to Turkey, despite Greek officials deeming Turkey unsafe for some refugees....

Malin Björk, the European parliament’s rapporteur on the proposal, called it “disgraceful”. The Swedish politician said: “As the parliament’s rapporteur, I will do what I can to stop this distortion of the international right to asylum and the notion of global responsibility and solidarity.”

Last September, European leaders promised to relieve Greece and Italy of 160,000 refugees stranded on their territory. On Wednesday the EU admitted that member states had accepted just 3,056 – nearly 10 months after promising to help out."

 EU asylum rules: Retrograde proposals on rights and criteria for asylum seekers (Green/EFA Group, press release, link):

"The European Commission today presented further proposals for reforming the EU’s system of asylum rules, notably as regards the criteria under which asylum-seekers’ applications for international protection are judged in the EU, and the rights and treatment they should receive. Commenting on the proposals, Green asylum spokesperson Jean Lambert MEP said:

“The EU and its member states have justifiably come under fire for their response to the refugee crisis but today’s proposals from the Commission will do nothing to allay this. This latest step in the ongoing review of the EU’s asylum rules represents further retrograde steps in a number of areas of asylum policy, notably regarding the rights of asylum seekers and an obsession with punitive measures."

and Amnesty: EU’s asylum policy – a cynical attempt to strengthen fortress Europe (New Europe, link); "A package of new proposals published by the European Union on Wednesday risks rolling back basic protections for refugees and asylum seekers, said Amnesty International today in Brussels.

A proposed EU-wide resettlement framework would use resettlement as a tool for migration control rather than to provide assistance to vulnerable refugees. In addition, three proposed reforms of the EU asylum system would introduce measures intended to increase the number of refugees and asylum seekers returned to non-EU countries.

also: EU plans tougher asylum rules (euobserver, link): "The European Commission plans to toughen asylum rules to deter claimants from travelling from one EU country to another. The EU executive on Wednesday (13 July) proposed a set of new rules that would harmonise asylum procedures in the bloc in order to deal with the over 1.3 million asylum seekers who arrived to the continent in the last year.

"We set clear obligations and duties for asylum seekers to prevent secondary movements and abuse of procedures," the commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told press. Asylum seekers who do not wait for their claims to be examined in the country where they first entered the EU or who do not cooperate with local authorities would have their claim automatically dropped, he said."

Hungary rejects claims of 'excessive force' (BBC News, link):

"The Hungarian government has rejected accusations by the UN refugee agency of using excessive force to expel migrants.

Around 600 people have been deported, while 10,000 police and soldiers have also been deployed along the country's southern border with Serbia. The toughening up of what were already strict controls are leading to a rise in the number of people stuck in makeshift camps." and

Hungary deploys army to push migrants back to Serbia (BBC News, link):

!A massive security operation, involving up to 10,000 police and soldiers, is under way along Hungary's southern border with Serbia, to keep out migrants and refugees.

The armed forces have been deployed to reinforce a 175km (110-mile) razor-wire fence erected last year on a border that is also a gateway to the European Union.

Until new regulations came into force on 5 July, an average of 130 people crossed the fence every day.

The new law allows the authorities to push back anyone caught inside Hungary within 8km of the fence, but in practice it seems to be applied to those caught far deeper into Hungary, as far as Budapest."

Aire Centre & ECRE: With Greece: Recommendations for refugee protection (pdf) 

"systemic challenges to access to asylum stemming from procedural barriers or gaps in the provision of information or legal assistance have been less reported on. Against this backdrop, the aim of the joint visit conducted by The AIRE Centre and ECRE between 28 May and 6 June 2016 was to cover issues which may not have received equal attention to date, as well as to conduct a needs assessment for NGOs and practitioners working in the field, which would enable effective and sustainable support to the Greek asylum system. This report contains observations and recommendations on the basis of findings from several meetings with key stakeholders present in Greece during the time of the joint visit."

News (14.7.16)

Greece: Bodies recovered off Lesvos belonged to Syrian family from Aleppo (ekathimerini.com, link): "The four bodies recovered off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Wednesday belonged to a Syrian family from Aleppo, authorities announced on Thursday. The mother and father and their children, aged 4 and 6, drowned when their inflatable dinghy capsized. Six people were rescued by coast guard officers.

Dispatches: Italy Wakes Up to Xenophobia - Killing of Nigerian refugee shows growing concern over intolerance (HRW, link): !Emmanuel was a 36-year-old Nigerian who came to Italy last year with his wife after both their parents were killed when Boko Haram bombed their church. Emmanuel survived terrorism at home, violence in Libya, and the dangerous sea crossing to Italy. But last week he was beaten to death on the streets of Fermo, a mid-sized town in eastern Italy, in a fight that began when an Italian man called Emmanuel’s wife an “African monkey.”"

IOM highlights refugee drownings: "Drownings in the Mediterranean killed two-thirds of the 3,694 refugees who perished while trying to reach Europe since January. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says it's the deadliest route worldwide." (DW, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.7.16)
European Commission: 13 July 2016: Relocation and Resettlement, 13 July 2016

- Relocation and Resettlement: Positive trend continues, but more efforts needed (Press release, pdf)

"Relocation and Resettlement: Positive trend continues, but more efforts needed... During the reporting period from 14 June to 11 July, the number of relocations increased with an additional 776 persons being relocated,...

Although this constitutes positive progress and shows that Member States are stepping up their efforts, it still falls far short of the Commission's proposed target of relocating 6,000 people per month. Member States are not yet meeting the commitments they made under the Council Decisions on relocation.... relocation from Italy decreased and remained at a particularly low level compared to the continuously high number of potential applicants for relocation arriving in Italy....

Since 4 April 2016, a total of 802 Syrians have been resettled from Turkey to the EU, including 291 since the last report..."

- Communication: Fifth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 480, pdf):

"While relocation transfers from Greece increased during the reporting period (710 persons relocated compared to 594 during the previous reporting period), those from Italy decreased and remained particularly unsatisfactory (only 66 people relocated in the reporting period, compared to 186 in the previous reporting period)....

Greece is carrying out a mass, rapid pre-registration exercise that will accelerate the identification and full registration of applicants eligible for relocation. 34,000 applicants are expected to be eligible for relocation. Greece needs to continue increasing its processing capacity to avoid creating a bottleneck after the pre-registration is completed, so that applicants can fully lodge their applications as swiftly as possible, urgently establish the additional relocation centres and continue relocating those that are eligible."

- Annex 1: Greece (pdf)

- Annex 2: Italy (pdf)

- Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)

- Factsheet: Relocation and Resettlement (pdf)

New migrant crisis in the making in the Balkans (New Europe, link):

!Hundreds of migrants arrive daily to Serbia’s border with Hungary, packing inside a makeshift tent settlement without toilets, showers and with only one tap of running water as Hungary introduced new measures meant to try to keep them out of the EU.

“This is the problem. There’s no toilets, no place to take a shower. It is very difficult for us,” Rajawi said. “They (the Hungarians) let each day only 15 people. If (they let) more, it gets better for us. Because, we are human, we need human rights here.”

In what appears to be another refugee crisis in the making in Europe, the numbers are surging at this camp and other ones on Serbia’s border with EU country Hungary. The numbers have been growing since last week, when Hungary introduced forced deportations of migrants caught within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of border fences.

Hungary has also restricted the number of people who can apply for asylum in the country to 15 a day."

Hungary: Migrants Abused at the Border - Ensure Asylum Access; Investigate Cruel, Violent Pushbacks (HRW, link):

" Migrants at Hungary’s border are being summarily forced back to Serbia, in some cases with cruel and violent treatment, without consideration of their claims for protection, Human Rights Watch said today.

New laws and procedures adopted in Hungary over the past year force all asylum seekers who wish to enter Hungary to do so through a transit zone on Hungarian territory, to which the government applies a legal fiction claiming that persons in the zone have not yet ‘entered’ Hungary
:..."

France, Grande-Synthe: Humanitarian camps are supposed to offer refugees shelter, not turn them away (msf.org, link):

"n Thursday 7 July, six Afghan men were refused entry to the migrant camp in Grande-Synthe. Set up in March 2016, the camp was constructed to offer shelter to all refugees needing safe lodging and basic services. The town council that manages the site in partnership with the French government and the camp manager, the AFEJI, now say that men travelling alone will not be allowed access to the camp. This decision comes amid growing pressure put on refugees by authorities in north France. MSF is extremely concerned by this decision and calls for it to be immediately overturned."

Are You Syrious: AYS Daily News Digest 12/7: Far-right racist terror surges in Europe (link)

"The anger and fear of locals takes barbaric form as they attack and threaten refugees; we invite more people to express their solidarity in these difficult moments. Let’s make Europe safe for human differences!"

News (13.7.16)

Austria will reach refugee limit by the fall: interior minister - Austria is 15,000 applications short of reaching government’s upper limit for 2016 (politico, link): "Austria’s self-imposed limit on the number of asylum applications it will accept — set at 37,500 a year — will be reached by the fall, the interior minister said Tuesday."

Italy is 'new front line' on migrant crisis (euobserver, link): "Fabrice Leggeri, the head of the EU’s Frontex border agency, said Tuesday on French radio that Italy is the “new front line” in the migration crisis. He said 750 people a day are coming to Italy, compared to 50 in Greece. He said there were 360,000 irregular crossings in the first six months of this year, a figure higher than last year, but that numbers were falling since April."

Germany content to return Afghan asylum seekers to ‘islands of safety’ (euractiv, link): "More than half of Afghan asylum-seekers have their applications rejected by German authorities and are returned to the Middle-Eastern country. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports. In Kabul, more and more Afghans end up stranded, as they return from Germany or other European countries, having failed to secure asylum status. Around 3,500 have come back from Germany alone since last year. The returnees are left with little, even nothing, and have no social ties in the capital, said Omid Nouripour of the German Greens, who regularly travels to Afghanistan."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.7.16)

News (13.7.16)

Germany content to return Afghan asylum seekers to ‘islands of safety’ (euractiv, link): "More than half of Afghan asylum-seekers have their applications rejected by German authorities and are returned to the Middle-Eastern country. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports. In Kabul, more and more Afghans end up stranded, as they return from Germany or other European countries, having failed to secure asylum status. Around 3,500 have come back from Germany alone since last year. The returnees are left with little, even nothing, and have no social ties in the capital, said Omid Nouripour of the German Greens, who regularly travels to Afghanistan."

GREECE: Violence and tension on Aegean islands

Volunteers leave Greek island after attacks on refugees (Al Jazeera, link): "Tensions have escalated in the Greek island of Leros following a series of attacks on refugees and migrants, while several international volunteers working in refugee camps have been evacuated from the island.

After locals attacked refugees on Saturday and threatened aid workers in the island's main refugee camp, many international volunteers and groups halted their operations and left Leros on Sunday.

"There have been tensions which targeted both refugees and members of the humanitarian community," said Katerina Kitidi, a Greece-based communications officer for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)."

And see: GREECE: Refugees in Greece's Chios fear violence from far-right (Al Jazeera, link)

EU: Legal response to migration continues: safe third country list and visa waivers

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee has approved texts on a common European list of "safe third countries" and the possibility of suspending visa-free travel for certain nationalities, with a view to reaching swift agreements with the Council. Plans to establish an EU-wide list of safe countries of origin were included in the May 2015 European Agenda on Migration, which also hinted at changes to visa waiver rules.

See: Asylum: EU list of safe countries of origin to replace national lists in 3 years (pdf)

HUNGARY: Latest amendments “legalise” extrajudicial push-back of asylum-seekers, in violation of EU and international law

The amendments to the Asylum Act and the Act on State Border that entered into force today allow the Hungarian police to automatically push back asylum-seekers who are apprehended within 8 km (5 miles) of either the Serbian-Hungarian or the Croatian-Hungarian border to the external side of the border fence. Legalising push-backs from deep within Hungarian territory denies asylum-seekers the right to seek international protection, in breach of relevant obligations emanating from international and EU law.

GREECE: Asylum policies and practices impairing the access to international protection in Greece (Greek Forum of Refugees, pdf): "As a result of regular interactions with refugee communities, GFR has continuously observed a number of obstacles preventing asylum seekers in the country from accessing the asylum procedures and receiving the international protection they are entitled to, according to international law.

Drawing on the implementation of the law and the practices adopted by the authorities, the present report mainly aims at pointing out the gap between the de jure situation, as it is defined by international law, and the de facto situation in Greece, as up to the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016. In doing so, the privileged point of view and focus of research are represented by the series of testimonies provided by asylum seekers, refugees and communities and collected by GFR over 2015."

HUNGARY: Border trials: The hearing of Ahmed H (Migszol, link): "We arrive at the Szeged courthouse with cramps in our stomachs – we don’t have much experience in attending trials, plus we’re not even sure we’ll be allowed in, after all as we know today will be the continued hearing of an especially dangerous man, Ahmed H., charged with terrorist activity."

All the World’s Immigration Visualized in 1 Map (Metrocosm, link): "This map shows the estimated net immigration (inflows minus outflows) by origin and destination country between 2010 and 2015."

News (11.7.16)

AUSTRIA-HUNGARY: Border controls cause row between Austria and Hungary (New Europe, link): "Security checks have been given a big boost along the border between Austria and Hungary, causing a row between the two countries.

As reported by The Local, Hungarian authorities have come under fire from Austria’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka after they began checking people crossing the border from Austria into Hungary. But Hungary’s decision is a response to Austria recently strengthening controls on its side of the border."

MEDITERRANEAN: NATO Plan for Mediterranean Naval Mission Ruffles EU (Washington Post, link): "The European Union’s foreign policy chief raised concerns with President Barack Obama that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was duplicating the bloc’s naval mission in the central Mediterranean, according to U.S. and other Western officials, a sign of the complexities of managing increased cooperation between the two bodies.

NATO had planned to provide maritime surveillance planes to assist the EU’s mission off the coast of Libya—dubbed Operation Sophia—which was set up to fight human smuggling by arresting smugglers and destroying their boats after rescuing migrants. But at the summit in Warsaw, officials said the provision of ships as well as planes was under discussion."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Denuncian la muerte de un inmigrante tras el intento de entrada del pasado viernes [Denunciations after immigrant died in an attempt to enter Spain last Friday] (El Faro Digital, link): Helena Maleno, an activist from the organisation Ca-minando, has confirmed that a Cameroonian migrant died last Friday as an attempt to enter Ceuta was halted by Moroccan police. The family of the dead man have already identified the body.

Hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans, some of them with injuries, were detained and removed to the south of Morocco after the attempted entry.

UK: The moment I felt at home: refugees tell their stories (Positive News, link): "There are around 120,000 refugees in the UK, and last year 32,414 applied for asylum. For most, life is not easy. Unemployment in refugee communities is above 50 per cent, and in 2015 the British Red Cross supported more than 9,000 who were destitute. Yet some successfully make new lives here. We meet seven people who, having ?ed their homelands, have found a new beginning in London. Photographing them in the place where they first felt safe or part of this country, we ask them about the moment the UK became home"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.7.16)
EU: European Parliament: thumbs up for beefing up Frontex

On Wednesday 6 July the European Parliament approved a proposal to turn the EU border agency Frontex into a 'European Border and Coast Guard Agency', with new powers that have been heavily criticised by some of the Parliament's political groups as well as civil society organisations. The new agency is expected to start operations in the autumn.

The text of the new Regulation - which was agreed in secret trilogue meetings between Council, Parliament and Commission negotiators before being voted on by the full Parliament - was adopted with 483 votes in favour, 181 votes against and 48 abstentions.

See: the Final text approved by the Parliament (pdf)

UNHCR: Arrivals in Greece, July 2016

216 people have crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean to arrive in Greece so far in July, according to the UNHCR's figures, an average of 31 per day. During June an average of 50 people per day arrived. See: Greece data snapshot - 7 July 2016 (pdf)

See also: UNHCR Weekly Report: Europe (6 July, pdf) covering: Trends of sea arrivals - Situation in Greece - Situation at Serbia-Hungary border - Italian navy recovers ship in which up to 800 thought to have drowned - Update on relocations and returns - EU Developments

NATO to expand role in Mediterranean migration operations?

"Turning to the Middle East, the Secretary General said Alliance leaders will this week approve the deployment of NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft to support the Global Coalition to counter ISIL. He also said he expected NATO to agree on a new training and capacity building effort in Iraq and a role for NATO in the Central Mediterranean to complement the European Union’s Operation Sophia" (emphasis added). See: NATO Secretary General outlines Warsaw Summit agenda (NATO, link)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also noted during a press conference (link) that NATO expects to "build on our effective cooperation in the Aegean to cut lines of human trafficking."

EU: Law enforcement efforts against "migrant smuggling" stepped up with new international bureau in Vienna

"On 4 May 2016, the Austrian Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Sobotka opened the “Joint Operational Office against Human Smuggling Networks” (JOO) in Vienna. In a statement, the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior stated that the institution was an “international investigative bureau against human smuggling”. The centre has an initial complement of 38 staff members, Europol intends to second additional personnel. It is intended to be a point of contact for investigations of authorities also from the migrants’ countries of origin."

See: International investigative bureau in Vienna to combat “migrant smuggling” (Matthias Monroy, link)

News (8.7.16)

German states demand billions of euros to cover refugee costs (Deutsche Welle, link): "Germany's 16 states are demanding an additional 8 billion euros ($8.8 billion) over the next three years from the federal government in Berlin to cover the cost burden of integrating refugees, the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported on Wednesday.

Horst Seehofer, the premier of the state of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told the Munich-based newspaper that all 16 states were united on the 8 billion euro figure ahead of a government summit to discuss the issue at the Chancellery on Thursday.

The additional sum would be distributed in three lump sum payments of 1.5 billion euros this year, 2.5 billion euros next year and 4 billion euros in 2018."

Hungary to hold referendum on refugee quotas on 2 October (EurActiv, link): "Hungary will hold a referendum on 2 October on EU plans to relocate migrants among member states, a scheme fiercely opposed by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the president said today (5 July).

“As president of the republic, I decree that the referendum will be held on 2 October,” President János Áder said in a statement."

Italy extracts 217 bodies from hull of sunken migrant ship (Al Arabiya, link): "Italian navy officials say they have recovered 217 bodies from the hull of a migrant ship that sank off Libya last year in a tragedy that sparked the EU to beef up Mediterranean rescue operations.

Italian authorities raised the ship from the seabed last week and have been working to remove and identify the bodies ever since. In a statement Thursday, the navy said 52 autopsies had been performed on the 217 bodies pulled out so far.

Some of the 28 survivors of the April 18, 2015 wreck had said as many as 700-800 people were aboard, leading officials to label it one of the worst known tragedies of the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

Around 200 bodies were initially recovered; after officials saw the ship’s dimensions, they suggested about 300 remained."

Italy migrants: Nigerian killed in Fermo race attack (BBC News, link): "A man has been arrested by Italian police investigating the killing of a Nigerian immigrant which the government has condemned as a racist attack.

Police say a row broke out at Fermo, a town on Italy's east coast, when racist abuse was hurled at the partner of Emmanuel Chidi Namdi, 36.

The violence escalated when a traffic pole was pulled from the ground. The victim later died in hospital.

A local man described as a well-known "ultra" football fan is being held."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.7.16)

Why are Hungarian border guards practicing shooting to kill? (Migszol update from Hungary, 20 June - 4 July) (Migszol, link)

A detailed update on the current situation in Hungary as it relates to refugees, asylum policy and border controls:

"There main issues from the last two weeks which we would like to highlight include the political trials in Szeged in which people are accused of either terrorism or then of illegal crossing of the Hungarian border during a mass riot, the violent pushbacks on the Hungarian-Serbian border and the violence of informal gangs, the opening of a new open refugee camp has been opened in Kiskunhalas in Southern Hungary, and the border guard competition was held in eastern Hungary. Before we examine all these in detail, there are some other political and general updates we would like to share.

1. Political developments
2. Austrian-Hungarian cooperation
3. Movement and smugglers
4. Political show trials in Szeged
5. Violent pushbacks at the Serbian border
6. Border guards’ shooting practice
7. New open camp in Kiskunhalas
"

FRANCE: Number of children in detention doubles

The number of families with children locked up in detention in France doubled in 2015 compared to the previous year, finds a new report entitled 'Centres and Sites of Administrative Detention' by La Cimade and four other organisations

Last boat from Lesvos - Asylum seeker stowaways try to reach the Greek mainland (IRIN, link): "Until recently, only Syrians were being processed. As weeks have turned to months, increasing numbers of non-Syrians have turned to smuggling themselves on board the ferry to Athens. According to conversations with dozens of asylum seekers on Lesvos, they can choose from two options: pay smugglers hundreds of euros for boarding papers or hide in one of the shipping containers loaded onto the ferry."

IRELAND: Irish Refugee Council questions the real impact of the McMahon Report 12 months on (Irish Refugee Council, link): "Today [30 June 2016] marks one year since the publication of the Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers, known as the McMahon Report. The Government reported on the 16 June 2016 that 91 recommendations have been fully implemented, 49 partially implemented or in progress, while the remaining 33 require further consideration. On paper this sounds like there is movement on the McMahon report, but the IRC questions whether this translates into practical changes and improvements for those who bear the brunt of failures within our asylum system. Despite claims about implementation, a haze of vagueness prevails over this entire document."

Refugees are an opportunity for our society, not just a challenge say S&Ds (Socialists & Democrats, link): "The European Parliament has today called on the EU to take action and ensure refugees are swiftly and fully integrated into the labour market and society.

In a resolution drafted by S&D Euro MP Brando Benifei, the Parliament set out recommendations for action at EU level, including an increase in resources for social policy in Europe via the European Social Fund (ESF) to facilitate the integration of refugees in European countries."

The resoluton: European Parliament resolution of 5 July 2016 on refugees: social inclusion and integration into the labour market (2015/2321(INI)) (pdf)

News (6.7.16)

Obama Recruits Goldman, Google to Resettle Refugees (Bloomberg, link): "At least 15 U.S. companies led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have pledged money to help the Obama administration resettle refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and other international conflicts.

The White House is leaning on companies to commit money and other assistance to resettlement programs ahead of a Sept. 20 summit President Barack Obama will host at the United Nations. Other companies participating in the effort include MasterCard Inc., United Parcel Service Inc., HP Inc., and IBM, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News."

Refugees who cannot pay people smugglers 'being sold for organs' (The Independent, link): "Migrants who are unable to pay people smugglers for their journey from Africa to Europe are killed for their organs, a former smuggler has said.

Nuredein Wehabrebi Atta, who has been sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in moving migrants, told Italian police that migrants who couldn't pay for journeys across the Meditteranean “were sold for €15,000 to groups, particularly Egyptians, who are equipped for harvesting organs".

His testimony has helped break open a transnational network dedicated to migrant trafficking with Italian police confirming they have detained 38 people suspected of being involved - 25 Eritreans, 12 Ethiopians and one Italian."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.7.16)

Border Wars: The arms dealers profiting from Europe's refugee tragedy (Transnational Institute, link): "While tens of thousands of refugees have died fleeing terrible violence and hardship to get to Europe, not everyone has lost out. This report exposes the military and security companies that have profited from the tragedy, winning contracts to provide the equipment to border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements."

Report: Border Wars (pdf) and: Executive summary (pdf)

European Council adopts Migration compact despite NGOs statement (ECRE, link): "The adopted proposal contains no safeguards to ensure that human rights, rule of law standards and protection mechanisms when the EU strikes deals with governments it deems useful for stopping migration to Europe. These governments include countries with a poor human rights record, such as Sudan and Eritrea, countries where a large share of refugees flee from. ECRE’s Aspasia Papadopoulou warned that this EU pressure could result in those countries increasing the use of detention or border enforcement. “Partner countries will be well aware that they have their own leverage in the form of would-be migrants and asylum seekers hoping to reach Europe. They’ll negotiate hard to get what they want out it,” Papadopoulou states."

"Have you seen this camp?" Softex camp in Northern Greece (ECRE & AIRE Centre, link): "We first heard about the conditions in Softex the day we arrived, when the Save the Children team in Polykastro explained us that many who were evacuated from Idomeni were brought there. The new official camps, quickly arranged to host thousands of people, are mostly abandoned warehouses. The official Softex camp used to be an old textile factory.

The camp is situated in the industrial outskirts of Thessaloniki, alongside a narrow and busy road. The back entrance to the camp is wide open, while the official entry at the other end is guarded by the Greek army. Opposite the camp is a Volvo garage with four huge dogs barking non-stop at passers-by."

Una caravana partirá a Grecia para reclamar el respeto a los derechos de los refugiados [A caravan will leave for Greece to reclaim the respect of refugees' rights] (Diagonal, link): On 16 July, 10 buses will leave from Barcelona and head for Thessaloniki in Greece, in order to call attention to the violations of thousands of asylum-seekers' human rights and to highlight the responsibility of the institutions of the EU and its Member States.



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-3.7.16)

Greece: PLEIADES - REPORT ON "ELLINIKO" REFUGEE CAMP (HELLENIC ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - Pleiades, link): A Report on Living Conditions: Based on information available on June 30, 2016.

Are You Syrious (link)

Gianluca D’Agostino, captain of the ship Diciotti (coastal guard), arrived to Catania with the bodies of 10 refugee women that drowned in the June 30th shipwreck. Here is the captain’s testimony.

"The dead women were brought along with the other 348 refugees, 108 of which were survivors of the same shipwreck. Meanwhile, the police mentioned that the two smugglers have been captured.

The captain said “My men risked their lives. If the dinghy hadn’t made it, my men would have sunk with the refugees. They found themselves surrounded by floating corpses, and they directed themselves towards the people they thought were still alive. For some, we found out they were already dead, despite the reanimation on board the Diciotti. We fought against the time and the dangerous sea, plus the dinghy’s floor crushed. However, the tragedy was contained, we saved as many lives as possible. The boys have been very courageous and I’m really proud of their performance and reactions”.

France: Calais kitchen in desperate need of donations

"This morning Calais Kitchens confirmed that, due to low stock and funds, they will be unable to distribute food packs next week...

In order to keep up their amazing work, Calais Kitchens must raise £7000 a week to cover costs. Please click here to send either a one-off or, better still, a monthly donation and share with your networks. Help them here".

EU set to spend €62 billion on Africa to tackle migration (euractiv, link):

"The EU has made significant funds available for a migration partnership with African countries, so that asylum seekers can be intercepted before they reach the bloc’s external borders....

Repatriation, irregular migrants, “before the end of the year”, have become part of Brussels’ everyday jargon since the shameful mess of the Balkans route began to unfold. This time, however, it appears they are going to be followed up with action. After its declaration, the EU has ceased its mere lip service to migration policy and has green lit a Commission paper that is set to open up a new era in tackling irregular migration.

So-called “migration pacts” are in the pipeline with selected African countries, in an attempt to stymie the number of migrants making their way from Africa. Countries such as Nigeria, Sudan and Mali will act as outer defence posts, charged with filtering migrants thousands of miles before they reach the EU’s external border."

News (2-3.7.16)

Greece: Film on Idomeni border wins award in Dublin - Caoimhe Butterly’s ‘The Border’ highlights plight of 12,000 people at Greek frontier (Irish Times, link): "The Grand Prize in Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) Human Rights Film Awards was won on Thursday by Caoimhe Butterly for her short documentary The Border – an examination of life at the Idomeni border crossing in Greece. It highlights the dislocation of the more than 12,000 women, men and children migrants who were stranded there earlier this year and the real impact of European border closures as expressed by those most directly affected. The ICCL Human Rights Film Awards are the only short film awards in Ireland dedicated to human rights and five such films were shortlisted for the Grand Prize this year.



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
(1.7.16)

Hungary jails 10 migrants for up to three years (EUobserver, link): "A Hungarian court on Friday sentenced 10 migrants, mostly Syrians, to between one and three years in jail for illegally crossing the border during a riot in September 2015, after Hungary built a fence to seal its border with Serbia. This was the first case tried under a law passed a few days before the incident making illegal border crossing punishable by one to five years in prison."

Background: Refugee crisis: "show trials" for "violating the border fence" (Statewatch News Online, 30.6.16)

EU: Warning over new Frontex agency's data-gathering powers, lack of accountability and overseas deployments without oversight

With the full European Parliament due to vote on the proposed new Frontex Regulation on 6 July, the Frontexit campaign has called on MEPs to reject the text, warning that it provides new powers to gather and exchange personal data without the necessary safeguards; establishes a new complaint mechanism that does not meet the required standards of independence; and permits increased overseas deployments by the agency "away from any oversight by the European Parliament or national parliaments."

UNHCR: June arrivals in Greece

The total number of people arriving in Greece in June was 1,448, according to the UNHCR. Over the last week the numbers were:

Europe tries to buy its way out of the migration crisis (IRIN, link): "This week’s European Council meeting was dominated by reactions to Britain’s referendum result, but on Tuesday EU leaders took a decision that has far-reaching consequences for people forced or wishing to migrate from more than a dozen countries in Africa and Asia.

Under the Partnership Framework with third countries, which the council adopted, 16 countries of origin and transit for migrants will be pressured to cooperate with the EU’s goals on curbing migration. Their compliance is to be rewarded with various “incentives” including development aid and trade deals. Non-cooperation will be met with unspecified “negative incentives” – presumably the withholding of aid and trade.

Ahead of yesterday’s meeting, 124 NGOs issued a joint statement condemning the proposed policy and urging EU leaders to reject it in favour of more sustainable and long-term strategies for migration management and the delivery of development aid."

News (1.7.16)

Croatia puts up barrier at Serbia border (Politico, link): "Croatia installed a barrier on a bridge over the Danube river that forms part of its border with Serbia to prevent migrants from entering the country, a police statement said on Thursday.

Police said it was intended to stop “potential attempts by migrants to illegally enter” Croatia over the Batina crossing. Technical barriers have been installed at the crossing that “can be activated in case of an urgent need and in line with the security measures,” the statement said."

Denmark takes cash from migrants (New Europe, link): "Denmark has confiscated more than 10,000 kroner worth of cash, jewellery and other valuables from migrants arriving to the country under a controversial law that was passed in February.

According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Danish police announced on June 30 they confiscated cash worth nearly €11,000 from five migrants trying to enter the country with fake identity papers. The two men and three women between the ages of 26 and 35 with Iranian nationality were arrested at Copenhagen’s airport. All five have asked for asylum and their request is under review, according to the police."

Migrants die as dinghy sinks off Libya (BBC News, link): "At least 10 people drowned and more than 100 others were rescued when an inflatable boat carrying migrants capsized 32km (20 miles) off Libya.

Those who died were all women, Italian reports said.

The latest migrant tragedy came as the Italian navy raised to the surface a boat that sank with the loss of more than 700 lives.

The April 2015 sinking was the worst loss of human life since the influx of migrants began in 2013."


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

Archives: 2016: Apr-Jun, Mar, Feb, Jan | 2015: Oct-Dec, Jan-Sep

Statewatch home page


Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.