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

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

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


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January 2019

EU: Leaders Stoke Fear, Ignore Rights - Defense of Shared Values Vital to Curb Negative Trends (HRW, link):

"(Berlin) – Influential leaders in European Union states used migration to stoke fear, justify abusive policies, and block meaningful reform in 2018, even as arrivals at borders decreased, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2019. But during 2018, EU institutions, with backing from some EU states, demonstrated a greater commitment to address attacks on democratic institutions and the rule of law in Hungary and Poland.(...)

“We saw populist leaders in EU states stoking fear and jettisoning rights during 2018 with little regard for the consequences,” said Benjamin Ward, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Thankfully, we have some EU institutions and states willing to stand up to the populists’ dangerous disregard for Europe’s core values.”"

Amnesty Slams EU Policy as Migrant Boats Barred From Ports (voanews.com/, link):

"Human rights group Amnesty International has described as shameful the decision by several European states to block NGO migrant rescue ships from docking in their ports. The group says Europe's migrant policy is putting lives in danger, both at sea and in Libya, where most of the asylum seekers set out to try to reach Europe. Henry Ridgwell reports from London."

LIBYA: Rescued at sea, locked up, then sold to smugglers (The Irish Times, link):

"The Souq al Khamis detention centre in Khoms, Libya, is so close to the sea that migrants and refugees can hear waves crashing on the shore. Its detainees – hundreds of men, women and children – were among 15,000 people caught trying to cross the Mediterranean in flimsy boats in 2018, after attempting to reach Italy and the safety of Europe.

They’re now locked in rooms covered in graffiti, including warnings that refugees may be sold to smugglers by the guards that watch them.

This detention centre is run by the UN-backed Libyan government’s department for combatting illegal migration (DCIM). Events here over the last few weeks show how a hardening of European migration policy is leaving desperate refugees with little room to escape from networks ready to exploit them."

EU: Remarks by Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on the solution found with regards to the disembarkation of NGO vessels and progress under the European Agenda on Migration (9 January 2019, pdf):

"With these events, it has become very clear again that all actors, including NGOs, have to respect the rules and act responsibly in order not to perpetuate the business model used by traffickers to exploit human misery.

In June, the European Council was unanimous on this point, underlining in particular that all vessels operating in the Mediterranean must respect the applicable laws.

Moreover, the European Union cannot continue to rely on unorganised, ad-hoc solutions when it comes to disembarkation."

EU: Council: Values of the Union - Hungary - Article 7 (1) (14022/18, 8 November 2018, pdf)

"Delegations will find in the Annex a Commission non-paper providing factual information on the values-related infringement proceedings in relation to Hungary."

Ongoing proceedings include: NGO law, Higher Education Law, Asylum, Relocation, New legislation criminalising activities in support of asylum and residence applications, Roma.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.1.19) including:
- Sea Watch and Sea Eye allowed to disembark in Malta
- Man dies in Moria camp on Lesvos, Greece and Oxfam condemns conditions
- Italian mayors oppose Salvini's migration decree
- UN report on conditions faced by migrants and refugees in Libya

UNHCR welcomes Malta disembarkation of Sea Watch and Sea Eye passengers, calls for better, predictable approach (UNCHR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes today’s news that 49 rescued refugees and migrants on board the Sea Watch 3 and Albrecht Penck NGO vessels have been safely disembarked in Malta. We commend the Maltese authorities for having provided safe port and the decision of the eight European States to receive them. We also commend the European Commission for their role in coordinating the response from Member States.

UNHCR is nonetheless very concerned that the search for a solution to the plight of people rescued at sea and so obviously in distress has taken so long – more than 18 days in the case of the Sea Watch 3, despite the fact that those on board included women and children. This is unacceptable."

And see: “Dangerous and unseemly spectacle” must spur action to save lives at sea (Amnesty, link)

Migrant Found Dead at Lesvos Refugee Camp (Greek Reporter, link):

"A 24-year-old man from Cameroon was found dead inside the Moria migrant camp on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos early Tuesday morning.

According to the Athens Macedonian News Agency the migrant was found by his friends at 2 AM local time.

His body was transferred to the hospital in Mytilene, where doctors confirmed his death.

A coroner is investigating the causes of death. No further details were provided on the incident."

Letter to citizens of the EU from the “periphery”: Politics of the closed borders are bringing us closer to fascist rules (Are You Syrious?, link):

"We, the human rights defenders and citizens from the countries relegated to the “periphery” of the European Union (EU) and the Schengen space, want to express our deepest concern for the current situation in which we can see the rise of fascism and a deterioration in basic human rights, such as freedom of movement and the right to seek asylum.

The leniency towards and acceptance of the rise of the far-right in European countries is worsening living conditions for people on the move and increasingly endangering their lives. The claim that the EU’s fundamental values are respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law has been in question for several years now. However, in 2018 this claim lost any remaining standing."

UK: New contracts in asylum accommodation scheme criticised for "squalid, unsafe slum conditions"

The UK government has announced the signing of £4 billion of new contracts in an accommodation scheme that in its previous incarnation was criticised for leaving asylum seekers living in "squalid, unsafe slum conditions".

Italian mayors oppose far-right Salvini’s xenophobic law (EurActiv, link):

"The mayors of three large Italian cities are refusing to obey a controversial anti-immigration law penned by far-right deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, condemning it as unconstitutional.

Salvini, also interior minister, on 4 January demanded the resignations of the rebellious leaders of Florence, Palermo and Naples, with the last escalating the row by also offering to take in migrants stranded at sea that Italy has turned away.

“This (law) incites criminality, rather than fighting or preventing it,” Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando said."

UK: Stansted 15 launch appeal against 'disproportionate' convictions (The Guardian, link):

"The 15 immigration activists found guilty of a terror offence for blocking the takeoff of a deportation charter flight from Stansted airport have launched an appeal against their convictions.

...On Monday, lawyers representing all 15 defendants lodged submissions amounting to around 100 pages at the court of appeal in London. They are arguing that the judge was biased in his summing up of the case, that he should have allowed the defendants to make the defence of necessity, and that he got the law wrong about what the offence means.

They also claim that the court did not properly check that the attorney general had properly given consent for the terror charge to be levied against peaceful protesters, and that the judge should have ordered disclosure of the materials sent to the attorney general when deciding whether to sign it off."

GREECE: Pregnant women, children and survivors of torture abandoned in Greek camps as screening system breaks down (Oxfam International, link):

"Hundreds of pregnant women, unaccompanied children and survivors of torture are being abandoned in refugee camps on the Greek islands, an Oxfam report revealed today. It details how the system to identify and protect the most vulnerable people has broken down due to chronic understaffing and flawed processes.

...Oxfam is calling for the Greek government and EU member states to deploy more expert staff, including doctors and psychologists, and to fix the screening system on the Greek islands. It said that more people seeking asylum should be transferred to mainland Greece on a regular basis – particularly the vulnerable. Oxfam is also calling on EU member states to share responsibility for receiving asylum seekers with Greece more fairly by reforming the ‘Dublin Regulation’ in line with the position of the European Parliament."

See the report: Vulnerable and abandoned: How the Greek reception system is failing to protect the most vulnerable people seeking asylum (pdf)

Who rescues migrants in the Channel? (BBC News, link):

"The number of migrants crossing the English Channel by boat is small - it pales in comparison to those making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean - but there has been a small spike in crossings in recent months.

In 2018, the Home Office says 539 people attempted to travel to the UK on small boats. Of these, 434 (around 80%) made their attempts in the last three months of the year.

Of the 539, 227 (42%) were intercepted by the French before they made it to the UK.

Now, a Royal Navy patrol ship has been sent to deter them - but when people do cross, who is responsible for rescuing them?"

EU: New Schengen Information System rules in force: deportation decisions to be included, new types of police check permitted

At the end of December three new Regulations governing the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), the EU's largest database and information system for law enforcement and migration purposes, came into force.

Open access e-book: Asylum Determination in Europe (SpringerLink, link):

"Drawing on new research material from ten European countries, Asylum Determination in Europe: Ethnographic Perspectives brings together a range of detailed accounts of the legal and bureaucratic processes by which asylum claims are decided.The book includes a legal overview of European asylum determination procedures, followed by sections on the diverse actors involved, the means by which they communicate, and the ways in which they make life and death decisions on a daily basis. It offers a contextually rich account that moves beyond doctrinal law to uncover the gaps and variances between formal policy and legislation, and law as actually practiced.

The contributors employ a variety of disciplinary perspectives – sociological, anthropological, geographical and linguistic – but are united in their use of an ethnographic methodological approach. Through this lens, the book captures the confusion, improvisation, inconsistency, complexity and emotional turmoil inherent to the process of claiming asylum in Europe."

UN report sheds light on ‘unimaginable horrors’ faced by migrants and refugees in Libya, and beyond (UN News, link):

"From unlawful killings, arbitrary detention and torture, to gang rape, slavery, and human trafficking, the report covers a 20-month period up to August 2018, and details a terrible litany of violations and abuses committed by a range of State officials, armed groups, smugglers and traffickers against migrants and refugees.

The findings are based on 1,300 first-hand accounts gathered by UN human rights staff in Libya itself, as well from migrants who have returned to Nigeria, or managed to reach Italy, tracing the entire journey of migrants and refugees from Libya’s southern border, across the desert to the northern coast."

See the report: Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya (pdf)

GERMANY: Deportation laws in Germany — what you need to know (DW, link):

"Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said he would send proposals to the government aimed at changing German deportation laws in an effort to make it easier to send criminal foreigners back to their home countries.

The leader of the conservative CSU, the Bavarian sister-party of Angela Merkel's CDU, has suggested such changes before. The trigger for this most recent call was an attack in the Bavarian town of Amberg in which four suspects aged 17 to 19 — asylum-seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and Iran — harassed and beat passers-by on December 29, 2018, while under the influence of alcohol. Twelve people were injured, though the injuries were mostly minor.

There are no data on how many people were deported after committing criminal offenses, but in general, the number of deportations fell last year. During the first half of 2018, roughly 12,300 people were deported from Germany. Compared to the same time period in 2017, that number is down by around 2 percent."

AYS SPECIAL: Detention and Deportation - The UK’s Hostile Environment (link):

"Earlier this year a group of activists known as the Stanstead 15 were charged under terror related law for peacefully stopping a deportation flight in March 2017. They were convicted under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 of “endangering an aerodrome” by locking themselves around a Titan Airways plane that was deporting people back to Ghana and Nigeria. Since the flight was stopped several of the people who were being deported have been given leave to remain in the UK."

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


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