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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
24.12-15
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GREECE: State to try and take over civil society's humanitarian work which has been in place for months and months helping hundreds of thousands of refugees - when International and EU agencies have been conspicuous by their absence: Refugee NGOs on islands to be coordinated (ekathimerini.com, link): "A special committee will be formed under the General Secretariat for the Aegean to coordinate dozens of nongovernmental organizations on the Greek islands receiving the biggest inflows of refugees and migrants, Kathimerini has learned."

The months of inaction by the EU is summed up in this Cartoon: Everyone keep calm! We're crafting a statement expressing sympathy with your plight! (thanks to No Borders, pdf)

and see: In eastern Europe, volunteers step up for refugees (DW, link): "Volunteers connected through social media have come to the aid of people seeking asylum in eastern Europe, where governments have failed. Peter Georgiev reports from Sofia.... Quickly volunteers came together in an informal Facebook group, called "Friends of the refugees," to provide the support asylum-seekers needed. Journalist Maria Cheresheva was one of the initiators. Along with colleagues, she had taken to the streets of Sofia to collect donations for migrants. Hundreds of volunteers formed a chain to contribute food, water, clothing and other supplies, which were later transported to the refugee camp in Pastrogor."

and Susan Sarandon welcomes refugees in Lesbos (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "Sarandon told ANA-MPA, a Greek news agency, that she will assist volunteers and non-governmental organizations in welcoming the refugees to the island. “The international community must see what is happening in this corner of the world,” she told ANA-MPA. “It must realize the size of the problem and understand it. These people should stop being ‘somebody else’ and must become the refugees that we must stand by.”

Greece: Refugee Crisis: Lesvos is Filling Up With Migrants; Frontex Staff on Holiday (Greek Reporter, link):

Today hundreds of North African immigrants in Lesvos are being registered. In the middle of last week it was decided that immigrants such as these should not be granted the monthly permit which allows them to stay in Greece until their departure.

Thousands of migrants and refugees are arriving on the islands of the northern Aegean from the Asia Minor coasts, specifically Turkey. Up until this morning the hotspot in Moria recorded around 3,000 people while other migrants were found in many places around the center waiting to be registered. About 1,000 Syrians have been temporarily sent to the camp of Kara Tepe having been given a note that specifies that they will be registered on Christmas.

The situation at the recording and certification sites in Moria is very difficult because a great majority of Frontex’s staff has left for Christmas holidays." [emphasis added]

European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 23 December 2015 (Dated 23 December, 2015, pdf)

Comment on current situation: Very, very little has changed since early November.

Changes between 8.12.15 and 23.12.15 are noted below.

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism as of 22 December 2015) (pdf): Now 17 Member States (up three) with 4,207 places offered - up 380 - out of 160,000 needed.

- Returns updated on 22 December 2015 since September (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 683 - up 25 since 8 December, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as two weeks ago.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Now: Frontex: now 131 officers up 17 (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams - althougth it appears from reports that quite a few are away for a Xmas break - Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hotspots" are planned but only two - Lampedusa and Lesvos - are operational.

- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million
(Communicated as of 23 December 2015)
(pdf) a very slight fall in total funding gap.

- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 22 December 2015) (pdf) Still many unmet needs.

22.12.15: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 22 December 2015 (pdf)
21.12.15:
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 21 December 2015 (pdf)
17.12.15:
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 17 December 2015 (pdf)
11.12.15:
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 11 December 2015 (pdf)

GREECE: 'Why did you annoy them?' Coastguard officials acquitted of torture convictions - Moroccan says he was subjected to waterboarding in 2007 (enetenglish.gr, link):

"Calling for the sentences to be squashed, the prosecutor claimed that no torture could have taken place as there was no evidence that the coastguard officers had received training in torture methods Two coastguard officials who were convicted last year of torturing a Moroccan asylum seeker on the island of Chios in 2007 were acquitted by an Athens appeals court last week.

Calling for the coastguards' sentences to be squashed, the state prosecutor claimed, among others, that no torture could have taken place as there was no evidence that the officers had received training in torture methods".

News (24.12.15)

20/12: Alarm Phone alerted to 13 distress cases in the Aegean (Watch the Med, link): " Alarm Phone alerted to 13 distress cases in the Aegean, near Lesvos, Rhodes, Pasas, Samos, Leros, Pitta, and Oinousses?"

German police investigate anti-foreigner motive in Bavaria fire (DW, link): "Nearly 12 people have been injured after fire broke out almost simultaneously in two houses in the Bavarian town of Wallerstein. Police have arrested one suspect and not ruled out an anti-immigrant motive."

Failure to act on Hungary carries risk of contagion says EP (Budapest Beacon, link): "The European Parliament adopted a resolution Wednesday calling on the European Commission “to initiate immediately an in-depth monitoring process concerning the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary”, within the “rule of law framework.” The “rule of law framework” is a Commission tool designed to address emerging systemic threats to the rule of law in an EU member state. The resolution adopted Wednesday was passed by 327 votes to 293, with 61 abstentions." See: Strasbourg, 11 March 2014: European Commission presents a framework to safeguard the rule of law in the European Union (pdf)

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