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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe

Yet another emergency EU Summit (Heads of State): Invitation Letter from Council President Tusk to Members of the European Council (pdf) to be held on 12 November at 14.30 straight after the Valletta EU-Africa Summit and there is also to be another extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council on 9 November 2015. President Tusk concerned at some EU states introducing "different measures as internal Schengen borders"

EU: European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (3 November 2015, pdf) Details figures on funding, "hotspots" (Greece and Italy) and returns

EU: Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn in Athens: First Relocation Flight from Greece (pdf):

"On Wednesday 4 November, Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn will travel to Greece. Together with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Greek Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction responsible for Migration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas they will meet with the first group of asylum seekers to benefit from the EU's relocation scheme from Greece. Thirty asylum seekers will travel by plane from the Athens International Airport to have their applications processed in Luxembourg."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"Instead of turning the first relocation flight from Greece into a photo-opportunity the Commissioner would be be employed sorting out the mess at home in Brussels by tackling the lack of humanitarian aid and civil protection on the beaches and camps in Greece and right up through the centre of the EU and by getting member states to come up with the number of refugees they are going to "relocate" and when."

EU: Letter from European Commission and Council to Member States (30.10.15, pdf) Outlines where EU Member States response to the refugee crisis is "still falling short":

- The European Asylum Support Office needs the secondment of 374 experts, so far it has only 153 promises, Frontex needs 775 border guards and so far has 353 from nineteen states

- the Syria Crisis Trust Fund needs 500 million euro - it has 50 million euro

- the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: EU funding will reach 1.8 billion euro which should be matched by EU Member States - so far:

"the contrast with Member State' pledges of below 30 million euro is stark. In the run-up to the Valletta Summit, it is indispensable that the national effort comes closer to the EU funding"

UK-EU refugee crisis and humanitarian emergency: House of Lords, Select Committee on the European Union report: EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (pdf):

"Evidence suggests that a majority of those currently entering the EU as irregular migrants are ‘prima facie refugees’, as defined by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It is, therefore, important that as much focus is placed on the humanitarian aspects of the crisis as on law enforcement....

We recommend that, as part of its review of EU legislation, the Commission should propose an EU framework that builds on the humanitarian aspects of the UN Protocol that concerns migrant smuggling. It should criminalise only acts committed for financial gain. Clauses should be added to avoid the criminalisation of individuals and organisations acting for humanitarian purposes. Inhuman and degrading treatment should be included as aggravating factors in the sentencing of smugglers." [emphasis added]

Refugee Rescued With His Cat Exposes “Dangerous And Unlivable” Conditions In German Camp (Buzzfeed, link):

“It is like a prison here,” said Moner Al Kadri, a refugee from Syria who gained internet fame when pictures of him with his kitten he brought across the Mediterranean on a life raft were posted on Facebook... The couple is now in a large refugee camp in Suhl, a city in eastern Germany’s federal state of Thuringia. The conditions, Al Kadri said, are deplorable. Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and other families fleeing Middle East conflicts pad through inches of water to get to the bathroom and receive small food rations, and they are subject to spreading diseases."

News (3.11.15)

Sweden beset by asylum seeker-targeted arson attacks (euobserver, link): "In the month of October alone, ten asylum homes caught fire in Sweden in suspected cases of arson. As police search for the culprits, a debate has erupted on who, or what, is responsible. ”We announced that the building would become an asylum home and it was set ablaze the following night”, Olle Reichenberg, the municipal chairman of Danderyd, a wealthy Stockholm suburb, told Swedish radio. ”It seems clear to me what the motive was.” The former kindergarten in was just one of ten buildings that caught fire during the month of October in suspected cases of arson in different parts of the country. The police has so far not found any incendiary device."

Libyan faction threatens EU with migrant boats (euobserver, link): "One of the two rival authorities in Libya has threatened to send migrants to Europe unless the EU recognises its legitimacy. Jamal Zubia, a spokesman for the General National Congress (GNC), told The Telegraph, a British daily, in an interview published on Monday (2 November): "I have advised my government many times already that we should hire boats and send them [migrants] to Europe." "We are protecting the gates of Europe, yet Europe does not recognise us and does not want to recognise us. So why should we stop the migrants here?"."

Germany: Merkel pushes for transit zones, warns of military clashes (euobserver, link): "German chancellor Angela Merkel defended the deal on transit zones reached with her rebellious sister party on Sunday and said her coalition partners needed to be convinced of it. Merkel also warned against military presence in the Balkans, in case borders close on the migration route....Speaking to supporters of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in the western city of Darmstadt on Monday evening, Merkel said the Social Democrats (SPD) need to support the transit zones.... SPD opposes the idea of large centres along the border, where migrants will be detained."

Official: Afghanistan will accept all Afghans deported from Germany (Stars & Stripes, link): "Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Hossain Alemi Balkhi has disapproved of Germany's decision to return the Afghans, saying in a recent interview with The Associated Press that Kabul is "against the forced exile of any people from any country back to where they came from." "The problem that caused them to leave Afghanistan in the first place has not been solved — there is still war, conflict, insecurity," he said."

In Limbo at Europe's Door - African migrants can’t reach continent, but can’t go home (WSJ, link): "As the world watches hundreds of thousands of Syrians crossing into Europe from the east, territories north of the Sahara are filling with comparable numbers of Africans determined to make their own entrance. Migrants from more than a dozen African nations are descending on Morocco, Algeria and Libya in unprecedented numbers, sleeping in abandoned apartments, derelict warehouses and on city streets. Thousands are living in fast-expanding forest encampments, surviving off garbage...".

Winter is coming: the new crisis for refugees in Europe (Guardian, link): "From Lesbos to Lapland, refugees are bracing for a winter chill that many will never have experienced before. Some will have to endure it outside"

Migrant disturbances at British base on Cyprus (, link): "British military authorities confirmed Tuesday there had been disturbances at a base in Cyprus where 114 migrants from the Middle East are being kept after coming ashore last month. However, he did say a fire had set two tents ablaze Monday and that the fire services put it out. Tully was responding to a videos posted on the website of Britain’s Guardian newspaper showing migrants protesting and complaining about "being treated like animals". He said the mostly Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese were frustrated, as they were unsure about their future, but he insisted they were being well looked after."

Humanitarian group vows more aid for refugees in Greece (, link): "The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which coordinates humanitarian groups around the world, promised to increase its aid to 12.7 million Swiss francs over the next seven months from 3 million offered in September. In Athens, the IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, called for a loosening of travel restrictions to allow the refugees to move legally, echoing a position long held by Greece. “Because if you do it legally, you take away the illegal business from the traffickers and then the smugglers. And then people would feel safer and it would be better organized,” he said"

Migrants Continue to Flow into Greece, Balkans (IOM, link): 757,192 refugees have arrived into the EU, 612,605 in Greece and 140,636 in Italy. There have been 3,406 dead/missing (3 November 2015).

Greece: Tsipras under pressure to tear down Turkish border fence (euractiv, link): "The Greek government is facing increasing pressure to take down a fence along its land border with Turkey, and stop refugees from making the deadly journey to Europe via the Mediterranean.... The 12-kilometer fence was built in 2011 at the land border with Turkey, along the Evros River. Antonis Samaras, the conservative premier, decided to proceed with the fence, in order to stem the rising number of illegal immigrants entering the country via Turkey."

Greece: Lesbos has run out of room to bury refugees killed at sea, mayor says (, link): "esbos Mayor Spyros Galinos told Greece's Vima FM radio on Monday that he is still trying to find places to bury dozens of bodies that are now in the local morgue. "Yesterday we held five funerals, but there are still 55 bodies at the morgue," Galinos told NBC News. "Who could have anticipated such a carnage in the Aegean?""

GERMANY: Merkel pushes for transit zones, warns of military clashes (EUobserver, link)

Europe begins migrant screening on Greek islands (ap, link): "Thousands are camping out here in a tent city that has sprung up around the police registration center chosen for the pilot program, which includes translators and police interviewers who use a secret questionnaire aimed at helping to quickly determine the migrants' country of origin."

NETHERLANDS: Six arrested at Enschede refugee protest (Dutch News, link)

EU: Refugee crisis: 700 children a day now claiming asylum on European soil (The Independent, link): "Up to 700 children a day are now claiming asylum on European soil, as new figures reveal that twice as many child refugees are arriving this year compared to 2014."

GERMANY: Dresden's PEGIDA numbers drop, but anti-refugee sentiment still strong (Deutsche Welle, link)

Migration and interpretation – a potent mix (Law Society Gazette, link): "The current migration crisis is testing interpreting services across Europe. What is being done to ease the burden?"

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