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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe

Europe, please act! An Open Letter to the Governments of Europe (link):

"We, the front-line volunteers who for months now have been helping thousands of refugees, call on all the governments of Europe to act immediately and decisively to alleviate the situation....

Winter is coming quickly and we all have just a few days to respond in a humane way.

We call on all European countries to provide immediate help to all those countries affected by the refugee crisis, instead of helping those countries that are building fences.

We call for the building of safe reception and transit centres with facilities that can cope with the harsh winter conditions of the region.

We also call for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people that need it, for the provision of appropriate medical services and for the coordination of all efforts on a pan-European level.

We also call on the EU to immediately implement other mechanisms which aim to provide safe passage to the EU."

Boat refugees been sunk five times (link): Great interview by Eric Kempson (Lesvos) on the shameful EU role and that of coastguards.

See also: Masked Greek Coastguards again? Attacks on Boats Risk Migrant Lives (HRW, link):

"Armed masked men have been disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch spoke to nine witnesses who described eight incidents in which masked assailants – often armed – intercepted and disabled the boats carrying asylum seekers and migrants from Turkey toward the Greek islands, most recently on October 7 and 9, 2015. The witnesses said that the assailants deliberately disabled their boats by damaging or removing the engines or their fuel, or puncturing the hulls of inflatable boats. In some cases, the boats were towed to Turkish waters".

Boats from Greece confront refugees at sea with guns (Youtube, link): "Published on Sep 8, 2015 CBS News has obtained video showing a group of men on a boat confronting migrants at sea near the Greek coastline. The men cut the migrants' fuel lines, leaving them stranded at sea. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports."

EU: Valletta Conference 11-12 November 2015: Update and background

Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Three (LIMITE doc no: 12560-rev-2-15, pdf) and: Draft Council Conclusions on the EU Horn of Africa Regional Action Plan 2015-2020 (28 pages, LIMITE doc no: 13200-15,pdf)

""[T]hree issues affecting EU interests in the region have gained particular salience: the influence of the wider region on the Horn of Africa, violent extremism and migration and forced displacement....

"The high number of people in the region who are willing to migrate is by far larger than the limited possibilities of legal avenues for migration, be it within the region or outside. Lack of opportunities for legal migration or complex and expensive procedures mean that many migrants feel that they have no other option than to use irregular channels."

See also: EU: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria prioritised for "pilot initiative on return" (Statewatch database)

European Parliament Study: EU cooperation with third countries in the field of migration (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, reflects on the imbalances of EU external action as well as on the lack of evidence on the impact and efficiency of EU funding regarding the objectives of the migration policy, which are sometimes conflicting with the development goals.

The study brings forward recommendations for rationalization and coordination of action, more balance between the different components of the GAMM, more transparency for a better evaluation and scrutiny, and a reinforced partnership approach with third countries."

European Commission: President Juncker calls Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels on refugee flows along the Western Balkans route (pdf) Leaders from the following countries have been summoned: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

and see: Balkan summit highlights Juncker-Tusk leadership gap (euobserver, link): "By calling a mini summit on Sunday (25 October), European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has decided to push forward the Commission's role in addressing the migrant crisis. By doing so, he has also highlighted an apparently widening gap with the president of the European Council Donald Tusk, a fellow member of the centre-right EPP party."

and yet another "Extra" Justice and Home Council has been called on 9 November, in Brussels.

Fundamental Rights Agency: Fundamental rights implications of the obligation to provide fingerprints for Eurodac (link) and see: Report (pdf): "The swift identification and registration of asylum seekers is an important measure to ensure their protection. Under EU law, registration procedures also include taking fingerprints. To help authorities ensure fingerprinting practices do not violate fundamental rights, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has produced a 10-point checklist for rights compliance in its latest Focus paper."

News (22.10.15)

Bulgaria: BHC Disputes Official Version of Events in Migrant’s Shooting Death (link): "The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) on Tuesday disputed the official version of last week’s incident, in which an Afghan migrant was shot by Bulgarian border police after illegally crossing into Bulgaria from Turkey and died on his way to hospital....On Monday, BHC officials talked to 20 people from the group who had been sent to a migrant distribution centre in the nearby town of Elhovo following their detention.... The discrepancy between the original version of the events presented by the authorities and the allegations made by the eyewitnesses raises questions about the intention of the authorities to reveal the genuine circumstances of the fatal shooting, according to BHC." and German MP Calls on Bulgarian Prosecutors to Investigate Death of Afghan Migrant (, link): "

Refugees face long cold and wet night at crowded Balkan border crossings (UNHCR, link): "Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) MP, Dieter Dombrowski, has called on the Bulgarian prosecution to investigate the death of the Afghan migrant, which occurred near the country's border with Turkey last week. In an interview for Berlin Brandenburg radio, Dombrowski did not accept as plausible the version of the Bulgarian interior ministry that the migrant died after being hit by a rebounded bullet fired by a border policeman."

Orbán slams EU migration policies ahead of Juncker’s mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán urged European leaders late yesterday (21 October) to change their “politically correct” immigration policies and involve voters in a debate about the continent's future, saying they would otherwise face a political crisis and a threat to the democratic order."

Athens Jewish Cemetery Vandalized by Neo-Nazi Group (Greek Reporter, link): "as C-18. The vandals sprayed vulgar words and swastikas on the walls, as well as the German word “Raus” which means get out."

Czech leader rejects UN rights chief's criticism (7 News, link): "The Czech Republic's president and the Interior Minister have rejected the criticism by the U.N. human rights chief of their country's policy of detaining migrants and refugees and their treatment."

Denmark increases Syrian residence permits (The, link): "Syrians now receive more residence permits in Denmark than US citizens, although the number of the latter is also on the rise."

Free access to Sciences Humaines: Crise des migrants: comprendre et agir [Migrant crisis: understand and act]: " initiative to help better understand who the refugees are and how to help them."

The Mediterranean: A sea of death (link): "They were 40 miles from the coast of Libya, a lawless country at war with itself since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. The country has become a launch pad for overcrowded boats ferrying migrants and refugees to Captain Margiotta’s homeland, Sicily."

UK must resettle refugees who arrived on Cyprus military base, says UN (Guardian, link)

France remains stingy at handing out visas (The, link)

Greece: Kotzias says closer cross-border cooperation with Turkey key to stemming migrant flow (, link): "Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has said closer cooperation and better coordination with Turkey is key to stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

Hungary will not open "corridor" for migrants -govt (Reuters, link)

Federal Criminal Police Office warns of xenophobic violence (DW, link): "The number of attacks against refugee shelters has more than doubled this year compared to 2014. The Federal Criminal Police Office fears that right-wing extremists will intensify their anti-refugee violence."

German air force to help deport asylum seekers (euractiv, link): "The German government has agreed upon a faster deportation system, using military support, for refugees whose asylum requests are rejected."

Latest Relocation Flight for Eritrean and Syrian Asylum Seekers Leaves Italy for Scandinavia (IOM, link): " On Wednesday, 21 October, an IOM charter flight left Rome’s Ciampino Airport for Finland and Sweden. On board were 68 asylum seekers – 19 from Syria and 49 from Eritrea."

Czech Republic: Living conditions in detention centre of migrants under close scrutiny (Radio Praha, link): "Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová met on Tuesday to discuss ways of improving conditions for migrants in the detention centre in Belá-Jezová north of Prague. The Ombudswoman last week severely criticised conditions in the facility, saying they were worse than in prison, and called on the interior minister to take immediate steps to correct the situation."

EU calls mini-summit on refugee crisis as Slovenia tightens border - Serbia and Macedonia have been invited to Sunday’s meeting in Brussels as the EU seeks ‘greater cooperation and more consultation’ (Guardian, link)

EU: Avramopoulos slams dismal refugee response: The migration chief scolds his party: “I was very much disappointed.” (politico, link): "The European Commission’s migration chief condemned on Wednesday the use of armed forces to secure Europe’s borders and launched a stinging attack on Europe’s national governments for failing to manage the refugee crisis."

Report from Lesvos: without safe access to asylum, people will keep risking their lives in the Aegean (The Conversation, link): "Her baby should not have died. The journey from Turkey to Lesvos is short and safe. If I wanted to take a ferry trip from the port of Mytiline to Ayvalik on the Turkish coast, the trip would take around an hour. I could get there and back for just €30. That’s because I’m British. I am not Syrian, Afghan, Palestinian, Iraqi, Somali or Eritrean."

Greece: Lesvos feeling refugee strain again (,link): "Authorities’ capacity for processing refugees and migrants on Lesvos are being stretched to breaking point again due to a higher influx of people over the last few days. A total of around 43,000 migrants reached Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, mainly Lesvos, over the past five days, the government said Wednesday. It is estimated that the number of people stuck on Lesvos has risen above 11,000 again." and Over 2,000 refugees disembark at Piraeus, more expected (,link): "Over 2,000 refugees disembarked at the Greek capital’s main port of Piraeus on Thursday morning from the islands of the Aegean and more were expected to arrive later in the day."

EPP calls for Dublin overhaul and hotspots outside the EU (euobserver, link): "The centre-right European Popular Party (EPP) adopted a resolution on migration policy at its congress on Wednesday (21 October), calling for a "complete reform of the European asylum system", a separation of refugees and economic migrants "before their arrival in the EU", a legal migration policy based on labour market needs and a revision of the family reunification EU directive."

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