Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe

EU: What is the role of "hotspots"?: A European Commission official told the parliament's LIBE (Civil Liberties) Committee this morning (Thursday) that the 'hotspots' concept would mean:

"People may be placed in closed centres for the return procedure
For relocation people will be the possibility of centres - which are open to a degree are necessary
Attempts will be made to convince them to stay in the reception centre in order to be resettled
Centres: Hotspots for relocation would be open centers and closed centres for returns"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"How many people are going to be forced to "return" and held in closed camps? The pre-screening process will be carried out by Frontex and member state officals who will decide who is to be "returned" - prior to them being allowed to make an asylum application. Will refugees being vetted for return have interpreters and lawyers to help and represent them? And is there a right of appeal?"

And see ‘Hotspots’ for asylum applications: some things we urgently need to know (EU Law Analysis, link)

CoE: Anti-immigrant sentiment was rising in Germany before refugee influx: Council of Europe committee on national minorities (Press release, link):

"Before the recent flow of refugees from war-torn Syria and other parts of the Middle East and Africa entered Germany, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments and attacks against asylum seekers had been on the rise already, according to a new opinion by the Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). Adopted in March – but released today with a first reaction on the findings from the German government – the Advisory Committee opinion assessed data from 2010 to 2015, noting increased anti-Muslim sentiment and negative attitudes towards immigrants and asylum-seekers. It criticizes marches attended by thousands of persons, under the banner “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West” (“Pegida”, in its German acronym), for example.

Despite these developments, the Advisory Committee praises the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency for its “considerable efforts” to raise awareness of anti-discrimination legislation in place. The Advisory Committee calls on Germany to stop the practice of ethnic profiling and take steps to build trust between persons belonging to minorities and the police. It recommends ensuring that racist elements of criminal offences are systematically taken into account by law enforcement." [emphasis added]

See: ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES: Fourth Opinion on Germany adopted on 19 March 2015 (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

European rights body concerned over rising racism in Germany (DW, link): "The Council of Europe has said reports of rising racism against Muslims and refugees in Germany are concerning. However, the human rights body also noted that protection for minority rights is high." and Rising racism worries Council of Europe (The, link)

Council of the European Union: Eastern Mediterranean - Western Balkans route conference, 08/10/2015 (link)

News (1.10.15)

The Roots of Europe’s Refugee Crisis (, link): "At the analytical level, Europe was not unprepared for the large stream of refugees that developed into a trek of biblical proportions over the summer. Experts from various policy fields (migration, security, development, the environment) had frequently warned about the risk of unchanneled mass migration toward Europe. But politically, the EU was completely unprepared. Knowledge did not translate into action." [emphasis added]

Cyprus: OPINION: Why migrants try to avoid this EU country (, link): "Tania Karas says Cyprus’ asylum policies are the main reason migrants shun that country. Nine months after Fadi, a refugee from Homs, Syria, landed in Cyprus on a boat carrying some 340 smuggled refugees, he still had not applied for asylum. He chose instead to attempt to reach mainland Europe by any means possible. Fadi’s reluctance to plant roots in Cyprus, the European Union country closest to Syria, stems from Cyprus’ policy preventing most of those granted asylum from bringing their family members to join them."

Ban call UN nations to share the responsibility of accepting refugees (, link): "The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stressed the need for responsibility sharing among nations, calling on states to “significantly boost” the number of refugee resettlement places and to “share equitably in this effort.”

Hungary government criticised for hyping fear of refugees, Muslims (Sofia Globe, link): "Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban raised eyebrows when he said refugees and migrants flooding through the country are a potential threat to Europe’s Christian values. Most of them are Muslim and fleeing war and poverty in Asia and the Middle East. The comments ruffled Hungary’s Muslim minority."

Czech police deploy to Austrian border (The, link): "Five hundred police officers and 300 soldiers held drills along the Czech border with Austria on Wednesday as Prague mulled reintroducing border checks in case of a wave of migrant arrivals."

Italy to relocate asylum seekers 'in coming days' (euobserver, link): "The relocation of asylum seekers from Sicily in Italy to other member states could start before the end of the week.“Hopefully the plan is to start with the relocation process in the coming days”, a spokesperson from the European support asylum office (EASO) told this website on Wednesday (30 September)."

East coast of Lesvos, Greece: The sea is starting to get a bit rough: Life Savers!!!!! (Eric Kempson, video, link)

Athens mayor calls for action as tensions rise at makeshift camp (, link): "The presence of hundreds of refugees and migrants in the capital’s squares continued to cause problems on Wednesday, with Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis calling for an immediate solution to the situation at Victoria Square, which has been turned into a makeshift refugee camp. A brawl broke out in the square on Wednesday night, reportedly between migrants and suspected people-smugglers. A group of local residents have called on shops to stay closed on Thursday in protest. Sources told Kathimerini that the group includes “extremists,” apparently referring to far-rightists who have staged protests in the area in the past."

Cold weather, new laws, harden EU refugee trail (euobserver, link): "Increasingly cold weather in Europe is making the already-perilous journey of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria and other troubled countries more difficult, as some EU states introduce stricter asylum measures to stem the flow of migrants.... After Germany scrapped some of the benefits for migrants on Tuesday, Finland said on Wednesday it has suspended decision-making on asylum claims by Iraqis and Somalis, indicating that some of the asylum requests were not based on persecution or on fleeing war. The Finnish Immigration Service also said it might tighten guidelines for asylum awards after completing an assessment of the situation in the next couple of weeks.... While sending refugees and migrants arriving from Croatia to Austria, Hungary is also making use of tough new laws to punish migrants for breaching its razor-wire fence on the border with Serbia. According to Reuters, in the 10 days since the new legislation took effect, courts ruled in 176 cases, sentencing migrants mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq to expulsion from Hungary back to Serbia. Nobody has been acquitted and only 10 cases were appealed."

Slovakia pushes ahead with legal action over EU refugee quotas (euractiv, link): "Slovkia agreed on Wednesday (30 September) to take legal action at the European Court of Justice against the EU plan to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers, Prime Minister Robert Fico said yesterday."

Bulgaria grateful to Turkey for stopping the migrants from entering the EU (, link): "The EU and Turkey are part of the solution to the refugee crisis. President Rosen Plevneliev and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rallied behind the idea during a bilateral meeting within the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York."

More Than 88 500 Migrants Enter Croatia in Two Weeks (, link)

A bit late? New knowledge centre to help the EU minimise risk of disasters (EU Joint Research Centre, link)

Hungary: 'This is a creeping dictatorship' (DW, link): "Police in Hungary have allegedly beaten and detained foreign journalists covering the refugee crisis. DW spoke with leading Viktor Orban critic Kim Lane Scheppele, who says Hungary is becoming a police state."

Why the UN Meeting Is No Friend to Refugees (, link): "Resolving the refugee crisis requires understanding displacement and migration as central to anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles."

Refugee Crisis in Europe Prompts Western Engagement in Syria (NYT, link): "Suddenly, at the United Nations General Assembly this week, leaders of the world’s most powerful countries want to meet with him, all of them deeply worried about the refugee crisis.So what has changed? Well, nothing, Mr. Guterres said, “except refugees came to rich countries,” expanding the crisis from nations like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan to those in Europe."

Europe’s Migration Crisis in Context: Why Now and What Next? (MPI, link)

Walking with migrants: 'Arrested, nearly knifed, but I've made it as far as Serbia' (D.Telegraph, link) "A daily diary of migrants' stories as they travel from Greece to central Europe "

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