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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
27.4.16
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Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
NATO to blockade Libyan coast this summer to stop central Mediterranean migrant flows (Independent.mt, link):

"NATO is planning a naval blockade of the Libyan coat this summer to close off the central Mediterranean migration route, as the numbers of migrants using the route, which features Malta as a central point, are expected to surge.

The military alliance is reportedly just three months away from launching the mission, according to Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, who revealed the plans as the leaders of the US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy met in Hanover, Germany yesterday..

The plan will also incorporate parts of a broader Italian strategy to repatriate migrants found to have no claim for asylum, in other words, purely economic migrants, back to their home countries.... The repatriation plans have been heavily criticised by human rights groups and even Pope Francis, since they make an arbitrary distinction between genuine asylum seekers and economic migrants."

and see:Italy says NATO three months from Libya coast mission (France 24, link):

"NATO is already operating a naval force in the Aegean Sea to stop migrant boats reaching the Greek islands from Turkey.But an operation off Libya would be more complicated and potentially dangerous given the country's instability and the presence in some coastal regions of militants allied to the Islamic State group. Turning migrant boats back to Libya would also be hugely controversial given the unstable situation there."

Caritas-europa: Migrants and refugees have rights - Impact of EU policies on accessing protection (pdf):

"Caritas Europa seeks to contribute to appropriate humanitarian responses by providing evidence about the situations of migrants and asylum seekers, supported by
insight from Caritas’ staff and volunteers helping the people in need. It provides an in-depth analysis of the impact that current EU asylum and migration policies
are having on migrants in Europe....

Appropriate responses can only derive from recognising that migrants and asylum seekers are not a “flow” nor an “invasion”, but are women, men, and children,
whose human rights and needs are being jeopardised."

Syria can’t get worse? Check out the Turkish border - On the frontier with Turkey that EU leaders are afraid to visit, violence threatens the already fragile deal to keep refugees out of Europe.(politico, link):

"The border crossing where hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees entered Turkey in the first years of the war is almost deserted. It’s been closed for a year, and any Syrian hoping to be smuggled to safety in the neighboring country risks being shot.

Just across the frontier, in Syria, the situation is infinitely worse. Some 45,000 civilians were displaced by recent fighting between moderate rebels and ISIL in mid-April, and 20,000 are sleeping out in the open, aid workers say. “People are sitting on blankets, sleeping under the trees,” Ali al-Sheikh, a Syrian humanitarian volunteer, said at the Kilis border crossing Saturday. “They are short of drinking water. There are very few tents. There is sewage all around.”

This is the scene that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk didn’t see when they visited a model refugee camp 50 kilometers from the border last weekend."

Are You Syrious (26.4.16) link):

"Important information for refugees in Greece and volunteers to inform them:

The new asylum procedure is to have an interview about the admissibility of their claim for asylum in Greece first, before the substantive interview. Most people having their asylum claims rejected now are being rejected on inadmissibility by the government claiming that Turkey is a Safe Third Country for them.

Three of the absolutely key legal criteria for a Safe Third Country are-

1) that there is no risk of refoulement (forcible repatriation to their country of origin or any country or area where they have a well-founded fear of return to) and
2) that they have fully legal access to have their substantive claims for asylum examined in that third country, and
3) that they can get recognition of Refugee Status and effective protection in accordance with the Geneva Refugee Convention 1951 in that third country.

The Turkish governor of Izmir has explicitly said that non-Syrians will be detained for immediate deportation if returned from Greece, i.e. no access to asylum procedures and no chance to have their substantive claim examined or to receive effective protection.and this is in fact what has happened to all non-Syrian returnees so far."

AUSTRIA: ITALY-HUNGARY:

Demonstrators face pepper spray over Brenner pass (The Local.at, link):

"Hundreds of Italian demonstrators on Sunday faced off with similar numbers of Austrian police at the border between the two countries in the latest sign of tensions arising from Europe's migrant crisis....

The demonstration had been called to protest over Austria's preparations for a possible restoration of border controls at the Brenner pass in the Alps because of fears of a potential surge of migrant arrivals in Italy. Wielding inflatable dinghies and brandishing a "People Over Borders" banner and "Refugees Welcome" placards, the protestors marched across the border and pushed up against a police line designed to prevent them blocking the road on the Austrian side."

Brenner closure would 'seriously damage' EU, Delrio says (ANSA, link):

"The closure of the Brenner Pass on the Italy-Austria border would cause "very serious damage" to the European Union, Italian Transport and Infrastructure Minister Graziano Delrio said on Tuesday.

"The closure of the Brenner Pass would cause very serious damage to the economy and transport, but also to the European Union because the Brenner Pass is the symbol of European integration," Delrio said. Austria has begun building a barrier along its side of the Brenner Pass at the border with Italy, which it says is letting too many asylum seekers through".

Austria Re-introduces Checks on Border with Hungary (novinite.com, link):

"Austria has re-introduced checks on its border with Hungary to curb the flow of irregular migrants, AP reported on Monday.

Austrian police have said that the number of attempts to smuggle illegal migrants into the country has increased since the Western Balkan migration route was closed to migrants earlier this year. The border controls began to apply on Monday morning, according to AP. Police haven’t said how long the controls will remain in force."

Dispatches: EU Deportations Resume, Troubles Abound (HRW, link):

"With little fanfare or media attention, the European Union and Greece yesterday quietly resumed deporting “irregular migrants” from Greece to Turkey.
After a two-week pause, boats reportedly took 31 people from Kos, 13 from Lesbos, and five from Chios – among them Afghanis, Iranians, and Jordanians....

The EU and Greece insist that all of the deportees declined to seek asylum in Greece. But can we be sure?

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, among the first deportees in early April were 13 people who wished to seek protection in Greece. Our research on the Greek islands suggests that number could be higher."

UNHCR Daily Report, (26.4.16): Arrivals in the EU in 2016: 181,673: 154.491 to Greece (62 refugees arrived in Lesvos) , 26,279 to Italy. 1.261 dead/missing.

"As reported by local media, a group of 35 people currently located on the island of Lesvos are expected to be returned to Turkey on 26 April as part of the EU-Turkey agreement. Greek media reported that the majority have expressed their wish to be repatriated given the present situation, which only allows
for application to asylum in Greece."

In Slovenia, the stricter asylum legislation, which was passed a month and a half ago in the National Assembly, became effective on 24 April 2016. The legislation entails the acceleration of the processing of asylum claims, restriction for the conditions for asylum, and reduces the time frame for legal recourse. In addition, asylum applications are automatically considered inadmissible if the applicant enters Slovenia from.a safe country."

UK: Lords try again to overturn Tory refusal to help child refugees in Europe (Guardian, link):

"Peers hope to win over Conservative MPs after voting to set a quota on total unaccompanied children allowed into UK.. The plight of child refugees stranded in Europe has become the centre of a battle between the House of Commons and the Lords, after peers voted in support of a second proposal urging the government to take action.

Peers voted by 279 to 172, a majority of 107, for an amendment to the immigration bill calling on ministers to relocate and support a specified number of children in the UK.

MPs, who narrowly rejected an earlier call by Lord Dubs for 3,000 unaccompanied children to be given homes in the UK, will now be asked to consider this “softer” proposal, which some Tories say they will back.

News (27.4.16)

Greece: Protesting migrants removed from Idomeni railway tracks (ekathimerini.com., link): "Greek police on Wednesday said migrants and refugees were peacefully removed from the Idomeni railway line, near the Greek border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Migrants had been occupying the tracks demanding the opening of the border."

Eliasson: Europe needs a unified position on refugees (DW, link): "UN Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, worries about the negative view on refugees in Europe. In a DW interview, he said Europe needs to accept the necessity of migration and diversity for a vital society."

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