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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
6.4.16
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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
‘Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile’: Towards a third phase of the Common European Asylum System? (link) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law. University of Essex:

" Overall, this is a very disappointing paper from the Commission. There are certainly abuses of the asylum system, but EU legislation already has many possibilities to address them, as regards fast-tracking decisions and appeals, reduced benefits and detention. There’s little evidence here of a balanced, rational and coherent response to the crisis. In fact, this looks rather more like panic.

Of course EU asylum law does not develop in a political vacuum. Member States had a key role agreeing these laws, and the main role implementing them and driving the reaction to the crisis. No criticism of the ‘EU response to the crisis’ should ignore what is ultimately driving that response: the neo-nationalist political parties which are in government in several Member States and form the main opposition in several more. But is endless concessions to these parties really the right strategy? They will always be able to outflank the political mainstream when it comes to anger, fear and ignorance. It’s always better to stand and fight for what you really believe in than to pretend to agree with your opponents’ fundamentally different views."

Shoot The Moon - Lesvos, Greece: Week 8 (madisondarbyshire.com, link):

"I don’t want to forget the anguish in the voice of a mother who has lost her baby in the sea.
I don’t want to forget the feeling of numb fingers, frozen from picking up wet clothing off the ground.
I don’t want to forget the softness of a toddler’s arms on my shoulders as I dressed them.
I don’t want to forget the bright taste of fried cauliflower in lemon sauce, prepared so skillfully by a Syrian chef who helped us to cook for dozens of refugees before sitting down to feed his own family.

I don’t want to forget the kick of sweetened chai tea on my tongue during a long afternoon.
I don’t want to forget the heat of a tightly bundled baby in my arms.
I don’t want to forget the smell of hundreds of bodies packed together into tents, families huddled together in groups, or the singular scent of clothing when it is the only set a person has.

I don’t want to forget that there are people who need help, and there is a world worth fighting for.
I don’t want to forget that there are people in this world who will drop everything— careers, mortgages, degrees— to pour themselves into a crisis.

I don’t want to forget the relief on the faces of those who made it here safely. I don’t want to forget the torment on the faces of those who left everyone they love behind. I don’t want to forget the terror and sadness of those who were turned away.

I don’t want to forget that this world is closer to my own than it is far away.
I don’t want to forget that I have the choice to go home, to choose a life for myself, and that is an unbelievable privilege.

These are the things I will fight with all my might to remember. We all will."

European Commission: Press releases & Communications: 6 April 2016:

- Stronger and Smarter Borders in the EU: Commission proposes to establish an Entry-Exit System (pdf): Communication (COM 194 , pdf) and Staff Working Document (pdf)

- Smart Borders Package: Questions & Answers (pdf)

- Commission presents options for reforming the Common European Asylum System and developing safe and legal pathways to Europe (pdf)

- Commission launches discussion on future framework for stronger and smarter information systems for border management and internal security (pdf) and Communication: 205-16 (pdf)

European Commission proposals for changing asylum system: Towards a reform of the Common European Asylum System and enhancing legal avenues to Europe (Full-text, pdf)

- Security: EU strengthens response to hybrid threats (pdf): "The European Commission and the High Representative adopted today a Joint Framework to counter hybrid threats and foster the resilience of the EU, its Member States and partner countries while increasing cooperation with NATO on countering these threats. In recent years, the EU and its Member States have been increasingly exposed to hybrid threats that comprise hostile actions designed to destabilise a region or a state."

and see: Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats a European Union response (Commission and EEAS, pdf):: Incliudes the need for a "EU Fusion Cell":

"While definitions of hybrid threats vary and need to remain flexible to respond to their evolving nature, the concept aims to capture the mixture of coercive and subversive activity, conventional and unconventional methods (i.e. diplomatic, military, economic, technological), which can be used in a coordinated manner by state or non-state actors to achieve specific objectives while remaining below the threshold of formally declared warfare.... Massive disinformation campaigns, using social media to control the political narrative or to radicalise, recruit and direct proxy actors can be vehicles for hybrid threats.,,,

Hybrid threats aim to exploit a country’s vulnerabilities and often seek to undermine fundamental democratic values and liberties." [emphasis added] Comment: . In the latter objective the EU itself is doing a pretty good job of doing this to itself.

Erdogan’s not mad, he’s ruthless (euractiv, link): "If Erdogan is going to become the single centre of power in Turkey, he must crush his domestic opposition and the PKK. And with the Europeans paying him to handle their refugee problem, he is not isolated from the world. He is not mad. He is quite calculating and logical, albeit ruthless."

UNHCR Map of "camps" in Greece: (pdf) Note the increasing number on the mainland.- will they become detention centres?

With new deal, a refugee’s rights come down to luck (Reuters, link):

"LESBOS, Greece — Through a barbed wire fence, 17-year-old Syrian refugee Asma attempted to tell us about her journey to Greece. We didn’t have much time to listen. Greek police officers were breathing down our necks, threatening to arrest us unless we left."

Pope set to visit refugees in Greece as deportations stall (euractiv, link): "Pope Francis will travel to the Greek island of Lesbos on the frontline of Europe’s refugee crisis next week, Athens announced yesterday (5 April), as a controversial EU accord to send migrants back to Turkey stalled.

The trip by the pope, who will be accompanied by the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, is likely to pile pressure on EU leaders already facing criticism over the controversial deal struck last month." and

Red Cross questions Turkey refugees deal (euractiv, link): "EXCLUSIVE / Francesco Rocca, the vice-president of the International Red Cross Federation, questioned the European Union’s controversial refugee repatriation agreement with Ankara on the first day refugees started being sent back to Turkey, EurActiv.com has learned.... Rocca expressed his views during a private meeting with the EU’s Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cre?u on Monday (4 April). The rare broadside from the Red Cross, which usually refrains to criticise member states in which it operates..."

Helping Refugees Together by Peter Sutherland (project-syndicate.org, link):

"This year is likely to be the most momentous for refugee protection and migration since the signing of the Geneva Convention in 1951. Depending on the choices we make, we will either help create more open societies, based on greater international cooperation, or we will abet authoritarian governments and their nationalist agendas. So we must treat this issue with exceptional urgency and seriousness of purpose. "

Are You Sryious (link)

"Two deported refugees, Pakistanis who arrived yesterday in Turkey "inaugurating" the agreement between the European Union and Turkey attempted suicide when they arrived in current center for returnees. The reason for that was attempted and requested political asylum, for which their application was rejected immediately. One of them passed away later at a Turkish hospital."

"Pakistani refugees at Lesvos? told volunteers that police were arresting all Pakistani refugees, even those who claimed an asylum. Thus, refugees were protesting at Moria. At Chios, there are rumours about the deportations of refugees despite the fact that they claimed they wanted to claim asylum. Also, from several cases, volunteers got the impression that the deportations happen in a super-arbitrary way. Twice, volunteers claim, refugees almost got deported because they were standing "in the wrong crowd." Finally, Vincent Cochetel, director of UNHCR’s Europe bureau, said on Tuesday that 13 Afghans and Congolese asylum seekers who reached the Greek island of Chios after 20 March, and who were deported back to Turkey on Monday, had not been allowed to formally register their asylum claims due to administrative chaos on the island."

"Number of new arrivals on the islands in 24h period until 07:30am was 225, of which 187 on Lesvos, 20 on Samos and 18 on Kastellorizo. Significant free spaces according to official capacity: Leros 900, Elleniko Baseball 150, Ritsona 140, Thermopylae 110, Koutsochero 100, Diavata 230, Nea Kavala 460, Nea Karvali 250, Kozani 180, Nea Chrani 110, Doliana 200, Katsikas 380, Alexandria 890." [emphasis added]

UNHCR Daily report: (5.4.16)

"On 2 April, the Austrian Defense Minister, Hans Peter Doskozil, said that Austria will soon impose higher border controls along the Italian border and is likely to deploy military personnel in the area. According to the statement, the troops would help protect the border, administer aid as well as register and deport migrants. The EU Chief Spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas, said that Austria will not violate any Schengen rules if it imposes stricter border controls along the Italian border."

"UNHCR is concerned however, that 13 individuals (including some Afghans) among those returned from Chios had indicated to UNHCR their intention to apply for asylum, but may not have had the opportunity to formally register their intention with local authorities. Meanwhile, on the Aegean islands, many media reports are seen with persons complaining of not being given sufficient time and access to the asylum procedure. It is to be noted that about 4,000 migrants and refugees are being detained on Greek islands since the agreement came into effect March 20."

"The number of refugee arrivals in Italy this year is already 80% higher than in the same period in 2015. At the UN’s Geneva conference on Syrian refugees last Wednesday (30 March), Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, announced that 3,700 people had been rescued over the previous five days alone. Gentiloni put the total number of asylum seekers having made the crossing in the first three months of 2016 at 18,234."

News (6.4.16)

Greece sees two-week lag in migrant returns to Turkey, says official (ekathimerini.com): "A last-minute flurry of asylum applications by migrants desperate to avoid expulsion from Greece to Turkey will likely cause a two-week “lag” in an EU deportation plan slammed by rights groups, a Greek official said Wednesday.... Out of around 6,000 migrants who have arrived on the islands of Chios and Lesvos after the March 20 deadline, more than 2,300 have now applied for asylum. And many others had previously complained of not having had access to the asylum procedure."

Protesters clash with police at Italian-Austrian border (dailysabah.com, link): "talian demonstrators clashed with Austrian police on Sunday when they crossed the Brenner Pass border to protest against Austria's plans to enforce controls to limit the passage of migrants. Some 500 human rights activists marched on the border Sunday, lighting flares and spraying "Welcome" on a sign announcing the passage to Austria. Austrian police said they detained around 50 protests for throwing stones at officers, injuring five, and vandalizing property. Police used batons and pepper spray to drive back the protesters, according to reports in the Austrian media. An Austrian official was also quoted in the German media as saying that Austria will deploy soldiers to the borders to ensure that an expected influx through Italy won't make it north."

EU to set out proposals for overhaul of European asylum rules (Guardian, link):

"European commission will publish paper suggesting changes after migration crisis left current Dublin regulation unworkable... The European commission will propose two options, which still have to be agreed by EU member states. The widely trailed option of scrapping the Dublin rules remains: under this proposal the EU would have a mandatory redistribution system for asylum seekers based on a country’s wealth and ability to absorb newcomers.

A second option would preserve the existing Dublin rules, but add a “corrective fairness mechanism” so refugees could be redistributed around the bloc in times of crisis to take the pressure off frontline arrival states."

Migrant arrivals on Greek islands slow to a trickle (ekathimerini.com, link): "New arrivals on the Greek islands facing Turkey dropped to 68 in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning from 225 the previous day, data from the migration ministry showed." and Turkish coast guard intercepts dozens of migrants on Aegean (ekathimerini.com, link):"The Turkish coast guard has apprehended dozens of migrants on the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece. About 60 people, including some Syrians, were brought to a coast guard station in the western province of Izmir on Wednesday.:"

Greece: Tensions flare at Piraeus Port as migrants refuse to evacuate makeshift camp (ekathimerini.com, link)::"Tensions flared at the Port of Piraeus, south of Athens, on Wednesday after authorities informed migrants and refugees who have for weeks found temporary shelter outside a passenger terminal that they will be transported to purpose-built camps near the capital."

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