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EU-Mali readmission agreement marks first such deal with an African state

The EU has signed its first readmission agreement with an African state, after a deal was reached with the Malian government in Bamako on Sunday 11 December aimed at combating "the root causes of irregular migration" and "to encourage the return of Malian migrants from Europe". The deal marks a complete U-turn by the Malian government, which EU officials noted in February this year was "opposed to readmission agreements."

Commission: over €1 billion of EU-Turkey deal money contracted for 34 projects

In an answer to a parliamentary question the European Commission has said that €1.252 billion of the €3 billion promised under the EU-Turkey deal has so far been contracted for 34 different projects on humanitarian aid, education and healthcare for refugees.

A further €60 million has been provided for "food, healthcare and accommodation for migrants returning from Greece to Turkey," and €20 million has gone towards a "contract to strengthen the capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard."

EU met only 5% of target for relocating refugees from Greece and Italy (The Guardian, link):

"European countries have relocated only one in 20 of the refugees they promised to shelter, amid continuing deep divisions over how the continent should help growing numbers fleeing war and persecution.

More than a year after the EU promised to disperse 160,000 refugees from overstretched Greece and Italy to other EU countries, only 8,162 people have been found a home, figures from the European commission show.

Although the EU has met only 5% of its goal, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner in charge of migration, declared it was possible to hit the target by September 2017."

EU: New Asylum Agency must ensure EU countries respect common asylum rules, say MEPs (press release, pdf):

"The committee backed a proposal to strengthen the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will become the EU Agency for Asylum, and provide it with the means to assist member states in crisis situations, but also to monitor how national authorities apply EU legislation.

The new Agency will assess all aspects of the common asylum policy, such as reception conditions, respect for procedural safeguards, the right to legal aid and access to interpretation, and adequacy of financial and human resources. To do so, it will be entitled to make unannounced on-site visits to EU countries.

It would rely on an “asylum intervention pool”, formed by no less than 500 experts contributed by member states, who could be deployed in cases where the asylum and reception systems of an EU country are subject to “disproportionate pressure”."

Over 900,000 Passed Through Serbia Since Refugee Crisis Began - Foreign Minister (Sputnik News, link):

"Over 900,000 migrants and refugees made their way through the Serbian territory since the beginning of the refugee crisis, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Thursday.

He stressed that the state of affairs represented a heavy burden for Serbia."

Pale Shelter: Refugees in the UK (one small window, link):

"For those who manage to survive war, persecution, violence, gross human rights violations including torture and rape, who endure the perilous journey across deserts, mountains and seas, arrival on the shores of this green and pleasant land is often the start of a new ordeal, one that can be as humiliating and dehumanising as other parts of the refugee’s trajectory.

Like many other European countries, Britain’s twenty first century attitude to its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention has largely hinged on a policy of deterrence through the criminalisation of asylum seekers and refugees. Many asylum seekers arrive without identification documents to prove who they claim to be and are then subject to language testing for determination of origin which guesses their nationality based on language skills; a wrong assessment sees the asylum claim rejected. For many more others, their first glimpse of England is from within an immigration removal centre run by the prison service."

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