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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
17-18.12.16
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Defend Europe’s Unsung Heroes (WeMove.eu, link) Petition to: EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos:

"Petition Text

We believe that those offering humanitarian assistance to some of Europe’s most vulnerable people should be commended for their heroic actions, and not persecuted for human smuggling. It is time you put your kind words into concrete actions and propose one small word change in the Facilitation Directive to ensure Europe’s unsung heros are treated with the dignity they deserve and not criminalised for offering humanitarian assistance."

Are You Syrious (17.12.16)

Serbian government without a plan to help homeless refugees

"If a sustainable shelter plan is not found very soon, the situation could become catastrophic for almost 2,000 people who are sleeping rough in streets and different squats in Serbia. Most of them are in Belgrade and at the Northern border with Hungary.

This time of the year, temperatures in Serbia are below 0. All the existing centers and camps are overcrowded. And people are still coming. Today, only in Miksaliste center 293 persons come to ask for assistance...."

Austria: Police is checking trains from Italy

"The media are reporting about Austrian borders being even more closely watched by the police. This country closed its borders in March this year, but people on the move are still found their way in. Some of them are using trains that are traveling from Italy during the night. Police started controlling these trains.

The decision comes after man and women from Eritrea were crushed to death while hiding on a train bringing trucks from southern Italy."

Help Refugees: a lifeline for teenagers living in seedy Athens squats (Guardian, link):

"Small charity’s dedicated volunteers are helping vulnerable young people forced to seek shelter in squalid, dangerous places...

Official shelters in Athens are full and the city is overflowing with refugee children, many of whom have fled war zones without their parents and are now sleeping in squats, struggling to look after themselves and turning to desperate measures to survive. The government says there are 1,200 children on waiting lists for places in formal camps or shelters, but local charities believe there are many more whose names are on no lists, sleeping in one of the 14 vast squats that have opened up in recent months in deserted schools and empty office blocks in the city centre."

Greece: Migration minister eyes 'closed' facilities on islands (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Despite widespread opposition in the ranks of SYRIZA to such a prospect, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has called for the creation of “closed” reception centers for migrants on Aegean islands, saying they will help minimize tensions amid local communities.

A key reason for building tensions at existing centers on the islands is the slow pace at which migrants’ asylum applications are being processed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a pointed reference to the slow pace of migrant returns from Greece to Turkey last week.... "

Lesvos, Greece: Eric Kempson (18.12.16)

"Two boats today one in the south east of Lesvos with 32 Syrian men they were dropped of by smuggler, The other boat was picked up on the north coast by the coast guard and taken into skala Sykaminia 55 people on board very cold and wet, 7 children,15women, 33 men, great job by all the teams."

Are Your Syrious (15.12.16)

Greece

"71 new refugees were officially registered in Greece today, including 24 on Lesvos, 43 on Chios and 4 on Samos."

Serbia: People sleeping rough as temperatures drop to -7° C

"Temperatures have reached -7°C in central Serbia, but many people, especially young single men, are still sleeping on the streets of Belgrade. Hot Food Idomeni is still distributing food to those who are not accommodated in the camps. MSF is also monitoring situation in the squats. Miksaliste provided services 316 people today: 31 men, 18 women and 267 children."

Croatia: Police keeps silent about push-backs to Serbia

"Ten days ago, AYS was asked to support refugees who arrived to Zagreb, only to learn they had been swiftly returned back to Serbia. This was not the first time we’ve learned about push-backs from Zagreb or other cities in inner Croatia, in addition to countless accounts of (not officially confirmed) push-backs from border areas. However, one of the refugees who was recently pushed back to Serbia offered a detailed testimony of what happened, including a piece of paper with the address of police station where he tried to ask for asylum. Before he was brought back to the border and told to walk the rails until he reached Šid train station, Croatian police allegedly told him to sign a document, which he did, not knowing what he was signing. Both CMS and AYS have asked for official explanation of the incident, as there was no official report on police website, where every big or minor incident is usually listed. We’re still waiting for the response."

Mediterranean: Frontex denies tying NGOs to smugglers after a leaked report causes uproar in the press

"The EU’s border agency has accused charities operating in the Mediterranean of colluding with people smugglers, according to confidential reports described by the Financial Times. According to the article, Frontex put its concerns in a confidential report last month, raising the idea that refugees had been given “clear indications before departure on the precise direction to be followed in order to reach the NGOs’ boats.” The agency made the accusation explicitly in another report last week, which stated: “First reported case where the criminal networks were smuggling migrants directly on an NGO vessel.” Elsewhere in the reports, which are shared among EU officials and diplomats, Frontex says people rescued by NGO vessels were often “not willing to co-operate with debriefing experts at all” with some claiming “that they were warned [by NGOs] not to co-operate with Italian law enforcement or Frontex.” Following a well deserved uproar, Frontex retracted these claims."

Poland: Racism on the rise (DW, link):

"Muslims and Africans are the most frequent targets of racially motivated attacks. Anti-German sentiment is also playing a role...

Three students from Turkey and Bulgaria were cursed at by young men on a tram earlier this month in Bydgoszcz, a city of nearly a half-million people in northern Poland. They were told to get out of country because Poland is for Poles.

Instances like these are on the rise. Foreign exchange students in Torun, a student city also in Poland's north, have come under increasing threat. A young Turk was recently cursed at and badly beaten. Two other students were forced to their knees in a bar at the behest of the owner. They had to "apologize" for being Muslim and not Christian. Patrons encircled the students -- not to help but to laugh at their humiliating position."

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