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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
19.12.16
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EU-Mali migration declaration: text of the "common communique" signed on 11 December; Standard Operating Procedures for return

The EU's approach towards making "deals" on migration with non-EU states continued with the signing of a "common communique" with the government of Mali on 11 December in Bamako. In the communique, the EU and Mali commit to drafting a 'Joint Roadmap' that will focus on the creation of employment for young people; the "reinforcement of coherent and robust civil registration systems"; the introduction of biometric passports; border "management" procedures and "better control of the territory"; countering trafficking and smuggling and returns from Europe to Mali.

See: Communiqué commun Mali – EU - À la suite du Dialogue de Haut Niveau sur la Migration- Bamako, le 11 Décembre 2016 (French only, pdf)

Belgium urged not to resume detention of migrant children and to expand alternatives to immigration detention for families with children (Council of Europe, link):

"In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published today, Commissioner Muižnieks warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children.

Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner considers that the intention to open closed family units near Brussels airport would go against the best interests of the child.

“Immigration detention, even as a measure of last resort and for a short period of time, should never apply to children because it is a disproportionate measure which may have serious detrimental effects on them” says the Commissioner."

See: Letter from the Commissioner (pdf) and: Belgian government response (French, pdf)

EU: The deadly consequences of Europe’s border militarization (OpenDemocracy, link):

"2016 now holds the sad record of the highest recorded death toll for refugees on route to Europe.

4,900 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean. This is 1,000 more than in 2015, despite the number of refugee arrivals in Europe going down by over 60%. At the same time, EU funding to tackle the refugee tragedy has increased. Its primary border agency’s budget increased to €238.7 million, an incredible 67.4% increase compared to the year before. So why is EU funding failing so dramatically to save human lives? "

EU-AFRICA: The European Union invests €170 million to tackle instability and irregular migration in the Horn of Africa (European Commission press release, pdf):

"The package of 11 actions for an amount of almost €170 million consists of:

- regional projects to build the capacities of countries of the Horn of Africa to manage migration, including to fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants and through the development of rights-based and sustainable return and reintegration policies (€30 million);
- a project in three cross-border areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan to address the drivers of instability and forced displacement, and support cross-border peaceful cooperation and sustainable economic growth (€63.5 million);
- support to refugees and host communities in northern Uganda, in response to the recent large-scale influx from South Sudan (€10 million);
- projects creating employment opportunities to address socio-economic grievances of young people in Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea (totalling €25 million). For example, in Djibouti 3,000 people will be trained with relevant skills to access the job market; 75% are expected to have found employment within 6 months of the training;
- support to the people in Sudan, with three projects to address instability and forced displacement through resilience actions to improve access to, and quality of, primary education, benefitting 90,000 children and training 2,000 teachers country-wide (€22 million), strengthen livelihoods in Southern and Eastern regions (€9 million) and enhance nutrition of 400,000 women and children in North-Eastern Sudan (€8 million);
- a regional monitoring and learning system (€2 million) to complement the on-going Research and Evidence Facility which is expected to include (but not be limited to) information on the drivers of migration, dynamics of cross-border economies and centre/periphery relations, drivers of radicalism and violent extremism.
"

Italy saved record number of refugees in 2016 (EUobserver, link):

"It has been a record year for Italy's coastguard, with nearly 180,000 people rescued in the Mediterranean. Around 170,000 people were rescued from migrant boats in 2014, with another 153,000 picked up in 2015 and nearly 180,000 this year, including 4,000 just last week, despite worsening weather at sea, AFP reports. The government says rescue operations at sea cost €1.5bn this year, with an extra €2.3bn spent on reception."

GREECE: Keep City Plaza Open. Refugee Hotel Athens (Youcaring, link):

"Where?

City Plaza is a refugee accommodation and solidarity space in the heart of Athens, Greece.

What?

Following the closure of the borders when the EU trapped almost 65,000 refugees in Greece, the Greek government created more than 49 detention centers, hotspots and camps. City Plaza offers a safe and dignified alternative to these places where the conditions are wretched, unclean and inhumane.

On the 22nd of April 2016 refugees, volunteers and solidarity activists occupied City Plaza Hotel which had been closed for 7 years.

126 rooms on 7 floors. A reception, bar, dining room, kitchen, storage, play ground, health care center, roof terrace, classroom and library.

CIty Plaza is supported exclusively through political solidarity and individual donations."

All migrants have rights - Our call to respect the rights of migrants in an irregular situation (Red Cross EU Office, link):

"Ahead of International Migrants’ Day, the Red Cross EU Office urges the EU and its Member States to take decisive action to protect the dignity of migrants in an irregular situation.

Migrants in an irregular situation are among the most vulnerable people in Europe. Yet many of their needs are not addressed as they often live in the shadows of society, for fear of being apprehended. They frequently live clandestinely, and face significant difficulties in accessing basic services and vital assistance like healthcare, education, or legal support. "Although the numbers are difficult to measure, we know that this group is growing, as people fall off the grid because they are either denied asylum, or choose not to apply in transit countries. Our members are concerned by the increasing vulnerability of the migrants they encounter through their work,” underlines Denis Haveaux, Director of the Red Cross EU Office."

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