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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
Two new shipwrecks may bring annual Mediterranean death toll to over 5,000, says IOM

"IOM reports that 358,403 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 December, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

Deaths in the Mediterranean this year reached 4,913, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, with 13 new fatalities reported since its last report on December 20.

Six of those deaths occurred on the route between Turkey and Greece late Tuesday, with another seven corpses reportedly discovered during a high seas rescue on the Libya-Italy route early Thursday.

The 4,913 deaths in the Mediterranean through December 21 indicate a 2016 average daily death toll of nearly 14 men, women and children per day.

IOM believes many more deaths at sea may have gone unreported this year – in the Mediterranean and elsewhere – particularly between North Africa to Spain, where data collection this year has been sporadic and many smaller vessels are believed to have been lost without detection.

Moreover these data do not reflect new information received by IOM Rome earlier today. IOM has learned that on Thursday night at least two new shipwrecks occurred, resulting in fatalities that – if confirmed – would bring this year’s death toll to over 5,000 men, women and children." (emphasis added)

See: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 358,403; Official Deaths at Sea: 4,913 (IOM, link)

Refugees fall victim to people “ping pong” in the Balkans (IRIN, link):

"In an abandoned warehouse at the back of a bus station in Belgrade, several hundred migrants and refugees, most of them young men from Afghanistan, spend their days trying to keep warm and talking about how they will leave Serbia and continue their journeys towards Western Europe.

Officially, since March, there has been no way for migrants and asylum seekers to travel north from Greece other than by successfully applying for family reunification or relocation. But there are options for those who can afford it. Smugglers are charging 1,500 euros to move people from Greece (usually Thessaloniki) to Belgrade, and the same amount again to get them to Western Europe.

But many only get as far as the Balkans before running out of money or encountering draconian government policies. Push-backs, detentions, and deportations are common throughout the region, with some activists describing a “ping-pong situation” in which people are endlessly pushed back and forth."

EU-ITALY: The ongoing failure of the relocation scheme

"Since September 2015, 1,950 asylum-seekers (5% of the 39,600 target) were relocated from Italy to 18 European countries."

UK-FRANCE: Declaration granted in Help Refugees Legal Challenge (Doughty Street Chambers, link):

"Help Refugees has won a significant victory in its judicial review of the Government's approach to s.67 Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment). The refugee NGO, represented by Laura Dubinsky, Alex Gask and Rowena Moffatt, instructed by Leigh Day, has been granted a declaration in the Administrative Court concerning the correct interpretation of s.67. The provision requires the Home Secretary, 'as soon as possible' to relocate and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other European countries. Help Refugees argued, successfully, that the Government was wrong to treat its new s.67 duties as principally met by compliance with its pre-existing obligations under European law (the Dublin III Regulation). The AIRE Centre acts as intervener, represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O' Byrne, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Other parts of the claim continue and will be heard in the new year."

EU: Let refugees help the EU (EUobserver, link) by Mohammed Alsaud:

"We, Syrian refugees and diaspora, want to be part of the solution to the refugee crisis. This includes embracing our responsibility to work alongside our hosting European communities to protect and instil the values – democracy, freedom for all and rule of law – we have sought so desperately back in Syria.

Participation is a human right and a pillar to a pluralistic and democratic society.

We are eager and ready to do our part to address this crisis. We have solutions that reflect the concerns and political objectives of those who are affected most.

Syrians are best placed to determine policy about Syrians and Syrian refugees. This crisis is our day-to-day reality and our involvement at every stage of the decision-making process as partners and experts needs to be a priority.

With no immediate end in sight for the Syrian crisis, it is of utmost importance that the EU states carefully consider what they can do to protect, educate, and empower refugees, not only from Syria but from around the world, as experts and legitimate counterparts."

EU: Restricted document gives overview of police efforts against "facilitated illegal immigration"

A recent report submitted by Europol to the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) offers an overview of "the implementation of the 2015 and 2016 OAPs [operational action plans] on "Illegal Immigration". This annex was discussed during the National EMPACT [European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats] Coordinators meeting held at Europol on 22-23 November 2016."

See: EU Policy Cycle: Monitoring of the Operational Action Plans 2016 - Priority "Illegal Immigration" (15212/16, RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED, 6 December 2016, pdf)

EU-Mali: EEAS statement on the signing of the common communiqué

A statement issued by a spokesperson for the EU's European External Action Service seeks to clarify what exactly has been agreed between the EU and Mali in relation to cooperation on migration. Recent reports have suggested that the EU and Mali signed a readmission agreement, something that was subsequently denied by the Malian government.

AUSTRIA-ECJ: Questions on visa in the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code sent to ECJ

"On the 14 December 2016 the Austrian Administrative High Court referred the following questions to the Court of Justice in C-646/16 Jafari on the interpretation to be given to the term “visa” under the Dublin Regulation III and Schengen Borders Code:

1. Are Articles 2 lit m, Article 12 and Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013, hereinafter: Dublin III-Regulation, to be interpreted in conjunction with other legal acts related to the Dublin III-Regulation or are said provisions to be interpreted independently and autonomously?

If the provisions of the Dublin III-Regulation are to be interpreted independently and autonomously from other legal acts:

2. Is the de facto tolerated entry into a MS’ territory for the sole purpose of transiting a MS and applying for international protection in another MS to be regarded as “visa” as defined by Article 2 lit m and Article 12 Dublin III-Regulation in cases – like the present – which occurred at a time when the national authorities of the involved MS are confronted with an extraordinary high number of persons demanding transit through their territory?"

See: Austrian Administrative High Court refers preliminary questions to CJEU on the definition of visa under the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code (EDAL, link)

UK: Brighton father gives up job to help refugees (The Argus, link):

"A FATHER gave up his career to help refugees.

Paul Hutchings, 49, gave up his life as a marketing consultant, has taken an unexpected direction

Paul, of Hollingbury Park Avenue, Brighton, who has two daughters and two stepsons left his job this year to give the most precious gift: his time.

He said: “I was watching the news 18 months ago and I was getting really frustrated because enough wasn’t being done to help the refugees.

“In September last year I saw an opportunity to go to Calais, so I hired a van for a long weekend and it ended that, going and coming between Calais and Brighton for about six months.

"So I got involved in an organisation there. Then, in April, someone who I was working with in Calais was really keen to do something in Greece, and I was keen to do something there as well.” "

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