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Amnesty International lambasts ‘hypocritical Brussels’ as pressure mounts on Greece (Malta Today, link):

"The European Commission wants Greece to start receiving back migrants from other member states whilst speeding up migrant returns to Turkey....

Amnesty International has lambasted the “hypocritical” position adopted today by the European Commission who wants Greece to start receiving migrants from other member states, in a bid to stop asylum seekers from moving north.

The European Commission today published a fourth report on the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and on relocation and resettlement schemes....

“It seems that for the European Commission all roads for refugees lead to Greece. It is outrageously hypocritical of the European Commission to insinuate that Greece alone is to blame for dire conditions, when the overcrowding and insecure climate on the Greek islands are for the most part caused by the EU-Turkey deal, and compounded by the lack of solidarity from other EU countries to relocate people,” Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institution’s Office, said. "

Greece: European Union to remove existing guarantees against Turkey returns (AIDA, link):

"A Joint Action Plan of the EU Coordinator on the implementation of certain provisions of the EU-Turkey Statement outlines several legal and operational modifications to the asylum procedure with a view to stripping away some of the crucial guarantees available to persons entering the Greek islands since 20 March 2016."

See: Turkey progress report (COM 792, pdf)

EU: European Commission: Dublin returns to Greece to start for new arrivals from 15 March 2017

- Commission reports on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf):

"The Commission is today reporting on progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on the EU's relocation and resettlement schemes...

"The Commission therefore recommends that transfers to Greece should be resumed gradually, on the basis of individual assurances from the Greek authorities for each returnee, guaranteeing they will be received in dignity. In order to avoid that an unsustainable burden is placed on Greece, the resumption of transfers will not be applied retroactively and will only concern asylum applicants who have entered Greece irregularly from 15 March 2017 onwards or for whom Greece is responsible from 15 March 2017 under other Dublin criteria." [emphasis added]

- Eighth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 791,pdf)

- Annex 1: Greece: Relocations in EU (pdf)

- Annex 2: Italy: Relocations in EU (pdf)

- Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)

- Turkey progress report (COM 792, pdf)

- State of play: Relocation and resettlement (pdf)

See: Greece left alone in the refugee crisis - The envisioned resettlement of refugees around the European Union has not worked. Now more of them can be sent back to Greece. Bernd Riegert reports from Brussels (DW, link):

"More pressure will mount on Greece starting on March 15, 2017, when those who reach Austria, Slovenia, Hungary or Bulgaria through Greece and the Balkans can be returned to Greece, in accordance with the Dublin III Regulation. This has so far been suspended, given conditions in Greece are failing to meet European standards and legal norms. The European Commission now holds a different view, urging Greece to do more to expedite the asylum process. Land borders with Albania and Macedonia are to be better secured with assistance from a new EU border security group. The Dublin III provisions, fought hard for especially by Germany, Austria and Hungary, could then take effect as of March, Avramopoulos said. They would be applied only to newly-arrived adults, not to those already in the EU."

Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"Anger is building at the return of refugees from Europe to war zones and the EU’s deals with dictators and torturers to prevent refugees from leaving their own countries. In the first of two articles, Frances Webber looks at the EU’s deals with Afghanistan and Turkey. The second article will examine the deals with African states."

Terrible conditions for refugees in Greece (Norwegian Refugee Service, link):

"The Norwegian Refugee Council is deeply concerned about the conditions for refugees and migrants meeting the freezing winter weather in cold tents, warehouses and barracks in Greece.

“It is disgraceful how Europe is treating people who came to us for protection,” said Alain Homsy, Head of NRC’s operations in Greece.

Since European neighbors closed their borders to Greece almost nine months ago, and with the additional strains of the EU-Turkey deal, thousands of refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece, while new boats continue to arrive, nearly 2000 people just in November."

Danish MP suggests shooting at boats carrying migrants (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Security forces should shoot at the boats of migrants trying to reach the European Union illegally, a member of parliament for the Danish government’s main political ally, the Danish People’s Party, suggested on national television.

“The only efficient way is to turn the boats and say: ‘You cannot sail within this national border and if you do, you will either be shot at or be turned around and sailed back,” Kenneth Berth, the EU spokesman for anti-immigrant party, said on broadcaster DK4 on Tuesday.

Berth later softened his statement on Facebook, saying he did not mean that people should be shot at, but that NATO-ships could shoot in the air as a warning."

UNICEF chief: 2016 was ‘one of worst years in history for children’ (euractiv, link):

"From Aleppo to South Sudan or Yemen, UNICEF banged the drum for education in emergencies at a European Parliament event this week, highlighting the plight of tens of millions of children in conflict and emergency situations going without schooling."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Scope of the principle of non-refoulement in contemporary border management: evolving areas of law (pdf):

"EU Member States’ contemporary border control activities raise difficult questions related to their non-refoulement obligations, calling for more legal clarity. This report scrutinises specific scenarios – within third countries, on the high seas, and at the EU’s borders – regarding which views differ as to whether they constitute refoulement. The analysis presents each scenario and the applicable legal framework, briefly sketches current practices, and outlines arguments that speak against, and in favour of, finding a violation of non-refoulement."

UK: Yarl's Wood demonstration draws up to 2,000 campaigners - Hundreds march around detention centre perimeter to denounce rise in hate crime in wake of Brexit vote (Guardian, link):

"The largest protest staged against Britain’s most notorious detention centre has taken place, as up to 2,000 demonstrators gathered outside Yarl’s Wood to denounce “immigrant bashing” in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Campaigners from across the UK protested at the Bedfordshire immigration removal centre on Saturday, demanding that the facility, which mainly houses women, is closed immediately.

They said Yarl’s Wood had become an even more toxic symbol when viewed against the rising hate crime, xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that had gathered momentum in the wake of the EU referendum."

Africa has mixed reaction to Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan’ proposal (euractiv, link):

"Germany’s planned ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa has been greeted with both optimism and scepticism, with its supporters hailing it as a cure for Africa’s age old development problems and its critics questioning Germany’s true intentions. EurActiv Germany reports...

Germany now wants to transfer a similar plan to Africa, with a view to creating a conducive environment and opportunities for the African youth in particular, by making them stay and find meaningful employment at home rather than looking for work in Europe.

It is seen as a stab at containing the unprecedented inflow of migrants to Germany, following its open door policy for refugees...

Critics of the plan have poured cold water on the idea, arguing that it is a classic example of comparing apples and oranges....

Jacob Kahenya, a political scientist in Kenya, argues that the plan misses the point by comparing the African situation now to what happened in Eastern Europe after the Second World War.

Situations and circumstances between the Marshall Plan of 1948 and what Germany is trying to introduce now are completely different. 21st century Africa requires serious and multi-faceted approaches in addressing the problems bedevilling it, part of which include some serious home grown solutions. This plan would be an outright flop,” Kahenya insisted."

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