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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
18.2.16
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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
EU: DATABASE CHECKS AT BORDERS: Council of the European Union:
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 6181-16, pdf):

"The intention of the Presidency, in line with the aforementioned mandates from the Council and the European Council, is to confirm a general approach on the compromise text at the JHA Council on 25 February 2016. It is noted that the changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are demonstrated in underline and the latest changes following the Coreper meeting on 10 February are indicated in bold and underline."

See: Previous document: LIMITE no: 5808-16 (pdf) and Commission Proposal (pdf)

UNHCR Daily Briefing: 17 February 2016:

"In Croatia, 116 people remain in the Jezevo detention centre for being of other nationalities than Afghan, Iraqi or Syrian or for possessing false or no
documents. UNHCR is monitoring their situation with frequent visits to the facility."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 25 February 2016: Agenda highlights

"Following the European Council of 18-19 February, ministers will discuss the implementation of existing measures on migration and may also consider possible future action.

The Council will aim to reach a general approach on the proposed regulation to reinforce checks against relevant databases at external borders. This regulation to amend the Schengen borders code, was presented by the European Commission in December 2015. It seeks to improve security inside the EU by making the checks on EU citizens against all relevant databases (which are already possible) mandatory.

Ministers will also discuss the proposal for a European border and coast guard, presented by the Commission in December 2015. The proposed agency, bringing together resources from Frontex and EU member states, would monitor migratory flows, identify weak spots and respond in situations where an EU external border is at risk.

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the possible application of article 26 of the Schengen borders code and related issues." [emphasis in original]

Belgium police mark refugees with indelible ink (PRESSTV, link):

Police in the Belgian port city of Zeebrugge have marked refugees with a number in indelible ink, a refugee support group says. Amitiés Sans Frontières (Friendships without Borders), the support group for refugees, said refugees in Zeebrugge told them that police had arrested many of them and assigned them serial numbers.

Refugees also said street cleaners confiscated their belongings, including sleeping bags, after being arrested. Many of the refugees at the Belgian port are seeking to cross into the UK through England’s east coast. Loïc Fraiture of the support group said a group of refugees said that “police would regularly come and arrest them. It was not the first time …And so, there, when they are arrested, the police mark them with a number with a permanent marker on their hands, like animals.""

Lesvos, Greece: UNHCR Cordinating Meeting, Minutes (11.2.16)

"Now 24/7 shoreline response by volunteers and organization continues to operate smoothly. New developments with the Hellenic Coast Guard and Frontex taking the majority of the arrivals directly to Lesvos ports. UNHCR and Praksis were currently allowed to enter the Schengen area at ports and provide basic assistance and assist with transportation for registration. The new practice would need to be monitored in order to optimize support and response....The co-Chair from the Municipality informed that two registration desks for volunteers and organizations were being set up in the building of the General Secretariat of the Aegean and Island Policy."

And Arrivals on Lesvos rise again in better weather:

14/02/  016:      15
15/02/2016:        1
16/02/2016: 1,178
17/02/2016: 2,091

Migrant crisis: Austria sets asylum claims cap and transit limit (BBC News, link): "Austria will impose a daily quota on asylum claims and limit the flux of migrants travelling through the country.Officials say 80 asylum applications will be accepted each day, and a maximum of 3,200 people will be allowed to travel through Austria. The measures will be introduced on Friday."

and see: EU tells Austria daily cap on asylum applicants against law (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European Union Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos wrote to the Austrian government on Thursday to warn Vienna that its plan for a daily cap on the number of asylum seekers it would let across its border would break EU law.

“What the Austrians have decided is not according to European laws,” Avramopoulos told Reuters. “I am sending the letter telling them that what they decided to do is not compatible to the European legislation. The Austrians are obliged to accept asylum applications without putting a cap.”

EU migration mini-summit cancelled after Turkey attack (euobserver, link):

"A planned mini-summit on the refugee situation in Europe has been cancelled following a bomb attack in Turkey.

Austria was due to host the meeting on Thursday (18 February) in Brussels, where about 10 EU leaders were going to try to convince Turkey to agree to a migrant swap deal whereby EU states would accept a limited number of refugees if Ankara would take back those rejected by Europe."

News (18.2.16)

EU leaders to discuss Turkey, ‘Plan B’ at migration dinner (ekathimerini.com, link):"European Union leaders pondering the migration crisis in Brussels on Thursday will discuss whether a German-backed strategy for Turkey to curb the flow was enough or a “Plan B” to close Balkan borders is needed."

European states deeply divided on refugee crisis before key summit (Guardian, link): "Germany’s Angela Merkel is trying to salvage her open-door policy as a growing number of countries move to seal borders... The leaders of four anti-immigration eastern European countries met in Prague on Monday and demanded alternative EU policies by next month. Their plan amounts to exporting Hungary's zero-immigration razor-wire model to the Balkans, sealing Macedonia's border with northern Greece, and bottling up the vast numbers of refugees in Greece unless they are deported back to Turkey."

Fortress Europe’s Balkan Outpost: In giving up on Greece, Europe is betting on the tiny, corruption-ridden non-EU state of Macedonia to save the Schengen treaty from collapse. Is it ready? (Foreign Affairs. link)

Refugee hotspots in Greece: last minute compliance (DW. link): "The Greek government has delivered at the last minute. Just ahead of the EU migration summit in Brussels on Thursday, the government has unveiled its new reception centers intended to stem the refugee flow."

Refugee crisis 'impossible to handle' in Turkey (BBC News, link): "Many in Turkey feel a little like Canute, expected to halt something akin to a relentless natural phenomenon. There is a resentment that the European Union is simultaneously calling on the country to throw open the borders with Syria and stop them travelling on to Europe."

Demirtas: EU ignoring Turkey crackdown in bid for refugee deal (euractiv, link): "The European Union is turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Turkey in a doomed bid for a solution to its migrant crisis, the leader of Turkey’s main Kurdish party told a Greek newspaper..."

EU: 5 biggest migration headaches (politico, link): "EU leaders are determined to show progress on refugees, but old problems persist and new ones keep arising."

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