Refugee crisis: UNHCR report highlights ongoing issues
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The UNHCR Winter Operations Cell report (22.1.16, pdf) contains an up-to-date round-up on changing policies, practices and crises.
1. Filtering by intended destination country:
"Arrivals/Departure: The border crossing between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia reopened and those declaring their intended final destination as Germany or Austria were allowed to cross..." [emphasis added]
2. The official EU policy is to offer international protection and "relocation" in the EU to refugees coming from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea (based on a 75% chance of being given asylum by Eurostat figures). Those from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of Africa are are to be "channeled" on the basis that they are not entitled to international protection - unless they apply for asylum:
"Bottlenecks: At the border crossing between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 23 people were returned to the Greek border for being of other nationalities than Afghan, Iraqi or Syrian. Similarly, 6 men were returned from Serbia. At the border crossing between Slovenia and Austria, 29 people, mainly of Afghan, Syrian and Moroccan nationality, were returned from Austria as they did not intend to seek asylum in Austria or Germany. They will be re-registered and sent to Austria. In Serbia, at Sid, 85 people spent the night at the centre, of which 51 had been returned by Croatian authorities.....
In Slovenia, on 21 January, the Interior Minister announced that Slovenian authorities will begin implementing the policy through which those who do not intend to seek asylum in Austria or Germany would not be registered and allowed to continue their travel to Austria. 14 people from Syria, Morocco and Iraq, who expressed their will to travel to Norway, were not registered. At the time, police forces were uncertain whether Croatian authorities will accept their return." [emphasis added]
Another factor of the EU's belated response is that refugees and migrants are supposed to be processed at registration centre (known as "hotspots") where they will be "nationality screened", registered and fingerprinted. However, there is only one partially operative "hotspot" in Greece on the island of Lesvos. On the island of Kos there has been local opposition to the planned building of a "hotspot":
"In Greece, the mayor of Kos sent a letter to the central government proposing a list of ten locations where an identification and registration centre can be created. The establishment of such centres is conditional upon the withdrawal of the decision to establish a hotspot in Linopoti and a 24-hour limit for refugees to remain on Kos, alongside other conditions." [emphasis added]
Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
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