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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
14.7.16.16
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European Commission: Asylum, relocation, resettlement, legal channels - package

European Commission: Completing the reform of the Common European Asylum System: towards an efficient, fair and humane asylum policy (Press release, pdf)

"The Commission is proposing to replace the Asylum Procedures Directive with a Regulation establishing a fully harmonised common EU procedure for international protection to reduce differences in recognition rates from one Member State to the next, discourage secondary movements and ensure common effective procedural guarantees for asylum seekers."

- Proposal for a: Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (COM 466, pdf)

- Proposal for a: e Regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union and repealing Directive 2013/32/EU (COM 467, pdf)

- Reforming the Common European Asylum System: Frequently asked questions (pdf)

- Proposal for a Directive: laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (COM 465, pdf)

- Reforming the Common European Asylum System: Frequently asked questions (pdf)

- Enhancing legal channels: Commission proposes to create common EU Resettlement Framework (Press release, pdf)

- Proposal for a Regulation: establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council (COM 468, pdf)

REACTIONS to above: EU officials finalise common asylum system to resettle refugees - Advocates say people can expect similar treatment wherever they settle, but critics say scheme is betrayal of refugee rights (Guardian, link):

"It is hoped that the proposed system would discourage the kind of country-hopping that saw hundreds of thousands of refugees settle in Germany last year having passed through other European countries such as Hungary and Greece....

Under the plan, refugees will only be formally resettled in Europe from third countries that agree to readmit migrants who arrived in Europe by informal means.

Additionally, the plans make it easier for refugees to be expelled from Europe in the first place. Brussels would be given greater say over which countries are deemed safe for refugees – overriding the wishes of independent appeals boards in nation states. In the current context, this would theoretically allow the EU to expel more people from Greece to Turkey, despite Greek officials deeming Turkey unsafe for some refugees....

Malin Björk, the European parliament’s rapporteur on the proposal, called it “disgraceful”. The Swedish politician said: “As the parliament’s rapporteur, I will do what I can to stop this distortion of the international right to asylum and the notion of global responsibility and solidarity.”

Last September, European leaders promised to relieve Greece and Italy of 160,000 refugees stranded on their territory. On Wednesday the EU admitted that member states had accepted just 3,056 – nearly 10 months after promising to help out."

 EU asylum rules: Retrograde proposals on rights and criteria for asylum seekers (Green/EFA Group, press release, link):

"The European Commission today presented further proposals for reforming the EU’s system of asylum rules, notably as regards the criteria under which asylum-seekers’ applications for international protection are judged in the EU, and the rights and treatment they should receive. Commenting on the proposals, Green asylum spokesperson Jean Lambert MEP said:

“The EU and its member states have justifiably come under fire for their response to the refugee crisis but today’s proposals from the Commission will do nothing to allay this. This latest step in the ongoing review of the EU’s asylum rules represents further retrograde steps in a number of areas of asylum policy, notably regarding the rights of asylum seekers and an obsession with punitive measures."

and Amnesty: EU’s asylum policy – a cynical attempt to strengthen fortress Europe (New Europe, link); "A package of new proposals published by the European Union on Wednesday risks rolling back basic protections for refugees and asylum seekers, said Amnesty International today in Brussels.

A proposed EU-wide resettlement framework would use resettlement as a tool for migration control rather than to provide assistance to vulnerable refugees. In addition, three proposed reforms of the EU asylum system would introduce measures intended to increase the number of refugees and asylum seekers returned to non-EU countries.

also: EU plans tougher asylum rules (euobserver, link): "The European Commission plans to toughen asylum rules to deter claimants from travelling from one EU country to another. The EU executive on Wednesday (13 July) proposed a set of new rules that would harmonise asylum procedures in the bloc in order to deal with the over 1.3 million asylum seekers who arrived to the continent in the last year.

"We set clear obligations and duties for asylum seekers to prevent secondary movements and abuse of procedures," the commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told press. Asylum seekers who do not wait for their claims to be examined in the country where they first entered the EU or who do not cooperate with local authorities would have their claim automatically dropped, he said."

Hungary rejects claims of 'excessive force' (BBC News, link):

"The Hungarian government has rejected accusations by the UN refugee agency of using excessive force to expel migrants.

Around 600 people have been deported, while 10,000 police and soldiers have also been deployed along the country's southern border with Serbia. The toughening up of what were already strict controls are leading to a rise in the number of people stuck in makeshift camps." and

Hungary deploys army to push migrants back to Serbia (BBC News, link):

!A massive security operation, involving up to 10,000 police and soldiers, is under way along Hungary's southern border with Serbia, to keep out migrants and refugees.

The armed forces have been deployed to reinforce a 175km (110-mile) razor-wire fence erected last year on a border that is also a gateway to the European Union.

Until new regulations came into force on 5 July, an average of 130 people crossed the fence every day.

The new law allows the authorities to push back anyone caught inside Hungary within 8km of the fence, but in practice it seems to be applied to those caught far deeper into Hungary, as far as Budapest."

Aire Centre & ECRE: With Greece: Recommendations for refugee protection (pdf) 

"systemic challenges to access to asylum stemming from procedural barriers or gaps in the provision of information or legal assistance have been less reported on. Against this backdrop, the aim of the joint visit conducted by The AIRE Centre and ECRE between 28 May and 6 June 2016 was to cover issues which may not have received equal attention to date, as well as to conduct a needs assessment for NGOs and practitioners working in the field, which would enable effective and sustainable support to the Greek asylum system. This report contains observations and recommendations on the basis of findings from several meetings with key stakeholders present in Greece during the time of the joint visit."

News (14.7.16)

Greece: Bodies recovered off Lesvos belonged to Syrian family from Aleppo (ekathimerini.com, link): "The four bodies recovered off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Wednesday belonged to a Syrian family from Aleppo, authorities announced on Thursday. The mother and father and their children, aged 4 and 6, drowned when their inflatable dinghy capsized. Six people were rescued by coast guard officers.

Dispatches: Italy Wakes Up to Xenophobia - Killing of Nigerian refugee shows growing concern over intolerance (HRW, link): !Emmanuel was a 36-year-old Nigerian who came to Italy last year with his wife after both their parents were killed when Boko Haram bombed their church. Emmanuel survived terrorism at home, violence in Libya, and the dangerous sea crossing to Italy. But last week he was beaten to death on the streets of Fermo, a mid-sized town in eastern Italy, in a fight that began when an Italian man called Emmanuel’s wife an “African monkey.”"

IOM highlights refugee drownings: "Drownings in the Mediterranean killed two-thirds of the 3,694 refugees who perished while trying to reach Europe since January. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says it's the deadliest route worldwide." (DW, link)

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