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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
22-20.3.16
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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 fishing boats to work for the state by reporting refugee boats:
Refugee crisis: EU Fisheries Control Agency to help detect migrant boats (pdf):

"The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) which centralises and coordinates EU member states’ fisheries inspections, will be empowered to use the data provided by its ship reporting systems to detect vessels carrying migrants under updated rules approved by Parliament's Fisheries Committee on Tuesday. It will also be able to and conduct new types of operations to disrupt people smuggling routes....

providing surveillance and communication services that use state-of-the-art technology, including space-based and ground infrastructure and sensors mounted on any kind of platform, such as drones."

UNHCR: Daily report (21.3.16)

"UNHCR is concerned that the EU-Turkey deal is being prematurely implemented without required safeguards in place in Greece. At present, Greece does not have the systems on any of the islands for assessing asylum claims. Greece also does not have yet the proper conditions in place for people to decently and safely accommodate people pending their decision....

UNHCR will not participate in any way in procedures or processes of returning persons in need of international protection to Turkey

As a result of the 18 March agreement between the EU Council and Turkey, the Greek authorities began implementing new procedures. Over the weekend, for people registered prior to 20 March, Greek authorities provided additional ferry transport from the islands of Lesvos and Chios to the mainland. Refugees and migrants arriving to the Greek islands and registered as of 20 March are brought from the shores to the hotspots (on the islands where hotspots are established). Authorities in Athens confirmed hotspots are being converted into closed facilities and will be managed by the Hellenic Police.."

UNHCR redefines role in Greece as EU-Turkey deal comes into effect (UNHCR, (pdf)::

"UNHCR has till now been supporting the authorities in the so-called "hotspots" on the Greek islands, where refugees and migrants were received, assisted, and registered. Under the new provisions, these sites have now become detention facilities. Accordingly, and in line with our policy on opposing mandatory detention, we have suspended some of our activities at all closed centres on the islands. This includes provision of transport to and from these sites."

UN slams migrant 'detention facilities' in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "The UN refugee agency on Tuesday harshly criticized an EU-Turkey deal on curbing the influx of migrants to Greece, saying reception centers had become “detention facilities,” and suspended some activities in the country."

Secret EU plan to deport 80,000 Afghans: Revealed: Confidential EU discussion document proposes using aid summit as 'leverage' for removal of migrants to Afghanistan, as Brussels relies on chequebook diplomacy to curtail the crisis (Daily Telegraph, link):

"More than 80,000 Afghans will need to be deported from Europe “in the near future” under a secret EU plan, amid warnings of a new influx as parts of the country fall back under Taliban control.

The European Commission should threaten to reduce aid that provides 40 per cent of Afghanistan's GDP unless the "difficult" Kabul government agrees to the mass removal of tens of thousands of failed asylum migrants, a leaked document suggests. It admits the threat, if carried through, could result in the collapse of the fragile state....The EU has publicly embraced a strategy of chequebook diplomacy as it struggles to contain the biggest migrant crisis since 1945. "

See also: Afghanistan: EU shuts the door despite asylum recognition rates rising from 43% to 60%

And: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan - Country Fiche proposing possible leverages across Commission-EEAS policy areas to enhance returns and effectively implement readmission commitments (Doc no: 6738-16, 3 March 2016, pdf)

EU-Greece: Refugee deal between Turkey and EU sparks chaos on Greek islands - 'We are quite frankly alarmed at the speed at which this deal has been put into effect',(Independent, link):

"Confusion reigned on the Greek islands on 20 March as a controversial deal between the European Union and Turkey to deport refugees came into effect.

Aid organisations and volunteers on the islands on the frontline of the crisis said that there was no sign of the hundreds of extra police, migration officers and translators needed to enforce the arrangement. They warned that they had received no information from the Greek authorities and remained deeply concerned about the protections that would be granted under the new arrangement to those fleeing persecution and war." and

EU to start sending refugees back to Turkey within days after controversial deal 'approved' in Brussels Humanitarian organisations day the proposals violate international law (Independent, link):

"Human Rights Watch condemned the situation as a “new low” and said the proposed conditions put the “very principle of international protection for those fleeing war and persecution at stake”.

The plan has also been heavily criticised for singling out Syrian refugees, who make up roughly 40 per cent of arrivals in Europe, over Iraqis, Afghans and other groups needing protection."

Report from Are You Syrious (20.3.16)

"Refugees are rejecting the possibility of being sent back to Turkey, or to their countries of origin. Worrying information is coming from different camps about volunteers and small NGOs being asked to leave.... olunteers warn that military camps are not the solution."

Safeguards needed for EU-Turkey migration deal (euractiv, lnk):

"The EU, Greece and Turkey have to ensure that additional principles guide the implementation of the EU-Turkey migration deal reached at the 17-18 March summit, writes Nils Muižnieks...

Now that the EU-Turkey deal has been reached, the utmost care should be given to its implementation in order to dispel a number of serious concerns that the deal elicits from a human rights perspective. in order for the deal to effectively comply with human rights law, the EU, Greece and Turkey have to ensure that additional principles guide its implementation.

First of all, the deal and its legal safeguards should apply not only to Syrians, but to all people reaching Greece or any other EU country..."

News (22.3.16)

EU commission suffers from selective amnesia (euobserver, link): "Earlier this week, a commission official told reporters that people in Turkey seeking asylum can present their claim on the land border with Greece. There is no need to use smugglers and take the sea route to reach Greece, she said. If it were only so simple. It is worth recalling that the EU-executive helped seal the Greek-Turkey land border after 55,000 people crossed in 2011. Many of which also relied on smugglers...

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday has made that clear. In a speech delivered in Ankara, he blasted people who voiced objections of Turkey's reversal on "democracy, freedom and rule of law”. "For us, these phrases have absolutely no value any longer," he said in the lead up to a EU-Turkey deal on stopping migration flows to the Greece."

Police Scotland break up peaceful protest with dogs to enable deportation of mother and son (link): "Superglued protestors pulled apart and pregnant woman says she was pushed repeatedly at Brand Street blockade POLICE DOGS and around 30 officers were used to break up a blockade in Glasgow last night, to enable the removal from Scotland of an LGBT asylum seeker and her young son. Dogs were deployed against a peaceful protest in Glasgow as officers from Police Scotland broke up the blockade of 30 protestors with around 30 officers, in an move which the protestors described as "extremely violent" and "unprecedented"."

Turkey: Investigating the Fatal Sinking of a Refugee Boat and the Brutal Treatment of Those Who Survived (VICE NEWS, link)

EU staff in Greece by March 28th, Readmissions to Turkey as of 4. April (Keep Talking Greece, link)

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