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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
4.3.16
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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:
European Commission reports prior to 7 March EU-Turkey Summit:

- Progress report on the implementation of the hotspot approach in Greece (COM 141-16, pdf)

- EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan - Third implementation report (pdf)

- Back to Schengen - A Roadmap (pdf) and Annexes (pdf)

- Second Report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap (pdf)

And see: Commission Timetable (pdf)

Also: RELOCATION (state of play as of 03 March 2016) (pdf)

Since September 2015 only 335 refugees from Italy have been relocated in the EU and only 322 from Greece. 160,000 relocation palces were asked for but only 16 Member States (was 17) have offered just 4,237 places to Greece and Italy.

It appears that the Commission is no longer presenting regular updates on its plans: see:State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (1.2.16, pdf).

Are there no limits to irresponsble EU statements? Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting in Ankara with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu (pdf):: EU Council President Donald Tusk:

"To many in Europe the most promising method seems to be a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece" [emphasis added]

EU: Council of the European Union: Border checks, EU Border Agency and Vienna Declaration

- Checks at external borders: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders - General approach (6673-16, pdf):

"The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in underline."

- EU Border Guards: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (LIMITE doc no: 6746-16, dated 3 March 2016, pdf): "It is noted that the new (vis-à-vis doc. 6483/16) proposed changes are highlighted in bold, underline and strikethrough."

- EU Border Guards: As above 6483-16 (LIMITE doc, pdf):

"The most recent compromise suggestions reflecting the discussions so far on these provisions and the relevant contributions by delegations are highlighted in bold/underline/strikethrough; the compromise suggestions which had been submitted by the Presidency in previous discussions are marked with underline."

- EU Border Guards: As above: 6359-REV-1-16 (pdf):

"the Presidency believes that the compromise text included in the Annex and in 6283/16 and 6330/16 has a sufficient degree of support by delegations. It invites the Committee to confirm this with a view to preparing the upcoming negotiations with the European Parliament on this file."

- Declaration agreed by Croatia, Slovenia and Austria: Conference "Managing Migration Together", Vienna, 24 February 2016 (6481-16, pdf)

Is the EU heading for a policy of mass refoulement?

EU closes on migrant deal with Turkey (FT,.link): "The EU is close to a breakthrough deal with Ankara that would see all non-Syrian migrants reaching Greek islands returned to Turkey, marking a crucial step in the bloc’s hardening stance against the flow of people pouring into its territories.

After weeks of diplomatic pressure from Berlin and Brussels, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, privately signalled in negotiations on Thursday that Ankara will accept the systematic returns of non-Syrians and step up action against smugglers.....

Two diplomats familiar with the discussion on Thursday said Turkey also agreed to accept all migrants rescued in international waters by a Nato mission — a sensitive issue that had held-up progress on the operation. "

Or: Don’t expect big decisions from EU-Turkey summit, say diplomats (euractiv, link):

"EXCLUSIVE / No official decision is expected to be made during an EU-Turkey summit on Monday (7 March) dedicated to the refugee crisis, due to the upcoming German state elections, diplomats told...

Germany prefers that the EU-Turkey summit remains low-profile and that it doesn’t impact on the vote, EurActiv was told. Consequently the summit of EU leaders with Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu will be an informal meeting, where “no official decision is expected to be made” and no summit conclusions will be adopted."

Or: EU asking Turkey to take back migrants (euobserver, link): "In its effort to reduce the flow of migrants coming to Europe, the EU is now focusing on sending back economic migrants to Turkey.

"To many in Europe, the most promising method seems to be a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece," European Council president Donald Tusk said on Thursday (3 March) in Ankara. "It would effectively break the busines model of the smugglers," he said"

Or: EU mulls 'large-scale' migrant deportation scheme (ekathimerini.com, link): ""We agree that the refugee flows still remain far too high," Tusk said after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"To many in Europe, the most promising method seems to be a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece. It would effectively break the business model of the smugglers."

Tusk was careful to single out illegal economic migrants for possible deportation, not asylum-seekers. And he wasn't clear who would actually carry out the expulsions: Greece itself, EU border agency Frontex or even other organizations like NATO."

UNHCR: 6 steps towards solving the refugee situation in Europe (link):

"Ahead of a meeting of heads of state or government of the European Union (EU) with Turkey on 7 March in Brussels, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has today issued recommendations aimed at helping States solve the refugee situation in Europe.

"We are running out of time, and strong leadership and vision are urgently needed from European leaders to deal with what is, in our view, a situation that can still be managed if properly addressed," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. "This is as much a crisis of European solidarity as it is a refugee crisis. The collective failure to implement the measures agreed by EU Member States in the past has led to the current escalation in the crisis," he added.

And see: UNHCR: Stabilizing the situation of refugees and migrants in Europe: Proposals to the Meeting of EU Heads of State or Government and Turkey on 7 March 2016 (pdf)

EU to give Greece May deadline to register migrants, says Avramopoulos (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Europe will set Greece a deadline of May 12 to register all migrants in an orderly fashion or face more border controls, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a German newspaper on Friday....

"Greece will have until May to protect its external borders," Avramopoulos, a former Greek government minister, told Die Welt newspaper.

"We will take stock of the situation on May 12. Should we see no success by then we will not hesitate to create requirements so that border controls in Europe can be extended," he said"

Greece: Electra Leda Koutra (Facebook, link) writes:

"The Ministry of Migration confirms and provides clarifications for the banning of reporters in hotspots anounced by the Ministry of Interior's Press Release, providing us also with the reasoning of such a decision - the employees have (allegedly) asked for that, because they have too much work
.
They go further expanding the banning, by informing us through the press that not only reporters, but also NGO representatives and researchers from universities will no longer be admitted.

This is a breach of art.10 ECHR, against groups of people able to document atrocities =usually falling within the ambit of the term "human rights defenders". Restriction in the exercise of rights should be prescribed by law and be proportionate to the aim pursued.

But these are wild times, so we are currently attempting to "regulate social behavior" through... press releases. Besides the fact that a ministry poses restrictions that another ministry subsequently clarifies, it is a 3rd ministry, that of National Defense, that has been declared by Law, for a week now, as responsible for the direction and coordination of hotspots.

The above is indicative of chaos reigning, but also of "military aesthetics" around the "management" of the humanitarian crisis in Greece. I wouldn't be surprised if the Min.of Defence, in exercise of its new duties, among which "the direction and coordination of other national authorities and NGOs dealing with the assistance of refugees in hotspots", imposed the ban."

See Statewatch: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

UNHCR Daily Report 3.3.16: 135,711 arrivals in the EU in 2016: 126,166 in Greece, 9,087 in Italy. 410 dead/missing.

"In Greece as people gather at the border crossing with former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (currently 17,500 refugees and migrants present in the North of the country) the authorities struggle to identify locations where temporary accommodation can be established. UNHCR stands ready to provide emergency required support."

"Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, stated in a media report, that the government will request all EU member states (at the
European Council meeting to be held on 7 March in Brussels) to revise the relocation distribution system as a compulsory mechanism rather than a voluntary one."

UK: Right To Remain's new Toolkit is on line: (link):

"The Right to Remain Toolkit is a unique guide to the UK immigration and asylum system, with actions you can take in support of your claim, or to help someone else.

The Toolkit is needed more than ever - the asylum and immigration system is increasingly complicated, and there are more legal and procedural barriers to establishing the legal right to remain and accessing justice than ever.

We have just launched the brand new edition of our Toolkit, made possible thanks to the amazing public support we received in our crowdfunding appeal: we raised more than £8000 in donations."

EU Council President: EU's Tusk defends use of barbed wire against refugees (worldbulletin.net, link):

"EU president Donald Tusk on Wednesday defended the use of barbed-wire fences against refugees, saying that securing the outer borders of Europe's passport-free Schengen area was a "pre-condition" to solving the refugee crisis.

"I'm convinced that... back to Schengen is a pre-condition for this European solution to the migration crisis," Tusk said in Slovenia as part of a multi-country tour ending in Turkey later this week.

Asked about barbed wire fences, Tusk said: "I'm afraid that sometimes you need tougher measures if you, we want really to apply Schengen. Sorry but this is the reality."

EU:Council Presidency: Rutte urges Ankara to cut migrant flows towards zero (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey must ensure the number of refugees and migrants leaving its shores for Europe drops towards zero, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, the current holder of the European Union’s presidency, said on Thursday....

"And I hope we can come to an agreement on resettlement: that for a couple weeks we can asses that the numbers coming from Turkey to Greece are really coming down with the zero being visible, so that it is possible for the EU to start a more ambitious resettlement. So a minimum outcome and a preferred outcome.""

France struggling to find refugees to relocate as hotspots fail (euractiv, link): "France has only relocated 284 refugees from Greece and Italy, despite having housing for 5,200 people ready. It’s a paradox that epitomises the failure of the EU’s refugee hotspots."

EU: Commission’s roadmap to save Schengen - Targets set to save the passport-free zone from collapse (politico, link):

"One of the main priorities in a draft of the roadmap, to be published on Friday, is a call to speed up implementation of an EU border and coast guard service, a move proposed by the Commission in December.

“By November 2016 at the latest, the European Border and Coast Guard should be made fully operational,” states the document, which is called “Restoring the full functioning of the Schengen area.”

The roadmap also lists December 2016 as “the target date for bringing to an end the exceptional safeguard measures,” referring to internal border controls reintroduced by the likes of Germany and Austria.
Deadlines

March 12 Greece to come up with an action plan on implementing the 50 recommendations made by the Council to restore external border controls.

March 16 Commission to issue a proposal on reform of the Dublin agreement, the European law that forces refugees to seek asylum in the country through which they entered the EU...."

Greece: The hope of open borders is the last one to die at Idomeni (ANAmpa, link): "IDOMENI (ANA-MPA/George-Byron Davos) - The newcomers among the refugees in the camp of Idomeni, at the borders between Greece and FYROM,can be distinguished from the old ones. A mixture of hope, activity and eagerness is still visible in their eyes and gestures. An attitude that changes over the days. And also they still have to find their way around, discover where to find food, pampers for their babies, some sanitary goods"
.

News (3-4.3.16)

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Near 135,000; Deaths Reach 418 (IOM, link)

Migrant crisis: Have EU promises been kept? (BBC News, link): "Thousands of migrants and refugees continue to arrive at Europe's borders, but many are not going anywhere. New barriers are in place - and violence flared up this week at the Greece-Macedonia border. The EU is split over how to tackle the crisis, before even more migrants arrive as the weather improves. Syrians form the largest group by nationality - among the millions who have fled the country's civil war. Despite some progress, the European Commission said in a report in February that full implementation of the promised measures "has been lacking". So what promises have been kept or broken?"

'Significant shortcomings' in treatment of women refugees and migrants in Europe (DW, link): "With a dramatic increase in the number of female migrants making the dangerous journey to Europe, many have found the EU's asylum policies lacking when it comes to their treatment. Martin Kuebler reports from Brussels."
Austria's rapid reversal in refugee policy (DW, link): "It may well be that no other country in Europe has reversed its refugee policy as rapidly as Austria. Now Vienna sees itself in the vanguard of European refugee policy."

Children Tear-Gassed In 'Jungle' Demolition (Sky News, link): "The "inhumane treatment" of the migrants is lambasted by a Tory MP, who witnessed the mass evictions from the camp."

EU rejects call for security mission in the Balkans (politico, link): "Brussels and European capitals scramble for solutions ahead of the next emergency summit on migration.. The EU’s diplomatic arm rejected calls for a security mission in the Western Balkans to curb the flow of migrants into Europe, saying in a document obtained by POLITICO it would be inappropriate to intervene in countries “with strong institutions.” While the European External Action Service dismissed the idea of deploying EU troops and other security personnel to help control refugees, calling it unworkable, the fact that it was even being considered shows the lengths to which officials are willing to go to break Europe’s political deadlock on migration."

EU leaders continue war of words on refugees (euobserver, link): "In the build-up to the summits, public declarations show that an agreement on a "European solution" to the crisis is still far away, with leaders along the so-called Balkan route - which leads refugees from Greece, their entry point to Europe, to central and northern Europe - engaged in verbal confrontations. Here are the position of the different countries along the road - Greece, Croatia, Austria, and Germany - as they were expressed on Wednesday and Thursday..."

Tusk tells migrants not to come to EU (DW, link): "'Stay out,' was the clear message European Council President Tusk had for economic migrants trying to make their way into the EU. His remarks came during a visit to Greece, where thousand of refugees are stranded."

Dispatches: Denmark’s Deterrence Tactics on Refugees (HRW, link): "Alarmed by a significant rise in asylum applications from Eritreans in 2014 – an average of 250 a month, compared to a total of just 235 cases in the previous six years – Danish officials hastily visited Eritrea, a state with a dismal record of human rights abuse and repression. Based on the flimsiest of evidence, the Danish Immigration Service published a report in November 2014, instructing officials who review asylum claims to stop ruling that Eritrea’s policy of indefinite national service and punishment for leaving the country without permission “in itself” amounts to persecution."

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