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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
9..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
UNHCR Daily Report (9.3.16):

"In Izmir, Turkey, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras chaired the fourth Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoðlu. Transport, trade, tourism and the refugee issue were exceptionally added to the agenda. Tsipras and Davutoðlu signed the previously announced readmission agreement, according to which people who do not qualify for international protection in Greece will be returned to Turkey."

Comment: This would appear to mean that refugees will have to be brought ashore in Greece and due process undertaken to determine whether or not a person qualifies for international protection.

Greece and Turkey intensify joint work on migrants (euobserver link): "Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras met his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Izmir on Tuesday and signed several agreements to pave the way for the EU-Turkey deal to work.

Tsipras told a joint news conference that the EU deal “sends a clear message to migrants coming from third countries, rather than countries at war ... that there is neither the political will nor the ability to cross to Europe”. [emphasis added]

Comment: This appears to mean that refugees from countries where there are ongoing conflicts - Syria, Irag and Afghanistan - will not be returend under these agreements.

And see: Merkel says history won't judge kindly if EU fails refugees (ekathimerini.com, link): "Five hundred million Europeans today probably haven’t taken in a million Syrians,” Merkel said on a panel late Tuesday in Stuttgart, Germany, adding that the EU can’t afford to isolate itself from the crisis. “I think that this won’t go well for us historically. I’m very sure of that.”"

Also: Europe finds no delight in Turkish deal - Planned deal with Turkey attacked from all sides (politico, link):

"German and EU leaders have portrayed the proposed arrangement as a major breakthrough; Europe’s best, possibly last, hope to bring the refugee crisis under control. But a broad spectrum of critics, from national and European MPs, to the UN’s refugee agency to Amnesty International, assailed the plan, arguing it would force the EU to abandon its core principles.

Clearly, Europe is willing to do anything, including compromising essential human rights and refugee law principles, to stem the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe,” Aurelie Ponthieu, a top official at Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement." [emphasis added]

EU-Turkey refugee deal – Q&A (Guardian, link): "European and Turkish leaders claim their ‘one in, one out’ deal will end the chaotic migration of refugees towards Europe. But key questions remain.

The EU now says that those who arrive in Greece by boat will be sent to the back of the queue for formal resettlement – so deterring people from making the journey in the first place. But it will be difficult to document refugees if they are returned straight to Turkey without being formally registered – as the current version of the plan suggests could happen in some cases." and

Parliament blasts EU promises to Turkey (Parliament magazine, link):

"Senior MEPs slam preliminary refugee crisis deal with Turkey, highlighting country's poor human rights record..

GUE/NGL group leader Gabi Zimmer pointed out that, "If the EU accepts the Turkish proposal, it will undermine refugees' individual rights to international protection and asylum. Only accepting Syrians directly from Turkey, while leaving other refugees to a miserable fate, violates international conventions."....

She blasted the EU for having, "made itself totally dependent on Turkey through its policy of ignorance. Instead of being proactive and acting in due time to support refugees, EU governments buried their heads in the sand until millions of people had arrived from across the Mediterranean.""

What On Earth Is Going On With The Refugee Crisis In Europe? (Buzzfeed,link): "A simple (but by no means exhaustive) explainer."

Opinion: Inching toward a Fortress Europe (DW, link): "Turkey is demanding an ever-higher price for its cooperation in fending off refugees. As long as they stop the influx, Europeans are prepared to accept any legal fig leaf held up by Ankara, says Barbara Wesel.

In Germany an asylum seeker has the right to an assessment of one's individual reasons for fleeing, and the EU is obliged to uphold the rules of the Geneva Convention. But none of that matters when the only goal is to bring the number of refugees down to zero. We are moving ever closer to the ideal of rightwing populists - a Fortress Europe.

Now that the EU has taken in a million refugees, it is willing to enter into an unsavory agreement with Turkey, putting its own future on the line, while raising the drawbridges at its borders. It is a pathetic spectacle in every respect."

Balkan Route ‘closed’ after cascade of border shutdowns (euractiv, link): "Slovenia and Serbia said on Tuesday (8 March) they would place new restrictions on the entry of migrants, putting extra obstacles in the way of those trying to reach the European Union via the Balkans."

Three legal requirements for the EU-Turkey deal: An interview with JAMES HATHAWAY (link): "My own view is that the jurisprudence to date did not consider systemic responsibility-sharing systems of the kind that meet the three criteria mentioned above, and might well have evolved differently had the cases involved a clearly protection-oriented scheme. But (perhaps regrettably) the language of the case law to date does indeed seem to require an individuated assessment before expulsion of aliens is lawful. In this sense, the ECHR seems to take away the flexibility that the Refugee Convention intended that states should enjoy in ensuring that all refugees get protection."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 10-11 March 2016, Brussels: Background Note (pdf): Includes: "On Thursday, Home Affairs ministers will take note of a progress report on the proposal for a European border and coast guard and will also discuss the current situation concerning migration."

News (9.3.16)

U.N., rights groups say EU-Turkey migrant deal may be illegal (Reuters, link): "I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.... Rights group Amnesty International called the proposed mass return of migrants a "death blow to the right to seek asylum". Relief charity Doctors without Borders said it was cynical and inhumane."

If Europe turns its backs on its refugees, where on Earth will they go next? (Independent, link)

Europe's deal with Turkey fails to deter migrant attempts for now (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey's coastguard intercepted dozens of mostly Syrian migrants in coves along the Aegean coast on Wednesday as they continued to attempt perilous sea crossings to Greece despite Ankara's efforts to stem the flow under a deal with the European Union."

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