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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
30.4.16 to 2.5.16
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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
The Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis (NYT, link):

"This is the third in a series of dialogues with philosophers and critical theorists on the question of violence. This conversation is with Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, Britain. His latest book, “Strangers at the Door” is published with Polity Press....

I don’t believe there is a shortcut solution to the current refugee problem. Humanity is in crisis —- and there is no exit from that crisis other than the solidarity of humans. The first obstacle on the road to the exit from mutual alienation is the refusal of dialogue: that silence that accompanies self-alienation, aloofness, inattention, disregard and indifference. Instead of the duo of love and hate, the dialectical process of border-drawing needs to be thought therefore in terms of the triad of love, hate and indifference or neglect that the refugee, in particular, continues to face."

Hungary: Humanitarian disaster on the transit zones, unclear plans on legislation, and climate of fear: update on the asylum policy in Hungary (migszol.com, link):

"Many are asking us about the situation in Hungary regarding the transit zones and the planned legislation that would abolish all integration contract. In this post, we have gathered some of the latest information on the situation....

The situation is particularly worrying in the so called transit zone at the southern border. While access to the actual containers where cases are handled in extreme speed is restricted, humanitarian groups are working on both sides of the border. We especially recommend this testimony from a volunteer at the humanitarian group Migration Aid, describing the situation in the transit zone this week

We are extremely concerned about the new plan of the Austrian government to push back asylum seekers to Hungary and Italy. Leaving Hungary is becoming extremely difficult - undercover policemen, quite clearly relying on racial profiling, are trying to catch people in the train stations, and the cars travelling from Hungary to Austria are being checked...

Migszol is increasingly worried about the fact that the rhetoric and language that Hungarian politicians and authorities use about refugees remains unnoticed. During the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Fidesz-drafted Hungarian constitution, the Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated that “islamization” is against the constitution of Hungary that defines the country as Christian. The rhetoric of Orban, as well as other notable politicians in Hungary, increasingly relies not only on islamophobia, but an increasingly racial definition of muslims as a separate ethnic identity that needs to be separated from white, Christian Hungary."

REPORT FROM THE HUNGARIAN-SERBIAN BORDER (Migration Aid, link)

"The Hungarian online media has been steadily reporting in the past weeks on the miserable situation developing in the transit zones at Röszke and Kelebia; alleviating the humanitarian challenges is particularly difficult given the uncooperative attitude of the local authorities.

However, there is another aspect of the refugee crisis that gets little to no attention. We know that the Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality adjudicates approximately 20 cases a day, making it possible for about 40 asylum seekers / day to enter the country “legally” at the Serbian-Hungarian border. We also know that it is practically impossible for unaccompanied men to enter the transit zone and submit their asylum claim, not even if they are fleeing from Syrian war zones...."

Are You Syrious (1.5.16, link)

Volunteers needed on multiple locations

"Volunteers are still needed to cover Team Brit day shifts at Piraeus port, where 2189 refugees were staying yesterday. Volunteers are also needed in Cherso/Kilkis, where Love in Action is looking for hard working people for distribution in the camp and work in the warehouse. Accommodation and food are covered, driving license is welcome.

Again, Idomeni is in great need of volunteers — many of the teams in the field are really struggling right now. EKO kitchen, The EKO project, Team Banana, Hot Food Idomeni, Warehouse, Nurture Project International, RefuAid and Health / Dental Point Project are in dire need of volunteers. You can find more about their specific needs in a massive post in Information Point for Idomeni Volunteers FB group, which is one of the best info groups available."

BULGARIA: Patriarch Neophyte and Bulgarian Orthodox Church against taking in more refugees

““We live in difficult times, the very foundations of the world around us are shaken. Moral values that were observed for centuries are being questioned and rejected. In this atmosphere of value disorientation, waves of migrants with different beliefs, world view and traditions are coming and bringing more and more challenges to us”, said Patriarch Neophyte in his address to the Bulgarian people for Easter, according to local Standart News.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has also announced it will help refugees who have arrived in Bulgaria, but has urged authorities not to let any more in."

UNHCR: (1.5.16): 1,776 refugees arrived in Lesvos in April.

EU set to drive forward visas for Turks in migrant deal (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Despite deep public misgivings in some countries, the European Union will this week drive forward a plan to grant Turks visa-free travel to Europe as a reward for having reduced a flood of refugees and migrants into Europe to a trickle.

The European Commission is set to declare on Wednesday that Turkey has broadly met the criteria for early visa liberalization in a blaze of last-minute legislation and ask EU governments and the European Parliament to approve the decision by the end of June, several EU sources said....

EU officials insist the union made no promise, and the offer applies only if Turkey meets 72 legal and technical conditions. ...

A senior EU diplomat belittled any suspense around the conditions, saying: "This is just a joke. We have already made the decision...." [emphasis added]

Are You Syrious (30.4.16, link):

162 new arrivals to the islands

"Government sources report on the presence of 53,687 refugees and migrants in the country on April 30th as of 8:00 AM. The majority of them are still on the Greek mainland, while there are 8,042 people at the islands. Government sources report on 162 new arrivals to the islands?—?67 to Samos and 95 to #Chios. Volunteers report that there were no arrivals to the Northern coast of #Lesvos by 6:00 PM today (Sat, Apr 30th), while no information is available for the South of the island."

Irish group works to provide Wi-Fi for refugees trapped on the islands, volunteers are needed.

"The Irish group Disaster Tech Lab is sending a team to the islands between Greece and Turkey to build public internet facilities which will serve as public information points as well as allowing the refugees to establish contact relatives and friends. Additionally, they will provide secure WiFi networks for other humanitarian aid workers to use. They are looking for volunteers with specific technical skills (WiFi networking, Vsat, VoIP). More information on the application process is available at: http://bit.ly/1QHQvfu."

FRANCE: Volunteers will soon open kitchens and community spaces for refugees. Volunteers needed for final touch-ups.

"Volunteers report that four out of seven of the kitchens and community spaces are due to open in the new #Dunkirk camp on Tuesday or Wednesday, with wood burning cooking stoves, kitchen consuls, hot and cold running water, lighting, floored, free shop/distribution area, tables and benches, booth platforms etc. The residents of the camp are excited by the prospect. If there are volunteers skilled with wood, general making, set building, building, tent manufacturing, or plumbing who can help to get the final three spaces finished over the next week please contact Finn Kay on Facebook by private message."

Dublin Agreement might be renegotiated with each country taking more additional refugees.

On Wednesday May 4th, The European Commission will propose to the member states an amendment to the Dublin Regulation related to the responsibility of receiving refugees and migrants from the entry countries. If the agreement is reached, the first countries receiving migrants will have the responsibility to record and identify up to 150% of the originally agreed upon number?—?beyond this percentage, other states will have to share this responsibility by receiving the exceeding number of people. The Member States which refuse to receive these people will have to pay a fee for each person refused.

EU not providing fair and safe reception system in Greece, says Oxfam (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The European Union is failing to deliver a fair and safe system for receiving people in Greece, according to charity group Oxfam.

The Greek government’s limited capacity and the pressure to meet the terms of the EU-Turkey agreement has led to refugees and migrants being kept in poor conditions, stressed the humanitarian organization in a statement on Friday.

“Europe has created this mess and it needs to fix it in a way that respects people’s rights and dignity,” said Giovanni Riccardi Candiani, Oxfam’s representative in Greece. “The EU says it champions the rights of asylum-seekers beyond its borders but these rights are not being respected within EU countries.”"

Europe’s failure on refugees echoes the moral collapse of the 1930s (Guardian , link)

":n 1938, representatives from 32 western states gathered in the pretty resort town of Evian, southern France. Evian is now famous for its water, but back then, the delegates had something else on their minds. They were there to discuss whether to admit a growing number of Jewish refugees, fleeing persecution in Germany and Austria. After several days of negotiations, most countries, including Britain, decided to do nothing.

On Monday, I was reminded of the Evian conference when British MPs voted against welcoming just 600 child refugees a year over the next half-decade. The two moments are not exactly comparable. History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself. But it does echo, and it does remind us of the consequences of ethical failure. Looking back at their inaction at Evian, delegates could claim they were unaware of what was to come. In 2016, we no longer have that excuse."

Greece: "DOG DAYS ON SAMOS" - Sofiane Ait Chalalet and Chris Jones (link, with Archives back to 2012):

"we are back to an island which is staggeringly beautiful but which has a vile tumour throbbing less than a kilometre from the centre of the main town. There are hundreds of children amongst the inmates, languishing behind a double fence topped with razor wire. On every possible ground imaginable the camp is not a safe place for children. Even though the camp has doubled its capacity the new, bottom half, has yet to open so all the refugees are crammed in the older part which was constructed for 250 people. The principled opposition of the big NGOs not to work or co-operate with closed camps makes life more difficult...."

Who are we: "Sofiane Ait Chalalet is Algerian and came to Samos in 2006. He subsequently married a Greek artist which gave him the necessary papers to live and work in Greece without fear of the daily persecution which is the plight of so many undocumented people here. Chris Jones came to Samos about the same time as Sofiane. He was a university professor in Britain.

Both Sofiane and Chris have spent their lives working with some of the most oppressed and vulnerable both in Greece, Britain and Algeria."

Are You Syrious (link)

More arrivals to the Greek islands.

"There were 68 new arrivals to Samos today, mainly from Syria and Afganistan but also from Iraq, Palestine, and a considerable group from Algeria. The camp is so busy that they can barely find a place to put up their tents. Many set them up on a steep slope which is very unconformable for sleeping, but even this “option” is not available anymore."

Italy: Refugees’ rights for seeking asylum severely violated by Italian police.

"According to the organizations Naga, Asgi and Avvocati per Niente, in Milan’s police Headquarters (Questura), refugees have to fill in a preset form from April 2016, with a list of questions about departure country, states crossed on the way, and reason for migration. Then, an officer evaluates the form and decides on a refugee’s acceptance or expulsion from Italy. There is no chance for a trial to re-evaluate the case.

The organizations claim that the practice is illegitimate, since only the Territorial Commission for Asylum is the only authority in charge of assessing requests for asylum and protection. In this situation, a policeman substitutes an expert in understanding such a critical issue....

In the last 20 days, the lawyers of the candidates are forbidden to enter the police headquarters, another practice against the law. Meanwhile, Naga offers assistance with shelters and courses of Italian language, but also information sharing. These days, they strongly discourage the migrants to apply at the police headquarters."

Leaving refugees hungry is despicable! We are trying to help

"The Calais Kitchen would not mind your help. They need more donated food, more money to top up supplies, and volunteers to help them prepare all the food packs. Please contact them to volunteer at: Calaiskitchens@gmail.com; to drop off supplies at: Calaisdonations@gmail.com, or donate."

UNHCR: Daily Report 29.4.16:

"floating hotspots"!

"In order to address people’s reluctance to register upon arrivals to the Italian shores, the Italian government announced a plan to register people at sea. Following talks with European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, who stated that Italy should be prepared to receive more refugees and migrants, Interior Minister Angelo Alfano spoke of a proposal to convert ships into virtual floating “hotspot” reception centres as a possible method to this respect."

And see:Italy to start fingerprinting migrants at sea (The Local.it, link): "Italy is to introduce the fingerprinting of migrants crossing the Mediterranean as soon as they are picked up by rescue boats, officials say."

NATO to the rescue again

"Following a meeting of the heads of state of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Italy, in the context of NATO support aimed at deterring human smuggling to Europe, the American administration will source US ships to ongoing operations in international waters near the coast of Libya."

Eight EU Member States have introduced border controls

"On 26 April, the Greek government sent additional information to the European Commission (EC) regarding further measures they would implement to better manage the EU’s external borders. This information will feed into the EC’s assessment of potential deficiencies in the management of the EU’s external borders, as part of the so-called “Back To Schengen” roadmap. The outcome of this assessment will be available by 12 May. Should the EC find remaining deficiencies, it could propose to allow member states to prolong temporary border controls within the Schengen area until mid-November. Since September 2015, eight of the 26-Member Schengen area (including Austria and Germany) have introduced border control measures aimed at stemming the flow of refugees and migrants across Europe."

News (30.4-2-5-16)

Commission to give green light to extension of border controls (euractiv, link): "The European Commission wants to give Germany and other member states the option of extending internal border controls beyond the middle of May." And: Denmark pushes EU for longer border controls (The Local.dk, link): "Denmark is among six countries asking the European Commission to extend temporary controls at the internal borders of the Schengen area, as part of efforts to more closely monitor migration flows."

France: Police suspect arson after Muslim prayer hall burns in Corsica (DW, libk): "Prosecutors say the fire at the prayer hall in the capital, Ajaccio, was probably a criminal act. The French Mediterranean island experienced days of anti-Arab riots over Christmas."

Italy: 20-30 migrants drown during rescue operation - 454 arrive in Pozzallo, two bodies recovered (ANSA, link): "May 2 - Between 20 and 30 migrants are believed to have died on Friday during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean, sources said Monday. The deaths occurred after a freighter that had intercepted a migrant boat in difficulty put down a ladder to allow the passengers to climb on board.."

Refugee's Extradition to Turkey Rejected by Polish Court (Liberties.eu, link): "The man was wanted by Turkey for being a member of a terrorist group, but his status as a refugee had already been confirmed by Belgian authorities."

Italian NGOs Join Forces to Stop Forced Returns of Migrants (Liberties.eu, link) "Two Italian NGOs, Amnesty Italy and ASGI, are seeking justice for migrants who were forced by the Italian government to return to Libya, where they were imprisoned and abused... When deported back to Libya, these asylum seekers were thrown in jail and subjected to months of abuse. Some of them eventually managed to escape and reach Europe; others, however, have not been as lucky."

Greece: Underage Refugees in Lesvos to Be Moved to Separate Camp (Greek Reporter, link): "Greece’s Deputy Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas announced that the 380 unaccompanied minors at the Moria refugee registration camp in Lesvos will be transferred to a separate camp.

The decision came after the riots on Holy Tuesday, when refugees and migrants of different nationalities rioted, with most of them being unaccompanied minors.

The Greek government decided to move all unaccompanied underage refugees to a separate camp on the island under the supervision of NGOs Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children and METAdrasi."

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