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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
28.10.16
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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: The number of deaths in the Mediterranean will reach a new peak this year

"UNHCR is alarmed at the high death toll being seen this year among refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Already, and with two months of 2016 still to go, at least 3,740 lives are reported lost – just short of the 3,771 deaths reported for the whole of 2015. This is the worst we have seen.

The high loss of life comes despite a large overall fall this year in the number of people seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Last year at least 1,015,078 people made the crossing. This year so far, crossings stand at 327,800. From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiralled to one in 88. On the Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy the likelihood of dying is even higher, at one death for every 47 arrivals.

The causes of the increase are multiple: About half those who have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year have travelled from North Africa to Italy – a known more perilous route. People smugglers are today often using lower-quality vessels – flimsy inflatable rafts that often do not last the journey. Several incidents seem to be connected with travel during bad weather. And the tactics of smugglers are switching too, with several occasions when there have been mass embarkations of thousands of people at a time. This may be to do with the shifting smuggler business model or geared towards lowering detection risks, but it also makes the work of rescuers harder."

See: Mediterranean death toll soars to all-time high (UNHCR, link)

EU: Relocation from Italy: a sorry story, in numbers

A factsheet produced by the UNHCR shows the effects of the EU's relocation scheme in Italy from October 2015 up to 27 September 2016. 1,196 people have been relocated from Italy to other EU countries that have pledged in total 3,809 places - of a target of 39,600. Just 3% of the people supposed to be relocated under the scheme so far have been.

The military and migration, from the Aegean to the Central Mediterranean: NATO to boost efforts in Aegean to stop migrants (Ekathimerini, link):

"NATO defense ministers agreed Thursday to move forward cooperation with the European Union in cracking down on human smuggling across the Aegean, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters, though Ankara emphasized its opposition to NATO’s anti-trafficking mission.

NATO defense ministers have decided to continue the Alliance’s deployment in the Aegean to help curb illegal migration, Stoltenberg said, taking the mission launched in February to the next level. “Thanks to our joint efforts, together with Greece and Turkey, the flow of migrants has decreased substantially,” he said.

Ministers also decided that NATO’s new maritime security operation in the Mediterranean, dubbed Operation Sea Guardian, will support the EU’s anti-migrant smuggling mission, Operation Sophia. “Within two weeks, NATO ships and planes will be in the central Mediterranean, ready to help increase the EU’s situational awareness and provide logistical support,” Stoltenberg said."

European Parliament: European volunteering: remove remaining barriers, urge MEPs (Press release, pdf):

"The EU needs a better coordinated policy on volunteering, to give volunteers a proper legal status and help them join programmes, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. Almost 100 million EU citizens have taken part as volunteers in education, culture or arts, sport events, humanitarian and development aid work. Young people should take advantage of volunteering schemes to develop skills and acquire experience that helps them to find jobs afterwards, stresses the text....

People of all ages should be encouraged to take advantage of volunteering to improve their skills and understanding of other cultures, and thus improve their chances of finding a job, say MEPs."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Experience in Greece during the refugee crisis provides a number of lessons. First, NGOs and volunteers should not be required to register with the state. Second, activities of NGOs should not be placed under the direction of state agencies who they may liaise with but not be under their control. Third, journalists and lawyers should be automatically recognised via their national rules and bodies. Fourth, NGOs, volunteers and local people should be protected against attacks by racists and fascists."

New publication: brochure VOICES FROM THE BORDER (No Borders Morocco, link):

"NoBordersMorocco and AlarmPhone have published the brochure VOICES FROM THE BORDER! A collection of articles, testimonies, analysis and artistic pieces denouncing the European border regime and its inhuman consequences. The brochure, written mainly by North and West African activists, reflects the situation at the Moroccan-Spanish border in the wider European-African context."

See: Voices From The Border (link to pdf)

FRANCE: The last days of the Calais ‘Jungle’ (New Internationalist, link):

"Local residents in Calais remember a refugee camp in some form as far back as the 1990s; they, along with the people living in the Jungle, believe that the destruction of the camp is a short-sighted solution and that people will simply come back, and start again. We spent the week running up to the eviction getting to know and understand the complex stories of the inhabitants living in the Jungle, their thoughts on the evictions and what, in their opinion, is a viable alternative to the eviction."

ARC and DCR comments on the EASO Country of Origin Information Reports - Pakistan: Security Situation, July 2016 - Afghanistan: Recruitment by armed groups, September 2016 (pdf):

"Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) and the Dutch Council for Refugees (DCR) welcome the publication of the Country of Origin Information (COI) reports: Pakistan: Security Situation, July 2016 and Afghanistan: Recruitment by armed groups, September 2016.

As our previous responses to EASO consultations and comments on EASO Work Plans have indicated, we are particularly interested in the EASO COI methodology and await the formal consultation on its previously proposed revision. With this in mind, we are pleased to note that the EASO COI report on ‘Pakistan: security situation’ of July 2016 (from now on referred to as the EASO Pakistan report) and on ‘Afghanistan: Recruitment by armed groups’ of September 2016 (from now on referred to as the EASO Afghanistan report) do not ‘draw conclusions’ (as provided for in theCOI Methodology report), or include distinct ‘summary’ or ‘analysis’ sections as for example the previous COI report on Afghanistan ‘Insurgent strategies —intimidation and targeted violence against Afghans’ (December 2012) did.

As active members of the Consultative Forum, we would have welcomed the opportunity to input into the Terms of Reference of the reports or to be able to provide the following comments in advance of the reports’ final publication.

With regards to the EASO Pakistan report, the comments are based on an initial reading of the report, first making some general observations and recommendations and further focusing on Chapter 3. 'General description of the security situation in Pakistan', in particular 1.4 'State ability to secure law and order', and Chapter 2. ‘Security situation per region’, in particular 2.2 ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’, 2.4 ‘Sindh’ and 2.6 ‘Islamabad Capital Territory’. Comments start at page 3.

For the EASO Afghanistan report, our comments are based on an initial reading of the report and we therefore only provide some general observations and recommendations. Comments start at page 17."

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