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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
19.4.17
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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
GREECE: Detention centres for migrants and refugees on Greek islands at 150% of capacity

The latest figures released by the Greek government show that the "strutures" and "hosting facilities" used to hold migrants and refugees on Greece's Aegean islands - principally Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos - currently have 13,003 "guests" but officially room for just 8,696 people.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 10:00 18.4.2017 (pdf)

ITALY: 200-bed Lampedusa center overflowing with 1,000 migrants (ANSA, link):

"Almost a thousand migrants arrived on the island of Lampedusa over Easter weekend. Four women were among the arrivals, including one pregnant one, as were four injured men.

The number hosted on the island's reception center and hotspot thus stands at 1,040, compared with a just over 200-person capacity. In order to deal with the latest arrivals, bunk beds have been set up and mattresses have been laid on the floors. The Red Cross, which runs the center, is in charge of the lodgings. During the day and while awaiting transfer to other centers, the guests leave through a hole in the fence and remain in the vicinity."

EU-GREECE: Report on asylum process: delays, lack of advice and assistance, controversial involvement of EU asylum office

A new report by AITIMA details the problems faced by asylum-seekers in Greece, including a lack of access to the asylum procedure, the issues raised by restrictions on residence that confine people to islands in the Aegean, the "extremely limited" legal advice and assistance available, and the involvement of the European Asylum Support Office in the first instance asylum procedure that "raises issues of competence".

FRANCE-UK: Child refugees in northern France facing exploitation and violence on a daily basis, Unicef warns (The Independent, link):

"Child refugees in northern France are facing exploitation and violence on a daily basis?, including threats from adult men armed with knives and machetes, Unicef has warned.

An alarming report has revealed that unaccompanied minors who lived in the Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk before it burnt down last week were “constantly fearful” of sexual abuse and attacks with weapons, and that no one – including the police – was there to care for them or to protect them.

In a series of interviews conducted by Unicef last month, 13 unaccompanied minors said due to brutal treatment by the authorities in France during their journeys, they had turned to smugglers and traffickers who were offering information and apparent protection, but who in turn abused and exploited them.

The report also found that despite frequent contacts with the authorities in European countries on their journeys towards the UK, children have repeatedly been ill-informed about their legal rights to protection, including their right to be reunited with their families."

EU-AFRICA: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community report 2016: "an unparalleled platform for information-sharing and joint analysis"

The Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) "has now reached an enhanced level of maturity," according to the body's annual report for 2016, and is an "unparalleled platform for information-sharing and joint analysis with African countries" which has "captured further attention from the key policy makers in Europe and Africa."

UK: Government publishes plans for revamped express deportation system

"A new fast-track system to deport detained asylum seekers and criminals who are foreign nationals has been proposed by the justice secretary, Liz Truss.

Her proposed rules will mean the time taken to hear the appeals of about 2,000 people against being removed from Britain each year will be capped at between 25 and 28 working days."

UK: Probe into death at immigration detention centre (Migrants' Rights Network, link):

"An investigation has been launched into the death of a 43-year-old man in an immigration removal centre on 9 April. The 43-year-old man, who has not yet been named, was being held at the Verne immigration removal centre in Portland, Dorset."

EU: Thousands of migrants rescued from Mediterranean in three days (CNN, link):

"Italian authorities were still bringing migrants and refugees to shore Monday after one of the busiest weekends ever for rescue services operating in the central Mediterranean sea.
At least 8,500 refugees and migrants were plucked from small boats over the past three days in 73 separate rescue operations, the Italian Coastguard told CNN Monday.

Thirteen bodies were recovered, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old boy. It is not known how many died before they were sighted. "

EU-LIBYA: Circumventing International Law: The EU’s Responsibility for Rights of Migrants Returned to Libya Under Operation Sophia (The Comparative Jurist, link):

"From January to October 2016, nearly 160,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean to Italy. In response to the smuggling and trafficking across the Mediterranean, the European Union created Operation Sophia. However, Operation Sophia has resulted in migrant and refugee boats being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and being returned to Libya. Through the Operation Sophia training program, the EU has effectively delegated European border control to the Libyan Coast Guard. This practice allows the EU to evade both their duty of non-refoulement and duty to rescue distressed persons at sea. The EU has trained Libyans to conduct actions which the EU could not legally accomplish itself under international law, and is therefore violating international human rights law by aiding and assisting Libya’s wrongful actions."

GERMANY: How does cleaning the Lager toilet for 80 Cents per hour integrate you into the society? (Refugee Movement, link):

"INTERVIEW WITH AN ACTIVIST FROM WOMEN IN EXILE

WIE: We hearing that they are forcing people to work in the Lagers, do you have any idea or experience about this?

A:Yes that is very true. They are forcing people to work in the Lagers and I am one of the victims of this policy. They told me I should work in the Lager and that they will pay me 80 Cents per hour. I told them I am going to school, and though I would like to work, I have no time since I cannot combine both. But they said no. I would have to work because if I didn’t they would cut my social money for food. They also said that I have to work because this work would help me to integrate with the society. I said: That’s not true because I know that without the language I can’t interact with the community. I told them to wait until I get done with my language course and then I can come back to work since then I will understand everything in German. But they said no. I would have to work first."

IRELAND: Mum forced to carry sick child home from hospital on her back (Connact Tribune, link):

"A mother of two carried her five-years-old sick child home from hospital to Salthill, because she couldn’t afford transport.

The woman and children are asylum seekers living at the Eglinton Direct Provision centre in Salthill. The family has sought asylum in Ireland within the past year.

After receiving treatment, the child was released from the care of UHG but they had no transport to bring them back to Salthill.

The Eglinton is on a bus route, the 401, but it does not pass-by UHG. In any event, it is understood the child was discharged late in the evening when bus services aren’t operating.

The woman receives a weekly allowance of €19.10 per week, and so could not afford to take a taxi home. Instead, she carried her son on her back and walked the two miles from UHG to Salthill."

EU: EIB: Council agrees to increase funding to address migration issues (press release, pdf)

"The Council has agreed to additional funding by the European Investment Bank for projects outside the EU that address migration issues.

Up to €3.7 billion would be earmarked for projects that address the root causes of migration and the needs of transit and host communities.

On 5 April 2017, EU ambassadors asked the presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament. They approved a mandate for the negotiations, on behalf of the Council.

A first 'trilogue' meeting with the Parliament and the Commission is scheduled for 12 April 2017."

ITALY: Refugees bring Italian village back to life (New Europe, link):

"The laughter of a small group of refugees has broken the silence of a once-dying village in the foothills of the Aspromonte mountains in southern Italy.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the tiny village of Sant’Alessio has been welcoming families and vulnerable migrants for three years in a project which not only provides humanitarian assistance but brings with it invaluable economic and social benefits.

Over the years the village has dwindled to only 330 inhabitants, many of them elderly. The steep cobbled streets are deserted and most windows are shuttered, residents having left over the years for better work opportunities in Turin, Milan or as far away as Australia.

In an attempt to reverse the trend, however, since 2014 the council has been renting eight of these empty flats to house up to 35 migrants at a time as part of the national SPRAR network (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees)."

UK: Charter flights: ‘when politics come before people’ (Detention Action, link):

"The use of charter flights to facilitate deportation is not uncommon. A Freedom of Information request by End Deportations found that more than 1,500 people were deported on charter flights to Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana and Jamaica in 2016. The flights come with little advance warning, people facing deportation often being informed shortly before the flight is due to depart.

After the departure of the flight to Jamaica in March, I caught up with one of our clients, David*. Just days before the flight was due to take off, David was told that he would be removed on a charter flight. Not long before the flight took off he was granted a last minute reprieve following an intervention from his lawyer."

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