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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
22-24.4.17
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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
Migrants and refugees are "routinely abused by law enforcement officials in the Western Balkans"

Migrants and refugees in the Western Balkans who are trying to access the territory of the EU "are being routinely abused by law enforcement officials," who are "subjecting people to violence and intimidation and denying access to asylum procedures to those seeking international protection," says a new report by Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association and Oxfam.

GREECE: At least eight drown as migrant boat sinks off Greece's Lesbos island (Irish Independent, link):

"At least eight people, including a child, drowned when an inflatable boat carrying refugees and migrants sank off Greece's Lesbos island, the Greek coastguard said on Monday.

The United Nation refugee agency UNHCR said the number of dead was at least 12. Citing survivors, it said 25 people were on board.

Two survivors, one of whom is pregnant, were taken to the island's main hospital, the coastguard said."

Constructing a Deadly Void - How European authorities continue to use Migrant Death as Deterrent while criminalising Rescuers (Alarmphone, link):

"The Easter weekend saw one of the biggest Search and Rescue (SAR) operations carried out in the Mediterranean Sea in the past few years, with 8,360 people rescued between Friday the 14th and Sunday the 16th of April 2017. The WatchTheMed Alarm Phone network was involved in 2 emergency cases and could observe first-hand both the sheer inadequacy of rescue efforts of EU authorities and the crucial contribution of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in preventing instances of mass dying at sea, which we had to witness so often in the past."

EU pays for "watch towers" on the Georgia-Turkey border

The recent newsletter of the Eastern Partnership Panel on migration provides updates from the first quarter of 2017 on relations between the EU and the 'Eastern Partnership' countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. This includes events such as the EU providing €3.4 million of "communication, surveillance and detection equipment for the strengthening of Georgia’s capabilities of guarding the green border with Turkey," including "watch towers".

AUSTRIA-CZECH REPUBLIC: Chechen refugee "spent ten weeks in Czech custody because he found himself in a legal vacuum outside Austria"

"Mukuschev spent ten weeks in Czech custody also because he found himself in a legal vacuum outside Austria. For the Czech court, he was still a Russian citizen, in spite of his long stay in Vienna. The Austrian authorities could not support him like they support Austrian citizens, since asylum holders do not enjoy their host country's full legal protection abroad."

UK: Petition: Stop using NHS patients’ personal information for immigration enforcement (38 Degrees, link):

"The UK government and NHS Digital, the NHS body that stores patient information, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January to give the Home Office easier access to patient information. This allows immigration officials to use NHS patients’ personal details, such as their addresses, to track down, arrest and deport undocumented migrants.

Patient confidentiality is essential for NHS staff to be able to do their job – and yet there has been no consultation with NHS staff or the public about this deal. Concerns raised by medical organisations have been ignored and the agreement was made in secret.

The deal makes some of the UK’s most vulnerable people scared of getting healthcare. The medical charity Doctors of the World regularly sees people in urgent need, including pregnant women and cancer sufferers, who are scared to see a doctor for fear that their details will be passed on. Creating a society where everyone can see a doctor easily and safely is also important for public health.

Sign the petition to demand that NHS Digital withdraws from the MOU and no longer provides information to the Home Office, so that our healthcare service is safe for everyone living in UK."

See: Crackdown on migrants forces NHS doctors to 'act as border guards' (The Guardian, link)

GREECE: A Co-operative Way Out of Exploitation: Reflections on the Manolada Strawberries Case (Leiden Law Blog, link):

"It is important to not see this case as an isolated incident. Exploitative labour practices at the expense of irregular economic migrants continues to be a reality in Greece and other EU countries, with thousands seeking to eke a living as agrarian day labourers. Having indebted themselves and their families in paying the extortionate sums demanded by traffickers for their dangerous passage to Europe, these individuals are constrained to accept any form of work available, under any terms. Due to their undocumented status, they are at the mercy of anyone willing to hire them, thereby perpetuating conditions of modern slavery.

Yet in spite of the de-humanising conditions in which these men and women work, and despite their victimisation, they are not stripped of their agency or dignity. In the absence of supportive civic spaces, they create their own, in the shape of informal evening markets where they socialise and sell work gear and food products from home. They aid each other in making their living conditions more bearable by planting vegetable gardens, in remitting money to their families back in their home countries, and in reaching out to NGOs for support and legal advice, after incidents like the Manolada shooting. This is one of several examples of self-organisation around Europe where migrant workers create supportive structures for themselves. This solidarity among migrant workers can be institutionalised through forming social cooperatives for migrant workers."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency report on migration situation in the EU, 1-31 March 2017

"Since November 2016, FRA’s monthly reports highlight key developments in 14 Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. This month’s highlights are published alongside full country reports. No focus section is being published this month."

CYPRUS: NGOs call on the Ministry of Interior to re-examine the application of the stateless Kurds for citizenship (KISA, link):

"Last Friday, 07/04/17, stateless Kurds from Syria (Ajanib), decided to stage as yet another protest with the aim of getting their applications for Cypriot citizenship re-examined. The protesters have set up tents outside the presidential palace and are calling on the President of the Republic to intervene in order for the Ministry of Interior to re-examine the unjustified and arbitrary rejection of their applications. The undersigned NGOs consider the requests of the protesters to be legitimate and support their struggle.

It is reminded that the said persons have been fighting for access to their rights for more than two years now and that on 18May 2015, the Ministry of Interior himself and the General Director of the Ministry, blaming the inflexible attitude of the competent authorities for granting the status of recognised refugee, urged them to apply for Cypriot citizenship. In fact, three of the protesters were then granted the Cypriot citizenship, while the Ministry suggested to the remaining persons to reapply after a year, when they would have completed the required residence period in the Republic."

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