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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
11-18,12.17
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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
1. New EU proposals: databases and "future-proof migration management"
2. Research: EU decision-making, civil society refugee support, discrimination
3. EU-Libya
4. Greece
5. European Council meeting, 14 December
6. Other news: Bulgarian detention conditions inhumane, irregular migration to Spain highest since 2009, EU to provide 1bn euros to Niger between 2017-20

 

1. New EU proposals: databases and "future-proof migration management"

EU to agree plans to link all Justice & Home Affairs databases into one centralised system
- repeated references to migration, internal security and terrorism

On 12 December the European Commission put forward proposals to link all Justice and Home Affairs databases - existing and future - into one centralised system: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens (Press release, pdf) covering: "security, border and migration management." The plans are set out in two proposed Regulations:

- Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 (COM 793-17, pdf) and: - Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) (COM 794-17, pdf)

EU: Future-proof migration management: European Commission sets out way forward (Commission press release, pdf):

"Ahead of the EU leaders' thematic debate on migration to be held on 14 December, the Commission is today proposing a political roadmap to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 2018 on how to pursue a sustainable migration policy.

As Europe is moving away from crisis management, an agreement on a stable and future-proof EU migration and asylum policy for the long term is needed in order to maintain the momentum an all fronts – internal and external.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Even if we are now moving away from crisis mode, it is evident that migration will remain a challenge for a generation of Europeans. Europe urgently needs to equip itself with future-proof means of managing migration responsibly and fairly. We have made solid progress in the past three years but now is the time to turn proposals into law, and law into practice.""

See the Commission Communication: Commission contribution to the EU Leaders' thematic debate on a way forward on the external and the internal dimension of migration policy (COM(2017) 820 final, pdf) and: numerous papers available online here (Commission, link) including on Frontex, budgets, "working with partner countries", EU-Turkey statement and more.

 

2. Research: EU decision-making, civil society refugee support, discrimination

EU: Nobody move! Myths of the EU migration crisis (Institutes for Security Studies, pdf):

"Did the EU break down one too many foreign policy silos, flout one too many international taboos, in its handling of the migration crisis? European diplomats usually say they do their best work when they are dismantling the EU’s paper walls and finding new ways to make the EU’s power felt. Comprehensive; coordinated; complementary – these key words embody the EU’s guiding principles when operating abroad. But migration is a sensitive policy field, migrants are vulnerable individuals, and migration cooperation can be a matter of utmost delicacy. So did the centralisation of policy go too far this time?

On this subject, migration policymakers and experts have clear ideas, which are poles apart. Policymakers argue that they needed to mobilise all available means to deliver an effective response to the migration challenge. Experts believe the EU abused its international influence to shift the burden abroad.

This Chaillot Paper contextualises the EU’s migration diplomacy, taking a sympathetic look at the dilemmas facing policymakers. It identifies nine important shifts in European foreign policy that took place during the migration crisis, offering an explanation of why each occurred and arguing that they could amount to a sustainable strategy."

Story of a journey across Europe (FEPS, link):

"In 2015-2016, when the influx of refugees trying to escape from conflict and persecution and seek asylum in Europe was at its climax, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and SOLIDAR launched the project “From Europe to local: Migrating solidarity”, which aimed at analysing the crucial role that civil society organisations all over Europe played in offering assistance, support and comfort to migrants wishing to integrate in European societies. The book that resulted from the study also focused on the, more often than not, difficult relations between NGOs and public authorities – at local, national and European level – responsible for the integration process."

EU survey reports appalling living conditions for migrants (New Europe, link):

"The results of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) survey, which polled 5,237 migrants in Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, draws a rather gloomy picture. The findings reveal particularly bad housing conditions and low life satisfaction.

The survey, which was published on December 14, shows migrants struggle with high levels of discrimination and verbal abuse, feelings of being treated worse than their colleagues at work, and being victims of crime on the basis of their ethnicity or migration status."

See: Survey reports appalling living conditions for migrants in Europe - 77% experiencing difficulties finding a home to live in (ENAR link)

 

3. EU-Libya

Migrants in Libya: Pushed away, pulled back (Middle East Eye, link):

"For migrants, Libya is known for its perilous journey to Europe. But for one Nigerian woman, it was worth the risk to travel to Italy twice and escape chronic violence and poverty at home.

Eight years ago, Joy was a teenager when she was offered a job as a nanny in London. In the event, she was flown by plane to Milan, and ordered to work off a nearly $60,000 debt as a sex worker.

When Joy fled to what she thought was the safety of her home in southern Nigeria's Edo State however, it turned out to be "hell".

"Returning was one of the worst things I could have done," she said.

Libyan outrage: slavery or borders? (OpenDemocracy, link):

"A recent CNN video of an apparent ‘slave auction’ in Libya has caused horror on social media, but the term slavery hides the European migration policies leading to such abuse."

EU: Press release: Libyan coast guard attacks rescuers after training by EU military operation (Andrej Hunko, MdB, pdf):

"'The support for Libyan militias in the framework of the EUNAVFOR MED military operation is helping them in the brutal persecution of refugees. It has nothing whatsoever to do with training in sea rescue. This is proved by the answer received from the German Federal Foreign Office regarding an incident on 6 November, in which the crew of a Libyan patrol boat once again caused the death of a number of people. Eight of the thirteen crew members had previously been trained in the framework of EUNAVFOR MED', stated Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the Left Party parliamentary group in the German Bundestag."

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty (euobserver, link):

"The EU and respective member states are complicit with migrant abuse and torture in Libya, says Amnesty International.

The NGO's Europe director John Balhuisen told reporters in Brussels on Monday (11 December) that the EU, and its member states led by Italy, are flaunting human rights obligations by helping Libyans return migrants to the country.

"When you partner with a partner who is itself a partner with criminals, and you turn a blind eye to those crimes, you certainly become in some sense a partner to those crimes," he said."

 

4. Greece

Greece: Samos: Fatima and Ahmad (Samos Chronicles, link)

"On Tuesday morning I said goodbye to Fatima. At least for the time being. Some time tonight or in the early morning tomorrow she will be taken from Samos to Lesvos and from there to a closed camp in Turkey. As always accurate information is hard to come by if you are a refugee. When I asked the police officer this morning when she would be leaving he replied that he didn’t know yet."

Press Release: EASO signs new Operating Plan with Greece (link) and see: OP (pdf)

New EU-Turkey "dodgy" deal: Greece to speed up migrant transfer after Turkey deal (euractiv, link):

"Greece will speed up the relocation of thousands of migrants from its overcrowded islands to the mainland before the onset of winter after reaching a deal with Turkey, a key ally in helping to tackle Europe’s migration crisis, government sources said yesterday (11 December).

Athens persuaded Ankara last week to accept migrant returns, including Syrian refugees, from the mainland and not just from the Aegean islands as previously agreed under a 2016 EU-Turkey pact, a government source told AFP.

The new agreement — reached during a strained two-day visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — aims to reduce the more than 15,000 people packed into refugee camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, another source said."

German Foreign Ministry rejects additional winter aid for refugees on Greek islands (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The German Foreign Ministry has made it clear that it will not provide additional winter assistance to refugees on the Aegean islands. In a related question from German newspapers, the foreign ministry replied that “responsibility for accommodating and feeding refugees falls under the jurisdiction of each country.”

According to dpa, the Foreign Ministry recalled that Berlin recently funded the installation of 135 heated containers for a total of 800 people in two camps in the Thessaloniki region and that the EU has allocated up to now 1.4 billion euros to tackle the refugee crisis in Greece.

Meanwhile, there is media report that Greece has persuaded Turkey to accept migrant returns from the mainland in order to reduce critical overcrowding in its refugee camps."

Greece: Dire Risks for Women Asylum Seekers - In Lesbos Camp, Neglect Threatens Women’s, Girls’ Safety, Health (HRW, link):

"Greek authorities are failing to provide adequate protection for women and girls living in government-run, European Union-sponsored facilities for asylum seekers on the island of Lesbos, Human Rights Watch said today."

 

5. European Council meeting, 14 December

EU: Migration row mars EU summit, exposes divides (euractiv, link):

"EU leaders ended the first day of the end-of-year European Council summit with no sign of tensions thawing amid recent disagreements on migration, which have once again exposed divides between eastern members and ‘old Europe’.

Most leaders left Council headquarters in Brussels without speaking to the press early Friday morning (15 December), after a heated, more than a two-hour-long debate over migration."

And see: Bitter divisions over migration threaten show of unity at EU summit (Guardian. link): "Germany and Italy criticise proposal by European council president, Donald Tusk, who described refugee quotas as ‘divisive’"

EU reignites dispute over refugee quotas ahead of Brussels summit (DW, link):

"Fresh tensions have flared up over a controversial scheme to move thousands of refugees across European Union countries. One senior official compared talks on the divisive issue to "fighting trench warfare."

 

6. Other news: Bulgarian detention conditions inhumane, irregular migration to Spain highest since 2009, EU to provide 1bn euros to Niger between 2017-20

ECHR: Children detained in Bulgaria subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the three children of an Iraqi family detained in Bulgaria were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment. The cell they were held in was run-down, dirty, had litter and damp cardboard on the floor and "as there had been no toilet in the cell, they had to urinate on the floor." They were not given food or water for 24 hours and the youngest child's milk was confiscated for 19 hours.

EU: Migratory flows in November: Arrivals down in Italy and Greece, rise in Spain (Frontex, link):

"In November, 13 500 irregular border crossings were detected on the four main migratory routes into the EU, 27% fewer than a year ago.

The total number of migrants detected on these routes in the first eleven months of this year fell by 62% to around 186 500 from the same period in 2016.

(...)

Spain continued to see a high number of irregular migrants, with 3 900 arriving in November, more than three times the figure from a year ago. This was also the highest monthly number of migrants detected on this route since Frontex began collecting data in 2009." (emphasis added)

SERBIA: Europe's migrant crisis: the ghosts of Sid (France 24, link):

"Exhausted from being stuck in Serbia for months, dozens of young migrants survive in appalling conditions in Sid, a small town bordering European Union member Croatia, which they try to enter every day.

Every morning in the freezing winter cold they head for a closed printing factory, the last stop before the border with the EU."

Center-Right and Far-Right in Austria’s anti-migration coalition government (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Austria is getting a 31-year-old chancellor who will be Europe’s youngest leader and a coalition government that puts members of a far-right party in charge of defense, foreign affairs and other key departments.

Austria's government will include the far-right FPÖ, founded by former members of the Nazi party after WW2 & led by a man who was once held by police in Germany for taking part in a torchlit neo-Nazi rally."

And see: Here are the main policies of Austria's new right-wing government (The Local.at, link)

EU-NIGER: EU will support Niger with assistance of €1 billion by 2020 (pdf)

"Overall EU development assistance to Niger will amount to €1 billion for the period 2017-2020. This was announced by Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica at the Donors' Round Table for Niger in Paris.

(...)

This EU assistance was jointly defined with the Nigerien Government and will help to implement Niger's 2017-2021 Economic and Social Development Plan. EU support will further contribute to strengthening State capacities and the delivery of social services. It will help to boost job creation and economic growth as well as increase food security and resilience and fight against climate change. A particular focus will be put on gender equality, girl's empowerment and education. EU support will also sustain good governance efforts, the reform of the country's security and justice systems, as well as the fight against irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling." (emphasis added)

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