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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
6,12.17
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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
Council: Refugee and migrant "smuggling" as a "business" model

The Council of the European Union: Action Plan on the way forward with regard to financial investigation - implementation of Action 3 (Financial investigations applied in the fight against migrant smuggling) (LIMITE doc no: 14607-17, pdf)

The Netherlands police are encouraging other EU police forces to examine refugee and migrant smuggling from a "business analysis" perspective. Defining the issue as:.

"Criminal organisations facilitating irregular migration play a key role in the current flow of migrants into Europe and so pose a major threat to European security."

Italy: Living wills bill tabled immediately, ius soli put off - Immigrant kids citizenship bill 'will never be discussed'-League (ANSA, link):

"The Senate whips on Tuesday "immediately" tabled a bill on living wills, a controversial measure that has been held up by conservative opposition, but put off until the end of the parliamentary agenda a similarly opposed 'ius soli' law on citizenship for immigrant children, effectively killing the bill's chance of being approved before the end of the legislative term. "They'll never discuss it, and I'm happy," said the rightwing populist League whip, Gian Marco Centinaio"."

EPIM: Policy Update December 2017 (pdf)

Greek refugee camps 'beyond desperate' as islanders protesters in Athens (Guardian, link)

"Demonstrators from islands including Chios, Lesbos and Samos lead protests in Athens and demand government acts.

A surge in arrivals from neighbouring Turkey has seen numbers soar with officials speaking of a four-fold increase in men, women and children seeking asylum on Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesbos and Samos.

Conditions are deteriorating in the vastly overcrowded camps in a situation that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Wednesday warned was “beyond desperate”.

“In Lesbos, entire families who recently arrived from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are packed into small summer tents, under the rain and in low temperatures struggling to keep dry and warm,” said Aria Danika, MSF’s project coordinator on the island."

Fatal Journeys Volume 3 Part 2: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (IOM link):

"This report, the third volume in the Fatal Journeys series, focuses on improving data on migrant fatalities. It is published in two parts. Part 1 critically examines the existing and potential sources of data on missing migrants. Part 2 focuses on six key regions across the world, discussing the regional data challenges and context of migrant deaths and disappearances.

The second part of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 makes five key recommendations that emerge from the comparison of regions and innovative methodologies discussed in both parts of the report."

See: Report (link)

Germany accused over 'illegal' deportation of Afghan asylum seeker (Guardian, link):

"Lawyers say decision to return 26-year-old contradicts government’s own rules on removals.

The German government has been accused of breaking its own rules on removing Afghan asylum seekers with a decision to deport a 26-year-old who fears he will be killed if returned.

The man, who the Guardian is not naming, is due to be flown out of Germany on Wednesday to a country he has not set foot in since he was five years old.

The case has focused attention on Germany’s acceleration of deportations, which have doubled over the past year. In all, 78 people are due to be deported on Wednesday."

See also: EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal (Statewatch News) and Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) casts doubt on EU policy of "safe" return of refugees to Afghanistan (Statewatch News)

Are You Syrious (4.12.17, link):

SEA

"An Italian outlet reported today that a 30 year old Syrian man named Sami Naser attempted the crossing from Tripoli to Lampedusa on his own. He was rescued by a Spanish vessel, who were shocked to see someone attempting the dangerous journey alone. Sami told the volunteers who rescued him that he had no choice but to flee Libya. He had been working as a nurse outside of Tripoli in a state of semi-slavery for months, with all his wages being stolen. Sami wanted to leave the country before he fell into the hands of kindappers who would likely torture and ransom him."

Moria, Lesvos: Journalist harassed

"Today the journalist and photographer Patrick Strickland released some images from the Moria camp on Lesvos showing the despicable conditions there. Strickland also reported being harassed by police outside of the Moria camp today, another blatant attempt to intimidate and push away journalists."

ITALY

"Activists and volunteers on the ground in the Pordenone area continue to report unacceptable conditions for refugees there. While the right and left wing parties continue their asinine debates over who is a “real” refugee, the real questions are being ignored. As a Pordenone solidarity organization put it: “The real issues here are: why are they on the streets, forced to sleep in the fields? Why do they not even have a place for their primary needs, to bathe, drink and eat?”"

SPAIN

"The Spanish journalist and human rights defender Helena Maleno Garzon has been requested to appear before a Moroccan court (her country of residence). While the charges against her are forthcoming, the international human rights organization FIDH has surmised from the court documents that she is being charged with involvement in human trafficking. This charge appears to stem from the fact that, because of her long standing work as an advocate, she is a frequent point of contact for refugees crossing the Mediterranean. In particular, she has been called by many refugees requiring emergency rescue at sea."

" EU: Commission: Reporting on the follow-up to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of trafficking in human beings and identifying further concrete actions (COM 728-17, pdf):

"Perpetrators and abusers exploit people’s vulnerabilities, exacerbated by factors such as poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, male violence against women, lack of access to education, conflict, war, climate change, environmental degradation, and natural disasters for the purposes of sexual or labour exploitation, begging, criminal activities and more."

The Commission refers to both "trafficking" and "migrant smuggling" each of which has a different legal basis while also highlighting the exploitation of women and children.

German pilots refuse to carry out deportations (DW, link)

"Pilots across Germany are stopping planned deportations of rejected asylum seekers. At the same time, refugees are appealing their deportation orders in record numbers - and winning.

Many pilots in Germany are refusing to participate in deportations, local media reported on Monday.

Following an information request from the Left party, the government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany's main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where the controversial deportations are routinely accompanied by protesters on the tarmac. The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest and most important hub."

Greece: Push to move migrants from islands to mainland (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Municipal officials from the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, which are bearing the brunt of an increased influx of migrants from neighboring Turkey, are due in Athens on Tuesday to press the government for action to ease the pressure on their local communities.(...)

In a related development on Monday, a court on Lesvos indicted 16 North African migrants who participated in the occupation of a central square in Mytilene, the main port of Lesvos."

Hungary: We face a ‘delicate mix’ of witch hunt and short trial (euractiv, link):

"Hungary is convinced that the EU institutions are on the wrong side of history in the context of the migration crisis, Zoltán Kovács, the spokesperson of the Hungarian government, told journalists in Brussels on Monday (4 December)."

Statewatch Analysis: Human rights violations at Spain’s southern border: steps towards restoring legality (pdf)

In mid-August 2014, a group of around 80 people attempted to enter Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, by climbing the three razor-wire topped fences that divide the territory from Morocco. The majority remained balanced atop a fence for around nine hours while some held onto their perches for up to 16 hours, “despite the suffocating heat and the lack of food and water,” as one news report noted at the time. But regardless of how long they held on, as soon as they came down from the fence they were all returned to Morocco by officers from Spain’s Guardia Civil.

Although the Article 3 claim was dismissed by the Court [ECHR], the other complaints were accepted, and on 3 October the Court found that the Spanish government had indeed violated the prohibition on the collective expulsion of aliens (Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights) and the right to an effective domestic remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).

#DefendingMaleno

"Last Wednesday, Helena Maleno Garzón received a visit from Police Officers, who informed her that she has to make presence in front of the moroccan justice this Tuesday, December 5th. Without having access to the complete legal information, we were able to conclude that the Human Rights Defender is being accused of international crime for human trafficking and irregular migration by the Spanish State. The Spanish State has been investigating about her job. For that, they may have asked her country of residence, Morocco, to collaborate in this investigation. The founds of the acussation of the Human Rights Defender are phone calls requesting assistance, which is executed by Salvamento Marítimo, who assist vessels of inmigrants that are drifting and/or lost. It is a judicial process aimed to criminalise the work that Helena Maleno has been doing for years as a Human Rights Defender. It also should be noted that Helena Maleno is a spanish journalist, activist and researcher, specified in Migration and Human Trafficking. Helena has been active since 2001 in the South Borders, ensuring the right to sanity, education, identity and a secure life for inmigrants."

See: Link

EU-Africa agree on repatriating migrants, but not on the bill (euractiv, link):

"African and European countries have adopted a special joint declaration on Libya and said they want to repatriate migrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin. But the question of who should pay for it has been carefully avoided.(...)

This is perhaps the only concrete action taken at the EU-Africa Summit, which ended on Thursday (30 November) in Abidjan. Some 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya in inhumane conditions will be repatriated urgently to their country of origin.(...)

At the end of the two-day summit, leaders issued a joint declaration on the situation of migrants in Libya, pledging in particular “to take all necessary actions to offer [the refugees] the necessary assistance and facilitate their voluntary return to their country of origin.”

Leaders clashed on mentioning “voluntary and forced returns of migrants”, but the final wording of the text only mentions the option of voluntary return."

See: Joint press release of the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union (pdf)

Blocked humanity (euractiv, link):

"The Dublin regulation, allocating asylum claims to the first port of call on a migrant’s journey, is unfit for purpose. The European Parliament has come to a shared position that guarantees fair treatment of refugees and shared responsibility in the EU. Now it’s up to member states to do their share, writes Cornelia Ernst."

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