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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
13.1.17
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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
EU-AFRICA: Report demonstrates priority given by EU to migration control in the Sahel

The work of the EU and its Member States to try to limit the "unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants coming through the Sahel to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in order to travel to Europe" are outlined in a recent joint report by the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the implementation of the EU's Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) between April 2015 and August 2016.

See: Annual Report on the Sahel Regional Action Plan (pdf)

EU: Malta PM wants Turkey-style migrant deals with other Med countries (EurActiv, link):

"Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday (12 January) that he will push to replicate the deal struck with Turkey last year to defuse the refugee time bomb in Northern Africa.

“There is an appetite now at EU level, including Chancellor Merkel, to replicate the Turkey deal in the central Mediterranean. Not in the sense of the same agreement on paper, but rather on breaking the business model of human traffickers,” said Muscat.

(...)

“We all know that we cannot place Turkey and Libya on the same level. Turkey has a very solid government and bodies, maybe too solid, but it’s a state. Libya is on the brink of becoming a failed state,” Muscat said.

The accord could be a basis on which to build a full-fledged EU-Libya agreement. “There should be a political signal from the EU that it is ready to engage with Libya,” the Maltese premier insisted." (emphasis added)

SPAIN: Coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs demand clarification of potential push backs of over thousand people at Spanish-Moroccan border (ECRE, link):

"A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco."

And see: Spain: Collective expulsions at the Moroccan border (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 13/01/17 – EuroMed Rights deplores and condemns the attitude of the Spanish authorities who refused entry to the individuals attempting to enter in Ceuta from Morocco on the night of 31 December without conducting a prior examination of their situation. The migrants were systematically turned away and were not given access to individualized asylum-seeker procedures."

Serbia needs to investigate asylum seekers push backs (Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, link):

"On Sunday 18th of December, the very day in which the World Migrants Days is observed, the Serbian organization InfoPark , a refugee support centre active in downtown Belgrade reported an attempted illegal push back of a Syrian family at the border with Bulgaria. The case involved a group of 7 migrants, among which a 2-years old child.=

The group was riding on a regular bus heading to Bosilegrad - a small town in Southern Serbia - where, as recommended them by the authorities in Belgrade, they would have registered in one of the refugee camps to spend there their time before being able to cross to Hungary. Indeed, the family was regularly registered in the country, as confirmed by the documents in their possession, proving their expression of interest to seek asylum in Serbia.

But they never made it to their final destination: in the proximity of Vladicin Han, a southern town not far from the border with Bulgaria, they were forced to get off the bus. As reported by the InfoPark staff, the family was evicted from the bus by a mixed unity of police and military personnel, part of mixed patrols operate since July, when the government decided to set up joint patrols operating on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. Their documents were confiscated, and then they were driven with another vehicle somewhere closer to the Bulgarian border, before being abandoned there, in the middle of the night, with a temperature of minus 11 degrees."

Hungary plans automatic detention of asylum seekers (EUobserver, link):

"Hungary is planning automatic detention of all asylum seekers until their asylum procedure is completed due to an increased terrorist threat, a senior minister said Thursday. They would not be allowed to leave transit zones designated for migrants. Under EU law, detention is only for exceptional cases. Last year, a gay Iranian refugee won a case against Hungary at the European court in Strasbourg for being incarcerated for 58 days."

Germany to return refugees to Greece starting in March (Al Jazeera, link):

"Germany has decided to start returning newly arrived asylum seekers to Greece starting in mid-March, according to an interior ministry spokesperson, effectively reversing a five-year suspension of such transfers owing to the poor conditions there.

(...)

A German interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that Germany would reinstate the Dublin rule in two months' time and return newly-arrived asylum seekers to their first EU port of call.

"In line with the recommendation from the European Commission, Germany believes that such transfers will be possible from March 15," said the spokesman, Tobias Plate."

See: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 8.12.2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf)

30 Syrian refugees returned to Turkey from Greece (BT.com, link):

"Almost 30 Syrian refugees who had their initial bids for asylum in Greece rejected have been returned to Turkey.

Greek officials said the 17 men, four women and six children were flown from the island of Lesbos to Adana on Thursday.

Under a deal struck last March between the European Union and Turkey, migrants reaching the Greek islands from Turkey are returned unless they can prove they merit asylum in Greece.

More than 800 people have now been returned under the agreement, while about 23,000 new arrivals have reached the Greek islands."

IRELAND: New asylum application process comes into effect (The Irish Times, link):

"New procedures to speed up applications for asylum, which have just come into effect in Ireland, should significantly cut the length of time asylum-seekers spend in direct provision centres.

The move means Ireland will join other European Union member states in having a streamlined process for assessing asylum applications.

Until now asylum-seekers had to navigate a multilayered process that often led to long stays in direct provision awaiting decisions.

Under the new “single procedure” system, asylum-seekers will make one application, which they may appeal once."

And: Ireland – New International Protection Act commenced: A single procedure and restricted family reunification (ECRE, link):

"Secondly, Ireland has changed family reunification rights. Before, there were two categories: an automatic right to reunion with children and spouses, once identity was established and a discretionary category for other family members such as elderly parents or siblings where dependency on the person in Ireland could be established. This discretionary category has now been abolished. In addition, the right now only exists for 12 months following from a declaration of refugee status or subsidiary protection."

EU-TURKEY: Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Commission Reports on Progress in Fifth Steering Committee (European Commission press release, pdf):

"Today, the Steering Committee of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey met in Brussels for the fifth time gathering the European Commission, EU Member State representatives, and representatives of Turkey. Chairing the Committee, the European Commission reported on progress made to date including the signature of contracts worth over €200 million for the construction and equipping of school buildings for refugee children and their host communities, as well as on the increasing humanitarian support to the refugees through the Emergency Social Safety Net."

Slovenia Aliens Act Proposal Worries Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Slovenian government backed an amendment to the existing Aliens Act on Thursday, introducing stricter procedures towards asylum seekers and refugees for a special six-month period – with a possible extension for another six months.

It is likely to be backed by the country's parliament in which the plan enjoys cross-party support.

Although the procedure would not apply to persons whose life is in danger if they are returned to their native countries, or unaccompanied minors, the provisions will empower police officers to refuse entry to most asylum seekers on the border.

Zajovic said Slovenia was trying to imitate recent moves by Hungary, which were unfortunately now being copied by the majority of countries on the "Balkan route", including Croatia, "where we have witnessed a lot of cases in which Croatian police deported refugees to Serbia without proper procedure”."

See: Amnesty International: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (link)

HUNGARY: Hungarian camerawoman avoids jail after being filmed tripping up and kicking refugees (The Independent, link):

"A Hungarian camerawoman who was filmed kicking and tripping up refugees as they ran from police has escaped jail for breaching the peace.

Petra László was handed three years on probation for the incident in September 2015 at Szeged District Court.

Footage showed her tripping up a refugee as he an through a field carrying his young son, as well as kicking a small girl as hundreds of asylum seekers broke through police lines near the Hungarian border to make their way towards Budapest."

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