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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
9.1.17
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EU: Refugees living in snow and sub-zero temperatures at risk of death

"Humanitarian agencies have warned that without adequate housing refugees in Greece may die as the country continues to be gripped by freezing winter weather.

Parts of the country have seen more than a metre (three feet) of snow and temperatures as low as - 18 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and communication lines and roads are out of action on several islands.

In Moria, a large camp on the island of Lesvos, around 15,000 people are still living in overcrowded conditions in thin summer tents."

French police 'stealing blankets from migrants', charity warns (The Independent, link):

"Police in Paris have been accused of putting migrants’ lives in danger by stealing their blankets in the heart of winter.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also warned of “systematic police violence” targeted at the hundreds of migrants forced to sleep rough on the streets of Paris due to overcrowding in the capital's only reception centre.

MSF accused police of harassing migrants, waking them up in the middle of the night, using tear gas to disperse them, and not allowing them to sit down as they queue for a place in the shelter in the northern Parisian neighbourhood of La Chapelle."

Germany threatens to cut development aid to countries that refuse rejected asylum seekers (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere believe that countries that cannot accept rejected asylum seekers may not receive development aid, according to recent interviews.

In an interview with news magazine "Der Spiegel," Gabriel said, "those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid."

GREECE: REFUGEES: NGOs' life-saving efforts acknowledged but those unregistered by March will be banned

The Greek minister for migration policy, Yiannis Mouzalas, said on Thursday (5 January 2017) that NGOs operating in refugee camps will be barred if they do not register with the government by March. See: Refugees are no longer living in the cold, says migration minister (ANA-MPA, link):

"Asked about the NGOs who are operating in various camps, he said that those that do not register with the ministry by March will not be allowed to work in the camps. He also admitted that without the NGOs the government would not have made it through the first phase of the refugee crisis."

Greek asylum claims spike due to backlogs (EUobserver, link):

"Greek asylum applications registered a massive jump late last year, but experts pin it mainly to a backlog.

The Greek Asylum Service noted a 593 percent increase of asylum applications in November alone, or around 7,600 claims, compared to 2015's monthly average of 1,100.

The spike appears to be broadly linked to a large-scale pre-registration programme launched over the summer and a doubling of staff at the Greek Asylum Service."

IRELAND: Irish Refugee Council welcome announcement of refugees coming to Ballaghaderreen but express concern at lack of prior engagement with community (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"Nick Henderson, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council said: “It is heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive reception from people in Ballaghaderreen to this announcement. Many comments have recognised that people have fled persecution and a brutal war in Syria. Coming to Ballaghaderreen is another step in a long journey to safety that has included undertaking a dangerous voyage to Europe and living in very difficult conditions in Greece. This journey does not end once people arrive to Ireland so ensuring that they are welcomed and supported through this transition is essential.”

“However, a consistent theme in comments from people living in the community has been the lack of notice or consultation that was given. It is crucial that in circumstances such as these local communities are properly informed so that questions can be answered, a welcome prepared and services organised. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have happened in this case.”"

FRANCE: Macron: German response to refugee crisis ‘saved Europe’s dignity’ (EurActiv, link):

"The Europhile candidate for the French presidency has congratulated Germany for saving Europe’s collective dignity by opening its arms to refugees...

In an editorial published on Monday (2 January) in Le Monde, Emmanuel Macron said he believes German society, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, “saved” the “collective dignity” of the European people by taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“Chancellor Merkel and German society as a whole lived up to our shared values; they saved our collective dignity by taking in refugees in distress, housing and educating them,” the former minister for economy said."

TURKEY: Erdogan renews promise to grant Syrian, Iraqi refugees Turkish citizenship (Rudaw, link):

"The most qualified among three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees who are currently in Turkey can receive Turkish citizenship and that the interior ministry is in the midst of a vetting process, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on state television on Friday.

“Our interior ministry is carrying out work, and under this work, some of them will be granted our nationality after all the necessary checks have been carried out,” the AFP news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.”

Erdogan made similar comments last July which some opposition parties said was a ploy to increase the leader’s voting base and to permanently influence the demographic makeup in Turkey’s southeastern provinces, which are Kurdish-majority.

“Instead of letting them work illegally here and there, let’s give them the chance to work as citizens, like the children of this nation,” Erdogan said."

EU: European Migrant Smuggling Centre: Arrests and house searches against a people smuggler ring in Germany (Europol press release, link):

"On 5 January 2017, the German Federal Police conducted several house searches in Berlin and executed two arrest warrants in Mönchengladbach and in Germany’s capital city. At the same time, Italian authorities arrested a suspect in Bolzano (Italy). The arrested individuals are suspected of being part of a criminal network involved in smuggling and trafficking of irregular migrants.

This criminal syndicate, composed mainly of Lebanese nationals, facilitated the transport of Syrian nationals via Hungary and Austria to Germany. They are suspected of having smuggled 29 persons in 12 different smuggling incidents since June 2016. Each migrant had to pay between EUR 500 -1 000 to the network. In some of the cases, the perpetrators transported the migrants under dangerous circumstances, overloading cars with migrants."

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