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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
26-30.7.17
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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
What is changing in the Med: five things you must know (Open Migration, link);

"If you feel that many new things happened in the week of July 25, 2017 on the subject of of migration and rescues in the Med, it’s probably time to have a summary. A distinction must be made among certified political decisions, retracted announcements, decisions awaiting confirmation and an uncertain overall picture, but it’s definitely possible to sum up the new elements that may change the balance in the Med while affecting the lives of many people."

Transferts Dublin et relocalisation | Le mythe de la Suisse solidaire (asile.ch, link):

An article by the Asssociation Vivre Ensemble shatters two myths at once through basic data analysis:

Firstly, that Switzerland is acting in solidarity with the frontline states; and secondly, that perfecting the Dublin system benefits all the states participating in the Dublin system. By comparing the figures on relocations and Dublin transfers, the author finds that in 2016, Switzerland enacted 3,750 Dublin transfers towards other member states (led by Italy with 1,523) and received 469 such transfers (7 from Italy).

In the same year, 368 people were relocated to Switzerland from Greece and Italy, bringing the total to 1,029 (344 from Greece and 685 from Italy) out of the 1,500 it had committed to admit, from September 2015 to May 2017. In the same period, 2,420 people were returned via Dublin transfers, mostly to Italy as Dublin returns to Greece were suspended (17 took place anyways). The number of Dublin returnees Switzerland received from Italy (75) and Greece (14) is 89.

Germany's 'Marshall Plan with Africa' (devex, link):

"BERLIN, Germany - A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s - and possibly the G-20’s - aid relationship with Africa. The so-called Marshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance."

Greece: Authorities must investigate allegations of excessive use of force and ill-treatment of asylum-seekers in Lesvos (AI, link):

"Amnesty International calls on the Greek authorities to urgently investigate allegations that police used excessive force against asylum-seekers in the Moria camp near Mytilene during a protest on 18 July 2017 and ill-treated some of those who were arrested and detained in the Mytilene police station following the clashes that ensued. Testimonies the organisation collected from victims and witnesses about excessive use of force in the Moria camp are also supported by audio-visual material that was made public in the media in the days after the protest."

See: Report (pdf)

Are You Syrious (29-7-17, link)

Greece Islands

"Watch the Med yesterday witnessed an illegal pushback of a vessel by the Greek Coastguard: “The contact person informed us that the Greek coastguards were trying to return the boat to Turkey, and forwarded us a video that showed the boat of the coastguards circling around the travellers, creating waves which resulted in water entering the boat.” After the pushback they were arrested onshore by Turkish police."

Hungary

"Hungary apparently is defying court orders to improve the living conditions in the reception centres. In March the parliament voted to tighten the asylum laws once again: This time the members decided to detain asylum seekers in closed container camps until authorities make their decision. In the following the European Court of Human Rights in the case of two men from Bangladesh ruled, that this is a “de facto deprivation of their liberty.”

Germany

"The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) introduced a new asylum identity technology, to reduce mistakes. It is a consequence of a right-wing extremist from the Bundeswehr, who was able to pretend to be a Syrian refugee. He didn’t speak or write any Arabic, but numerous mistakes withing the office led to his positive decision. The new technology of the BAMF according to Infomigrants includes “language biometrics” software to recognize dialects. With another tool the staff shall be able to compare biometric photos to avoid multiple registrations like in the case of the Berlin attacker last year."

Greek islands: 341 refugees arrive in past 24 hours: Ministry figures (pdf):

145 in Lesvos
152 in Samos
41 on other islands

Despite the official talk of more "relocations" there are 62,407 refugees in Greece.

7 refugees dead as boat capsizes off Turkish coast - 2 women, 5 children among dead (AA.gr, link):

"The death toll has risen to seven after a refugee boat sank off Turkey’s Aegean coast on Thursday evening, the Turkish Coast Guard confirmed Friday.

Two women and five children died when the boat carrying 18 people capsized at around 9 p.m. local time (1800GMT) near the Cesme district of the Aegean province of Izmir. The boat was headed to the Greek islands."

Greece: More than 170 migrants rescued at sea in past 24 hours (.ekathimerini.com, link):

"More than 170 migrants and refugees have been rescued in search-and-rescue operations in the Aegean Sea in the past 24 hours, Greece’s coast guard said Friday.

Officials said the operations took place off Samos and Lesvos islands, which lie close to the coast of Turkey."

European Parliament: MEPs Letter to Commission, Greece, UNHCR & IOM: Moira, Lesvos: Refugee roundup (pdf);

"We learnt from the statement of the Human Rights Activist Nawal Soufi (European Citizenship Prize 2016) that at 6 in the morning of the 24th of July several police and military agents broke into Moria's hotspot on the Greek island of Lesbos, awakening migrants with violence and abuse.

"The police had a list of people to take. Dozens of migrants have been arrested, 90% of them are asylum seekers. Among them there are many Syrians and even Kurdish-Syrians. Some of them have only received the first rejection and are waiting for the decision on the appeal. One of the asylum seekers arrested is a young Kurdish-Syrian who has already suffered violence in Turkey"....."

France reveals plan for registration centres to stem migrant crisis (euractiv, link):

"French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday (27 July) unveiled plans to set up migrant registration centres in Libya to help stem an influx that has sparked a crisis in Europe, although his aides said the scheme could not be implemented there immediately for security reasons.

A presidency official said the plan – for which Macron set the goal of becoming operational “this summer” – “was not possible at the moment” because of security in Libya.

Instead, France would study the feasibility of setting up migrant “hotspot” centres in Niger and Chad, and aim to open similar sites in Libya “in the short term”. [emphasis added]

And see: EU migrant crisis: France plans asylum 'hotspots' in Libya (BBC News, link)

Architect of EU-Turkey refugee pact pushes for West Africa deal (Politico,link):

"e European Union should strike deals with West African countries to stem the influx of migrants reaching Italy from Libya, according to an architect of the 2016 migration deal between the EU and Turkey.

Gerald Knaus, director of the European Stability Initiative think tank, said many West African migrants risked the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean because they knew they would not be sent home for years — if at all — due to legal and bureaucratic delays, even if their requests for asylum in Europe were rejected."

Greece: Becoming a Refugee (Samos Chronicles, link):

"Kiss the Jasmine
Take me to kiss the jasmine
Let me stand on the threshold of your garden
Let me smell what I long for
Amongst the grains of sand on your beach.

Don’t kill the lovestruck stars
Don’t tell the sun and the moon to be silent
Let them speak...... "

EU: EuropeanCommission: EU Trust Fund for Africa adopts €46 million programme to support integrated migration and border management in Libya (pdf):

"Set up of basic facilities in order to provide the Libyan coast guards with initial capacity to better organise their control operations... assistance to the authorities in defining and declaring a Libyan Search and Rescue Region..."

Court of European Justice: Croatia is responsible for examining applications for international protection by persons who crossed its border en masse during the 2015-2016 migration crisis (Press release, pdf):

"Those persons must be regarded as having crossed the external border of Croatia irregularly within the meaning of the Dublin III Regulation."

GREECE-GERMANY: NGO: Open Letter: Asylum seekers' transfers from Greece to Germany for family reunification under EU Regulation 604/2103 (pdf) :

"The undersigned organizations would like to express our serious concerns on a de facto violation of the right for family reunification and breach of relevant provisions stipulated in the EU Regulation 604/2013 (Dublin III Regulation), regarding asylum seekers’ transfers from Greece to Germany under family reunification procedure.

We refer specifically to a practice recorded during the last months according to which, asylum seekers entitled to be transferred to Germany under the relevant provisions of the Dublin III Regulation, are “blocked’ in Greece for periods exceeding the deadlines provided by the above mentioned provisions, for reasons related to supplementary terms of a maximum number of transfers per month."

Letter from European Commission to Italy: Refugees and the Med (pdf): Includes

"Measures to accelerate, in cooperation with the Italian authorities, the pace of relocations under the tw>o existing Council Decisions in order to ensure that all those eligible for relocation who arrived in Italy before the 26 of September 2017 will be relocated;

Step up support from the European Border and Coast Guard to ensure faster return procedures by deploying up to 500 experts available under the return pools and additional funding to cover the costs of more return operations...."

The: Tunisia Declaration (French, pdf):

The Interior Ministers of seven EU countries (German, Austria, Slovenia, France, Italy, Malta, and Switzerland) met with six African countries (Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, Chad and Tunisia) met to discuss "managing the flows of refugees" and returns.

EU: Border surveillance technologies presented to Frontex included "foliage penetration", drones and "intelligence fusion"

See: Reply from Frontex to questions from Sabine Lösing MEP (pdf): "Which of the technologies and services presented does the border agency intend to procure in the future?

The meeting referred to forms part of a series of regular meetings during which industry briefs the Agency and Member States experts on its portfolio of products and services in the field of border security. The meetings are not part of any procurement procedure."

The original questions: Subject: New border surveillance technologies — Frontex (EP, link)

EU: Relocation of refugeees "reaches record levels"; proceedings against Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland continue

The European Commission has published the fourteeneth progress report on the EU's schemes for the relocation and resettlement of refugees, stating that relocations from Italy and Greece have reached "record levels in June", meaning that "relocating all those eligible remains feasible before September."

At the same time, the Commission has moved to the next stage with its infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to comply with the relocation scheme, as an Advocate General at the Court of Justice has issued an opinion calling for the Court to dismiss a complaint made by Slovakia and Hungary that the relocation scheme breaches EU law.

European Commission press release: Migration: Record month for relocations from Italy and Greece (pdf)

Relocation and resettlement: documentation (pdfs)

European Commission, Fourteenth Report on Relocation and Resettlement (COM(2017) 405 final)
Annex 1: Relocations from Greece
Annex 2: Relocations from Italy
Annex 3: Relocations from Italy and Greece
Annex 4: Resettlement State of Play

Ali’s Long Wait for Justice in Greece - After Six Years, Afghan Man’s Attackers are Finally Convicted (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Ali Rahimi was 27 when it happened. A group approached him and two other Afghans in central Athens, swore at them, and told them to leave Greece. Then they attacked.

Ali was hit on the head with a bottle and stabbed five times in the chest and back, suffering a lung puncture dangerously close to his heart. The other two Afghan men managed to escape.

Six years on, Ali has finally seen justice done."

The new EU law on refugees takes shape: More Harmonisation but Less Protection? (EU Law Analysis, link):

"At the heart of the contested issue of asylum in the EU – including the current perceived ‘refugee/migrant crisis’ – is the definition of who is a ‘refugee’, or is at least entitled instead to a form of ‘subsidiary protection’ for those fleeing threats of ‘serious harm’. Refugees and people with subsidiary protection receive more legal protection and status than many other non-EU citizens, in particular irregular migrants.

Unsurprisingly then, the proposed revision of the EU legislation on this issue forms part of the broader overhaul of all EU asylum laws proposed in 2016, as a response to the perceived crisis. Recently the EU governments agreed their position on the proposal, which must now be negotiated with the European Parliament (its negotiating position is set out here)."

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