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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
14.6.17
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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
UN report on Libya: serious abuses against migrants, "concerns" over vetting of coastguard members trained by EU

"The Final Report of the Panel of Experts on Libya... discusses links between armed groups, criminal groups, and different coast guard factions, including involvement by coast guard factions in migrant smuggling and coast guard factions shooting at or sinking migrant boats operated by competitors. The report makes clear that after interception at sea, migrants are “often beaten, robbed and taken to detention centres or private houses and farms where they are subjected to forced labour, rape and other sexual violence.”

The report questions whether any of the coast guard factions are under the control of the Government of National Accord and questions the vetting of the coastguard trainees who are receiving training from EUNAVFOR MED. This information is further reason for the EU and EUNAVFOR MED to immediately suspend all collaboration with the Libyan coast guards and navy."

EU: Commission: latest reports on the refugee crisis and "returns" to Turkey

- Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland face infringement proceedings
- Greece: Arrivals outpace returns to Turkey
- Next steps - dodgy figures or wishful thinking?

EU: Relocation: Commission launches infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (press release, pdf)

"The European Commission has today launched infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for non-compliance with their obligations under the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation.

Despite the Commission's repeated calls for action, these three countries remain in breach of their legal obligations and have shown disregard for their commitments to Greece, Italy and other Member States.

The Council Decisions require Member States to pledge available places for relocation every three months to ensure a swift and orderly relocation procedure. Whereas Hungary has not taken any action at all since the relocation scheme started, Poland has not relocated anyone and not pledged since December 2015. The Czech Republic has not relocated anyone since August 2016 and not made any new pledges for over a year"

And see: EU opens legal case against Warsaw, Budapest and Prague over migration (Reuters, link)

Refugee rescue ships not acting as ‘pull factor’ or ‘colluding with people smugglers’, report finds (The Independent, link):

"Humanitarian ships rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea are not acting as a “pull factor” driving increasing refugee boat crossings or “colluding” with smugglers, research has found.

A report by the Forensic Oceanography department at Goldsmiths, University of London, rejected a “toxic narrative” seeking to blame NGOs for the worsening crisis.

Experts dismantled allegations made by agencies such as Frontex and leading European politicians, who claimed charities were encouraging smugglers to use more dangerous tactics on the treacherous passage between Libya and Italy."

See: New report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean (Statewatch News Online, 9 June 2017)

HUNGARY-SWITZERLAND: Court rules against sending asylum seekers to Hungary (Al Jazeera, link):

"Switzerland's highest administrative court on Friday ruled against the deportation of an asylum seeker to Hungary, citing humanitarian and legal concerns over conditions in a country that has been sharply criticised for its harsh treatment of refugees.

Judges at the Federal Administrative Court said the situation in Hungary is too insecure for asylum seekers, delivering a verdict in the case of a young male from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had filed a judicial complaint against his return to the Eastern European country, where he was officially registered.

Under the European Union's Dublin Convention, member states can return asylum seekers to the country where they first applied for protection. Switzerland is not an EU member state, but it is a signatory to the accord.

Seeing as the court issued a so-called "pilot ruling", its provisions automatically apply to all present asylum seekers in Switzerland who had registered a complaint against their return to Hungary.

Local media reported that 202 people would now have their asylum requests processed in Switzerland."

Germany's Sigmar Gabriel promises millions on surprise visit to Libya (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday made a surprise visit to Libya to announce a new tranche of aid to the conflict-ridden country.

Berlin will provide 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) to Libyan authorities to improve conditions at refugee camps in the North African country, Gabriel said. The money is expected to complement relief funds provided by Germany aimed at easing Europe's migration crisis.

"It is, therefore, our goal, together with the Libyans, to resist the instability that has arisen from the absence of established structures," Gabriel said. "Concrete progress is urgently needed.""

GREECE: Coast guard rescues 43 migrants off Farmakonisi (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 43 migrants and refugees were rescued off the southern Aegean islet of Farmakonisi on Tuesday, the Greek Coast Guard has said.

Officials said all 43 were transferred to the nearby island of Leros.

New figures released by the UN refugee agency on Tuesday show that the number of migrants who entered Europe in the first half of 2017 was 35 percent of the number a year ago."

IRELAND: Asylum seekers to get extra €2.50 per week to live on (Irish Times, link):

"People living in Ireland’s direct provision are have their weekly welfare payments increased, in a move announcd on Wednesday by Taoiseach-elect Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The increase of €2.50 per week for adults and €6 per week for children will benefit more than 4,000 adults and children living in direct provision. Mr Varadkar and Ms Fitzgerald will seek Cabinet approval for the increases.

The rate for children will rise from €15.60 to €21.60 per week and for adults from €19.10 to €21.60 per week from August."

See also: Direct Provision allowance increase does not go far enough, say the Irish Refugee Council (Irish Refugee Council, link) and: Judge McMahon urges action two years after Direct Provision report (Irish Legal News, link):

"Retired Judge Bryan McMahon, who produced a landmark Government report on Direct Provision, has urged the Government to act on its recommendations at a conference marking the two-year anniversary of its publication.

The McMahon Report was published in June 2015 and contained 173 recommendations to improve and reform Direct Provision and the asylum process in Ireland.

Addressing a conference hosted by the Children’s Rights Alliance, Judge McMahon said the Government had to address asylum seekers’ right to work and the length of time people spend in Direct Provision."

HUNGARY: Government squandered $15.3 million on “Let’s Stop Brussels!” campaign in April (The Budapest Beacon, link):

"The government acknowledged spending HUF 4.2 billion (USD 15.3 million) on April’s “Let’s Stop Brussels!” campaign after Átlátszó.hu’s public data request, reports index.hu.

Although the by now customary blue billboards appearing across the country constituted the most visible aspect of the campaign, more than half of the budget was spent on advertisements in Fidesz-tied media outlets."

Border Walls Don’t Stop Immigration, but They Do Undermine Integration (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The most visual form of increasing the cost of migration for undocumented migrants – the building of walls and fences – has recently regained popularity among policymakers in Europe and the United States alike.

In 2015-16, several European borders were fortified or fences were built, at Calais and other borders like Hungary-Serbia, Austria-Italy and Macedonia-Greece. At the same time, President Donald Trump is pursuing an extension of existing border walls and fences at the southern border of the U.S.

For many, building a wall at the national borders is the most appealing way to curb illegal immigration, to regain control over entry and to improve security.

But often little thought goes into the effects such a border wall can have beyond reducing the absolute number of immigrants in the short term."

Ukraine and Slovakia to strengthen cooperation in the field of readmission

"During the consultations held on 18-19 May, the experts of Ukraine and Slovakia agreed on an article-by-article basis the draft Implementation Protocol to the Agreement between Ukraine and the Slovak Republic on readmission."

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