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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
4-6.3.17
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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:
Call for tough asylum fingerprinting measures backed in draft EP budget committee opinion

A draft opinion on the new Eurodac Regulation written for the European Paliament's budgets committee calls for the adoption of "an EU procedure for forced fingerprinting," taking a similar line to an earlier draft report produced for the civil liberties (LIBE) committee.

NGO Statement: New EU Commission plans on returns and detention will create more harm and suffering (pdf): Signed by 90 civil society organisations, including Statewatch:

"Bowing down to political pressure to be “tough” on irregular migration, the European Commission has turned its back on the full implementation of human rights safeguards in its Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to lower the bar."

See also: European Commission pushes for returns and readmission - having given up on relocating refugees within the EU

AIDA reports on Italy, Malta and Spain – Southern borders a laboratory for deflection policies (ECRE, link):

""“As illustrated in the country reports on Hungary and Bulgaria the Eastern border Member States of the European Union have become trendsetters in disturbingly ‘creative’ measures disregarding the fundamental rights of those seeking protection. Europe’s Southern borders are also a laboratory for deflection policies, with the ‘hotspot’ transformation of Italy’s asylum system raising grave concerns,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.""

See the reports: Italy, Malta and Spain (links to pdfs)

Terror and Exclusion in EU Asylum Law Case – C-573/14 Lounani (Grand Chamber, 31 January 2017) (European Law Blog, link):

"The on-going conflict in the Middle East has profound implications for the global legal order in two areas of law in particular: asylum law and anti-terrorist law. The European Union and EU law have not been immune from this development and in many respects are closely affected by these geopolitical developments and their legal impact. After a fitful start, the EU has become a major actor in the area of criminal law, and in particular anti-terrorist law, on the one hand and in asylum law on the other. The two fields meet in Article 12(2)(c) of the Qualification Directive, itself reflecting Article 1F of the Geneva convention, providing that an individual shall be excluded from eligibility for refugee status for acts contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, acts which have been held to include acts of terrorism. Furthermore, Article 12(3) of the Qualification Directive extends that exclusion to ‘persons who instigate or otherwise participate in the commission of the the crimes or acts’ mentioned in Article 12(2). The status of terrorist and refugee are legally incompatible and mutually exclusive; one simply cannot be a terrorist and also a refugee. What, however, constitutes a terrorist for the purposes of Article 12 of the Qualification Directive? That essentially is the question at stake in Lounani."

See: Opinion of Advocate-General Sharpston (pdf) and judgment: Case C-573/14, request for a preliminary ruling in: Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides v Mostafa Lounani (pdf)

SWEDEN: Several injured in fire at Sweden's largest asylum centre (The Independent, link):

"Several people have been injured in a suspected arson attack on Sweden’s largest refugee centre.

One man was seriously injured after jumping from a third floor window trying to escape the fire.

Around a dozen were treated with oxygen after inhaling smoke, while three people were taken to Norra Älvsborg Hospital in Trolhätten."

New EU-wide journalism project examines the lives of new refugees in Europe

"Like the people it covers, the migration story itself is on the move. In 2014 and 2015 it was all about the odyssey, the journey made by hundreds of thousands, haphazardly, perilously, up into Europe. In 2016, it was about Europe’s hesitant response, the political backlash.

In 2017, the focus is turning to the people who are suddenly in our midst. How are they adapting to their new lives? What do they miss? What’s it like to swap Homs for Hamburg, Kabul for Croydon - or Mosul for the Mosel, for that matter. Which European countries are best at helping refugees settle?

It is these questions that four major European newspapers are taking on in a new project entitled The New Arrivals. Over a period of 18 months, The Guardian, Le Monde, El País and Spiegel Online are embedding inside newly arrived communities in each of their countries to assess whether promises are being kept, whether European society is changing the new arrivals - and vice versa."

See: The New Arrivals (link). It should be noted that there is still very much a "migration story" related to people's journeys to Europe as people continue to die at sea and are denied their right to seek asylum. See: Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

UK-FRANCE: Presidential elections should not let us forget the fate of migrant children from Calais (HRW, link):

"The outlook for child migrants took a turn for the worse when on 8 February, the UK immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, announced that the UK had ended transfers under the Dubs amendment—even though the government had spoken of accepting between 1,000 and 3,000 children when the provision was debated in Parliament. The UK’s decision to end this humanitarian program tarnishes its history as a refuge for thousands of refugee children during World War II. The UK should restate its commitment to the Dubs amendment and ensure that an overly narrow application of the criteria does not lead to unfair or arbitrary decisions.

(...)

The fate of these young migrants depends also on the French government response. The French government has left these young migrants in limbo, placing them in CAOMIs outside the regular asylum and child protection system as an interim measure. The agencies hired to run the centers have varied in quality—while some have done an excellent job, others have lacked experience in supporting unaccompanied child migrants. Communication between the young migrants and French social workers or government officials has often been difficult due to the absence of qualified translators. In one shelter that I visited in December, a crowd of young migrants gathered around me to voice their anger and distrust toward the staff running the place."

UK may return tortured asylum seekers to country they fled, says immigration minister (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not consider a person having been tortured in the country they are fleeing reason enough alone to accept a claim of asylum, the immigration minister has said.

Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary debate on torture that not all proven survivors of past torture “automatically qualify for protection” if they cannot produce additional evidence that they would be at risk of further serious harm upon being sent back to where they had fled."

EP study: The budgetary tools for financing the EU's external policy (pdf):

"In recent years, the European Union (EU) architecture for financing external policies has become more complex. In addition to the EU’s financing instruments in the EU budget, several innovative funding tools and mechanisms have been established. Driven by the need to respond to new challenges and unforeseen crises in times of tight public budgets, the EU has considerably diversified its toolbox for funding external policies. This toolbox now includes new funding tools, such as trust funds (TFs), and mechanisms, such as blending facilities, that combine funds from the EU budget with other resources. Instruments in the budget are also evolving to address the need for greater flexibility and simplification in the financing of the EU’s external policies.

As a result, EU funding for external policies is becoming more complex. This complexity creates challenges. Besides making the EU budget less transparent in the eyes of European citizens, these developments also pose challenges to the European Parliament (EP) in terms of budgetary oversight. As reform dynamics are picking up pace, it is important to take stock of the evolving architecture for financing EU external policies."

New EU Commission plans on returns and detention will create more harm and suffering (ECRE, link):

"Bowing down to political pressure to be “tough” on irregular migration, the European Commission has turned its back on the full implementation of human rights safeguards in its Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to lower... "

See also: Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Home Affairs Letter to Ministers in June 2015 (pdf):

The Commissioner says that another reason for the low return rate is the:

“lack of cooperation from the individuals concerned (they conceal their identity or abscond)” [emphasis added]

To deal with this problem, the Commissioner argues that the Returns Directive provides Member States with the possibility “to use coercive measures, including detention” and “detention should be applied, as a legitimate measure of last resort.” The Commissioner reminds Member States that the Directive allows for detention for up to six months and “18 months in case on non-cooperation.”

Plan to move refugees to Crete enters final straight (ekathimerini.com. link):

"Following months of delays, a government plan foreseeing the transfer of thousands of migrants from overcrowded reception centers on Aegean islands to subsidized apartments on Crete is said to be in the final straight.

The plan was drafted last year and had been due for implementation in the fall but was delayed due to red tape involving the United Nations refugee agency, which is subsidizing the scheme, but also reservations on the part of local authorities."

Are You Syrious (4.3.17, link):

FEATURE: Another life lost in Europe

"A young boy from Afghanistan committed suicide shortly before his 18th birthday in Wasserburg, Germany where he was searching for a refuge. He came alone from Kabul, on a dangerous journey that lasted for months.

He was trying his best to start a new life, but life in uncertainty and insecurity draw him into despair, that many others feel. However, it is still unknown why he committed suicide. Volunteers who met him told the media that he was depressed, but also that he visited psychologist trying to find help...."

BELGIUM: Deportation to start soon

"Authorities in this country announced that they will start implementing the agreement they made with the Afghan government on voluntary return of illegal Afghan immigrants or will deport them.

In 2016, more than 2,700 Afghan citizens sought asylum in this country, but many of them were rejected. Some of them could be deported now including 530 people who were arrested last year."

DANMARK: More deportations

"Deportation is happening from Denmark, too. Afghanistan Migrants Advice & Support Org reported about at least 13 people who were deported to Afghanistan on 1st of March. They were deported on a charter flight."

Calais mayor outlaws food handouts for migrants (DW, link):

"Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart has introduced new laws banning people from gathering near the former "Jungle" camp site. The new rules effectively make it impossible to distribute food to migrants still in the city."

Almost 1000 migrants were rescued off Libya on Thursday: Italian coastguard (The Local.it, link):

" Some 970 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Thursday, Italy's coastguard said, as the numbers attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe continue to rise.

Even before Thursday's arrivals, more than 13,400 people had arrived on Italy's shores so far this year - an increase of 50 to 70 percent compared with 2016 and 2015."

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