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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
11.5.17
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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
MEDITERRANEAN: Libyan coastguard turns back nearly 500 migrants after altercation with NGO ship (Reuters, link):

"Libya's coastguard said it had intercepted nearly 500 migrants packed onto a wooden boat and returned them to Tripoli on Wednesday after warning off a ship that was preparing to pick them up for passage to Europe.

Footage filmed by Sea-Watch, a non-governmental organization, showed a Libyan coastguard vessel coming within meters of its own ship as it sped to stop the migrants.

...Ruben Neugebauer, a spokesman for Sea-Watch, said the NGO had received instruction from Italy's coastguard control center in Rome that the Libyan coastguard would be taking over "on-scene command", and that the Sea-Watch ship had stopped to await further instructions.

"Without any warning, they crossed our bow on the way to the migrant boat," Neugebauer said. "They made an extremely dangerous maneuver. They nearly hit our boat, they endangered our crew.""

The EU is currently providing training to the Libyan coastguard. See: Why Cooperating with Libya On Migration Could Damage the EU’s Standing (Human Rights Watch, link):

"But Italy and the EU may also see another benefit [in giving training to the Libyan coastguard]: preventing arrivals on EU shores by getting the Libyans to intercept the boats before they reach international waters. Once there they could come into any contact with the EU operation in the central Mediterranean known as EUNAVFOR MED or Operation Sophia, the European border agency Frontex, or vessels operated by nongovernmental groups.

EU-flagged vessels are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which bars returning anyone to a place where they face threats to their lives and freedoms. If migrant boats intercepted in Libyan waters by Libyan vessels are taken back to Libyan shores, however, the EU non-refoulement obligations would not be triggered. Libya has not ratified the international refugee convention, does not have a functioning asylum system, and, as stated above, subjects migrants and asylum seekers to abuse."

See also: Italy investigating some migrant aid workers for people smuggling (Reuters, link)

GREECE: Between Deterrence & Integration (Refugees Deeply, link)

An in-depth examination of the attempts, succeses, challenges and failures in the integration of migrants and refugees in Greece:

"It has been tempting amid the fallout from Greece’s historic recession to dismiss the mishandling of the other crisis forced upon it – that of hugely increased refugee and migrant flows – as unavoidable or inevitable.

It is a temptation that Andreas Pottakis is determined to resist. A lawyer who took over as national ombudsman toward the end of 2015, a year that saw just over a million refugees and migrants enter Greece, he is putting the finishing touches to a report on the official response. It is expected to compound recent criticism of the Greek government and the European Commission, which, as by far the largest donor, has been party to all aspects of the handling of the crisis."

Hungary Indicts 11 for Truck Suffocation of 71 Refugees (OCCRP, link):

"Hungary indicted on Thursday 11 suspected people-smugglers for the death of 71 refugees whose bodies were found two years ago in a truck in Austria during the peak of Europe’s migration crisis.

Between February and August 2015, prosecutors say the smuggling ring moved more than 1,200 people into Western Europe. From June, they were transporting immigrants to Germany and Austria on a daily basis.

The alleged ringleader of the group was a 30-year-old Afghan man, who funded and orchestrated the operation. He is believed to have personally profited at least €300,000 (US$ 328,000) from the venture."

And see: Italy arrests Libyan suspected of involvement in migrant murder (Reuters, link):

"Italy has arrested a Libyan man suspected of involvement in the killing last week of a migrant, who was shot dead when he refused to take off his baseball cap, police said on Thursday."

EU: Hungary and Slovakia’s case against refugee quotas gets day in court (EurActiv, link):

"The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has begun deliberating on Hungary and Slovakia’s case against the EU’s refugee relocation quotas, which both countries initially opposed and which allegedly contain a number of procedural errors."

EU: 85% of refugees in Europe are fleeing explosive violence, new research finds (Action on Armed Violence, link):

"In the first research of its kind, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has set out to examine the impact of explosive violence on the refugee crisis in Europe.

Interviewing over 250 refugees in the UK Germany, and Greece, AOAV found in The Refugee Explosion, that 85% of those interviewed had witnessed explosive violence. In total, some 69% had witnessed shelling, 61% airstrikes, 58% Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and 39% suicide attacks.

Of those refugees questioned from Afghanistan, 92% had been directly impacted by explosive violence, and from Iraq 90% had been affected."

See the report: The Refugee Explosion: How Europe treats refugees fleeing explosive violence (pdf) and case studies: Germany, Greece and the UK (links)

EU: Schengen area: Council recommends up to six month prolongation of internal border controls (press release, pdf):

"On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.

As from this date, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway may prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of six months at the following internal borders:

- Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian land border and Austrian-Slovenian land border
- Germany at the German-Austrian land border
- Denmark in the Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border
- Sweden in the Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge
- Norway in the Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden"

See: Council implementing decision setting out a recommendation allowing for the prolongation of temporary internal border controls (9040/17, pdf) and: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU (Statewatch News Online, 3 May 2017)

Suspected people smugglers arrested in Maltese waters (Malta Today, link):

"Ilyya Iosifov, 28, Valentyn Mykhenvych, 25, and Roman Koloshva, 28, were detained at sea in Maltese territorial waters on the yacht Vino Tinto II in an operation involving AFM air assets, executing a European Arrest Warrant that had been issued by a Sicilian court just minutes before.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea heard how the yacht was intercepted en route to Italy from Turkey. The men were arrested on the strength of the warrant, which was issued following a Schengen Information System alert from EU border security agency Frontex.

The 35 people who were believed to have been on the vessel were to have been dropped off in Syracuse."

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