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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
18-22.5.17
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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
Council of the EU considers "introducing a legal link" between visa and returns policy

"The Council...

Recognises the importance of linking the negotiations of readmission and visa facilitation agreements...

Underlines the importance of introducing a legal link between readmission and visa in the Visa Code...

Considers that stronger coordination could be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve return cooperation of third countries on return and readmission..."

See: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (9082/1/17 REV 1, LIMITE, 19 May 2017, pdf)

SERBIA: Migrants and refugees in Belgrade evicted to camps

In early May volunteer group No Name Kitchen warned of the impending eviction of over 1,000 migrants and refugees living in disused buildings in Belgrade, who were recently removed by the government to camps, in some cases overcrowded and with poor sanitary conditions.

UK: The character of citizenship: denying the rights of asylum seekers and criminalising dissent (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Refusing citizenship on grounds of 'character' reflects the criminalisation of global political dissent and resistance, while these subjective criteria normalise an imperialist system of citizenship."

FRANCE: Paris: towards a new evacuation if nothing changes (ECRE, link):

"In the early hours of the 9th of May, more than 1 600 people have been evacuated from makeshift camps, at Porte de la Chapelle in Paris to (emergency) reception centres across the Ile de France region. NGOs like France terre d’asile were present to inform and accompany them. Evacuations of such camps have almost become routine in Paris, despite the opening of a “humanitarian centre” by the City of Paris in November 2016.

Afghans, Eritreans and Sudanese form the majority of migrants sleeping rough in Paris under appalling conditions. Among those evacuated in the beginning of this month, there were 75 women and unaccompanied children. For most of them, this is not the first evacuation, and many had come back from centres they were taken to during a previous operation."

EU: Is the refugee crisis going to disappear? Is the Council Presidency playing a cynical numbers game with the figures - or are we going to see mass returns?

There are currently 62,184 refugees in Greece.
The Council says that: 20,000 refugees in Greece are deemed eligible for relocation but are 13,758 refugees on the Greek islands, 28,426 on the mainland and those still arriving going to be subject to mass returns?

Book review: Refuge: Transforming a broken refugee system. Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, March 2017 by Frances Webber:

"when you dig beneath the benevolent surface, the book's message is profoundly objectionable, and dangerous. For the authors' take on the crisis of displacement wilfully ignores the role of the global economy, and their vision of autonomy for refugees is working for multinational corporations in special economic zones coupled with a ban on travelling outside their region of origin - a sort of captive reserve army of labour. It is hard to see the autonomy in that."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection.. Period of Validity of Residence Permits issued to Refugees and Beneficiaries of Subsidiary Protection = Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 9001-17,pdf):

"The Presidency proposed that both permits would thereafter be renewed in accordance with national legislation, including for an unlimited period. Although there was some support for this Proposal, it was opposed by those Member States which grant residence permits with a validity period of more than five (5) years to beneficiaries of refugee status, as well as by those Member States which grant residence permits with the same validity period of more than three (3) years to both beneficiaries of refugee status and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection status."

EU: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met

The European Commission has published its 12th report on the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy and progress made in the EU's resettlement scheme, highlighting that while "the number of persons relocated so far in 2017 is almost as many as in the whole of 2016.... the current pace of relocation is still below what is needed to meet the targets set to ensure that all those eligible are relocated over the coming months."

UK: MASS DEPORTATION Charter Flight to Nigeria and Ghana set for May 24th (The Unity Centre, link):

"A charter flight is scheduled to depart from London Stansted at 23:30hrs on May 24th for Nigeria and Ghana, part of the regular Home Office practice of forcibly removing up to 100 people on privately chartered ghost flights that leave from an undisclosed location in the middle of the night. On the basis of previous charter flight reports from Stansted, it is assumed the company contracted to operate this flight is Titan Airways."

UK: Iraqi deportations: the airlines helping the Home Office deport refugees to war zones (Corporate Watch, link):

"The Home Office is trying to deport dozens of refugees to Iraq, with at least 30 people currently held in detention centres awaiting forced removal. But instead of using high-profile charter flights, the Home Office is now turning to a handful of major airlines to take Iraqi deportees as scheduled passengers: Royal Jordanian, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways. Strong resistance by deportees and supporters may yet win out though, and several flights have been cancelled in the last week."

German Interior Ministry criticized for curbing refugee family reunions from Greece (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Germany’s Interior Ministry has come under fire from the left-wing opposition after a decision to bring down the number of asylum-seeking family members allowed into the country from Greece to 70 a month, Deutsche Welle reports."

58 migrants land on Greek islands in past 48 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 58 migrants and refugees have landed on Greece’s Aegean islands in the past 48 hours, authorities said Friday.

Officials reported 29 arrivals on Chios, 18 on Lesvos and 11 on Samos.

The official number of migrants and refugees awaiting processing on the islands of the eastern Aegean on Friday was 8,892."

Spanish fire-fighters who saved lives at sea must not be criminalised (IRR News, link):

"As petitions are launched to stop the criminalisation of humanitarians, calls for the European Commission to intervene to change the law intensify."

Lack of solidarity dogs EU asylum reform (euobserver, link):

""There is still no consensus in the Council. I don't hide to tell you I expressed my disappointment on that," said EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The European Commission tabled the Dublin reform bill last year, but Malta is looking increasingly unlikely to deliver an outcome.

It has floated a number of internal papers on how to parcel out refugees across all EU states. Most of them enter the EU via Italy or Greece and are meant to stay there, under the existing Dublin regime, until their asylum request is processed."

Poland defies EU over asylum seekers (euractiv, link):

"Poland refused yesterday (18 May) to yield to pressure from the European Union to take in any asylum seekers under a relocation scheme despite an EU threat of legal action."

EU plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece by September failing despite record deaths at sea - European Commission considering legal action as only 40,000 set to be transferred by deadline (Independent, link)

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