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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
2-3.5.17
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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
Statewatch Viewpoint: Egypt: Europe’s other north African border (pdf) by Paolo Cuttitta (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):

"This year, there has not been any migrant boat arriving from Egypt so far. Is this an effect of the new Egyptian anti-smuggling law? In the meantime, migrants in the north African country experience arbitrary detentions for indefinite periods, deportations which violate international law and scarce or non-existent protection for those who supposedly have a right to it. Asylum is a taboo for the authorities in Cairo, and the UN agency for refugees does what it can (but also - according to accusations by several workers - a lot less than that), while the work of humanitarian organisations in this sector is limited by the Egyptian regime’s repressive actions. In the meantime, the IOM, Italy and other EU countries renew their programmes to support Egyptian border guards, and the EU has agreed a five-fold increase in its budget for Egypt from the Africa Trust Fund."

Greek Hotspots: ECCHR urges European Ombudsman to investigate conduct of European Asylum Support Office (EASO):

"Berlin, 02 May 2017 – The work of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the Greek Islands not only lacks a legal basis, it also fails to respect core standards of fairness. This is the conclusion of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) after analyzing a series of admissibility interviews conducted by EASO officers at the “Hotspots” in Greece. ECCHR – with support from Brot für die Welt – has therefore submitted a complaint against EASO to the European Ombudsman. The Ombudsman was established as an independent and impartial institution to hold the EU administration accountable for failures to respect fundamental rights or legal principles.

According to the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March 2016, “[a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey”. Under this arrangement, refugees are entitled to first have asylum claims considered before leaving Greece. The decision on their right to international protection – processed at the “Hotspots” on the Greek islands – are in effect not taken by the Greek Asylum Service but by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). ECCHR has serious concerns as to the legality and legitimacy of EASO’s actions in the context of the EU-Turkey statement."

See: EASO’s influence on inadmissibility decisions exceeds the agency’s competence and disregards fundamental rights (pdf)

European Commission: Third report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM(2017) 219, pdf):

"The number of European Border and Coast Guard Team members deployed has more than doubled from 3,584 in 2015 to 8,353 in 2016, and the total duration of deployments has more than tripled from 128,607 man/days in 2015 to 411,939 man/days in 2016. The provision of technical assets has also increased from 2015 to 2016: the patrolling hours of offshore patrol vessels increased by 14%, of coastal patrol vessels by 41% and of patrol cars by 34%.

(...)

As of 2017, the Agency will use EUR 10 million per year (EUR 40 million in total for 2017-2020) to acquire its own equipment, in particular small and medium size assets. The Agency is already examining the ways to build up its own permanent capabilities and/or to maintain them operational after acquisition.""

See also: Second report (March 2017, pdf) and: First report (January 2017, pdf)

EU: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU

"The EU member states imposing border controls to stop migration flows from Greece will have to remove them before the end of year.

EU migration and home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday (2 May) that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member state Norway will only be allowed to extend existing controls one last time.

"This is the last prolongation, I repeat it, this is the last prolongation," Avramopoulos told reporters in Brussels."

EU-TURKEY: It wasn’t me! The Luxembourg Court Orders on the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal (CEPS, link):

"We argue in this contribution that the EU institutions purposefully – and unfortunately, successfully – circumvented the democratic and judicial checks and balances as laid down in the EU Treaties. We find this problematic, especially as the Statement constitutes a measure that produces severe legal effects for the rights of asylum seekers and fundamentally alters the course of EU external migration policy. By choosing to conduct major policy decisions through press releases and refusing to take legal responsibility for the Statement, the EU institutions themselves jeopardise the Treaty-based framework that aims to ensure democratic rule of law and fundamental rights."

FRANCE/ITALY: From Solidar Passeurs to Smugglers: Dismantling Solidarity Through Criminal Convictions (Border Criminologies, link):

"Like other borders within the Schengen area, that separating Italy from France in the Maritime Alps, has witnessed considerable mobility of people. Over the years this mountainous stretch of land has represented salvation, freedom or opportunity... Being a passeur is part of a tradition and a local business. For Francesco Biamonti, passeurs were characterised by a strict work ethic: ‘We shared a lot of our path- he thought while going up the hill- we knew many nomads and wayfarers. We were two honest passeurs, he was of the trade I was not. We never left anyone behind the border’.

Today, as the populations crossing this border take a new form, those who assist the most recent groups of people trying to cross this border are no longer viewed through the noble frame of the ‘passeur’. Instead, the contemporary ‘solidar passeur’ has been criminalised under French and Italian national law. French and Italian national laws not only punish the transportation of irregular migrants beyond their borders but they also criminalise those providing help in the form of accommodation or any act which constitutes facilitation or help to people on the move."

And see: Viewpoint: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers

EU: What Does It Mean to Disrupt the Business Models of People Smugglers? (pdf) by Luigi Achilli, Migration Policy Centre, and Gabriella Sanchez, University of Texas at El Paso:

"Despite the scaling-up of EU surveillance, enforcement measures and patrolling operations aimed at border security, the flow of irregular migrants towards Europe shows little sign of abating. This policy brief shows, first, that border enforcement and barriers to mobility lead migrants to rely on clandestine mechanisms to reach destinations abroad, even if this involves significant risk. Second, policy interventions aimed at disrupting smuggling networks may make smuggling more lucrative and increase incentives for criminals to enter this market. Third, more stringent border policies and practices can facilitate involvement by irregular migrants in human smuggling. We conclude by showing that ending irregular crossings is an unlikely outcome so long as emphasis is placed on security vectors alone. If the intended goal of security initiatives is the suppression of smuggling networks, they must be accompanied by structural, comprehensive approaches and solutions. Accessible pathways for people to move across the Mediterranean into Europe are a necessary component of this response."

EU-ITALY: Humanitarian Corridors: A Tool to Respond to Refugees’ Crises (Border Criminologies, link):

"These deaths [in the Mediterranean] are a direct consequence of the international community's collective failure to implement a credible plan of humanitarian aid to refugees. As noticed by Roberts, Murphy and McKee, the refugee crisis has raised urgent questions about the quality of political leadership to ensure effective and adequate measures ‘both to stabilise the countries from which migrants are coming, thereby reducing the pressure to move, and to make the positive case for migration in a continent experiencing a rapid decline in birth rate.’ Civil society organisations have often filled the void of this political inaction, by providing adequate basic services to those in need. Their involvement should not abrogate states or for this matter, the EU from protecting people on the move. These initiatives instead indicate a new direction for effective and responsive interventions to the refugee crisis.

One of the best examples of civic actions can be found in the ‘Humanitarian Corridors’ (HC) pilot project, carried out in Italy by the Community of Sant'Egidio, in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches based on an agreement with the Italian Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. This initiative responded to the May 13, 2015 recommendation by the European Commission that ‘member states should use to the full the other legal avenues available to persons in need of protection, including private/non-governmental sponsorships and humanitarian permits, and family reunification clauses.’ "

The first in a series of articles. See: Seeking Refuge in Europe (Border Criminologies, link)

Bordering on inhumanity: refugees stranded between Morocco and Algeria (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Refugees from Syria, including about twenty children, have been left for over a week in the desert without any resources near the city of Figuig (Morocco). EuroMed Rights and its member organisations stress the urgency of the situation as well as the need for humanitarian support, unconditional access to reception means for these people and respect of their rights.

On 18 April 2017, over 60 people have crossed the Algeria-Morocco border in view of reaching the Moroccan territory. Eleven of them were deported back the same day: EuroMed Rights notes that these refugees have not been able or willing to claim asylum in Algeria, and that they have been deported from Morocco in breach of the non-refoulement principle and in violation of the procedural safeguards enshrined in Moroccan law. They have been left without any resources in Algeria since then, in violation of the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees.

Since then, about fifty people have been left alone, stranded at the border in a desert area near the city of Figuig (Morocco), with no other support than the help provided by non-governmental organisations and local residents (water, food, blankets). Among them were two pregnant women, one of whom has delivered birth on Sunday 23 April, with absolutely no support whatsoever."

NORWAY/DENMARK: The right job measures will lower the refugee bill (Nordic Co-operation, link):

"Getting newcomers into jobs as soon as possible is not the long-term answer to integration. New studies from Norway and Denmark reveal that poorly qualified refugees, in particular, run the risk of finding themselves out of work again later on. Research also shows that the biggest item associated with refugees consists of the lack of tax revenue generated because of unemployment."

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