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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
29.5.17
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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
UPDATE: Near final version: Doc no: 9571-17: (29 May 2017, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (LIMITE doc no: 9082-REV-2-17, pdf): The Council preparing to take new moves to enforce return and readmission policies especially for Africa through so-called "Partnership Frameworks":

"Considers that it remains necessary to improve the rate of return of illegally staying third country nationals as a matter of urgency...

Agrees that comprehensive, [gradual - deleted] incremental, pragmatic and tailor-made solutions are required in order to improve cooperation with third countries in the field of return and readmission, in line with the Partnership Framework approach;

Recalls the views expressed at the JHA Council of March 2017, and agrees on the need to consider the use of the necessary leverage by using all EU policy instruments and tools, including visa policy;

stronger coordination [could - deleted] should be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve cooperation of third countries on return and readmission. Concerted action by the Member States within the applicable legal framework should continue to provide the possibility for achieving results." [emphasis added]

See: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report (Statewatch database) and Viewpoint; Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch)

European Commission: latests statistics: Relocations (26-5-17,pdf):

Italy: 6,189 refugees relocated out of 34,953 agreed since September 2015 and Greece: 13,600 out of 63,302 agreed. There are 78,466 remaining places yet to be offered by Member States.

and "Hotspots" (22-5-17,pdf)

Are You Syrious (28.5.17, link):

Greece: 68 refugees arrive on Samos

"Samos Volunteers reports 68 people landed on Samos this morning, bringing the total to 275 arrivals over the last six days. They add that as very few people leave for the mainland, the camp is getting overcrowded once again and the situation is becoming increasingly critical.

The European Commission had previously stated that transfers to the mainland should be limited in order to “avoid secondary movement to the rest of Europe”. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has argued that refusing transfers to mainland Greece “is an unacceptable excuse for condemning people to conditions that threaten their health and cause huge anxiety”, adding that the transfer of vulnerable groups should be accelerated.

According to official statistics, there are now close to 2,000 refugees on Samos, for a capacity of only 850. Refugee camps on Chios are over capacity as well and 72 people were registered on the island today alone, as well as 46 on Lesvos."

Concerns over “humanitarian gap” on Greek islands

"Despite critical conditions in refugee camps, some NGOs funded by the EU could be leaving Greek islands by the end of July, when the Greek government will take over funding and managing support services, as reported by The Independent. Some NGOS fear the prospect of a “humanitarian gap” resulting from a poorly planned transition, while No Borders worries about the state employees’ training in refugees’ rights and refugee protection. The group also worries about the lack of access to public services for refugees leaving camps for apartments or more remote locations. On Chios, the end of EU funding for NGOs could force organizations like the Norwegian Refugee Council and “Be Aware And Share” (BAAS) to leave. BAAS, which which oversees a multitude of education projects, is currently raising money in order to stay on the island at least until the end of the year."

54 dead, some 10,000 migrants rescued between Libya and Italy in 4 days (The Local.it, link):

" About 10,000 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya over the previous four days but at least 54 others died, Libyan and Italian officials said Saturday.

On Saturday, the Tunisian army also rescued 126 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa hoping to reach Italian shores, officials said. They were aboard a flimsy inflatable boat off the coastal town of Ben Gardane, near the Libyan border.

On Friday, more than 1,200 migrants were rescued by Libyan ships and taken to Tripoli or Zawiya, about 50 kilometres west, while the Italian coastguard and commercial boats rescued 2,200 others and took them to Italy."

Are You Syrious (27-5-17, link):

Greece

"People keep coming to Europe risking a lot to reach safety. But, what they are finding when arriving to the EU borders is not refuge and safety, but often just the beginning of the another phase of difficult journey.

According to volunteers from different islands the number of new arrivals to Greece today is 134. Officially, 144 people arrived on Saturday....

Volunteer’s sources: On Chios, two boats landed today, one with 23 people, 8 men, 7 women and 8 children and the other with 49 people, 18 children, 10 women and 21 men. One boat landed on the north coast Lesvos at Skalochori, carrying 46 people on board. Locals helped them and brought them up to the village.....

Volunteers are also reporting about a boat that was pushed back by the Turkish Coast Guard in the South of Lesvos carrying 74 people onboard today....

On Samos today, another protest. This time by right wing racists. For a while, the main gate to the camp was closed, but the secondary gate remained open. The protest lasted about an hour, but no reports of major violence."

ITALY: Milan like Barcelona. Together, without walls, against the racist criminalisation of migrants and the poor. For an international network of antiracist cities (by S. Palidda)

"Following the example of Barcelona, where between 160,000 and 300,000 people mobilised on the past 18 February in support of rights for migrants and to promote an international network of cities against racism where immigrants will be welcomed, around 100,000 people participated in a demonstration in Milan on 20 May.

The appeal for the demonstration (https://www.20maggiosenzamuri.it/ in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Arabic) was launched by the Milan mayor's office, several personalities from all walks of life, 600 associations, NGOs and institutions as well as 70 Italian city councils."

Hopes for refugee crisis plan fall into chasm between G7 and Trump (Guardian, link);

"Disagreements with US are so fundamental that Sicily summit might not be able to issue communique...

Divisions between Donald Trump and other members of the G7 at the summit in Sicily have become so broad and deep that they may be forced to issue a brief leaders’ statement rather than a full communique, dashing Italian hopes of engineering a big step forward on migration and famine....

A draft statement shown to the Guardian reveals Trump wants world leaders to make only a short reference to migration and to throw out a plan by the Italian hosts for a comprehensive five-page statement that acknowledges migrants’ rights, the factors driving refugees and their positive contribution."

Greek Ministry: Number of refugees arriving: Thursday: 48 Samos. Friday: 56 Lesvos and 45 Samos. On Saturday: 46 refugees arrive in Lesvos and 72 in Chios/

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 60,521 in 2017; Deaths: 1,530 (IOM link)

Halting migrant flows 'impossible', Libyan ambassador (link):

"(ANSAmed) - ROME, MAY 24 - Libyan ambassador to Italy Ahmed Safar noted Wednesday that the one in every seven people are in movement according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and that thus ''no one can stop a phenomenon like that of migration''."

The irregular border (ciutatrefugi.barcelona, link):

"Human rights. A report by Irídia, Novact and Fotomovimiento, subsidised by Barcelona City Council, details and denounces the racism, violence and illegality of migration control policies at the border areas between Ceuta and Melilla and Morocco."

See also: Frontera Sur (link)

EU: Challenge mounted to Court judgment on opposing access to the documents concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016

- the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction"

On 28 February 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rejected three applicants' cases requesting access to the documents held by the Council of the European Union concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016. The Court argued that:

"the three actions as inadmissible on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction. In particular, the General Court held that the EU-Turkey Statement did not relate to an act of the European Council nor of any other body, office or agency of the Union and hence that the actions fell outside the Court's jurisdiction." [LIMITE doc no: 9148-17, pdf) [emphasis added]

On 23 April 2017 the three applicants lodged an appeal against the judgment on the general grounds that:

"the appellants claim that the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction. They request the Court of Justice to rule that their actions for annulment of the EU-Turkey Statement are within the Court's jurisdiction and to send the cases back to the General Court for a decision on the merits of their claims." [emphasis added]

Court of Appeal finds Theresa May acted unlawfully in denying refugees access to UK (leighday.co.uk, link):

"Court of Appeal rules that Theresa May acted unlawfully when Home Secretary in denying refugees access to the UK who have been living on a British Sovereign Base since 1998... In a unanimous decision the Court of Appeal has today (25 May 2017) found that Theresa May acted unlawfully by refusing to consider allowing entry to the UK to a group of refugee families stranded on the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) in Cyprus.

The unlawful decision was made in November 2014 when Mrs May was Home Secretary."

See: Full judgment (pdf)

Libyan coastguard opened fire at refugee boats: NGOs (aljazeera.com, link)

"Aid groups say 70 refugees jumped into Mediterranean waters to avoid being shot as speedboat interrupted rescue."

Italy inks deal with Libya neighbours to stem migrant flow (euractiv, link):

"Italy has signed a deal with Libya, Chad and Niger in order to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean through beefed up border controls and new reception centres in the African nations.

A joint statement by the interior ministers of the four countries said they had agreed to set up centres in Chad and Niger, key transit countries for migrants who travel to Libya and on to Italy from sub-Saharan Africa."

The character of citizenship: denying the rights of asylum seekers and criminalising dissent (Open Democracy, 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."

The reception of Basque refugees in 1937 showed Britain at its best and worst (Guardian, link):

"Daniel Vulliamy and Simon Martinez on their family links to the children who fled the Spanish civil war on the Habana and were evacuated to the UK."

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