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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
1.5.17
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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
EU: "Hotspots": Court of European Auditors: Migration hotspots are working, but critical issues remain, say EU Auditors (Press release, pdf):

"The EU’s so-called “hotspot” approach for irregular migrants arriving in Italy and Greece has helped to significantly improve the registration, identification and security checking of migrants. But more needs to be done as thousands of migrants are still stranded on the Greek islands after their arrival, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Many of those affected are unaccompanied minors, say the auditors, and more should be done to help them.....

relocation is no longer an option, and returns are slow. As a result, there are still more migrants arriving at the hotspots than leaving, and they are seriously overcrowded." [emphasis added]

See: Full report (pdf)

Sweden mosque damaged in suspected arson attack (Daily Sabah, link):

"Swedish police said Monday they suspected arson in connection with an overnight fire that damaged a Shiite mosque near the capital, Stockholm.

The Imam Ali Islamic Centre in Jarfalla, a municipality north-west of Stockholm, said in a post on Facebook that about one-fourth of the building was destroyed.

No one was injured in the blaze that appeared to have started on one of the outer walls, according to police who have opened an investigation into arson."

Are You Syrious (30.4.17, link)

Feature: Another possible tragedy in the Mediterrenean

"While the MSF’s Aquarius arrived safely in Italy with 187 people rescued off the Lybian coast, the NGO Jugend Rettet fears another tragedy in the Mediterrenean, as it discovered an empty dingy this morning which could have had between 120 and 150 people on board. The group had looked all day for a boat in distress after getting an alert from the Italian coastguard. Meanwhile, the MSF’s other boat Prudence recovered four dead bodies....."

Germany: 1239 cases of church asylum in 2016

"Neues Deutschland reports on the increasing number of cases of “church asylum” in Germany. In 2016, 1139 people found protection against deportation in churches up from 1,015 refugees in 2015. Most cases fall under Dublin, with people facing imminent deportation to Italy, Hungary or Bulgaria, but there is also an increased number of Afghan refugees as Germany accelerates its deportations to that country."

Hungary completes second border fence with Serbia (News That Moves, link):

"The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, has announced that a second border fence on the Hungary-Serbia frontier has been completed.

The fence covers a length of 155 kilometers and is three meters high. Hungary had already fenced off the border with Serbia and Croatia in 2015.

The new fence on the Serbian border was designed as a “complementary line of defence” against irregular migration from Serbia, the government previously said.

The fence is equipped with an alarm system, thermal and video cameras, and sensors that send alert signals to border patrols if the fence is touched or damaged."

The war over distributing meals, it is constant (passeursdhospitalites, link):

"Police pressure is not limited to the distribution of evening meals, organized by the associations (see here, here and there), it is diffuse and also covers all distribution throughout the day.

As of last week, there are several testimonies from volunteers who made night marauds with tea and food, and who had to undergo identity checks, vehicle control, security palpations. Volunteers were told by the police that they were forbidden to return to those places and that distributions were prohibited."

Are You Syrious (27.4.17, link):

FEATURE: Are You Syrious and Center for Peace Studies publish detailed report calling out Croatian Ministry of Interior and Security and Intelligence Agency for “arbitrary and unlawful” practices in handling international protection applications

"Organizations Are You Syrious (AYS) and Center for Peace Studies (CPS) have published a damning report detailing misconduct in processing and not approving asylum applications of asylum seekers in Croatia. In a press conference on Wednesday, the organizations announced their findings which were published in the report titled “Report on arbitrary and unlawful practices by the Ministry of Interior and the Security and Intelligence Agency of the Republic of Croatia related to (non)approval of international protection or status of foreigners in Croatia” which analyzed thirty cases of individuals who, despite meeting multiple qualifications for protection, had their cases not approved.

Generally speaking, what made these cases in particular stand out was that the reason cited for the non-approval of their plea was that of stating that the individual possibly posed a threat to national security."

See: Read more about the press conference here (link)

TURKEY

Turkey has completed the first phase of the projected 900-km-long wall with Syria, as of recently, finishing over half of the three-meter-tall concrete barrier.

“The rest of the wall is due to be completed by the autumn, at which point it would be the second-longest structure in the world, after the 3,460-kilometre Great Wall of China,” according to the online publication Zeen ".

Greece: A violinist unable to pass visa barriers drowned in the Aegean Sea: He was found hugging his violin box (harekact.bordermonitoring.eu, link):

"Via Gazete Manifesto (Translation from Turkish) – This week, another boat carrying refugees drowned in the Aegean between Sivrice Burnu (Çanakkale) and Lesvos. 16 people died and only two people survived the shipwreck, they are now on the island of Lesvos.

On board of the ship was also a young Turkish violinist – Baris Yazgi, 22 years old, born in Siirt – who wanted to go to Belgium – where his brother lives – to study music. His dead body was found hugging a violin box. Inside his violin box he carried his instrument as well as handwritten compositions."

International Commission of Jurists: Briefing: Common Asylum Procedure Regulation ICJ comments on the current proposal of the Regulation (pdf):

"The areas most impacted include access to legal information; legal assistance, representation and legal aid; accelerated and border procedures; and access to an effective remedy.

The proposed Regulation is one of the instruments of the Common European Asylum System4 of the EU. It is intended to replace the current Asylum Procedures Directive with a Regulation and thereby aims to reduce the scope of discretion enjoyed by Member States in the implementation of matters covered under its provisions."

Greece: Migrants protesting on Lesvos (News That Moves, link):

"Migrants and refugees, supported by local activists, peacefully protested on April 26th in Mytilene, the main city on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Greek media reported that about 300 took part in the protest, mostly migrants of African origin. The protesters said they had been kept for months on the islands and asked to be allowed to leave Lesvos for Athens.

They also blocked the entrances to the port of Mytilene, before police showed up in force.

A leaflet distributed at the site of the protest, at the port of Mytilene, said that migrants and refugees were “treated like criminals” and that “a false border has been erected between the mainland and the islands”.

‘My Brother is Being Deported Today’ - Iranian Asylum Seeker’s Case Shows Flaws of EU-Turkey Deal (HRW, link):

"Yesterday I woke up to an alarming text message: “Hi, call me please. My brother today [will be] deported [to] Turkey.” The text was from Arash, a 30-year-old Iranian asylum seeker stuck on the Greek island of Lesbos, who was desperate to help his brother Amir, also stranded there. Less than an hour later, one of Amir’s lawyers confirmed the bad news. “They are deporting him in 15 minutes. Call whoever you can,” she urged me....."

Are You Syrious (25.4.17, link):

Feature

"Shocking new numbers reveal that Germany has become far less hospitable towards refugees from Afghanistan. In January and February of 2017, only 47.9% of refugees from the country had their application accepted. This is a stark drop in acceptance rates, as in 2015 77.6% of asylum seekers had their applications accepted. By 2016 the number had dropped to only 60%. These latest figures reveal a deeply upsetting downward trend towards. The move comes at a time when German Prime Minister Angela Merkel is seeking reelection, and as a sizable minority of the population is deeply opposed to Germany’s granting of asylum, now is the time to appear tough for the incumbent. Angela Merkel hopes that by doing this she will prevent the rise of the far-right AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) party, but the move only serves the interests of the violently xenophobic element."

Greece: Two hospitalized from Moria hunger strike

"Two people were taken to the hospital last night after getting sick from the hunger strike currently taking place in Moria owing to the poor living conditions and unacceptable wait times to be transferred to the mainland. After being discharged, the two have continued their strike. This is the fifth day of the hunger strike, and there are a total of 12 participants. Please see our special report on the situation for more information."

AYS SPECIAL: Refugees helping refugees (link)

"Almost one year ago, a group of young people from Syria formed Jafra R2R Team. R2R stands for Refugees helping Refugees. Their idea was to provide support from refugees for refugees, the idea that has huge support inside the community, but often lacks understanding from big INGOs and NGOs. AYS visited the shelter which Jafra Team runs in Athens to hear some very important lessons about life, respect, being refugee…"

35 migrants stopped from leaving Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"From the Associated Press: Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency has reported that 35 migrants were detained in western Turkey while trying to reach Europe.

They were intercepted while onboard an American-flagged sailboat off of Turkey’s Izmir coast. The migrants included 18 Syrians, 16 Pakistanis and one Iranian. There were ten children and two women among the group."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Migration crisis: call for improved funding for emergency situations (link):

"“It is the political and moral responsibility of all European countries to contribute financially to dealing with the current migration and refugee crisis, according to the means at their disposal,” declared PACE today. The Assembly went on to say that these countries must do their utmost to allocate funds where needs are greatest, keeping administrative costs and structural obstacles to a minimum.

Parliamentarians also expressed regret over the fact that the complex decision-making and budgetary procedures and slow implementation of EU programmes on the ground, make it difficult to put the necessary infrastructure in place and provide assistance in a timely manner."

See: Report (pdf)

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