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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
12-16.10.17
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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
GREECE: Open The Islands - no more dead from the cold! Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece

Over 40 solidarity groups and organisations are calling for urgent action from the Greek local and national authorities to prevent more refugees from dying in the cold as winter sets in once again. They expect more groups and organisations to join them over the next days and weeks.

ITALY: Solidarity is not a crime: the Observatory of the Milan Charter is born

On 30 September 2017 around thirty activists, journalists, jurists, citizens acting in solidarity, members of NGOs and associations met in Milan to set up the Observatory which the 'Milan Charter: solidarity is not a crime' proposed in its document launched on 20 May 2017 during the demonstration 'Together without any walls', to safeguard the honour, freedom and rights of civil society in all its humanitarian expressions: when it saves lives at sea; when it protects and rescues people experiencing hardships at the borders; when it monitors respect for the principles of legality and equality; when it reports the failure to respect fundamental rights in procedures for administrative detention and forced removals; when it complies with the binding duty of solidarity which is a foundation of the Italian Constitution.

SPAIN: Human rights groups denounce "racist" focus of G6 summit in Seville

The interior ministers of Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Italy and Poland, the so-called G6, and high representatives of Morocco and the European Union are meeting today (16 October) in Seville to analyse "the fight against jihadist terrorism and illegal immigration." The focus of the summit has led to protests from activists and NGOs who consider it "racist" and have said that it "turns migrants and racialised citizens into a threat."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 12-13 October: all the documentation including background documents

Updated 16.10.17: On the agenda: European Public Prosecutors' Office, freezing and confiscation orders, the European Criminal Records Information System for third-country nationals, implementing data protection legislation, criminal justice in cyberspace, Schengen Borders Code, counter-terrorism resettlement and the reform of the Common European Asylum System.

Council of the European Union: Reception Directive and European Electronic Communications Code

UK-FRANCE: Calais Research: mapping the deals and decision-makers (link):

"The calaisresearch website is a collaborative project to gather and analyse information about the Calais border. Formed by members of Calais Migrant Solidarity, Corporate Watch, and Passeurs d’Hospitalités, its first publication in 2016 was a list of 40 companies profiting from the jungle eviction and other border violence. The site’s aim is to help those fighting for freedom of movement in Calais develop effective strategies.

To do that we need to understand what we’re up against: the decision-makers and deals that create the Calais ‘Border Regime’. Most obviously, the orders come from the UK and French governments. But there also other important players, including the business interests which govern cross-border trade. The latest section of the calaisresearch site maps these key decision-makers, with another new page cataloging the security funding deals announced since 2009."

TURKEY-ROMANIA: Old route, new dangers: Migrant smugglers revive Black Sea route to Europe (IRIN, link):

"Advertised as a "tourist yacht" to Europe, spacious and loaded with food and water, it was in fact a stripped-down, rusty blue fishing boat lacking any supplies for two stormy days at sea. Almost 160 men, women, and children were crammed on board, sick and fearful as the boat rocked violently from side to side, its leaky hold taking on water.

For Iraqi asylum-seeker Ahmed* and his family, transported to the vessel in the middle of the night and initially kept in the dark about their true destination – Romania – the experience was terrifying. “When I saw [the boat], I said, ‘Oh my god!’” recalled the former army sniper from Kirkuk, explaining that he refused to board until a smuggler with a handgun threatened to kill his family.

Over the last few months, reports of migrant boats being intercepted in the Black Sea have proliferated, along with tales of the tragedies that occur when the vessels capsize in its rough waters. This route from Turkey to Romania is not entirely new – it was used in Soviet times to ply illicit goods – but it appears smugglers are now attempting to revive it."

GREECE: Three young men arrested for racist attack against Pakistanis in Aspropyrgos (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"hree young men were arrested on Thursday for the attack against two Pakistani nationals on Saturday in Aspropyrgos. Two of the arrestees are 17 years old and one 18.

According to police, the three are supporters of the extreme right but no evidence was found officially linking them to far-right Golden Dawn or any other extreme right group. In their houses police found clubs and other objects. The suspects are known to police for their participation in a series of incidents.

The three were detained in last April and June for attacking police and throwing molotov cocktail bombs during an anti-racist protest in Aspropyrgos."

EU: Better protection and durable solution for refugees (European Parliament, press release, link):

By 37 MEPs to 20 and 2 abstentions on 12 October, the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) adopted its negotiating position for the permanent EU mechanism for resettlement refugees. It called on the EU to accept 240,000 refugees:

"EU member states host 8% of the world’s refugees. In 2015, 22 EU countries resettled 13 000 people; the US resettled almost 70 000 refugees. MEPs therefore call on member states to increase both resettlement efforts and the number of resettlement places in order to shoulder a fair share of global responsibility. They want the EU to take on at least 20% of the annual projected global resettlement needs. In 2017, this would amount to around 250 000 people."

GREECE: Island mayors raise alarm bell over congestion at hotspots (ekathimerini.com, link):

"In a series of letters to the Greek government, mayors and the Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDE) have raised the alarm bell over the congestion at hotspots hosting asylum seekers in the islands of the northeastern Aegean. (...)

Migrant flows have picked up recently with more than 100 people arriving daily on the Greek islands, while on Thursday alone another 245 people arrived. Since the beginning of the month until Thursday, a total of 1,535 migrants and refugees arrived on the Greek islands."

EU: Border controls extended without justification (euobserver, link):

"EU member states must demonstrate a serious threat to public order and internal security to impose temporary border controls.

But government documents suggest member states are broadly allowed to deny people the right of free movement even when their own available statistics suggest that there is no major problem.(...)

EUobserver has obtained letters from each of the member states, where they explain their reasons for upholding the border controls. Some admit there is no problem, while others offer scant data to support their arguments."

And see: Germany extends border controls, citing terrorism and migration (DW, link): "Germany extended temporary passport controls on its border with Austria and for flights departing from Greece for an additional six months due to the prospect of irregular migration and terrorism, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday."

CoE: Commissioner seeks clarifications over Italy’s maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters (link):

"addressed to Mr Marco Minniti, Minister of Interior of Italy, published today, the Commissioner requests information with regard to Italy’s maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters aimed at managing migration flows.

Expressing appreciation for Italy’s efforts in saving lives at sea and in receiving migrants arriving at its shores in the last years, the Commissioner underscores that, even when a state faces difficulties in coping with the influx of migrants, it still has the duty to protect and safeguard their human rights.

“The case law of the European Court of Human Rights is clear about this duty and I think it bears relevance for Italy’s operations in Libyan territorial waters”, writes the Commissioner."

See: Letter to Italy (pdf)

European Council draft Conclusions on migration

The European Council (19 October 2017) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 11572-17, pdf) say on migration:

"To consolidate and deepen this approach on all migration routes, the European Council further calls for:

- continued full commitment to our cooperation with Turkey on migration as well as - support to the Western Balkans;

- reducing the attractiveness of illegal migration through enhanced returns, effective readmission agreements and arrangements and by making full use of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which should be further strengthened....."

MSF report: Greece: Confronting the mental health emergency on Samos and Lesvos: Why the containment of asylum seekers on the Greek islands must end (pdf):

"Asylum seekers held on Greece’s islands are in the midst of a mental health emergency. Many have lived through extreme violence and traumatic events. But it is the conditions they face in Greece, including the continued violence and the lack of appropriate services, which are pushing them into hopelessness and are greatly compounding their mental health suffering."

Listicle: Germany’s new ground rules for migration (info migrants, link):

"The ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) and their sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) have agreed to put a limit on the number of refugees Germany would accept on humanitarian grounds each year. They also laid out further steps to regulate migration in a regulatory framework. What are the key points of the plan?"

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