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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
13-17.9.17
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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
Who Protects Refugees? 15/09/2017 (Eric & Philippa Kempson, Lesvos, Greece, You Tube, link)

Britain faces rebuke over refusal to back more than 100 UN human rights targets (Observer, link)

"Civil society groups warn that further deterioration in protection is likely as Brexit looms.

Britain is heading for a confrontation this week at the UN human rights council over its failure to support more than 100 recommendations on subjects ranging from the rights of children to the international law on abortion.(...)

Among the recommendations that the government has declined to back, a number outline the need for the UK to limit how long someone can be held in an immigration detention centre. The UK is the only European country without such a time limit.

Britain has also declined to support recommendations on the detention of children in immigration centres. Of a total of 229 recommendations by UN members, the government will confirm that it is supporting just 96 – 42% of the total. The government has chosen simply to “note” the remainder."

They can't sail for Europe - so what's happening to migrants trapped in Libya? (MIddle East Eye, link)

"Militias are trying to take over government detention centres - and trade their occupants as human commodity (...)

Libya has become the preferred destination for migrants and refugees heading for Europe. In the first half of 2017, at least 2,030 people died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean for southern Europe. The greatest number set off from Libya.

The EU, and especially Rome, has tried to work with the Libyan authorities to return migrant ships back to North Africa."

Refugee surge on Greek islands (DW, link)

"As smuggling activity in the Aegean Sea has reached the highest level since last fall, the Greek islands are once again becoming overcrowded. Diego Cupolo reports that most new arrivals come via Turkey.

Aid groups are once again struggling to accommodate a rising number of people arriving on the Greek islands to request asylum. Despite heightened patrols in the Aegean Sea to deter smuggling activity between Turkey and Greece, about 3,700 refugees reached Greek shores in August and about 400 new arrivals have been recorded per week so far this month."

UK: Head of scandal-hit G4S detention centres is put on administrative leave (Guardian, link):

"G4S has placed Ben Saunders on administrative leave after undercover Panorama exposed abuse of detainees.

The head of two G4S-run detention centres has been placed on administrative leave after a series of scandals, the Guardian has learned.

G4S is believed to have placed Ben Saunders on leave from his role in charge of Brook House and Tinsley House immigration removal centres (IRCs) after an undercover Panorama exposed abuse of detainees there. Officers were seen to mock suicidal detainees and one officer is alleged to have attempted to choke a detainee."

Orbán wins the migration argument (Politico, link):

"Suddenly most EU leaders echo the Hungarian prime minister.

No one in Brussels wants to say it out loud, but Viktor Orbán is winning the migration debate.

The Hungarian prime minister may be much maligned in European capitals for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, his opposition to the EU’s refugee relocation policy, and for building a border fence.

But look closely at how EU leaders now talk about the issue and the policies they’ve adopted since the 2015 crisis, and it’s clear Orbán’s preference for interdiction over integration has somehow prevailed.""

Are You Syrious (15.9.17, link):

Feature

"Fascism is on the rise in Europe and around the world. Today this is illustrated by what is happening in Hungary, but we can easily find examples - some we will mention in today’s digest - all around the old continent.

The Hungarian media are reporting that the council of the southwestern village of Esztergályhorváti has adopted an ordinance obliging people who are renting accommodation to check refugees’ vaccination records before renting??!! If a person does not have proof of all the vaccinations obligatory in Hungary, she/he cannot rent a place in this village. Even before this order, not a single refugee had come to this village."

Mediterranean

"Today, 262 people were rescued from the in international waters off the Libyan coast to the west of Tripoli. Among those rescued were 56 women, 7 children under 5 years and 48 unaccompanied minors. In the evening, another 109 people were saved by humanitarian boats.

Today we came across a report about a rescue mission by the Irish Defence Force. They rasponded to a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre and found a boat with 285 people on board 44 kilometers northwest of Tripoli. During the rescue operation, three people were declared dead."

And this is just another day in the Mediterranean

"This week, hundreds were saved, people from sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, Mali, Sierra Leone, but also Syria. They all came from Libya testifying, again, about the appalling situation in that country.

SOS MEDITERRANEAN saved some of their stories."

Italy

"But none of these reports is enough for the current politicians in Europe. According to the Italian activist group Radicali Italiani, the contents of the agreements reached by Italy and Libya are not completely known to the citizens or the parliament. The groups reacted by filing a complaint to the Procura della Repubblica di Roma for criminal conspiracy/offences and international corruption in the framework of agreements between Italy, the Government of Sarraj and the wanted Ahmad Dabbash, indicated by the press as head of violent armed groups and, at the time of the agreement, as one of the principal persons responsible for the smuggling of migrants at sea, said the secretary of Radicali Italiani Riccardo Magi, author of the petition together with the lawyer Francesco Mingiardi, member of Radicali Italiani."

EU: Migrants stuck on endless ferry journey as countries refuse entry (Guardian, link)

"Men stowed away on Istanbul to Odessa ferry and are stuck at sea while both Turkey and Ukraine refuse to take them.

Twelve migrants, apparently from North Africa, have been sailing to and fro between Istanbul and Odessa on a Danish passenger ferry for the last seven weeks, locked in four cabins with no country willing to take them.

According to the operator, DFDS, Turkey and Ukraine both refuse to accept the men."

Secret aid worker: Greece has exposed the aid community's failures (Guardian, link)

"The usual excuses don’t work in an EU country. With funding, infrastructure, and a stable government, why are we failing refugees in Greece? (...)

In Greece the aid community is being exposed. Our exposure is further compounded when we are unfavourably compared to organised and efficient groups of volunteers who work with less and achieve more. In comparison INGOs and the UNHCR seem money-orientated, bloated, bureaucratic and inefficient."

Greek, Italian leaders call for fairer EU migration rules (ekathimerini.com, link):

"At a joint summit on Corfu on Thursday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni declared that European countries should share the burden of dealing with migration.

Mediterranean countries must “find a way to act decisively, taking a leading role in this debate and in developments,” Gentiloni said. Tsipras, for his part, noted that refugee crises should be handled with solidarity and a shared sense of responsibility, not with “fences and exclusions that undermine our European values.”"

EU deadline on refugee pledges misses mark (euobserver, link):

"A looming deadline for the EU states to commit to their pledges on how many refugees they will resettle appears to have shifted.

The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told reporters in Brussels that he had pressed interior ministers on Thursday (14 September) to come forward with numbers ahead of a deadline initially set during the summer. (...)

Of the almost 39,000 people resettled from Africa last year, only around 1,800 ended up in Europe. The vast majority went to United States, followed by Canada and Australia.(...)

Niger - through which the vast majority of migrants travel to reach Libya - has only resettled one person since 2015. Similar figures are cited for Bukino Faso and Mali.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said on Monday that the "response has been very far from adequate." "

Home secretary ignores court order and sends asylum seeker to Kabul (Guardian, link)

"Samim Bigzad says he is living in fear in hotel room in Afghan capital after armed men arrived looking for him...

Samim Bigzad, 23, says he is a prime target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and American companies before he sought sanctuary in the UK.

Denmark Suspends Refugee Resettlement Under UN Program (Bloomberg, link):

"Denmark won’t allow any refugees into the country this year under a United Nations program and will seek flexibility in determining how many may resettle in the future instead of a set quota, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration said."

GREECE: Occupy Lesvos: Refugee Resistance at the Heart of the Border Regime (Novara, link):

"Recent acts of dissent within Moria have met with harsh police violence, and few positive outcomes. So the Afghan protesters left the camp, thrusting the continued struggle of detained refugees into the laps of the cocktail-sipping yacht-owners around the harbour.

Facing down threats of eviction and arrest, and violent abuse from an off-duty Moria guard, they won the promise that asylum claims which have dragged on for 12 or 18 months will be resolved within days. If these decisions do materialise, the occupation can be counted as a major victory for self-organised refugee struggle. Novara Media was on the ground for the duration."

EU: New rules on Schengen Information System and border checks: Council's latest draft compromise text

"Delegations will find attached a Presidency revised draft compromise text of the abovementioned proposal, taking into account the discussions held at the Working Party for Schengen Matters (Acquis) on 19 June 2017 and 3, 4, 5 and 26 July 2017 and the written comments subsequently sent by the delegations."

As Europe refugee and migrant arrivals fall, reports of abuses, deaths persist (UHCR, link):

"On land, movements across Europe continued in the first half of 2017, although at a much reduced level compared to the same period last year. People moving onwards irregularly from Greece and Bulgaria reported abuses at the hands of smugglers, as well as being beaten, and set upon by police dogs. In addition there were reports of robberies, and kidnappings by smugglers for extortion.

During the period of the report UNHCR and partners continued to receive allegations of push-backs by State authorities, including in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There were also reports of access to asylum procedures being denied and allegations of violence in some instances. While some States have taken steps to address such actions, for example through investigating allegations of human rights abuses at borders, the report notes that further measures are required."

See: Desparate Journeys report (pdf)

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