EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 19-24.4.18

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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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
Are You Syrious (23.4.18, link)

Fascists Attack Refugees on Lesvos: Feature

"On Sunday night around 200 fascists viciously attacked a group of protesting refugees in Mytilene, Lesvos. The protesters from the Moria camp have been in Sappho Square since an Afghani man died last week after failing to receive needed medical care. The protestors are demanding access to basic human rights, adequate treatment in the camp, and an end to their detention.

At around 8 PM, a large group of fascist people gathered near Sappho Square in Mytilene, ostensibly to hold a “flag ceremony”. It seems likely that this “flag ceremony” was simply a pretext for the assault.(...)

The male refugees formed a circle to protect the women and children who remained in the centre, and also held out blankets to shield them. Those who witnessed the event stated that the fascists made a special effort to target the women and children in the crowd." (...)

The peaceful protesters that were arrested early hours of the morning for sitting in Sappho square, and having rocks and flares fired at them by fascists, have just been released from police custody and have to see lawyers in the morning to see what they have been changed with. The only crime committed here is by fascist and the authorities for not implementing the rule of law - Eric Kempson, long-term volunteer (...)"

An update and Summary of the Moria 35 trial

"The trial of the Moria 35 has begun. Below is a summary from the court proceedings. Today all 7 of the prosecution witnesses made their testimonies

1) Today all the prosecution witnesses made their testimonies. They were 7. Also another 2 didn’t come. All of them are cops and one is firefighter.

2) All the prosecution witnesses didn’t recognize even one from the defendants. Except : the firefighter who recognized three, which as he said, put the fire outside Moria . The judge asked him to spot them. He pointed with his finger to three people. But the persons he pointed at were different from the persons he said in his affidavit!!! All laughed, because he wasn’t able to spot the defendants. Also one cop said that these three people were before the fire at the fights in Moria camp as well.(...)"

Why Journalists Covering the Refugee Crisis Face Moral Injury (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The refugee crisis saw many journalists confronted with trauma and hypocrisy on their home turf. Professor Anthony Feinstein discusses his latest work on the effects on those involved and their wider relevance.(...)

It’s asking different questions compared to previous work in which you fly off to a faraway country and witness things at a distance. Journalists saw things that they felt were morally reprehensible, and this upset them because it was sometimes their friends or their countrymen, or the government, who they faulted for this moral lapse"

EU: Council of the European Union: Revision of DUBLIN rules

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (pdf). The Council developing its negotiatiing position which includes:

"discourage abuses and prevent secondary movements of the applicants within the EU, in particular by including clear obligations for applicants to apply in the Member State of first entry and to remain in the Member State that has been determined as responsible under the Dublin list of criteria."

And see: New Dublin: Reversing the Dynamics (LIMITE doc no: 7674-18, pdf) In the second and third phases of a (refugee) "crisis" the European Council takes over:

"The third phase of the mechanism (marked in red in graphic 2) defines the broad parameters that will come into play in the event of a severe crisis. The main responsibilities in this phase lie at the European Council level. Any measures adopted when this level of pressure is reached should be based on political direction from the leaders. As well as the European Council being able to upgrade or prolong some or all of the measures triggered during the previous phases, leaders may also decide upon extraordinary measures, depending on the scope and specific characteristics of the crisis at hand. All measures decided upon by the leaders will be operationalised by the Council and implemented by the Commission and Member States, in line with the directions and guidelines given by the leaders."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "A familiar pattern is emerging. Llike in the financial crisis the response to a new "refugee crisis" will lie with the European Council (EU "Leaders"). Responsibility will thus not rest with the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the Commission, the European Parliament or with Member States (and their governments)."

175 illegal Migrants Caught at the Bulgarian Border in March (, link)

"There is a double increase of detained migrants at the state border in March compared to February this year, according to data from the Ministry of Interior.

A total of 175 people without registration were detained at the entrance, at the exit and inside the country. In the first two weeks of April, there is also an increasing flow of people. Although there is an increase, the data show that there is still no room for pressure as it did in 2015 and 2016 at the same time."

Bosnia Failing to Protect Asylum Seekers - Country Appears Ill-equipped to Manage Increase in Arrivals (HRW, link)

"When you think of refugees in connection with Bosnia and Herzegovina, you may think of people displaced by fighting in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. But today the country is facing a different kind of refugee crisis as it strains to safeguard the rights of a growing number of people from other regions who are seeking protection.

According to the UNHCR, 1,138 asylum seekers and migrants arrived to Bosnia between January 1 and March 3, more than the total for 2017. Most of them are from Syria, followed by Pakistan, Libya, and Afghanistan. Some are fleeing conflict and human rights abuses, while others are seeking a better life.

Government officials say they are managing the situation, a position echoed by UNHCR. But activists and NGOs say that the government is failing to adequately protect the rights of refugees who suffer in the streets without adequate food, shelter, and medical care."

EU: EURODAC: Trilogue document from 21 February 2018 including differing positions on forced fingerprinting of children

A document from the ongoing "trilogues" on the upgrading of the EU's Eurodac database highlights the differing positions of the Council and the Parliament over proposals to make it possible for children's fingerprints to be taken by force by national authorities.

GREECE: Protest by migrants against imprisonment on Greek islands attacked by far-right

"Police forced dozens of migrants, most Afghan asylum-seekers, who had been camped out on the main square of Lesvos island’s capital since last week, onto buses and transported them to the Moria camp in the early hours of Monday after downtown Mytilini turned into a battleground on Sunday.

The operation was intended to end clashes that raged all night in the center of the eastern Aegean island’s capital after a group of some 200 men chanting far-right slogans attacked the migrants who had been squatting on the square since last Wednesday in protest at their detention in Moria camp and delays in asylum processing."

GREECE: Op-Ed: Moria 35 – Trial at the Gates of Fortress Europe (ECRE, link)

"Today begins the trial of the Moria 35, which will determine the fate of 35 individuals arrested following a protest outside the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Moria Refugee Camp on 18 July 2017. The stakes are high in this inherently political trial. The 35 face criminal charges for which they may receive 10 years in prison and probable deportation if found guilty. (...)

Why then, despite the inherent weakness of the case and the overwhelming evidence of police brutality, has this managed to even come to trial?

We believe this prosecution is part of an ongoing policy to criminalize and silence those who question their hostile containment. It is the refugee and migrant community of Lesvos that is on trial, to collectively punish and provide a deterrence to anybody who dares to challenge a system which seeks to dehumanise and deny them their rights.

A call for international solidarity with the Moria 35 is not therefore just a call to support 35 individuals who are victims of cynical criminalization, it is a call to support a politically aware community demanding its rights."

And see: Opening of the 'Moria 35' trial on 20 April on Chios Island (Greece): Statement from the Trial Observation Delegation(pdf)

FRANCE-ITALY: Far-right activists block Alps pass used by migrants (France 24, link):

"Around 100 far-right activists on Saturday tried to block a French alpine pass used by migrants in a bid to "ensure that no illegal immigrant can return to France".

Members of the rightwing Generation Identity (GI) movement trudged through the snow up to Col de l'Echelle near the border with Italy where they plan to spend the night.

The pass is a "strategic point of passage for illegal immigrants" entering from Italy, GI spokesman Romain Espino, told AFP, criticising what he called "a lack of courage of the public authorities"."

EU: Europol: European Migrant Smuggling Centre report: January 2017-January 2018 (pdf):

"Ruthless and violent criminals are increasingly providing smuggling services to irregular migrants to evade border controls, migration regulations and visa requirements. Most irregular migrants resort to the assistance of profit-seeking smugglers. With improved border controls, migrants are deterred from attempting to illegally cross borders by themselves and are diverted into the hands of smugglers who put migrants’ lives at serious risk and therefore pose a security challenge to the internal security of the European Union (EU). A pan-European response to efficiently disrupt migrant smuggling activities is still needed and the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (ESMC) is leading it by strongly supporting EU Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).

Migrant smuggling continues to represent a highly-profitable business in which criminal syndicates enjoy low risk of detection and punishment. The business model of criminals involved in migrant smuggling is continuously evolving and responding to the dynamics and the needs of the migratory flows impacting the EU. Migrant smugglers are becoming more and more organised, establishing sophisticated professional networks, operating transnationally from source towards destination countries.

According to the vast amount of data and information reported to the EMSC in recent months, targeting migrant smuggling therefore persists as one of the most relevant priorities. These factors highlight the need to continue developing comprehensive and coordinated responses across and between affected continents to efficiently combat migrant smuggling."

Press release: All you need to know about migrant smuggling in the EU(pdf)

EU: The Khartoum Process: "needs-based reintegration assistance" for people returned to Sudan

In response to a parliamentary question from Kathleen Van Brempt MEP, the European Commission has provided some information on the Khartoum Process concerning migration within and from the Horn of Africa and its efforts concerning return and "reintegration" to Sudan: "The Facility will provide 4 200 already returned persons, including from Europe, with needs-based reintegration assistance that aims to address the social, economic and psychosocial dimensions of reintegration."

At least 11 migrants dead, 263 rescued off Libya coast (Middle East Eye, link):

"At least 11 migrants died at sea and another 263 were rescued on Sunday in two separate operations off the coast of Libya, the country's navy said.

In the first operation, "a coastguard patrol... was able to rescue 83 illegal migrants and recovered 11 bodies in a rubber boat five nautical miles northeast of Sabratha," navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP.

Sabratha is about 70km west of Tripoli.

"The 11 dead migrants drowned when the dinghy overturned but were recovered by the survivors and hoisted into the boat," said Mohamad Erhouma, a member of the nearby city of Zawiyah's coastguard."

GREECE: Red Cross warns surge in women and children arriving in Greece could spark emergency close to land border with Turkey (IFRC, link):

" The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is warning that a sharp rise in the number of people arriving in Greece from Turkey could signal the start of a summer emergency.

More than 1,000 people have made the dangerous journey by foot from western Turkey to north east Greece, crossing the major Evros river, since March. More than 100 people have arrived every day this week...

The closest official registration centre, in nearby Fylakio, is already overwhelmed which means those arriving to Evros have to make their own way to Thessaloniki to register – 430km away."

And: Refugees sleep in squares & parks as hundreds flock to Thessaloniki (Keep Talking Greece, link)

France's lower house approves bill to tighten asylum rules(Reuters, link):

"France’s lower house approved by a large majority on Sunday a bill that would tighten asylum rules after tense debates that created the first cracks within President Emmanuel Macron’s party.

One member of Macron’s party, Jean-Michel Clement, voted against the bill and said he would leave the majority.

“I am not sure we’re sending to world citizens the universal message that has always been ours,” the lawmaker said in a statement following the vote late on Sunday.

The French National Assembly voted in favour of the legislation by 228-139, with 24 abstaining. Debates are due to follow in the upper house, the Senate, in June. The National Assembly will have the last word on the bill."

See: Bill Could Undermine Asylum Seekers’ Rights - Amend Draft to Safeguard Access to Protection(Human Rights Watch, link)

EU officials fear new wave of migrants after Greek court ruling (euractiv, link):

"A top Greek court ruled on Wednesday (18 April) that migrants landing on Greek islands should no longer be held there while asylum claims are assessed, a decision raising alarm among EU officials in Brussels.

The prospect of new arrivals, often fleeing violence in the Middle East via Turkey, being able to quickly reach mainland Europe from the islands could undermine EU efforts to discourage people leaving Turkey.

An EU official described the ruling as a “big worry”.

Austria to seize refugees' mobiles and demand cash (The, link):

" Asylum seekers will be forced to hand over their mobile phones and up to 840 euros ($1,040) in cash to the authorities, under measures approved by the Austrian cabinet on Wednesday.

The money will be put towards the costs of their applications, while authorities will examine whether geo-location data from refugees' phones match their accounts of how they arrived in the country.

If the applicant is found to have previously entered another European country where the so-called "Dublin regulation" is in force, they could be sent back there."

Cyprus granted protection status to 1,300 asylum seekers last year (, link):

"The 28 Member States of the European Union granted protection status to 538,000 asylum seekers in 2017, down by almost 25 percent, according to Eurostat.

Cyprus granted protection status to 1,005 Syrians (78 percent) to 75 Somalians (6 percent) and 50 Iraqis (4 percent) – the island's contribution was 0.24 percent of the total granted protection in the bloc."

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