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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
29.1.18-4.2.18
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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
The Afghan paradox – chaos and violence but safe for returns from Europe (ECRE, link):

"A series of new attacks in the capital, Kabul, illustrates the volatile situation in Afghanistan, a BBC report reveals that the Taliban controls or operates openly in 70% of the country and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Factsheet describes the intensifying conflict. Yet, EU Member States continue to deport Afghan nationals."

Italy: Police say victims of drive-by shootings in Macerata are all foreigners (DW, link):

"Police in Macerata have arrested a man they say went on an hours-long shooting spree targeting African immigrants. The shootings come amid high tensions after an immigrant was detained in connection with a brutal murder."

Border treaty blamed for Calais migrant surge that has led to violence (The Observer, link):

"A deal to speed refugee processing has resulted in a 25% rise in arrivals at the port, stoking national tensions"

The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees. It’s about us (Guardian, link):

"The west has profited from globalisation but refuses to bear its responsibilities to displaced people. We have abandoned our belief in shared humanity"

Bulgarian PM criticises EU’s migration approach (New Europe, link):

"Speaking at a conference on security and migration management in the Western Balkans in Brussels on Thursday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov lambasted the EU’s migration and asylum policy, calling it “a complete failure”.

Borisov, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency on the European Council, offered a number of solutions that could deal with the ‘chaos’ that resulted from the EU’s existing approach towards migrants.

Part of his initiatives may face misunderstanding among other member states.

Borisov was particularly abrupt when speaking about the migrant issue and repeatedly countered the claims of Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship, who earlier called the EU’s relocation and resettlement scheme “a European success story”."

Amnesty denounces Italy-Libya migration deal, says time to release thousands trapped in misery (New Europe, link):

"Ahead of the first anniversary of Italy signing a deal with Libya on measures to stop refugees and migrants from travelling to Europe, thousands of people remain trapped in Libyan detention camps where torture is commonplace, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

“One year ago, the Italian government, backed by their European counterparts, agreed on a dodgy deal with the Libyan government that has trapped thousands. People are being forced to endure torture, arbitrary detention, extortion and unthinkable conditions in detention centres run by the Libyan government,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office."

Frontex launching new operation in Central Med (link):

"Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is launching a new operation in the Central Mediterranean to assist Italy in border control activities.

The new Joint Operation Themis will begin on 1 February and will replace operation Triton, which was launched in 2014. Operation Themis will continue to include search and rescue as a crucial component. (...)

Its operational area will span the Central Mediterranean Sea from waters covering flows from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Albania."

Hungary will exit the series of negotiations on the UN’s migration package unless there is a positive shift (HUNGARIAN government, link):

"If there is no shift in a positive direction towards Hungary’s standpoint in the first draft of the UN’s migration package, Hungary’s exit process from the series of negotiations will be launched”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said. "

Uproar at Belgian bill letting police raid homes for migrants (euobserver, link):

"Belgium is transposing into domestic legislation an EU law to kick out migrants - but a proposal by the government that would allow police to raid homes of people suspected of lodging an irregular migrant has caused an uproar.

On Tuesday (30 January), Belgian magistrate Philippe Van Linthout told national lawmakers that the government bill is also an affront to the judiciary. "One day we will wake up in a country where fundamental rights no longer exist. As a judge that is really something that we must warn you about," he said.

Migrants' heroine faces jail for people smuggling (BBC News, link):

"A Spanish woman has been credited with saving the lives of thousands of migrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to get to Europe. So why is she now facing a lengthy prison sentence?

When Helena Maleno gets the call, she does not think twice.

As soon as she has been told that a boat has set forth into the treacherous waters of the Strait of Gibraltar, she alerts the emergency services.

Based in Tangier for the past 16 years, Ms Maleno, who heads a non-governmental organisation called Walking Borders, monitors the movement of migrants and helps to call rescuers if they get into danger as they cross from Morocco to Spain.

Her actions have made her a heroine to thousands of African immigrants trying travel to Europe."

EU Lacks Cohesive Strategy to Address ‘Migration Crisis’ (middle-east-online.com, link):

"With Europe braced for increased immigration and hateful far-right anti-immigration discourse becoming increasingly mainstream, many are calling on the European Union to take decisive action to tackle root causes, reports Mahmud el-Shafey."

Anti-fraud office investigates EU asylum agency director (Politico, link):

"The executive director of the EU asylum agency is under investigation by the bloc’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, a document obtained by POLITICO shows.

It states that José Carreira is being investigated for alleged misconduct in procurement procedures, irregularities in management of human resources and possible breaches of data protection at the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

The two-page document was drafted by an investigator at OLAF. According to the text, the probe concerns “suspicions of misconduct by the executive director of EASO.” The investigation takes place “at least — but not exclusively — in the framework of the EU support in response to the refugee crisis in Greece.”

A spokesperson for EASO confirmed that the fraud office’s investigators had visited the agency on October 9 and again last week."

Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights: Annual Activity Report 2017 (pdf):

"In the introduction to last year’s annual report, I claimed that 2016 would be remembered as a turning point for human rights protection in Europe. In a positive scenario, 2016 would be remembered as the year we hit bottom and began to bounce back. In a darker scenario, it would mark the beginning of the end of the post-war human rights system. Needless to say, there were few signs of an upturn in 2017

What more can be done to arrest the negative trend? How can we turn the tide? In circumstances of serious backsliding in certain countries and issue areas, the Council of Europe needs to reinforce its core “business” - rule of law and human rights monitoring and the provision of advice. It needs to demonstrate to member states the benefits and the added value of this work. While navigating an extremely challenging environment in the short and medium-term, we also need to think strategically. In my view, one key strategic priority should be children and youth. Otherwise, Europe in the near future may lack a critical mass of people with a willingness and ability to defend Europe’s acquis of human rights, tolerance, and transnational co-operation.

My concern stems from the fact that children and youth were among the hardest hit by the economic crisis in many countries. Child poverty and youth unemployment were among the most widespread side effects of austerity policies. If we do not address these ills more effectively, what can we expect of many in this generation in the future? What will Europe mean to them, if anything? Why should they care about European integration, solidarity, even democracy? We cannot continue to leave so many young people behind." (emphasis added)

And see: Transcript of oral presentation of the report: Annual activity report 2017 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (pdf)

A Question of Voluntary Return and Reintegration? (Migration Systems, link):

"With a global increase in the number of migrants and refugees, the issue of return migration has recently received greater attention. To date, return and reintegration policies have been shaped by increasing political emphasis on migration control, and tools such as readmission agreements. But these policies rarely target sustainable reintegration."

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