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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
16-18.7.18
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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
DENMARK: MPs call for explanation over confidential Denmark-Somalia deal after extortion allegation (The Local, link):

"Denmark has an undisclosed agreement with Somalia to return individuals to the Northeast African country, according to reports.

The agreement provides for up to 12 people to be returned to Somalia by Denmark annually, Politiken reported last year, but it has not been officially confirmed and details of individual cases have not been disclosed.

But one of the deportations that may have been carried out under the arrangement was reported by TV2 on Wednesday.

A woman from the Vollsmose neighbourhood in Odense told TV2 that she had been subject to attempted extortion by one or more immigration officers in Somalia over the deportation of her son from Denmark."

EU: Europol proposals on combating migrant smuggling: interoperability, "law enforcement-led response", "data fusion", deployments in African states

"At the COSI meeting of 26 June 2018, Europol presented the activity report of the European migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC). During the subsequent thematic discussion on migrant smuggling, Europol was requested to prepare a short presentation with proposals how to further strengthen the fight against migrant smuggling. This presentation was made at the informal COSI meeting in Vienna on 2 July 2018."

NIGER: In die Rebellion getrieben [Driven into rebellion] (Germany-Foreign-Policy.com, link):

"The EU's externalised refugee policy is creating new tensions in Niger and may even trigger a rebellion in the north of the country. Reports from the region confirm that the forced illegalisation of traditional migration business by Brussels, particularly in the city of Agadez, the gateway to the Nigerian Sahara, has deprived tens of thousands of people of their livelihoods. Announced EU replacement programmes have only helped a small proportion of those affected. Local observers warn that the readiness to rebel and to join jihadists is increasing. Niger is already the scene of growing jihadist terror and increased Western "anti-terror" operations: While Berlin and the EU are primarily supporting a new G5 Sahel intervention force - German soldiers may also be deployed in Niger - the United States has expanded its presence in the country. The US forces are currently building a drone base in Agadez, which is triggering new tensions."

RESETTLEMENT: EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe (EUobserver, link) by Malin Björk:

"In order to ensure that the EU makes a meaningful contribution to the annual global resettlement needs (as identified by the UNHCR), the European Parliament wants to see a resettlement programme where all EU member states participate.

However, council has rejected the compulsory nature of the programme outright.

Despite this, negotiations with the council had already reached quite an advanced stage when the file was blocked by the 'coreper' (committee of the permanent representatives of the governments of the member states to the European Union) just days before the EU summit in June.

Then, at the dawn of the Austrian EU presidency, the council meeting decided to shift focus: far from insisting on a reform of the Common European asylum system (CEAS) - and the Dublin regulation in particular - the council conclusions bear all the hallmarks of the far-right led by Viktor Orban, Heinz-Christian Strache and Matteo Salvini."

EU: Immigration, Lot of Myths and Little Reality (IPS, link) by Roberto Savio:

"According to the latest statistics, the total flow of immigrants so far in 2018 is 50.000 people, compared with 186,768 last year, 1,259,955 in 2016 and 1,327,825 in 2015. The difference between reality and perceptions is so astonishing, we are clearly witnessing one of the most brilliant manipulations in history.

The latest survey carried out of 23,000 citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States shows an enormous level of disinformation. In five of those countries, people believe that immigrants are three times higher than they actually are.

Italians believe they account for 30% of the population when the figure is actually 10%, an average which is lower than the media of the European Union. Swedes are those closest to reality: they believe immigrants account for 30%, when in fact the figure is 20%.

Italians also believe that 50% of the immigrants are Muslim, when in fact it is 30%; conversely, 60% of the immigrants are Christian, and Italians think they are 30% (...)

Meanwhile, the 7th report on the economic impact of immigration in Italy from the Leone Moressa Foundation, which based its research on Italian Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) data, has presented some totally ignored facts."

EU: INTEROPERABILITY: Shared Biometric Matching Service (sBMS): Feasibility study - final report (pdf)

"The sBMS has been conceived based on the key assumption that rather than having four or more individual biometric systems, each serving one IT system, eu-LISA and its stakeholders could benefit from implementing a unique shared biometric system that could be shared by all systems. Reduced IT complexity and costs, along with technical, financial, operational and managerial synergies have all been noted amongst the positive outcomes foreseen.

In this respect, eu-LISA had to identify and analyse the feasibility of different architectural options for the implementation of the sBMS, capable of supporting the various biometric operations of all current and future systems managed by the Agency.

To achieve this objective eu-LISA entrusted to an external independent contractor the execution of a study that had to take into account all biometrics functional and non-functional requirements of the IT systems, the state of maturity of biometric technology available on the market and eu-LISA’s operational and strategic objectives in this regard. The study also included an assessment of the ‘flagging’ functionality highlighted in the HLEG’s final report, with the possibility of the sBMS raising hit/no-hit “flags” from the various connected applications being specifically examined. This report provides an overview of the main outcomes of this study."

EU: Libyan Coast Guard left two adults and a baby to die at sea, says rescue group

The Libyan Coast Guard left two adults and a baby to die at sea after destroying the boat in which they were travelling some 80 miles off the coast of Libya, according to the sea rescue organisation Proactiva Open Arms.

EU Austrian Presidency document: "a new, better protection system under which no applications for asylum are filed on EU territory"

A crude paper authored by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU and circulated to other Member States's security officials refers disparagingly to "regions that are characterised by patriarchal, anti-freedom and/or backward-looking religious attitudes" and calls for "a halt to illegal migration to Europe" and the "development of a new, better protection system under which no applications for asylum are filed on EU territory," with some minor exceptions.

See: Austrian Presidency: Informal Meeting of COSI, Vienna, Austria, 2-3 July 2018: Strengthening EU External Border Protection and a Crisis-Resistant EU Asylum System (pdf)

Greece: Good news Lesvos Solidarity - Pikpa.(Are You Syrious, link)

"The judge delivered a decision in favour of Pikpa in the court case initiated by some hotel owners from the neighbourhood and some individuals. This is an important step to save Pikpa!

The fight against the Region’s decision to close Pikpa continues: the appeal was filed last week. The Region must reconsider their decision."

How far will southern Spain's resources for refugees go? (DW, link)

"When the Aquarius docked in Valencia, the 630 migrants on board were welcomed by over 2,400 volunteers and medical staff. But what happens to those who arrive from Morocco? Santiago Saez reports from Cadiz and Madrid."

Editorial: Towards a place of no return (ECRE, link):

"Horst Seehofer has managed to illustrate the inhumanity and futility of Europe’s return policy with a “joke” about the deportation of 69 people on his 69th birthday. The numbers no longer match: one of the group committed suicide after being returned to Afghanistan. He was a young man who had arrived in Germany as a child and had lived there for eight years, “returned” to a town he’d never been to.

For ECRE, return is a valid part of migration policy but only if certain pre-conditions are in place. First, fair asylum decision-making. Here, the huge variation in the rate of recognition of protection claims, particularly from key nationalities such as Afghanistan, demonstrates this is not the case – and probably indicates political interference in judicial decision-making. That the likelihood of a protection claim from an Afghan varies from 3% to 98% from one Member State to another with no objective explanation for the difference is evidence of injustice.

The second pre-condition is a return process that is effected in accordance with human rights; sometimes this is the case, often not. Finally, there should post-return monitoring. In many cases, including in Afghanistan, people just disappear after return, their fate unknown but unlikely to be positive. Without these preconditions, return should not be happening. But under no circumstances should people be “returned” to places they’ve never been."

EU: Informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers in Vienna: press releases

Three press releases were published by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU following an informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers in Vienna on 12 and 13 July 2018.

UN: At least 2.5 million migrants smuggled worldwide in 2016, says UNODC study

At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled in 2016, according to the first Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today. Migrant smuggling occurred in all regions of the world and generated an income for smugglers of up to US$7 billion, equivalent to what the United States or the European Union countries spent on global humanitarian aid in 2016.

Greece: immediate action needed to protect human rights of migrants (CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, pdf):

"“The humanity and hospitality that Greece’s people and authorities demonstrated towards migrants in recent years is truly commendable. In spite of these efforts, however, the situation remains worrying and much more needs to be done to protect the human rights of those who have had to flee their country”, said today Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of her five-day visit to Greece, which also focused on the impact of austerity on human rights (...)

Rapid action by the Greek authorities is required to improve migrants’ reception conditions, especially in the hotspots. The geographical restriction imposed on arriving migrants put the Eastern Aegean islands (on which the hotspots are located) and their population under heavy pressure, as the Commissioner could observe in Lesvos. “I am very concerned by the substandard living conditions prevailing in the Reception and Identification Centre of Moria, which is running at well over three times its capacity and has already expanded informally into the surrounding area, putting the human rights of its residents at risk. The combination of overcrowding, insecurity, poor hygienic conditions, the approaching high summer temperatures, and residents’ uncertainty regarding their future may lead to very serious problems if not addressed immediately”, said the Commissioner, who also warned about the increasing tensions that this situation inevitably causes both among the residents of the Centre and within the general population of the island. Underlining the need to act quickly, the Commissioner called on the Greek authorities to transfer more people to the mainland. She also called on the Greek authorities to speed up the processing of asylum applications, whilst ensuring all necessary safeguards for fair procedures are in place, increase the capacities of reception facilities across the country, and improve their quality. “Temporary camps can meet the standards, as I could observe at the Open Hospitality Centre for Refugees and Migrants ‘Kara Tepe’ run by the Municipality of Lesvos; however, given the length of the asylum procedure, there is also a need for more reception facilities adapted to prolonged residence,” she said. The Commissioner also praised the invaluable work of civil society actors and international partners in this field." (emphasis added)

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