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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
17.6.18
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Greece: Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre, link):

"In the months since our last update on rights violations and resistance in Lesvos, our advocacy and campaigning resources were almost exclusively focused on the two trials for the Moria 35 and Moria 10 that took place in Chios in late April and early May 2018."

Greece: Unbelievable: Non-Schengen nationals need passport for beach Tsamakia on Lesvos (Keep talking Greece, link);

"An organized beach on the island of Lesvos has introduced new practices that stun not only swimmers but also local media. Tsamakia Beach requests from visitors to show their passport at the entrance if they are from countries outside the Schengen zone. With a notice posted at the entrance, visitors are warned that will be not allowed to enter the beach without a passport.

The warning is in English, French and Arabic."

And see: Lesbos Legal Centre (link)

Uprooted and unprotected A multi-agency approach to safeguarding children forced into migration through northern France (NSPCC, link):

"This report highlights learning from CTAC’s work with the Refugee Youth Service (RYS), safeguarding children who had lived in the Calais 'Jungle'. RYS refers children to CTAC when it suspects they have moved from France to the UK. CTAC then shares child protection information with relevant UK agencies and tries to establish the children’s whereabouts."

French police cut soles off migrant children's shoes, claims Oxfam (Guardian, link)

"Charity accuses authorities of detaining minors without food before illegally returning them to Italy.

French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.

A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby."

See: Oxfam report (link)

Hungary: Four men jailed over deaths of 71 migrants locked in lorry (Guardian, link): "Members of people-smuggling gang sentenced to 25 years each over deaths of men, women and children in 2015."

MEPs again angrily urge EU to act on refugee crisis (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link)

"The Italian government has been roundly condemned by MEPs for its refusal to allow the 629 refugees stranded on board the Aquarius to land"

EU: Merkel under internal pressure to abandon EU-wide solutions to migration crisis (euractiv, link):

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a tense showdown yesterday (14 June) within her divided conservative camp over the flashpoint issue of immigration that could threaten her political future.

Merkel was confronted with an open rebellion by her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, long a fierce critic of her liberal stance on refugees who wants to toughen border controls.(...)

Seehofer has demanded as part of his new “migration master plan” that German border police be given the right to turn back all asylum-seekers without valid identity papers and those who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union."

GREECE: Still Here: Samos Refugees June 2018 (Samos Chronicles, link):

"The recent silence of this blog does not imply nothing is happening with 2,335 refugees currently on Samos. We should have written earlier. In our silence we unwittingly supported the forgetting of the refugees detained on the Greek frontier islands such as Samos. This forgetting is an insidious process. For the refugees it compounds their sense of isolation and abandonment."

EU migration row boils over as Italy and France trade insults (Guardian, link): "Austria calls for ‘axis of the willing’ to take action, and rifts widen in German coalition"

Aquarius: EU and Member States must stop treating migrants as "hot potatoes” (AEDH, link):

"Stupefied and worried by this modern Exodus, we see on the horizon the infinite cabotage of this boat which status of lifeguard becomes one of burden. Although Rinaldo Melucci and Luigi de Magistris, the respective mayors of Taranto and Naples, declared to be ready to welcome Aquarius migrants, the new Italian government, largely committed to the xenophobic and racist ideas of Matteo Salvini, flex its weak muscles and refuses the entry of Aquarius into Italian ports. AEDH knew that nothing was to be expected from a government whose partners had announced during the election campaign that it would not respect human rights."

Stranding People at Sea is an Abomination (HRW, link):

"Italy and Malta’s Move Puts Lives in Danger.

After a nerve-wracking stand-off and intense negotiations, 629 people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Aquarius, a rescue ship run by two nongovernmental groups, SOS MEDITERRANEE and MSF, are finally heading towards Spain. Spain’s humane gesture stands in stark contrast to the disgraceful behavior by Italy and Malta."

Salvini announces Italian-German initiative to shield EU external borders (New Europe, link):

"The Italian Minister of Interior and leader of the far-right Lega, Matteo Salvini, announced a common political initiative with the German government to safeguard the EU’s external border.

Salvini told the Italian public News Agency (ANSA) that he had a cordial conversation with the German Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, in which there was complete consensus on immigration policy. The two ministers agreed not to “waste further time” in dealing with the issue, while Seehofer invited Salvini for consultations in Berlin."

EU: How we all colluded in Fortress Europe (The Guardian, link) by Kenan Malik:

"That mass drowning off Lampedusa in 2013 is an apposite place from which to start a discussion on the dehumanising of the Other. Too often when we discuss hateful portrayals of migrants or Muslims or other minorities, we focus on the far right, or on groups such as Pegida, or on countries such as Hungary and politicians such as Viktor Orbán. It is certainly important that we call out such organisations and politicians and eviscerate their arguments.

But we need also to recognise that the truth about dehumanisation is far more uncomfortable and far closer to home. The ideas and policies promoted by the far right and by populist anti-immigration figures have not come out of nowhere. They have become acceptable because the groundwork has already been laid, and continues to be maintained, by mainstream politicians and commentators.

There is a tendency among liberals to see a great divide on immigration between the mainstream and the populists and between a more liberal western Europe and a more reactionary east. That is to distort reality. For, while differences clearly exist, the divisions are not nearly as sharp as often suggested. It is the rhetoric and the policies emerging from the mainstream and from western Europe that have helped legitimise the hostility to immigration expressed by the populists and in eastern Europe."

MED: Agence Europe reports that: "Greens/EFA group, Philippe Lamberts, called for an addition to be made to Wednesday’s agenda for a debate with representatives from the Commission and Council on the “closing of Italian and Maltese ports to migrants on the Aquarius ship” (see other article). His proposal for a debate, without resolution, was approved by 212 votes in favour to 62 against, with 18 abstentions, but with a different debate title, “humanitarian emergencies in Mediterranean and solidarity in European Union”."

Aquarius standoff: MSF calls for people's safety to come before politics (MaltaToday, link):

"MSF Sea said the best option for the rescued migrants would be to disembark at the nearest port and be transferred to a safe country. (...) .

MSF said that they rescued parties were receiving supplies onboard the Aquarius. The Italian Rescue Authorities would then transfer some people from the Aquarius to Italian ships and will head to Valencia, Spain.

“MSF calls for people’s safety to come before politics.”

New German 'migration master plan' delayed as conservatives bicker (DW, link)

"Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's new "migration master plan" for Germany was set to be published on Tuesday. At the last moment, apparently amid disagreement with Chancellor Angela Merkel, it has been postponed."

Spain 'will accept' disputed Aquarius migrant ship (BBC News, link):

"Spain's prime minister has said the country will take in a rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean, to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

Pedro Sánchez said he would give "safe harbour" to the Aquarius and the 629 people on board, after Italy and Malta both refused to let the ship dock.

The UN refugee agency and the EU had both called for a swift end to the stand-off between the two countries.

Mr Sánchez has said the ship will dock in Valencia.

The migrants aboard the Aquarius were picked up in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast, according to the German charity SOS Méditerranée."

Migrant rescue boat waits to dock as Italy and Malta refuse to grant entry (Deutsche Welle, link):

"With 629 people on board, NGO rescue ship Aquarius has been waiting for a secure place to dock. Italy and Malta have refused to allow the migrant vessel into its ports.

A French NGO's rescue ship, the Aquarius, was waiting for a port to dock at on Monday as a diplomatic standoff played out over where it should go next. On Sunday, Italy had refused to allow the vessel to dock in its ports, demanding that Malta should take it in. Malta refused, and when Italy instructed the ship to stay at sea, Malta accused Italy of violating international norms.

The French organization SOS Mediterranee said the ship was carrying 629 migrants picked up in the Mediterranean on Saturday, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women. Among those on board are 400 migrants rescued by the Italian navy and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius."

And see: Southern mayors defy Italian coalition to offer safe port to migrants (The Guardian, link): "Mayors across the south of Italy have pledged to defy a move by the new Italian government – an alliance of the far right and populists – to prevent a rescue boat with 629 people on board from docking in the Sicilian capital.

But the mayors’ defiance appears unlikely to serve any practical purpose without the direct support of the Italian coastguard."

Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged (The Guardian, link):

"“It’s a lovely place,” says Jens Kramer, as he gazes across the harbour from his seat outside the wooden shed that serves as Holbæk’s boat club. “But I think people here are becoming more and more hostile to foreigners and I’m not proud of it. It’s not the Holbæk I love.”

Kramer is not alone in thinking that the tone of Denmark’s immigration debate has changed. In recent years, the rise of the rightwing anti-migrant Danish People’s party has led to previously radical positions becoming mainstream. And the country’s Muslim population in particular feels under siege. Earlier this month Danish MPs passed a law that, in effect, bans the burqa. It imposes a penalty of 10,000 kroner (£1,200) for repeat offenders.

In another move greeted with dismay by Denmark’s Muslims, a citizen’s proposal to ban the circumcision of children got the 50,000 signatures it needed to go to a parliamentary vote.

In Holbæk, an attractive small town in Zealand, the latest legislation has had a mixed reception."

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