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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
10-14.5.18
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SPAIN: Migrants in Spain are dying after losing healthcare access (InfoMigrants, link):

"The mortality rate among undocumented migrants in Spain has risen by 15 percent since reforms denied access to free public healthcare, according to new research.

A public healthcare reform introduced by the Spanish government in 2012, which excluded illegal immigrants from access to public healthcare has caused an average 15 percent increase in the mortality rate among undocumented foreigners in Spain, a new study has said.

The research was jointly carried by the University of Barcelona's Economics Institute and the University Pompeu Fabra's Center for Research in Health and Economics (CRES). The study focused on analyzing any changes in mortality rates in the population residing in Spain between 2009 and 2015 compared to the previous period from 2009 to 2012. The research found that an additional 70 deaths per year were registered among undocumented migrants since the law was approved in 2012. The reforms were introduced by the conservative government led by the Partido Popular."

EU: Expanding the fortress: The policies, the profiteers and the people shaped by EU's border externalisation programme (TNI, link):

"The EU has made migration control a central goal of its foreign relations, rapidly expanding border externalisation measures that require neighbouring countries to act as Europe's border guards. This report examines 35 countries, prioritised by the EU, and finds authoritarian regimes emboldened to repress civil society, vulnerable refugees forced to turn to more dangerous and deadly routes, and European arms and security firms booming off the surge in funding for border security systems and technologies."

See: Europe's solution to migration is to outsource it to Africa (EUobserver, link)

EU: Punitive populism: The global rise of ‘hostile environments’ for migrants (Red Pepper, link) by Liz Fekete:

"The parameters of policies aimed at ‘aliens’ are set in the stone of social control. Immigrants can enjoy pathways to citizenship; but aliens, at every identity check or internal control, carry the border within them. Historically, aliens’ laws have reduced residency to a gesture of clemency, a temporary order of hospitality, rescindable at any point. The alternative history has been one of the integration of migrants through immigration policy, whereby they can access social rights, including social care for troubled youngsters at risk of marginality and crime. But now, switching the approach to treat juveniles from a migrant background as aliens ensures that those who ‘fall through the net’ and commit crimes will never be allowed to integrate. Punitive policies aimed at those deemed alien means that resources that were formerly allocated to social care, anti-discrimination and integration can be transferred into immigration enforcement, punishment, warehousing and banishment."

Council of the EU: EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia: operation to contribute to better information sharing on crime in the Mediterranean (press release, pdf)

"The Council today adopted a decision allowing for the creation of a crime information cell within EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. The information cell will be composed of up to 10 staff members from relevant law enforcement authorities of member states and from the EU agencies FRONTEX and EUROPOL in order to improve information sharing between them.

The cell will be tasked to facilitate the receipt, collection and transmission of information on human smuggling and trafficking, the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, illegal trafficking, as well as crimes relevant to the security of the operation itself."

See: Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project (Statewatch News Online, 29 November 2017)

The EU’s refugee crisis: Effective handling or botched up policy? (EurActiv, link):

"Dealing with the refugee crisis has proved to be an insurmountable task for Europe, due to the apparent lack of a coherent immigration policy and political indecisiveness. Europe’s cohesion comes out shaken as a result, EURACTIV.gr reports.

Poor reception infrastructure, and difficulties caused by a bureaucracy unable to meet the basic needs of the refugees have lead to overpopulation – and Aegean islands are a prime example. The direct outcome is an unprecedented emergency situation.

(...)

“As long as European countries arbitrarily replace their international obligations with volunteer humanitarian programs and do not establish safe passages to Europe for the people who need them, they still have responsibility for hundreds of dead people in the Mediterranean,” Takou said."

UK: Hostile Environments: The Politics of (Un)Belonging - public event at Tate Modern, London, 25 May 2018

Join us for an afternoon of collective imagining at the TATE Modern, Friday 25 May, 12:00-18:00

How does the creation of a hostile environment towards immigrants challenge the ways we create belonging, build communities and form solidarity? This symposium invites activists, practitioners, artists and academics to address the current hostile environment towards immigrants within and beyond the UK and Europe.

IRELAND: Asylum seekers waiting up to two years for decision, says UN (The Irish Times, link):

"Asylum seekers are being forced to wait an average of two years for a decision on their protection applications despite recommendations that the process be completed within 12 months, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned.

Retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon recommended in June 2015 that newly arrived asylum seekers receive a decision on their application within 12 months and that they be given the right to work after nine months. Nearly three years later, asylum seekers are waiting an average of 19 months for an interview at the Department of Justice, with the final decision likely to result in further delays. "

By Stifling Migration, Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Aid Europe (New York Times, link):

"At Sudan’s eastern border, Lt. Samih Omar led two patrol cars slowly over the rutted desert, past a cow’s carcass, before halting on the unmarked 2,000-mile route that thousands of East Africans follow each year in trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then onward to Europe.

His patrols along this border with Eritrea are helping Sudan crack down on one of the busiest passages on the European migration trail. Yet Lieutenant Omar is no simple border agent. He works for Sudan’s feared secret police, whose leaders are accused of war crimes — and, more recently, whose officers have been accused of torturing migrants.

Indirectly, he is also working for the interests of the European Union.

“Sometimes,” Lieutenant Omar said, “I feel this is Europe’s southern border.”"

UK: Government forced to stop making NHS give patient data to immigration officials for minor infractions (The Independent, link):

"The government has been forced into a climbdown over its use of NHS patient information for tracing minor immigration infractions, conceding the bar for breaching patient confidentiality “should be significantly higher”.

After years of pressure from doctors, MPs and charities, the government pledged to only seek patient data – which is handed to the Home Office by NHS Digital on request – in the event of serious crimes.

The concession comes after weeks of damaging revelations about the harm caused by Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy towards immigration offenders."

EXCLUSIVE: Niger sends Sudanese refugees back to Libya (IRIN, link):

"Niger has deported at least 132 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers back to Libya, drawing criticism that it is flouting international law by sending them back to dangerous and inhumane conditions from which they recently escaped.

The deportation, the first of asylum seekers from Niger’s migrant hub of Agadez, was confirmed by a high-ranking UN refugee agency (UNHCR) official, and later by an informed source in the Nigerien interior ministry who insisted those sent back were “criminals” fighting for militias in southern Libya. UNHCR put the number at 135, but the interior ministry said three people had escaped.

UNHCR said those deported were part of a group of around 160 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers arrested in Agadez on 2 May. The majority fled to Niger to escape harsh conditions and treatment in Libya and were receiving assistance from UNHCR."

EU: Budget proposals foresee big boost for spending on security, migration and border control

The European Commission has published proposals for the EU's budget for 2021-27, with significant increases foreseen in spending on internal security - with a proposal for a 180% boost compared to the 2014-20 period - and on migration and border management, with a 280% increase.

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