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Council of Europe: Despite challenges in managing mixed migration Spain should guarantee effective access to asylum also in Melilla and Ceuta

Strasbourg, 06.09.2018 - ”Every person arriving in Spain, including those jumping the border fences in Melilla and Ceuta, should be protected against refoulement and collective expulsions with a real possibility to have access to an effective and fair asylum procedure”, says the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomáš Bocek in a report published today.

UK’s asylum dispersal system close to 'catastrophic failure' (The Guardian, link):

"Britain’s asylum dispersal system is on the brink of collapse, according to a number of “unprecedented” warning letters written by council leaders and politicians to the Home Office.

Joint letters have been written by 14 leaders of councils across Yorkshire, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland, the Welsh and Scottish governments as well as by Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow council, the only local authority in Scotland to take asylum seekers.

They warn the government the voluntary system that provides accommodation in local authorities for those seeking refugee status is on the verge of “catastrophic failure”. There were 26,350 asylum applications in 2017."

Background: The Corporate Greed of Strangers (IRR, link): "John Grayson reveals the spread of corporate involvement in the provision of asylum housing in the UK and northern Europe, and how outsourcing and private companies are tarnishing Europe’s ‘welcome’ to refugees."

Anti-migrant militias spring up in central Europe (EUobserver, link):

"Czech and Slovenian authorities have voiced alarm over the emergence of armed anti-migrant militias in the two central European countries.

The concerns come after revelations of a paramilitary base, with tanks and armoured personnel carriers, used by a biker gang with Kremlin ties in Slovakia.

The Czech intelligence service, the BIS, voiced its worries about a group that calls itself the National Home Guard in a classified report seen by Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes.

...The home guard groups, which have up to 2,500 members in 90 national branches, patrol the streets of some small Czech towns, such as Nymburk, 50km west of Prague, looking for irregular migrants.

They appear to have links with local police and have political support from National Democracy, a fringe far-right party."

MEDITERRANEAN: Defending humanity at sea: are dedicated and proactive search and rescue operations at sea a "pull factor" for migration and do they deteriorate maritime safety in the Central Mediterranean? (Médecins sans Frontières, pdf):

"What are the main conclusions?

• The accusations levelled against the humanitarian vessels are not substantiated by evidence. There was no major increase in attempted sea crossings during the period of involvement of the humanitarian vessels (as would be expected by the pull factor hypothesis).
• Importantly, the involvement of humanitarian vessels was associated with a significant improvement in maritime safety compared to other periods. Without these boats, the counts of dead and missing at sea would likely have been considerably higher. The proactive search and rescue by humanitarian vessels have thus played a crucial and life-saving role."

Impasse on migration clouds EU-Africa relations (euractiv, link):

"The issue of how to control migration from Africa may have exorcised European leaders in recent years, but it could also derail the EU’s main political agreement with the continent.

Eighteen months of talks on a new agreement to replace the 2000 Cotonou accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries will begin in the coming weeks, with EU and African leaders far apart on how to tackle migration policy."

UNHCR: Desparate Journeys January – August 2018: Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe and at Europe's borders (pdf): "The risk of death at sea for people crossing the Mediterranean continues to increase as the EU and member states attempt to stamp out refugee flows from Libya." And see Commentary in story below.

GREECE: Enough! Please No More Reports Telling us the Bleeding Obvious! (Samos Chronicles, link):

"This week another damning report from UNHCR on the atrocious conditions and treatment of refugees on the Greek islands. A few days earlier another about Lesvos. My computer is full of reports about refugees in Greece and on Samos. There seems no end to the flow.

We have some simple questions to ask of all those organisations and individuals who write and research these reports."

SPAIN: Research on the situation at the Spanish southern border: Spanish Southern Border: Human Rights Violations by Private Companies (link):

"The militarization of European Union's migration policies, responds to a global securitization process that began after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. This process has resulted in an increase of military and defense spending, both at EU level and at member states level. Private actors working in the sector of defense and security have played a leading role in the creation and design of those policies."

EU: Council Presidency: Informal Ministers meeting on defence: Austrian non-paper: Synergies and military support for civil institutions (Council Presidency, link):

"The Austrian non-paper sets out ideas for temporary military support of civil authorities working in external border protection. This support should be provided to handle peak periods and exceptional situations. It should be deployed as an intermediary solution. The aim is to reinforce the synergies of civil-military cooperation.(...)

Military forces are not generally foreseen to act as “first responders” in border protection situations. Instead, their main task should be to support the (civil) forces foreseen for this specific purpose by the individual member states.

Military tasks for the support of civil authorities

Executive tasks

- reaction forces for crowd and riot control
- creation of a secure environment
- personal searches
- surveillance and reconnaissance of the environment
." (emphasis added)

Italy's call for France and Spain to open ports to migrants is rejected (Guardian, link):

"EU high representative refuses to give backing despite threat to pull plug on rescue mission.

A call by Italy for France and Spain to offer up their ports for the disembarkation of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean has failed to garner the backing of EU member states, despite Rome’s threat to pull the plug on the EU’s Operation Sophia rescue mission.

Hijacking a meeting of defence ministers in Vienna, the Italian representative, Elisabetta Trenta, called the ports where rescue ships dock to be rotated to lift the burden on her country."

Orbán calls for deportation of migrants, calls Salvini his ‘hero’ (Budapest Business Journal, link):

"At a press conference held after their meeting, Orbán said Salvini has taken on the “historic mission” to stop migration at sea, an endeavor he said no other country has undertaken. Europe’s security depends on Salvini’s success, he added, and therefore the Italian politician cannot back down.

“This courage inspires respect in us,” Orbán said, adding that Hungary will provide every assistance to Italy’s border protection efforts.

Orbán proposed that those who have come to Europe must be taken back to where they came from. Brussels takes the view that this is not possible, but then again - he observed - they said the same about the protection of borders."

Italy to push EU for reform of ‘Operation Sophia’ (euractiv, link):

"Rome will today (30 August) ask the European Union to rotate the ports where migrants rescued at sea disembark, Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta said, with France and Spain expected to top the list."

Spain defends hard line on North African border immigration (euractiv, link):

"Spain will not tolerate violent attempts to enter the country, the government said on Wednesday (August 29), in response to criticism of its swift return of 116 illegal migrants to Morocco after they stormed the fence bordering one of its North African enclaves."

Facebook Fueled Anti-Refugee Attacks in Germany, New Research Suggests (NYT, link):

"Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz, researchers at the University of Warwick, scrutinized every anti-refugee attack in Germany, 3,335 in all, over a two-year span. In each, they analyzed the local community by any variable that seemed relevant. Wealth. Demographics. Support for far-right politics. Newspaper sales. Number of refugees. History of hate crime. Number of protests.

One thing stuck out. Towns where Facebook use was higher than average, like Altena, reliably experienced more attacks on refugees. That held true in virtually any sort of community — big city or small town; affluent or struggling; liberal haven or far-right stronghold — suggesting that the link applies universally."

Activists held in Greece for illegally aiding migrants (euractiv, link):

"Police in Greece said on Tuesday (28 August) they had arrested three members of a Greek NGO on suspicion of helping migrants illegally enter the country.

The members of Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) were detained on the Greek island of Lesbos, where thousands of migrants are housed in squalid conditions in cramped camps.

“The activities of an organised criminal network that systematically facilitated the illegal entry of foreigners were fully exposed,” a police statement said.

Members of the group were in contact with migrants on social media groups and “actively assisted” their illegal entry into Greece from 2015 onwards, according to the statement.

To keep tabs on migrant flows, the accused also illegally monitored Greek coastguard and EU border agency Frontex radio traffic, authorities said. Any information gathered was not shared with Greek authorities, the police said.

Overall, six Greeks and 24 foreign nationals were implicated in the case, they added."

Netherlands: One in five vulnerable Syrian refugees are rejected by NL because of their views (dutchnews.nl, link):

"Some of the most vulnerable refugees living in camps in Turkey have been rejected by the Netherlands because they have extremist sympathies or are too conservative, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday. The Netherlands has agreed to take its ‘fair share’ of refugees under a special scheme worked out with Turkey, but around 20% don’t get final approval, the paper said."

Salvini and Orbán launch anti-immigration manifesto ahead of EU elections (euractiv, link):

"Hungary’s illiberal Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Italy’s hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini launched Tuesday (28 August) an anti-migration manifesto aiming at next year’s European parliament elections, targeting a common enemy."

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