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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
8-14.9.18
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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
EU: Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament calls on the EU to act

Parliament has asked EU member states to determine, in accordance with Treaty Article 7, whether Hungary is at risk of breaching the EU´s founding values.

The request was approved by 448 votes to 197, with 48 abstentions. To be adopted, the proposal required an absolute majority of members (376) and two thirds of the votes cast - excluding the abstentions.

UK: The "deport first, appeal later" policy: Afghan father who sought refuge in UK 'shot dead by Taliban' after being deported by Home Office (The Independent, link):

"An Afghan man who sought refuge from the Taliban in the UK has been shot dead in his home town after being deported by the British government.

Zainadin Fazlie had lived in London with his wife, who had refugee status, and their four British-born children. But after committing a number of minor offences, the 47-year-old was sent back to Afghanistan after 16 years in Britain, despite threats to his life.

Last Friday, his wife Samira Fazlie found out he had been shot by Taliban forces after seeing an image of his dead body on Facebook."

EU: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation

A reinforced Frontex, a new European Asylum Agency, more measures against online terrorist content, a strengthened European Public Prosecutor's Office, lowering the standards in the Returns Directive and changes to decision-making in foreign policy were just some of the security and migration-related proposals announced in the 'State of the Union' speech given by European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, on 12 September.

GREECE: Update on Moria: mainland travel permitted for some; concerns over growing EASO role in asylum procedure; deportations without due process

Lesvos Legal Centre reports that on Friday 7th September the Greek government began lifting the geographical restrictions for individuals classified as vulnerable who are attempting to claim asylum in Lesvos.

This is supposed to enable around 5,000 people to leave the Moria detention centre/hotspot and travel to the mainland.

This 'solution' to the overcrowding in Moria will not, however, be sufficient to address the needs of the estimated 11,000 people trapped on Lesvos.

EU: Engagement-based Alternatives to Detention in Europe (EPIM, link):

"EPIM has commissioned a first independent evaluation report on the three Alternatives to Detention pilot projects it funds in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland. These pilot projects provide holistic case management as engagement-based alternatives to confinement-focused migration control measures such as immigration detention. The work is supported by the European Alternatives to Detention Network.

In the context of increased pressure across Europe to detain migrants, the evaluation provides evidence that engagement-based case management can be effective in helping migrants to work towards resolving their cases in the community:

The report also provides insight into how, practically, a case management pilot project can be set up, and the challenges faced, which can support further pilots for evidence-building."

See: Briefing paper (pdf) and full report: Alternatives to detention from theory to practice: Evaluation of three engagement-based alternative to immigration detention pillot projects in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland (link to pdf)

Why we need to protect refugees from the ‘big ideas’ designed to save them (The Independent, link) by Heaven Crawley:

"As the so-called “refugee crisis” continues to dominate European political and media debate, I’ve become increasingly concerned about the way in which some academics are responding to “solve” the issue.

...Ideas on how to solve the so-called refugee crisis are heavily skewed towards the global north: its interests shape dominant research themes and produce a disproportionate focus on Europe and North America, often leading to the “out of sight, out of mind” solutions. An echo chamber has developed, which constrains the capacity of many of the poorest countries to analyse migration and other issues on their own terms.

Relinquishing control won’t be an easy process. There are huge vested interests in maintaining the status quo, on all sides. All too often I’ve sat in events and been told that while it’s important to listen to the voices of refugees and to “give them agency”, academics and policy makers are ultimately the experts and know what’s best."

Refugee Libya shipwreck survivors condemned to drown at sea or face arbitrary detention (MSF, link):

"More than a hundred people have reportedly died in a shipwreck off the Libyan coast one week ago, survivors told Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams working in Libya. A group of 276 people, among them survivors of the shipwreck, were brought from the sea to the port city of Khoms (120 kilometres east of Tripoli) by the Libyan coast guard on Sunday 2 September. MSF has been providing urgent medical assistance following disembarkation.

...Upon disembarkation, the group was transferred to a detention centre under the control of the Libyan authorities. It is common for people returned to Libya from unseaworthy boats to be sent back into a harmful system of arbitrary detention. Between January and August 2018, the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard had returned 13, 185 refugees and migrants to Libya.

Among those detained, MSF has met asylum seekers and refugees who have been registered or recognised by UNHCR in Libya or another country. Their prospects appear particularly bleak: UNHCR-led mechanisms to evacuate them from Libya to Niger and resettle them in a third country, launched in 2017 in the aftermath of the global outrage sparked by CNN footage, have remained at a standstill for several months."

GREECE: Update on Moria: travel to the mainland permitted; concerns over growing EASO role in asylum procedure; deportations without due process

Lesvos Legal Centre reports that on Friday 7th September the Greek government lifted the geographical restrictions for individuals attempting to claim asylum in Lesvos.

The effect of this is thought to be intended to enable around 5,000 people to leave the Moria detention centre/hotspot and travel to the mainland.

FRANCE-UK: The Jungle ‘Performance’: Recreating a Refugee Camp on the Fly (Refugees Deeply, link):

"In early 2017, just three months after the demolition of the Jungle, asylum seekers started to return to Calais. For the past year, there have been 400–700 migrants living informally in the area at any given time. Yet the Jungle has not reappeared.

There is no physical camp in Calais. Newcomers play an absurd game of cat and mouse with authorities, building makeshift shelters that are then destroyed by police. In response, volunteer humanitarians reclaim the camp in the only way they can: They publicly “perform” a recreation of the protective space that the Jungle provided for asylum seekers, challenging the police’s attempts to criminalize everybody involved."

And see: French police clear 500 migrants from Dunkirk camp (The Local, link): "Police moved in to clear 500 migrants from a camp near the French port city of Dunkirk, along the English Channel where many gather hoping to stow away on trucks or ferries heading to Britain, officials said Thursday."

MOROCCO: Relentless crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants and refugees is unlawful (Amnesty, link):

"The Moroccan authorities’ large-scale crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, asylum seekers and refugees without due process is cruel and unlawful, Amnesty International said amid ongoing intensive government raids in the north of the country.

Since the end of July, the Moroccan police together with the Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxiliary Forces have carried out major raids on the neighbourhoods where refugees and migrants live in several cities, with particular intensity in the northern provinces of Tangiers, Nador and Tetuan, which neighbour the Spanish borders.

...An estimated 5,000 people have been swept up in the raids since July, piled on to buses and abandoned in remote areas close to the Algerian border or in the south of the country, according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). The group monitored the number of buses that left from Tangiers, Tetuan and Nador and calculated an estimate for the number of people seized.

...“Efforts to control irregular migration from Morocco to Spain are frequently praised by the Spanish authorities, who keep cooperating with Morocco to stop the arrival of migrants and refugees without conditioning such cooperation upon the respect of the rights of all people on the move. Spain and the EU in general should refocus their cooperation with Morocco, prioritizing the protection of human rights and the creation of an asylum system in the country, as required under international law.”"

GREECE: Lesvos: Moria camp "dangerous to public health" and majority of detainees "never feel safe"

The notorious Moria "hotspot" camp on the Greek island of Lesvos must be cleaned up within 30 days or otherwise closed down. Inspectors declared the camp "dangerous for public health and the environment," after finding "broken sewage pipes, overflowing garbage bins, and stagnant water and flies in the toilets," according to a report in the The Independent. Meanwhile, a recent investigation has found that over 65% of people living in the camp "never feel safe" there.

EU: Forced into The Arms of Smugglers (OCCRP, link):

"...with no legal way for migrants and refugees to get in through the Balkans, honest and innocent people are forced into the welcoming arms of organized crime.

“We all failed this test, and organized crime took the route over from us,” Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic told TV1 in June.

“No country should have let that happen."

Seeing no other option, migrants and refugees are paying thousands to go on dangerous journeys with smugglers. Most are left stranded and penniless. Meanwhile, the European smuggling networks are earning an estimated US$ 5-6 billion per year, according to Europol.

Salma’s family alone paid smugglers $30,500 in an attempt to reach Austria after receiving threats from the Taliban and Daesh.

But two years later, they are stuck in this small room in the Salakovac refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with no fan, no regular access to medical care, and no idea what comes next."

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