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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
12-18.2.19
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EU: Common European Asylum System: Evaluation of the application of the recast Qualification Directive (2011/95/EU) (pdf):

"The aim of the study was to evaluate the practical application of the Recast Qualification Directive 2011/95/EU (Recast QD or Directive 2011/95/EU) laying down standards for the qualification of third-country nationals as beneficiaries of international protection as well as for the content of such protection. To this end, the study examined how and to what extent Member States had implemented common standards, whether the Recast QD had changed the situation in the Member States when compared to 2013, the deadline for transposing the Recast QD into national legislation, and whether it had led to greater convergence at EU level. Finally, the study identified benchmarks for measuring the implementation of each Article as well as shortcomings which could possibly justify amendments to improve the effectiveness of the Directive."

And: Executive summary (pdf)

Swedish anti-deportation activist avoids jail time (InfoMigrants, link):

"Elin Ersson prevented a plane from taking off that had an Afghan man aboard who was supposed to be deported back to his country. A Swedish court ruled that she will not have to spend time in jail, but ordered her to pay a fine.

Elin Ersson, the Swedish activist who live-streamed her protest on a plane that was taking an Afghan man back to his home country was fined 3,000 Swedish kronor ($324, €286) in court on Monday.

Ersson protested the deportation on a Turkish airlines plane at Gothenburg Landvetter Airport, which was bound for Istanbul on July 23, 2018. She refused to take her seat for take-off unless the man would not be deported. The livestream of her protest went viral."

When rescue is capture: kidnapping and dividing migrants in the Mediterranean (OpenDemocracy, link) by Martina Tazzioli:

"The Italian minister of the interior, Matteo Salvini, is currently under investigation for abuse of power and the kidnapping of 177 migrants. These migrants were, on Salvini’s orders, confined to the coast guard vessel Diciotti for more than one week in late August last year. While this case received international media attention, it was not an isolated event. Over the last several years Italian ministers and politicians have repeatedly violated international and domestic law as they have sought to prevent individuals from migrating over the Mediterranean Sea. The disembarkation of rescued migrants has been denied or delayed many times. On a few occasions, Italy has arbitrarily closed its ports entirely.

...far from being an exclusive Italian affair, the above mentioned legal and political controversies are part of a European battle, in which member states compete to not take care of a few dozen people on a boat seeking asylum. In fact, the recurrent strategy of taking migrants hostage is a sign of how deep Europe’s crisis has become."

Tighter laws continue to hit migrants across the EU (FRA, link):

"Stricter migration laws and policies continue to take their toll on migrants’ fundamental rights, finds the agency’s latest report on migration-related fundamental rights concerns. It highlights the hardening political stance in Member States, difficulties in claiming asylum, and poor reception conditions during the cold winter months."

See: Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns (quarterly report, pdf): covering developments in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Poland.

Bulgaria urged to stop locking up stateless people by detained heart doctor (Thomson Reuters Foundation, link):

"A cardiac specialist, who was locked up in Bulgaria for six weeks because he has no nationality, has called on the government to stop treating stateless people like criminals.

Sager Al-Anezi, who is from a large stateless population in Kuwait called the Bidoon, qualified as a doctor after moving to Bulgaria in 2007 and was training to become a heart surgeon.

The doctor said stateless people could not go to university in Kuwait, but he was able to obtain a passport from a third country - which he did not want to name - with Kuwait's blessing which allowed him to study abroad and led him to Bulgaria.

But when he tried to renew that passport the third country refused and he applied for formal recognition as a stateless person in Bulgaria. He was locked up on Jan. 3 when he chased up on that application."

Striking for Refugees on Samos? (Samos Chronicles, link):

"Where were the refugees?

As for the strike itself there was one overwhelming question as far as I was concerned: “Where were the refugees?” What was supposed to be an act of solidarity was massively diminished by their absence. Yet on fine weather days such as this, you will always see many refugees on the streets, walking by the sea front or with their children in the play areas. But on this day, apart from a scattering of young African men on the very edges of the gathering, there were no refugees to be seen. It was startling and disturbing."

Are You Syrious? (15.2.19, link):

Feature

"217 people died in the Mediterranean this year. Among those who lost their lives while dreaming about freedom and dignified life, was were four girls - one was 9 years old, the two 16 and one 17 years.

If the borders are open, these girls would not be forced to take this dangerous journey across the sea in the winter. Even more, if life in the countries where they are coming from is safe, they could stay at home, go to school, fall in love for the first time, go out with friends, laugh, play, plan a future… But, they became just numbers in IOM dark statistics. (...)"

Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high (euobserver, link);

"The rate of rejection of would-be asylum seekers has reached a record high in Italy, according to figures released by the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI). It says some 24,800 asylum applications in Italy were denied in the last four months. It noted rejected asylum applications went from 17,500 from October 2017 to January 2018, to almost 25,000 between October 2018 and January 2019."

Are You Syrious (14.2.19, link):

ITALY

"Italy’s public prosecutor is investigating the death of 117 people, who lost their lives on 19th January, after more than 8 hours stranded at sea, because of Libya not responding to Rome’s MRCC calls.

Neither the countries’ coastguards nor the commercial ships in the area reacted to the SOS calls and, unfortunately, Sea Watch 3 was too far away to reach the boat in distress on time.

Only 3 people, out of 120, survived.(...)"

EU asylum applications fall to below half crisis peak (Reuters, link):

"The number of people seeking asylum in the European Union fell for a third straight year in 2018 to less than half the peak during the 2015-2016 migration crisis, data released on Wednesday showed.

The bloc’s asylum agency reported 635,000 applications in 2018, still more than double the figures typical before the 2011 “Arab Spring” uprisings spread war and instability across North Africa and the Middle East.

The 2018 figure was slightly below 641,000 asylum applications filed in 2014, the last year before a surge in arrivals by the Mediterranean sea created a high-profile humanitarian and political crisis.

The asylum figures peaked at 1.4 million and 1.3 million in 2015 and 2016. One of the main sea routes used by asylum seekers to reach Europe - from Turkey to Greece - was largely shut in 2016, and another - from Libya to Italy - was sharply curbed last year. "

See: EASO report: EU+ asylum trends: 2018 overview (pdf)

EU: Migration and asylum: European Court of Auditors to examine "hotspots" in Greece and Italy

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is to conduct an audit of the "hotspots" set up in Greece and Italy, which "will assess whether support for Greece and Italy has achieved its objectives, and whether the asylum, relocation and return procedures have been effective and swift."

IRELAND: Second fire attack on proposed refugee housing branded ‘unacceptable and worrying’ (Irish Legal News, link):

"A hotel which was earmarked as a possible Direct Provision centre has been subjected to an arson attack for the second time in five weeks.

Repairs to the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey, which was attacked last month, had just been completed when it was set on fire again last night.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was “deeply concerned and disappointed” at the news. Gardaí are now examining the site."

EU: Report to the EU Parliament on Frontex cooperation with third countries in 2017

A recent report by Frontex, the EU's border agency, highlights the ongoing expansion of its activities with non-EU states.

EU: EP civil liberties committee against proposal to give Frontex powers to assist non-EU states with deportations

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) has agreed its position for negotiations with the Council on the new Frontex Regulation, and amongst other things it hopes to deny the border agency the possibility of assisting non-EU states with deportations.

Council of Europe: Hungary should address many interconnected human rights protection challenges (link):

"Challenges include civil society space, gender equality, refugee protection and independence of the judiciary.

“Hungary faces many interconnected human rights challenges,” said today Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, after her five-day visit to Hungary last week. “The space for the work of NGOs, human rights defenders and journalists critical of the government has become very narrow and restricted.”"

Study: Germany needs 260,000 immigrants a year to meet labor demand (DW, link):

"Germany needs at least 260,000 new migrant workers per year until 2060 in order to meet labor shortages caused by demographic decline, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Of that number, 146,000 people each year would need to immigrate from non-EU member states, the research published by the Bertelsmann Foundation said.

Due to an aging population, the labor force in Germany is estimated to shrink by a third, or around 16 million people, by 2060 without immigration. Absent immigration, the labor shortage could have a devastating impact on world's fourth largest economy."

Libyan coast guard taking drifting migrants back to Libya - Salvini (Times Malta, link):

"Some 150 migrants have been picked up by the Libyan Coastguard from a drifting boat and are being taken back to Libya, from where they had departed, Italian Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini said on Monday evening.

Earlier, the NGO Alarm Phone expressed its concern over the migrants and said the Maltese and Italian maritime rescue authorities have been alerted about them.

The boat, which Alarm Phone said was believed to be carrying “50-60 women and 30 children”, was drifting after its engine stopped working."

German car toll and deportation law stokes EU criticism in Austria (euractiv, link):

"Interior minister Herbert Kickl from the populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) recently asked European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos for permission to deport criminal refugees found guilty of more basic offences.

However, the Greek official rejected this plan, saying that such an amendment would contravene the Geneva refugee convention.

The debate around deportation has been sparked by the murder of the head of the social welfare office in Dornbirn (Vorarlberg) in east Austria.

...There could be zero tolerance for criminal asylum seekers, said Vorarlberg’s state governor, Markus Wallner (ÖVP). He added that this is a gap in legislation that had to be closed."

Italy: 'Migrant menace': Salvini accused of targeting refugees and ignoring mafia (Guardian, link):

"...last Thursday night, when 90 carabinieri paramilitary police officers surrounded several apartment buildings in Caserta, the provincial capital, many residents thought an anti-mafia blitz was under way. The targets were in fact immigrants, under scrutiny for sanitary inspections of their homes.

It is part of a trend since Matteo Salvini of the far-right League became interior minister in June 2018. Senator Pietro Grasso, a member of the national anti-mafia commission and former prosecutor responsible for the 2006 arrest of the Sicilian mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, said: “Unfortunately, the Italian government […] is prioritising immigration, making people believe it is an emergency, rather than fighting the real problems, such as the mafia. Meanwhile, the bosses are getting richer and richer.”"

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