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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
11-17.6.19
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Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

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France carries out first deportation to Eritrea (La Cimade, link):

"On June 6, 2019, the prefecture of Pyrénées-Orientales expelled an Eritrean person to Asmara from the administrative detention center (CRA) of Toulouse. This is France's first expulsion to Eritrea, a country with one of the most violent dictatorships in the world."

EU budget 2020: Commission focuses its proposal on jobs, growth and security (EC press release, pdf):

"Many of Europe's challenges know no borders. The EU has repeatedly used all flexibility in the budget to respond to disasters, address migration challenges and strengthen the EU's external borders. By mobilising its various instruments, the 2020 EU budget will continue to invest in solidarity and security in Europe and beyond:

€420.6 million (+34.6% compared to 2019) for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council in March 2019 to set up a standing corps of 10 000 border guards by 2027;

(...)"

Balkan Region – Report May 2019 (Border Violence Monitoring, link):

"No Name Kitchen, Border Violence Monitoring and [Re:]ports Sarajevo have published a common report summarizing current developments in pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans, mainly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and along the Serbian borders with Croatia.

As such, this report contains analysis and a review of the situation in these areas as well. In total, this report covers 23 case reports on border violence and collective expulsions.

The report details, among other things:

France: Police harassing, intimidating and even using violence against people helping refugees (Amnesty, link):

"French authorities have harassed, intimidated and even violently assaulted people offering humanitarian aid and other support to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in northern France in a deliberate attempt to curtail acts of solidarity, a new report by Amnesty International has found.

Targeting solidarity: Criminalization and harassment of people defending migrant and refugee rights in northern France reveals how people helping refugees and migrants in Calais and Grand-Synthe are targeted by the police and the court system.

“Providing food to the hungry and warmth to the homeless have become increasingly risky activities in northern France, as the authorities regularly target people offering help to migrants and refugees,” said Lisa Maracani, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defenders Researcher."

German Parliament Passes “Orderly-Return-Law” (ECRE, link):

"...the “Orderly Return Law” (Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz)... has drawn extensive criticism from several civil society organisations, including PRO ASYL. The bill facilitates the use of detention by expanding the grounds for using detention e.g. when asylum seekers do not cooperate for the purpose of their deportation or in cases in which there is no evidence of a risk of absconding. Similarly, the authorities responsible for carrying out deportations are granted the right to access apartments without a judicial order in certain circumstances. In violation of the EU Return Directive, the bill also provides that, until 2022, people awaiting deportation may be placed in regular prisons as long as people affected will be held in premises separate from convicted criminals."

Frontex opens Risk Analysis Cell in Senegal (Frontex, link):

"On 12 June, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, opened a Risk Analysis Cell in Dakar in cooperation with Senegalese authorities within the framework of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC).

Taking part in the opening in Senegal were representatives of Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, as well as other international partners.

The role of the cells, which are run by local analysts trained by Frontex, is to collect and analyse strategic data on cross-border crime in various African countries and support relevant authorities involved in border management.

This includes information on illegal border crossings, document fraud, trafficking in human beings and other types of cross-border crime. It is shared with authorities at national and regional level to produce analysis and policy recommendations, as well as with Frontex."

ECHR: Unaccompanied migrant minors stayed in Greece in conditions unsuited to their age and circumstances (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Sh.D. and Others v. Greece, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia (application no. 14165/16) concerning the living conditions in Greece of five unaccompanied migrant minors from Afghanistan, the European Court of Human Rights, unanimously:

- declared the complaints against Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded;

- declared the complaints against Greece under Articles 3 and 5 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights admissible;"

See: Written Submission on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervene (pdf)

Biometrics: The new frontier of EU migration policy in Niger (thenewhumanitarian.org, link):

"The EU’s strategy for controlling irregular West African migration is not just about asking partner countries to help stop the flow of people crossing the Mediterranean – it also includes sharing data on who is trying to make the trip and identifying to which countries they can be returned. (...)

proposed tougher mandate will rely in part on biometric information stored on linked databases in Africa and Europe. It is a step rights campaigners say not only jeopardises the civil liberties of asylum seekers and others in need of protection, but one that may also fall foul of EU data privacy legislation.(...)

Niger hosts the first of eight planned “Risk Analysis Cells” in Africa set up by Frontex and based inside its border police directorate."

And see Statewatch Analyses: EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (pdf) and From the “carrot and stick” to the “stick” From GAMM (2005) to “Partnership Frameworks” (2016) in Africa (pdf)

Are You Syrious (12.6.19, link)

Feature: A New Law has been passed in Italy ‘Decreto Sicurezza Bis,’ that among other things, means exorbitant fees for all who dare to save lives at sea.(...)

"Specifically the new Decree includes: Fees between €10,000 and €50,000 for transporting people on the move to the Italian shores. The fee must be paid by the captain of the vessel, the owner of the vessel."

2019 EP Elections – News from the UNITED network (link):

"The 2019 European Parliamentary Elections results brought an unprecedented political composition of the European Parliament. While the turnout (almost 51%) has been the highest since 1994, an important growth of the Greens, and great gains for nationalists and far-right parties shows a trend of increasing political polarisation."

Refugee population on the Greek Islands as at 9 June: 16,200 (UNHCR)

Frontex: Migration situation has improved significantly (infomigrants.net, link):

"The illegal immigration situation in the EU has "significantly improved," with 30,000 irregular crossings of EU borders since the start of 2019, Fabrice Leggeri, the director of the European Union border agency Frontex, said in a recent interview.

"The highest number of [arrivals were] in Greece, where migrants are either crossing the land border from Turkey, or by sea. The Aegean Sea is once again the number one route," Leggeri said in an interview with German daily Welt."

UNHCR urges Italy to reconsider proposed decree affecting rescue at sea in the Central Mediterranean (UNHCR UK, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned at a recent decree from the Government of Italy that contains several provisions affecting refugees and migrants, including fines for NGO vessels engaged in saving lives at sea.

Sea rescue is a long-standing humanitarian imperative. It is also an obligation under international law. No vessel or shipmaster should be at risk of a fine for coming to the aid of boats in distress and where loss of life may be imminent.

“At a time when European states have largely withdrawn from rescue efforts in the Central Mediterranean, NGO vessels are more crucial than ever,” said Roland Schilling, UNHCR Regional Representative to Southern Europe ad interim. “Without them, it is inevitable that more lives will be lost.”"

Germany withdraws from EUNAVFOR’s Operation 'Sophia' in Mediterranean (Jane's 360, link):

"Germany will end its participation in the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean’s (EUNAVFOR Med’s) Operation ‘Sophia’ counter human smuggling and trafficking mission, the German Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 6 June. German personnel will stop working in the mission’s headquarters in Rome, Italy, on 30 June."

Italy to fine NGOs who rescue migrants at sea (DW, link):

"The Italian government has decided to impose stiff fines on rescuers who bring migrants into port without authorization. It also gave the interior ministry, led by Matteo Salvini, power to demand the payment."

And see: EU mute on new Italian decree to fine NGO boats (euobserver, link): "The European Commission has said it will not comment on a new Italian decree to fine NGO boats that rescue migrants at sea until it is officially passed by the government in Rome. Pressed on whether it opposes sanctions in general on such vessels, the Commission on Wednesday (12 June) also declined to respond."

Migrant crisis: Children among seven killed as boat sinks in Greece (BBC NEWS, link):

"At least seven people have been killed and 57 others rescued after a boat carrying migrants overturned near the Greek island of Lesbos, officials say.

The bodies of two children, four women and a man were recovered on Tuesday morning off the port of Mytilene."

LEAK: EU’s five-year plan doubles down on protecting borders (euractiv, link):


"EU leaders want to focus on migration and protection of external borders, or the “integrity of our physical space”, over the next five years, according to a draft of the so-called strategic agenda obtained by EURACTIV. Economy and climate action rank second and third.

In the draft strategy for 2019-2024, meant to guide the work of the EU institutions, national leaders prioritise migration policy over other areas, while strengthening the economy, fighting climate change and taking Europe global also feature."

See: Draft EU strategy 2019-2024 (pdf)

Are You Syrious (20.6.19, link):

"Croatia has erected a spiked metal fence on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina near the crossings Gejkovac and Pašin Potok yesteday.

That is surely the effect of the EU’s support to enforcing Croatian “discouragement” tactics that are basically illegal collective expulsions and violence imposed on the people who are found at the border area, but also within the country."

Asylum seekers in EU on the rise again: report (Politico, link):

"Analysis shows more applications from Latin American, western Balkan countries with visa-free travel.

The number of people seeking asylum in the EU has increased so far this year, bucking a downward trend since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, according to an analysis by German media (...)

The increase is attributed to a dramatic rise in people applying from Venezuela, Colombia and the western Balkans, who don’t need a visa to travel to the EU."

CoE: Anti-racism commission publishes its annual report - Hate speech and xenophobic populism remained major concerns in Europe in 2018 (link):

"Xenophobic populism and racist hate speech continued to make their mark on the contemporary political climate in Europe in 2018, says the annual report [pdf] of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today.

The growing public anxiety about economic, geopolitical and technological changes was exploited by those scapegoating migrants and minorities, in particular populist politicians aiming at dividing societies along national, ethnic or religious lines. Not only were such views expressed by fringe politicians, but they increasingly gained footing within mainstream political parties and national governments, which remained a major concern for ECRI."

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