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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
19-25.11.19

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Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

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EU: 'Roadmap' for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead

A 'roadmap' sets out the actions needed for "rapid and full operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) 2.0 Regulation," described as a "top priority for the EU."

GREECE: Deportation of Legal Centre Lesvos client halted by intervention of the European Court of Human Rights (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

"On 21 November 2019, in the case of Z.B. vs. Greece, ECHR?LE2.2bR, the European Court of Human Rights granted an interim application preventing the Greek authorities from deporting an Afghan man, ‘Z.B’, to Turkey from Lesvos. Z.B, who is represented by Legal Centre Lesvos, was due to be deported the next morning had it not been for the intervention of the Court. Amongst the various arguments raised in the application to the ECHR, was the concern that Z.B would be subjected to various serious violations of his human rights, including the very real possibility that he be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment in Turkey.

The Court agreed to further examine Z.B.’s case, requesting further information regarding Z.B’s claim that the Greek State’s failed to consider the risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 prior to his scheduled deportation."

Italian coast guard: migrant bodies washed ashore or in sea (AP, link):

"The bodies of five migrant women, two of them washed ashore, were recovered Sunday, the Italian coast guard said, as search efforts continued in rough seas near the tiny island of Lampedusa for around another dozen people feared missing in the capsizing of a fishing boat.

Three of the bodies were retrieved from the sea, where waves as high as three meters (10 feet) complicated the coast guard search by boat and helicopter.

The Italian news agency ANSA, reporting from the Italian Mediterranean island, had said that a total of seven bodies had been brought ashore by mid-day. Later, ANSA said the number of recovered corpses had been confirmed at five."

EU aid and development funding has provided €215 million for border security in Morocco since 2001

Since 2001, almost €215 million has been provided to Morocco by the EU to finance border security projects. Human rights abuses against migrants and refugees committed by Moroccan authorities call into question whether financial support from the EU to Moroccan border security should continue.

See Statewatch Analysis: Aid, border security and EU-Morocco cooperation on migration control (pdf)

New Detention Centres Planned on Greek Islands Despite Ruling Against Island Conditions (Are You Syrious, link):

"While the European Court of Human Rights has informed the Greek Government that they are in breach of the Human Rights Act and that the hotspot of Samos poses an “imminent risk of irreparable harm” to pregnant people, they have decided to further contain people seeking asylum within closed detention facilities.

The Greek government announced to replace the camps on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in July 2020. The new so-called “pre-departure centres”, in fact once again closed detention centres, will be designed for at least 5000 people on Lesvos, Chios and Samos, 2000 on Kos and 1000 on Leros, local media reports. Presented pictures showed container villages instead of tents.

These will likely be isolated spots, far from media and NGO attention. Aegean Boat Report states that one may be placed on the uninhabited island of Levitha south west of Leros another will be in an isolated region of Chios."

Croatia: Border Violence Monitoring Network (pdf):

"On Saturday 16th November 2019, a group of people-in-transit were fired upon by Croatian police with live rounds. The shooting occurred on Tuhobiæ mountain, Gorski Kotar ( HR ), an area close to the Slovenian border. One man was shot in the stomach and chest area and remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Rijeka ( HR ). The Croatian Ministry of Interior have stated this potentially fatal shooting to be an accidental outcome of regular border protection work. However, The Border Violence Monitoring Network are sharing their dataset of firearms incidents, proving the regular and systematic use of guns by the Croatian police during pushback operations. The statistics, drawn from the common database."

CoE: Commissioner publishes observations on alleged human rights violations of migrants returned from Italy to Libya (link):

"Today, the Commissioner published her written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the case of S.S. and others v. Italy. This case concerns the interception and rescue operation of a boat in distress in the Mediterranean Sea, carrying around 150 persons who had left Libya, and the alleged human rights violations resulting from this operation.

The Commissioner underscores that changes adopted in member states’ migration practices in the Central Mediterranean, in particular certain types of assistance provided to the Libyan Coast Guard, have resulted in increased returns of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to Libya, despite the fact that member states knew, or should have known, about the risk of serious human rights violations they would face in the country."

See: Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: S.S and others v Italy (pdf)

#PrivacyWins: EU Border Guards Cancel Plans to Spy on Social Media (for now) (PI, link):

"As any data protection lawyer and privacy activist will attest, there’s nothing like a well-designed and enforced data protection law to keep the totalitarian tendencies of modern Big Brother in check.

While the EU’s data protection rules aren’t perfect, they at least provide some limits over how far EU bodies, governments and corporations can go when they decide to spy on people.

This is something the bloc’s border control agency, Frontex, learned recently after coming up with a plan to monitor the internet use of migrants and civil society. After publishing a tender inviting surveillance companies to bid for the project, they mysteriously cancelled it less than a month later while facing questions as to whether such spying was even allowed under data protection regulations."

Hundreds of refugees, migrants rescued from the sea in past 24 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece’s Coast Guard said Friday it rescued 400 refugees and migrants in the last 24 hours in 10 different incidents in the sea area near the city Alexandroupolis and the islands of Lesvos and Chios."

Italian Air Force MQ-9A Predator B Drone Allegedly Shot Down In Libya. Images Surface on Social Media (The Aviationist, link):

"One of the Italian UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) has crashed in Libya. It’s not clear whether it was shot down (as claimed by some Libyan reports) or crashed for other reasons.

Images showing the wreckage of an Italian Air Force Predator drone have started circulating on the social media networks in the afternoon on Nov. 20.

While showing an Italian Air Force drone, the photographs don’t show an MQ-1 as some sources have reported: they actually show what remains of an MQ-9A Predator B, operated by the 32° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), based at Amendola Air Base, in southeastern Italy."

The hostile environment confuses unlawful with undocumented, with disastrous consequences (Migration Mobilities Bristol, link):

"If a policy that deprives residents of jobs, homes and money is going to be introduced, one would hope it would be targeted using the best available data with strong failsafe mechanisms in place to reverse any errors. It would, you would have thought, be a disaster if innocent individuals ended up being forced into penury and out of the country as a result of incorrect information."

Greece migrant crisis: 'Horrible' camps to shut amid influx (BBC News, link):

"Overcrowded, open camps that have become home to 33,000 asylum seekers on five Aegean islands are to be shut down and replaced with closed centres.

Four or five new sites will be set up to house 1,000 to 5,000 people. (...)

The proposed sites are being described as "closed pre-departure centres""

See also: Migration plan foresees new restrictive facilities on islands, closure of Moria camp (ekathimerini.com, link)

Comment: It appears that the current free movement of refugees on the islands after registration will end and they will be locked in the new detention centres until their return to Turkey has breen agreed.

Greece: Turkey needs to end ‘blackmail’ for migrant aid (euractv, link):

"Greece’s migration minister said that Turkey needs to stop “blackmail” if it wants more EU aid, saying its loaded language had prompted a spike in movement toward Greek shores.

Speaking to AFP on a visit to Washington, Giorgos Koumoutsakos voiced alarm over threats by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials to “open the gates” to Europe if it does not provide more support.

When Turkey “keeps repeating that we’re going to open the floodgates, what they (migrants) do is they move closer to the floodgates waiting for them to open,” said Koumoutsakos, citing a 240% increase in migrant arrivals on Greek shores since May."

EU countries warned of 'lost generation' of young refugees (BBC News, link):

"Europe is in danger of creating a "lost generation" of young refugees who have fled war and persecution in their countries, the EU's rights agency says.

The Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said it had identified serious challenges in integrating people aged between 16 and 24 across the EU.

It has urged member states to speed up asylum procedures, simplify family reunification and provide more housing."

See: Integration of young refugees in the EU: good practices and challenges (FRA, pdf)

Sea rescue NGOs : a pull factor of irregular migration? (European University Institute, link):

"The argument that maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations act as a ‘pull factor’ of irregular seaborne migration has become commonplace during the Mediterranean ‘refugee crisis’. This claim has frequently been used to criticize humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conducting SAR off the coast of Libya, which are considered to provide “an incentive for human smugglers to arrange departures” (Italian Senate 2017: 9). In this policy brief, we scrutinise this argument by examining monthly migratory flows from Libya to Italy between 2014 and October 2019. We find no relationship between the presence of NGOs at sea and the number of migrants leaving Libyan shores. Although more data and further research are needed, the results of our analysis call into question the claim that non-governmental SAR operations are a pull factor of irregular migration across the Mediterranean sea."

Why return from Europe is causing problems for The Gambia (The Conversation, link):

"The government is frequently suspected to play an active role in returns and is accused of witholding information about their dealings with the EU and member states like Germany. Incidentally, President Barrow is currently seeking to extend his rule beyond the three-year transition period originally agreed upon, ending in January 2020. Opposition to these plans is widespread.

In these politically tense times, pressing a pause button on returns fulfilled a symbolic function by defending Gambians against foreign national interests. The recent lifting of the moratorium is politically very risky. It paves the way for more of the deeply unpopular chartered return operations."

Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance

The Finnish Council Presidency wants EU member states to consider new methods for encouraging 'third countries' to accept their own nationals deported from the EU, according to a note (pdf) sent to the High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration and the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA).

Greece: New closed centers, 1,700 hirings to improve response to migration challenge (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As part of its plans to implement a stricter legal framework regarding asylum and border controls, the government aims to create between six and 10 closed pre-departure centers and is planning to recruit 400 border guards in the Evros region, 500 new asylum officers on the islands and mainland, as well 800 officers to guard sea borders and the centers.

These pre-departure centers will hold migrants who are slated for deportation until their departure and will hold a minimum of 5,000 and a maximum in some cases of 10,000."

GREECE: Aegean Boat Report 10-17 November 2019 (pdf):

"A total of 164 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 6097 people. However, 91 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 2444 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2849 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 95244 people. 50194 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1523 boats, so far in 2019."

All but last resort: The last reform of detention of asylum seekers in Greece (http://eumigrationlawblog.eu, link):

"The Commission has directly encouraged Member States to widely resort to detention to effect returns by laying down lengthy detention periods in domestic law and by bringing “detention capacity in line with actual needs”. There is thus little reason to believe that (the continuation of) Greek efforts to increase returns through more coercion will be met with anxious scrutiny, at least not without sufficient pressure on the Commission from accountability mechanisms in Greece and elsewhere."

Balkan Region - Report October 2019 (pdf, link):

"The Border Violence Monitoring Network just published it's October report, covering pushbacks and police violence from Croatia (and Slovenia), into Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Highlighted by the trend analysis of this."

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