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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
10-16.9.19

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

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Ocean Viking: Rescued migrants disembark in Italy (BBC News, link):

"Eighty-two migrants have disembarked on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa after six days at sea.

Italy says it is allowing the ship, the Ocean Viking, to offload the migrants as most of those on board will be relocated to other EU countries."

FRONTEX: Migratory situation in August – Slight increase on main migratory routes (pdfl, link):

"There were nearly 9 300 detections in August 2019* on the Eastern Mediterranean route accounting for nearly three-quarters of the total number of irregular migrants reaching Europe. This was double the figure from the same month of last year due to a large number of boats reaching the Greek islands in eastern Aegean, especially Lesbos, in late August.

In the first eight months of this year, the total number of detections in this region was up 10% from a year ago to more than 38 300." [emphasis added]

Child Immigration Detention is Not Only Wrong, It Is Ineffective (link):

" Today, the United Nations Network on Migration strongly reiterates its position that child immigration detention must be ended in every region of the world. Detention of children for immigration purposes - whether they are traveling alone or with their families – has been recognized as a child rights violation and can be highly damaging to their physical and psychological health and wellbeing. Detention of children based on their migratory status is thus never in their best interests.

Community-based programmes, case management and other human rights-based alternatives have proven highly effective and all governments should work to replace immigration detention for children and families with appropriate reception and care arrangements."

WEST BALKANS: Illegal push-backs and border violence report: August (Border Violence Monitoring Network, pdf):

"- Torture: Recurrence of extreme violence and abuse
- Pushback from Italy
- Beyond police: Actors within the pushback framework
- Further dispersion of pushback sites in NW Bosnia
- Trends in pushback sites to and from Greece."

.

MSF: 3 migrant children attempted suicide, 17 had injured themselves (Keep Talking Greece,link):

"Children are the real victims of the Migration policy, many of them are not in position to comply with the harsh realities. According to a press release by Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Greece, in the summer months of July and August, three children attempted suicide and 17 had injured themselves. Ten of a total of 73 children referred to MSF were under the age of six, the youngest being just two."

Over 3,400 migrants reached Greece in September (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 3,469 migrants arrived at Greece's northern Aegean islands from the start of September till Friday morning, according to figures published by the region's general police directorate.

Breaking down the numbers, 2,078 foreign nationals arrived on Lesvos, 589 on Chios and 802 on Samos since September 1."

UNHCR reports that so far this year refugee arrivals have been: 36,386 to Greece, 19,782 to Spain, 5,796 to Italy, 1,585 to Malta and 794 to Cyprus.

GREECE: Migration exploited for leverage, says former police inspector general (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey is exploiting the migrant crisis as a form of leverage in its relations with the European Union, but also on a bilateral level, with our country,” she stressed.

She also revealed that three meetings between Greek and Turkish officials that had been scheduled to take place in April, May and June at the Evros border between the two countries had been canceled by Turkey."

ECRE: The College of Commissioners: What’s in a Name? (link):

"A furore has erupted over the unfortunately named “Protecting Our European Way of Life” portfolio, with concern centring on the rather, let us say, fascistic connotation of the expression. (...)

the Home Affairs Commissioner’s mission, the talk is of “challenges” and “concerns” of Europeans. This framing is immediately othering in that it sets up oppositions between Europeans and migrants, security and the threat of people on the move (...)

Some Dutch police using excessive force against immigrants: report (Daily Sabah, link):

"Some Dutch police centers, especially those located in the Hague, use excessive force against immigrants, according to a report published Friday by Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS).

The NOS report said that the discriminative incidents and the cases in which police used excessive force against immigrants are especially related with the Hoefkade Police Station in Schilderswijk – a district known for its large immigrant population."

Germany prepared to take in 25% of migrants who arrive in Italy by sea (DW, link):

"Interior Minister Seehofer has made the gesture ahead of EU talks on migration later this month. The issue has been one of hot debate in recent years following a spate of arrivals in the Mediterranean."

Italy's new government says migrants can disembark from rescue boat (Guardian, link)

"Rome’s new left-leaning government breaks from era of hardline immigration measures pushed by Matteo Salvini."

Deportations to Turkey – overview: August 2019 (Deportation Monitoring Aegean, link)

EU extends Operation Sophia for 6 months, still without ships (Politico, link):

"spokeswoman declared that "Sophia is a maritime operation and it's clear that without naval assets, the operation will not be able to effectively implement its mandate." (...)

Four diplomats told POLITICO the decision to extend the mandate on its current terms was taken on Thursday by the EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC), which is composed of member countries' ambassadors and deals with defense and foreign policy issues.

Despite the six-month extension, one diplomat said the PSC could "revert to the matter much earlier if needed” — a hint that naval assets might return to the mission sooner."

See also: Operation ‘Sophia’ is Given Six More Months Without Ships (ECRE, link)

Inside Lampedusa, the Front Line of Europe’s Migration Crisis (The Global Post, link):

"recent shakeup in the Italian government, Salvini is now out of power, making the future of the migrant situation in Lampedusa unclear. To help shed light on the situation, The Globe Post spoke to Alberto Mallardo of Mediterranean Hope, a project of the Federation of protestant Churches in Italy created in 2014 to analyze migration flows in the region and assist migrants and asylum seekers who arrive on Lampedusa.

Mediterranean Hope also includes the Observatory on Mediterranean migration, based in Lampedusa and coordinated on the field by Mallardo."

Lesvos: Head of Moria hot spot submits his resignation (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The head of the hot spot of Moria on the island of Lesvos submitted his resignation to the political leadership of the Ministry for Citizens’ Protection on Wednesday afternoon.

Citing personal reasons, the Manager of the Reception and Identification Center, Ioannis Balbakakis said that he was “tired” and he had to go.

“I leave with my head up at doing what I needed to do in difficult situations. I am neither leaving as a thief nor leaving as a protesting politician. I’m leaving because I have to leave. I’m tired."

Are You Syrious (11.9.19, link)

FEATURE

"On 1 September a group made up of three women, and six men experienced a violent group expulsion by the Romanian border police, volunteers active in Serbia have reported.

The policemen asked who in the group spoke English, and then proceeded to beat up each of the English speakers. One of the girls tried to move, but they beat her with their boots and batons. She fainted briefly and did not regain consciousness for five minutes. Then she helped her friend and was beaten again as punishment."

MALTA

"For the second time in a week, people detained at the Malta migration center protested and demanded their release. After disembarking on Malta from NGO boats, people are held in detention until they have undergone a health check, the official reason given by authorities. As former detainees report, the conditions in this center are grave and people are not told how long they have to stay there."

Aegean Boat Report (link):

"Total number of refugees on the islands: 25,484."

. Germany pressures Greece to step up migrant deportations to Turkey (DW, link):

"Germany has also called on Turkey to accept the repatriations as part of a 2016 agreement between Ankara and the EU. A recent upswell in illegal crossings has led to rapidly deteriorating conditions in Greek camps.

Germany's Interior Ministry on Thursday called for Greece to step-up deportations to Turkey, as well as for stronger efforts to stem the flow of illegal crossings to Greek islands in the first place.

Stephan Mayer, the parliamentary secretary in the Interior Ministry, said, "We urgently need to make progress in small repatriations to Turkey, to improve the deteriorating conditions at certain hot spots on the islands."

Speaking with the Funke Mediengruppe news publisher, Mayer described the situation on the Greek destinations closest to Turkey as "very difficult."

EU to discuss boatless Operation Sophia (euobserver, link):

"Ambassadors representing member states will meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss extending the mandate of the defunct and boatless Naval Operation Sophia. Sophia is mandated to crackdown on migrant trafficking, but had all its boats pulled following an Italian backlash over where to disembark people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea."

EU: New EU deportation law breaches fundamental rights standards and should be rejected

A proposed new EU law governing standards and procedures for deportations would breach fundamental rights standards, massively expand the use of detention, limit appeal rights and undermine 'voluntary' return initiatives. It should be rejected by the European Parliament and the Council, argues a new analysis published today by Statewatch: Analysis (pdf)

The original Returns Directive was agreed in 2008, but a proposal for a 'recast' version was published by the European Commission in September 2018 as one a number of measures aiming to crack down on "illegally staying third-country nationals" in the EU.

NGO rescue ship barred from Italy despite new government (Guardian, link):

"Alan Kurdi vessel awaits safe port as leaders promise to revise Salvini’s hardline law.

An NGO rescue ship with five people onboard has been barred from landing in Italy, despite the new left-leaning government in Rome vowing to change the hardline immigration laws of the former interior minister Matteo Salvini.

The Alan Kurdi, operated by the German NGO Sea-Eye, has been awaiting a safe port since 31 August after rescuing 13 people fleeing Tunisia."

Switzerland: Former local MP must not be punished for aiding asylum-seekers (AI, link):

"Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal against the conviction of former local MP, Lisa Bosia Mirra, fined almost 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000 US) for helping 24 Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers to cross the Italian border into Switzerland, Amnesty International Researcher, Rym Khadhraoui said:

“Lisa Bosia Mirra’s actions were examples of humanity rather than criminality. By helping asylum seekers, who were mostly unaccompanied minors, to access protection in Switzerland, she committed no crime but instead showed compassion to desperate people – some of who had suffered torture."

Greek PM urges talks, rejects Turkish refugee ‘threats (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis rejected on Sunday (8 September) Turkish “threats” to let Syrian refugees come en masse to Europe unless more international aid was provided and called for neighbourly dialogue instead."

Europe Keeps Asylum Seekers at a Distance, This Time in Rwanda (New York Times, link):

"Under the agreement with Rwanda, which is expected to be signed in the coming weeks, the east African country will take in about 500 migrants evacuated from Libya and host them until they are resettled to new homes or sent back to their countries of origin.

It will offer a way out for a lucky few, but ultimately the Rwandan center is likely to run into the same delays and problems as the one in Agadez.

“The Niger program has suffered from a lot of setbacks, hesitation, very slow processing by European and other countries, very low numbers of actual resettlements,” said Ms. Sunderland of Human Rights Watch. “There’s not much hope then that the exact same process in Rwanda would lead to dramatically different outcomes.”"

Morocco Cracks Down on Migrants as Spain and EU Pay Out (The Globe Times, link):

"The number of migrants arriving by sea in Spain has plunged with Morocco clamping down on boat departures since signing lucrative agreements with Madrid and Brussels, experts say.

While Madrid praises its cooperation with Rabat, human rights groups accuse Morocco of forcibly preventing migrants form boarding boats to Spain.

So far this year 15,683 migrants have arrived by sea, 45 percent down on the first eight months of 2018, according to Spanish interior ministry figures."

:See also: Statewatch Analysis: "Migration control, not rescue": squeezing search and rescue in the Mediterraneaan by Jane Kilpatrick

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