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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
21.1-3.2.20

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

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EU: New Council "strategic guidelines" frame the next five years of EU justice and home affairs policy

The Council of the EU is moving towards the adoption of its next five-year set of strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs policies. Priorities listed in a draft document include enhancing the powers of justice and home affairs agencies, such as eu-Lisa and Europol; preventing future migration "crisis situations"; and cooperating more closely with non-EU states to control migration. The intention is for the European Council meeting to adopt the guidelines in March.

Greece: Nationality-based Detention in the Moria Refugee Camp (ECRE, link):

"The NGO HIAS recently published a policy brief entitled ‘Locked Up Without Rights’ concerning the legal framework regulating the detention of asylum seekers in Greece and the use of automatic detention of single males based on their nationality.

The policy of automatic detention identifies single men arriving from “low profile” countries to be detained in pre-removal detention centres in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. It is thus used to provide for the speedy return of third country nationals who are identified as having arrived from “safe” countries. HIAS notes that the procedure lacks sufficient legal reasoning and fails to consider the potential vulnerability of those seeking international protection. Moreover, detained individuals are not informed of the reasons for their detention and do not have access to legal assistance."

Shots Fired, Arrests and Violent Push Back Reported at the Serbian Hungarian Border (ECRE, link):

"Warning shots were fired by a border guard on January 28 when a group of 60 people tried to enter Hungary from Serbia through the Röszke crossing. Witnesses reported violence by the Hungarian police during push back operations and Serbian police states that they made 37 arrests of people trying to “cross the frontier illegally”.

Hungarian Police reports on the incident at the Röszke crossing that three warning shots were fired by a border guard into the air causing no casualties “after which most of the group ran back into Serbia, while police reinforcements arrived”. Four men who ran 65 meters into the Hungarian border zone were arrested after police had sealed of the area."

See also: The migrants are coming, the migrants are coming! (Hungarian Spectrum, link)

NGO rescue boats do not receive Frontex alerts (EUobserver, link):

"The NGO rescue boat Sea-Watch says it does not receive any alerts of maritime distress from the EU's border agency Frontex, whenever the agency spots people in trouble in the Mediterranean.

"Frontex would not alert civil rescue ships like Sea-Watch of any distress cases they find, as they know we would then take people to a safe port in Europe," a spokesperson from the charity told EUobserver, in an email."

EU aid increasingly taken hostage by migration politics (Oxfam, link):

"EU development aid is increasingly being spent to close borders, stifle migration and push for returns of migrants to Africa, reveals new research published by Oxfam today. This approach is hurting the EU’s diplomatic standing and diverting aid from its true purpose of helping those in need, sometimes even worsening the situation of the people it should support.

The report, ‘EU Trust Fund for Africa: Trapped between aid policy and migration politics’, shows how development funds under the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) are increasingly tied to the domestic policy priorities of EU member states to curb migration, with over a billion euros allocated for this purpose. In contrast, just €56m is allocated to fund regular migration schemes, representing less than 1.5% of the total worth of the EUTF for Africa."

NIGER: The European chase for Saharan smugglers (Privacy International, link):

"The wars on terror and migration have seen international funders sponsoring numerous border control missions across the Sahel region of Africa. Many of these rely on funds supposed to be reserved for development aid and lack vital transparency safeguards. After Europes's shady funds to border forces in the Sahel area and Niger's new biometric voting system, freelance journalist Giacomo Zandonini looks at the attempts to dismantle smugglers networks in the region, powered by Europe's gifts of surveillance."

New yearly report on torture of asylum seekers by Croatian authorities at EU external borders (Border Violence Monitoring Network, link):

"Together with a number of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Are You Syrious / Centre for Peace Studies, and Amnesty International, the Border Violence Monitoring Network has been working to document illegal pushbacks and police violence along the EU’s external borders in the Western Balkans since the formal closure of the route in 2017. While the existence of systematic illegal pushbacks along the Croatian and Hungarian borders with Serbia and Bosnia is evidenced extensively, this report focuses on the increasing violence that is applied to refugees and migrants under the framework of the Croatian case."

Climate refugees: The fabrication of a migration threat (Hein de Haas, link):

"In recent years, it has become popular to argue that climate change will lead to massive North-South movements of ‘climate refugees’. Concerns about climate change-induced migration have emerged in the context of debates on global warming. Without any doubt, global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity, and the lack of willingness of states and the international community to address it effectively – particularly through reducing of carbon emissions – is a valid source of major public concern and global protest.

However, to link this issue with the specter of mass migration is a dangerous practice based on myth rather than fact. The use of apocalyptic migration forecasts to support the case for urgent action on climate change is not only intellectually dishonest, but also puts the credibility of those using this argument - as well as the broader case for climate change action - seriously at risk."

GREECE: Solidarity Statement: Freedom for Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar: The European Union must stop the arbitrary incarceration of refugees and migrants (pdf)

"We express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar who are currently being held in pre-trial detention in Komotini, Greece. Both are facing long prison sentences because they are being wrongfully and arbitrarily accused of "smuggling”.

Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are Moroccan citizens who fled their country searching for protection and better living conditions, Hamza Haddi in particular is a known political activist who was hoping to be granted political asylum in Europe.

...Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are now accused of and are facing trial for the "smuggling" of two persons - one of them being Hamza's own brother Yassine!

The accusations against Hamza and Mohamed are clearly unfounded. They are refugees, not smugglers."

The statement is also available in Italian, Greek, French, German and Arabic (pdfs)

800 migrants detained in Spain in poor conditions, says NGO (InfoMigrants, link):

"More than 800 Tunisian migrants have been detained in the Spanish enclave of Melilla for more than 5 months, Tunesian NGO Ftdes claims.

According to Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (Ftdes), "over 800 undocumented Tunisian migrants including women and children have been detained for more than five months in inhuman and humiliating conditions at the Melilla temporary residence for immigrants in Spain," Tap news agency reported.

In a statement, Amor said that the migrants are housed in cluttered and dirty plastic tents, exposed to cold and lack of food. He said that the migrants had applied for asylum in Spain, but have not received any response to their requests. The migrants had reportedly also staged a sit-in but neither the Spanish nor Tunisian authorities reacted."

EASO operations in Greece to expand significantly (EASO, link):

"On 28 January 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the Greek government signed a Seat Agreement for the Hosting of the EASO Operational Office in Greece...

The hosting agreement gives legal and administrative clarity to the status of EASO in the country, including that of its staff and assets, thus allowing the Agency to be better able to support the Hellenic asylum and reception authorities.

Based on an Operating Plan which was signed between EASO and Greece in December 2019, the Agency is already scaling up its operational presence in support of the Greek authorities. Deployed EASO personnel will double from approximately 500 to over 1000 throughout the year. They will work to support the Greek Asylum Service, the national Dublin Unit, the Reception and Identification Service and the Appeals Authority. The personnel will include caseworkers, field support staff, reception staff, research officers for the Appeals Authority, interpreters and administrative staff."

See: 2020 Operational & Technical Assistance Plan agreed by EASO and Greece (pdf)

FRANCE: Death of a ten-year-old child in Roissy: another victim of European migration policies?

This morning [8 January], the body of a child of around ten years of age was found in the landing undercarriage of an aeroplane arriving from Abidjan (Ivory Coast) to the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport (Paris).

Although tragedies are frequent in the Mediterranean, between the Comores and Mayotte, and in other parts of the world, this situation is more exceptional, or at least less well known, in French ports and airports.

EU-TUNISIA: About the plan to create a reception centre in Bir El Fatnassiya for asylum seekers who flee the degradation of the security situation in Libya

The Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux is following the news about the creation of a camp in the region of Bir El Fatnassiya, 15 km to the south of the city of Rmada in the governorship of Tataouine within the framework of an emergency plan. After the experience of the camp in Choucha, where volunteer citizens have taken on most of the responsibility and, after the withdrawal of international organisations, Tunisia has been forced to face the consequences of this camp's establishment, including providing accommodation for a group of asylum seekers in the youth centre in Marsa.

Statewatch Analysis: Italy guilty of refoulements in 2009 handover of Eritrean shipwreck survivors to Libya (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

An Italian court has ruled that the country’s Cabinet presidency and defence ministry were responsible for the refoulement of 14 Eritrean nationals in July 2009, when a warship rescued some 80 people and took them back to Libya, ignoring requests for international protection.

More than 150 migrants rescued by Open Arms, 400 others to disembark in Italy (InfoMigrants, link):

"The humanitarian rescue vessel Open Arms picked up 158 migrants in two rescue operations off the coast of Libya overnight. Since Thursday, three NGO ships have rescued nearly 640 people. Over 400 migrants on board the Ocean Viking will be allowed to disembark in Taranto, Italy.

The Spanish NGO Open Arms said on Twitter that it had taken on board 56 people during a first rescue operation late Monday evening. The migrants were travelling in international waters and the operation was completed after the Open Arms boat's engine was "provisionally repaired".

A few hours later the rescue vessel took on board another 102 migrants from a boat in distress. According to Open Arms, it saved them from "probable death"."

Eritrean asylum seekers hold protest in Slovenia over asylum process, rejected applications (InfoMigrants, link):

"A group of Eritrean asylum seekers have held a protest in Slovenia against asylum request procedures, which the community sees as unfair. They also demonstrated against the rejection of five asylum claims filed by Eritreans.

Eritrean asylum seekers protested Wednesday morning in front of the building hosting them in the center of the Slovenian capital. The demonstration was an attempt to draw the attention of the government and the public to asylum procedures, which the protesters see as unfair.

The approximately 15 protestors claim that Slovenia should grant asylum to all Eritrean citizens filing a request because the country is the "North Korea of the African continent," as one banner stated."

Historic UN Human Rights case opens door to climate change asylum claims (UN Human Rights, link):

"GENEVA (21 January 2020) – In its first ruling on a complaint by an individual seeking asylum from the effects of climate change, the UN Human Rights Committee* has stated that countries may not deport individuals who face climate change-induced conditions that violate the right to life.

...The Committee determined that in Mr. Teitiota's specific case, New Zealand's courts did not violate his right to life at the time of the facts, because the thorough and careful evaluation of his testimony and other available information led to the determination that, despite the serious situation in Kiribati, sufficient protection measures were put in place. "Nevertheless," said Committee expert Yuval Shany, "this ruling sets forth new standards that could facilitate the success of future climate change-related asylum claims.""

See the ruling: Views adopted by the Committee under article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, concerning communication No. 2728/2016 (pdf)

ITALY: Giving names to victims — deaths in Italian deportation centres (AYS Daily Digest 20/01/20, link)

"Twentynine people died in Italian deportation centres from 1998 until 2020.

The last death occurred on Saturday 18th January 2020 in the CPR of Gradisca d’Isonzo, when Vakhtang Enukidze lost his life, as he was surrounded by 8 policemen in riot gears and beaten heavily, causing him fatal injuries.

Therefore, today’s digest will, in a way, try to pay respect to those “invisible” deaths occurred by the hand of the Italian state, those deaths that are not investigated properly because the victims are “unwanted” in the country, guilty of being alone in a hostile land."

GREECE: January 2020 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

"A. Situation Report in Lesvos, as of 15/1/2020

Over 19,000 people are now living in Moria Camp – the main refugee camp on the island – yet the Camp lacks any official infrastructure, such as housing, security, electricity, sewage, schools, health care, etc. While technically, most individuals are allowed to leave this camp, it has become an open-air prison, as they must spend most of their day in hours long lines for food, toilets, doctors, and the asylum office."

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