EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13 news stories and documents, 7.12.15)

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- EU: Council of the European Union: European Council (17 and 18 December 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13593-15, pdf). The opening section on Migration largely states the obvious [and may be changed nearer the meeting]:

"The European Council discussed the migration and refugee crisis. Despite the hard work in recent months the level of implementation of some of the decisions taken is insufficient. The unprecedented influx of migrants puts the Schengen and asylum acquis under severe pressure... [and]

"rapidly address deficiencies in the functioning of hotspots... ensure registration and take measures to discourage refusal of registration... implement relocation decisions more rapidly.. ensure the actual return of people not authorised to stay..significantly enhance the control at the EU's external borders... It should rapidly examine the Commission proposals of 15 December on a European Border and Coast Guard, the Schengen Borders Code, resettlement, and travel documents for returns..."

- Lesvos: Greece: Statement on the EU's shameful decision to give Turkey 3 billion euros to hold back war refugees from finding safety in Europe (pdf): by Eric Kempson in Lesvos and Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action following her recent visit to Lesvos to assess the situation:

"“The EU is badly mistaken if it thinks paying Turkey 3 Billion euros will halt the flow of war refugees into Greece. The smuggling trade alone is worth 10 Billion euros. That trade is not just between Turkey and Greece it’s all the way up through Europe, with smugglers waiting to get people through. Boats continue to come through, mainly overnight and in bad weather. 500 came through Lesvos yesterday (Dec 3), 450 people came through on December 2nd, and 800 the day before.

The numbers are less than the previous three months but are still significant. People will keep coming in bad weather when the Turkish coastguard is not patrolling. And they will come overnight when it’s more dangerous. The Africans are making their way here, and they will reach here in the spring. And now that the British government has started bombing Syria along with other European countries, many more people will be trying to come to safety, using more dangerous routes.

“What we are seeing because of the EU decision is further persecution and abuse of war refugees by the Turkish coastguard on the open seas, and more deaths as people take ever more dangerous routes to safety. And these abuses will get worse because of this EU deal, and we are losing a lot more people now because of it. “The Turkish coastguard is now using very fast boats to go round and round the refugee dinghies to get up a wave of water and they sink them with the babies, children and women in them.."

- Turn back refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh at the Turkish external border so that they do not become the EU's problem:
EU’s Timmermans Talks About Expectations of Turkey-EU Pact to Wall Street Journal (link)

"WSJ: Does it concern you that a significant minority comes from other places, like Afghanistan?

FT: This is all linked. Because of the Syrian refugees, a path is built and then others, who want to come to Europe for other reasons, see the possibility of using that ‘highway to Europe’. A policy will also have to have all these elements – stopping violence in Syria, having agreements with third countries about people who come here who don’t have the right to international protection and therefore should be returned, that’s why talking to Pakistan is so important, making sure that Turkey aligns its visa policy to ours, so that people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh can be stopped at the external Turkish border rather than coming to Turkey first and having to be stopped at the European border...."
[emphasis added]

See: In Danger in Afghanistan, Unable to Flee (NYT, link): "Why do we have to risk our lives?” Mohammad Ali asked. “Why can’t we just get a visa here and go directly?” The answer stretches back to the origins of the world’s refugee and asylum system in post-World War II Europe. In 1951, with millions of Europeans dislocated from their home countries, the international community enacted the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Article 1 declared that people were entitled to international legal protection as refugees, and therefore asylum, if they had a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.” On four out of those five grounds, the Bamian couple would clearly qualify, as officials at Western embassies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have told them, and proving it would be relatively easy." [emphasis added]

But see: Merkel urges Afghans to stay at home (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the German Chancellor has urged Afghan migrants not to seek refuge in the Bundesrepublik... The reason is that by the end of October, 68,000 Afghan asylum seekers had registered in Germany, with 31,000 arriving in that month alone. In terms of arrival numbers, Afghans rank second behind Syrians.."

- News (7.12.15)

Proactiva OpenArms Rescue night (link)

The “European refugee crisis”: why all migrants matter (Open DEmocracy, link): "With the closure of the Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian borders to all migrants who are not of Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan nationality, the international community has sent out a worrying signal."

Greece to set up island screening centres to ease refugee crisis (Observer, link): "Threat of suspension from Schengen zone prompts Athens to publish surprise legislation that opposition says will kill tourism on Aegean islands...The law, published in the government gazette early on Saturday, took many by surprise. Local authorities on islands such as Kos have long claimed the establishment of such centres will only attract more refugees. In a strongly worded statement, the Kos branch of the main opposition conservative New Democracy party said the decision would lead with “mathematical precision” to the destruction of the island’s tourist industry."

EU: Paving the Road to Hell with good intentions (EUobserver, link): "Europe is experiencing multiple crises. The influx of refugees and the terrorist attacks have created a framework in which core EU rights and freedoms are continuously challenged. Major revisions of core EU policies seem possible as long as there is a promise for more security. Politicians seem to have forgotten that everything comes at a price."

Wave of young Afghan migrants seen hurting economy they leave behind (Reuters, link): "There are no accurate figures for the number of Afghans who leave each year in search of a better life abroad, but more than 160,000 have gone to Europe this year, UNHCR data show. The majority of those have been in the last few months."It's not necessarily everyone with master's degrees... "

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