EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21 news stories, documents and commentaries, 22-23.12.15)

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- Council of Europe: Helping refugees in the Mediterranean: Greek association “Agkalia” awarded Raoul Wallenberg Prize (pdf):

"The jury of the Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize has awarded the 2016 Prize to Agkalia, a Greek association on the island of Lesvos, for outstanding achievements in providing frontline assistance to thousands of refugees irrespective of their origin and religion.

As Lesvos has become a European gateway for refugees, Agkalia has been providing temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid to people in need, assisting some 17,000 refugees and migrants since May 2015. Through its work to assist refugees, Agkalia also promotes tolerance and human rights"

- EU: A PERMANENT MECHANISM for the CRISIS RELOCATION of REFUGEES? Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 14951-15, pdf) EU governments are a long way from agreeing the Council's position on this Regulation:

"The delegations having general or scrutiny reservations reiterated their positions and underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation.

The following delegations entered or confirmed their general scrutiny reservations: AT, BE, BG, DE, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI.

CZ, ES, HU, LT, PL and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU has also a parliamentary scrutiny reservation"

This has been deleted: "A comprehensive evaluation of the Dublin Regulation is currently being conducted by the Commission that could lead to a wider revision of the Dublin system."

- Irregular Migrant, Refugee Arrivals in Europe Top One Million in 2015: IOM (link)

- News (22-23.12.15)

Austria accused of 'stupidity' in crisis (The, link): "Hungary has accused Austria of confusing "solidarity and stupidity" after Vienna said that nations which do not accept their share of refugees under European Union quotas should face sanctions...."

Police union slams plan to strip refugee jewellery (The, link): "Denmark's Minister for Integration has hit back at police criticism of the government's highly controversial proposal to confiscate valuable items from refugees by saying "most people" can judge the value of jewellery."

German 'welcoming culture' still strong: poll (The, link): "A new survey conducted by the Protestant church shows that Germans’ willingness to help refugees remains steadfast, despite concerns the country will struggle to cope with the large influx."

Turkish envoy to Greece calls for cooperation (, link): "Greece and Turkey need to work closely on tackling migratory flows because they are “both victims of the refugee crisis,” the Turkish ambassador in Athens, Kerim Uras, told Greek journalists on Wednesday."

Hungary urged to halt campaign portraying refugees and migrants as ‘invaders’ – UN agency and partners (UN news Centre, link): "The United Nations refugee agency, together with two European partners, urged Hungary today to refrain from policies and practices that promote intolerance, fear and fuel xenophobia against refugees and migrants, including a campaign running through Christmas and into the New Year.The organizations – The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Council of Europe and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – “have joined voices to call on the Hungarian leadership to adopt the true spirit of humanity in helping those who have been forced out of their countries against their own will and choice and are currently seeking safety in Europe,” according to a
joint press release."
and Refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 top unprecedented one million – UN (link)

Thirteen migrants drown off Farmakonisi (, link): "Seven children, two women and four men drowned when their boat sank off the small Aegean island of Farmakonisi, Greek coastguard officials said early Wednesday."

Czech Prime Minister chastises Merkel over refugee crisis (DW, link): "Bohuslav Sobotka has said Merkel's policies are partly to blame for the refugee crisis. He also reiterated the Czech Republic's commitment to helping the EU mitigate the crisis."

Global migration chief 'disturbed' at dangers of xenophobia (Reuters, link): "The anti-migrant sentiment taking hold in a slew of nations facing an influx of refugees is disturbing, dangerous and puts people's lives at risk, said the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Concern and suspicion about migrants is based on stereotypes, fear of national identity loss and a "post-9/11 security syndrome," said William Lacy Swing, director general of the Geneva-based "intergovernmental IOM".

Refugee and migrant arrivals in EU pass 1 million in 2015: IOM (Reuters, link): "The number of refugees and migrants arriving by land an sea in six European Union countries -- Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus -- has passed 1 million this year, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday. Out of a total of 1,005,504 arrivals by Dec. 21, the vast majority -- 816,752 -- arrived by sea in Greece, IOM said."

One million migrants and refugees have reached Europe this year – IOM (Guardian, link): "International Organisation for Migration announces latest figures, with Greek island of Lesbos now the main refugee gateway.... The European migration flow is nevertheless far more manageable than in the Middle East, where roughly 2.2 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey alone. In Lebanon, the 1.1 million Syrians form about one-fifth of the country’s total population, while Jordan’s 633,000 registered Syrian refugees make up around a tenth of the total.

The denial of basic rights to refugees in those countries, where almost all Syrians do not have the right to work, is one of the causes of Europe’s migration crisis. Refugees who have lived for several years in legal limbo are now coming to Europe to claim the rights bestowed on them by the 1951 UN refugee convention. Over 15 boats arrived on Lesbos on Monday. Across the Greek islands, the average number of refugees arriving each day in December is 3,338, lower than the October peak of 6,828, but far higher than July’s 1,771."

Sweden to halt some passenger rail services to Denmark over identity checks (DW, link): "Sweden's railway operator SJ is to halt some passenger services to and from Denmark, blaming the refugee crisis. From January, transport companies will be fined if they carry passengers without identity papers."

Over 2,000 refugees arrive at Piraeus port on Tuesday (ANAMPA, link): "A large number of refugees arrived on Tuesday at Piraeus port. The ferry Nissos Rhodos carried 1,075 refugees for the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos and the ferry Blue Star brought 944 refugees from Lesvos and Chios."

Migrants not able to find room in Athens camps ( link): "Athens is struggling to cope with the influx of migrants who are unable to leave Greece as the two camps which can house them are full, according to authorities..... Some 4,000 refugees and migrants reached Piraeus on Monday from the islands of Chios and Lesvos.."

Danish plan to seize refugees' jewellery prompts controversy (euobserver, link): "The proposed measure was likened to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews in the second world war and has prompted an MEP to quit the ruling party. .... normally watches and mobile phones should not be seized, but cash above 3,000 Danish kroner (€436) and jewels can be confiscated. The proposed bill allows police to search the clothes and luggage of asylum seekers - and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark - with a view to finding assets. If a migrant choses to withdraw the application for asylum, the valuables should be returned. If the asylum seeker becomes well-to-do after international protection was granted, the new valuables can also be seized...."

EU and Swiss still at odds on migrant quotas (euobserver, link): "The EU and Switzerland remain split on a Swiss plan to stem the number of migrants from member states. EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels on Monday (21 December) that the two sides are still looking for a solution after Switzerland voted to impose migrant quotas in a referendum in 2014."

Swedish cruise ship to house 1,260 refugees (The, link)

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