Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.5.16)

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- European Commission: 18.5.16.

- Third report on relocation and resettlement (COM 360, pdf):

"Overall, progress on relocation since the Second Report on Relocation and Resettlement has been unsatisfactory. The Commission had set a target to relocate at least 20,000 persons by mid-May in its First Report on Relocation and Resettlement. The reality falls well short of this target. Only 355 additional persons have been relocated during the reporting period bringing the total number of persons relocated so far to 1,500 (909 from Greece and 591 from Italy)......

Austria,13 Hungary and Slovakia have still not submitted any pledge. In addition, a number of Member States (Germany and Poland) are not yet respecting the obligation under the Council Decision to indicate, every three months....

Greece is facing a humanitarian crisis that requires a quick and full implementation of the obligations assumed by Member States in the Council Decisions on relocation. As for Italy, although the numbers of people available for relocation has not yet seen a rapid increase, established seasonal patterns of migration point to the strong likelihood of an increase in the number of arrivals."

- Annex 1: Greece (pdf) Of the 63.302 pledges of relocation needed for Greece only 909 have been carried out.

- Annex 2: Italy (pdf) Of the 34,953 pledges of relocation need for Italy only 591 have been carried out.

- Annex 3: resettlement (pdf) 6.231 refugees have been resettled in the EU.

- Relocation and resettlement: State of Play (pdf)

See: Big Fail: The EU’s Relocation & Resettlement scheme (Keep Talking Greece, link): "The Relocation and Resettlement scheme for asylum seekers falls short and thus far beyond EU’s expectations. Apparently, the EU member-states are happy to have gotten rid of the problem and have 54,000 refugees stuck in Greece. "

- Greece-Turkey deal: Plenary highlights: Europol, asylum reform, Turkey visa liberalisation (pdf):

"Asylum reform

Any reform of the EU's asylum system should be based on solidarity among member states as this will ensure the effective management of asylum applications, MEPs said in a debate on Wednesday with commissioners Frans Timmermans and Dimitris
Avramopoulos. Currently asylum demands need to be dealt with by the first EU country the applicant entered."

"Turkey visa liberalisation

MEPs voiced serious concerns about Turkey's lack of progress in meeting the EU’s conditions for liberalising its visa regime for Turkish nationals in a debate on Wednesday."

- A programme about British volunteers helping some of Europe's most vulnerable refugees (ITV, link): "25 days left"

- Greek asylum system reaches breaking point (IRIN, link):

"As Greece prepares to deport an initial 500 migrants and refugees on Monday under a controversial agreement between the EU and Turkey, senior Greek officials say the pressure to process applications quickly has become too great, at the expense of legal and ethical standards.

“Insufferable pressure is being put on us to reduce our standards and minimise the guarantees of the asylum process,” Maria Stavropoulou, who heads the Greek Asylum Service, told IRIN. “[We’re asked] to change our laws, to change our standards to the lowest possible under the EU directive [on asylum procedures].”
[emphasis added]

Statewatch comments: The EU demands in March 2016 to lower Greek asylum law standards were themselves based on the "lowest common" denominators already built into the EU Asylum Directive.

These lower than low standards are built into the: Letter from Mathias Ruete, Director-General of European Commission Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs, to Vasileios Papadopoulos, Secretary-General, General Secretariat for Population and Social Cohesion, 5 May 2016 (pdf) and response: Hellenic Action for Human Rights: Pleiades Rejects European Commission Letter Regarding the Application of the Safe Third Country Concept to Turkey (Pleiades, link)

- Interpol: increased border protection forces migrants to use people smugglers (Guardian, link):

"Deals such as EU-Turkey agreement in spotlight as report says 90% of irregular journeys to Europe facilitated by smugglers

Attempts to deter migrants from reaching Europe such as the EU-Turkey deal are likely to force people into the arms of smugglers, Interpol has said in a joint statement with the EU’s law enforcement agency.

More than 90% of recent irregular journeys to Europe were facilitated by smugglers, a figure that is likely to rise due to increased border protection, Interpol and Europol have concluded in a report on people smuggling.

“These numbers are expected to increase in the future in response to control measures taken by countries along the migratory routes,” the report says..."


- EU plans for Libya risk crossing migration 'red lines' (euobserver, link):

"Italian officials and even German chancellor Angela Merkel have gone so far as to suggest that the EU should strike a deal with Libya similar to the one with Turkey, which allows the return of asylum seekers on the presumption that they are “safe” there.

The assessment that Turkey is safe for refugees and asylum seekers is wrong.

But the idea that Libya, riven by warring factions and with a fledgling and contested government of national unity that the EU is desperate to legitimise, can provide a safe haven is positively mind-boggling."

- Are You Syrious (link)

Syrians returned to Turkey under EU deal report being detained indefinitely in poor conditions and not being allowed to rejoin family members in Turkey:

"A group of 12 Syrians returned by plane on the 27th of April who were contacted by telephone said they had simply been detained without clear legal recourse since they arrived in a remote detention center in southern Turkey called Düziçi. The fate of two other Syrians deported along with hundreds of non-Syrians earlier in April is unknown.

“You can’t imagine how bad a situation we are in right now,” said one Syrian mother detained with her children, who now wants to return to Syria because she sees no alternative. “My children and I are suffering, the food is not edible. I’m forcing my children to eat because I don’t have any money to buy anything, but they refuse because there are bugs in it.”"

Violence erupts in Samos as a direct result of failings in the EU/Turkey deal

"Operators on the ground in Samos are witnessing first hand the failings of the EU/Turkey deal. The ‘1 in 1 out’ theory is not working in practice, with disastrous effects.

In Samos there are 1,000 refugees detained in a closed camp built to house just 300 people. 300 of those detained are children, including some with special needs & disabilities. Less than 20 people have been transferred off Samos since the deal was signed in March and despite the ‘crack down’ refugees have continued to arrive every day to the shores of Samos, sometimes 50 a day. As the numbers detained have been swelling, inevitably tensions have been building too".

News (18.5.16)

Refugees, migrants reach 54,574 in Greece on Wednesday (, link): "The number of identified refugees and migrants across Greece reached 54,574 on Wednesday, according to figures released by the country's Central Coordinating Body for the Management of Migration. According to the coordinating body, 8,549 refugees and migrants were staying on Greece's eastern Aegean islands – including 30 people who had arrived over the last 24 hours – while 14,510 were located in areas across Attica."

Borderless: Undercover with the People Smugglers - Inside the people-smuggling rings specialising in getting refugees into Europe (, link)

Refugees will repay EU spending almost twice over in five years - report (Guardian, link): "Investigation into impact of refugees in Europe finds rising public debt will be offset by a much greater rise in GDP"

Cyprus, KISA: Recent conflicts at Kofinou constitute a manifestation of the Center’s Abandonment by the Government (link): "During Saturday night (14.05.16), a number of serious incidents were noted between residents of the Kofinou Center for Asylum Seekers, which resulted in the injury of certain individuals and became the cause for great turbulence. KISA condemns in the most unreserved manner any act of violence, no matter its source. At the same time however, we consider the particular incident to constitute an expression of the chronic and structural problems which are present at Kofinou and which have been exacerbated due to the Ministry of Interior’s continued delay in deciding upon the Center’s new supervision body. As a result of the above, the Kofinou Reception Center for Asylum Seekers continues to remain without any Administration Unit for the past eight months."

Italy: More than 1,100 migrants rescued off Italian coasts (Daily Sabah, link)

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