Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18 news stories and documents: 19.11.15)

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- EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 20 November 2015: Conclusions of the Council and Member States on counter-terrorism (pdf):

"in the context of the current migration crisis, carry out a systematic registration, including fingerprinting, of third country nationals illegally entering the Schengen area, whether migrants or applicants for international protection, and perform systematic security checks by using relevant databases, in particular SIS II, Interpol databases, VIS and national police databases, with the support of Frontex and Europol, and ensure that hotspots are equipped with the relevant technology. Europol will deploy guest officers to the hotspots in support of the screening process, in particular by reinforcing secondary security controls."

And see: Paris attacks show flawed use of Schengen rules, ministers confess (euractiv, link): "The ministers agreed on making these [border checks] checks mandatory. Moreover, all EU citizens will be now considered a potential threat, so all EU travellers will be subject to a stricter scrutiny, including checks against the Schengen Information System (SIS), as is the case for all third country nationals."

Paris attacks show flawed use of Schengen rules, ministers confess (euoberver, link): "We need to check Europeans because the threat comes from within," a French official said.. "Our collective reaction must be ruthless," French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a press conference."

- IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF Joint Statement on New Border Restrictions in the Balkans (link):

"In the last couple of days, we have witnessed Governments instituting a range of restrictions against movements of refugees and migrants from Greece through the Western Balkans and further northwards.

This includes people being profiled on the basis of nationality. This is becoming increasingly untenable from every point of view – humanitarian, legal, and also safety related, not least in light of falling temperatures and the risks for children and others with specific needs.

These measures by States are creating tension at border crossings and a domino effect, leaving in total limbo some refugees and migrants stranded at different border points..."

And: Tempers flare at Greek-FYROM border ( "Tempers have flared at Greece’s main border crossing with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), where riot police pushed back thousands of migrants jostling to cross over, after FYROM blocked access to people deemed to be economic migrants and not refugees. Holding their identity papers aloft, several hundred Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, who are being allowed into FYROM, crossed the border Friday morning until police halted the flow again to ease congestion on the FYROM side. Once across, migrants head for the nearby Gevgelija train station, to continue by rail north through Serbia toward wealthier northern European Union countries. About 3,000 people remain on the Greek side of the border near the village of Idomeni, including about 1,000 Iranians and north Africans whom FYROM is not letting in."

- EU: Migrant journeys: respecting the dead (IRR, link): An interview with Catriona Jarvis, former judge of the United Kingdom Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), and now a writer/ activist on human rights initiatives.

"Where states fail to take all reasonable steps to safeguard and identify the dead so as to enable surviving family to recover, lay to rest and mourn their loved ones, potential breaches of the right to dignity and to freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment arise, as well as failure to respect the right to family life and to physical and moral integrity of those left behind...

across Europe, and indeed globally, there is an urgent need for a new visa regime to allow not only humanitarian visas for those fleeing serious harm, but also visas to permit lawful movement of bereaved family members and procedures for repatriation of bodies in such situations."

See also: Statewatch Viewpoint: In Potters’ Fields (pdf) by Catriona Jarvis: A potter's field, pauper's grave, or common grave, is a term for a place used for the burial of unknown or indigent people.

- News (20.11.15)

Greek police arrest 10 over forged papers for migrants (Reuters, link): "This criminal organisation has provided more than 100 Greek passports and identity cards so far, charging between 300 and 700 euros depending on the document," a police official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said Pakistani and Afghani nationals were among those arrested. The fake registration papers had a forged Lesbos police stamp that meant the holders did not need to have their fingerprints taken by authorities on the island, he added. The falsified documents were mostly used to allow the migrants to travel from Greece by plane. The fingerprints of those arrested would be sent to Interpol for checks, he said."

Belgium, IOM Seek Solutions to Migration and Refugee Crisis (link): "“Migration is not a problem or an issue to be solved, but a human phenomenon to be managed. Turning the migration challenge into opportunity requires good migration governance, a broad, durable consensus among a wide constituency, and coherent coordinated policies among partners,” said Ambassador Swing"

How will future generations judge our response to the greatest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime? (19 million project, link): "The 19 Million Project is a program born from a collaborative effort between Chicas Poderosas and La Coalizione Italiana Liberta e Diritti (CILD). It is sponsored by the multi-platform media networks, Univision and Fusion."

Syrians fly to Mauritania for perilous Sahara trek, Europe tightens borders (Reuters, link)

The 19 Million Project: Bypassing national borders and narratives to tell the stories of refugees ( "Journalists, coders and activists from around the world met up in Rome to discuss new approaches to covering the migration crisis – here are some of their takeaways"

Greek authorities step up identity checks ( "Greek authorities have started supplementary identity checks on immigrants reaching Athens by ferry from the country's eastern islands, after breaking up a ring that sold fake identity documents to migrants arriving on Lesvos. About 1,500 refugees and other migrants who reached Athens' port of Piraeus early Friday were scrutinized as they disembarked from the Ariadni ferry. Dozens were taken aside and driven away in police buses for further checks. The crackdown followed the arrests on Lesvos late Thursday of about 10 people, including Afghan, Pakistani and Iraqi nationals, who allegedly sold forged police identity documents to newly arrived migrants. Police said the gang was charging 300-400 euros for each document, and is believed to have been selling up to 500 a day. That would allow migrants to circumvent the official registration process, and buy ferry tickets for Piraeus without being screened by authorities on Lesvos - where most migrants crossing to Greece from Turkey arrive."

Merkel, Faymann call on other countries to step up amid refugee crisis (DW, link): "Angela Merkel and Werner Faymann have called for EU states to step up to help refugees. They pushed for the so-called 'hotspots' to be implemented and also suggested closer cooperation with Turkey."

Sweden hits refugee crisis zero hour (DW, link): "Sweden has reached the breaking point. The country's migration agency has said it can no longer put a roof over the heads of the high number of people requesting asylum each day. Richard Orange reports from Malmö."

GERMANY: Barnstorf - Feuer in Wohnhaus gelegt [Fire started in apartment] (, link): "Am Donnerstag legte ein unbekannter Täter ein Feuer in einem Wohnhaus in der Aldorfer Straße. In dem Haus wohnen derzeit 11 Asylbewerber mit verschiedenen Nationalitäten. Gegen 19:20 Uhr legte der Täter laut derzeitigem Ermittlungsstand ein brennendes Stück Stoff in den Anbau des Hauses. Der Anbau wird nicht als Wohnfläche genutzt, sodass sich darin keine brennbaren Gegenstände befunden haben. Ein Bewohner des Hauses bemerkte das Feuer schnell und löschte es umgehend mit eigenen Mitteln. Es kam somit nicht zu einem Brandausbruch im Haus, sodass für die Bewohner und das Wohnhaus keine Gefahr bestand. Der Staatsschutz der Polizeiinspektion Diepholz hat die Ermittlungen aufgenommen." Summary: There was an arson attempt on a house in which 11 asylum-seekers of various nationalities are currently living. However, the arsonist placed burning material in a building annexed to the house, which was noticed by a resident and extinguished. The police have begun an investigation.

Balkan countries close borders to 'economic migrants' (EUobserver, link): "Four countries along the migratory route in the western Balkans have in one day closed their borders to all migrants except those from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, in a move that each justified because of restrictions imposed by the next country in the chain."

EU foreign policy coordinator Mogherini postpones her visit to Czech Republic (Prague Monitor, link): "Federica Mogherini has not paid her originally planned visit to Prague yesterday also because some Czech politicians automatically link Islam and refugees with terrorism without distinguishing between the migrants, Czech Radio (CRo) said yesterday, citing a high EU source."

'Muslims feel oppressed' after Paris attacks (The, link): "The President of Austria’s Islamic Religious Community has spoken about the consequences of the Paris terror attacks for Muslims and how frustrated he feels that Muslims have to constantly distance themselves from terrorists."

Denmark to open refugee camp amid aid criticism (The, link): "Denmark’s first tent camp for refugees is expected to open this weekend as the nation faces criticism for diverting international development funds to deal with asylum seekers within the country."

IOM, UN Call for Additional Reception Capacity along Migrants’ Balkan Route (, link): "The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday urged the countries lying along the so-called Balkans route used by migrants and refugee to reach western Europe to to put in place additional reception capacity at the points of entry and to allow for decent and effective accommodation.."

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