Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20 news stories and a lot of key documents, 9.11.15)

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- EU: Updated Justice and Home Affairs Council: 9 November 2015: Draft Council conclusions on measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis (LIMITE doc no: 13799-15, pdf)

Paragraph 17: "As part of an information strategy geared at reducing pull factors, it should be clearly explained that migrants must register in their first Member State of arrival; that, under EU law, asylum seekers have no right to choose the Member State responsible for examining their application; and that migrants without a need of protection will be swiftly returned. Furthermore, a clear message should be passed that migrants cannot refuse to cooperate with the relevant national authorities. Henceforth, all necessary measures will be taken by Member States to prevent, deter and draw the consequences of such movements and non-cooperation."

- 9 November: EU-AFRICA: Valletta Summit, 11-12 November 2015:

- Revised: Valletta Summit Action Plan- Working Draft Five (LIMITE doc no 13768-15, pdf)

- Revised: Declaration: Valletta Summit Political Declaration (Version One) (LIMITE doc no: 13767-15, pdf)

See: EU and Africa still at loggerheads on Valletta accord (euobserver, link): "Senior EU and African officials remain divided on readmission and legal migration ahead of the Valletta summit in Malta. The two sides have been thrashing out draft conclusions and political declarations in the lead up to a conference aimed at addressing the root causes of migration flows to the EU from the continent. “What remains to be discussed is certainly the issue of returns and readmission where some of our African partners are still looking for ways of redrafting some of the present version that is on the table,” a senior EU official told reporters in Brussels on Monday (9 November).

African negotiators are also unhappy with a plan to issue special transit visas or EU laissez-passer documents for those sent home.The EU laissez-passer is a standard travel document for the expulsion of third-country nationals. Member states want it to become the standard for all those booted out of the EU.The African Union's ambassador to the EU, Ajay Bramdeo, last week said such a document was “unheard of in terms of international law and international practice. He said African nationals asked to leave the EU should only do so on a voluntary basis."

- EU-AFRICA: Valletta Summit, 11-12 November 2015: Background Note (pdf): Among the aims is to tackle "Root causes" which are wars, persecution and poverty. Another is: "Return and readmission

Leaders are expected to make progress on return arrangements and readmission agreements. In particular, they should strengthen cooperation in order to facilitate the return and sustainable reintegration of irregular migrants, both from EU member states and associated countries and from African countries of transit and destination. The summit should also call for strengthening the capacity of authorities of countries of origin to respond to readmission applicants. A special emphasis is expected to be put on identification and issuance of travel documents."

The reference to "travel documents" is to the EU's proposal that EU-issued Laissez-passer documents be sufficient for returning refugees
. The Council's legal basis is relying on 1994 Recommendations (Statewatch JHA Archive 1976-2000) for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

There are currently 17 readmission agreements (link) are in force with the following countries: Hong Kong, Macao, Sri Lanka, Albania, Russia, Ukraine, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, Pakistan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey (inoperative) and Cape Verde

See also: Valletta Summit: Documentation

- Greece: Anti-racist Observatory of the University of the Aegean: The Refugee issue: "Fortress Europe" and Solidarity (pdf)

"This summer we experienced a real humanitarian crisis, a situation that could have led to an unprecedented tragedy if hundreds of volunteers had not been mobilised and had not offered their unconditional and continuous solidarity to those who came from the Middle East, Central and Southern Asia and North Africa and were heading towards Europe."

- UK: Police use anti-terrorism powers to detain UK volunteers taking aid to Calais refugee camp 6,000 people live in squalor near the Calais ferry terminal (The Independent, link):

"British volunteers on a humanitarian aid run to refugees in Calais were detained by police under legislation meant to be used against suspected terrorists, an aid group has told the Independent. Two people working with the London2Calais group said they were stopped and held for three hours under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 while returning to the UK at Calais.

One of the pair, who were travelling in the same vehicle, said Kent Police counter-terror officers carried out the detention on the Calais side of the channel."

- News (9.11.15)

Migrants at British RAF base on Cyprus given asylum deadline (link): "Britain has given dozens of Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese migrants camped at its military base on Cyprus seven days to claim asylum in the country or face deportation to Lebanon, a government spokesman said on Monday. Two fishing boats carrying 115 people came ashore at a British Royal Air Force (RAF) base on Cyprus three weeks ago, the first time in the migrant crisis that refugees have landed directly on British sovereign soil."

Greece: ‘It Was Hell’: Lesbos Volunteers Recount Harrowing Refugee Rescues (Newsweek, link)

EU turns to African leaders to stem migrant crisis (RTL, link)

Luxembourg's FM Jean Asselborn warns of EU collapse due to refugee crisis (DW, link): "Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has said the EU might "break apart" under the strain of the migrant crisis. His words come as politicians find themselves at odds over how to deal with the crisis."

Turkey, Bulgaria & Greece move to tackle migration (, link)

Refugee crisis: Germany imposes restrictions on Syrian refugees in surprise U-turn (Independent, link): "Syrian refugees will only be able to stay for one year with limits to their rights as refugees"

FINLAND: Supo: Terror threat up partly because of immigration (Helsinki Times, link): "The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) has warned that the threat of terrorism has increased in Finland since the summer of 2014. Supo estimates in its latest threat assessment that the threat of an organised terrorist attack remains low but that the threat of an isolated act of violence has continued to grow."

FINLAND: Man brandishes handgun outside reception centre in Helsinki (Helsinki Times, link): "Investigation into an incident in which a man brandished a firearm outside a reception centre in Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki, on Thursday has moved forward."

BELGIUM: Dozens of refugees spend the night outside (Expactica, link): "Dozens of refugees in Brussels had to spend the night outside last night. All the beds for those that are waiting to apply were taken."

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