EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12 news stories and document, 8.12.15)

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- GREECE: Refugee relocation in Athens hits snags (DW, link): "As Balkan states remain closed to people from 'non-conflict areas,' asylum-seekers stranded at the Greek border are heading back to Athens to await their fate in camps. Diego Cupolo reports from Athens.... Marking a turning point in the crisis, the combination of legal and physical barriers have caused the migration tide to crest in Idomeni and partially roll back toward Athens. The capital is now receiving asylum-seekers from both Turkey along with those returning from its northern border, causing concern among some of the city's humanitarian workers, and indifference in others."

- IRELAND: Twenty one NGOs: Protection, Resettlement and Integration: Ireland’s Response to the Refugee and Migration ‘Crisis’ December 2015 (pdf):

"As some European countries tighten border controls or close borders completely, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to identify safe routes and secure options for migration and settlement. Political leadership is vital now in the fight against discrimination, exclusion, racism and Islamophobia. Upholding human rights and humanitarian values, along with our collective international obligations for people seeking protection, is critical at this time."

- Austria erecting border fence with Slovenia (euobserver, link)

"Austria has started work to build a 3.7 km fence along its border with Slovenia to help redirect the inflow of people seeking asylum, reports German news agency Deutsche Welle. It is the first border fence to be erected between two Schengen states, which allow visa-free travel."

- News (8.12.15)

Human Rights Watch Warns of Asylum Seekers Stuck on Serbian-Bulgarian Border (, link) "In an article published at the website of Human Rights Watch on Monday, a researcher for Eastern Europe and Western Balkans, described the harsh conditions asylum seekers are faced with in Dimitrovgrad, a town in southeastern Serbia, at the border with Bulgaria.

A group of 200-250 people, mainly single Afghan men, have been stuck in the border town for as long as a week while waiting for the mandatory registration by Serbian authorities, which grants them permission for onward travel across Serbia to Croatia and on to western Europe. Before arriving in Serbia, most of them have passed through Iran, Turkey and Bulgaria. The registration facility in Dimitrovgrad, which consists of eight containers, can accommodate only around eighty people, with the rest forced to sleep in the open where they have to endure harsh and cold weather conditions."

German politicians exchange blame for refugee bottleneck (DW, link): "Germany's states are blaming the federal government for not processing asylum applications quickly enough, and the government says it's doing fine. Critics say much bureaucracy could be cut - like the Dublin procedure."

Europe has turned its refugee crisis into a morally disastrous Hunger Games (Guardian, link): "Europe is creating obstacles to make refugees’ journeys as burdensome as possible, when it should be building legal entry channels"

Paris, Berlin 'convinced' of need to reduce migrant flow: letter to EU (France 24, link): "France and Germany are "firmly convinced" of the need to reduce the flow of migrants into Europe, they wrote in a joint letter to the EU Commission seen by AFP on Tuesday. "We very strongly reject any confusion between terrorists and migrants," said interior ministers Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere in the letter, dated December 3, calling for a "substantial reinforcement" of the EU's Frontex border agency."

European Union in danger from ‘forces that want to drive us apart’(Guardian, link): "President of European parliament says alternative to EU would be ‘horrific’ Europe of nationalism, borders and walls"

Refugee crisis highlights differences of French and Dutch integration models (euractiv, link)

Germany on course to accept one million refugees in 2015 (Guardian, link): "So far this year Europe’s leading economy has registered 964,574 new asylum seekers, more than four times the number that arrived in 2014... The data did not provide a breakdown of the nationalities of the new arrivals. In previous months, Syrians topped the figures, with about one in three applications coming from citizens of the war-torn country, for whom Germany has adopted an open-door policy.... The ministry, however, pointed out that civil servants had this year managed to shorten the processing of asylum claims – with each claim taking five months, down from seven in 2014. This had been achieved by speeding up the decision-making process for asylum seekers “from safe countries of origin (especially west Balkan states) as well as for those from particularly unsafe countries of origins (especially Syria),” the ministry said. So far, Albanians and Kosovans were among the top five groups of arriving this year in a trend that has alarmed the German government. Berlin has recently listed both Albania and Kosovo as “safe countries of origin”..."

Dispatches: Asylum Seekers Stuck on the Serbia-Bulgaria Border (HRW, link): "Serbia has obligations under international law, and as an European Union candidate country, to provide humane reception conditions for asylum seekers. It should work to fulfill those obligations and support – not hinder – those stepping up to do the job that the state is failing to do. It should also ensure that asylum seekers’ prompt access to registration is not dependent on them paying bribes."

Why Europe should avoid terror overreach (euobserver, link)

Six refugee children drown off Turkey's coast (, link): "Turkey's state-run news agency says six children have drowned after a rubber dinghy carrying Afghan migrants to Greece sank off Turkey's Aegean coast. The Anadolu Agency said the coast guard rescued five migrants from the sea on Tuesday and were still looking for two others reported missing. The bodies of the children were recovered. Anadolu didn't report their ages, but said one of them was a baby. The migrants were apparently hoping to make it to the island of Chios from the resort of Cesme despite bad weather."

Hamburg helps traumatized refugees (DW, link): "A Hamburg-based project is providing help for traumatized refugee children through storytelling and art therapy. Gemima Harvey went along to take a look."

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