Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 1.4.16


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 Turkey steps up preparations for receiving migrants returned from Greece


A camp for 5,000 people is reportedly being built in western Turkey as the country apparently prepares to receive 72,000 migrants to be returned from Greece on Monday 4 April as part of the EU-Turkey deal.

Turkish Red Crescent to build first migrant readmission camp in western Turkey (Hurriyet Daily News, link): "A camp with a capacity of 5,000 people will be built in the western province of Manisa to accommodate migrants readmitted to Turkey, Turkish Red Crescent Deputy Chair Kerem Kinik has said.

“We are conducting work for the construction of a camp with a capacity of 5,000 people to host the refugees in our country under humanitarian conditions and to provide for their needs,” Kinik told Anadolu Agency."

And: Turkey prepares to receive 72,000 immigrants from Greece (Middle East Monitor, link): "Turkey is preparing to receive 72,000 illegal immigrants who have been deported from Greece. Turkish Akhbar Turkiya newspaper reported that the Immigration Department will construct a centre for the refugees in the Delek region in Izmir during the next ten days.

The immigrants will be relocated inside camps in the Greek island of Medley before being transferred to Delek from 4 April, the paper reported.

Sources in the Turkish Refugees Department said the immigrants will be offered identity cards and will have their fingerprints taken within 24 hours of their arrival, they will then be able to stay in the camps or join their relatives in Turkey."

 EU-TURKEY: Returns under "one-for-one" plan to start on 4 April as evidence emerges of forced returns from Turkey to Syria

The European Commission foresees returns from Greece to Turkey under the controversial "one-for-one" plan starting on Monday 4 April, if changes to Greek and Turkish legislation can be rushed through by then. The credibility of claims that Turkey is a safe third country has been challenged yet again, this time with evidence gathered by Amnesty International that refugees have been forcibly returned from Turkey to Syria. Yesterday, press reports claimed that the Turkish military were shooting dead people attempting to enter Turkey from Syria.

Returns to Turkey from Greece through EU’s 1:1 scheme to commence April 4th (New Europe, link): "The European Commission has said that returns from Greece to Turkey will commence on April 4. Greece has tabled the draft bill which will allow for the implementation of the 1:1 bilateral return scheme between Greece and Turkey. Monday remains a reachable target date for the “new deal” implementation kick-start, said the European Commission’s spokesperson for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Natasha Bertaud. However, if national legislation does not change until Monday, the deal won’t be implemented on Monday.

In terms of the necessary legislation changes in Turkey, EU sources point at a meeting of the Turkish side with the Greek side under the EU coordinator of the EU-Turkey statement, Maarten Verwey, that took place on Wednesday. “The changes will be made in time”, added the EU source, repeating that for the time being, the 1:1 scheme is only applied to Syrians under the need of international protection. Turkey seems to be under pressure by the European Commission, in order to expand temporary protection that covers Syrians, to other nationalities, such as Afghans that originate from conflict zones."

Meanwhile: Turkey: Illegal mass returns of Syrian refugees expose fatal flaws in EU-Turkey deal (Amnesty International, link): "New research carried out by the organization in Turkey’s southern border provinces suggests that Turkish authorities have been rounding up and expelling groups of around 100 Syrian men, women and children to Syria on a near-daily basis since mid-January. Over three days last week, Amnesty International researchers gathered multiple testimonies of large-scale returns from Hatay province, confirming a practice that is an open secret in the region." And see: Amnesty says Turkey illegally sending Syrians back to war zone (EurActiv, link)

A brief overview of the proposed new Greek asylum law can be found here: Greek Parliament Prepares New Law on Asylum (News That Moves, link): "Greece is preparing legal amendments needed to implement the EU-Turkey Agreement of March 19.

A new law “Common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection” was tabled on Wednesday night in the Greek parliament.

The law is expected to be discussed today [31 March] and voted tomorrow [1 April] by the Greek parliament."

The UN has called for "immediate safeguards" to be put in place before any returns take place. See: UNHCR urges immediate safeguards to be in place before any returns begin under EU-Turkey deal (UNHCR, link)

And: reports that Turkish military are killing refugees as they try to cross the Syrian-Turkish border: Turkey shoots dead Syrian refugees crossing the border as they flee civil war (Mirror, link)

 Amid Their Own Crisis, Greeks Stand by Refugees (Refugees Deeply, link): "A product of Greece’s social solidarity movement that arose in the aftermath of a debilitating economic crisis, Platanos is a self-organized Greek group that has been assisting refugees in Greece. As major NGOs pull out from Lesbos to avoid complicity in the mass expulsion of refugees under the E.U.-Turkey deal, Platanos will stay put"

 News (31.3.16)

AUSTRIA: 25 attacks on refugee facilities last year in Austria (The Local, link): "Asylum facilities in Austria came under attack 25 times last year, including being set on fire and refugees being shot at with an air gun.

The number of attacks was revealed following a data request made to the Interior Ministry by the Green party justice spokesperson Albert Steinhauser.

Incidents took place in all but one of the country’s provinces, with Burgenland witnessing no attacks and Carinthia seeing the most with seven."

Austrian etiquette explained to refugees (The Local, link): " Newly arrived asylum seekers in Austria are being given a helping hand to navigate their new home by a pocket book explaining the do's and don'ts of Austrian life.

The book - which was produced by the Red Cross with the support of state broadcaster ORF - explains some of the etiquettes and cultural habits of Austrians."

Greek island stabbings raise UN fears over EU migrant deportation deal (The Telegraph, link): "Three migrants were stabbed on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos on Thursday night, deepening UN concerns over the viability of the controversial EU-Turkey to deport thousands of illegal immigrants back to Turkey.

The United Nations repeated its demands for legal safeguards to be put in place before refugees are returned to Turkey warning that conditions in Greece - where more than 5,000 refugees are now corralled in holding camps on the Greek islands - are rapidly deteriorating."

Hungary FM: Unchecked Migration Increases Risk of Terror (Foreign Policy, link): "Last September, as tens of thousands of desperate migrants and refugees flooded into Hungary from Serbia, Hungarian police who were deployed to the border refused to let many of them in, greeting them instead with tear gas and water cannons to push them back from where they had come.

That use of force was widely criticized: Human rights groups condemned it as a violation of Budapest’s international obligations to asylum-seekers, and neighboring Austria likened Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies to Nazism.

But seven months and two terrorist attacks on European soil later, Hungarian officials feel vindicated by their tough stance on migration. Now, they say, Budapest was wrongly chastised for sounding the alarm bell on the dangers of unregulated mass migration months ago.

In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy in Washington on Thursday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said Hungary was right to look with suspicion at the masses of people demanding entry from Serbia — especially in the wake of this month’s terrorist attacks in Brussels."

Poland will examine refugee requests: Foreign Minister (Radio Poland, link): "Poland will closely examine the applications of refugees interested in staying in Poland, said the country's Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski.

Minister Waszczykowski added that the country will thoroughly check the identity of asylum seekers and try to ascertain that applicants are not a threat to national security.

Speaking to national broadcaster TVP, Waszczykowski said: “We declared that we will closely select refugees. International law applies to us and we reiterate that we will closely observe it.

"If we find refugees who will document their identity, and local authorities are able to document that they do not threaten Poland, and [the refugees] want to come to Poland, then we will consider their applications to stay in the country.”"

SWEDEN: 'We must take our country back': On patrol with Nationell Framtid, the PIRATE migrant hunters who patrol the North Sea in a SPEEDBOAT to stop refugees getting into Sweden through the 'back door' (Daily Mail, link): "Dennis Ljung, 31, leads the patrol – his far right group the Nationell Framtid - translated as National Future - emerged in April last year during the migrant crisis.

‘We need to take our country back. Our aim is to cleanse our nation free of all immigrants. What we do out on the ocean is just a small step to stop more the mass immigration we have faced for decades,’ he told MailOnline.

While he is heavily in debt and unemployed, Dennis is one of the few members of the group without a criminal record according to local media reports. At least 11 members have reportedly been convicted for weapons offences and several violent crimes.

He dismisses allegations the organisation has neo-Nazi sympathies despite also admitting that ‘of course’ they are in touch with the Soldiers of Odin – a gang of violent white supremacist vigilantes patrolling Finland's streets to ‘prevent migrant sex attacks’."

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