Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 19.2.16


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 Nato enters the migration control business (euobserver, link):


"The Nato operation announced on 11 February may perhaps serve this purpose, but raises the question of whether stemming the flow will, in effect, mean collective expulsions that deny the right to seek asylum.

Even as Nato ships steam into the Aegean Sea, the terms of reference of the operation remain clouded. Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, US airforce general Philip Breedlove, has said he has only now been tasked “to go back and define the mission.”...

Nato warships are not limited to Greek waters and would be able to return boat people to Turkey, itself a member of Nato, if Turkey allows it."

 European Council Summit: European Council Conclusions on migration (18 February 2016) (pdf)

 UNHCR: 4,611 people arrived on the Greek islands on 17 February which was a significant increase and represents the highest arrival rate since 9 January. UNHCR expects this trend to continue over the coming days, whilst similar weather conditions prevail" (18.2.16)

Since 1 January 2016: there have been 90,280 arrivals in the EU:83,233 in Greece, 6,589 in Italy. 403 dead/missing (UNHCR).

 Why warships can’t solve the refugee crisis (IRIN, link):

"As NATO deploys warships to the Aegean, anthropologist and author of “Illegality, Inc.” Ruben Andersson, of the London School of Economics, offers some alternatives to Europe’s failed policy of ever-increasing border security.,,,,

Another week, another project scrawled on the back of a napkin to try to solve the refugee crisis. This time it’s ‘send in the warships’."

 Belgium: Bruges police to stop marking migrants with ink (, link)::

"Bruges police have halted the practice of marking migrants with marker ink when they are detained in the Bruges area along the coast.

The move came after the far left PVDA party brought the practice to public knowledge. Bruges police, though, say that they didn't need the PVDA email to realise that using a marker on human skin wasn't such a good idea.

In future Bruges police will offer refugees a wristband very similar to the ones used by tourists on all-in package holidays."

And see: Belgium police mark refugees with indelible ink (PRESSTV, link)

 Wary on Turkey, EU prepares for refugee crisis in Greece (, link):"The European Union hopes Turkey will prevent as many migrants reaching Greece as last year but is readying "contingency" plans to shelter large numbers who may arrive but can no longer trek north toward Germany.

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told Reuters on Thursday that it was unclear how far Turkey could reduce numbers once the weather improves and, with efforts under way to prevent a repeat of last summer’s chaotic treks through the Balkans, the EU was working with Athens to shelter refugees in Greece."

and see:Closing borders would cause a major crisis in Europe, experts warn (, link): "Several countries keep imposing more restrictive border policies as the EU struggles with divisions over the migrant crisis, but different NGOs, experts and politicians warn that these are temporary solutions and may cause more problems... "A European fortress approach, with closed borders, will only serve to dilute EU laws and values and send an appalling signal to the rest of the world regarding our commitment to upholding international refugee law," said Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland. Egeland said the problem is now a political crisis that occurred because of "the lack of cooperation and solidarity between European countries.""

 News (19.2.16)

Tsipras, Merkel, Hollande agree on open borders until March 6 (, link) and Greece threatens to veto Britain-EU deal if states close borders to refugees (Guardian, link): "Europe’s negotiations about the UK’s membership and about the refugee crisis become entangled at Brussels summit"

Image featuring refugees’ ordeal in Europe wins top prize (PRESSTV,link): "A picture depicting the desperate situation of refugees struggling to pass through Europe’s now sealed borders in the hope of a more secure life has won the prestigious World Press Photo Award for 2015. Snapped by Australian freelance photographer Warren Richardson, the black and white image titled “Hope for a New Life” shows a baby being passed by a refugee to another underneath a razor-wire fence on the Hungary-Serbia border."

Hungary ready to build fence on border with Romania (New Europe, link): "The chief of staff of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced his country is ready to build a fence on its border with Romania to keep out migrants and there is a good chance that this cannot be avoided. “We are ready to erect a technical barrier on the Romanian border as well… today there is significant chance that this cannot be avoided,” Janos Lazar told a news conference on February 18."

EU asks tech firms to pitch refugee-tracking systems (Guardian, link): "Border agency Frontex has asked for designs for smartphone apps and databases to track and manage refugees arriving in Europe."

EU-Turkey Cooperation: First meeting of the Steering Committee of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (pdf): "The first Steering Committee of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey met in Brussels yesterday. It was chaired by the European Commission and counted on the participation of all EU Member States and Turkey.
The first Steering Committee meeting of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey was held in Brussels on 17 February, chaired by the Commission. The first projects to provide humanitarian aid and support access to education of refugee children in Turkey will shortly be presented for approval by the appropriate committees."

EU and Turkey to hold refugee summit in March (euractiv, link): "The EU and Turkey will meet in March to push forward a deal to stem the migration crisis, European Council President Donald Tusk said... "

Tsipras decries lack of EU solidarity on refugees (, link): "Following the hints earlier this week by the Visegrad Four (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) that they would tighten border controls, Austria indicated it would limit the number of asylum applications that it accepts to 80 a day. This prompted Tsipras to hit out at the lack of solidarity within the EU in its response to the crisis. “Europe cannot be rules for some and a la carte for others,” he said before the summit."

Austrian cap on asylum-seekers infuriates Commission (euractiv, link): "Austria enraged the European Commission yesterday (18 February) by insisting on capping the number of refugees it takes in. But Chancellor Werner Faymann said he also heard “a lot of understanding” during the summit dinner.... In a clear show of exasperation at the Austrian move, announced unilaterally on the eve of the summit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “National solos are not to be recommended.” Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos sent the complaint in a letter to Austria’s Interior Minister, the increasingly controversial Johanna Mikl-Leitner."

Zeman: Migrant crisis not over, EU must start action (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The V4, comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, is opposed to the refugee relocation quotas and calls for a reserve border to be established along the borders of Bulgaria and Macedonia in case Turkey failed to stem the inflow of migrants to Europe and Greece failed to protect the Schengen border effectively."

Star film director: I’m ashamed to be Danish (The, link): "Director Thomas Vinterberg made it clear in Berlin on Wednesday that he is no fan of Denmark's reaction to the refugee crisis."

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