Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 20-21.2.16


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 Greece: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

- only in the Soviet Union and under the STASI in East Germany were NGOs expected to hand over lists and personal details of all their members/volunteers
- "In particular there should be no attempts by public authorities to make NGOs effectively agencies working under their control.." (Council of Europe)

The General Secretariat of Aegean and Island Coordinating Committee have finally produced two forms that all NGOs working on the Greek islands to help refugees will have to complete and register with the police in order to carry on their work. NGOs and volunteers have been helping arriving refugees for more than a year - when for most of the time the EU and international agencies were conspicuously absent.


Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"There is no better example of the crucial role of independent NGOs and volunteers than in the Greek islands over the last year and for long before that.

Now the Greek state at the behest of the EU is seeking to get all volunteers to "register" with the police and hand over lots of personal data including previous "activities" - they are being asked to spy on themselves. And NGOs are being asked register their organisations and hand over personal details of all their volunteers/members to the police.

Demands that NGOs hand over personal details of all their members to the state has no place in a democracy. The exceptional measures being taken in Greece may become the norm across the EU if not challenged now by NGOs and civil society."

The Registration forms: NGO: "Organisation Profile" form (pdf) and the volunteer "Personal Profile" form (pdf)

UN: ‘Migrant-bashing has dangerously become the norm’ in Europe – UN rights expert (link):

"a United Nations expert on the human rights of migrants warned today that it has become impossible in Europe to have a meaningful discussion about migrant's rights, diversity, and integration. “Europe has always been a strong advocate of human rights in Europe and elsewhere,” said François Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, in a statement.

“In its struggle to maintain control of its borders however, it is being tested on its adherence to human rights. Through slowly stripping away the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants, Europe is creating a scary new 'normal,'” he added." [emphasis added]

 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 yesterday (18 February).

“We agreed that our joint action plan with Turkey remains a priority and we must do all we can to succeed,” Tusk told a press conference after the first day of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels. “This is why we have the intention to organise a special meeting with Turkey in the beginning of March,” Tusk said without elaborating."

Germany:Arsonists set planned refugee shelter on fire in Germany, onlookers cheer at burning building (, link):

"former hotel, which was being modified to be used as an accommodation for refugees, caught fire on Saturday night in the eastern German town of Bautzen in Saxony state. Authorities who are currently investigating the cause of the fire believe that the blaze was started deliberately.

Luckily, no one was hurt during the fire, German media reported. Reportedly the work of the fire brigade was massively hindered by a few, mostly boozed, onlookers. The officials said that they had to expel three people from the scene of the fire because of this reason. "Some people reacted to the arson with derogatory comments and undisguised joy," police reportedly said in a statement." and see:

German police chief admits officials failed to control anti-refugee mob (, link):

"The chief of police in the German city of Chemnitz has admitted that officers struggled to gain control when an angry mob attempted to block refugees from getting off a bus in a nearby town. Up to 100 anti-migrant protesters gathered in front of accommodation for asylum seekers in Clausnitz, situated near the Czech border, in an attempt to blockade new arrivals on Thursday evening.

There has been strong criticism of the police response, after police orders for the crowd to clear off were reportedly met with jeers and laughter."

 UNHCR: With growing numbers of child deaths at sea, UN agencies call for enhancing safety for refugees and migrants (link):

"Joint UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM Press Release

GENEVA, 16 February 2016 – An average of two children have drowned every day since September 2015 as their families try to cross the eastern Mediterranean, and the number of child deaths is growing said IOM, UNHCR, and UNICEF. The agencies are calling for enhancing the safety of those escaping conflict and despair.

Since last September, when the tragic death of toddler Aylan Kurdi captured the world's attention, more than 340 children, many of them babies and toddlers, have drowned in the eastern Mediterranean. The total number of children who have died may be even greater, the agencies say, their bodies lost at sea."

 News (20-21-2-16)

Greece: Sharp rise of refugees landing on Greek islands during the Brussels summit  (, link): "Over 11,000 refugees have arrived at Greek islands in the last three days while government officials were apparently preoccupied with the EU summit in Brussel..."

Greece: Borders will not close, insists Tsipras after talks (, link): "“There are and will be no closed borders,” Tsipras told Parliament, after all 28 EU leaders agreed to hold a separate summit to discuss the refugee crisis with Turkey on March 6. The Greek prime minister said that his government had taken on the “populist, xenophobic and racist forces in Europe” and would continue to do so.... The NATO rapid reaction force, known as the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), is due to begin its patrols under the leadership of German Rear Admiral Jorg Klein in the next few days."

Could Germany, like Austria, close borders to refugees? (DW, link): "Soon only 80 people a day will be able to apply for asylum at the border and a maximum of 3,200 refugees a day will be allowed to transit to neighboring countries such as Germany. The changes will not make a difference in Germany; 3,200 people a day amount to a million per year, which is approximately the estimated number entering the country now. According to the European Commission, however, Austria's cap on asylum applications violates international law and does not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights."

Greece: Armed forces chief hits back at Golden Dawn (, link):: "The head of Greece’s armed forces on Friday spoke out against Golden Dawn after its MPs blasted the military for helping to build so-called hot spots for refugees. “The men and women of our country’s armed forces are proud of the mission they have been assigned by the Greek people,” said the chief of the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis."

Germany: Prominent intellectuals back Merkel's refugee policy (DW, link): "Eminent figures from inside and outside Germany have written an open letter supporting Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy. The open letter ran with the headline, "We can do it," echoing Merkel's oft-used phrase."

No breakthrough on refugees in Brussels talks (, link): "No breakthrough was achieved Friday as European Union leaders met in Brussels to discuss the migration issue while data showed more than 11,000 people had crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey in a three-day period this week. The rift caused by the influx into the 28-member EU was brutally exposed in the Belgian capital as a decision by Austria to introduce a daily cap on asylum seekers "

Danish PM: EU can’t handle another year of refugee crisis (The,link): "As EU leaders met in Brussels to negotiate British Prime Minister David Cameron’s reforms package, Lars Løkke Rasmussen told reporters that Europe has reached its breaking point in the ongoing refugee crisis."

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