Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 23.2.16


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Greek police start removing migrants from FYROM border (, link): "Greek police started removing migrants from Greece's border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Tuesday after additional passage restrictions imposed by FYROM authorities left hundreds of them stranded, sources said. The migrants had squatted on rail lines in the Idomeni area on Monday after attempting to push through the border to FYROM, angry at delays and additional restrictions in crossing.

Greek police and empty buses had entered the area before dawn, a Reuters witness said. In one area seen from FYROM's side of the border, about 600 people had been surrounded by Greek police, the witness said. There were an estimated 1,200 people at Idomeni, in their vast majority Afghans or individuals without proper travel documents." [emphasise added] and see:

Greece: Number of refugees trapped at border, Piraeus builds up (, link):"Thousands of refugees and migrants gathered at Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday, heightening concern that they will become trapped over the coming days.

Some 4,000 people were estimated to have congregated at the Idomeni border crossing after FYROM refused to allow any Afghans at all or Iraqis and Syrians who did not have passports to cross from Greece. Athens said it had launched diplomatic efforts to convince Skopje to allow the Afghans, who make up around a third of arrivals, through. But the FYROM government said its decision was triggered by actions to its north." [emphasis added]

Greece: Tsipras voices 'displeasure' to EU over Balkans border bottleneck (, link):"Athens has expressed its "displeasure" to the EU over tougher border controls by Balkan countries that have left thousands of migrants stranded in Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' office said Tuesday.

In a phone call with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, Tsipras had also complained about being left out of a planned conference in Vienna on Wednesday involving countries along the migrant route through the western Balkans. "Decisions concerning refugee flows must be taken collectively without exclusions," Tsipras told Rutte according to the statement."

 EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 25 February 2015: Background Note (pdf):

"The Council will aim to reach a general approach on the proposed regulation to reinforce checks against relevant databases at external borders. This regulation seeks to improve security inside the EU by making the checks on EU citizens against all relevant databases (which are already possible) mandatory."

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 6181-16, pdf) and previous document: LIMITE no: 5808-16 (pdf) and Commission Proposal (pdf)

 News (23.2.16)

Schengen in crisis as Belgium reintroduces border controls (euractiv, link): "Border controls continue to be tightened across the EU as member states scramble to react to a refugee crisis that continues to escalate. Belgium today (23 February) said it had temporarily reintroduced border controls with France to halt the arrival of migrants from the Calais “Jungle” camp, in a new blow to the EU’s passport-free travel area."

Hungary’s border fences proving ineffective (euractiv, link): "In the last few days, refugees have started arriving in Hungary in increased numbers again, suggesting that Viktor Orbán’s enthusiastic pursuit of a “sealing-off” policy is not paying off."

Nigerians arrive in Italy via Libya, says Frontex (euractiv, link): "Frontex, the EU border management agency, said some 5,600 refugees, mostly Nigerians, arrived in Italy last month by boat, after crossing the Mediterranean. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán was quoted as saying that 50 million of Nigerians could arrive in Italy via Libya."

EU rules prevent sharing of refugee fingerprints (euractiv, link): "According to EU rules, only the fingerprints of migrants who apply for asylum are shared among the member countries, which basically means that privacy concerns don’t allow the use of the vast majority of migrants’ fingerprints taken."

Greece: Kammenos says NATO must deploy task force, says Turkey undermining it (, link): ""I sent a letter to the Secretary-General of NATO today asking him to implement the unanimous agreement," Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told journalists. "In this letter I am asking that the NATO force be moved east of the Greek islands," he said. Turkey, he said, had raised fresh demands for the task force to be deployed. "Turkey is trying to blow [the agreement] apart," he said. [Reuters]"

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