Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 21.1.16

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 EU Netherlands Council Presidency: Dutch Presidency debate: "counter growing scepticism with visible results, refugee crisis top priority (pdf) "


"We must achieve concrete results and make sure they are visible to counter growing scepticism throughout Europe. (..) Keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal in Europe. A deal is a deal", said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the kick-off debate of the Dutch Presidency in Strasbourg on Wednesday."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte may want to tell the authorities in the Netherlands that "keeping promises and sticking to agreement should be the new normal". The country still has to make available nearly 6,000 places for the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy. So far the Netherlands has made 100 places available and has relocated 50 people: See: Member State relocation pledges (pdf)

 Germany announces indefinite border checks (euobserver, link): " Domestic pressure is mounting for Germany to extend border control checks amid further rifts within Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition. Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told German radio MDR info on Wednesday (20 January) the border control checks, first introduced last September, would not be lifted for the foreseeable future. "I don't foresee a moment when we can end it," he said.

German border controls could cost economy billions (euractiv, link): "As the refugee crisis continues, Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière wants to extend border controls through February and beyond. However, the move could cost the country €10 billion a year."

Austrian politicians backpedal on refugee limits (DW, link): "Wednesday Austria's top politicians announced a cap on the number of asylum-seekers entering the Alpine country in 2016. By evening, they were already pulling back on that bold statement. By Thursday, they abandoned it. "

Austria introduces cap on refugees, will deport 'surplus' (euractiv, link): "The Austrian government announced yesterday (20 January) that it would cap the number of people allowed to claim asylum this year, and that it would send excess refugees back, or deport them to the neighbouring countries through which they came."

GERMANY-AUSTRIA: Merkel says Austria refugee cap 'not helpful' (DW, link): "Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly criticized a decision by neighboring Austria to limit the number of asylum cases it registers. Merkel is under pressure in at home to introduce a similar cap."

Migrants: change Dublin rules to save Schengen, Italian FM (ANSA, link): "''An influx of this size,'' Gentiloni said, ''must be managed together in the EU and repatriation must have shared organizational and economic burdens, as should border management. Otherwise, there is the risk of a domino effect and decision by (individual, Ed.) countries, and this will put in question Schengen'', an agreement to abolish border controls among the European nations that have joined."

Germany takes refugees' valuables 'to pay for their stay' (The, link):

"Germany's southern states are confiscating cash and valuables from refugees after they arrive, authorities in Bavaria confirmed on Thursday.

"Cash holdings and valuables can be secured [by the authorities] if they are over €750 and if the person has an outstanding bill, or is expected to have one." Authorities in Baden-Württemberg have a tougher regime, where police confiscate cash and valuables above €350. The average amount per person confiscated by authorities in the southern states was "in the four figures," Bild reported.

By confiscating valuables, the states are implementing federal laws, which require asylum seekers to use up their own resources before receiving state aid."

See also: Under fire, Denmark moves ahead on hard-line migrant bill (The, link): "Spurning scathing international criticism, Danish lawmakers will on Thursday give a final nod to drastic reforms curbing asylum rights as legal and human rights experts castigate Copenhagen for turning its back on its international commitments."

 News (21.1.16)

Greece demands that migrants declare final EU destination (, link):

"Migrants and refugees arriving in Greece must state their final destination to travel further into the European Union, a Greek police source told Reuters on Thursday, following moves by neighbouring states to quell migrant flows.

Serbia on Wednesday said it would deny migrants access to its territory unless they planned to seek asylum in Austria or Germany. "As of today, the final destination - as stated by the migrants - will be registered in the official documents," the official said without disclosing the reason for the decision."

Macedonia ‘temporarily’ closes its Greek border to migrants (euractiv, link): "Macedonia has closed its border with Greece to migrants, police in Skopje said yesterday (20 January), blocking the path of hundreds trying to reach northern Europe. "The border is closed," a senior Macedonian police official told AFP, while a police spokesman in northern Greece said it had been closed since Tuesday evening, leaving about 600 migrants stranded at the frontier."

Swedish police suppress refugee data (euobserver, link) : "Swedish police hold back information about resources spent on managing the influx of refugees and the increasingly tense situation in many asylum accommodation centres. "Nothing should be out," an internal directive seen by Dagens Nyheter reads. Investigations related to refugees are coded with the number "291" and kept secret."

Italy sees huge rise in number of African migrants (The, link): "The number of migrants heading to Italy from sub-Saharan Africa surged last year, while Syrians headed for Greece instead, new figures show.... Almost 20,000 fewer migrants arrived in Italy in 2015 compared to the previous year, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).The IOM estimates that 153,842 migrants reached Italy last year compared to 170,100 in 2014. The drop is mainly due to Syrians fleeing conflict entering Europe via Greece instead of Italy, Flavio Di Giacomo, the spokeperson in Italy for the IOM, said in a statement."

Final days of the EU’s refugee strategy (politico, link) "Ultimatums keep coming, and so do the refugees No matter how hard the EU tries to resuscitate efforts to deal with the refugee crisis, its strategy is flatlining. And after months of missed deadlines, mixed messages, pushback from countries, and resistance from refugees themselves, European officials are now grasping desperately for alternatives."

Denmark to explain controversial proposal at the EU Parliament (, link): "The European Parliament has requested that Denmark come to Brussels to explain its proposal for tighter immigration laws, reports DR. The new austerity measures are to be debated at Folketinget next Tuesday, and include a controversial plan to seize refugees’ valuables to pay for their stay in the country."

FYROM closes border with Greece: Hundreds of refugees left stranded in freezing conditions (, link): "Macedonia has closed its border with Greece to migrants and refugees in order to stem the flow of people trying to pass through the country, police in Skopje said Wednesday. The drastic move left some 650 asylum-seekers stranded at a border camp overnight as temperatures dropped to -8 Celsius."

At least 12 migrants killed in new tragedy off Turkey (, link): "At least 12 migrants were killed and several more went missing Thursday when their boat sank while trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to EU member Greece, Turkish media reports said. The boat, carrying some 50 migrants, struck trouble after leaving the western Turkish resort of Foca in the Izmir region for the Greek island of Lesvos."

SWEDEN: Border ID checks are costing one million kronor a day (The, link): "Photo identification checks introduced for people travelling between southern Sweden and Denmark by train earlier this month are costing millions of kronor a week."

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