Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 26.1.16

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EU: Commission: Schengen suspension could be extended, 60% of migrants should be sent back (euractiv, link)


!The European Commission today (26 January) said it could agree to a suspension of border-free travel in the Schengen zone of up to two years, and that nearly two thirds of migrants entering the EU in December were not eligible for asylum because they did not come from conflict zones."

and: 60% of refugees are economic migrants: Dutch EU commissioner (, link):

"More than half the asylum seekers coming to Europe are not fleeing from war and northern Africans in particular are leaving their home countries for economic reasons, the Netherlands’ European Commissioner has told Nos. Frans Timmermans, who is the commission’s first vice president, told the broadcaster in an interview: ‘More than half of the people now coming to Europe come from countries where you can assume they have no reason whatsoever to ask for refugee status. More than half, 60%.’....

In the main they are people from Morocco and Tunisia who want to travel to Europe via Turkey, Nos quoted him as saying. Timmermans bases his claim on the latest figures from European border agency Frontex which have not yet been officially published."

 EU: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Press Conference after the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Home Affairs (pdf)

"Important decisions were taken in September last year, and promises to implement were made, in line with European values of solidarity and responsibility.
But months later, we find ourselves with more internal border controls, questionable legislative decisions towards asylum seekers or refugees, less solidarity, less responsibility and more individual and uncoordinated decisions.....

What we need is the full implementation of the agreed measures
- We need fully operational hotspots – all of them.
- We need to properly register everyone.
- We need to go full-speed ahead with relocation.
- We need more reception capacities in Greece and along the Western Balkans route.
- We need to return people that have no right to stay.
- We need to strengthen the control and management of our external borders" [emphasis added].

See below for the latest Commission statistics showing little change or failure on most fronts.

 UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing

Latest Commission figures, published 25.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation small increase. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid pledges compete standstill.

 EU:: Europol report: Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacks Review held by experts from Member States and Europol on 29 November and 1 December 2015 (pdf):

"There is no concrete evidence that terrorist travellers systematically use the flow of refugees to enter Europe unnoticed. A real and imminent danger, however, is the possibility of elements of the (Sunni Muslim) Syrian refugee diaspora becoming vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe and being specifically targeted by Islamic extremist recruiters.... " [emphasis added]

 Once Refugees Reach Europe, How Much Farther Should They Go? (OSI, link): "Most asylum seekers arriving in the European Union come by irregular means, via land or sea, transiting several other countries along the way. In at least some of these transit countries, they might have had the opportunity to stay in relative safety. Such onward movement throws into sharp relief the question of where responsibility should lie among states for assessing a claim and providing protection where needed."

 Migrant Arrivals in Greece Top 45,000 through January 25: IOM (link):

"Since the beginning of 2016, IOM estimates that 45,361 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece by sea. This is roughly 31 times as many as the 1,472 recorded by the Greek Coast Guard for the whole of January 2015.

Some 90 per cent of the new arrivals are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – the three countries whose nationals are allowed to pass freely from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) en route to Western Europe."

Arrivals as at: 26 January 2016:: 47,214, with 45,361 to Greece, 1,853 to Ialy and 177 dead/missing (IOM)

 Denmark passes controversial bill to take migrants' valuables (The, link):

"Despite widespread condemnation, Denmark's parliament is expected to vote Tuesday in favour of drastic reforms curbing asylum seekers' rights, including delaying family reunifications and confiscating migrants' valuables.

The bill presented by the right-wing minority government of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen was approved by a huge majority of 81 of the 109 lawmakers present, as members of the opposition Social Democrats backed the measures."

 News (26.1.16)

Austrian MPs approve tough new migrant bill (The, link): "Austrian government ministers have approved new legislation which will reform asylum seekers’ rights, including delaying family reunification."

Sweden: Refugee centre worker stabbed to death in Sweden (Guardian, link): "Fifteen-year-old boy arrested after woman killed at home for young asylum seekers in Molndal."

EU exerts pressure on Greece via Schengen threat (, link): "Ahead of an informal meeting of EU interior ministers in Amsterdam, Germany, Austria and Belgium were among the countries that criticized Greece for not doing enough to prevent migrants from traveling to Central Europe and only having completed one of the five “hot spots” for registering refugees."

Greece hits back at ‘lies’ as Europe’s refugee crisis simmers (, link): "Yiannis Mouzalas, the Greek minister for migration, said the fault rests with other European governments for failing to help settle refugees in Turkey and for refusing to house those who hazard the journey toward the continent’s wealthier west.

“There’s a big and unfair blame game against Greece,” Mouzalas told reporters at a meeting of European Union interior ministers in Amsterdam on Monday. Europe, he said, has shortchanged Greece by providing smaller-than-promised numbers of everything from cots and fingerprinting machines to border guards."

EU: Two year Schengen suspension edges closer (euractiv, link): "The European Union edged closer yesterday (25 January) to accepting that its Schengen open-borders area may be suspended for up to two years if it fails in the next few weeks to curb the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

Shorter-term dispensations for border controls end in May. EU migration ministers meeting in Amsterdam decided they may be extended for two years - an unprecedented extension - because the migrant crisis probably will not be brought under control by then, according to the Dutch migration minister, who chaired the meeting."

Denmark's daylight robbery of refugees (DW, link): "Denmark is defying international outrage and pressing ahead with plans to force refugees to hand over valuables in return for providing sanctuary. Trine Villemann reports from Copenhagen... Systematic robbery? The measures, compared by some critics as comparable to systematic Nazi robbery from Jews, and designed to dissuade migrants from seeking asylum in Denmark, are due to be ratified by parliament in Copenhagen on Tuesday. Danish politicians have been unmoved by fierce criticism.. "

Greece-Turkey: Central European countries push for back-up EU border plans over migrants (, link): "The European Union should be ready with alternative plans to reinforce its borders until Turkey and Greece do more to reduce the number of refugees streaming into the bloc, the Czech and Slovak prime ministers said on Tuesday.Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a meeting of the Visegrad group of central European countries for February 15, three days before an EU summit that will tackle the migration crisis."

Greece lashes out at EU as interior ministers discuss migration (New Europe, link): "Greek Immigration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas has angrily blamed European Union member states for failing to send Athens enough manpower and ships to help it tackle the migrant crisis and for not living up to pledges to relocate migrants. Mouzalas told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting in Amsterdam that sending officers from the EU border protection force known as Frontex to neighbouring Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia in an attempt to halt migrants there would be illegal."

Denmark: GUE/NGL MEPs condemn Denmark’s proposal to delay family reunification and seize assets from refugees (Press release, link)

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