Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27 news items and developments (16-17.1.16)

Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.

- GREECE: Lesovos: Arrested lifeguards: It is reported by Platanos Refugee Solidarity, Lesvos (Facebook, link) that:

"All 5 arrested rescuers have just been released after being questioned by both the prosecutor and the investigator. Restrictive measures and bail of 10.000 euros was imposed on the owner of the rescue boat. And bail of 5.000 euros was set for the other four rescuers. A trial date was set with charges of facilitation of illegal entry into the country of refugees and immigrants, and illegal possession of a weapon for one knife that was found on the boat"

Another report from: the Network for the Social Support of Refugess and Migrants says:

"Pre-trial proceedings underway against three Spanish fire-fighters who decided to take leave from work to help refugees on the Aegean and two Danish. The Danish NGO made a speedboat available for rescuing purposes where the 5 were aboard. They towed a refugee rubber boat to the Greek coast. Now they are accused of supporting the entry of "illegal migrants" which is a severe crime (felony) in Greece. The prosecutor has charged them because a Coast Guard boat was not far away and thus there was allegedly no need for immediate rescue).

Yesterday (16 January) they were brought before the investigating judge who released them on bail of 5.000 euro each and 10, 000 euro for the Dane who owns the boat....

The Dodecanese prefecture decided to check every NGO acting on the Southern Aegean islands as well as all the doctors; they would have to provide proof that they are doctors and get a relevant certificate. The Syriza government decided on 31 December 2015, that the operation of the closed detention centers will be prolonged until the end of 2018."

- Greece holds Spanish lifeguards over migrant trafficking (, link):

"Five Spaniards claiming to be NGO staff on the Greek island of Lesvos have been arrested on suspicion of migrant trafficking, Greek coastguard sources said Thursday."A preliminary investigation has been opened," a coastguard spokeswoman said, adding that the suspects were likely to be charged with "attempting to facilitate the entry of illegal migrants."....

The five suspects claim to be working for Basque lifeguard group DYA, one of dozens of non-government aid groups helping thousands of refugees and migrants arriving from the neighboring Turkish coast on a weekly basis. Two of the suspects were arrested on Wednesday on board a speedboat where coastguards found an unregistered wireless radio which could be used to tap into official frequencies."

Background: Criminal charges have been brought against three Spanish (Proem-Aid) and two Danish (Team Humanity) NGO volunteers - they were arrested on suspicion of helping migrants to enter Greece illegally. If convicted they could face five years in prison. They deny the charges and will appear in court on Saturday. The five are trained lifeguards.

The Spanish volunteers are from Proem-Aid release and See: website: PROEM-AID: Professional emergency aid (link)

- IOM: Migrant Arrivals in Europe by Sea Reached 23,664 in First 14 Days of 2016 (link): 23.302 to Greece, 362 to Italy. 59 deaths/missing

"The system would allocate "quasi-automatically" asylum applicants to member states
. It is a big departure from the current Dublin rule. Today, Dublin says the country through which asylum seekers first entered the EU have to handle applications for asylum on behalf of all other member states." [emphasis added]

EU-Turkey €3 billion migrant deal blocked by Italy (euractiv, link)

"Italy is blocking a European Union plan to provide Turkey with €3 billion in aid in exchange for a commitment to stem the flow of migrants into Europe, two European officials said yesterday..."

- Welcome to Europe (Greece, link) and Organizations for Refugees (Greece, link)

- News (16-17.1.16)

Crossing No More (Red Pepper, link) "Samir Dathi & Marienna Pope-Weidemann report from the Greek-Turkish border and the deadly fence forcing refugees to cross the perilous Aegean sea"

Czech leader says Muslims 'impossible to integrate' in Europe (, link)

EU: Juncker: Restoring borders will kill internal market (euractiv, link)

Dozens of migrants stopped at Romania’s border with Serbia (Sofia Globe, link) and

SWEDEN: Western Sweden mosque hit by possible arson attack (The, link): "Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the blaze, with arson a probable avenue of enquiry."

GREECE: Five bodies wash up on shore of Samos (, link): "Five people, most likely migrants, have been found dead off the eastern Greek island of Samos, Greek authorities report. The Greek coast guard has recovered the bodies of two men and three women, and are trying to recover the sixth in rough seas, a coast guard spokeswoman told The Associated Press." and: Baby found dead on Greece migrant boat (link): "Greek authorities say a baby has been found dead after a boat full of migrants reached the small eastern Aegean Sea island of Farmakonissi, while 63 people were picked up alive."

EU asylum law to include 'distribution key' (euobserver, link): "On Thursday (14 January), EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos announced the revamp would be based on a distribution key system."

EU Commission promises Dublin mechanism overhaul (, link): "European migration Commissioner has told MEPs Dublin reforms would be presented in March, amid ongoing refugee crisis and mounting pressure on Schengen....

GUE/NGL group MEP Cornelia Ernst urged Avramopoulos, "not to mix terrorists up with refugees - that is extremely dangerous." She also slammed the Commission for its cooperation with Turkey, and asked him why he had not protested the statements by the Slovakian and Polish governments saying they would not accept any Muslim refugees.

On laws currently under discussion in Denmark that demand refugees to hand over their valuables as compensation for housing. These were "unacceptable," said Ernst, adding that, "such a debate should not be happening in Europe.""

Turkey 'acting illegally' over Syria refugees deportations (BBC News, link):

""They drove us to the border and forced us to sign a piece of paper on which was written 'I want to go back to Syria'," he told me. "They were shouting at us and said they would send us back to Erzurum (detention centre) if we didn't sign. "I didn't want to go back to Syria. Some of my friends have now been put in prison there, and many people were afraid of returning to a war zone.""....

"This is absolutely illegal, both under Turkish and international law, because you cannot forcibly return someone to a place where their lives and rights are in danger," said Andrew Gardner, the head of Amnesty in Turkey. "The EU needs to wake up to the fact that on its own borders, international law is being broken on a regular basis. "And the EU needs to wake up to the fact that its gatekeeper in Turkey is violating the rights of refugees in detaining them secretly and arbitrarily - and returning them to Syria.""

Danish family man slapped with fine for helping refugees (The, link): "The first of several cases against Danes who gave rides to refugees ended in a fine on Friday, while two Danish citizens await a trial on human smuggling charges on the Greek island of Lesbos."

FINLAND: Finns want fewer refugees (DW, link): "Finland last year received the largest number of refugees in its history, which has lead to growing anti-immigration sentiments. Politicians outside the conservative True Finns party have also turned against refugees."

Austria takes tougher stance on migrants (The, link): "Austria's interior minister signalled a tougher line on migrants on Friday, saying that from next weekend it will follow Germany's lead and turn back any new arrivals seeking to claim asylum in Scandinavia.... "Right now on the Austrian-German border only those seeking asylum in Germany are being allowed in. Those who want to go further are being turned back,""

Norway extends border controls once again (The, link): "The Norwegian government said on Friday it would extend border checks for an additional 30 days."

SWITZERLAND: Revealed: Switzerland already strips refugees of cash (The, link): "As Denmark faces a barrage of criticism over its controversial plan to seize refugees' valuables, Switzerland has already been doing so for years, Swiss authorities said on Friday. Swiss asylum law has since the 1990s required asylum seekers to contribute to the costs of hosting them in the wealthy Alpine country. The country is permitted to confiscate from people seeking asylum in the country amounts over 1,000 Swiss francs ($995, €913 euros), Celine Kohlprath, a spokeswoman for Swiss migration authorities, told the AFP news agency" and see: Switzerland seizing assets from refugees to cover costs (Guardian, link): "Information sheet given to Syrian refugee shows seizure of assets of over 1,000 Swiss francs, says TV news programme."

Our work is only possible with your support.
Become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.


Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error