Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 28.1.16

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 Huge camp in Greece planned? (UNHCR Daily Report, 27.1.16)


"According to Greek media, the Alternate Minister for Migration Policy reported that during the Amsterdam EU Interior Ministers’ meeting, the creation of a camp with the capacity to host for 300,000- 400,000 refugees was discussed. It is unclear whether this measure is related to the scenario of potential border closers."

and Greek "Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, requested support from Frontex to return people to Turkey as they were ineligible for asylum in Europe as those of North African nationality." (UNHCR Faily Report, 25.1.16)

Belgium to Greece: ‘Just push them back to sea’ to solve the migrant crisis (BBC video): "Greek migration minister Ioannis Mouzalas has revealed that a Belgian minister suggested Greece should “push” refugee boats “back into the sea” to help solve the migration crisis on the country’s shores during a meeting in Amsterdam.... An unbelievable minister proposed setting up a camp for 400,000 refugees in Athens and offered the possibility of leaving the Schengen zone and pushing [refugees] back into the sea.”"

 European Parliament Study: Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants (pdf):

"With renewed efforts to counter people smuggling in the context of an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees into the EU, it assesses existing EU legislation in the area – the 2002 Facilitators’ Package – and how it deals with those providing humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants. The study maps EU legislation against the international legal framework and explores the effects – both direct and indirect – of the law and policy practice in selected Member States. It finds significant inconsistencies, divergences and grey areas, such that humanitarian actors are often deterred from providing assistance. The study calls for a review of the legislative framework, greater legal certainty and improved data collection on the effects of the legislation." [emphasis added]

"There is widespread confusion among civil society practitioners around how the Facilitation Directive is implemented in their Member State, which can lead to misinformation and ‘erring on the side of caution’, thereby compromising migrants’ access to vital services. This is especially true in the context of the current migration crisis, where everyday citizens are obliged to volunteer vital services in the absence of sufficient state provision."

See: Council Directive 2002/90/EC of 28 November 2002 defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence (pdf): See Article 1.

 Moving Towards Plan B: the Rejection of Refugees at the Border (EAFSJ, link):

"Plan B: Loss of Trust in a European Solution

The activation of a Plan B presupposes the failure of a Plan A. That is why the renewed emphasis on national solutions should start alarm bells ringing in Brussels and across Europe. As described earlier on this blog, the Plan A focuses on a pan-European solution through hotspots, relocation, enhanced external border controls and cooperation with Turkey – and the EU institutions have done their best to move in this direction. New policies have been set up, often within weeks. But what worked well on paper all but flopped in practice. "

 Sweden may expel up to 80,000 failed asylum-seekers (BBC News, link): "The authorities in Sweden are making plans to expel as many as 80,000 failed asylum-seekers, the interior minister has been quoted as saying. Anders Ygeman said charter aircraft would be used to deport the migrants but it would take several years. Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe."

 News (28.1.16)

Czech extremists' activity on the rise (Prague Daily Monitot, link): "Extremists staged 323 events in the Czech Republic in 2015, which is 44 more than the year before and they mainly focused on migration, according to the latest report on extremism that the Interior Ministry's security policy section released yesterday. Representatives of the ultra right and populists tried to attract new followers by abusing migration issues, the report says."

Norway's rules 'stricter' than Denmark's controversial bill (The, link): "Denmark's bill allowing the confiscation of migrants' valuables has been heavily criticized, but both Norway and Germany have even stricter rules on how much money asylum seekers can bring in."

Tsipras: Greece will be fully prepared to deal with refugee crisis in February (ANAmpa, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday said his government will be fully prepared, as of next month, to deal with the refugee flows targeting various Greek islands in the eastern Aegean, while he added that it remains to be seen if Europe, too, will live up to its commitments"

Greece: Tension grows between Brussels and Athens over Schengen rules (euractiv, link): "The European Commission said Greece could face border controls with the rest of the EU's passport-free Schengen zone if it fails to acts.

"The draft report concludes that Greece seriously neglected its obligations and that there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by Greek authorities," Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told a press conference."

Greece: Athens confident it will have hot spots ready in time (, lkink): "Greek officials gave assurances on Wednesday that the country will live up to its commitments on the refugee crisis after the European Commission warned that authorities are not abiding by Schengen zone rules and this could lead to border controls being reimposed by neighboring countries in three months. “We will be absolutely ready next month,” said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras regarding Athens’s pledge to have at least another three “hot spots” – on Samos, Leros and Chios – up and running before the end of February. It is likely that Greece will have to show significant progress in preparing the registration centers by the EU leaders’ summit on February 17-18.....

Since the scheme to relocate a total of 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy was launched in September, Athens has only been offered places for 595 people, of whom 414 have been transferred abroad so far. Athens says 12 EU countries have not enlisted in the program at all."

Germany: Refugees: 'No evidence' of Syrian refugee's death, say Berlin police - Berlin police say reports a migrant from Syria died outside the city's refugee authority are false. An aid group had earlier reported that an asylum seeker had died while waiting to get registered. (DW, link)

Denmark: China's Ai Weiwei pulls art from Danish exhibitions over asylum law (DW, link): "Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei says he'll withdraw his works from two museums in Denmark to protest against a new immigration law. The controversial bill allows authorities to seize valuables from migrants."

Greece-Macedonia: Confusion over claims Greece-Macedonia refugee crossing has closed (DW, link): "Refugees bound for western Europe have faced a confusing open-shut day at a key border crossing from Greece into non-EU Macedonia. Police in Skopje have contradicted reports of a night-time closure." and see: Macedonia 'Closes Border with Greece to Migrants' (, link)

The ever-expanding list of European policies that target refugees (Washington Post, link): "It's safe to say that the dramatic surge in the number of refugees has changed Europe. Across the continent, many governments — including those initially sympathetic to the plight of refugees — have adopted unusual and, in some cases, controversial policies to help deal with the flow of refugees. Here's a list of some of the European policies that could affect many refugees and migrants."

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