Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 31-12-15-2-1-16

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 Syrian Two-Year-Old is First Refugee Victim of 2016 (MIgrant Report, link):"Two-year-old Khalid, a Syrian boy who was travelling to Greece with his mother became the first refugee to die in the Mediterranean this year when the rubber raft he was on was slammed against the rocks on the Aegean island of Nera, early on Saturday morning."


EU: Frontex: Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting: Tenth Contact Points Video Conference (pdf):

"Frontex informed the group of the launch on 28 December of the new operation "Poseidon Rapid Intervention" with the deployment of 293 officers and 15 vessels to the Greek islands. An additional 200 officers are expected to be deployed by mid-January."

And see: Frontex launches rapid operational assistance in Greece (link):

"Frontex initiated yesterday the deployment of 293 officers and 15 vessels to the Greek islands as part of a new operation called Poseidon Rapid Intervention after Greece requested additional assistance at its external borders in the Aegean earlier this month.

Poseidon Rapid Intervention replaces the Joint Operation Poseidon Sea with a higher number of officers who will assist in identifying and fingerprinting of arriving migrants, along with interpreters and forged document experts. Poseidon Rapid Intervention aims to provide Greece with additional technical assistance aiming to strengthen its border surveillance, registration and identification capacity." [emphasis added]

 Information against the fear: Fingerprints in Bulgaria - how to stop a deportation (, link): "If you have given your fingerprints to authorities in Bulgaria and you don’t stay there but continue your journey, you might get threatened to be deported back to Bulgaria. This is based on the so-called Dublin-regulation. So far there is a general (temporary) deportation stop to Greece (that means no deportation to Greece because of the fingerprints) but not to any other EU-countries (like Bulgaria for example)."

 IOM: Med: Arrivals and fatalities (dated 28.12.15, pdf): 996,645 arrivals with 839,561 in Greece and 152.864 in Italy. 3,771 dead/missing. And see: Over 3,770 Migrants Have Died Trying to Cross the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015 (link)

 Germany: Change of asylum policy: Case-by-case reviews return for all refugees to Germany (DW, link):

"From 2016, Germany will re-introduce individual assessments for refugees seeking asylum. Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans had been subject to a simpler procedure in recent months.... Procedures had been simplified for refugees from Syria and Iraq in November 2014, and from Eritrea in mid-2015, meaning that asylum-seekers from these countries had only to fill out a questionnaire detailing the reasons why they had fled their homelands. With the case-by-case system that is to be re-introduced, they will now face a comprehensive personal hearing."

and see: Germany to increase scrutiny of Syrian asylum applicants (, link): "Germany will start holding personal hearings for asylum seekers from Syria as of Jan. 1, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman told Reuters on Dec. 31, reversing a policy of granting almost automatic refugee status for Syrians."

 News (31.12.15 - 2.1.16)

Greece: As 2016 dawns, refugee, migrant flows look set to continue (, link):

"Bitter cold, biting winds and rough winter seas have done little to stem the seemingly endless flow of desperate people fleeing war or poverty for what they hope will be a brighter, safer future in Europe. As 2016 dawns, boatloads continue to reach Greek shores and thousands trudge across Balkan fields and country roads heading north... The European Union has pledged to bolster patrols on its external borders and quickly deport economic migrants, while Turkey has agreed to crack down on smugglers operating from its coastline. But those on the front lines of the crisis say the coming year promises to be difficult unless there is a dramatic change"

Greece: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sets up studio on Lesvos to highlight plight of refugees (, link) “As an artist, I have to relate to humanity’s struggles... I never separate these situations from my art,” he said. The artist is as well-known for his clashes with the Chinese authorities as for his work.... “The border is not in Lesbos, it really [is] in our minds and in our hearts ,” Ai said."

"France: Dunkirk migrant camp to get million-euro upgrade (The, link): "France is to build a huge refugee camp near Dunkirk to improve conditions for thousands of migrants trying to reach Britain. The camp, with heated tents, will be the first of its kind in France. The camp, in the town of Grande-Synthe, close to the Channel port of Dunkirk, will be built in January, according to Le Monde. It will provide sanitary conditions for all of the nearly 3,000 refugees and migrants currently living in tents and makeshift shelters on the site, which has been referred to as France’s ‘forgotten’ refugee camp."

Spain: Record-breaking 13,000 asylum seekers arrive in Spain in 2015 (The, link): "A record 13,000 asylum seekers were expected to arrive in Spain in 2015 but that figure is still less than 1 percent of the European Union total.As of mid-December, Spain had received some 12,500 applications for asylum, with that figure expected to surpass 13,000 by the end of the year. That figure is more than twice the 2014 number of 5,895.The majority of the new arrivals, around 7,0000, were Syrians arriving in Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla, according to the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR."

Greece: 3,600 Refugees Arrive at Piraeus Port on Thursday (Greek Reporter, link)

Norway turns back migrants without visas (euobserver, link): "Norway proposed on Tuesday (29 December) to tighten the country's asylum rules, including turning back asylum seekers without visas arriving from the passport-free Schengen zone, especially from Sweden. The draft law, still to be adopted by the parliament, is meant to be "one of Europe's toughest" immigration rules, according to the right leaning government. The measures, aimed at making Norway less attractive for refugees and migrants, include making it more difficult for refugees to bring family members to Norway, by only allowing family reunifications after the applicant has acquired four years of work or education in the country."

Refugee baby dies at Greek island registration center (, link): "Greek authorities say a seven-month-old Syrian baby temporarily staying with its family in a refugee registration camp on the island of Lesvos has died, apparently of natural causes. Health officials will try to determine the precise causes of the baby's death later Wednesday."

Germany: Nearly 1.1 million migrants arrived in Germany in 2015 (DW, link): "Merkel and the CDU have said the number of refugees in Germany would be reduced through smart policies. But Germany's doors remain open despite the huge influx this year."

Observations at the Campsite of Moria on Lesvos, October 22nd and 24th, 2015 (link): "I am an accredited journalist and member of the German association of journa­lists DFJV. Also, I am a member of the Berlin House of Repre­sen­ta­tives, working in the field of refugees and asylum. I arrived on the Greek island of Lesvos on October 20th, 2015 in order to gain an overview of the situation of arriving migrants and to talk to people involved."

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