Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (news and documents, 20.1.16)

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- UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing

Latest Commission figures, published 19.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation is at a standstill. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid budgets and "trust funds", and civil protection requirements.

- EU: Fresh battle awaits Cameron as EU plans to scrap 'Dublin regulation' (Guardian, link):

"The rule, which means refugees must claim asylum in the first country they arrive in, could leave northern EU countries more open to migration flows.. Abandoning the so-called Dublin regulation could leave the UK and other northern European countries more open to migration flows, as the majority of refugees have been arriving in the south and trying to continue their journey overland."

- Bulgaria: Pushbacks, Abuse at Borders - Halt Summary Returns, Beatings, Robbery of Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Bulgarian law enforcement officials summarily return asylum seekers and migrants to Turkey, often after stealing their belongings and subjecting them to violence.

In research in six countries between October and December 2015, Human Rights Watch interviewed 45 asylum seekers and migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq who described 59 incidents of summary returns from Bulgaria to Turkey between March and November. Twenty-six people said they had been beaten by police or bitten by police dogs. All but one said they were stripped of their possessions, in some cases at gunpoint by people they described as Bulgarian law enforcement officials, then pushed back across the border to Turkey."

- News (20.1.16)

FYROM closes border with Greece to migrants, says police (, link): "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has closed its border with Greece to migrants, police in Skopje said Wednesday, blocking the path of hundreds trying to reach northern Europe.. “The border is closed,” a senior FYROM 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."

Serbia will refuse entry to returning migrants (euobserver, link): "Serbia will not allow migrants returning from nearby countries to re-enter its territory, foreign minister Ivica Dacic told journalists after meeting his Slovenian counterpart Karl Erjavec on Tuesday. Dacic explained that Serbia would be forced to act if Croatia, Slovenia and Austria resort to unilateral solutions such as closing borders."

UN: Harsh winter poses additional hazards to child refugees and migrants arriving in Europe – UN (link): "With children now accounting for more than one in three of the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants flooding into Europe, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today voiced concern at the impact recent sub-zero temperatures and snowy conditions were having on them. The children arriving into a harsh winter in south-eastern Europe are physically exhausted, scared, distressed and often in need of medical assistance, UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told the regular bi-weekly news briefing in Geneva." and: Concern over health of children on the move during harsh winter - UNICEF (link)

Hungary ready to erect anti-migrant fence on Romanian border (Reuters, link)

Greece: Two refugees die from hypothermia during their trip to Greece (ANAmpa, link)

EU: Migration report calls for strengthening of border controls, integration, relocation, and overhaul of Dublin system (Times of Malta, link) See: Draft Report on The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf).

Slovenia May Deploy Troops to Manage Migrant Flow - Schengen agreement is ‘temporarily suspended,’ says Austrian chancellor as military announces troops will be deployed to the borders(, link): ""If Germany or Austria adopt certain measures for stricter controls then of course we will adopt similar strict measures with our southern border with Croatia," Cerar said.".

Germany-Switzerland: European border checks would cost German trade billions (, link): "Reinstating border controls within Europe's passport-free Schengen zone because of the migrant crisis would significantly increase costs for Germany's foreign trade, national trade organisations told German media on Wednesday. "About 70 percent of German foreign trade takes place within Europe, particularly with countries of the euro zone," Anton Boerner, head of the BGA trade federation, told newspaper Tagesspiegel."

EU: The People Who Made 2015 a Safer Year for Migrants to Cross the Mediterranean (VICE, link): "Migration in 2015 was actually safer than the previous year. Although the number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean was the highest ever recorded in a single year, the percentage who made it ashore safely was also a record-high. That's due in part to efforts by volunteers who risked their own safety, and sometimes criminal charges, to save over 8,000 migrants from drowning at sea last year.... What accounts for all these lives saved? IOM spokesperson Kelly Namia attributes it in part to smaller boats and a shorter route to Greece, rather than the longer and more dangerous trip from North Africa to Lampedusa, Italy."

Greece-Turkey: Mouzalas slams Turkish failure to curb migrant flow as EU calls for completion of hotspots (, link): "Immigration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Tuesday criticized Turkey for failing to take any serious measures to cut the flow of migrants into Europe as Brussels called on Greece to complete construction of five “hot spots” on its territory..... Greek authorities had carried out 130 deportations in the past 15 days, he said, while some 30,000 people had arrived from Turkey over the same period."

Tusk: EU has two months to control the migrant crisis, or go bust (euractiv, link): "European Council President Donald Tusk issued a stark warning yesterday (19 January) that the European Union had "no more than two months" to tackle the migration crisis engulfing the 28-nation bloc, or else face the collapse of its passport-free Schengen zone....

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently warned today that a collapse of Schengen could kill off the EU’s internal market and make the euro irrelevant. The European Council summit on 17-18 March will focus mainly on the migrant crisis. The Schengen system has already been suspended in some countries like Denmark, Germany and Sweden, which have introduced controls at their borders in order to stem the flow of migrant and refugee arrivals.."

Avramopoulos claims hotspots will be ready in one month (, link): "The European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos announced that the hotspots in Greece and Italy will be “operational” within a month." and He also warned of increased refugee flows in the coming months (, link)

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