EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.6.16)

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- EU: New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan

The European Commission has published a series of new "migration management" proposals that foresee new "partnerships" set up with non-EU states; the reform of the 'Blue Card Directive' on the entry into the EU of highly-skilled workers; and an action plan on "the integration of third-country nationals and their economic and social contribution to the EU."

- EU: Operation Sopia: from human smuggling to arms smuggling?

"The European Union yesterday (6 June) proposed expanding a United Nations Security Council mandate for a European naval operation to allow it to crack down on arms smuggling in the high seas off war-torn Libya, though Russia voiced concerns about the idea.

Britain circulated a draft resolution to approve the measure to the 15-member council. A copy of the draft, seen by Reuters, expressed concern that smuggled arms “may be used by terrorist groups operating in Libya, including by ISIL (Islamic State).” In October, the council authorized the European naval operation to seize and dispose of boats operated by human traffickers.

“Now once again, we are asking this council to adopt a resolution on authorizing Operation Sophia to enforce the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya,” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told the council."

See: UN mulls allowing EU to search boats for illicit arms off Libya (EurActiv, link)

- All at sea: Libyan detention centres at crisis point (IRIN, link): "“Yesterday, we received 203 new migrants, today it was 585, and tomorrow there will be more, and the next day, and the day after.”

Khalid al-Tumi runs the Zawiya migrant detention centre, 23 kilometres east of Sabrata in northwestern Libya. The coast around Sabrata has become one of the main departure points used by people-smugglers following a crackdown on their former hub of Zuwarah. All of the migrants he is referring to have been apprehended from boats and returned.

Zawiya houses 1,727 detainees, far above its official maximum capacity of 1,200. Food and water supplies are already inadequate and al-Tumi said he has no additional resources for the new arrivals.

“Next week, we will face a really major problem and I don’t know how I will manage. We have no more blankets or mattresses,” he told IRIN. “Everything I have is already being used.”"

- EU-Turkey Deal: deportation of homosexual Syrian threatened by ISIS looming (Pro Asyl, link): "Yesterday evening three lawyers cooperating with PRO ASYL, a local Greek lawyer and the Greek Council for Refugees applied for interim measures at the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg in order to stop the imminent deportation of a Syrian persecuted by ISIS from Greece to Turkey. This is the first case under the EU-Turkey Deal reaching the ECHR."

And see: The EU-Turkey migration deal is dying. What’s Plan B? (IRIN, link): "It’s been less than 11 weeks since the EU struck its controversial deal with Turkey to stem the flow of asylum seekers into Europe. The agreement was immediately under pressure on several fronts and now looks set to unravel completely, even before any mass returns come to pass.

Two weeks ago, a committee on the Greek island of Lesvos upheld the appeal of a Syrian asylum seeker whose initial claim had been rejected and who was facing deportation to Turkey. This week, nine more appeals by Syrians were upheld. Many more such decisions are soon to be delivered, according to Pro Asyl, the German NGO whose lawyers represented the Syrians. So far, just one appeal case by a Syrian has been rejected.

The appeal decisions are significant because they shatter the illusion that had given the accord its legal veneer – the principle that Turkey is “a safe third country”, one that even genuine asylum seekers can be returned to without running foul of international refugee law."

- GREECE: Dispatches: Stranded Asylum Seekers Pay Price of EU Foot Dragging (Human Rights Watch, link): "With the Western Balkan route closed, more than 50,000 asylum seekers, including many women and children, are stranded in Greece in largely unsafe and appaling conditions. Meanwhile the EU scheme to relocate refugees moves at a glacial pace.

Last September, a majority of EU Council countries made a legally binding agreement to move 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. The idea was to alleviate pressure on Greece and Italy where migrants typically first arrive, and to create legal and safe access to other European countries as an alternative to the chaotic routes through the Balkans.

EU Commissioner Avramopoulos has expressed his frustration at the failure of EU states to fulfil obligations to relocate refugees and urged member states “to get ready to move at last.”"

EU: European Parliament press release: Martin Schulz praises Portugal for how it integrates refugees (pdf): "Schulz praised Portugal for its welcoming approach to refugees during a visit to a refugee reception centre in Bobadela, which currently hosts 271 people. "This is a model to be followed by all 28 member states, which have to take up their responsibilities in this matter," he said. Schulz also gave the example of the kindergarten where Portuguese children mingle with children from other countries, calling it "the best way to combat racism and xenophobia"."

- Lampedusa: Red Letter Days (openDemocracy, link): "'The journey to make my life easier has actually been the most difficult experience I have ever faced in my life'. An unaccompanied minor recounts his journey to safety in Europe."

- Migrant men in Greece are selling sex to survive (PRI, link): "The first time Abdullah had sex for money was just two weeks after he arrived in Athens.

He was living at a disused airport along with thousands of other Afghan migrants. A week after he moved in, some friends took him along with them to the Pedion tou Areos, Athens’ main public park.

Abdullah didn’t like it. “It was a dirty place,” he said. “There were people there using drugs. A lot of strange people.”

Some of those people were older men who would come up and start talking to him. It was then that his friends told him why they came to the park. “They told me, ‘We have sex with these guys, and they pay us.’”

In his birth country Iran, he had slept with both girls and boys, he said, but never with “old men.”

“I got angry,” he said. “I had just arrived, and I had to do this just to get some money.”"

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