Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 11.3.16


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 UN human rights chief to discuss "very serious concerns" over proposed EU-Turkey deal during Brussels trip


From a statement by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein (pdf, emphasis added): "The EU's draft arrangement with Turkey earlier this week raises a number of very serious concerns. We do not yet have full details of this draft, and I plan to discuss my concerns in full during my visit to Brussels early next week, before the two-day EU Summit which begins on 17 March. Among my concerns is the potential for collective and arbitrary expulsions, which are illegal. Border restrictions which do not permit determination of the circumstances of each individual violate international and European law. 

I must also reiterate my profound concern about restrictive measures such as erecting fences; denying people access to individualised procedures; and arbitrarily denying entry to people of specific nationalities. I am in addition concerned about measures to seize belongings from people who may have already suffered greatly, and to restrict them from bringing in family members."

And see: UN rights chief calls on EU to adopt more ‘humane’ measures on migration (UN Human Rights, link): "10 March 2016 – The United Nations human rights chief today reiterated his profound concern about the situation faced by refugees and migrants “in extreme vulnerability,” and urged the European Union to adopt a more humane set of measures on migration at a summit next week.

“In the first two months of this year, more than 400 people have died trying to reach Europe – due partly to the lack of viable avenues of entry,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“I acknowledge the generosity with which Germany welcomed around a million people last year, and the efforts of Greece, throughout 2015, to take a humane approach, avoiding detention and pushbacks at sea. But today, in violation of the fundamental principles of solidarity, human dignity, and human rights, the race to repel these people is picking up momentum,” he warned, as he presented his annual report.

(...) "International guarantees protecting human rights may not be side-stepped or diluted.”"

Full statement: Statement by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the Human Rights Council's 31st session (10 March 2016, pdf)

This follows from from: UNHCR's reaction to Statement of the EU Heads of State and Government of Turkey, 7 March (pdf)

 Stop discriminatory and dangerous border closures: Joint statement by 26 organisations working with people on the move (3 March 2016, pdf)

"To European leaders:

As national and international organizations working along the Western Balkan migration route in Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Croatia, we strongly condemn the latest discriminatory and dangerous measures adopted by European countries as part of a broader package of deterrence policies intended to stem the flow of vulnerable people seeking safety."

 Ebbing and Flowing: The EU’s Shifting Practices of (Non-) Assistance and Bordering in a Time of Crisis (Near Futures Online, link): "our hypothesis, to state it at the outset, is the following: the practice of rescue has become more deadly as the result of a shift in smugglers’ practices combined with persistent policies of non-assistance on the part of states. In order to account for this new and disturbing reality, we need to follow carefully the successive shifts in the practices of (non-)assistance and bordering that have occurred at the EU’s external frontier in the last few years. In what follows, the sea – and in particular the central Mediterranean – is the centre of gravity of our analysis. We first summarise the pre-October 2013 conditions that led to structural cases of non-assistance. We then describe the break constituted by the large-scale military-humanitarian operation Mare Nostrum which was launched by the Italian government following two infamous shipwrecks in early October 2013 near the island of Lampedusa. Finally, we chart the rapidly evolving practices of rescue and bordering that unfolded after Mare Nostrum was phased out in November 2014. In particular, we elaborate, the partial privatisation of rescue that filled the gap in the state’s rescue capability, and then, in the wake of the twin shipwrecks of April 2015, the unprecedented involvement of non-governmental rescue vessels and the beginning of what is probably the largest maritime anti-trafficking military campaign since the deployment of a British Navy squadron off the coasts of West Africa in the 19th century, namely EUNAVFOR MED. In seeking to understand these successive shifts in practices of (non-)assistance and bordering at sea, we argue that it is essential to attend to the way they have been articulated with their corresponding practices on firm land within and outside the EU. Land and sea have been locked into a continuum by the Europeanization of migration policies that we describe below."

 If Europe turns its backs on its refugees, where on Earth will they go next? (The Independent, link): Interview with International Organisation for Migration director for the EU and NATO, Eugenio Ambrosi. Amongst other things, he makes clear: "We cannot just leave it to the neighbouring countries, they are already overwhelmed. Lebanon alone has the same number of refugees as arrived in Europe in the whole of last year – among a population of just 4.5 million.

""It is becoming too big a challenge, and if the burden isn’t shared people are bound to move on. Just thinking that the rest of the world can deal with the problem does not work because sooner or later this huge movement of people will affect Europe in the end anyway."

 News (11.3.16)

Albania won't become EU 'gateway,' Italian admiral says (EUobserver, link): "There is little risk that migrants will enter the EU en masse via Albania, Italy’s former defence chief has said, adding that a deal with Russia on Syria is the best way to restore “stability”.

“I don’t think it [Albania] will become the main gateway [for migrants]," admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli told EUobserver from Italy in an interview on Thursday (10 March).

“Albania has very attentive border control and doesn’t suffer from illegal immigration,” he said"

EU: Geneva convention, Turkey visa demands trouble EU states (EUobserver, link): "EU states are pushing to designate Turkey as a safe country to return unwanted migrants from Europe despite Ankara's patchy application of the Geneva convention. Some countries also question allowing visa-free travel to 75 million Turks.

The safe-country move is being driven by a provisional deal between EU states and Turkey earlier this week as well as intense political pressure from Berlin.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (10 March), EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said it was the EU's "duty" to designate Turkey as a safe third country.

"It is a European position, but it has to be elaborated more in the days to come," he said."

Greece to Donald Tusk: ‘Don’t thank the Balkans’ (Politico, link): "Greece lashed out at Donald Tusk Thursday over comments the European Council president had made thanking Balkan countries for shutting down the migrant corridor along the Western Balkan route."

GREECE: 36,000 in Greece to rely solely on EU relocation mechanism and humanitarian aid (New Europe, link): "36,000 stranded migrants and refugees in Greece to depend solely on asylum application examination procedure and humanitarian aid, waiting for the next EU Summit and the implication of 7 March EU – Turkey Summit conclusions, the European Council source confirms.

According to the numbers provided by EU sources on Thursday, 7,000 migrants are in the Greek islands at the moment, while a total of 36,000 total remain in Greece, Wednesday afternoon’s data show as provided by the Hellenic Republic."

GREECE: Newborn takes first bath in the muddy fields of Idomeni (The Times of Change, link)

Slovenia says ready to comply with EU migrant quota scheme (EurActiv, link): "Slovenia, which this week closed its borders to migrants, will begin accepting refugees shared out among the European Union in April, under its troubled quota scheme, the government said Thursday (10 March).

“This year and next some 567 refugees will be relocated to Slovenia from Italy and Greece. A first group is to arrive in April,” interior ministry official Bostjan Sefic told a news conference on Thursday.

“Slovenia has expressed its wish that most of the relocated refugees are families but we cannot expect only families will arrive,” he said after a cabinet meeting."

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