Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 14.3.16


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 GREECE-MACEDONIA: Hundreds of refugees hunt for new route into Europe as three drown on Greece-Macedonia border (The Independent, link): "Three refugees have drowned while attempting to cross a river from Greece into Macedonia, according to police, as refugees attempt to find a new route to cross into the country.


Macedonian police said the bodies of two men and a woman had been found in the Suva Reka river near the border town of Gevgelija on Monday morning, which had swelled due to heavy rain.

More than 1,000 refugees are reported to have left the Ideomeni camp in the north of Greece on Monday morning, walking for hours with their belongings in heavy rain before finally attempting to cross the fast-flowing water."

And see: Idomeni refugees push to cross into Macedonia despite border closure (Deutsche Welle, link): " Hours after setting out from the camp, several hundred refugees were able cross into Macedonia, where they were detained by border police and the army for illegally entering the country. Around 30 journalists following the refugees were also arrested.

Macedonian authorities said "several hundred" migrants would be sent back to Greece."

According to a Reuters report: "Greek authorities handed out leaflets in Idomeni on Saturday informing people that the main route to northern Europe was shut. The pamphlets urged them to move to buildings and hospitality centers across Greece that have been set aside for the purpose, according to a government official from the country's refugee crisis management coordination body." Clearly many of those in Idomeni have no wish to stay in Greece. See: Greece steps up efforts to move migrants to sheltered camps (Reuters, link) and further background on the situation in Idomeni: The dead end at Idomeni: thousands struggle in worsening conditions (euronews, link)

 CALAIS: People protest, move on as situation worsens

Refugees target Cherbourg port as security tightens at Calais (The Telegraph, link): "Since the start of the year, there have been more than 400 attempts by migrants to sneak on to ships in Cherbourg bound for England or Ireland.

That is twice the number of attempts for the whole of 2015, according to the most senior state official in the region.

Many more may head there from Calais in the coming weeks as French authorities continue the demolition of half of the squalid Jungle, which is home to up to 7,000 migrants."

Refugees sew mouths shut in protest at Calais camp (NRT, link): "A number of refugees have sewn their lips shut in protest over the Calais “Jungle” camp’s closure, which began over a week ago in northern France.

NRT correspondent Halgurd Samad said French authorities are destroying the southern part of the camp where more than 1,500 refugees had settled.

The refugees taking part in a literal silent protest want to be resettled across the channel in England. They say they represent all of the refugees who were or are still living in the camp, and that they are waiting for a response from the British government. "

Far-right activists 'impersonated police to attack refugees for money and mobile phones' in Calais (The Independent, link): "A group of far-right activists have reportedly admitted impersonating as police officers to attack and rob refugees in a series of attacks in Calais.

The five local men, aged between 19 and 14, were arrested on Wednesday and include the founder of an anti-immigration movement and protest organisers."

UK 'to give France €20 million extra' to stop migrants and refugees reaching England from Calais (The Independent, link): "David Cameron is to agree to give an extra €20 million (£15.4 million) to France for policing and dispersing migrants attempting to reach the UK from Calais, a minister has said.

In a radio interview before a Franco-British summit at Amiens in the Somme, the French Europe minister, Harlem Desir, said the extra funding came on top of previous British spending of €60 million (£47 million)."

 Greece in pictures: photos from Aegean islands and Idomeni

Photo gallery: Perilous hope for refugees heading to Greece (New Internationalist, link): "As Europe turns its back on refugees, Neal McQueen turns his camera on them, and those who are helping. He has been documenting the crisis since early October 2015 in his blog The title refers to the boat journey from Turkey to Greece."

And: Greece: Thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers stranded at the mercy of European leaders (Amnesty International, link): "As European Union (EU) leaders are negotiating a proposed deal with Turkey to return refugees and migrants, the humanitarian crisis has worsened in places such as the northern Greek border crossing of Idomeni, where up to 13,000 people were stranded when an Amnesty International team visited this week.

Under pressure from the EU, neighbouring Macedonia has sealed off its border with Greece, fueling an increasingly desperate situation.

Here are some of the scenes of despair captured by Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, and Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Director for Amnesty International Greece."

 EU: Report on the work of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) from February 2011 to June 2014

"In 2014, EY (ex-Ernst & Young) was mandated by EASO to conduct the independent external evaluation of EASO’s activities covering the period from February 2011 to June 2014. By decision of the Steering Group, the temporal scope was extended to cover the entire period since the Agency began operations. All activities implemented by EASO have been covered, across all the Member States of the European Union (MS).The evaluation was conducted between October 2014 and July 2015."

Some of the main conclusions:

  • EASO’s mission and tasks, as set outin its establishing Regulation, are relevant to address MS needs;
  • EASO’s implemented activities correspond to its mandate;
  • EASO is largely considered to be responsive to MS needs;
  • The involvement of civil society in the programming of EASO activities has increased and improved over time;
  • EASO is considered by MS and EU institutions as a qualified information broker;
  • EASO has demonstrated an adequate crisis response capacity;
  • EASO contributed to deeper and more practical cooperation between MS;
  • Stakeholders acknowledge the powerful potential of EASO to facilitate the convergence of national practices in the field of asylum.

Full report: European Asylum Support Office: Independent External Evaluation of EASO's activities covering the period from February 2011 to June 2014: Final report (pdf) and Annexes (pdf)

 News (14.3.16)

German election results polarised, but most voters back pro-refugee parties (The Guardian, link): "Anti-refugee party Alternative für Deutschland entered state parliaments in the three regions that voted, winning 24% of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt and over 10% in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.

Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU) lost support in Baden-Württemberg – a region dominated by the CDU since the end of the second world war – and Rhineland Palatinate, but remained the largest party in Saxony-Anhalt.

Although the AfD enjoyed considerable momentum, the majority of votes still went to parties who support Merkel’s pro-refugee stance. In all three states, incumbent premiers held on to their seat. In Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, the Green and Social Democratic (SPD) candidates managed to increase their vote after resolutely backing the chancellor’s open-border position."

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