Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 31.3.16


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 Turkey shoots dead Syrian refugees crossing the border as they flee civil war (Mirror, link): "Border forces in Turkey are shooting refugees dead as they cross over into the country fleeing civil war in Syria, it has been reported.


Guards have killed sixteen refugees including three children as they crossed into Turkey, the Times reports.

Monitoring organisation the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims border forces have shot dead the sixteen refugees over the past four months.

An officer in the British-backed Free Syrian Police and a Syrian smuggler, living in Turkey, claimed that the true number was higher.

The newspaper reports on February 6 a man and his child were killed in Ras alAin on the eastern stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border.

Two refugees were shot dead at Guvveci on March 5 on the western border.

The Syrian smuggler told the newspaper that refugees still cross the border but will 'either be killed or captured'."

 Even humane Sweden is getting tough on refugees (IRIN, link): "Back in November, it was like the end of innocence. Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson famously broke down in tears as Sweden, the European country that has accepted the most asylum seekers per capita in recent years, announced it was ending its open-door policy.

After being overwhelmed by the daily arrival of up to 10,000 asylum seekers, this was the first indication that the political sands had shifted. Shortly afterwards, temporary border checks were introduced on the Øresund Bridge, linking Copenhagen and Sweden’s third city, Malmo. The border controls extended into Denmark and the police later significantly reinforced border guard deployments in the south of the country.

The measures have significantly dented the number of new arrivals but the government is still preparing to pass a series of major amendments to Sweden’s Aliens Act that will reduce prospective asylum seekers’ access to full refugee status, permanent residency and family reunification.

While all these measures are being called ‘temporary’, they are Europe’s new normal and Sweden’s reputation as one of the few welcoming nations to refugees has taken a hit."

And see: profile: Sweden Immigration Detention (Global Detention Project, link)

 EU: European Parliament civil liberties committee report on migration and the situation in the Mediterranean

The report makes recommendations under a vast number of headings headings, including: solidarity, search and rescue, tackling human trafficking and crimina smuggling, relocation and resettlement, humanitarian admission and humanitarian visas, the Common European Asylm System (CEAS), the revision of the Dublin III Regulation, the Temporary Protection Directive, family unity and children, returns, a common EU list of "safe countries of origin", the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Frontex and its proposed replacement - the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Schengen and external borders, hotspots, criminal law and migration, cooperation with third countries, funding to third countries, the involvement of civil society, demographic trends, legal labour migration and the Blue Card Directive.

See: REPORT on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (23.3.16, pdf). A plenary vote on the report is due to take place on 13 April.

Under the heading of civil society, the report "affirms that volunteer and civil-society initiatives dedicated to providing assistance to migrants should be promoted and, where appropriate, funded by the Commission and the Member States." However it makes no mention of recent moves in Greece to place NGOs and volunteer organisations under more stringent supervision. See: Registering of NGOs, details of their workers/volunteers and independent volunteers begins (Statewatch News Online, 2.3.16)

 EU: Black people in Europe report widespread racism in anti-immigration context (ENAR, link): "Racist political discourse is predominantly framed in the context of anti-immigration and targets migrants that are both Black and Muslims. As a result Black migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and Black Europeans are reportedly suffering an increase in violent hatred and discrimination across all areas of life.

Discrimination in employment is prevalent and barriers are erected at every stage to prevent black people from gaining employment that matches their skills and experience. In the United Kingdom, applicants with an African sounding surname need to send twice as many job applications as those with a White British sounding name to get an interview. Statistics across EU Member States show that people with an African origin have systematically higher unemployment rates than the national average, which is due in part to racial discrimination. In Finland, unemployment rates are more than three times higher for people of African origin (41.2%) compared to the national average (8.7%).

Black people are particularly exposed to police violence as well as racist violence and abuse from other members of the public. In Sweden, 17% of hate crimes targeted Black people in 2014 (1,075 in total). There is a lack of trust between Black communities and the police which arises from various methods used by the police such as racial profiling and lack of full investigation of racially motivated crimes. Some law enforcement personnel display clearly racist behaviours and the police forces in some Member States are described as institutionally racist."

See: Key findings (pdf) and the full report: Afrophobia in Europe: ENAR Shadow Report 2014-2015 (pdf)

 Photo gallery: Inside Bulgaria's 'Anti-Refugee' Villages (Balkan Insight, link): "A new book examines why the Bulgarian villages of Rozovo, Kalishte and Telish became notorious for refusing to accept refugees, with local residents accused of being xenophobes.

The new book The Strange Other, launched by the Fotofabrika foundation in Sofia on Sunday, asks villagers in Rozovo, Kalishte and Telish what provoked their anti-immigrant attitudes. The villagers respond that they protested against the refugees’ arrival because the Bulgarian authorities never informed them about the plans to send foreigners into their small, closed communities in 2013 and 2014. Fotofabrika says the book is intended to promote dialogue between Bulgarians and the newcomers."

 Refugee protection is politics (Open Democracy, link): "Proposals to improve the management of refugee protection often occur in a vacuum, removed from the political constraints that affect state behaviour in the international system. Elsewhere in this series, Bill Frelick describes how this political reality limits options. Proposals emphasizing state obligations to the international community or the ceding of authority to a global body are unlikely to be followed, as many theorists of international relations will tell you. States act out of self-interest and accepting high numbers of refugees is unlikely to serve that interest. As Angela Merkel’s recent offer to host hundreds of thousands of refugees illustrates, even when countries need foreign labour and resources, accepting refugees is often a hard political sell. Those serious about advancing refugee protection must not just see these debates as distractions. Protection is political and we have no choice but to engage."

 The role of the private sector in alleviating the refugee crisis (Devex, link): "The scale of the current Syrian refugee crisis has generated significant involvement from private actors, including corporations and individuals. With governments overwhelmed and unable to adequately address the situation, the private sector has a critical role to play in providing for immediate humanitarian needs, as well as supporting refugee resettlement and integration. Private sector involvement in economic development and job creation is also a key component of the long-term solution, which goes beyond this current crisis."

 Reviving the Mediterranean’s Lost Cosmopolitanism (Refugees Deeply, link): "Eastern Mediterranean cities that view migration as a threat today thrived on the ubiquitous presence of multicultural societies a century ago. Iason Athanasiadis opens our Reviving Cities series by explaining that the roots of today’s slow-motion refugee ‘disaster’ can be found in the region’s trend towards introversion"

 News (31.3.16)

Dutch may set up separate refugee centre for troublemakers (Dutch News, link): "Ministers and the refugee settlement agency COA are working on setting up a separate asylum seekers centre for those ‘who don’t behave’, the Telegraaf says on Thursday.

Sources in The Hague have confirmed the existence of the plans which are in a briefing junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff is due to send parliament this week, the paper says."

EU: Refugee crisis: Arrivals rocket in Italy amid warnings Turkey deal could force migrants on more dangerous routes (The Independent, link): "The number of refugees arriving in Italy is rising sharply amid fears that a controversial deal struck with Turkey could force asylum seekers to take longer and more dangerous routes to Europe.

The Italian interior ministry has documented 16,075 migrants crossing to its shores so far this year, compared to just over 10,000 during the same period in 2015.

Most were rescued from smugglers’ boats off the Libyan coast and brought ashore in Sicily by the coast guard."

Few new pledges at U.N. talks to resettle Syrian refugees (Reuters, link): "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries on Wednesday to re-settle nearly half a million Syrian refugees in the next three years, but only Italy, Sweden and the United States immediately announced plans to play a part.

The United Nations refugee agency aims to re-settle some 480,000, about 10 percent of those now in neighbouring countries, by the end of 2018, but concedes it is battling to overcome widespread fear and political wrangling."

UN Secretary General says more help needed for Syrian refugees (UNHCR, link): "Addressing a one-day, high-level conference in Geneva on refugees from Syria, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said more needs to be done to provide resettlement and other answers for their plight.

"We are here to address the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time … This demands an exponential increase in global solidarity," he told the gathering at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, attended by the representatives of 92 countries together with governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

Some 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee across borders by five years of war, while another 6.6 million are internally displaced. While talks are underway to find lasting peace, the UN chief said more countries need to step up and provide solutions for Syrian refugees.

"The best way to offer hope to Syrians is by ending the conflict," the Secretary General said. "But until such talks bear fruit, the Syrian people and the region still face a desperate situation. The world must step up, with concrete actions and pledges. All countries can do more.""

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