Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 11.5.16

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 'Risks of inaction are considerable', says Ban, urging new compact on refugees and migrants (UN, link): " Despite bold efforts, responses to the large movements of refugees and migrants – which will continue or possibly increase due to such issues as conflict, poverty and disasters – have been largely inadequate, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in a new report, calling for the adoption of a global compact on responsibility-sharing that collectively ensures the human rights, safety and dignity of all refugees and migrants.


“Away from the daily headlines and stark images, strains are quietly accumulating on refugees and migrants, as well as on countries and communities that receive them, sometimes for many years,” Mr. Ban stressed in his report to the UN General Assembly, entitled In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants.

“If one lesson can be drawn from the past few years, it is that individual countries cannot solve these issues on their own. International cooperation and action to address large movements of refugees and migrants must be strengthened,” he added.

Any approach should uphold the safety and dignity in large movements of both refugees and migrants, Mr. Ban said, urging Member States to, among other things, address the root causes of such movements, protect people en route and at borders, and prevent discrimination and promote inclusion."

Full report: Report of the Secretary-General: In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants (pdf)

 EU-Turkey deal not binding, says EP legal chief (EUobserver, link): "The legal arm of the European Parliament on Monday (9 May) spoke out against the EU deal with Turkey.

It noted the statement between the two on 18 March is nothing more than a press release, which has no legal bearing.

"This statement was nothing more than a press communique," the parliament lawyer told MEPs in the civil liberties committee.

"This statement is not a binding agreement."

He noted the statement came without any signatures and was not published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

"It is very difficult to conclude that both the European Union and Turkey wanted to be legally bound under international law by this declaration," he said."

And see: Is the EU-Turkey refugee and migration deal a treaty? (EU Law Analysis, link)

 EU-TURKEY: Visa liberalisation for Turkey: EU critieria must be met, say MEPs (press release, pdf): "The EU should make sure that all its requirements are met before granting Turkey visa-free access to the Schengen area, stressed Civil Liberties Committee MEPs in a debate with the EU Commission on Monday. Most MEPs criticised the Commission for proposing a visa waiver for Turkish nationals even though the country has not yet fulfilled all the criteria. Turkey should not be discriminated, but neither should it receive preferential treatment, they agreed."

And see: EP stops work on Turkey visa waiver (EUobserver, link): "MEPs have stopped work on plans to give Turks visa-free access to the EU’s Schengen zone, putting a wider migrant deal in doubt.

Group leaders in the European Parliament's “conference of presidents” quietly suspended work on the file last Wednesday. Some of the lead MEPs on the dossier, the group coordinators in the civil liberties committee (LIBE), found out about the suspension on Monday (9 May).

"They [EP group leaders] decided to stop the whole thing," the German centre-left coordinator Birgit Sippel told this website on Tuesday.

Judith Sargentini, a Dutch Green MEP, said EU parliament chief Martin Schulz suspended it because Turkey had not yet met all EU visa-free criteria.

“Schulz said we will only start processing the file when the 72 criteria have been met,” she said."

 Hungary imposes strict measures on refugees after border shooting (Vatican Radio, link): "Hungary's Parliament has adopted strict new measures towards asylum seekers and also approved a government referendum on whether to accept a European Union quota plan to distribute as many as 160.000 refugees among member states. The vote came amid rising tensions in the region after Slovak border guards shot at refugees near the Hungarian border.

Hungarian legislators approved tougher conditions for asylum seekers, including cutting allowed stays at reception centers from 60 days to maximum 30 days and gradually reducing their already meager social benefits and subsidies.

Human rights activists condemned the measures saying they are meant to discourage refugees from seeking asylum in Hungary and forcing them into increasingly worse and unpleasant situations.

Hungarian authorities have acknowledged that only 197 people were granted asylum or some other sort of international protection this year in the January-April period."

And: Parliaments votes to cut benefits for migrants and to issue residence permits more easily (, link)

See also: Hungarian parliament backs referendum challenging EU refugee quotas (Europe Online, link) and Hungary to hold anti-migrant referendum (Hungarian Free Press, link)

 News (11.5.16)

Creating 'security' for Europe's new child arrivals (Christian Science Monitor, link): "It is a symbol of desperation and, they hope, of a better life to come. On the Greek island of Lesbos, which half a million refugees passed through last year, the local garbage dump has turned into a burnt-orange mountain of life jackets.

Many of them are baby-sized, some bearing the words, “Not for use in boating.” An inner tube marked with the characters from “Toy Story” lies on one of the piles. The life jackets are refuse left behind by the interminable waves of refugees from Syria and other countries making the journey across the eastern Mediterranean in their quest to push deeper into Europe.

As Sweden, Germany, and other destination countries face the daunting task of integrating new refugee children, many other minors are just starting to come, in a flow of humanity that is unprecedented in scale and whose members often fall victim to the perils of the pilgrimage. Indeed, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that on average two children have died per day since September trying to cross the Mediterranean."

DENMARK: Police Rescue Migrants From Icy Danish Waters (NDTV, link): " Two migrants were in hospital after authorities rescued them from icy waters off Denmark as they tried to reach Sweden to ask for asylum, Danish police said today.

They were part of a group of four men who attempted to cross on Monday the strait between Denmark and Sweden, where the water is around eight degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit).

"There were two who were taken to hospital after the rescue operation," police spokesman Henrik Svejstrup told local Danish broadcaster TV 2 Lorry.

"One was put on a respirator, but we expect him to be taken out of the coma" later today, he added."

Turkey readmitted 386 irregular migrants since March 20: Foreign Ministry (Hurriyet, link): "In line with a March deal with the European Union, almost 400 illegal immigrants have been readmitted to Turkey so far, the spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry has announced, noting that 125 Syrians have been resettled in five EU countries under the same deal.

“Within the framework of the agreement with the EU, 386 irregular migrants have been readmitted to Turkey from five Greek islands. Of those, 14 of them were Syrians and a vast majority was other countries’ citizens,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç told reporters at a press conference on May 9."

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