Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 14-15.5.16


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 David Miliband's refugee aid group in corruption probe (Daily Telegraph, link):


"The United States is investigating an international aid group headed by David Miliband over allegations of corruption in projects intended to help Syrian civilians and refugees. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is one of three international groups to have had millions of pounds in funding withdrawn over alleged bid-rigging and bribery....

Allegations relate to the organisations systematically overpaying for goods in Turkey. A senior USAID official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said private Turkish companies had sold cut-rate blankets and other basic materials at vastly inflated prices and pocketed the difference...."

 Refugees: German police chief concerned at growing anti-refugee violence (DW, link):

"Germany's federal police chief says there have been 45 arson ttacks on refugee shelters so far this year. He warned of the potential threat posed by organized right-wing extremist crime....

Speaking to newspapers of the Funke media group, Münch said the "increasing level of violence was especially of concern," adding that 45 arson attacks had been carried out on refugee shelters so far this year.."

 Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF): Europe, don't turn your back on asylum: #TakePeopleIn (link)

"Meanwhile the welcome offered by Europe to those in Greece often erases what little hope people had left. In island ‘hotspots’ there are virtually no safeguards in place. Women fear to go to the toilet once darkness falls, mothers beg for formula milk to feed their babies, and men of all ages lose their dignity fighting over scraps of food or who is next in line.

European countries, people are in need of your help and protection – not just your money. Is World War II so long ago that you no longer recall the basic human need to flee from violence and persecution when left with no other choice? We understand that meeting the huge challenges of the global displacement crisis has become a controversial political issue, but for us it is first and foremost a humanitarian one, and it should be for you too.

"Many of your citizens have risen to this challenge by volunteering to help others, but your leadership has lagged behind for fear of potential political consequences. We appeal to you, the leaders of Europe, to rise to the challenge: use your substantial resources to welcome and offer protection to those who need your help."

Greece: Is The Relocation Program Real? (News that Moves, link): "There is a lot of scepticism among the refugee population regarding the legitimacy of the relocation program. Our team reports that almost everyone they talk to seems to believe that the program is not a real program. It seems this opinion is informed by the extreme difficulties and frustrations that many people have had in accessing the Greek Asylum Service Skype line."

and see: Statistical Data of the Greek Asylum Service – Relocation Procedures (Minister of the Interior, pdf)

 Greece-Turkey: Migrant influx is down but deal spat fuels fears (, link):

"The number of migrants arriving in Greece dropped 90 percent in April, the European Union border agency Frontex said Friday, a sign that an agreement between Turkey and the EU to curb migration has had an impact, though tensions between Ankara and Brussels over Turkey’s reluctance to amend its anti-terrorism laws have fueled fears that the deal will collapse.....

In Athens, however, there are fears that the sharp drop in numbers may reverse soon as a deal between the EU and Turkey to curb migration is wobbling following Ankara’s insistence on its citizens being granted visa-free travel to Europe while it refuses to satisfy EU demands for it to reform its anti-terrorism legislation. The deal involves Turkey taking back the majority of migrants that reach Greece. If it collapses, a lull in arrivals may be reversed. Already the virtually zero influx before Orthodox Easter has picked up, with dozens of migrants now arriving on the islands every day." [emphasis added]

 Are You Syrious (link)

The Charter of Idomeni receives support among journalist groups.

"The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) “strongly supports” the initiative of its affiliate in Greece the Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers (ESIEMTH)?—?who drafted a proposal for the adoption of the Anti-racism Ethics Code of the Greek journalists called The Charter of Idomeni, named after the location at northern border. The Charter explains that it aims at preserving “the social role of journalists in the conditions created by the presence of refugees, migrants, minorities and socially vulnerable groups in Greece, discourage and denounce climates of intolerance, guarantee the right to freedom of expression and press freedom and the rights of refugees and provide journalists with conditions of voluntary commitment in performing their duties”. The draft has 11 articles and is described as a practical guide for local and foreign journalists covering the migrant issues. The draft has also received the support of the Italian NGO Carta di Roma."

Increasing number of people caught while trying to cross the Greek-FYROM border

"Macedonian authorities report that an increasing number of people have been caught while trying to irregularly cross the Greek-FYROM border. Most of them are from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Iraq.

According to News That Moves, people crossing irregularly into FYROM will first be transferred to the camp in Gevgelija, and then returned to Greece. According to the FYROM Asylum Law, amended on April 4th, claims submitted by persons who crossed irregularly from a “safe third country” like Greece will be considered unfounded. Only ill and injured refugees can be transferred to the Asylum center in Gazi Baba in Skopje."

Italy deploys 110 more guards to patrol Alpine pass after warning from Austrian officials

"Italy said on Friday it had deployed 110 more guards to patrol the Alpine crossing point between the two countries, in order to keep refugees from traveling into Austria, after Vienna threatened to introduce tighter border controls that could have hurt trade routes by slowing down traffic. "Migrants who arrive here thinking to go to Austria will be taken to Italian shelters”, said Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano at the Brenner Pass."

 UNHCR Daily Report (13.5.16)

"Yesterday, according to the Italian Cost Guard, some 1,000 refugees and migrants were rescued off the coast of Italy, including refugee families and unaccompanied children. In one operation, some 500 people travelling in two fishing boats that had departed several days earlier from Egypt were rescued off Sicily, south east of Cape Passero. Apart from the two fishing boats that sailed from Egypt, it is believed that there were other smaller boats that came from Libya. Disembarkation of the 1,000 people rescued yesterday is taking place today at four different locations in southern Italy: Catania, Palermo, Augusta and Crotone, and will probably last the whole day.UNHCR staff will be present and will be giving information and assistance to the persons rescued."

"A proposal was made in the German Parliament to determine the status of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as safe countries of origin. Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, stated that there are “good reasons” for declaring these states as safe countries of origin. The government hopes that the proposal will lead to accelerated asylum procedures, faster returns for rejected asylum seekers originating from these countries and a “deterrent effect” for people from “safe counters” intending to come travel to Germany. A final decision will be made on the 10 June by the Bundesrat. Many federal states have not yet taken a final position."

Hungary to resume transfers of asylum seekers under Dublin regulation to Greece in overall climate of human rights repression (ECRE, link):

"The Hungarian Office for Immigration and Nationality has recently issued decisions ordering the transfer of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin III Regulation. ECRE member Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) has expressed concern regarding these developments and called on Hungary to continue the suspension of transfers to Greece....

“The HHC find this recent development extremely worrisome: first it is unfair to Greece, which is already struggling to be able to handle the backlog of cases and provide shelter and protection to refugees. Second, it is clear that the situation in Greece for refugees and asylum seekers is still far from the standards required by the European Union. According to information provided by the ELENA network, there is no other Member State which orders transfers to Greece, which shows that the situation is still not assessed as satisfactory,” stated the HHC."

 News (14-15.5.16)

Expert-level talks ongoing in Brussels to overcome terror impasse with Turkey: EU envoy (, link)

Germany: Munich police brace for rival protests at anti-refugee party's meeting (Guardian, link): "Right- and leftwing protesters expected at Alternative for Germany event in beer hall where Adolf Hitler once gave a speech."

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