Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 27.5.16


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 Dispatches: ISIS Advance Traps 165,000 Syrians at Closed Turkish Border (Human Rights Watch, link): "There are two walls on the Turkey-Syria border.


One is manned by Turkish border guards enforcing Turkey’s 15 month-old border closure who, according to witnesses, have at times shot at and assaulted Syrian asylum seekers as they try to reach safety in Turkey – abuses strongly denied by the Turkish government.

The other is a wall of silence by the rest of the world, including the United Nations, which has chosen to turn a blind eye to Turkey’s breach of international law which prohibits forcing people back to places, including by rejecting them at the border, where their lives or freedom would be threatened."

 EU: Safe country lists deny the right to asylum: AEDH, EuroMed Rights, FIDH report

From the press release (pdf): "On 30 May 2016, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament will discuss the proposed amendments to the proposal for a regulation by the European Commission in September 2015 for the purpose of establishing an EU common list of "safe countries of origin". Such a labelling implies that there should be, in principle no risk of persecution for asylum seekers and that the rule of law is respected in those countries.

The AEDH, EuroMed Rights and the FIDH warn against the dangers of using the concept of safety in processing asylum applications (see analysis). No country may be deemed "safe". By adopting such a list, the European Union (EU) and its Members States will institutionalise at European level a practice by which the Member States could refuse to fully comply with their responsibilities towards asylum seekers, in violation of their international obligations.

To date, 12 of the 28 Member States have a national list of "safe countries", but the lists are far from homogeneous. The Commission's proposal aims to remedy these disparities. The seven countries that the proposal deems "safe" are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

The Commission plans to use the same approach in order to ensure that a common list of "safe third countries" is adopted to enable asylum seekers to be sent back to the countries through which they transited before their arrival in the EU, and where they could "legitimately" file their asylum applications."

Full report: "Safe" countries: a denial of the right to asylum (pdf)

 GREECE: Idomeni evacuation: consequences and next steps

Major NGOs and numerous independent voices have criticised the clearance of the Idomeni camp in northern Greece, whilst others have highlighted the consequences of the decision and the Greek government makes plans to clear the Elliniko camp in Athens next.

 Dozens feared dead as migrant boat capsizes in Mediterranean (The Guardian, link): "Dozens of people are feared to have drowned in the second shipwreck in as many days in the southern Mediterranean, amid tentative signs that some Syrians may be trying once again to make for Europe from Libya.

At least 20 people drowned in a wreck 35 nautical miles north of the Libyan smuggling hub of Zuwara when a repurposed fishing boat sank on Thursday morning, the EU’s anti-smuggling operation said. Photographs taken from an EU reconnaissance plane showed groups of men desperately waving at the aircraft from a half-submerged blue trawler.

It followed another tragedy on Wednesday, when a boat of about 600 sank in nearby waters, drowning at least five."

 UNHCR (Daily report, 26.5.16)

104 people arrived in Lesvos on 26 May (the highest number for weeks).

 EU: Relocation from Italy and Greece: Sweden's obligations postponed

Agence Europe reports that the European Parliament has approved a Council Decision which will postpone for a year Sweden's obligations to relocate refugees currently in Greece and Italy: "The mechanism has been devised over two years and this temporary derogation granted on Thursday will postpone, but not suspend, Sweden's obligations to host its share of the asylum seekers currently in Greece and Italy. In November, the Commission authorised Sweden to have a derogation, as the country stressed that it was at its limits for hosting asylum seekers and that it had the highest rate of asylum seekers per million citizens (11.503/1 million) in 2015. Austria also secured arrangements regarding its obligations."

 SPAIN: Andalucian Association for Human Rights confirms an increase in arrivals and deaths at the southern border during 2015

Last month the Andalucian Association for Human Rights released a report, 'Human Rights at the Southern Border 2016', which documents and analyses the situation for migrants and refugees at the southern borders of Spain. The organization condemns the increasing number of deaths "resulting from the immoral migration policies than confine people in countries immersed in war and hunger."

 European Commission: Press release: Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €47 million to strengthen migration management and to support education of Syrian refugees (pdf): "Today, the European Commission is delivering on its commitment to accelerate the implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey by announcing a further €47 million in new projects, bringing the total amount contracted under the Facility to address the immediate needs of refugees and host communities in Turkey so far to almost €240 million.

€20 million has been committed under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) to enhance the capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard to carry out search and rescue operations. An additional €27 million will fund educational infrastructure, skills training and social support for Syrian refugees under the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. This new commitment is part of the accelerated implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey which was agreed under the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March."

 UK: Information Commissioner's Office instructs Home Office to provide Syrian refugee data (, link): "The Home Affairs Committee submitted an FOI (freedom of information) request to the Home Office on 7 April 2016 in an attempt to uncover the number of Syrian refugees settled in each local authority area, since the Prime Minister's September 2015 announcement that 20,000 Syrian refugees would be settled in the UK by 2020."

 UK prepares to send warship to tackle Libya refugee crisis (Middle East Eye, link): "The British government is preparing to send a Royal Navy warship to the coast of Libya to lead new attempts to tackle people and weapon smuggling amid fears of a surge in refugee boats following the closure of the Turkish route into Europe.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to outline a new EU plan on Friday, and a government spokesman said late on Thursday that a formal request for help was imminently expected from the UN-backed Libyan unity government."

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