Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 7-8.5.16

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 President Erdogan tells EU: “We’re going our way, you go yours” – Bye, Bye to EU Turkey Deal (Keep Talking Greece, link):


"Turkish president President Tayyip Erdogan told the European Union on Friday that Turkey would not make changes to its terrorism laws required under a deal to curb migration, and declared: “we’re going our way, you go yours”.

His fiery speech will be a blow to any hope in European capitals that it might be business as usual with Turkey after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who negotiated the migration deal with Europe and had largely delivered on Turkey’s commitments so far, announced he was standing down.

The EU asked member states on Wednesday to grant visa-free travel to Turks in return for Ankara stopping migrants reaching Europe, but said Turkey still had to change some legislation, including bringing its terrorism laws in line with EU standards..."

 Austria: Tear gas used at Brenner Pass protest against Austria migration policy (DW, link): "Dozens of protesters have thrown bricks and firecrackers at a police blockade, with officers using tear gas in response. Austria's plans to tighten border controls have angered many Italians."

 Are You Syrious (link)

53,652 refugees are in Greece today, with 44 new arrivals to the islands

"Government statistics report a total of 53,652 refugees across the country today as of 8AM, lower than yesterday’s total of 53,901. The government reports 7,703 people at the islands, with 15 new arrivals — 14 at Samos and 1 at Chios. By 5PM today, volunteers at Lesvos reported the arrival of one boat with 29 people, which landed in the North of the island while no information is available for the South.

The greatest number of people is at the mainland—14,389 in Attiki (out of this, 2135 in the Port of Piraeus and 2880 in Skaramagas Dock), 1,954 in the Central, 338 in the Southern and 29,268 in the Northern Greece. 10,028 refugees are still in Idomeni camp."

Refugees of Viale Camp are on a hunger strike after being detained for over a month

"Refugees started a hunger strike four days ago in Viale, at Chios?—?after 47 days in Viale (from March 20) there is a little attention given to them and they have no information about what will happen to them. In order to remain visible, they started a hunger strike, and some of the people have sewn their mouths shut. (Source:"

ITALY: Refugees protest at Lampedusa being held for months

"“Take us away from this prison” — Migrants were protesting in the streets of Lampedusa island yesterday asking to leave the island, where they have been held for months and where more than 70 migrants have been on a hunger and thirst strike against the identification and hotspot system. Another 400 people have landed on the island in the last 24 hours. (Source: La Repubblica)"

Refugees forced to sleep on the street in Pordenone as a result of slow accommodation

According to Messaggero Veneto, the situation could be soon become critical for refugees and migrants in Pordenone, the city in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, the Italian region "at the border with Austria and Slovenia. The funds available for the Pordenone province to host refugees in 2016 are sufficient for 800 people, while according to the data by the local Nuovi Vicini organization, the number of people has already reached 770 and it is constantly growing."

 Excellent summary from MSF: EU Migration Crisis Update - May 2016 (link):

"Todays’ humanitarian crisis in Europe in regards to migrants and refugees is a result of a collective catastrophically failure to respond to the urgent need for assistance and protection of over a million men, women and children. The policies and actions of European governments actively contributed to the worsening of the so-called “refugee crisis” and the health and well-being of those who fled. The lack of safe and legal options for people to flee, the razor wire fences, capriciously closed borders, squalid, inhumane reception conditions and the complicated, ever changing registration procedures aggravated the already miserable conditions imposed on thousands fleeing war, poverty and oppression, serving only to make fleeing more dangerous and increasing the suffering of those on the move."

 The Orbanisation of EU asylum law: the latest EU asylum proposals (EU Law Analysis, link):

"The Commission’s proposals are not a done deal, of course. Some Member States and Members of the European Parliament have misgiving about a visa waiver for Turkey, on migration control or human rights grounds. MEPs fought for years for many of the provisions in the Dublin III Regulation (on family members and unaccompanied minors in particular) which the Commission now seeks to overturn. As I pointed out above, some of the proposed changes to the Dublin rules are highly vulnerable to challenge in the CJEU, if adopted. The red herring of a €250,000 sanction is already floating on the surface of the pond. And the whole EU/Turkey deal might anyway be overturned at the whim of Turkish President Erdogan – the only politician whose ego makes Donald Trump’s look small by comparison."

 RUMOUR: Will Afghans Be Stuck In Greece?  (news that moves, link):

“They say Afghans are the third most vulnerable on the list. They will separate Afghans and spread Syrians to other EU countries. Afghans will be stuck here.”

Afghans are one of the major groups of refugees currently in Greece. Afghans are not eligible for relocation in the EU. EASO (European Asylum Support Office), the agency that manages the EU Relocation Program, uses specific criteria for the eligible nationalities and updates the criteria quarterly. Afghans are eligible for Family Reunification, in which case they may be able to live in another EU country. You can apply for family reunification if you have a core family member (spouse or minor child) who has a legal residency permit in another EU country. The process might take some time. For more information: UNHCR: Family Reunification(link)"

 Erdogan says Turkey will not change terror laws for EU (, link):

"Turkish president tells Europe he will not change anti-terror measures in exchange for visa-free travel for Turks in EU. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected easing anti-terror legislation in exchange for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the European Union. Erdogan told EU states, "We'll go our way, you go yours," in a statement released on Friday, just a day after the resignation of his Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu."

 EU-Turkey visa deal on brink as Erdogan refuses to change terror laws (Guardian, link):

"Refugee pact appears in danger of falling apart as Turkish president tells Europe: ‘We’ll go our way, you go yours’"

When the European commission made a conditional offer of visa-free travel earlier this week, it said Ankara must rewrite its anti-terrorism laws because they were used to prosecute journalists and government critics....

MEP Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal group in the parliament, highlighted anti-terrorist laws, which “have been used in a brutal clampdown” against journalists. “As long as this remains the case, the European parliament should not support this proposal for visa liberalisation,” he said."

 UNHCR: Daily Report (6.5.6)

"Last week, temporary border controls at the Hungarian- Austrian border were introduced. The Ministry of Interior also presented details for future border controls and a border management system at the Austrian-Italian crossing where refugees and migrants would be channelled through."

"A total of 1,694 third-country nationals were deported or returned to their countries of origin from Greece in April, under operational planning to combat irregular migration, Greek Police announced on Thursday. The greatest number of returns were to Albania (852), Pakistan (157), Morocco (107), Iran (61), Georgia (51), Afghanistan (45) and Bangladesh (29). A total of 6,427 third-country nationals have been returned to their country of origin since the beginning of the year, Greek Police said." [emphasis added]

Comment: A large number of people are returned by Greece to Albania each year.

Denmark wants to stay out of EU asylum distribution plan (The, link): "The Danish government has promised to do everything it can to land an agreement with the EU that would see Denmark escaping a requirement to accept an EU-defined number of asylum seekers, while retaining its right to send asylum seekers back to other EU countries."

 Italy-Austria border controls would be 'political catastrophe' (The, link):

"Austria imposing controls on its border with Italy would be a "political catastrophe" for Europe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Saturday.

Vienna is threatening to resume checks on the Brenner Pass between the two countries as part of a package of anti-migrant measures if Italy does not do more to reduce the number of new arrivals heading to Austria."

 EU ‘sacrifices’ press freedom for Turkish help - Rights groups say migration plan ignores Turkey’s worsening record on human rights (Politico, link):

" It didn’t take long for the platitudes about press freedom to fall foul of the messy political reality of Europe’s migration crisis.

A day after stressing their commitment to free speech to mark World Press Freedom Day, European commissioners were accused of abandoning those principles to win the favor of one of the region’s most repressive autocrats....

The Commission has “abandoned the many journalists, editors and writers in Turkey who face prosecution, imprisonment, harassment and even death for speaking out,” Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, a writers’ association, said.

Not only is the Commission’s pursuit of a deal with Erdogan a betrayal of the Turkish media organizations and journalists that have been victimized by his administration, the critics said, it’s also a signal to other regimes that they can act with impunity against their critics — so long as Brussels needs their support."

 News (7-8.5.6)

Bulgaria: Return Migrants to Turkey from June 1 (Balkan Insight, link) "Bulgaria has become the first EU member state to sign a protocol with Ankara to set in place procedures for sending illegal migrants back to Turkey starting from next month."

The refugee children of Idomeni: alone, far from home but clinging to hope (Observer, link): "They have fled their wartorn homelands in Syria and Afghanistan. Now they are stuck in northern Greece – so close to a new life"

German NGO to fund facility for refugees in northern Greece (, link): "Plans are afoot for the creation of a new reception center for refugees near Thermi, east of Thessaloniki, funded by a German nongovernmental organization, Kathimerini understands."

Turkey’s visa liberalisation: An insult to the EU’s eastern neighbours (euractiv, link): "While the EU may think that remaining silent on the more challenging issues of the visa liberalisation deal might be a price worth paying for dealing with the refugee crisis, it reflects the bloc’s desperation, writes Igor Merheim-Eyre."

Austrian mosque under construction vandalized with pig heads, blood (, link)

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