Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-18.9.16): news, reports and documents

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- The Bratislava Declaration - appeasing "extreme or populists" causes?

EU: European Council meeting: The Bratislava Declaration and The Bratislava Roadmap (16.9.16, pdf):

In his "State of the Union" address Commission President Juncker said:

"“The recent terrible events in the Mediterranean have shown us that Europe needs to manage migration better, in all aspects. This is first of all a humanitarian imperative. I am convinced that we must work closely together in a spirit of solidarity.”

In response to "extreme or populists forces", which include a number of EU Member States, the EU promises to try and complete "Fortress Europe"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The "principles of responsibility and solidarity" and hunanitarianism have patently failed so the EU answer is to concede to and appease "extreme or populists forces" arguments."

See also: The Bratislava Declaration and The Bratislava Roadmap (16.9.16, pdf):

- Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the Bratislava summit (pdf): "Never to allow for the return of uncontrolled refugee flows of last year and to ensure full control of our external border to get back to Schengen. We are determined to continue our co-operation with Turkey and Western Balkans but also to establish migration compacts with African countries"

- STATE OF THE UNION 2016 by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission 14 September 2016 (pdf)

- Europe’s refugees and migrants: hidden flows, tightened borders and spiralling costs (Overseas Development Institute (ODI), link):

"The European response to the current migration ‘crisis’ has been swift. Since 2014, at least €17 billion has been spent on deterring refugees and migrants through tighter border controls and bilateral agreements, such as the EU-Turkey deal. These measures have been effective in reducing flows – as few as 330,000 refugees and migrants are likely to arrive in Europe this year via the Mediterranean through ‘overt’ routes.

However, Europe will still see 890,000 asylum applications in 2016. This discrepancy between overt arrivals and asylum applications shows that there are many people whose journeys to Europe we know little about. Border controls have, in many cases, simply rerouted refugees and migrants towards alternative, ‘covert’ routes."

See report: Europe’s refugees and migrants: Hidden flows, tightened borders and spiralling costs (pdf)

- Are You Syrious (17.9.16)

New arrivals: Kos: 10, Chios: 46 and Lesvos : 51

"Currently, 60.079 refugees are in Greece, but people are arriving all the time. Volunteer Rafat Hammoud posted a story about a group of refugees he found near the road on the south coast in Mytilini."

Serbia: Ultra right protest announced

"Ultra right organization Nacionalni srpski front announced anti-migrant protest for the beginning of October to be held in Belgrade. This organization, which is officially registered in Serbia, as one of the goals of their work, puts “to stop migrant invasion”.

At the same time, Srpski narodni pocket Zbor announced a public event for the end of September with the guests from ultra right German groups."

Bulgaria: 2776 asylum seekers in August

The State Agency for Refugees (SAR) registered 2,776 asylum seekers in August, that is 1,543 asylum seekers more than in July.

From January the 1st until August the 31st, the SAR granted refugee status to 376 people and 302 got humanitarian status, 597 people were refused. Until the end of August, 11,952 people were registered by the SAR to have sought “protection” in Bulgaria in 2016.

The number of people in camps is also rising and currently, 93 percent of the overall capacity is filled, the Border monitoring reports.

According to the Ministry of Interior, from the 2nd-8th of September, the 664 people have entered Bulgaria. During this year, police in Bulgaria arrested 12,500 people who tried to cross the country, most of them from Afghanistan."

Germany: Another attack on refugees

"Refugee home in Erbach, southern Germany, was set a fire yesterday. Five people were injured and taken to the hospital.

Police said the place was deliberately set on fire overnight while 26 people were inside. In 2015, there were 1,047 attacks on planned and completed refugee shelters across Germany, and authorities warn the tally could be even higher for 2016."

Refugees are welcome in UK

"Big solidarity march was held today in London with tens of thousands people on the streets wishing welcome to refugees. They urged the government to take more action and help refugees, demanding that the UK take a “fair and proportionate” share of international refugees, provide more safe routes to the UK and offer more support to those already in the country.

Solidarity with Refugees director Ros Ereira said: This demonstration is the public’s best opportunity to show the Government that’s what we want them to do. Britain is a country that should welcome people fleeing desperate situations?—?let’s make that message heard loud and clear.”"

- Push-Backs at the Greek-Macedonian border violate human rights (Pro Asyl, link):

"From Idomeni to Strasbourg: Refugees demand their right to have rights at the ECtHR

Strasbourg/Berlin/Frankfurt, 14 September 2016 – Eight individuals from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are resisting the violation of their human rights on the route across the borders of Europe. They submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against their unlawful push-back from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the border camp Idomeni in Greece in March 2016. The claimants assert that FYROM’s practice of collective and often violent expulsions breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Pro Asyl provide support for the complaints. They see these legal proceedings as an important step in the struggle against push-backs at European borders and for refugees’ fundamental “right to have rights.” The applicants are represented by ECCHR’s cooperating attorney Carsten Gericke from Hamburg."

See: ECHR Case report

- Greece: Police Use Tear Gas on Chios Residents Protesting Migrant Situation (Greek Reporter, link):

"Greek police used tear gas against Chios residents during a protest march to the Suda migrant camp, causing a riot in the island’s capital central square....

Chios residents gathered at 6:30 pm at the capital’s main square to protest the overflowing migrant camps and the rising number of petty crimes committed by stranded migrants.

Initially, the demonstration was peaceful. Then protesters decided to hold a protest march towards the Souda camp where about 1,800 migrants and refugees are accommodated."

- EU: Council of the European Union: EU Border Guard and Maritime Safety Agency

- Extending Frontex's roles: REGULATION on the European Border and Coast Guard and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (176 pages, pdf): Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.

- European Border and Coast Guard: final approval (Council press release, pdf)

- REGULATION amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (pdf):

Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.Involves all EU maritime roles in cooperating with Frontex and other agencies for the purpose of gathering intelligence, border control and search and rescue:

"National authorities carrying out coast guard functions are responsible for a wide range of tasks, which may include maritime safety, security, search and rescue, border control, fisheries control, customs control, general law enforcement and environmental protection.... strengthen their cooperation, within their mandate, both with each other and with the national authorities carrying out coast guard functions, in order to increase maritime situational awareness and to support coherent and cost-efficient action....

providing surveillance and communication services based on state-of-the-art technology, including space-based and ground infrastructure and sensors mounted on any kind of platform...

enhancing the exchange of information and cooperation on coast guard functions including by analysing operational challenges and emerging risks in the maritime domain..."

- Bulgaria To Receive EUR 108 M in Emergency Assistance (, link):

"Bulgaria will receive EUR 108 M in emergency assistance for border defence and for dealing with the migrant flow, stated President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker."

- Hungarian European Society: Make the Referendum Invalid! (link)

"Hungarian non-governmental organisations, including the Hungarian Europe Society, condemned the anti-refugee referendum announced by the government in a joint declaration on 14 September 2016. They advice citizens to boycott the referendum or to submit an invalid vote.

The question put to referendum fails to promote our common concerns. It does not offer a solution either to the situation of refugees or the future of the European Union. It rejects solidarity with our fellow human beings in plight, just like with the other European member states. It has no intention to create a framework for peaceful coexistence. We are convinced that nobody can feel safe in the long run where public discourse is defined by hatred."

- Greece prepares to induct 22,000 refugee children in schools (, link):

"The government has launched an awareness campaign ahead of plans to induct some 22,000 child refugees into the Greek school system early next month.

The children will join 800 classes at schools across the country, according to the government’s plan. The schools that will participate in the program are to be announced in the coming days amid concerns of more reactions like the backlash in Oraiokastro, near Thessaloniki, where a parents’ association last week threatened to occupy a local school if refugee children are admitted."

- UK Foreign Secretary: Britain says EU mission should turn back migrant boats (Reuters, link):

"A European Union naval force deployed in the Mediterranean should turn back migrant boats after they leave Libya and prevent them from reaching Italy, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday. ...

"I think personally (the boats) should be turned back as close to the shore as possible so they don't reach the Italian mainland and that there is more of a deterrent," Johnson said, speaking alongside his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni.

"I think I am right in saying we have turned back about 200,000 migrants," Johnson said, before a nearby diplomat hastily corrected him. "Sorry, saved, saved. Thank you. We have saved 200,000 migrants and turned back 240 boats."

See: Britain’s Foreign Secretary Gets it Wrong on Boat Migration from Libya - Forcing Migrants Back is Uninformed and Inhumane (HRW, link)

- GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands a drop but still overcrowded

Latest Greek government figueres on hosting capacity for refugees.4,369 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,072 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,349 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,015 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 737 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 16-09-2016 (pdf)

- IOM Aids EU Relocation of 5,000 Asylum Seekers in First Year, Urges Renewed Effort (link):

"As the European Union (EU) relocation scheme reaches its one year anniversary, only 5,000 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States with IOM assistance. The EU programme adopted a year ago was set up to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from frontline EU Member States. Since then, IOM has assisted 4,954 people relocate from Greece and Italy.."

- Germany: Confrontations between refugees and extremists in Bautzen have made international headlines this week. So what is going on in the east German town? And how do locals feel about the unrest? Kay-Alexander Scholz reports. It is illegal to turn back migrant boats once they reach international waters. (DW, link): "Bautzen is my favorite town," says Menekse, a Kurd, in the town's central Kornmarkt square. This is also where violent clashes between refugees, police and right wing protesters have erupted in recent days."

- Ninety per cent of migrants and refugees crossing Sahara in hope of reaching Europe have witnessed death, torture and beatings (Telegraph, link):

"Ninety per cent of refugees and migrants crossing the Sahara in the hope of reaching Europe have seen fellow migrants murdered, beaten or drop dead of exhaustion during their nightmarish journeys, a humanitarian organisation said on Tuesday.

Doctors for Human Rights, an Italian humanitarian group, based their findings on interviews with 1,000 African migrants who trekked across the desert to Libya and from there paid smugglers for their passage across the Mediterranean in ex-fishing boats and rubber dinghies."

- Libya frees German migrant aid workers: NGO (News 24, link): "Two migrant aid workers from Germany who were held by Libyan coastguards have been freed, the group Sea Eye said Wednesday, adding that the circumstances of their arrest remain unclear. The two were released late on Monday, said Hans-Peter Buschheuer, spokesperson for the humanitarian group that rescues migrants at sea who are trying to reach Europe from North Africa."

- Are You Syrious (15.9.16)

New right-wing riots expected on Chios: Last night’s protests attracted 800 residents who rallied against the refugees.

"Following yesterday’s right-wing riots on Chios, when riot police had to intervene to keep a crowd of 800 people from approaching two refugee camps, new protest is announced for Friday, 16th of September. Volunteers on the ground say the same group of thugs leads all the extremist riots, but they have never seen any of them arrested, while several volunteers were taken in to police station yesterday after trying to prevent the mob from approaching the refugees in Souda camp. Both volunteers and refugees are adviset to try to remain calm and not engage in potential conflict. You can find a disturbing volunteer report from yesterday’s demonstrations here."

Greece: Number of refugees in camps drops on daily basis

"Following our reports about refugees who are leaving the camps and continuing their trip irregularly after loosing hope in EU administration, official numbers of camp residents in Greece keep dropping on daily basis: Today, Lesvos had 33 fewer officially registered refugees than yesterday, Chios 20 less. Daily drops have been registered in the mainland as well: Skaramagas dropped from 3450 yesterday to 3286 today (official capacity is 3200), and we couldn’t track the people who left the camp in the official statistic of the refugees in Greece. Attiki total dropped from 8757 to 8593 people. Andravida also dropped from 246 to 215, but has a capacity of 300. Larissa “lost” 9 residents. We have also noticed the increase of UNHCR host families from 269 to 284 and hotel accommodations from 2562 to 2617, but apartment accommodation dropped from 4692 to 4684 today."

- Cruelty and care in Chios, Greece (IRR News, link):

"an article by Malcolm James* on a visit he paid to Chios in Greece and what he witnessed while volunteering in early 2016 and the contradictions between caring for refugees and the cruelty meted out to them....

In the everyday actions on the island cruelty and care were also intertwined. Coastal rescue, the registration centre, food provision and the registering of volunteers provided different sites and practices through which these tensions could be understood......

Coastal rescue on Chios has been devolved to the Beach Team which has lookouts at strategic points on the coast and lit safe landing areas (such as beaches) with cars’ headlights to help refugees avoid the rocks. When the boats got close enough, volunteers would wade into the water and help people ashore. The volunteers worked to ensure that those lives, which they valued, could be saved."

- Greece: PM seeks relief from immigration pressure (, link):

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heads to a crucial European Union summit on Friday in Bratislava hoping for progress with regard to the refugee crisis as the numbers of migrants stranded in Greece continue to climb, putting additional pressure on already overcrowded reception centers and camps across the country."

- Migrant death toll expected to exceed 10,000 in 2016 (The Observer, link): "Projected figures on migrant fatalities released as US prepares to host two major summits on refugee crisis."

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