Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.1.17)

EU: Viewpoint: More externalisation of migration control by Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas (senior researcher, Barcelona Centre of International Affairs, CIDOB)

We pay but others do it. This first and foremost has been the response of the European Union to the so-called "refugee crisis". Under the title of the European Agenda on Migration, in May 2015 the European Commission proposed a series of measures to stop what it called "the human misery created by those who exploit migrants." This document established as a priority cooperation with third countries to jointly address the causes of emigration. In practice, this cooperation has been limited to promoting the readmission of irregular migrants, border control and the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees in third countries. The EU's agreements with Turkey (March 2016) and more recently with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia (June 2016) represent the implementation of this approach.

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French farmer on trial for helping migrants across Italian border - Cédric Herrou, who was previously arrested for aiding eight Eritreans, faces up to five years in jail and €30,000 fine if convicted (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer, who has become a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and giving them shelter, has gone on trial for aiding illegal arrivals. Cédric Herrou is one of three people to appear before courts in southern France for assisting people fleeing to Europe.

The 37-year-old activist, accused of “helping undocumented foreigners enter, move about and reside” in France, faces up to five years in prison and a €30,000 (£25,500) fine if convicted.... He has been unapologetic about helping people travelling through Europe via the often perilous boat journey across the Mediterranean.

“If we have to break the law to help people, let’s do it!” he told supporters outside the Nice court on Wednesday, where a crowd of about 300 people gathered."

Thousands of refugees are suing Germany (DW, link):

"Experts believe the number of asylum-related court cases could triple in 2017. Many refugees going to court are Syrians who aren't in danger of being sent back. But they want to make sure their families are safe, too."

Greek Government plans for 2017 (New That Moves, link):

"Greek Minister of Migration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas has outlined his government’s plans to cope with the refugee crisis in Greece in 2017....

After the Christmas holidays, the government will begin a program relocating some people to the island of Crete, where they will be hosted in apartments, in cooperation with the local authorities. In November, Mouzalas said that no more than 2,000 people will be relocated to Crete;...

Security: Authorities are also working on increasing police presence on the islands and on establishing small closed centres (100-200 people) to “tackle criminality,” and detain migrants and refugees displaying “criminal behaviour,” Mouzalas noted;"

The struggle of refugee mothers stranded in Greece (Middle East Eye, link):

"As the refugee crisis in Europe stumbles into its second winter, mothers have a particularly difficult task ahead of them...

Despite the deteriorating conditions in camps across Greece, and the increasingly poor treatment of refugees throughout Europe, refugees continue to trickle in through the Greek islands on a near-daily basis. With the Macedonian border closed, Greece is struggling under the weight of increasingly desperate refugees and migrants."

Walls and welcome: Germany looks to 2017 after a tumultuous year (Middle East Eye, link):

"After a year marked by violent attacks and rising fear, a local council is building a wall around a refugee centre - and residents are divided."

In 2017 | Immigration will reveal the crisis of human rights inside our societies (Malta Today, link)

"Immigration has become a litmus test of our societies’ capacity to treat people with dignity. The grim reality is that we enter a 2017 imbued with a solidarity and human rights crisis which will make the quest for social and global justice more demanding, but also more pertinent."

Are You Syrious (4.1.17, link)

Greece: Overcrowding in the camps, people sleeping in police precincts

"There are 93 new arrivals in Greek islands today. As camps on the islands are dangerously overcrowded, people are being in some instances transferred to local police precincts. “The situation in the cells has been suffocating for months now,” Dimitris Alexiou, spokesman for the local police union, told Kathimerini. With overcrowding and cold temperatures, flu is spreading in the camps."

Returns to Greece may be resumed, but humane conditions not - sign the petition against the returns

"Overcrowding and non existent winterization of the camps did not prevent the EU commission from recommending the returns to Greece that were suspended in 2011 and, as we have reported, may be resumed in March 2017. This recommendation, though, is not binding for all EU member states and can not be applied retroactively, meaning that people who reached other EU countries in the past and until the 15th of March 2017 will not be returned to Greece. The new rules will concern only asylum applicants who enter Greece irregularly or not from the 15th of March, 2017 onward, and then move without authorization to another EU country.

Calais Action stresses that “Yet no moves are being made to force other European states to make good on their commitments to receive a quota of refugees.” Out of tens of thousands relocations that member states agreed to, only 7,006 have been carried out until the end of 2016. “ If these “Dublin” transfers are restarted Greece will once again be bearing the burden for the refugee crisis completely unsupported by other responsible Schengen states.” Calais Action collective posted next to the online petition to stop the returns to Greece." Please sign it here

Italy to “step up” the deportations

While Italy is at the forefront of the Mediterranean rescues and receives those saved, it has not manage to properly accommodate those arriving. Meanwhile, riots broke out in the Cona migrant centre in the Veneto region following the death of a 25-year-old woman of a blood clot on Monday. Due to this Italy on Wednesday pledged to step up deportations of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected with Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, the country’s former interior minister, said in an interview with La Stampa daily that “We have saved many lives but we cannot accept rule-breaking. We need to speed up deportations” . For more follow the link

Cyprus: Conditions at Kofinou asylum centre remain substandard, human rights officials say (Updated: ministry responds) (, link):

"Despite the fact that Cyprus was not greatly affected by the mass movement of refugees in 2016, conditions at the Kofinou reception centre for asylum seekers remain substandard, officials said.

In a joint open letter, Human Rights Commissioner Eliza Savvidou and the representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cyprus Damtew Dessalenge, said that living conditions at the reception centre had gradually deteriorated due to overcrowding while the number of staff remains the same.

Representatives of the commissioner’s office and of the UNHCR visited the Kofinou reception centre in December, the letter said, and verified that there were many operational problems, and called on the competent authorities to intervene promptly. “Due to the tripling of the centre’s population, reception and living conditions gradually worsen, creating risks for serious health and safety problems for the residents,” the letter said."


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