22 March 2017
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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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A video by the Serbian volunteer group Fresh Response has collected the testimonies of numerous people who have suffered violence and mistreatment at the hands of Hungarian police whilst trying to cross into the country from Serbia. The film includes numerous accounts of beatings with batons, the use of dogs and pepper spray, and the confiscation of shoes and clothes in freezing conditions. The group argues that many of the testimonies describe "acts that can be only seen as torture," and that "the enormous scale and clear pattern of violence leave no doubt: these are not just rare and isolated acts of brutality."
EU: Statistics on asylum application in 2016 published: 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers registered
"In 2016, 1 204 300 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), a number slightly down compared with 2015 (when 1 257 000 first time applicants were registered) but almost double that of 2014 (562 700)
Syrians (334 800 first time applicants), Afghans (183 000) and Iraqis (127 000) remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2016, accounting for slightly more than half of all first time applicants."
See: Asylum in the EU Member States - 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2016 (press release, pdf)
And: Asylum statistics - statistics explained (pdf): "This article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and decisions on asylum applications in the European Union (EU) ."
EU: Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions' (EUobserver, link):
"Children who trekked alone to reach Europe often find themselves living in "abysmal conditions" upon arrival and are being denied free legal aid.
The findings are part of a thematic report, released on Wednesday (22 March) by Strasbourg-based human rights overseer the Council of Europe.
Spearheaded by Tomas Bocek, the report says children left to fend for themselves are sometimes found begging in Turkey and, in some cases, arrested and detained."
FRANCE:At the crossroads: homeless and undocumented people in Paris since the Calais evictions (OpenDemocracy, link):
"Porte de la Chapelle is a gathering place for the new migrants and refugees of Paris the ones people mean when referring to the crisis although its not the only one. Across the city there is an untold number of people in transit. Pushed back from the UK border by the Calais evictions last October, many hope to move on to Germany or Sweden, or simply seek to somehow negotiate the obstacles of the over-stretched French asylum system and the Dublin Agreement. If your fingerprints have been taken in another European country, you have little chance of remaining officially in France.
Some have family or help or a place to stay. Some have been housed by the state or a charity, or after too much hardship and exposure have decided to take their chances in the wildly varying Centres dAccueil outside of the capital, the reception centres to which many of the Calais people were taken. But far too many are sleeping rough in the grey Paris winter, living from day to day."
GREECE: You can't evict a movement: a story of squatting and migration in Athens(OpenDemocracy, link):
"An inside look at one of the most remarkable stories to come out of Greece's ongoing economic and refugee crisis - the intersection of the anarchist and migrant solidarity movements in Athens."
And see: Greece's Anarchists Are Taking Better Care of Refugees Than the Government (VICE, link)
Balkan migration route is not closed (EurActiv, link):
"Roadblocks set up across the Balkans have caused a backlog in Greece and other transit countries. In its recently released annual report, EU border agency Frontex said that although an effective closure of the Balkan route had been achieved in spring 2016, it did not stop migration completely. In 2016, 382,000 illegal migrants arrived in Europe from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
In its Risk Analysis for 2017, Frontex noted that the route has shifted west and more sea crossings are being made. The report warned of growing migratory pressure from Africa, mainly on the route from Libya to Italy. As a result, Italy recorded its highest number of arrivals last year, with numbers topping 182,000.
The number of vulnerable people making the journey, including women and children, has also increased. Legal reunification of refugee families with those that have already made it north reduced in Germany in 2016.
Refugee protection organisations and migration researchers feel vindicated by the numbers and figures related to the alleged closure of the Balkan route. Migration cannot be stopped so long as the reasons that cause it are still there and which force people to leave their homelands: including wars, poverty, overexploitation of the environment, Sabine Hess told Der Tagesspiegel."
EU official: we can make members accept refugees(Associated Press, link):
"The European Union's commissioner for migration says there are ways to make all EU members states comply with the program of relocation of migrants among them.
Dimitris Avramopoulos made the statement Tuesday in Warsaw, where he is visiting the growing European border guard agency, Frontex.
...Without naming Poland, Avramopoulos said the EU has the "tools, the means and the power" to convince all members to comply and will make an assessment of response by the end of September. He mentioned no sanctions."
EU: European Parliament briefing: on use of the Schengen Information System for return purposes
"The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a large-scale information database that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in the Schengen states. It enables competent authorities, such as police and border guards, to enter and consult alerts on certain categories of wanted or missing persons and lost or stolen property. In December 2016, the European Commission put forward a legislative package containing several proposals aimed at responding more effectively to new migration and security challenges. One of these proposals is focused on extending the use of the SIS for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. In particular, this proposal introduces an obligation for Member States to enter all return decisions in the SIS. The main aims of the proposal are to enhance the enforcement of the EU return policy and to reduce the incentives to irregular migration to the EU. The other parts of the package concern making more effective use of SIS in border checks and allowing access for law enforcement purposes."
HUNGARY: US human rights report highlights mistreatment of migrants and refugees
A report by the US State Department raises a number of serious issues with regar to the situation of human rights in Hungary, noting in particular "the governments handling of migrants and asylum seekers seeking to transit the country, which was marked by several reports of physical abuse and xenophobic rhetoric. International organizations and human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to voice criticism of the systematic erosion of the rule of law; potential violations of international humanitarian law; weakening of checks and balances, democratic institutions, and transparency; and intimidation of independent societal voices since 2010."
See: US Department of State: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Hungary(pdf)
And an overview: US State Department Report Assesses the State of Human Rights in Hungary in 2016 (Hungary Today, link)
New reports have been published by the Asylum Information Database on the legal situation in Germany, Ireland and Sweden, three countries that have all recently made significant changes to their asylum systems.
"The present report, which was prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration, makes recommendations for the better management of migration through international cooperation, and proposes ways of strengthening the engagement of the United Nations on migration, as noted by the General Assembly in its resolutions 70/302 and 71/1."
Dealbreaker: EU migration policy causes more harm and chaos one year after EU-Turkey deal (OpenDemocracy, link):
"Agreed on 18 March 2016, the EU-Turkey deal drew a line in the sand, after which all migrants and refugees who crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands, and who did not apply for asylum in Greece or whose claim was refused, would be returned to Turkey.
The EU-Turkey deal has not lived up to its promise of ending irregular migration and has, in the meantime, caused enormous suffering. People are languishing in horrible conditions across the EU, record numbers of people still die at sea, or are trapped in Turkey, Libya and beyond. Over 60,000 people have been left in limbo in Greece, and a further 8,000 stranded in Serbia. Relocation numbers remain simply pitiful, with less than 10,000 relocations from Greece as of March 2017. Levels of trauma, depression and suicide among migrants and refugees have increased.
In a recent case brought before the European Court of Justice, the EU even argued that it cannot be held responsible for any consequences of the deal because it was just a press release. So essentially, a document of no legal value is causing unjustifiable human cost, drastically changing policy and promising billions of euros to Turkey for keeping its end of the deal."
"This research questions the seemingly ossified premise that states have an absolute discretion to control international migration. Applying Max Webers theories of legitimacy, it determines that while states have certain traditionally legitimate functions, migration control, as distinct from the determination of citizenship, is not one such function. Measures of migration control must thus be justified on a rational-legal basis, that is, on a minimal evidential basis.
Acknowledging the many obstacles states face in carrying out this legitimising exercise, it is suggested that a supranational approach at the regional level is the most sustainable long-term model, with an ultimate aim of achieving inter-regional cooperation on migration management on the basis of equality between regions."
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