01 October 2017
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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"A 5-year-girl from Syria has died at Moria hotspot, on the island of Lesvos, one of the main entry points for migrants and asylum-seekers.
The girl, whose family landed on Lesvos last Tuesday, was suffering from serious health problems. An ambulance transferred the girl to a nearby hospital on Sunday where doctors could only confirm her death. Its parents said they were traveling to Europe to seek treatment."
The Presidency of the Council of the EU has published a useful note outlining the state of play with seven legislative proposals that were published by the Commission in 2016. These proposals are aimed at reforming the 'Common European Asylum System' (CEAS) and the EU's system for resettling refugees from non-EU countries.
The proposals in question are: "the recast of the Dublin Regulation and of the Eurodac Regulation, a proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), a proposal for a Regulation establishing a common [asylum] procedure in the EU, a proposal for a Qualification Regulation, the recast of the Reception Conditions Directive and a proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework."
"Oxfams Brussels office has published a report saying that the European Unions migration policy needs an urgent shift in direction in order to respect the EUs founding values of human rights, in a lobbying effort ahead of the 19-20 October EU summit."
Dangerous Borderlands: Human Rights for Displaced People on the French-Italian Border (Border Criminologies, link):
"While hot-spots in Greece and Italy and the squalid make-shift camps in Northern France have received periods of international attention, the migratory transit point in the small Italian town of Ventimiglia on the French-Italian border seems to have been largely overlooked by media agencies and human rights groups, with the exception of a few noteworthy examples (see for example news coverage by Al-Jazeera, a blog post on Are You Syrious?, and a research study conducted by UNICEF and the REACH Initiative). Recent research by Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) highlights detrimental living conditions coupled with police violence and dangerous border crossings, creating a situation for displaced people characterised by chronic insecurity and extensive mental and physical health concerns. This post is a summary of findings of a study conducted from 21 to 24 August 2017, based on interviews with 150 refugees and displaced people in Ventimiglia through a semi-structured survey, conducted in Amharic, Arabic, English, Persian and Tirgrinya. The survey findings were corroborated through RRDPs field observations and informal interviews with INGOs, NGOs and local charities and volunteers."
See: Refugee Rights Data Project: In dangerous transit: filling information gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in Ventimiglia, Italy(link to pdf)
FRANCE-AFRICA: In Niger, Chad: France to open asylum centres(Pulse, link):
"France will open offices in Niger and Chad in the coming weeks to identify people who could be granted asylum, President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday.
The offices would also "warn people in Niger and Chad better about the situation in order to avoid an influx of economic migrants" who would only be sent back from France, Macron said.
The French president had made a similar proposal for migrant registration centres in Libya in July.
But the idea was axed due to chronic insecurity in the North African country, a launchpad for hundreds of thousands of migrants setting sail for Europe across the Mediterranean.
In Chad and Niger, candidates for asylum would come from lists provided by the United Nations refugee agency, Macron said after talks in Paris with the UNHCR's chief Filippo Grandi.
The presidency said the first mission in Niger, operated by France's refugee protection office Ofpra, would start work at the end of October."
English translations of the statements produced following the EU-African summit on migration held in Paris on 28 August 2017. The translations were produced by the German state.
The Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding: The baseline of a policy approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe? (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link) by Anja Palm:
"On 2 February 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding (English Version**) on development cooperation, illegal immigration, human trafficking, fuel smuggling and reinforcement of border security (hereafter memorandum or MoU), was signed between the Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni and Fayez al-Serraj, Head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord.
Increasing crossings through the Central Mediterranean, which represent the final step for Sub-Saharan migratory flows transiting primarily through Niger and Libya, have led to the emergence of a policy approach aimed at reducing crossings from Libya to Italy at any cost, dictated by the need to give quick answers to the mounting uneasiness in the public opinion. If the memorandum represents its baseline, such policy has been expanded as to include dialogues with numerous Libyan actors ranging from institutional players to local tribes, mayors, entrepreneurs and even contending actors. This approach has further been reinforced by both multilateral and bilateral dialogues with other countries situated along the main migratory routes such as Tunisia and Niger.
European institutions and key Member States have repeatedly praised Italy for its proactive role in Africa, most recently in occasion of the Paris summit held on 28 August 2017. As explained elsewhere, this policy, if not counterbalanced with the opening of legal access channels for persons in need of international protection, challenges international and European law, a reality which the funders and outsourcers of those actions cannot easily ignore."
See: English translation of: Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the fields of development, the fight againstillegal immigration, human trafficking and fuel smuggling and on reinforcing the security of borders between the State of Libya and the Italian Republic(pdf) translated by the Odysseus Network (link).
"The objective of this study was to examine how the Dublin III Regulation is applied and to assess the extent to which the procedures, safeguards and guarantees under the Dublin III Regulation are implemented and deliver on the aims of determining swiftly the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection in accordance with the criteria under the Regulation."
"Preventing the arrival of immigrants with no legal rights to the EU is more important, in terms of EU policy priorities among member states, than fighting terrorism and online child pornography.
Erkki Koort, who chairs an internal security group at the European Council, representing member states, told MEPs on Tuesday (10 October) that fighting "the facilitation of illegal migration" involves more EU states than any other crime."
"The participants included practitioners from the Member States, Norway and the USA, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the European External Action Service, EUNAVFOR MED, Europol, and FRONTEX.
The principal aim and focus of the meeting was to strengthen the fight against illegal immigrant smuggling (IIS), promote the judicial dimension at an early stage of the smuggling scam, and enhance judicial cooperation at EU level. The concept of the meeting was to provide a judicial perspective, reflecting the smuggling route from countries of origin and transit towards destination countries. The first plenary session was devoted to the work of key EU partners in fighting IIS beyond EU borders and the challenges faced. The second plenary session focused on specific problems at the external borders and on the collection of data/evidence. The third plenary session underlined obstacles and solutions in relation to judicial cooperation, with emphasis on the specific challenges faced at national level. The fourth plenary session highlighted the work of Eurojust in the fight against IIS."
On 27 July 2017, the Italian Court of Cassation ruled that the expulsion of an asylum seeker, pending the second instance appeal proceedings against the rejection of the asylum claim, is unlawful.
Two recent posts on the blog of the European Journal of International Law discuss the ongoing moves towards the "offshore processing" of asylum claims by the EU, its Member States, non-EU countries such as Chad and Niger and international organisations such as the IOM and UNHCR; and the question of legal responsibility in such "scenarios of extraterritorial complicity".
Europe's new migrant policy comes at a moral price (euobserver, link):
"The European Union has sought to absolve itself of addressing what many of its leaders have described as the "migrant crisis" with a quick-and-easy-fix that will haveand already has hadsevere consequences.
Its new containment policy deflects its own legal obligation to migrants onto the gatekeepers of popular migration routes like Libya, which is already struggling from a myriad of its own issues. "
"The ruling Christian Democratic party (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday reached an agreement with its sister Christian Social Union (CSU) in the state of Bavaria to push for a limit on the number of refugees Germany will accept. After several hours of talks on Sunday between the CSU leadership and the CDU, a compromise was reached setting a limit of 200,000 refugees a year."
EU: Taking Stock of Assisted Voluntary Return from Europe: Decision Making, Reintegration and Sustainable Return Time for a paradigm shift(link to pdf) by Katie Kuschminder:
"Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) is a central component of European Union (EU) member states migration management policies and has grown in popularity over the past two decades. At present, all EU member states have active AVR programmes, however, despite the growing prevalence of these programmes there has been a dearth of research and evaluation on AVR. In addition, a common goal of these AVR programmes is to achieve a sustainable return, but this term lacks a commonly used definition, making sustainable return an ambiguous policy objective. This paper takes stock of the most recent research on AVR focusing on decision making in the uptake of AVR, reintegration, and sustainable return. It is argued that it is time for a fundamental shift in our underlying assumptions regarding sustainable return in the field of AVR policy and practice. The working paper addresses key research gaps in the field and poses recommendations on how to move the agenda forward on AVR."
INTERPOL General Assembly adopts data processing policy on refugees (Interpol press release, pdf):
"BEIJING, China To avoid refugee status being abused by criminals and terrorists, INTERPOLs General Assembly has officially adopted a policy on the processing of data on refugees.
The resolution, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates, outlines a range of measures which should be taken by member countries during the asylum application process. These include:
- systematically checking INTERPOLs databases
- use of INTERPOLs Information System to exchange information
- establishing the relevant protocols to enable regular communication between the authorities in charge of reviewing asylum applications and the relevant INTERPOL National Central Bureau/s
- expanding to all relevant authorities, including border control and authorities in charge of reviewing asylum applications, access to the INTERPOL Information System
In accordance with their national laws and confidentiality requirements, the policy also encourages member countries to inform INTERPOLs General Secretariat headquarters, or the Commission for the Control of INTERPOLs Files, if an individual has been granted refugee status and on the outcome of an asylum application review."
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