01 October 2017
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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"Afghan refugees and migrants continued their protest also on Saturday after many of them spent the night outside the hot spot in Moria on the island of Lesvos. They demand better living conditions but also equal treatment in their asylum requests similar to those of Syrian refugees.
Afghan families holding their children by the hand marched from the hot spot Moria to the city of Mytilene to protest conditions and violence in the camp that hosts more than 5,000 people.
Police forces deployed in the north exit of Mytilene-Mantamathos highway did not allow the group to proceed to the city and especially to the market place.(...)
A member of the Moria management told athensnewsagency that the hygiene conditions in the camp are extremely poor, the water and sewage system is not sufficient for so many people. . Moria was reportedly designed for 800 people but it hosts more than 5,476 people."
And Lesvos Solidarity report: After spending the night outside the gates of Moria in protest, around 100 Afghans arrived in Sapfous Square, Mytilini. Many families with children. They refuse to go back to the overcrowded Moria camp where they fear for their safety as tension increases.
People taking part in the protest describe sleeping in small tents in Moria with too many people. No heating. No mattresses. People, including small children, got injured from stones launched during latest fight.
Some families arrived recently in Lesvos "We were hoping to find safety and protection in Europe, but everything is the opposite". Others have been in Lesvos 16 months and up to 2 years, without a decision. They refuse to spend a second winter in these conditions. "Why are we still here?"
Are You Syrious (22.10.17, link):
Feature: Greece - children
"The most vulnerable category among refugees and migrants are children, especially those who are forced to travel alone. This October, in Greece alone, there were about 2,950 registered unaccompanied children from various countries. Some of them were lucky to find accommodation in shelters across the country, but too many are on their own in the streets. In order to survive, these children are exposed to all sorts of violence, including sexual.
There are only 1,114 beds available in 49 shelters, meaning that 1,822 are wait-listed for shelters. The current plans are that four new shelters should open soon, but only for 60 kids.
Most of the children come from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and many are among the new arrivals to islands where they face dreadful conditions in overcrowded camps or makeshift shelters where they are forced to stay due to the lack of accommodations.(...)
"During September, according to the Turkish authorities, the Coast Guard intercepted or rescued 3,408 people, contributing to a total of 15,471 in 2017 of persons mostly headed to Greece.
At the same time, the number of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers registered in Turkey stood at over 3.5 million. The biggest number are people from Syria??3.2 million under temporary protection in Turkey."
"The new arrivals find themselves in unbearable conditions on the islands, including Lesvos, where people are protesting for the second day. After yesterdays riots, around 100 people - mostly from Afghanistan - left the overcrowded area of Moria camp and spend a day and night on the main square in Mytilini, including many families with children.
People refused to go back to Moria camp, saying that they fear for their safety and demand to be accommodated in better conditions. Among those who are participating in these protests are mostly new arrivals, but also some people who have been stranded on the island for almost 2 years.
Our friends from No Border Kitchen in Lesvos send us stories of those who are protesting. Among them is a family from Afghanistan with a one-year-old baby. They arrived on Lesvos 25 days ago and are forced to sleep in a tent. The baby has been running a fever for three days but is sleeping on the ground.(...)"
"The Defense Minister of Bulgaria, Krassimir Karakachanov, stated that ladders had been used to climb the fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. A couple of days before, the media published photos showing a large hole underneath the fence. It was also discovered that even though the Bulgarian parliament voted in 2016 to use the army to protect the borders, this option has been used only intermittently.
At the same time, the UNHCR issued data showing that until the end of August this year, 17,067 people were intercepted at the Turkish-Greek and the Turkish-Bulgarian land borders."
UNHCR: Arrivals in the Med 2017 (20 October 2017): Italy 110,382, Greece: 22,918, Spain 12,420 and Cyprus 847. Total: 146,535, Dead/Missing: 2,184.
"While media attention largely has shifted to the central and western Mediterranean routes, thousands of refugees and other migrants continue to use the eastern route to Europe. This study highlights the situation of a largely forgotten population - refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants who are "stuck in transit" in Serbia along that eastern pathway. Such limbo situations are likely to become increasingly common as the European Union further externalises its approach to border control"
Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) casts doubt on EU policy of "safe" return of refugees to Afghanistan
- Afghanistan: "We are concerned at the deteriorating humanitarian situation"
-"Pakistan have hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the last forty years and we commend them"
- "Iran have hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the last forty years and we commend them"
Key document: COHAFA common messages on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan (LIMITE doc no: 12697-17, pdf)
Turkey, bridge to Europe, struggles with irregular migration (Daily Sabah, link):
"A favorite destination for migrants aspiring to reach Europe, Turkey has intercepted more than 644,000 migrants in the past seven years, the latest statistics show.(...)
Over the past two years, 3,703 migrants were deported, and 2,555 migrants voluntarily returned to their countries or countries they arrived from under the Voluntary Return Project by the migration authority.
Turkey hosts 8,186 centers for migrants, pending repatriation, and aims to increase it to more than 15,000."
"Turkey was regarded as a safe (third) country for asylum seekers and refugees for the purposes of the EU-Turkey Statement. This designation was an outcome of a political decision rather than a policy based on evidence from the field. Existing structural problems in Turkey where the asylum and migration systems are still in their infancy and the absence of effective safeguards against the violation of human rights, partly as a result of alarming developments in the legal framework, should remind us that political will - such as in the EU-Turkey Statement - alone does not make a country a safe place for migrants and asylum seekers."
Solidarity under attack (Open Democracy, link):
"These measures [against NGO search and rescue operations] can be interpreted as an attack against solidarity and as an acceleration of the measures that criminalize pro-migrant solidarity in Italy and the EU. In this regard, we argue that there is a very close relationship between: approval of the new immigration bill and the implementation of the so-called Code of Conduct for NGOs doing rescue operations in the Mediterranean. At the same time, the frequent and often violent evictions of migrant squats, buildings and encampments we are witnessing taking place in major cities such as Rome, Milan, Bologna, and the rising number of trials against pro-migrant activists facing persecution for their activities, reveal a concerted attempt on the part of the authorities in Italy and Europe to undermine forms of solidarity with and for migrants in civil society."
See: Solidarity is not a crime: the Observatory of the Milan Charter is born (Statewatch News)
"Thousands of migrants and refugees who travelled along the Western Balkans migration route in 2015 and 2016 are now stranded in Serbia in a precarious legal situation.
That is the verdict of the Secretary Generals Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomá Bocek in a report published today."
Making profits in Irelands asylum market (IRR News, link):
"In the second of a series, campaigner John Grayson examines the asylum markets for private companies involved in providing services under the Direct Provision (DP) system for asylum seekers in Ireland."
EU: Juncker: Member states contributed too little to Africa Fund (euractiv, link):
"Speaking to the press after the first round of talks at the EU summit on Thursday (19 October), Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that EU action was reaching its limits due to insufficient financing.
We are reaching our limits when it comes to this Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, Juncker said.
We started by saying that we would take 1.8bn in our hands in order to be helpful to Africa, then we increased this to 2.5, then to 2.9, then to 3.1bn, money the Commission was providing by restructuring the existing budget. Member states have so far committed 175m, this is clearly not enough, he stated."
Greece: Reporting on a Catastrophe: Mental Health Crisis of Refugees on Samos and Lesvos (Samos Chronicles, link):
"Medicin Sans Frontieres (MSF) at least on Samos has sometimes been disappointing. In particular it was too often silent and should have used its influence and been more outspoken about the in-competencies of so many who are paid to care for the refugees. So it is refreshing to see their latest report on the mental health emergency engulfing the refugees on Lesvos and Samos. These are 2 of the islands where MSF are especially active and have had a lengthy presence.
Without pulling punches MSF lays clear that refugees are being damaged and suffering unacceptable levels of stress by the way they are being treated and cared for on the islands. It is a system that is driving people mad."
See: MSF report (pdf)
MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future (euobserver, link):
"Asylum seekers arriving in Europe would likely end up in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia under the latest proposal put forward by the European Parliament.
MEPs on the civil liberties committee on Thursday (19 October) overwhelmingly backed a proposal that is likely to pivot the parliament against a small group of migrant-hostile EU states, led by Hungary.
The proposal seeks to impose mandatory migrant quotas and strip non-complying member states of EU funding in an effort to revamp a key EU asylum law."
Arrivals surge on Greek islands despite EU-Turkey deal (euractiv, link):
"With Turkey being one of the items on the agenda of the EU summit starting on Thursday (19 October), AFP is reporting that migrants are still coming to Greek islands despite the EU-Turkey deal to stem the arrival of refugees from Turkish territory. (...)
According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), 5,000 migrants arrived at Greek islands in September, an increase of 35% from the same period a year earlier, according to AFP calculations."
Developments in the Central Mediterranean over the past two years (Alarmphone, link):
"Most sea crossings by refugees trying to reach Europe take place on the route between Libya and Italy. Refugees are forced to board overcrowded boats that are not suitable for use at sea, making this route the deadliest. Without the NGO search and rescue boats (SAR-NGOs), the number of deaths would be far higher, because the capacities of the official coast guards are insufficient.
Until recently, the Italian coast guard deliberately stayed away from the Libyan coast and EU forces of Frontex and the military operation EUNAVFOR Med focus their efforts exclusively on reducing the number of crossings by fighting smugglers.There is no unified Libyan coast guard, only multiple, autonomous formations, of which some even operate as smugglers."
Greece: Refugees relocated, others go to mainland (ekathimerini.com, link):
"A group of 234 refugees boarded a charter flight from Athens to Lyon, France on Wednesday as part of the European Unions relocation program, while dozens more migrants, deemed to belong to vulnerable groups, were transferred by ferry from the islands of the Aegean to mainland Greece.
The group relocated to Lyon comprised 132 adults and 102 minors, 190 of them Syrian nationals and the remainder from Iraq and the Palestinian territories.(...)
Mouzalas took a swipe at the countries which fail to honor their obligations to participate in the EU relocation program, claiming that some even refuse to take in unaccompanied minors."
Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future' (euobserver, link):
EU Council head Donald Tusk has said obligatory migrant quotas "have no future" amid efforts to mend fences with eastern European states.
"I don't see any special future for this project, but it's important to find an understanding that does not separate Poland and other Visegrad group countries from the rest of Europe," Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, told the Polish press agency, Pap, in the margins of a meeting on social affairs in Brussels on Wednesday (...)
Tusk said Poland had to decide whether to "jointly solve the problems related to migration, which means securing borders, but also helping those countries who have too many refugees" or to opt for a "firm break from European solidarity"."
IRELAND: EXCLUSIVE: Athlone asylum-seekers very critical of care at direct provision centre (shannonside, link):
"Up to 175 asylum-seekers from the direct provision centre in Athlone have strongly complained about the care theyre receiving.
Theyve told the Department of Justice that sometimes people get sick, suffer diarrhoea or need hospital care because of the quality of food at the facility."
CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Ahead of meeting with EU counterparts, rapporteur underlines suffering of migrants separated from their families (link):
"PACEs rapporteur on family reunification for migrants and refugees, speaking ahead of a meeting with EU officials, has underlined the suffering that migrants can experience if they are separated from their families.
Ulla Sandbæk (Denmark, UEL), who begins a two-day meeting with officials of the EU Council, Commission and Parliament in Brussels tomorrow, said she would emphasise to them that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to family life for everybody, including migrants."
"The Bratislava Roadmap emerged from the Leaders' debate in September 2016. In March 2017, the Rome Declaration broadened the scope and set additional priorities for the longer term.
One year on, the EU has made significant progress and can demonstrate tangible results. The Bratislava method is working. The attached table shows that many tasks have been completed, and many others are on track. Some tasks however have progressed slower than expected, and a few require a fresh push, including at the highest level."
"Reinforcing the institutional and legal framework for safeguarding and promoting human rights and enhancing the protection of migrants and asylum seekers are the key recommendations addressed to the Swiss authorities by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muinieks, in a report published today following his visit to the country in May 2017.
The Commissioner welcomes the new law on asylum, which should result in faster and higher quality procedures for determining refugee status, in particular through the provision of free legal assistance from the outset. Noting that there are plans to revise the rules on temporary admission, which apply amongst others to Syrians who have fled the conflict, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to establish an international subsidiary protection status guaranteeing the same rights as are granted to persons holding official refugee status."
Council of Europe:CPT publishes report on Turkey (link)
"The Council of Europes Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its ad hoc visit to Turkey, which took place from 16 to 23 June 2015, together with the response of the Turkish Government. Both documents have been made public at the request of the Turkish authorities.
The visit focused on the situation of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation, and the report contains the CPTs findings and recommendations relating to various removal centres, as well as the holding facilities in the transit zone of Istanbul Atatürk Airport."
See: Report (pdf)
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