EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.11-3.12.18)

Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.

Statewatch News Online
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
Follow us: | | Tweet

European Council meeting, 13-14 December 2018: Draft guidelines for conclusions (CO EUR-PREP 50, LIMITE, 26 November 2018, pdf) covering multiannual financial framework (MFF), single market, migration, disinformation, external relations, racism and xenophobia, citizens' dialogues and strategic agenda:

"With a view to the forthcoming meeting of the European Council, delegations will find below the state of progress regarding the various topics on its agenda. Where possible, first indications are given on the elements the President of the European Council intends to include in the draft of the conclusions.

Member States are invited to provide their reactions, in order to help guide the preparations for the draft European Council conclusions which will be submitted in one week."

ITALY: Legal changes and climate of hatred threaten migrants’ rights in Italy, say UN experts

Italy’s proposed tightening of immigration rules will have a serious impact on migrants’ lives, and are of grave concern, UN human rights experts said today, urging the Government to reverse course.

BELGIUM: Crimes of solidarity: In Belgium, an increasingly brutal crackdown on migrant workers' collectives

"Muscular searches, preventive detention lasting for weeks, legal proceedings... For several months, the Belgian authorities have been particularly severe towards people who help migrants. A first correctional trial was held in early November in Brussels. Several Belgian citizens are accused of having participated in human smuggling after having aided and accommodated migrants, being charged and designated as smugglers. Faced with these increasingly repressive policies, a collective was created to highlight that 'solidarity is not a crime'."

EU-MED: Sea Rescue: A trade union statement (English, pdf) and Sauvetage en mer: Déclaration syndicale (French, pdf):

"We, the trade unions and seafarers from various European countries, hereby emphasise our attachment to the tradition and age-old ideals of our profession: rescue is a fundamental obligation, regardless of the person and his/her circumstances. We take pride in rescuing whoever is in distress in the vicinity of our ships. Rescue, being an obligation, is not part of migration policy and must not be fashioned by it.

We refuse any criminalisation of the masters and crews of ships acting so. On the contrary,we insist upon the fact that they are acting pursuant to the obligations of international Law.Those violating International Law are the governments which refuse to provide sufficient resources to rescue people."

Signatories: La CGT (France), Ver.di (Germany), BTB.FGTB (Belgium), FSC.CC.OO. (Spain), CGIL, UIL, CISL (Italy), CGTP.IN (Portugal), PCS, Nautilus International (Great Britain), International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA).

Refugee situation in Samos worse than Moria, says top EU official (, link):

"A high-ranking EU official warns that, despite some improvements, the situation in refugee camps in Moria, on the island of Lesbos, and, even more so, in Samos is still dire and Greece could face sanctions in 2019.

Vivi Michou, Director-General of the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs department since last March, tells Kathimerini that Greek authorities should accelerate preparations for the coming winter.".

Are You Syrious (30.11.18, link):

Denmark unveils plan for Nauru-style deportation center on Lindholm island

"As part of their yearly budget, the Danish government has unveiled a new plan, seemingly modelled on Australia’s offshore detention centers, to house asylum seekers in removal centers on the isolated island of Lindholm. The center will be established over the course of the next three years and will eventually house asylum seekers from the controversial Kærshovedgård deportation center.(...)

November 2018

Italy passes tough anti-migrant law (euobserver, link):

"Italy on Wednesday adopted an anti-migrant bill designed to more easily expel migrants and limit residency permits. Pushed through the lower parliament with 396 against 99, the bill spells the end for two-year "humanitarian protection" residency permits. Its adoption followed moves by Rome to also distance itself from ratifying (...)"

Spain ignores pleas to not send rescued migrants back to Libya (el pais, link)

"the 12 Africans who were plucked from the sea by a Spanish fishing boat are terrified of being returned."

Can 'voluntary colonialism' stop migration from Africa to Europe? (BBC News, link):

"A controversial proposal by a senior German official that foreign powers acquire land in Africa to curb migration has been rejected by the African Union, writes the BBC's Dickens Olewe. (...)

This will mean African countries leasing their land to a foreign body to "allow free development for 50 years", Mr Nooke said."

EU-LIBYA: The humanitarian fleet #United4Med calls on Europe to open its ports to the people rescued by the fishing boat Nuestra Madre de Loreto and condemns the negotiations between Spain and Libya

Open Arms, Sea Watch and Mediterranea strongly condemn the negotiations between the countries of the European Union and Libya to return to the latter country the people rescued by the fishing boat Nuestra Madre de Loreto.

EP lawyers back EU plans for migrant centres in Africa(EUobserver, link):

"Lawyers working at the European Parliament on Tuesday (27 November) struggled to provide a detailed analysis of whether stalled EU plans to offload rescued migrants in north Africa were legal - but ultimately backed the controversial concept.

...EUobserver has obtained a full copy of the 10-page confidential report, which attempted to provide a legal analysis of stalled EU plans to set up so-called 'regional disembarkation platforms' in north Africa and controlled centres in Europe.

...It says "controlled centres and/or disembarkation platforms of a similar nature could be, in principle, lawfully established in the European Union territory."

It states disembarkation platforms "could lawfully be established outside of the European Union, in order to receive migrants rescued outside the territory of the Union's member states."

It also says EU law does not apply to migrants rescued at high sea, even with a boat flying an EU-member state flag.

"We can't consider a vessel flying a flag of a member state to be an extension of a member state," the lawyer told the MEPs."

Unprecedented Suspension of UN- Hungary Visit as Detention Experts are Denied Access (ECRE, link):

"A team of United Nations experts have been denied access by the Hungarian government to visit two border ‘transit zones’ where refugees and migrants, including children, are being detained. According the Working Group the visit had been planned in response to “a number of credible reports concerning the lack of safeguards against arbitrary detention in these facilities”.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had been invited by Hungary to conduct the visit from 12 to 16 November 2018 in order to follow up on its 2013 recommendations...

In an unprecedented step, they were obliged to suspend their visit after they were denied access to the Röszke and Tompa “transit zones” at the border with Serbia, on the basis that they would be unable to fulfil their mandate because under the terms of reference for these visits, governments are required to guarantee full freedom of inquiry, particularly with regards to “confidential and unsupervised contacts with persons deprived of their liberty”.

The investigators stated “There can be no doubt that holding migrants in these ‘transit zones’ constitutes deprivation of liberty in accordance with international law.”"

UK:Immigration detainee killed himself after self-harming, inquest hears (The Guardian, link):

"A Slovenian waiter killed himself while being held in an immigration detention centre, an inquest jury has found.

Branko Zdravkovic, 43, had self-harmed while in detention and had problems with alcohol, Bournemouth coroner’s court was told. The jury returned a verdict of suicide.

Although detention centre staff recognised his vulnerability and put him on self-harm watch, no report was sent to the Home Office flagging up suicidal intentions, as required under guidance known as rule 35 (2).

...The Home Office said he was facing administrative removal because he was not exercising his treaty rights to work in the UK. But his lawyers dispute that claim, saying that, while his schedule was not always predictable, he worked for many of his eight years in London as a waiter in establishments including the House of Lords, the Guildhall and the Gherkin."

EU states leave Spanish fishermen stuck with migrants (EUobserver, link):

"A Spanish fishing boat, the Nuestra Madre Loreto, has been stuck out at sea for six days after rescuing 12 African asylum seekers from a dinghy because no EU country has agreed to take them in, AFP reports. Italy and Malta told the boat's captain, Pascual Dura, to take the migrants back to Libya, but he said the migrants would "mutiny" if he tried. "We can't go anywhere," Dura said."

Joint UK-France centre opens in Calais to tackle criminality at border

Today the Home Secretary confirmed that a new UK-France Coordination and Information Centre has opened in Calais as part of the ongoing co-operation between the UK and France to tackle criminality at the border.

The centre will see Border Force working closely alongside Police Aux Frontieres as part of a 24/7 operation.

Greece sued over migrant death (, link);

"Nearly two years after an Egyptian migrant died at the Moria reception and identification center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, his family has filed a lawsuit against Greek authorities over his death, saying it was caused by the negligence of responsible officials.

Ahmed Elgamal, 20, was found dead on January 24, 2017, a few weeks after reaching Lesvos on a rubber dinghy with 12 more asylum seekers. His death was attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning from a makeshift heating device used to warm his freezing tent."

Greece: Open Doors Now Open!!! (SamosChronicle, link):

"On Thursday 22 November 2018 Open Doors opened its doors! It is proving to be all that we hoped for. It is not simply that the grocery store has almost sold out after just a few days but it has been the enthusiasm and happiness of the people coming to the shop which has brought us the greatest pleasure. Mohamed (left) from Gaza with Sofiane. Our first customer!

The fact that we supply quality foods at the cheapest price is clearly crucial. Refugees, local Greeks and the few tourists still around all remark on our (low) prices. It hardly needs to be said that for those with little money this is very important.

But it is not just a matter of prices. We stock food from across the Middle East and beyond which is not available on Samos."

EU:CEAS: State of play: International protection, Resettlement, Reception and Return

Four key measures of the proposed new Common European Asylum System (CEAS) which are currently going nowhere fast

EU: Meijers Committee: Comments on the proposal for a Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (recast), COM(2018) 634 final (pdf):

"The Meijers Committee observes that the recast proposal is not based on an evaluation of the existing Returns Directive or accompanied by an Impact Assessment. Despite the Commission’s earlier commitment to recast the directive only after a thorough implementation evaluation,1the present proposal is primarily based on “technical consultations with the Member States” (Explanatory Memorandum, p. 6). This makes it difficult to verify the proposal’s effectiveness, necessity and proportionality.

Despite the proposal widening the grounds for detention of illegally staying third-country nationals and tightening procedural guarantees, the Explanatory Memorandum does not meaningfully engage with human rights. It merely declares that the proposal respects fundamental rights."

and Comments on the draft for a new Regulation on a European Border and Coast Guard, (COM (2018) 631 final) and the amended proposal for a Regulation on a European Union Asylum Agency (COM(2018) 633 final) (pdf):

"The Meijers Committee would like to take the opportunity to comment on the drafts for a new Regulation on a European Border and Coast Guard, incorporating also the EUROSUR system (COM (2018) 631 final) and the amended proposal for a Regulation on a European Union Asylum Agency (COM(2018) 633 final)".

European Parliament: Libya: situation of migrants and rescue operations up for discussion (link);

"The situation of migrants in Libya and the conditions under which the Libyan coast guard is conducting rescue operations will be up for debate in the EP on Tuesday.

Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will try to get clarification from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the newly created Search and Rescue Observatory for the Mediterranean (SAROBMED) about Libya being assigned a Search and Rescue area in the Mediterranean. Being in charge of managing a SAR area implies that vessels carrying migrants and refugees can be ordered to disembark in Libya."

EU: Fundamental Rughts Agency: Periodic data collection on the migration situation in the EU (link)

Immigrants in Greece face winter crisis after public sector cuts (Guardian, link):

"UN envoy says EU policy during debt crisis had unintended consequences. Greece’s asylum system is hamstrung by public sector cuts imposed during the country’s EU bailouts, a UN envoy has said, as campaigners warned of a looming winter crisis for refugees and migrants."

Council of the EU: New Frontex Regulation: Presidency compromise proposals on cooperation with third countries(LIMITE document 14091/18, 13 November 2018, pdf):

"With a view to the JHA Counsellors meeting on 15 November 2018, delegations will find attached Presidency compromise suggestions in relation to Articles 72 to 79."

Support our work by making a one-off or regular donation to help us continue to monitor the state and civil liberties in Europe
Search our database for more articles and information or subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates from Statewatch News Online.

Our work is only possible with your support.
Become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.


Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error