EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe: 5-7.2.18

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
EU:Greece: Chios: NGO complaints about the treatment of refugees to the European Commission and its response

"After considering your response, we found your assessment of the current situation to be at considerable odds with the factual situation we daily witness on the ground"

NGOs on Chios complained to the European Commission about the treatment and conditions of refugees on the island: Complaints to the Commission signed by 11 NGOs (dated: 6 November 2017, pdf):

"We, the undersigned voluntary organisations, have been providing humanitarian aid on the Greek island of Chios for more than two years. We are writing to express our deepest concerns with regard to the situation of refugees on the island. Whilst the inhumane conditions on Chios for refugees is not a new issue, the situation has reached tipping point in recent weeks with an increase in arrivals, the withdrawal of most NGOs, and the closure of Souda camp in the city, which has left the EU hotspot Vial as the sole facility that accommodates refugees on the island."

EU: Asylum Procedures Regulation: latest Council text with Member State positions

The Council is developing its negotiating position on the proposed Asylum Procedures Regulation, part of the legislation on the revamped Common European Asylum System. There are 300 footnotes showing Member States' positions, many of which have been deleted in the censored version officially published by the Council.

GREECE/TURKEY: Investigation: Coercive 'voluntary' deportations leave refugees trapped in jail and facing torture (Al Araby, link):

"A "voluntary" returns programme being heavily marketed to refugees is leaving them stranded in inhumane conditions in Greek and Turkish jails for months at a time, and facing imprisonment and torture once they return to their home countries - if they are ever able to get there at all.

For many refugees arriving in Greece and Turkey, whose claims for asylum are rejected, the International Organisation for Migration's Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme is effectively the only alternative to brutal jail systems. They are forced to give up their right to appeal their asylum decision in order to escape six or 12 months of confinement by accepting "voluntary" return.

...asylum seekers who have experienced the programme told The New Arab they were misled into accepting inhumane conditions, detention and torture, after joining a programme one lawyer called "a fist in a velvet glove… wrongful, coercive and distasteful"."

Bulgaria: 21 asylum seekers to be indicted for riot at refugee camp (Sofia Globe, link):

"During the height of the refugee crisis, when far more refugees were in Bulgaria, a riot erupted at the refugee camp in the Bulgarian town of Harmanli. A total of 21 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, who allegedly took part in the riot, are now being indicted by the local District Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecution accuses the refugees, four of whom are minors, to be responsible for “hooliganism with boldness and cynicism” and for the destruction of property. The damage supposedly amounts to 85,000 leva.

The cause of the riot in Harmanli, which broke out on November 24, 2016, will not be part of the trial. Neither will police officers who allegedly attacked and beat refugees who were not even part of the riot."

Inside the EU’s flawed $200 million migration deal with Sudan (IRIN, link):

"As millions of dollars in EU funds flow into Sudan to stem African migration, asylum seekers say they are increasingly trapped, living in a perpetual state of fear and exploitation in this key transit country.

In interviews with over 25 Eritrean and Ethiopian asylum seekers in Khartoum and the eastern city of Kassala, as well as local journalists, and lawyers working on behalf of refugees, IRIN has documented allegations of endemic police abuse, including extortion, violence, and sexual assault.

The pattern of corruption and rights violations uncovered feeds into broader concerns over whether the EU’s migration policies are making a difficult situation worse."

EU and military and security industry meet on future of EUROSUR (Stop Wapenhandel, link):

"On 6 and 7 February EU and member states' officials meet up with military and security companies for the 'Industry Day on Border Surveillance and Integrated Border Management' in Brussels. The aim of the day is to discuss the future development of EUROSUR, the EU border monitoring and surveillance system. This shows again the close connections between the EU and the European military and security industry and the influence the industry has on EU border policies.

The Industry Day, organised by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) of the European Commission, includes speeches and presentations by leading officials from DG HOME, the border security agency Frontex and the European Defence Agency. A speech on 'The role of industry' will be delivered by Giorgio Gulienetti, Head of National and International Technical Collaborations with Italian arms producer Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) and chair of the Integrated Border Security Working Group of the European Organisation for Security (EOS). EOS is one of the main lobby organisations of the European military and security industry.

ITALY: From Overcrowding to Dirty Mattresses: A Visit to Lampedusa (Liberties, link):

"After the suicide of a Tunisian migrant on 5 January and the outbreak of a large fight at the end of the month, Italy's national guarantor for people deprived of liberty, Mauro Palma, visited the hotspot of Lampedusa. The results of this visit were presented at a press conference on 24 January.

During his press conference, Palma said he was extremely concerned to find that, both legally and materially, the situation he found on Lampedusa was exactly the same as one year ago, meaning that none of the recommendations he gave a year ago has been implemented by the authorities."

SPAIN: Melilla calls for reform to repatriate minor migrants (Info Migrants, link):

"The government in Melilla is calling for a reform on the law on foreigners, to face "the flood" of unaccompanied minor migrants and to keep them in reception centers. The governor of the autonomous city in Morocco, Jose Imbroda, of the Partido Popular (PP) said these migrants aren't "disaffected or defenseless children" which they can receive when they reach adult age.

Imbroda, cited by Spanish media, said the situation should be faced "not in terms of minor protection, but as a migration problem"."

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights: Closing of investigation in 6 February 2014 Ceuta police operation causing 15 deaths (Press release, pdf)

"Four years of impunity: Spanish judge refuses to hear survivors and to fully investigate lethal push-back at Ceuta border
Berlin/Madrid 5 February 2018 Four years ago on 6 February at least 15 people died and several more were injured during a brutal push back operation by the Spanish Guardia Civil - a paramilitary police force - at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the beach of El Tarajal.

On 28 January 2018 the judge in charge of investigating these events closed the case against officers of the Guardia Civil for the second time. This decision came though the regional court already quashed a similar decision in January 2017, explicitly ordering the identification, location and hearing of direct victims and witnesses. Subsequently two victims now residing in Germany informed the judge of their willingness to testify. However the judge hindered their participation in the investigation by closing it without hearing them."

See also: Case study (pdf) and: More than 125 NGOs call on the European Parliament to declare 6 February the 'Day of Victims of Borders' (El Diario, link): More than 125 European organisations will call this Tuesday, on the fourth anniversary of the death of 14 migrants at El Tarajal in Ceuta, for the EU institutions to officially recognise 6 February as the 'European day of Victims of Borders'. It is foreseen that the petition will be registered during the morning at the Spanish office of the European Parliament, in Madrid.

GREECE: Arrivals have doubled since August, migration minister says (, link):

"Migrant and refugee arrivals onto Greek shores have doubled since August 20 to reach as many as 180 people a day in clement weather, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said on Tuesday. (...)

“Whoever says that emptying the islands will improve the situation is wrong,” Mouzalas said, reiterating concerns that moving all migrants and refugees to the mainland will simply encourage more arrivals.

“In 2017, we transferred 27,000 people to the mainland and 19,000 arrived on the islands,” he added."

Frontex: Invitation for industry and academia (link):

"Workshop on projects/ideas for developing border security products/technologies/solutions

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, intends to organise in December 2018 a workshop with representatives of the European industry and academia who lead, or are about to start/are in the incubation phase of ideas on research and development projects aimed at developing new products, technologies, solutions for border security and using financial sources other than EU financing (e.g. industry’s/academia’s own funds)."

Italy shooting raises stakes in immigration debate (Politico, link):

"A drive-by shooting in central Italy has pushed immigration to the forefront of the electoral debate, one month before Italians go to the polls on March 4.

A 28-year-old man opened fire on a group of African immigrants in the town of Macerata, Saturday, wounding five men and one woman. The suspect, Luca Traini, reportedly wore an Italian flag around his neck and made a fascist salute before his arrest, according to local media. A copy of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was later found at his home.

The political reaction to the shooting split neatly along party lines, with the right-wing coalition led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi blaming the attacks on the rising number of immigrants residing in the country."

DENMARK: Socialdemokratiet sets out asylum overhaul in 2019 election mandate (Copenhagen Post, link):

"Socialdemokratiet are the bookies’ favourites to form a government following the next general election, which will take place no later than June 2019.

And yesterday, Denmark’s biggest opposition party took what it hopes will be a giant step towards achieving that goal by proposing a complete overhaul of the current asylum process.

The new policy, entitled ‘Retfærdig og Realistisk’ (fair and realistic), will seek to put a ceiling on both asylum and family-reunification approvals – as agreed each year by Parliament – whilst adhering to UN refugee quotas."

UK: Growing number of refugees and asylum seekers falling into poverty in Britain (Independent, link)

"Exclusive: Thousands of vulnerable people destitute after being granted refugee protection.

The number of refugees and asylum seekers living in food poverty has soared by 20 per cent in a year, as thousands are left destitute even after being granted protection in the UK, The Independent can reveal.

The Red Cross warns that a lack of government aid for asylum seekers and a sudden cut-off in support once they are granted refugee status is pushing a growing number of vulnerable people into destitution.

The charity supported 15,000 people experiencing destitution last year, during which it recorded a 20 per cent rise in demand for food parcels and a 43 per cent increase in people needing baby packs since 2016 – with overall distributions now at a five-year high."

EU+ receives 43% fewer asylum applications in 2017(EASO, link):

"The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has published data on asylum trends in the EU+ in 2017 on a newly enhanced interactive portal. The results show a significant decrease in lodged applications for asylum compared with 2016, with 40% of decisions in 2017 being positive."

UK-EU:New UK data protection rules are a cynical attack on immigrants (The Guardian, link):

"In September, I warned in a Guardian opinion article that the Brexit process could have the effect of allowing the UK government to bring in more draconian and discriminatory immigration laws, harking back to the 70s and 80s.

Many people wondered how this would happen and the answer was that Brexit would allow the sweeping away of advances like the abolition of the hated primary purpose immigration rule made illegal by the European court of justice.

But now a far more profound and deliberate line of attack is being adopted by the British government in its national immigration policy, under cover of implementing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), one of the biggest modernisations of data protection law anywhere in the world. Simply put, a new clause in the government’s data protection bill, which implements the GDPR, would remove the rights of people who are subject to an immigration procedure to know what public authorities hold about them and to rectify or delete erroneous or unlawfully collected personal data."

13,000 migrants repatriated from Libya, but many returnees face problems (EurActiv, link):

"More than 13,000 migrants have been repatriated from Libya since the beginning of December, the African Union’s chief said yesterday (29 January), nearly two months after reports emerged showing refugees being sold as slaves.

That number is short of the AU’s goal to fly 20,000 out of the conflict-wracked north African nation by mid-January, but chairperson of the AU commission Moussa Faki Mahamat insisted the campaign was on course.

“We have 13,000, and every day, the number increases,” Faki told a press conference after the closing of an AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa."

Portraits challenge Britain to see refugees as family (, link):

"When Syrian teenager Abdulaziz Alkhaleed first arrived in Britain in 2015, he could not speak a word of English and even going to the supermarket made him nervous.

"I wasn't able to communicate," he said. "My first six months in this country I was isolated from everyone".

His life turned around when Ingrid Van Loo, a 51-year-old mother-of-three, welcomed him into her house in Epsom, near London, as part of a scheme run by Refugees at Home, a charity matching refugees with volunteer hosts."

Adapting to global human mobility after a refugee and migrant crisis (EurActiv, link):

"More people than ever are on the move globally. This raises the need for courageous European leadership and broad-based support from the media to depoliticise refugees and migrants and to free public opinion from irrational fear, writes Idriss Jazairy."

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