01 November 2018
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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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"All Visegrad countries have now rejected the United Nations pact on the treatment of migrants worldwide, after Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini on Sunday (25 November) announced his countrys position after the EU summit.
...After Hungary, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Bulgaria, Slovenia too has made it plain that it will not send a representative at the intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh on 10 December.
Outside the EU, Australia, Switzerland and Israel also announced they will not sign the agreement.
In Belgium, a coalition partner to the government of Charles Michel, the Flemish nationalist N-VA, said the pact was particularly problematic for them."
GREECE: A scar on the conscience of Europe: Letter to Greek Prime Minister on conditions facing refugees in Greece (Amnesty, link):
"In early October, I visited Lesvos and the refugee camp in Moria, on behalf of Amnesty International. I would like to begin by stressing my admiration for the people of island who, in welcoming hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers over the past years are a beacon of solidarity and inspiration. It was clear to me from my visit, that the spirit of this solidarity is very much alive today despite the tides of fear and xenophobia.
...I would like to highlight the devastating situation I came across during my visit and to work towards solutions that respect human rights and are viable on local, national and international levels.
Moria is not the first refugee camp I have visited over the years but what I witnessed was quite simply shocking. Problems of overcrowding are well documented, and when I was there it was almost three times over capacity. The policy of containing refugees and asylum-seekers on the islands in order to implement the EU-Turkey deal means that thousands of people remain trapped there for months on end in squalid conditions. Their lives are in limbo, crushed by the prospect of being returned to a country that is not safe for them."
Migrants Trapped in Bosnia Awaken to Winters Arrival (Balkan Insight, link):
"Snow and cold, the first signs of winter, have come to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where thousands of refugees and migrants remain stuck on their way to the European Union.
During the night of Monday to Tuesday, in Una Sana Canton, one out of ten administrative units in Bosnias Federation entity, migrants living outside designated camps, like those in Kljuc and Velika Kladusa, woke up to snow and heavy rain.
...Some of the migrants and refugees are still placed in improvised tent shelters in the canton, although local media say the majority of them are now housed in a former factory."
Italy orders seizure of migrant rescue ship over 'HIV-contaminated' clothes (The Guardian, link):
"Italian authorities have ordered the seizure of the migrant rescue ship Aquarius after claiming that discarded clothes worn by the migrants on their voyage from Libya to Italy could have been contaminated by HIV, meningitis and tuberculosis.
Prosecutors from Catania, eastern Sicily, alleged that the waste was illegally labelled by the ships crew as special waste rather than toxic waste.
The Aquarius is currently docked in Marseilles, France, where so far it is beyond the reach of the Italian authorities.
...Aids campaigners criticised the prosecutors claims that clothing could have been contaminated with HIV. Clothing categorically is not, and has never been, an HIV transmission risk, said Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust."
EU: European Parliament: LIBE committee draft reports on the Internal Security Fund, Integrated Border Management Fund and Frontex
Draft reports have recently been produced by the LIBE committee's rapporteurs for three crucial legislative files: on future security budgets (the Internal Security Fund and Integrated Border Management Fund, to run from 2021-27); and the proposed new rules to revamp and massively strengthen the EU border and coast guard agency, Frontex.
UK: An inspection of the Home Office's management of asylum accommodation provision - report by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration
"For several reasons, not least the difficulty of extracting evidence from the Home Office, this inspection proved more challenging than most. My report is likely to please no-one. It was clear from the Home Offices response to the draft report that this topic touched a nerve. It considered my criticisms unfair and believed its efforts had not been fully recognised."
EU: Council: Interoperability "state of play": Planned centralised "Big Brother" database coming your way by 2023
The Council Presidency has produced a Note on: Interoperability: state of play (LIMITE doc no: 14193-18, pdf) which says that: "The Presidency and the co-rapporteurs [of the European Parliament] are committed to reaching a political agreement on this file by the end of December." [emphasis added throughout]
If this objective is achieved: "it would mean that the entry into operations of the four interoperability components (European Search Portal, shared Biometric Matching Service, Common Identity Repository and Multiple Identity Detector) could be achieved by 2023 if the delegated acts and implementing acts included in the interoperability file are all adopted by 2020."
Common European Asylum System - Reception: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 13699-18, pdf)
and LIMITE doc no: 13698-18: (LIMITE doc no: 13698-18, pdf) with 57 Footnotes giving detailed Member State positions.
Are You Syrious (20.11.18, link)
Special report: Human rights in the trash.
"During the night of Monday to Tuesday, all over the Balkans, but also in a big part of Europe, people who are forced to stay outside woke up in snow and heavy rain. The situation on the Greek islands is threatening and everybody should be worried what will happen with those trapped in camps like Moria, Vial, Samos The living conditions are unbearable, due to the lack of care from the governments and big organizations who are supposed to take care of people in need.(...)"
Paying the price for helping refugees in Germany (DW, link)
"Thousands of people in Germany have vouched for refugees in recent years and are now being asked to pay high sums. Were their good intentions misguided? (...)
Osterhaus, who has been involved in civil society causes and development aid projects throughout his life, produces a gray folder in which he has meticulously filed all documents pertaining to the dispute over refugee guarantees in transparent plastic sleeves. The latest document is from 20 June, 2018, and was sent by Bonn's job center. It wants Osterhaus to pay 7,239.84 ($8,268.29) and warns that the sum could be even higher.
The payment demand by Bonn's job center is based on a change in the law from 2016 (...)"
European Parliament: Studies: Humanitarian visas: European Added Value Assessment accompanying the European Parliament's legislative own-initiative report (Rapporteur: Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar) (pdf) :
"Humanitarian visas allow asylum-seekers to legally and safely access a third country. At present, the EU lacks a formalised humanitarian visa system. The number of persons admitted through other protected entry procedures (PEPs) and protection practices, such as resettlement programmes, community or private sponsorship schemes and 'humanitarian corridors' remains low in comparison with the need.
Furthermore, resettlement caters only for those who are already declared refugees, without providing a means of access to those in need of international protection whose status is yet to be established. This means there is a lack of regular channels for those seeking international protection to reach the EU and lodge an asylum application. As a result, 90 % of those granted international protection reached the European Union through irregular means."
And: The Cost of Non-Europe in Asylum Policy (pdf):
"According to international and EU law, EU Member States have committed to offering protection to those who have to leave their home country to seek safety from persecution or serious harm. However, there are significant structural weaknesses and shortcomings in the design and implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), and related measures. Beyond the tragic loss of 8 000 lives in the Mediterranean in 2016-2017 alone, this cost of non-Europe report estimates both the individual impact in terms of fundamental rights protection and the economic costs of gaps and barriers in the CEAS."
Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: The Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children (link):
"Europe continues to be faced with unprecedented numbers of migrants seeking protection. Migrant children are the most vulnerable group, whether they are arriving with their families or as unaccompanied minors. A worrying number of them end up in administrative detention as a result of existing immigration laws and policies. In detention facilities they are at high risk of abuse and neglect."
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