01 August 2019
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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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GREECE: Gov't council decides on seven measures to respond to migration crisis ((ekathimerini.com, link):
"Responding to a spike in migrant arrivals from neighboring Turkey, the governments Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) has decided on seven measures to ease the pressure on the Aegean islands and curb the influx. (...)
Also on the cards is an increase in police patrols to locate migrants whose asylum applications were rejected but are still in the country. (...)
The efforts of the coast guard in the Aegean will be bolstered with the procurement of 10 speedboats that will be dispatched to intercept suspected smuggling vessels heading towards Greece from neighboring Turkey."
Comment: The latter sounds like a policy of official "push-backs".
GREECE: 547 migrants land on Lesvos in largest single-day arrival since 2015-2016 (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Thirteen boats with 547 migrants arrived at the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos from the Turkish coast on Thursday afternoon, in what is the largest number of arrivals in one day since the migration crisis of 2015-2016, local media reported on Friday.
Of the total number of people who landed on the northern beach of Skala Sykamias, 177 were men, 124 were women and 246 were children. Most of them are families."
And see Aegean Boat report for: August 2019: Total number of refugees on the islands: 25,610.
Arrival August 3,171
Total arrivals this year 10,476
Boats August 83
Total Boats this year 295
Transfers August 839
Total transfers this year 7,407
Total refugees on the island: 11,801
Greece resumes migrants deportations to Turkey (keeptalkinggreece., link):
"Greece says it is restarting deportations of migrants to Turkey in an effort to deal with the increasing number of illegal crossings in recent weeks (...)
The minister told private Skai television that 75,000 migrants in Greece were currently having their asylum applications reviewed, including 9,000 whose applications had been rejected but were appealing the decision.
Many of the 50 refugee camps in Greece are squalid, overcrowded, rife with disease and home to unaccompanied minors, according to The Times."
Updated | Stranded migrant vessel receives water and food as standoff enters second day (Malta Today, link):
"Journalists onboard the Eleonore said the rescued migrants had spent the night with far less than one sq.m per person" Ship receives food and water outside territorial waters."
Spanish coastguard rescues 208 migrants crossing from Africa to Spain (news.trust.org, link):
"MADRID, Aug 29 (Reuters) - More than 200 migrants were rescued on Wednesday by the Spanish coastguard as they attempted to make the crossing from Africa to Spain, rescue services said on Thursday.
The rescue comes at a time when Spain is preparing for the arrival on a Spanish warship of 15 migrants from an Italian port following a prolonged standoff between Italian authorities and a Spanish-registered private rescue boat."
"On International Day of the Disappeared, IOM pays tribute to the families and loved ones of each person included in the Missing Migrants Project records a total that today approaches 33,000 men, women and children.
No matter the context of the disappearance, the agony of even one disappearance can have deep effects on those left behind. Families missing a loved one are relentless in their faith that they will return someday, and unless they have certainty of the fate of that person, their lives become defined by an ambiguous loss between hope and grief."
UNICEF sounds alarm over lone migrant minors in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):
"The number of unaccompanied migrant minors staying in overcrowded reception centers on the Greek islands exceeds 1,100, the highest level since the peak of the refugee crisis in early 2016, UNICEF said Thursday, calling on European countries to do more to protect vulnerable children."
Migrants jump fence at Spain's enclave in Africa (euobserver, link):
"Around 250 people tried to jump over the fence at Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta early on Friday 30 August. Only 153 managed to cross, reported the Spanish authorities."
"ISTANBULUnder the cover of night, Turkish police officers pushed Ahmed onto a large bus parked in central Istanbul. In the darkness, the Syrian man from Damascus could discern dozens of other handcuffed refugees being crammed into the vehicle. Many of them would not see the Turkish city again. (...)
In a deeper sense, the backlash also exposes the long-term consequences of the European Unions outsourcing of its refugee problem. In March 2016, the EU entered into a controversial deal with Turkey that halted much of the refugee influx to Europe in return for an aid package worth 6 billion ($6.7 billion) and various political sweeteners for Ankara. Preoccupied with its own border security, EU decision makers at the time were quick to reassure their critics that Turkey constituted a safe third country that respected refugee rights and was committed to the principle of non-refoulement."
EU split on migration widens (euobserver, link):
"Illegal immigration poses an ongoing political crisis for the European bloc and politicians' failure to act has left Europeans reportedly more concerned about immigration than climate change.
Will November's change of leadership in the European Commission help improve its track record on the humanitarian emergency?
Large numbers of migrants continued to arrive on European shores this summer and hundreds of people died en route so far this year. "
From Rome to Athens, squatting is under attack (pressenza.com, link):
"In July of this year New Democracy came to power in Greece with a promise to crack down on immigration and the networks of solidarity surrounding refugees. In the last few weeks they have started to put this process into action suggesting that they are cleaning up Exarcheia, evicting the squats that many refugees have made their temporary home. This is just one of a number of rule changes that effects this particular district of Athens since the new government came into power in July. The first stage was to recommend legislation to end the academic sanctuary law, a law that protects students protesting and, for the most part, means academic campuses are out of bounds to police. This next stage will mean the attempted systematic emptying out of 23 refugee anarchist squats throughout the Exarcheia district of Athens, potentially making thousands of refugees homeless."
Immigration panic: how the west fell for manufactured rage (Guardian, link):
"From Trump to Orbán, politicians are winning votes by stoking age-old hatreds. Where does this fear of migrants come from? By Suketu Mehta.
The west is being destroyed, not by migrants, but by the fear of migrants. In country after country, the ghosts of the fascists have rematerialised and are sitting in parliaments in Germany, in Austria, in Italy. They have successfully convinced their populations that the greatest threat to their nations isnt government tyranny or inequality or climate change, but immigration."
"Following the killing of an Afghan boy in the Moria reception center in Greece, the ICJ calls on the Greek authorities to effectively implement measures of protection prescribed to Greece this May by the European Committee on Social Rights.
According to information by the UN High Commissioner for refugees, the 15-year-old Afghan boy was killed and two other boys injured after a fight broke out at the Moria reception centre on the Greek island of Lesvos.
The safe area at the Moria Reception and Identification Centre, RIC, hosts nearly 70 unaccompanied children, but more than 500 other boys and girls are staying in various parts of the overcrowded facility without a guardian and exposed to exploitation and abuse."
An opinion piece by Massimo Frigo, ICJs Senior Legal Adviser for Europe and Central Asia. This Op-ed was first published in the EU Observer:
"Since he became Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini has repeatedly vowed to close Italian harbours to migrants, including refugees, and NGOs, making it the central objective of his migration policy."
"On 12 July 2019, the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland ruled to suspend the transfer of an asylum applicant to Croatia under the Dublin Regulation 604/2013 (the Dublin Regulation) due to the current situation of summary returns at the Croatian border with Bosnia-Herzegovina (E-3078/2019, 12 July 2019)."
Italy grounds two planes used to search for migrant boats(The Guardian, link):
"Italy has grounded two planes used by NGOs to search for migrant boats in distress in the Mediterranean.
The planes Moonbird and Colibri are operated by the German NGO Sea-Watch and the French NGO Pilotes Volontaires respectively and have been flying reconnaissance missions over the Mediterranean since 2017.
For the past month neither has been able to take to the skies after the Italian civil aviation authority said they could only be used for recreational and non-professional activities."
And see: Dozens feared dead after boat capsizes off Libya coast (Al Jazeera, link): "Rescue operation under way as Libyan coastguard says it rescued 60 people after the Europe-bound vessel capsized."
AYS SPECIAL: Outsiders perspective - The Bosnian Frontier (Are You Syrious, link):
"The passage between Bosnia and Croatia is one of the most difficult on the Balkan route. Usually people cross it on foot, walking and sleeping in the woods, far away from urban centres, invisible and silent. Because of the continuous and increasingly violent expulsions by Croatian border police, those who arrive in Bihac and Velika Kladua remain blocked in this area for months in a temporary status, constantly attempting the long mountain walk that connects the two cities to the Croatian border. The game is all a matter of chance and few make it at the first attempt. We met people who have been trying for a year and could count more than 20 attempts "
MEDITERRANEAN: Military vessels accused of scrambling emergency communications in the Libyan SAR zone[Ong. La Mare Jonio: «INTERFERENZE MILITARI ZITTISCONO I SEGNALI DI SOS DEI MIGRANTI»] (Bocche Scucite, link):
"The Mediterranean mission ship is reporting a blockage of reception equipment in the Libyan rescue area. And in silence, the number of cases of shipwrecks being sent back to Libya is increasing.
...From the ship, the operators reiterate that "now the European military command and coordination centres do not relay the reports of vessels in distress as they should do, through the radio and messaging communication channels provided for by maritime law and the international SAR protocols, but seem to talk only with the Libyan authorities."
"Greece has been condemned for years by human rights organisations and even the European Court of Human Rights for failing to protect these children and allowing them to live in an environment manifestly unsuitable for children.
Europe is also to blame, having found Greece legally responsible for their treatment of child refugees this year, and making a legal decision that Greece had breached Europes human rights convention forbidding inhuman or degrading treatment, their consequence for the Greek authorities was a paltry 4000 euros to be paid to the kids."
"A police report seen by German media has found that extreme right protesters explicitly tried to violently chase down foreigners. Disagreement over whether such a "hunt" took place nearly toppled the German government."
Greek police raid Athens squats and arrest migrants (Guardian, link):
"About 100 people held after new prime minister vows to bring order to Exarcheia area.(...)
Dozens of officers cleared four sites in the Exarcheia neighbourhood of the capital. Helicopters flew overhead and the neighbourhood was flooded by police during the operation.
The conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who took office as prime minister last month, had vowed to bring order to the district, promising regular police patrols."
Barred by EU, Refugees, Migrants Still Coming to Greek Islands (thenationalherald, link):
"There are more than 75,000 in detention centers and camps in Greece, including more than 22,700 on islands near Turkey and the numbers keep swelling if slower than before, leaving the government unable to handle the number of asylum applications."
"An internal report from the EU's Operation Sophia, obtained by BuzzFeed News, warns that the number of potential refugees at sea could require "an immediate intervention."
That prediction was made in the latest semiannual report from Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission aimed at halting people from being smuggled across the sea into Europe. But, according to the report, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News, the mission is drastically unprepared for such an event."
Comment: The report also shows the low effectiveness of Libyan rescue efforts and that they only answered the phone in 50% of cases.
Nearly 900,000 asylum seekers living in limbo in EU, figures show (euobserver, link):
"Backlog of claims persists despite number of arrivals almost halving in two years.
Eurostat figures have revealed a backlog of 878,600 requests at the end of 2018, with Germany having the largest share of pending requests (44%), ahead of Italy (12%). The figure comes despite the number of migrant arrivals in Europe practically halving in the last two years.
Factors leading to the continuing backlog include new laws from right-leaning governments and an increase in the number of rejections, leading to lengthy appeals processes.(...)
The rejection rate for asylum requests in Europe has almost doubled in three years, from 37% in 2016 to 64% in 2019. In Italy, rejections were at 80% at the start of 2019, up from 60% the previous year as the populist government also removed key forms of protection."
GREECE: No End in Sight: The mistreatment of asylum seekers in Greece (pdf): Report by 13 NGOs:
"This report finds evidence of sweeping human rights violations of displaced people and refugees on mainland Greece and the islands of Chios, Lesvos and Samos, violations that could amount to cruel and unusual treatment and torture. As a result of the so-called Containment Policy, bought into effect following the EU-Turkey Statement in 2016, thousands are currently trapped on the islands without access to shelter, healthcare or education, including many women and children.
Those living on the islands, often in severely overcrowded camps, face dire living conditions, including unhygienic conditions and inadequate housing and bathing facilities."
"The captain of a controversial ship that saved migrants in the Mediterranean Sea has refused to accept a medal for her work. (...)
In a Facebook message published Tuesday night, Klemp announced that she was rejecting the Grand Vermeil Medal, which the city of Paris awards for bravery. She told Mayor Anne Hidalgo that the city was brimming with hypocrisy."
"Turkey hosts around 4 million Syrian refugees. But in a recent opinion poll over 80% of Turks said they want the refugees to leave the country. The government appears to be getting the message. In Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and home to around a million Syrians, a looming deadline for all unregistered refugees to leave the city has been extended to October. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul."
What happens when trafficking survivors get home (euobserver, link):
"For years, international media have been full of horrifying stories of Nigerian women and girls trafficked to Libya and Europe for sexual and labor exploitation.
The world now also knows very well that many refugees and migrants seeking to reach Europe instead find themselves trapped in Libya in slavery-like conditions, and that for women and girls those conditions often involve sexual violence or exploitation."
Are You Syrious(19.8.19, link):
"On 21 August 2019, the so-called Orderly Return Bill will come into force and change the life of many refugees and migrants in Germany for the worse. There might also be some improvements, but these are mere cosmetic corrections and cannot obscure the fact that the bill is made to get illegal migrants out of the country and make the life of those who remain as uncomfortable as possible. The most serious changes are the following:(...)
"Ahead of tomorrows appeal against the conviction of Anni Lanz, a 73-year-old woman convicted and fined with 800 Swiss francs ($820 US) for giving a rough-sleeping frost-bitten Afghan asylum seeker a lift over the Italian border into Switzerland"
Syrian migrants in Turkey face deadline to leave Istanbul (BBC News, link):
"Thousands of Syrian migrants have until Tuesday to leave Istanbul or face expulsion from Turkey's biggest city.
Authorities have told unregistered migrants to return to the province they are registered in, as part of a bid to relieve pressure on the city.
But some Syrians told the BBC many were being deported to Idlib, inside Syria, where fighting is escalating."
Migrants in limbo again after landing in Italy (euractiv, link):
"One hundred and forty seven migrants who disembarked on Italys Lampedusa island were again in limbo Wednesday (21 August) as a European deal to redistribute them failed to materialise and Madrid said it could hit the Spanish charity with a huge fine for rescuing them."
Greece: Samos: Cruelties - This man is Hisham Mustafa from Aleppo, Al Sfir (Samos Chronicles, link):
"Turkish police transferred him 25 days ago from Istanbul to Syria ( Idleb). He was given no choice but to return to a place where the war continues. In Istanbul he left behind his wife and their three children."
German experts discuss migration with Greek officials (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Greek officials met on Wednesday in Athens with a delegation of German specialists on issues of migration to discuss arrivals of third-country nationals and find ways of collaborating.
According to a Citizen Protection Ministry statement, the focus of the meeting was the process of receiving migrants from non-EU countries, examining their requests for asylum in Greece and returning those who do not qualify."
People on rescue ship off Italy at breaking point, say doctors (The Guardian, link):
"The medical and psychological condition of people onboard a rescue boat anchored off the Italian island of Lampedusa for 18 days has reached breaking point, doctors have said.
The vessel operated by the Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms has been refused permission to dock by Italys far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini. On Monday Open Arms suggested chartering a plane to fly the 107 migrants onboard to Spain.
A group of doctors who visited the vessel last week said sanitary and hygienic conditions were very poor and the boat was not fit to hold such a large number of people."
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called for the resumption of European naval missions to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean.
Since 2015, tens of thousands of migrants were rescued by European naval ships as part of the bloc's anti-smuggling "Operation Sophia," which suspended activity earlier this year.
"It would certainly be good if today we had Operation Sophia and national navies that would carry out rescues," Merkel said in Berlin. She added that it would help with rescuing migrants as well as combating trafficking."
"SIX EU COUNTRIES have agreed to take in some of the 147 migrants stranded on a rescue ship near the Italian island of Lampedusa, Rome announced today.
The mainly African migrants aboard Open Arms had been plucked from boats in the Mediterranean this month with weather conditions encouraging more departures from Libya."
Libya: ongoing atrocities reveal the trouble with international military intervention(The Conversation, link):
"Events in Libya show what can happen when international players claim to do good things through military action. To prevent future atrocities, the international community must recognise the absurdity of dropping bombs to protect people while also detaining migrants in the centre of war zones, dealing arms, and preventing rescue missions.
Military intervention does not protect civilians. We should call on the international community to change their callous policies that kill every day. We should demand that they stop fuelling atrocity crimes. And we should support non-violent forms of protection such as unarmed civilian peacekeeping, which have proven effective in Colombia, South Sudan, Kosovo and Sri Lanka.
To support military intervention gives further licence to the militarism of those already fanning the flames of atrocity. This will only result in more of the violence seen in Libya today."
EU: MEDEL statement on the Italian security decree of June 2019 (MEDEL, link):
"The introduction in Italy of draconian measures in relation to vaguely defined violations adds a further dimension to the pressure on volunteers, who already have to face the risk of being subject to investigations for violations of national immigration laws.
The effect is to reverse the order of the values enshrined in the Constitutions and Charters of fundamental rights, prioritizing alleged security reasons over the protection of human lives.
MEDEL has several times recalled the responsibility of all member states and of the European Union, stressing the distance between the current migration policies and the commitment - enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights - towards the human community and the future generations to ensure the enjoyment by everyone of fundamental rights.
The future of Europe and of European democracies depends on this pledge."
IRELAND: Migrant rescues help naval recruiting (Irish Examiner, link):
"The positive publicity surrounding the Naval Services role in saving trafficked migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea was responsible for an increase in people joining the force.
Thats according to recruitment figures released by the Naval Service showing the years leading up to the operations and while they were underway.
However, concerns have been raised by Naval Service sources that without such missions, and with still no pay increases coming from the Government, it will prove hard to attract the same numbers as witnessed when Operation Pontus and Operation Sophia were in full flow."
"Migration into Europe has fallen since 2015, when more than one million people fleeing conflict and hardship attempted sea crossings. But deaths and disappearances in the central Mediterranean have shot up, exposing the fight against migration as flawed and dangerous.
While leaders in Europe and elsewhere claim that clamping down on migration saves lives by deterring people from undertaking dangerous journeys, the reality is that European governments outsourced migration policies are feeding into conflict and abuse and reinforcing the drivers of migration.
Drawing on extensive research, this report analyses the European Unions and European governments outsourcing of migration controls in partner countries such as Turkey, Libya and Niger. It explores who benefits from this system, exposes its risks and explains who bears the costs. It also provides recommendations for European leaders on how to move toward a humane model for migration that refocuses on EU commitments to human rights, conflict prevention and sustainable development."
Migrant rescue ship heads for Italy after judge overrules Salvini (Al Jazeera, link):
"An Italian court has upheld an appeal by the Spanish rescue ship Proactiva Open Arms, suspending far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's decision to ban the ship from entering the country's waters.
The Italian court ruled that the ban violates international laws in light of the "exceptionally grave and urgent situation due to the protracted stay of the migrants on our boat", Open Arms said in a statement on Wednesday.
The group said its ship is now heading towards Italian waters and expects to reach them on Thursday morning. Additionally, it has made new requests to Italy and Malta for a port that will let them disembark the migrants on medical grounds."
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