Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.1-4.2.19)


Including: Summit of the Southern European Union Countries – Nicosia Declaration - An “Informal” Turn in the European Union’s Migrant Returns Policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa - An average of six deaths every day in the sea in 2018

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Summit of the Southern European Union Countries – Nicosia Declaration (Cyprus Presidency, link):

"17. Effective reform of the Commonnnn European Asylum System, through the swift adoption of the entire comprehensive package of interconnected legislative proposals, should guarantee solidarity and responsibility among the Member States. In addition, the disembarkation of rescued migrants in the Mediterranean should be addressed through permanent solutions, based on the principles of solidarity, responsibility and in the framework of international law, ensuring their order to safeguarding of lives in the Mediterranean. We take into account the pressure on those Member States that are most exposed and already contribute to the rescue of people in danger.

18. Progress has already been achieved, as reflected by the decrease of detected illegal border crossings but migratory routes, such as those running through the Eastern, Central and Western Mediterranean, continue to require close attention. In this regard, the sustained and non-discriminatory implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement of 18 March 2016 and the full and effective implementation of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement and cooperation with all EU Member States in Justice and Home Affairs matters remains essential..."

An “Informal” Turn in the European Union’s Migrant Returns Policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa (Migration Policy Institute, link):

"A not-insignificant share of the European Union’s resident irregular migrant population comes from sub-Saharan Africa. Even though estimates of the unauthorized population in EU Member States are notoriously imprecise, comparing the number of non-EU nationals (formally known as third-country nationals) ordered to leave with the number who departed suggests that the resident unauthorized population has grown by up to 3 million persons over the past ten years. And sub-Saharan African nationals accounted for around one-fourth of this growth, with a significant share coming from Nigeria (13 percent), Senegal (8 percent), and Eritrea (7 percent). Despite increased EU efforts in recent years to work with sub-Saharan countries to accept the return of their nationals, return rates remain low.

...An initial focus by the European Union on formal readmission agreements with migrant-origin countries has given way since 2016 to informal ones. This article examines this informal turn and explores the potential effect that nonbinding readmission pacts could have on migrant returns to sub-Saharan Africa, challenging the assumption that such agreements will have a significant effect on future return levels agreed upon by EU and African policymakers. The analysis also evaluates EU reliance on return totals as an indicator of policy effectiveness and questions whether policy success can be quantified, considering data and other limitations."

Why Hungary's state-sponsored schoolbooks have teachers worried (CNN, link):

"Budapest, Hungary (CNN) - Flick through a Hungarian history book for high school students, and you're left in no doubt about the government's view on migrants.

The section on "Multiculturalism" opens with a photo of refugees camped under a Budapest railway station. Flanking the image is a speech given by strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the perils of migration: "We consider it a value that Hungary is a homogenous country," he says.

The state-sanctioned textbooks are part of a government shakeup of Hungary's education system that is causing deep unease among some teachers and publishers.

Critics say the textbooks are just one front in a government crusade to remake the education system -- and the country -- in its Christian, nationalist image. Orban has also scrapped academic programs that don't fit with his conservative values, effectively forcing one of Hungary's leading universities to move its courses abroad."

A useful summary: Europe’s Determination to Halt African Migration Makes Friends of Dictators (The Globe Post, link):

"The integration of the Sudanese security services means that Europeans are working directly with officials involved in propping up al-Bashir’s regime. Among these agencies are the Rapid Support Forces, an organization fashioned out of the notorious Janjaweed, which terrorized the Darfur region in Western Sudan.

An agreement between European and African states, signed in Malta in 2015, laid the foundations for this cooperation...

This close cooperation has continued and been enhanced, despite the notoriety of the African regimes with which the E.U. has to work. Early in 2019 the role of chairing the Khartoum Process, which regulates this E.U.-African cooperation, will be taken by Eritrea. The fact that Eritrea has one of the worst human rights records in Africa – and is regularly referred to as the “North Korea” of the continent – appears to have given E.U. officials few sleepless nights."

EU-BELARUS: Rights of refugees and migrants violated at EU-equipped borders (Danwatch, link):

"For many years, Belarus has served as a transit country for refugees travelling from the former Soviet Union to Europe, primarily Poland, in search of asylum. Most of the refugees come from Russia, especially from the Chechen Republic.

To limit irregular migration, the EU has made it a priority to provide training and border control equipment to the border authorities in countries along the EU’s eastern land borders. This includes Belarus, whose border authorities have received surveillance cameras, patrol cars and boats, from the EU in order to better detect people crossing their borders.

The border authorities that received the equipment have been implicated in the pushbacks of refugees, however, in violation of their rights, in both 2017 and 2018."

See also: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus (Statewatch News Online, 1 February 2017)

Are You Syrious (31.1.19, link):

An average of six deaths every day in the sea in 2018

"The UN Refugee Agency published 2018 Desperate Journey report showing a very dark picture of Europe today. Closed borders and hostile policies killed at least 2,275 people in the sea last year, while at least 44 per cent of people who crossed the sea to arrive to Italy, witnessed death on their journeys.

At the same time, Save the Children organization issued a statement saying that among those who died since 2014, there are at least 640 children. Only this year, during 31 days, 64 children died not being able to reach the safety of EU." (...)

January 2019

Sea Watch rescue ship docks in Italy with 47 migrants (DW, link):

"The latest standoff between Italy and the EU over sea rescues has ended with 47 migrants landing in Sicily. The German charity Sea Watch now fears it could be prosecuted and its boat impounded."

Sea Watch migrants to disembark in 'coming hours': Italian PM (DW, link):

"Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday announced that the migrants on board the Sea Watch charity rescue boat would be allowed to disembark "in the coming hours."

The 47 migrants will be distributed among seven EU member states – Italy, Germany, France, Portugal, Romania, Malta and Luxembourg.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday ordered Italy to provide medical assistance, food and drinks to the migrants aboard the vessel.

Commenting on Conte's remarks, Sea Watch said that Europe should be "ashamed.""

See also: ECHR grants an interim measure in case concerning the SeaWatch 3 vessel (pdf)

EU: A Member State that has given notice of its intention to withdraw from the EU in accordance with Article 50 TEU remains the responsible State for the purposes of the Dublin III Regulation

"It is for each Member State to determine the circumstances in which it wishes to make use of its discretion and itself carry out the examination of an application for international protection for which it is not responsible"

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