Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.12.18-2.1.19)


Including: • UNHCR (31.12.18): 112,852 refugees arrived in the EU by sea and 6,782 by land • When governments turn against volunteers - the case of AYS • 'Its an Act of Murder': How Europe Out sources Suffering as Migrants Drown

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Are You Syrious (29-30.12.18, link):

FEATURE: The French state “deliberately endangers” people on the move

"14 associations signed an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron denouncing the failure of the state in the protection and sheltering of migrants.

In the letter they reminded Macron of his public commitment not to have people sleeping on the streets (...)

Despite the efforts of the police, who every morning evict as many makeshift camps as they can, these camps grow day after day, “in basketball courts, under highway bridges and in parks.”

Migrants keep heading for Aegean islands despite bad weather (, link):

"Despite the bad weather, dozens of undocumented migrants made the short but perilous crossing to the Aegean islands from Turkey in the last few days of the year.

A total of 75 migrants reached Farmakonisi in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, according to the Greek Coast Guard, which intercepted two vessels carrying 38 and 37 migrants respectively. All 75 migrants were transferred to nearby Leros for identification.

Over the weekend, another 55 migrants reached Lesvos and Chios. Samos had no arrivals over the same period but authorities remain concerned following an increase last month."

UNHCR (31.12.18): 112,852 refugees arrived in the EU by sea and 6,782 by land. 31,867 arrived in Greece, 676 in Cyprus, 1,182 in Malta, 62,479 in Spain and 23,371 in Italy. 2,262 dead/missing in the year.

AYS SPECIAL: When governments turn against volunteers - the case of AYS (link)

"During the 2018, we’ve witnessed unprecedented backlash against human rights defenders who’ve been advocating legal access to asylum system in the EU. Volunteers and NGOs have been threatened, attacked and legally persecuted for the crimes they didn’t commit. AYS is one of them. For the first time we’re publicly disclosing our own case to paint the full picture of the events on Europe’s largest terrestrial border." (...)

UK migrant ‘crisis’ bears no comparison to EU's 2015 influx (Guardian, link):

"About 220 people have tried to cross Channel in two months, compared with 10,000 arrivals in Greece in a single day."

Are You Syrious (27.12.18, link):

32 people left at sea for over six days - the odyssey of Sea-Watch

"Since Saturday, Sea-Watch has been stranded at sea, without a safe port to disembark the 32 people on board, among them four women, four unaccompanied minors, and three children. Conditions at sea are becoming more and more harsh, and people are starting to suffer from the deprivation of a week at sea.

Five countries: Italy, Malta, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands refused to allow the vessel to disembark in their territories, pushing Phillip Hahn, head of the mission, to call out to Germany and Europe to take on their responsibilities and “show the good example.”"

‘It’s an Act of Murder’: How Europe Outsources Suffering as Migrants Drown (NYT, link):

"This short film, produced by The Times's Opinion Video team and the research groups Forensic Architecture and Forensic Oceanography, reconstructs a tragedy at sea that left at least 20 migrants dead. Combining footage from more than 10 cameras, 3-D modeling and interviews with rescuers and survivors, the documentary shows Europe’s role in the migrant crisis at sea."

Are You Syrious (22-23.12.18, link):

Italy and Malta = “Pure Cruelty”

"A two day old baby was rescued along with its young mother from a boat carrying 311 people 57 nautical miles from Malta. As Malta refused to allow a safe port to the other people at risk, as did Italy, they are now bound for Spain on the Open Arms vessel which has enough food for two days and is on a journey which will take 4-5 days. Malta stated that they rescued the baby for humanitarian reasons, but then refused to provide the provisions needed to keep the hundreds they had refused safe from hunger, including pregnant women, children and other small babies. Hypocrisy doesn’t cover it.

Luckily another rescue vessel, the Astral, will bring them supplies of medicines, blankets and food, but the situation remains difficult and neither boat will reach Spain until the 28th of December.":

Asylum seeker to sue UK for funding Libyan detention centres - Ethiopian teenager says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour in centres part-funded by UK (Guardian, link):

"A teenage asylum seeker from Ethiopia is planning to sue the government for its role in funding detention centres in Libya, where he says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour.

The teenager, who turned 18 a few weeks ago, cannot be named. He lives in London and is waiting for the Home Office to determine his asylum claim. His legal action against the government’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its contribution to funding these overseas centres is thought to be the first of its kind."

Are You Syrious (21.12.18, link):

Italian authorities leave refugees to drown or be returned to Libyan hell

"Italian rescue coordination centers (MRCC) are increasingly ignoring refugee’s SOS calls, either ignoring them or turning them over to the criminal Libyan “coast guard”.

Towards midnight on 20/12/18 the Alarm Phone rescue coordination group received a call from a boat that had left from Libya. The rudder was broken so the boat could not move, and the people aboard were in fear of sinking. The rescue line was in regular coordination with the people on the boat, passing off the information, including GPS coordinates to MRCC Rome.(...)"

Sea - "There is no Christmas in the Mediterranean”

"25 people drowned in the Western Mediterranean while trying to reach Spain today. 783 people have drowned this year trying to reach Spain, according to figures from the UNHCR. That is already three times the number of people who died last year. In spite of dangerous conditions, the crossings from Morocco to Spain have continued uninterrupted."

GREECE: Suspended sentence for Spanish activist is "decisive" for decriminalising solidarity with migrants and refugees

The lawyer for a Spanish trade unionist given a suspended sentence of 17 months' imprisonment for trying to help a Kurdish refugee leave Greece has said the ruling is a "positive step" and "decisive to decriminalise solidarity" with migrants and refugees.

Italy's 'yellow vests': Thousands march on Rome over new anti-migrants laws (SBS News, link):

"Several thousand people marched in Rome Saturday in protest at Italy's tough new anti-migrant law which makes it easier to expel new arrivals.

The protesters waved flags and donned yellow vests emblazoned with the slogan "Get up! Stand Up! for your right" in a reference to the famous Bob Marley song.

The new law would "only increase the number of people without papers in Italy and force people underground", protester Kone Brahima, originally from Ivory Coast, told AFP.

Another, Tony Scardamaglia, from Palermo, said: "We are still building more walls, more barriers," adding that the anti-migrant and security degree adopted last month would just cause more "difficulties"."

UK: The use of anti-terror laws to convict the Stansted 15 will chill public dissent (New Statesman, link):

"Between us, we observed every day of the trial. Far from deliberating on serious armed attacks at airports, it has often felt over the last three months that the jury was being asked to consider breaches of health and safety regulations, with Judge Morgan emphasising in his summing up to the jury that being airside whilst unauthorised could inherently be seen to be risky.

It is important, therefore, to look at what differentiates this case from the previous protests mentioned above. Because this protest was not like the others: it expressly challenged the detention and deportation practices of the Home Office."

Police Chief: No Abuse of Migrants by Croatian Police (Total Croatia News, link):

"ZAGREB, December 17, 2018 - The national chief of police, Nikola Milina, has dismissed accusations against Croatian police over their treatment of migrants, saying that no cases of beating have been found.

"Police guard the state border in accordance with the law and their professional standards. We have checked all recent reports of illegalities and have found no cases of beating," Milina told public broadcaster HRT in a prime-time news programme on Sunday evening.

He commended the police for their outstanding performance, saying that over 547 smugglers had been processed to date, the largest number on record."

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