December


Thoughts from the Borderlands (link):

"Against this tragic backcloth, in contrast, a new internationale of activists and volunteers, of new and old non-governmental organisations has responded to attempt to meet the needs of those in distress, in acute need and despair. Activists locally, in every place where refugees and migrants arrive and are held back, supported by volunteers from across the world, with specialist life-saving expertise and with none except a desire to help, on the front line for months on end or a few days, raising funds, collectivising and collaborating to try to plug the gaps of state failures.

Volunteers and refugees alike have been obstructed, assaulted, threatened with prosecution and derided by the very authorities whose inertia has caused this emergency humanitarian response.

It only serves to underline the deliberate antipathy towards the needs of refugees that everywhere, from Lesbos to Calais, it is paramilitary policing that is deployed, riot shields, batons, tear gas and rubber bullets, razor wire and detention, the destruction not building of shelters, to control not to assist, to abuse not to assuage, to inculcate fear, not to foster a sense of safety."

UPDATE: President Michael D Higgins signs asylum Bill into law - President decides not to refer Bill to Supreme Court after convening the Council of State (Irish Times, link):

IRELAND: Council of State convenes over International Protection Bill (RTE, link):

"President Michael D. Higgins has said he will take a decision within the next 24 hours on whether to refer the International Protection Bill to the Supreme Court or sign it into law.... After consulting with the council, the president must decide whether to sign the International Protection Bill into law or, if he believes it is "repugnant" to the Constitution, refer it to the Supreme Court.

The Council of State advises the president and is made up of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the High Court and the Attorney General. All surviving former taoisigh, presidents and chief justices are also members, along with seven of the president's own nominees. It is only the second time that the president has convened such a meeting, under Article 26 of the Constitution; the previous occasion was the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.....

the International Protection Bill, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the overhauling of the asylum application system would enable officers to efficiently grant protection to those who are entitled to it while also identifying, at a much earlier stage, people who have no entitlement to stay in the State"

European Association for the Defense of Human Rights (AEDH): Migrant rights are not for sale! (pdf)

"8.6 billion euros! This is the sum the European Union has committed to spending to keep migrants as far as possible from its borders.

5 billion euros so that 4.4 million Syrians – whose need for international protection cannot be denied – remain in Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, instead of being welcomed in Europe.

3.6 billion euros so that Africans, from Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria, Niger and others; Kosovars; Afghans and Turks encounter obstacles blocking their path to Europe, holding them in detention and even sending them back to the countries from where they fled violence. So that third, or “partner” countries turn them back, deport them and sometimes even arrest migrants that the European Union does not want to allow inside its borders.

8.6 billion euros so that the EU can keep its hands clean, sparing European feelings from seeing migrants die before arriving on their shores."

News (28-30.12.15)

Greece: At least 3,000 refugees arrive at Piraeus port on Wednesday (30 December): (ANA-mpa, link)

Denmark defends plan to strip refugee valuables (The Local.de, link): "The Danish government on Friday defended plans for police to search asylum seekers' luggage for valuables and cash after they prompted international outrage and drew comparisons to Nazi Germany... The plans have sparked international outrage, especially in the US, where the Washington Post on Thursday noted that confiscating jewellery from refugees had "a particularly bitter connotation in Europe" where the Nazis seized gold and valuables from Jews and others during the Second World War.."

Sweden-Denmark border rail fence completed (The Local, dk, link): "The fence at Copenhagen’s Kastrup station has been completed as preparations continue for the introduction of ID checks between Denmark and Sweden on January 4th." and Norway to turn back asylum seekers at border (The Local.no, link): "Norway said Tuesday it would start turning back refugees without visas arriving from elsewhere in the passport-free Schengen zone, particularly Sweden. The move is part of a draft law containing a series of immigration measures that the Oslo government says will make its asylum policy "one of Europe's toughest". The conservative minority last month gathered enough parliamentary support from the centre and labour parties to adopt the measures."

Migrant crisis: Over one million reach Europe by sea (BBC News, link): "More than one million refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea since the start of 2015, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says.More than 80% of the 1,000,573 people arrived in Greece, with the majority landing on Lesbos island, it said... The migrant crisis is Europe's worst since World War Two.". Comment: It is a refugee crisis which the EU has handled abysmally

Refugees: Austria sends hundreds of refugees back to Slovenia (DW, link): "Over 400 refugees trying to cross the border from Slovenia to Austria have been turned back by Austrian police. The migrants had apparently lied about their nationality to be granted entry.... According to Slovenian news agency STA, Austrian border patrols sent back 413 refugees since Saturday. But Slovenia's deputy Interior Minister Bostjan Sefic said on Tuesday that since then, around half of those had been granted entry into Austria,"

Migrant crisis: Over one million reach Europe by sea (BBC News, link)

Frontex sends 300 guards in migrant mission to Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "EU border agency Frontex said Tuesday it had started to deploy 293 officers and 15 vessels on Greek islands to help Athens cope with the massive influx of migrants to its shores. The guards "will assist in identifying and fingerprinting of arriving migrants, along with interpreters and forged document experts," Frontex said in a statement. "The number of border guards deployed will gradually increase to over 400 officers as well as additional vessels, vehicles and other technical equipment," it added."

Group demands removal of border fence (english.sta.si, link): "Ljubljana, 29 December - A group representing the interests of the southern region of Bela krajina has demanded of the government to remove the wire fence on the border with Croatia. The Bela Krajina Society said in Tuesday's protest that the fence was devastating for the local economy, environment and local society."

Greece: Migrant arrivals rise more than tenfold in a year (ekathimerini.com, link):"Over 800,000 refugees and migrants entered Greece between the start of the year and the end of November, with the number of arrivals increasing more than tenfold compared to last year’s total of 72,632, data published by the Greek Police showed Monday. The number tallies with figures from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which puts total arrivals in Greece from January 1 to December 24 at 836,672."

Fear and few answers as Turkish police round up Syrian refugees (Reuters, link): "Aid organizations and rights group Amnesty International say Turkish authorities are rounding up scores, maybe hundreds, of Syrian migrants off the streets, sometimes targeting beggars, and sending them to detention centers. The process has resulted in the deportation of some back to Syria against their will, they say. In a report this month, Amnesty said it had interviewed 50 refugee families who had been detained. It said more than 100 had been deported."

Two dead as migrants storm Spain's African border at Ceuta (The Local.es, link): "Hundreds of African migrants stormed the border between Morocco and the Spanish territory of Ceuta on Friday, and two migrants drowned and 12 others were hospitalized, officials in both nations said."

Bavaria demands control of own borders (The Local.de, link): "The conservative state government in Bavaria has called on Berlin to allow the Free State's own police to secure its border with Austria, saying that federal officers are overwhelmed."

Danish PM seeks change to UN asylum pact (The Local.dk, link): "Denmark's centre-right prime minister on Sunday said he would seek a revision of the UN Refugee Convention, as Europe faces its worst migration crisis since World War II"

Turkey Detains 21 Migrants Trying to Enter Bulgaria (.novinite.com, link): "Turkish authorities say they arrested 21 people who were seeking to cross illegally into Bulgaria on Saturday. Another 26 were captured before entereing Greece from Turkey's northwest, Hürriyet Daily News reports" and Turkey captures 978 for illegal cross-border attempts (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Some 978 people have been captured ahead of illegal crossings through Turkish borders, the Turkish General Staff has said. The general staff said in a written statement that 978 people were captured before illegally crossing Turkey’s borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Syria, Iraq and Iran on Dec. 26. Some 697 of them were captured as they attempted to cross into Turkey from Syria."

How Europe reacted to the refugee crisis (ICMPD, link)

Calls for Bundeswehr to reallocate resources from refugee care to NATO missions (DW, link): "The German Armed Forces Association has urged withdrawing thousands of soldiers from refugee care tasks and has called for boosting the number of recruits in the light of increased military obligations."

Question Papadimoulis in the European Council for the Hungarian attitude to the refugee (Athens Times, link)

Germany prices refugee effort at 17 billion euros (DW, link): "Spending on refugees by Germany's 16 states next year could exceed 17 billion euros, according to "Die Welt" newspaper. For the 300,000 children among them, 25,000 extra teachers are needed, reckons the trade union GEW. "

Rescue filmed of stricken migrant boat off Lesbos (BBC video, link) showing volunteer rescue speedboat.

New film to be shot in migrant hotspot Calais (The Local.fr, link): "An award-winning director will soon start work on Happy End, a film which will 'integrate' the migrant crisis affecting the French port into its plot."

German interior ministers alarmed by violence against refugees, rise of right-wing (DW, link):

"Attacks on refugee shelters in Germany continued over the Christmas holiday period. Interior ministers are concerned about the growing number of xenophobic attacks along with the rise of the right-wing Scene.. The number of anti-immigrant attacks has risen sharply this year.

Up until mid-December, the Interior Ministry reported 850 attacks on refugee shelters, more than four times the number recorded in 2014.."

Lesvos, Greece: International Rescue Committee: A warm, safe welcome for refugees landing on Lesbos (link) says: "The International Rescue Committee is preparing to open a reception center in northern Lesbos, often the first stop for thousands of exhausted refugees seeking safety in Europe. Built along the island’s coast, the site – “Windy Ridge” – is just steps from the beach where thousands of refugees from warring countries arrived this year. " [emphasis added]

This is not the view of local civil society volunteers who have been helping refugees the whole year long in Lesvos and who question the building of a camp in "a valley in the middle of nowhere": See: Eric Kempson (link)

and Eric Kempson - Again (link): It is alleged that employees of the International Rescue Committee are telling civil society volunteers - who have been working for months welcoming refugees as they arrive in the EU - to "get off the beach" because they are now in charge.

Flow of migrants to islands continues over Christmas (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Some 6,000 people arrived at the port of Piraeus on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on ferries from Lesvos, Chios and Samos. Nevertheless, thousands of refugees and migrants remained on the islands, Lesvos in particular."

Peter Sutherland: Special representative to the United Nations secretary general for migration: Selfishness on refugees has brought EU ‘to its knees’ - ‘Paralysis and ambivalence’ threatening Europe’s future (Irish Times, link):

"Mr Sutherland accused some heads of government of “stoking up prejudice” by speaking of barring Muslim migrants and said the absence of EU agreement on a refugee-sharing scheme meant a Europe of internal borders was increasingly likely to become a reality across the continent.

“This is a tragedy. Tension between member states is inevitably going to grow because of the great differences among them in their attitudes towards refugees,” he said.

“It is hardly surprising that Germans, who will take about a million refugees this year, and who have promised to take 500,000 annually for the next few years, should be outraged by, for example, the United Kingdom’s paltry offer of 20,000 places over five years - and this by a country that has only resettled 252 Syrian refugees since the conflict began.”"

EU: Frontex Return flights up to 22.12.15 (Statewatch document, pdf)

- Since September 2015, 683 people have been deported in joint Frontex flights from 18 Member States. This consisted of 16 flights to six destinations: Albania, Armenia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kosovo and Georgia.

- According to the total number of people returned by Member State, Germany and Italy ranked highest for returning the most between September and December 2015. This is followed by Greece, Austria and Spain.

News (26-27.12.15)

German finance minister critical of Greece over refugee policy ((ekathimerini.com, link):: "Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble criticized Greece on Sunday over the way it deals with refugees, saying Athens has ignored for years the European Union’s Dublin rules that oblige migrants to file for asylum in the first European Union (EU) country they arrive in.... The biggest migration crisis in Europe since World War Two also means that European countries will have to increase spending on the military, he said."We will have to spend a lot more funds for joint European defence initiatives," Mr Schaeuble said. "Ultimately our aim must be a joint European army. The funds that we spend on our 28 national armies could be used far more effectively together," he said."

Protesters attack Corsica Muslim prayer hall (DW, link): "Demonstrators ransacked the building and set fire to copies of the Quran, hours after hooded youths clashed with police in the capital Ajaccio. The French government has condemned the attacks."

Greece: Changes in a treaty cannot hide behind changes in rules, says Kotzias on Frontex operation (ANAmpa, link): "A change in a treaty cannot be hidden behind a change of rules, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in an interview to Greek paper Agora, commenting the rules that will govern the operation of Frontex."

GREECE: State to try and take over civil society's humanitarian work which has been in place for months and months helping hundreds of thousands of refugees - when International and EU agencies have been conspicuous by their absence: Refugee NGOs on islands to be coordinated (ekathimerini.com, link): "A special committee will be formed under the General Secretariat for the Aegean to coordinate dozens of nongovernmental organizations on the Greek islands receiving the biggest inflows of refugees and migrants, Kathimerini has learned."

The months of inaction by the EU is summed up in this Cartoon (thanks to No Borders, pdf)

and see: In eastern Europe, volunteers step up for refugees (DW, link): "Volunteers connected through social media have come to the aid of people seeking asylum in eastern Europe, where governments have failed. Peter Georgiev reports from Sofia.... Quickly volunteers came together in an informal Facebook group, called "Friends of the refugees," to provide the support asylum-seekers needed. Journalist Maria Cheresheva was one of the initiators. Along with colleagues, she had taken to the streets of Sofia to collect donations for migrants. Hundreds of volunteers formed a chain to contribute food, water, clothing and other supplies, which were later transported to the refugee camp in Pastrogor."

and Susan Sarandon welcomes refugees in Lesbos (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "Sarandon told ANA-MPA, a Greek news agency, that she will assist volunteers and non-governmental organizations in welcoming the refugees to the island. “The international community must see what is happening in this corner of the world,” she told ANA-MPA. “It must realize the size of the problem and understand it. These people should stop being ‘somebody else’ and must become the refugees that we must stand by.”

Greece: Refugee Crisis: Lesvos is Filling Up With Migrants; Frontex Staff on Holiday (Greek Reporter, link):

Today hundreds of North African immigrants in Lesvos are being registered. In the middle of last week it was decided that immigrants such as these should not be granted the monthly permit which allows them to stay in Greece until their departure.

Thousands of migrants and refugees are arriving on the islands of the northern Aegean from the Asia Minor coasts, specifically Turkey. Up until this morning the hotspot in Moria recorded around 3,000 people while other migrants were found in many places around the center waiting to be registered. About 1,000 Syrians have been temporarily sent to the camp of Kara Tepe having been given a note that specifies that they will be registered on Christmas.

The situation at the recording and certification sites in Moria is very difficult because a great majority of Frontex’s staff has left for Christmas holidays." [emphasis added]

European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 23 December 2015 (Dated 23 December, 2015, pdf)

Comment on current situation: Very, very little has changed since early November.

Changes between 8.12.15 and 23.12.15 are noted below.

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism as of 22 December 2015) (pdf): Now 17 Member States (up three) with 4,207 places offered - up 380 - out of 160,000 needed.

- Returns updated on 22 December 2015 since September (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 683 - up 25 since 8 December, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as two weeks ago.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Now: Frontex: now 131 officers up 17 (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams - althougth it appears from reports that quite a few are away for a Xmas break - Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hotspots" are planned but only two - Lampedusa and Lesvos - are operational.

- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million
(Communicated as of 23 December 2015)
(pdf) a very slight fall in total funding gap.

- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 22 December 2015) (pdf) Still many unmet needs.

22.12.15: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 22 December 2015 (pdf)
21.12.15: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 21 December 2015 (pdf)
17.12.15: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 17 December 2015 (pdf)
11.12.15: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels, 11 December 2015 (pdf)

GREECE: 'Why did you annoy them?' Coastguard officials acquitted of torture convictions - Moroccan says he was subjected to waterboarding in 2007 (enetenglish.gr, link):

"Calling for the sentences to be squashed, the prosecutor claimed that no torture could have taken place as there was no evidence that the coastguard officers had received training in torture methods Two coastguard officials who were convicted last year of torturing a Moroccan asylum seeker on the island of Chios in 2007 were acquitted by an Athens appeals court last week.

Calling for the coastguards' sentences to be squashed, the state prosecutor claimed, among others, that no torture could have taken place as there was no evidence that the officers had received training in torture methods".

News (24.12.15)

20/12: Alarm Phone alerted to 13 distress cases in the Aegean (Watch the Med, link): " Alarm Phone alerted to 13 distress cases in the Aegean, near Lesvos, Rhodes, Pasas, Samos, Leros, Pitta, and Oinousses?"

German police investigate anti-foreigner motive in Bavaria fire (DW, link): "Nearly 12 people have been injured after fire broke out almost simultaneously in two houses in the Bavarian town of Wallerstein. Police have arrested one suspect and not ruled out an anti-immigrant motive."

Failure to act on Hungary carries risk of contagion says EP (Budapest Beacon, link): "The European Parliament adopted a resolution Wednesday calling on the European Commission “to initiate immediately an in-depth monitoring process concerning the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary”, within the “rule of law framework.” The “rule of law framework” is a Commission tool designed to address emerging systemic threats to the rule of law in an EU member state. The resolution adopted Wednesday was passed by 327 votes to 293, with 61 abstentions." See: Strasbourg, 11 March 2014: European Commission presents a framework to safeguard the rule of law in the European Union (pdf)

Council of Europe: Helping refugees in the Mediterranean: Greek association “Agkalia” awarded Raoul Wallenberg Prize (pdf):

"The jury of the Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize has awarded the 2016 Prize to Agkalia, a Greek association on the island of Lesvos, for outstanding achievements in providing frontline assistance to thousands of refugees irrespective of their origin and religion.

As Lesvos has become a European gateway for refugees, Agkalia has been providing temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid to people in need, assisting some 17,000 refugees and migrants since May 2015. Through its work to assist refugees, Agkalia also promotes tolerance and human rights"

EU: A PERMANENT MECHANISM for the CRISIS RELOCATION of REFUGEES? Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 14951-15, pdf) EU governments are a long way from agreeing the Council's position on this Regulation:

"The delegations having general or scrutiny reservations reiterated their positions and underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation.

The following delegations entered or confirmed their general scrutiny reservations: AT, BE, BG, DE, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI.

CZ, ES, HU, LT, PL and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU has also a parliamentary scrutiny reservation"

This has been deleted: "A comprehensive evaluation of the Dublin Regulation is currently being conducted by the Commission that could lead to a wider revision of the Dublin system."

Irregular Migrant, Refugee Arrivals in Europe Top One Million in 2015: IOM (link)

News (22-23.12.15)

Austria accused of 'stupidity' in crisis (The Local.at, link): "Hungary has accused Austria of confusing "solidarity and stupidity" after Vienna said that nations which do not accept their share of refugees under European Union quotas should face sanctions....

Police union slams plan to strip refugee jewellery (The Local.dk, link): "Denmark's Minister for Integration has hit back at police criticism of the government's highly controversial proposal to confiscate valuable items from refugees by saying "most people" can judge the value of jewellery."

German 'welcoming culture' still strong: poll (The Local.de, link): "A new survey conducted by the Protestant church shows that Germans’ willingness to help refugees remains steadfast, despite concerns the country will struggle to cope with the large influx."

Turkish envoy to Greece calls for cooperation (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece and Turkey need to work closely on tackling migratory flows because they are “both victims of the refugee crisis,” the Turkish ambassador in Athens, Kerim Uras, told Greek journalists on Wednesday."

Hungary urged to halt campaign portraying refugees and migrants as ‘invaders’ – UN agency and partners (UN news Centre, link): "The United Nations refugee agency, together with two European partners, urged Hungary today to refrain from policies and practices that promote intolerance, fear and fuel xenophobia against refugees and migrants, including a campaign running through Christmas and into the New Year.The organizations – The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Council of Europe and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – “have joined voices to call on the Hungarian leadership to adopt the true spirit of humanity in helping those who have been forced out of their countries against their own will and choice and are currently seeking safety in Europe,” according to a joint press release. " and Refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 top unprecedented one million – UN (link)

Thirteen migrants drown off Farmakonisi (ekathimerini.com, link): "Seven children, two women and four men drowned when their boat sank off the small Aegean island of Farmakonisi, Greek coastguard officials said early Wednesday."

Czech Prime Minister chastises Merkel over refugee crisis (DW, link):"Bohuslav Sobotka has said Merkel's policies are partly to blame for the refugee crisis. He also reiterated the Czech Republic's commitment to helping the EU mitigate the crisis."

Global migration chief 'disturbed' at dangers of xenophobia (Reuters, link): "The anti-migrant sentiment taking hold in a slew of nations facing an influx of refugees is disturbing, dangerous and puts people's lives at risk, said the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Concern and suspicion about migrants is based on stereotypes, fear of national identity loss and a "post-9/11 security syndrome," said William Lacy Swing, director general of the Geneva-based "intergovernmental IOM.

Refugee and migrant arrivals in EU pass 1 million in 2015: IOM (Reuters, link): "The number of refugees and migrants arriving by land an sea in six European Union countries -- Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus -- has passed 1 million this year, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday. Out of a total of 1,005,504 arrivals by Dec. 21, the vast majority -- 816,752 -- arrived by sea in Greece, IOM said."

One million migrants and refugees have reached Europe this year – IOM (Guardian, link): "International Organisation for Migration announces latest figures, with Greek island of Lesbos now the main refugee gateway.... The European migration flow is nevertheless far more manageable than in the Middle East, where roughly 2.2 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey alone. In Lebanon, the 1.1 million Syrians form about one-fifth of the country’s total population, while Jordan’s 633,000 registered Syrian refugees make up around a tenth of the total.

The denial of basic rights to refugees in those countries, where almost all Syrians do not have the right to work, is one of the causes of Europe’s migration crisis. Refugees who have lived for several years in legal limbo are now coming to Europe to claim the rights bestowed on them by the 1951 UN refugee convention. Over 15 boats arrived on Lesbos on Monday. Across the Greek islands, the average number of refugees arriving each day in December is 3,338, lower than the October peak of 6,828, but far higher than July’s 1,771."

Sweden to halt some passenger rail services to Denmark over identity checks (DW, link): "Sweden's railway operator SJ is to halt some passenger services to and from Denmark, blaming the refugee crisis. From January, transport companies will be fined if they carry passengers without identity papers."

Over 2,000 refugees arrive at Piraeus port on Tuesday (ANAMPA, link): "A large number of refugees arrived on Tuesday at Piraeus port. The ferry Nissos Rhodos carried 1,075 refugees for the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos and the ferry Blue Star brought 944 refugees from Lesvos and Chios."

Migrants not able to find room in Athens camps (ekathimerini.com. link): "Athens is struggling to cope with the influx of migrants who are unable to leave Greece as the two camps which can house them are full, according to authorities..... Some 4,000 refugees and migrants reached Piraeus on Monday from the islands of Chios and Lesvos.."

Danish plan to seize refugees' jewellery prompts controversy (euobserver, link): "The proposed measure was likened to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews in the second world war and has prompted an MEP to quit the ruling party. .... normally watches and mobile phones should not be seized, but cash above 3,000 Danish kroner (€436) and jewels can be confiscated. The proposed bill allows police to search the clothes and luggage of asylum seekers - and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark - with a view to finding assets. If a migrant choses to withdraw the application for asylum, the valuables should be returned. If the asylum seeker becomes well-to-do after international protection was granted, the new valuables can also be seized...."

EU and Swiss still at odds on migrant quotas (euobserver, link): "The EU and Switzerland remain split on a Swiss plan to stem the number of migrants from member states. EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels on Monday (21 December) that the two sides are still looking for a solution after Switzerland voted to impose migrant quotas in a referendum in 2014."

Swedish cruise ship to house 1,260 refugees (The Local.se, link)

Migration: Global Report on Journalism's Biggest Test in 2015: Press release (link):

"An international report on media and the global migration and refugee crisis, issued today to coincide with International Migrants Day (December 18), says journalists often fail to tell the full story and routinely fall into propaganda traps laid by politicians.

The report, Moving Stories, is published by the Ethical Journalism Network and reviews media coverage of migration in the European Union and in 14 countries across the globe.

“Around the world media coverage is often politically led with journalists following an agenda dominated by loose language and talk of invasion and swarms,” said Aidan White, EJN Director. “But at other moments the story is laced with humanity, empathy and a focus on the suffering of those involved.”

From the Ethical Journalism Network: Full report (link) includes:

The View from Brussels: Missed opportunities to call the European Union to account by Tony Bunyan.
Bulgaria - A study in media Sensationalism by Rossen Bossev and Maria Cheresehva
Italy - A charter for tolerant journalism: Media take centre stage in the Mediterranean drama by Yasha Maccanico
United Kingdom - How journalism plays follow-my-leader in the rhetoric of negativity by Zak Suffee.

See: Moving Stories: International Review of How Media Cover Migration (Huffington Post, link)

Red Cross EU: Migration to the EU: a perilous and difficult journey (Press release, link) and Recommendations from the National Red Cross Societies in the European Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (pdf)

"This position paper proposes concrete steps that can be taken by the EU and its Member States to reduce risks along migratory routes and address some of the increasing vulnerabilities stemming from these perils. Some of the key dangers faced by migrants along migratory routes to Europe are analysed in the Red Cross EU Office (RCEU) publication Perilous journeys(2). These include: limited access to rights and services; arbitrary arrests and detention; violence and human trafficking; family separation and the loss of family links; as well as increasingly dangerous journeys to reach and cross the EU’s external borders."

European Parliament: MEPs voice concerns over detention and reception conditions for asylum seekers (pdf)

"No-one should ever be detained for the sole reason that he or she is an asylum seeker, said speakers in a debate on Wednesday evening. To apply for asylum is a basic human right, and detention can only be used as a measure of last resort, they insisted. Several MEPs criticised declarations by European Council President
Donald Tusk about detaining migrants for up to 18 months in order to “screen” them. Other MEPs argued that such decisions are better taken at national level....

EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said that "all aspects of the asylum legislation" must be respected. Asylum seekers may only be detained "in full compliance with these rules", he insisted, stressing the need to properly transpose EU asylum rules into national law and implement them."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "Under the EU's so-called "hotspots" policy refugees are subjected to "nationality screening" to determine whether they should be considered for reloaction in the EU or returned (voluntarily or forcibly). Commissioner Avramopoulos seems to be unaware of the statement issued by the head of the UN Ban Ki-moon that the screening "asylum seekers on the basis of their alleged nationality infringes the human right of all people to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard.""

MIgreurop: 18 December 2015: Calais Declaration: We must refuse the encampment of foreign citizens and the closure of borders (pdf) and French (pdf):

"The situation which Calais has experienced for nearly 20 years (the Sangatte camp “closed” in 2002 had opened in 1999) is symptomatic of the policies which the European Union has been advocating with blind persistence: hence, the planned “hotspots” and “processing centres” will unfailingly translate, if they are effectively implemented, into the creation of immense detention centres in Italy and in Greece, but also in Niger and Turkey. «Encampment», as far away as possible from the glances of civil societies, is the final objective of the European Union’s migration policies: by relentlessly sorting migrants, it thus goes so far as to violate the most basic human rights and to cause the death of numerous third-country nationals.

The Migreurop network deems it important to solemnly reaffirm that respect for rights and human dignity requires the cessation of all forms of detention and ghettoisation of the people exercising their right to leave their countries. Necessary steps towards dignified reception conditions, in the Calais region and beyond, include repealing the Dublin Regulation and any form of border controls (like those promoted by the Le Touquet treaty) introduced for the purpose of transforming them into enclosures, rather than legal and protected points of passage."

Dead and missing migrants en route to Greek islands 2015 (iomgmdac.org, link): "The map shows the estimated number of migrants who have died or gone missing en route to the Greek islands between Jan - Nov 2015. Click on an island to show historic data specific to that route. Click again to deselect it and show the year to date total for the Aegean Sea."

Yesterday I met a guy that broke my heart to pieces.[Facebook, link] He had to sell his kidney to make this trip to safety and upon arriving on the shore of Greece he has no money to continue onwards. Imagine having to sell your kidney to find safety. It's 2015, Why is this happening? Why are WE allowing this to happen in OUR lifetime?

This is the man who came to cook for refugees and now even has his own visa run out and has to leave, he is heartbroken like so many of us...

IOM: EU Migrant, Refugee Arrivals by Land and Sea Approach One Million in 2015 (link): 956,456 arrivals in the EU this year: 801,919 to greece, 150,317 to Italy. 3,695 dead/missing (18 December 2015)

Global Detention Project & Access Info Europe: The Uncounted: Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Europe (link):

"There is no requirement within the European Union for Member States to gather data on the number of migrants detained nor for EU bodies such as Eurostat to gather such data."

News (20-21.12.15)

EU: Schulz at the EU summit: "It is easy to blame Europe or Schengen for security failures in our Member States" (European Parliament, link): ""It is easy to blame Europe or Schengen for security failures in our Member States, and wave the illusion that retreating behind national borders somehow immunises against - often home-grown - terrorists", said the EP President Schulz in his opening speech before the European Council of 17-18 December dedicated to pressing issues, such as migration, counter terrorism and the British referendum. "If we want to preserve our freedom of movement, then we must act fast and decisively.""

Germany reports doubling of deportation numbers 2015 (DW, link): "More than 18,000 rejected asylum seekers have been sent back to their home countries from Germany this year. The interior ministry reports that the numbers have nearly doubled since last year. "

Germany and Austria mull new EU asylum rules (euobserver, link): "Altmaier said asylum application decisions, under the new plans, would also take place at hotspots. "Those who get a positive decision will then be distributed around EU countries according to a formula and the actual asylum application will then be carried out in those countries," he said.... "We cannot pretend that all refugees actually have grounds for asylum," he told Austrian daily Oesterreich over the weekend."

European nations' refugee policy leaves thousands of migrants stranded in Greece (Los Angeles Times, link): "The policy is aimed at easing the massive influx of refugees into Europe, but it has thrust thousands of migrants from troubled countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia into an uncertain limbo. Critics say the policy is discriminatory..."

European migration nears 1 million mark, IOM says (DW, link): "More than 990,000 migrants have entered Europe and the number is expected to reach 1 million in the coming days, the International Organization for Migration has said. EU's Frontex border agency is beefing up its forces."

Greece: Government mulls Plan B for returning migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "A key issue dogging the government is the fate of north-bound migrants who are turned back on the border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) because they are not considered refugees. Speaking to Kathimerini, an official that did not wish to be named said that non-Syrians, Iraqis or Eritreans who received permission to stay in Greece for 30 days after arriving at one of the Aegean islands will after the deadline be considered illegal unless they have submitted an asylum or repatriation claim. “Officially, these people cannot be accommodated in one of the ‘open’ facilities,” the official said."

Refugee crisis: Germany warns of legal action against EU countries ignoring quota (Guardian, link): "Foreign minister warns Slovakia and Hungary that ‘solidarity is not a one way street’ and legal channels could be used to ensure refugee quotas are upheld" and see: Refugee crisis warnings to eastern EU nations from Germany, Austria (DW, link) "Eastern EU nations that refuse to accept refugees risk funding cuts and legal sanctions, according to two German cabinet ministers. Chancellery chief Peter Altmaier added that no nation can ignore globalized migration."

Danish MEP quits party over asylum policies (euobserver, link): "A European lawmaker for Denmark's ruling right-wing Venstre party said Saturday he was leaving the party over its controversial asylum policies, which include plans for police to search asylum seekers' luggage for valuables to help pay for their stay. MEP Jens Rohde is joining the centrist Danish Social Liberal Party."

DENMARK: New integration rules will leave refugees hungry, says report (The Copenhagen Post, link): "The integration allowance negotiated in July by Dansk Folkeparti, Liberal Alliance and Konservative for 20,000 refugee adults and children will have them living below the poverty level, unable in most cases to afford three meals a day."

DENMARK: Sharp increase in numbers charged with passport fraud at Copenhagen Airport (The Copenhagen Post, link): "The number of foreigners attempting to pass through Copenhagen Airport charged with passport fraud has more than tripled in the past five years from 74 in 2010 to 255 last year, Metroxpress reports."

EU: Refugee crisis warnings to eastern EU nations from Germany, Austria (Deutsche Welle, link): "Eastern EU nations that refuse to accept refugees risk funding cuts and legal sanctions, according to two German cabinet ministers. Chancellery chief Peter Altmaier added that no nation can ignore globalized migration."

Germany to introduce individual checks for Syrian refugees (Deutsche Welle, link): "The German Interior Ministry confirmed it would return to case-by-case reviews for Syrian migrants entering the country. This comes after media reported that the IS had stolen thousands of Syrian passports."

GERMANY: Asylum deportations set to double in 2015 (The Local, link): "Almost twice as many people have been deported from Germany in 2015 so far after having their asylum applications rejected compared with the previous year."

Germany's BAMF showcases fast asylum center (Deutsche Welle, link): "The head of Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), Frank-Jürgen Weise, said on Friday that asylum applications of "little complexity" because they involved individuals from Balkan nations deemed "safe" would be decided "within 48 hours" under fast-track procedures."

ITALY: Eritrean migrant dies in Italy hospital escape bid (The Local, link): "An Eritrean man who survived a perilous journey across the Mediterranean by boat to Italy has died after falling from a hospital window in a night-time escape bid, Italian media reported on Saturday."

HUNGARY: Council of Europe and UNHCR urge Hungary to change tone over refugees (Council of Europe, link): "UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency, the Council of Europe and ODHIR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) have urged Hungary to refrain from policies and practices that promote intolerance, fear and fuel xenophobia against refugees and migrants."

SCOTLAND: Syrian refugees in Scotland: cold weather but warm welcome (The Guardian, link): "Traumatised arrivals are given help with language and cultural issues, as well as hot water bottles and umbrellas"

Syrian refugee Ameer Mehtr swims for 7 hours to start new life in Europe (The Independent, link): "A desperate Syrian refugee has revealed how he braved massive waves and deadly currents to swim for seven hours to reach Greece from Turkey."

Turkey: No change in visa-regime with Syria, ‘open door policy’ goes on (Hurriyet, link): "Turkish officials have strictly ruled out reports suggesting that the country would start imposing visa requirements on Syrians trying to enter the country, underlining that Turkey “open-door policy” for Syrians is still valid."

Greek minister: New EU border force should assume full control of refugees (euractiv, link):

"The new European Border and Coast Guard Agency should be responsible for the full management of refugee and migration flows, while respecting the national sovereignty of the countries in which it operates,... So we want this new body to participate in returns, relocation, and resettlement. It must take the responsibility for the entire management; it cannot only protect the borders..."

UPDATE: EUROSUR Handbook: EU: European Commission: EUROSUR: ANNEX to the COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (pdf):60 pages attached to Recommendation below

COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 15.12.2015 adopting the Practical handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (C-9206-15, pdf): This says: "Member States should transmit the EUROSUR Handbook, annexed to this Recommendation, to their authorities responsible for the surveillance of the external land and sea borders which shall use it as the main tool when implementing Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013."

Eurosur is a surveillance system with drones etc to stop "illegal" migration, See: EU seeks autonomous drones, "data fusion" and "enhanced command and control centres" for border control (Statewatch News Online, November 2015)

Suspend EU-Turkey Action Plan: Turkey: EU risks complicity in violations as refugees and asylum-seekers locked up and deported (AI, link):

"Amnesty International is calling on Turkey to end unlawful detentions and deportations. The EU and Turkey should establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms to review human rights compliance of the EU-Turkey Action Plan and the use of EU funds for migration-related detention purposes. Until these measures are in place, implementation of the Action Plan should be suspended." and see:

Bad weather and Turkey push-backs curb asylum inflows (euobserver, link): "Bad weather appears to be the main factor in the recent drop in asylum seekers coming to Europe, but reports are also emerging of Turkey sending people back to war zones. On Wednesday (16 December), Amnesty International accused Turkish authorities of rounding up asylum seekers and refugees and busing them back to Syria and Iraq in breach of international law. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s director for Europe and Central Asia, in a statement said Turkey is pressuring people against their will to return to places they fled.“We have documented the arbitrary detention of some of the most vulnerable people on Turkish soil," he said. Amnesty says "possibly hundreds" have been returned since the EU signed a €3 billion deal at end of November with Turkey to curb the inflow."

The EU’s Response to the Refugee Crisis - Taking Stock and Setting Policy Priorities (CEPS, link): "What have been the most important EU policy and legal responses to the 2015 refugee crisis? Is Europe acting in compliance with its founding principles? This Essay takes stock of the main results and policy outputs from the EU’s interventions to the refugee crisis. It critically highlights the outstanding policy dilemmas confronting the adopted instruments and
puts forwards a set of policy priorities to guide the next phases of the European Agenda on Migration."

Ska Keller: Border policy spokeswoman of the Greens in the European Parliament: A Green Assessment of the European Commission 's Proposal on A new mandate for Frontex (pdf)

EU: European Council: 17-17 December: European Council meeting (17 and 18 December 2015) – Conclusions: see Migration: pages 1-2 (pdf)

News (17-19.12.15)

Eurojust in Greece to support fight against illegal immigrant smuggling (link): Comment: No-one seems to have told Eurojust there there is no such thing in law as an "illegal" immigrant. Also sets out Eurojust's role in "hotspots"

EU stalls over drive to resettle refugees in Turkey (FT, link)

Turkey told illegal migration must be slashed - Ankara urged to do more by 11 states at mini-summit before European Council. (Politico, link): "A group of 11 EU nations told the Turkish prime minister Thursday that the country must dramatically reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the bloc. “We have to bring down the numbers of illegal border crossings,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told POLITICO after the Thursday morning meeting. “We can only discuss resettlement of refugees from Turkey to the EU if these numbers are close to zero.”"

Eighteen migrants drown after boat sinks off Turkey's southwestern coast (.ekathimerini.com, link): "Eighteen people died and 14 were rescued late on Friday after a boat carrying migrants trying to sail to Greece sank off the southern Turkish town of Bodrum, Dogan News Agency reported. Fishermen hearing the migrants’ screams of migrants alerted the Turkish coast guard, who picked up the bodies from the sea after the wooden boat carrying migrants from Iraq, Pakistan and Syria capsized about 3.5 km off the coast."

Blaming Greece and Italy for the EU's failures: Opinion: Central EU border security is necessary evil (euobserver, link): "Attempts to deal with the problem at the EU border have been hampered by Greece and Italy, who have failed to properly protect their borders. Left alone by the other member states, they have decided to let refugees pass through unregistered. In 2015, only 429,000 out of the 760,000 refugees entering Greece where registered by local authorities, and only 121,000 fingerprinted."

Sweden must be able to say No to refugees (euobserver, link)

Outrage at Danish plan to seize refugees' jewellery (link): "The Danish government has caused outrage with a proposal to seize cash and jewellery from refugees to make them pay for their stay, with international media drawing parallels to Nazi practices" and Denmark wants to seize jewelry and cash from refugees (Washington Post, link)

Turkey, Greece pressed at EU migrant summit (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday pressed Turkey to curb the flow of migrants entering the bloc via Greece and urged Athens to speed up its efforts to accommodate and repatriate migrants...."

Leaders impose June deadline for EU border force (euobserver, link)

International Migrants Day: Let your light shine (euractiv, link): "I see anti-migrant sentiment beginning to seethe. I see political malaise; an absence of courage, a bankruptcy of leadership and a paucity of moral sensitivity. I see a one-sided debate focussing on fear, negativity and security. Where are the smiles of welcome from last summer? Where are the banners in football grounds declaring “Migrants Welcome”? I know they are there, and I know they will be seen again when we gather in cities and towns across the globe with candles of solidarity. The common sense and generosity of ordinary people, of communities made up of migrants and non-migrants, people of all skin colours, politics and faiths – that is what sustains me."

EU: Council of the European Union: Latest version: European Council (17 and 18 Decembre 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13598-15, pdf)

News (16.12.15)

One dead as refugee boat sinks off Turkish coast (newsfultoncounty.com, link)

Merkel: Germany needs to reduce number of refugees (euobserver, link)

Commission seeks mandatory ID checks on all EU nationals (euobserver, link)

Frontex cannot say if Turkey stemmed refugee flow (euractiv, link)

EU: European Commission: 15 December 2015: "Package": Excluding, controlling and returning refugees

Press releases on 15 December 2015 and new measures/reports:


A) A European Border and Coast Guard to protect Europe's External Borders (pdf)


1) EU Borders Guards: Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (COM 671-15, pdf)

 

and: ANNEX (COM 671-15 (pdf)

2) Amending Schengen Border Code: Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders COM 670-15, (pdf)

3) EUROSUR: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 15.12.2015 adopting the Practical handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (C-9206-15, pdf): This says: "Member States should transmit the EUROSUR Handbook, annexed to this Recommendation, to their authorities responsible for the surveillance of the external land and sea borders which shall use it as the main tool when implementing Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013." See: EUROSUR: ANNEX to the COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (pdf):60 pages

4) Communication: Eighth biannual report on the functioning of the Schengen area 1 May - 10 December 2015 (pdf)


B. Commission proposes temporary suspension of Sweden's obligations under the EU relocation mechanism (pdf)

 

- SWEDEN: Proposal for a: Council DECISION establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Sweden in accordance with Article 9 of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1523 and Article 9 of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (COM 677-15, pdf)


C. Commission presents Recommendation for a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme with Turkey for refugees from Syria(pdf)

 

- TURKEY: VOLUNTARY ADMISSION: Commission RECOMMENDATION: of 15.12.2015: for a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey (C-0490-15, pdf)


D. Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Progress Reports on Greece, Italy and the Western Balkans (pdf)

 

1) Report: on the follow-up to the Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans Route (COM 676-15, pdf) and ANNEX (pdf)

2) Progress Report on the Implementation of the hotspots in Greece (COM 678-15, pdf) and ANNEX (pdf)

3) Progress Report on the Implementation of the hotspots in Italy (COM 679-15, pdf) and ANNEX (pdf)

 


E. European Agenda on Migration: Securing Europe's External Borders What does today's Borders Package include? (pdf)

 

Includes: EU TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Proposal for a: Regulation on a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (COM 668-15 pdf) and ANNEX with sample document (pdf). This would replace the long-standing l “laissez-passer” based on 1994 Recommendations (Statewatch JHA Archive 1976-2000) and rejected by African countries. There is no guarrantee this will be any more acceptable.

see also for Background: Managing the refugee crisis (15/12/2015) (DG Home, link) and Securing EU borders (DG Home, link) with Fontext proposals and "Factsheets"

EU: European Council: European Council (17 and 18 Decembre 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13596-15, dated 14 December 2015, pdf): compare section on "Migration" with earlier: European Council (17 and 18 December 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13593-15, dated 7 December 2015, pdf). Latest version says:

"For the Schengen acquis to be preserved it is indispensable to regain control over the external borders. Deficiencies, notably as regards hotspots, relocation and
returns, must be rapidly addressed.The EU institutions and the Member States must urgently:"

Comment: the following eight points are all about preserving Schengen by excluding, controlling and returning refugees.

They include opening:

- more "hotspots"

- "ensure systematic identification, registration and fingerprinting, and take measures to tackle refusal of registration and stem irregular secondary flows",

- "ensure the actual return of people not authorised to stay and provide support to Member States as regards return operations"

- "ensure implementation" of "returns and readmission" following the Valletta Summit (some hope of this...)

- to "rapidly examine" the Commission's 15 December proposals (there are two different lists in the two documents)

NOTTINGHAM: Refugee Forum Conference: Changing Narratives of Asylum: Media, Legislation, and Refugee Support (link):

A conference at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum bringing together academics, practitioners and activists to examine the different narratives around seeking asylum in the UK from different perspectives. The conference will take place on FRIDAY, 8 January 2016 from 9.45 am to 5pm at the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum (NNRF), The Sycamore Centre, 33a Hungerhill Road, Nottingham NG3 4NB.

There will be two Keynote speakers: Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, and Dr Helen O’Nions, Nottingham Law Centre (NTU), together with four workshops on asylum issues: Legal, Mental Health, Destitution, and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children, plus a concluding panel.

News (15.12.15)

Greece wants migrants to apply for asylum wherever they want (euobserver, link): "Greece wants to strip point of entry rules in the EU's crippled Dublin asylum regulation to allow migrants to travel and apply for asylum anywhere they want.The idea was floated in a letter to EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos."

Dispatches: Stranded in an EU country (HRW, link)

Proposal on EU Border and Coast Guard must not be at expense of migrant and refugee rights (AI, link)

EU agency reports drop in migrants to Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Frontex cited worsening weather and more restrictive border-control policies along the Western Balkan route as the apparent reasons for the drop. Some 108,000 people arrived in Greece in November, down from 150,000 in October." and: Migrant center to open at site of old airport (link)

Number of migrants arriving in Greece dropped by half in November (Frontex, link)

Denmark to introduce border controls (euractiv, link): "Denmark will introduce border controls with Germany on 4 January, as soon as Sweden formally introduces ID checks on the Øresund bridge, connecting Denmark and Sweden, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said on Monday (14 December)."

EU wants centralized policing powers for its borders (DW, link): "The EU's external borders have more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. That is why the European Commission now wants its own border police. Not all member states like the idea. Bernd Riegert reports from Brussels."

Assessing economic impacts of hosting refugees: conceptual, methodological and ethical gaps (University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre, link): "This paper explores a variety of approaches used to assess and measure the economic impact of refugees on their host communities and states. It identifies theoretical, methodological, and ethical gaps in the existing literature, and also problematizes some of the assumptions and rationales behind current debates about measuring refugees’ economic impact on host populations and states. It begins by presenting the key arguments and approaches within the existing literature on analysing the economic impact of refugees on their host communities and states. It then seeks to elucidate some significant conceptual, methodological and ethical gaps in the field, drawing primarily upon cost-benefit analyses in the migration literature in order to identify several cautionary implications. Finally, as a way forward, the paper highlights some alternative approaches to understanding and assessing the impact of hosting refugees."

BELGIUM: AIDA Belgium update: asylum seekers access to international protection and reception remains a struggle (ECRE, link): "The lastest AIDA update on Belgium highlights several shortcomings that asylum seekers face relating to accessing procedures and suitable reception; while the number of people seeking asylum in the country has significantly augmented since late summer 2015."

EU border agency could be deployed in non-member states - Asselborn (Reuters, link): "Luxembourg's foreign minister said on Tuesday that the European Union's border agency could be deployed in non-member states like Serbia and Macedonia while EU members with no external borders should provide more help to those with such frontiers."

HUNGARY: A calculated non-action miscalculated: Hungary´s migration crisis (V4 Revue, link): "The Orbán-government had detailed plans about how to use the migration crisis in domestic politics, and part of this “strategy” meant neglecting preparatory measures all together. However, when the crisis actually hit the country, the lack of preparations backfired and resulted in a series of spectacular failures in the situation’s handling. "

GERMANY: Far fewer people entering Germany with fake Syrian passports than thought (The Guardian, link): "The proportion of people entering Germany with fake Syrian passports is far less than the 30% announced by the interior minister in September, the government has said."

SLOVENIA: IOM Deploys Medical Team, Distributes Non-Food Aid to Migrants in Slovenia (IOM, link): "According to Slovenian Police, some 309,217 refugees and migrants have transited through Slovenia en route to Austria and Western Europe since 16 October 2015. This is roughly a third of the over 950,000 migrants and refugees arriving in Western Europe this year."

UK: Transcript of House of Commons debate: European Agenda on Migration (Hansard, link)

Migration [What Think Tanks are thinking] (EPRS, link): "This note offers links to a series of recent commentaries and studies on migration from major international think tanks and research institutes. More papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What think tanks are thinking’, published in early September" Comment: It would be good to see a similar survey of what NGOs - who are active on this pressing issue are thinking and doing.

These Are The Most Powerful Photographs Of The Syrian Refugee Crisis In 2015 (BuzzFeedNews, link): "With the Syrian conflict showing no sign of ending, we look back on the risky journeys men and women fleeing the country have taken this year."

The European Commission and the UNHCR today launched a scheme to provide 20.000 additional reception places for asylum seekers and relocation candidates in Greece through subsidies for housing in the private sector.(pdf) and:

Joint Declaration On the Support to Greece for the development of the hotspot/relocation scheme as well as for developing asylum reception capacity Brussels, 14 December 2015 (pdf)

News (14.12.15)

Bulgaria, Turkey PMs to Discuss Migration Crisis in Sofia Tuesday (novinite.com, link)

Refugee crisis: The closure of internal borders will not make Europe safer (Irish Examiner, link): "ANOTHER key European project is under threat. Two decades after border controls were abolished under the Schengen Agreement — which encompasses 26 countries, including four non-members of the European Union — Germany has reinstated controls at its border with Austria, and France at its border with Belgium."

Enough's Enough: Interior Minister Says Germany May Stop Accepting Migrants (sputniknews.com/europe, link): "Germany may start turning incoming migrants back already at the border, German media reported, citing Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. “The Schengen zone may not last long without controlling its borders if the system of protection of its external borders is not functioning,” the Minister said on Saturday."

Illegal border crossings hit record highs (euractiv, link) and EU border force plan faces resistance (link): "A proposal to give the European Union executive the power to send forces unbidden into member states to defend the common European frontier will face resistance from some countries when it is published this week. The European Commission wants to be able to deploy personnel from a new European Border and Coastguard Agency without, as currently required, the consent of the state concerned, EU officials told Reuters in early December, reflecting frustration with Greek reluctance to seek help with migrants."

Erosion of Schengen is 'worrying', IMF says (euractiv, link): "The IMF is becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of consensus among EU countries to address the refugee crisis, and its impact on the freedom of movement within the Schengen area, senior officials from the institution said on Friday (11 November).

The challenges ahead could be too hard in light of the lack of appetite to reach common solutions on immigration, the IMF fears. The declining interest in more integration, and the discord between the member states, are so significant that the Fund considers them as important risks for the Union, a senior IMF official told a group of reporters."

Refugee flow to EU defies cold weather and crackdown (aljazeera.com, link): "Harsh winter and stricter controls at the coastline fails to deter refugees from trying to reach Lesbos....

Young people vote far-right in Europe (DW, link): "In the European Union, which was founded upon ideals of democracy and inclusion, more and more young people are turning to far-right parties that lure them in with simple messages. Some experts see democracy in danger."

Moroccan migrants moved to Corinth camp after clashes at Athens stadium (ekathimerini.com, link): "Around 120 migrants from Morocco have been moved from the impromptu camp at the Taekwondo stadium in southern Athens to a detention center in Corinth, west of Athens."

GERMANY: Police use water cannon to break up Leipzig protests against neo-Nazi march (Deutsche Welle, link): "A youth pastor known in Germany for his stance against neo-Nazis has been arrested in Leipzig during a leftist protest. At least 56 officers and several demonstrators were injured in clashes with left-wing protesters."

HUNGARY: Council of Europe request information on discrimination of Roma children in Hungary (Politics.hu, link): "The Council of Europe (CoE) has requested information from the Hungarian government concerning an unrealistically high number of Roma children sent to special schools for the mentally challenged. In a statement, the CoE said it required statistical figures to assess why there are more Roma than non-Roma children in such schools and what factors contributed to an increasing ratio. The figures should contain the number of Roma and non-Roma children that have been asked to fill in a test before starting school, and the number of children found mentally challenged based on the test results. "

Turned away - On thin evidence, Britain declares its biggest source of refugees safe after all (The Economist, link): "Over 350,000 Eritreans, or 6-10% of the population, have escaped the country since 2000. Last year 46,750 sought refuge in Europe, up from 12,000 in 2012. Britain now receives more asylum-seekers from Eritrea than from any other country. But recently it has become inhospitable. The acceptance rate has dropped from around 90% at the end of last year to 39% (see chart), the lowest in Europe. Between April and September applications to Britain accounted for 7% of those lodged in Europe, but 49% of rejections. Why has it become so strict?

Strangely the answer lies in a country that grants refugee status to nearly all Eritreans who apply: Denmark. A fact-finding mission by the Danish Immigration Service in October 2014 concluded that living in Eritrea was much less bad than previously thought. It claimed those who left illegally and evaded conscription were safe to go back, provided they sign a letter of apology and pay a 2% tax on income earned abroad. Torture, imprisonment and executions were a thing of the past for returnees. In March Britain’s Home Office included the research in its own country reports, which officials use to make asylum decisions. Acceptance rates plummeted."

Top Belgian Politician Misleads Asylum Seekers and Contradicts the Law (Liberties.eu, link): "There is serious concern about the freedom the migration authority is giving itself in determining which asylum seekers to consider and how it handles claims from Afghans."

UPDATE: EU border force plan faces resistance from governments (Reuters, link): "A proposal to give the EU's executive the power to send forces unbidden into member states to defend the common European frontier will face resistance from some countries when it is published this week.... European Union officials call it a largely theoretical "nuclear option" and stress that any infringement of national sovereignty would be balanced by the power of a majority of member states to block Commission intervention - similar to checks agreed during the euro debt crisis."

See document: European Commission: Communication: A European Border and Coast Guard and effective management of Europe's external borders (COM 673-15, pdf), Proposals to come.

First Greek ‘hotspot’ struggles to manage migrant flow to Europe (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "On Wednesday, UNHCR transferred 17 busloads of soaked and exhausted people to the hotspot after they had survived the three-hour boat journey from Turkey and arrived on beaches south of the island between midnight and 10 a.m. That was a fraction of the numbers arriving on days in the summer."

IOM: (link): 924,147 arrivals in EU: 771,508 to Greece and 148,419 to Italy. 3,671 dead/missing.

Coalition of the Unwilling: Merkel's Plan B Could Mean End of Schengen (Spiegel Online, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel's plan to find a resolution to the refugee crisis with the help of Turkey is encountering significant resistance. Berlin and Brussels are already considering alternatives, but it could mean the end of border-free travel in large parts of Europe."

Banksy uses Steve Jobs artwork to highlight refugee crisis (Guardian, link): "Graffiti on wall of ‘the Jungle’ camp in Calais depicts late Apple founder’s background as son of Syrian migrant"

News (12-13.12.15)

Greece’s refugee children: Amina is ill. Her bed is a blanket on the concrete floor (Observer, link): "A stadium in Athens is full of the displaced – and a team of doctors is working flat out to ease their plight."

Denmark sets stage for border controls (The Local.de, link): "Parliament on Friday approved a measure that would force transport operators to check ID papers of all people entering Denmark despite protests from rail operator DSB and complaints from Germany."

Greece: Gov’t seeks help with migrants as tensions rise (ekathimerini.com): : "As tensions peaked at temporary reception facilities for migrants, Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas said over the weekend that Greece was doing all it can to tackle a relentless migration crisis which he described as “a massive problem, stretching the limits of our country and of Europe.... Concern has been mounting that thousands of migrants arriving in Greece by boat from neighboring Turkey will become trapped in the country as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has tightened controls at Greece’s northern border. Thousands of migrants who had been in a makeshift camp near the FYROM border were bused to Athens last week."

Macedonia: Asylum certificates issued to 5,255 migrants (MIA, link)

German ambassador in Greece: Schengen will not last if the outer borders collapse (Press Project, link): "If the outer borders of the E.U. fail to withstand the pressure, the Schengen agreement will seize existing". The statement was made by the German ambassador to Greece, Peter Schoof who spoke at a journalists? meeting of the "Centre for Democracy and Friendship in Southeastern Europe"

German Mission in UK::New proof of arrival for refugees (link): "A standard ID will be issued for incoming refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany in future. The new 'Proof of Arrival' identification serves as a certificate of registration as an asylum-seeker and will make the organisation of the refugee situation in Germany easier."

Two charged for Norway asylum centre fire (The Local.no, link): "Two people have been charged with arson for setting fire to a hotel scheduled to house asylum seekers in southwest Norway."

Brussels plans to strip Schengen nations of authority over borders (Guardian, link): European commission set to propose new border guards force that could be deployed without a country’s approval"

Greece: Shut off from the Balkan route, asylum seekers flood into Athens (DW, link): "After getting evicted from the Greek border, thousands of refugees and migrants were relocated to former Olympic stadiums-turned-shelters in the capital. As Diego Cupolo found out, they have no idea what to expect next. "

Migrants don't make extremists, says top human right official (ekathimerini.com, link): "Any link between extremism and the thousands of people fleeing violence in Syria and elsewhere is false, a top European human rights official said Friday, noting that those who have perpetrated recent attacks in Europe were citizens of European countries.... “Higher fences and the militarization of borders is not the solution,” he said. “I don't think that's the kind of Europe that we want to live in.”"

Tsipras links refugees to terrorist checks: Govt: Yes to Euro coast guard, no to joint Greek-Turkish patrols (AMNA.gr, link): ""We must all understand that our international obligation regarding the Schengen treaty is to effectively contribute to the battle against terrorism, which means immediate identification and recording of the migrants that enter into the country; the identification should be held at the time they set foot on the Greek territory," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras clarified on Friday, speaking in Parliament in reply to a tabled question by the opposition on the refugee crisis." and Greek Gov’t: ‘Yes to Euro Coast Guard, No to Joint Greek-Turkish Patrols’(Greek Reporter, link)

Austria: Vineyard owners 'sabotage' border fence (The Local.at, link): "The fence which is currently being constructed at a crossing point used by refugees on Austria’s border with Slovenia could end up having an 800 metre gap after vineyard owners refused to let the government build on their land. The 3.7 kilometre wire fence, which is a first in Europe's Schengen zone, should be completed before the end of the year."

Turkey yet to address refugee flows, says PM (ekathimerini.com): "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday that he will try to hold Turkey to account over its pledges to stem the flow of refugees and migrants toward Greece, which he argues has not been reduced. “There was an agreement between the EU and Turkey, which was in my view necessary,” he told Parliament. “We are waiting to the see the results from this agreement because it was supposedly made so the flow would be reduced. Until now, we have not seen anything like that. “We have created a permanent inter-ministerial committee and I will ask shortly for it to hold an emergency meeting so that we can establish what is going on with the flows from the Turkish side,” he added."

Commission to unveil new border force as flow eases (ekathimerini.com): "Frontex said on Friday that the number of irregular migrants reaching Greece in November dropped by 50 percent compared to the previous month. The agency said it recorded 100,000 people compared to more than 200,000 in October."

EU: European Commission: Communication A European Border and Coast Guard and effective management of Europe's external borders (COM 673-15, pdf), Proposals to come.

Massive expansion in Frontex's role, its all here: "the right to intervene", "European Return Intervervention Teams", hotspots, "rapid reserve pool" and more including:

"As the body assigned to implement the European integrated border management, the Agency will be able to call on this pool within a very limited timeframe in circumstances requiring immediate response. Member States will have to make available at least 1,500 border guards to be deployed by the Agency in rapid border interventions within days" - for example to meet a sudden migration crisis. [emphasis added] and directly inteevene in a state:

"cooperation with third countries where it can coordinate operational cooperation between Member States and neighbouring third countries in the field of border management, including by deploying liaison officers to third countries or launching joint operations on Union territory or on the territory of third countries. This will notably remedy the situation which is currently faced in the cooperation with the Western Balkan countries where, despite the agreement of the third countries in question, Frontex is unable to provide operational assistance as it does not have the mandate to send border guard teams to countries such as Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."

SWITZERLAND: Parliament rejects systematic border control proposal (swissinfo.ch, link):

"Both houses of parliament have rejected a proposal by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party to perform systematic checks on people crossing the Swiss border."

EU: Frontex: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community: AFIC Joint Report 2015 (pdf)

European Parliament: Permanent relocation scheme and list of safe countries of origin: state of play (1.12.15, pdf):

"The Civil Liberties Committee discussed the permanent relocation mechanism with the Commission, which presented its proposal to MEPs, and the Council, which briefed the committee on the state of play in discussions among member states. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) also presented the "State of play of relocation operations in the hot spots".

The EU common list of safe countries of origin was also discussed with the Commission and Council. The EASO presented the situation in the Western Balkans while FRA spoke on fundamental rights considerations."

Comment: the creation of a "permanent relocation mechanism" looks highly unlikely and the "state of play of relocation operations in the hotspots" shows that this is just not happening (see: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis)

News (11.12.15)

Europe feels fallout from Merkel migrant magnanimity (Yahoo News, link): "Brussels (AFP) - Angela Merkel may have won praise from the world for Germany's open-door policy on refugees, but a confused and divided Europe is feeling the fallout from the decision, analysts said."

'Either EU unites on migrants - or it crumbles' warns Steinmeier (euractiv, link): "The European Union must unite in its response to dealing with the huge number of refugees surging into the bloc or else it will fail, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said today (10 December). Faced with an expected influx of around one million refugees this year alone, Germany is looking to its EU partners to help manage the crisis but is running up against resistance from some countries, particularly in eastern Europe.

"Either Europe stands together and acts with solidarity in times of hardship for hundreds of thousands, or fences and barriers will again be raised," Steinmeier said in a speech to fellow Social Democrats (SPD) at their annual party congress. "And then the vision of a united Europe crumbles," added Steinmeier"

Turkish crackdown leaves refugees in limbo (Guardian, link): "With the EU outsourcing border security to Ankara, refugees are stuck in Turkey and aid groups say people-smuggling is being pushed deeper underground.... Local activists are outraged at the EU deal, and many worry Turkey will use the money provided by the EU for security and more detention centres. “Europe outsourced its border security to Turkey,” said Eda Bekçi, a lawyer who volunteers at the refugee aid group Mülteci-Der in Izmir. “But heightened security will push people-smuggling only deeper underground. They will always find holes, but the routes will become riskier and deadlier for refugees.”."

EU plans fully-fledged external border force (euobserver, link): "The European Union is considering a plan to introduce a permanent external border control force that could be deployed if it deems that a member state is in need of help to police its frontiers even without the EU country’s consent, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal reported Friday (11 December)."

Migrant crisis: Greece, Croatia and Italy face EU legal action (BBC, link)

European Commission orders infringements procedures against Greece, Italy, Hungary and Croatia

- Implementing the Common European Asylum System: Commission escalates 8 infringement proceedings (pdf):

"The Commission is today urging Greece, Croatia and Italy to correctly implement the Eurodac Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 603/2013), which provides for effective fingerprinting of asylum seekers and transmission of data to the Eurodac central system within 72 hours....

The Commission is also urging Greece and Malta to communicate the national measures taken to fully transpose the Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU), which sets out common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and the Reception Conditions Directive (Directive 2013/33/EU), which deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for examination of their applications."

- Commission opens infringement procedure against Hungary concerning its asylum law (pdf):

"Firstly, regarding the asylum procedures, the Commission is concerned that there is no possibility to refer to new facts and circumstances in the context of appeals and that Hungary is not automatically suspending decisions in case of appeals - effectively forcing applicants to leave their territory before the time limit for lodging an appeal expires, or before an appeal has been heard....

Secondly, regarding rights to translation and interpretation, the Commission is concerned the Hungarian law on fast-tracked criminal proceedings for irregular border crossings does not respect provisions of the Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, which ensures that every suspect or accused person who does not understand the language of the proceedings is provided with a written translation of all essential documents, including any judgment....

Thirdly, on the fundamental right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial under Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, there are concerns as to the fact that under the new Hungarian law dealing with the judicial review of decisions rejecting an asylum application a personal hearing of the applicants is optional. Judicial decisions taken by court secretaries (a sub-judicial level) lacking judicial independence also seem to be in breach of the Asylum Procedures Directive and Article 47 of the Charter."

See: EU to sue Greece, Italy, Croatia over migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union has started legal action against Greece, Italy and Croatia for failing to correctly register migrants. Tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in those countries over the last few months but less than half of them have been registered by national authorities. Greece has only fingerprinted around 121,000 of the almost half a million people who arrived there between July 20 and Nov. 30 this year, according to the European Commission."

Pakistan did not accept its nationals extradited from Greece, Austria and Bulgaria (Greek Reporter, link)

Frontex accepts Greece’s request for Rapid Border Intervention Teams (link):

"“The RABIT deployment will allow us to increase the number of both sea and land patrols, which means more migrants will be identified and properly registered soon after they arrive on the Greek islands. In other words, launching RABIT means upscaling Operation Poseidon Sea,” said Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

Out of more than 700 000 migrants who reached the Greek islands from Turkey so far this year, only one in five was intercepted upon reaching the shore."

State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Updated on 8 December (pdf): Comment on the current situation: Little has changed..

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism
(Communicated as of 09 December 2015]
(pdf): Now 14 Member States 3,827 places offered - up 481 - out of 160,000 needed.

- Returns since September 2015 (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 658 - up 49, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as last week.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Now: Frontex: 114 Officers (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams. Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hospots" are planned but only two - Lampedusa and Lesvos - are operational.

- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million
(Communicated as of 09 December 2015)
(pdf) No change in shortfalls.

- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 09 December 2015) (pdf) Many unmet needs.

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

And see: EU refugee relocation makes lethargic start (DW, link): "The EU agreed to resettle tens of thousands of refugees from overburdened southern European countries. The result has been meager, with a mere 133 people relocated from Italy, as Megan Williams reports from Rome."

Greece dismantles Macedonia border camp (euobserver, link): "Authorities on Wednesday (9 December) removed some 2,300 people from a makeshift camp on the Greek side of the Macedonian border after weeks of tension. Nationals from Algeria, Bangladesh, Morocco, Pakistan, and Somalia, among others, were bussed to former Olympic venues in Elliniko and Galatsi. Only those that have a good chance of obtaining asylum, such as Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans are allowed to cross the barbed-wire and chain-link fence separating the two states in their efforts to reach mainland EU."

More than 1 million people have sought EU asylum so far in 2015 (Guardian, link):

"One in four asylum seekers are Syrian refugees, with Germany receiving by far the highest number of claims... Of the 1,001,910 applications registered in the EU in the year to date 94% were first time applicants. Syrian asylum seekers accounted for a quarter of applications, while 12% related to Afghanistan and 9% to Iraq."

NB: This figure includes applicants from Balkans and EU states.

News (10.12.15)

Derry residents determined to help Syrian refugees settle in city (Derry Journal, link): "The desire of Derry people to help Syrian refugees was never as evident as it was inside the main hall in the Foyle Arena on Friday. The event, called ‘From Syria to Sanctuary’, was spearheaded by Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Elisha McCallion. Open to the public, ‘From Syria to Sanctuary’ was emotive, informative and extremely insightful."

Many Iraqis already want out of Finland – “I'm dying on the inside here” (Helsinki Times, link)

Nearly 770,000 people enter Greece in 2015, says UN (ekathimerini.com, link): "The UN refugee agency says nearly 770,000 asylum-seekers have entered Greece so far this year on their long trek toward a better life in wealthier European Union countries and said more than 200 have drowned en route."

Greece starts removing stranded migrants at FYROM border (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek police started removing hundreds of migrants stranded on the Greek border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and blocking rail traffic on Wednesday, a police official and a Reuters eyewitness said.

Some 1,200 people mostly from Pakistan, Morocco and Iran, were stuck near the northern Greek town of Idomeni, demanding to cross into FYROM to reach northern Europe after non-EU Balkan states began filtering migrants by nationality.

The police official said the migrants would be taken to Athens on buses and will be accommodated in migration centers before being sent back to their home countries." and

Impasse on border to be overcome ‘in the next few days,’ minister says (link): "Greek authorities on Tuesday pledged that problems at Idomeni, on Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), caused by a buildup of thousands of migrants and refugees due to stricter restrictions, will be overcome in the coming days... Meanwhile, migrants and asylum seekers keep pouring into the country. A total 20,325 people are estimated to have arrived on Greece’s islands in the first six days of December."

EU plans in a mess:

Turkey fund: EU states want Commission to pay more (euobserver, link): "The EU Commission is under pressure to give more money for the €3 billion destined for Turkey to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees, while some member states are reluctant to send money to Ankara for political reasons."

EU refugee relocation grinds to near halt (euobserver, link): "The slow pace of registering and relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other member states is frustrating EU-led efforts to get a grip on broader migration issues. Launched in September, the two-year plan to relocate 160,000 people in need of international protection remains mired in administrative, technical, and political delays....Despite bad weather and the EU's €3 billion deal with Turkey, up to 3,500 continue to arrive daily on rubber boats from Turkey, with some Syrian refugees being intercepted at sea and set adrift by men in black masks."

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

Dispatches: Masked Men Continue to Attack Migrant Boats on the Aegean (HRW, link):

"He told me that on December 3, he and his family joined 30 other people on a rubber boat in their attempt to reach the Greek islands. About halfway there, they were blinded by a strong light shining on them from a big boat. The migrant piloting their boat tried to evade the larger boat and a small boat when three masked men came at them at such fast speed that he said he thought the boat they were in would capsize.

Mahmoud and other passengers held their babies up so the masked men would take pity on them. But one of the assailants hit the pilot of the boat twice on the head with a truncheon and they disabled the motor by cutting the wires, leaving it to drift. Mahmoud said that some of the passengers tried to communicate in Turkish with the attackers, but that the only language they could understand was the English command to “Stop, stop.” After drifting for three hours, a Turkish coast guard boat. rescued them... We are not alone in raising the alarm about vigilante attacks on migrants and asylum seekers; news media have also reported – and CBS news filmed – unidentified speedboats allegedly interdicting and disabling migrant boats..

News (9.12.15)

Italy: thank us for refugee help - don't sue (The Local.it, link): "Italy is being sued by the EU for not doing enough to identify migrants arriving on its shores. But now the country has hit back hard, saying Europe should show it some gratitude."

UNHCR, IOM expect refugees to Europe to reach 1 mn in 2015 (link)

Greece: At least 12 dead as migrant boat sinks off Farmakonissi (ekathimerini.com, link): Greek authorities say at least 12 people – including six children – have died and 12 are missing after a wooden boat carrying about 50 migrants sank near the islet of Farmakonissi, in the eastern Aegean Sea, early Wednesday. The coast guard said 26 people have been rescued so far.... and Number of victims of migrants boat tragedy increases (ANAmpa, link)

New Year border checks confirmed for Sweden (The Local.se, link): "Plans for tougher ID checks on the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark to stem the influx of refugees are set to come into force on January 4th, the government has said."

GREECE: Refugee relocation in Athens hits snags (DW, link): "As Balkan states remain closed to people from 'non-conflict areas,' asylum-seekers stranded at the Greek border are heading back to Athens to await their fate in camps. Diego Cupolo reports from Athens.... Marking a turning point in the crisis, the combination of legal and physical barriers have caused the migration tide to crest in Idomeni and partially roll back toward Athens. The capital is now receiving asylum-seekers from both Turkey along with those returning from its northern border, causing concern among some of the city's humanitarian workers, and indifference in others."

IRELAND: Twenty one NGOs: Protection, Resettlement and Integration: Ireland’s Response to the Refugee and Migration ‘Crisis’ December 2015 (pdf):

"As some European countries tighten border controls or close borders completely, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to identify safe routes and secure options for migration and settlement. Political leadership is vital now in the fight against discrimination, exclusion, racism and Islamophobia. Upholding human rights and humanitarian values, along with our collective international obligations for people seeking protection, is critical at this time."

Austria erecting border fence with Slovenia (euobserver, link)

Austria has started work to build a 3.7 km fence along its border with Slovenia to help redirect the inflow of people seeking asylum, reports German news agency Deutsche Welle. It is the first border fence to be erected between two Schengen states, which allow visa-free travel."

News (8.12.15)

Human Rights Watch Warns of Asylum Seekers Stuck on Serbian-Bulgarian Border (novinite.com, link) "In an article published at the website of Human Rights Watch on Monday, a researcher for Eastern Europe and Western Balkans, described the harsh conditions asylum seekers are faced with in Dimitrovgrad, a town in southeastern Serbia, at the border with Bulgaria.

A group of 200-250 people, mainly single Afghan men, have been stuck in the border town for as long as a week while waiting for the mandatory registration by Serbian authorities, which grants them permission for onward travel across Serbia to Croatia and on to western Europe. Before arriving in Serbia, most of them have passed through Iran, Turkey and Bulgaria. The registration facility in Dimitrovgrad, which consists of eight containers, can accommodate only around eighty people, with the rest forced to sleep in the open where they have to endure harsh and cold weather conditions."

German politicians exchange blame for refugee bottleneck (DW, link): "Germany's states are blaming the federal government for not processing asylum applications quickly enough, and the government says it's doing fine. Critics say much bureaucracy could be cut - like the Dublin procedure."

Europe has turned its refugee crisis into a morally disastrous Hunger Games (Guardian, link): "Europe is creating obstacles to make refugees’ journeys as burdensome as possible, when it should be building legal entry channels"

Paris, Berlin 'convinced' of need to reduce migrant flow: letter to EU (France 24, link): "France and Germany are "firmly convinced" of the need to reduce the flow of migrants into Europe, they wrote in a joint letter to the EU Commission seen by AFP on Tuesday. "We very strongly reject any confusion between terrorists and migrants," said interior ministers Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere in the letter, dated December 3, calling for a "substantial reinforcement" of the EU's Frontex border agency."

European Union in danger from ‘forces that want to drive us apart’(Guardian, link): "President of European parliament says alternative to EU would be ‘horrific’ Europe of nationalism, borders and walls"

Refugee crisis highlights differences of French and Dutch integration models (euractiv, link)

Germany on course to accept one million refugees in 2015 (Guardian, link): "So far this year Europe’s leading economy has registered 964,574 new asylum seekers, more than four times the number that arrived in 2014... The data did not provide a breakdown of the nationalities of the new arrivals. In previous months, Syrians topped the figures, with about one in three applications coming from citizens of the war-torn country, for whom Germany has adopted an open-door policy.... The ministry, however, pointed out that civil servants had this year managed to shorten the processing of asylum claims – with each claim taking five months, down from seven in 2014. This had been achieved by speeding up the decision-making process for asylum seekers “from safe countries of origin (especially west Balkan states) as well as for those from particularly unsafe countries of origins (especially Syria),” the ministry said. So far, Albanians and Kosovans were among the top five groups of arriving this year in a trend that has alarmed the German government. Berlin has recently listed both Albania and Kosovo as “safe countries of origin”..."

Dispatches: Asylum Seekers Stuck on the Serbia-Bulgaria Border (HRW, link): "Serbia has obligations under international law, and as an European Union candidate country, to provide humane reception conditions for asylum seekers. It should work to fulfill those obligations and support – not hinder – those stepping up to do the job that the state is failing to do. It should also ensure that asylum seekers’ prompt access to registration is not dependent on them paying bribes."

Why Europe should avoid terror overreach (euobserver, link)

Six refugee children drown off Turkey's coast (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey's state-run news agency says six children have drowned after a rubber dinghy carrying Afghan migrants to Greece sank off Turkey's Aegean coast. The Anadolu Agency said the coast guard rescued five migrants from the sea on Tuesday and were still looking for two others reported missing. The bodies of the children were recovered. Anadolu didn't report their ages, but said one of them was a baby. The migrants were apparently hoping to make it to the island of Chios from the resort of Cesme despite bad weather."

Hamburg helps traumatized refugees (DW, link): "A Hamburg-based project is providing help for traumatized refugee children through storytelling and art therapy. Gemima Harvey went along to take a look."

EU: Council of the European Union: European Council (17 and 18 December 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13593-15, pdf). The opening section on Migration largely states the obvious [and may be changed nearer the meeting]:

"The European Council discussed the migration and refugee crisis. Despite the hard work in recent months the level of implementation of some of the decisions taken is insufficient. The unprecedented influx of migrants puts the Schengen and asylum acquis under severe pressure... [and]

"rapidly address deficiencies in the functioning of hotspots... ensure registration and take measures to discourage refusal of registration... implement relocation decisions more rapidly.. ensure the actual return of people not authorised to stay..significantly enhance the control at the EU's external borders... It should rapidly examine the Commission proposals of 15 December on a European Border and Coast Guard, the Schengen Borders Code, resettlement, and travel documents for returns..."

Lesvos: Greece: Statement on the EU's shameful decision to give Turkey 3 billion euros to hold back war refugees from finding safety in Europe (pdf): by Eric Kempson in Lesvos and Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action following her recent visit to Lesvos to assess the situation:

"“The EU is badly mistaken if it thinks paying Turkey 3 Billion euros will halt the flow of war refugees into Greece. The smuggling trade alone is worth 10 Billion euros. That trade is not just between Turkey and Greece it’s all the way up through Europe, with smugglers waiting to get people through. Boats continue to come through, mainly overnight and in bad weather. 500 came through Lesvos yesterday (Dec 3), 450 people came through on December 2nd, and 800 the day before.

The numbers are less than the previous three months but are still significant. People will keep coming in bad weather when the Turkish coastguard is not patrolling. And they will come overnight when it’s more dangerous. The Africans are making their way here, and they will reach here in the spring. And now that the British government has started bombing Syria along with other European countries, many more people will be trying to come to safety, using more dangerous routes.

“What we are seeing because of the EU decision is further persecution and abuse of war refugees by the Turkish coastguard on the open seas, and more deaths as people take ever more dangerous routes to safety. And these abuses will get worse because of this EU deal, and we are losing a lot more people now because of it. “The Turkish coastguard is now using very fast boats to go round and round the refugee dinghies to get up a wave of water and they sink them with the babies, children and women in them..".

Turn back refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh at the Turkish external border so that they do not become the EU's problem:
EU’s Timmermans Talks About Expectations of Turkey-EU Pact to Wall Street Journal (link)

"WSJ: Does it concern you that a significant minority comes from other places, like Afghanistan?

FT: This is all linked. Because of the Syrian refugees, a path is built and then others, who want to come to Europe for other reasons, see the possibility of using that ‘highway to Europe’. A policy will also have to have all these elements – stopping violence in Syria, having agreements with third countries about people who come here who don’t have the right to international protection and therefore should be returned, that’s why talking to Pakistan is so important, making sure that Turkey aligns its visa policy to ours, so that people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh can be stopped at the external Turkish border rather than coming to Turkey first and having to be stopped at the European border...." [emphasis added]

See: In Danger in Afghanistan, Unable to Flee (NYT, link): "Why do we have to risk our lives?” Mohammad Ali asked. “Why can’t we just get a visa here and go directly?” The answer stretches back to the origins of the world’s refugee and asylum system in post-World War II Europe. In 1951, with millions of Europeans dislocated from their home countries, the international community enacted the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Article 1 declared that people were entitled to international legal protection as refugees, and therefore asylum, if they had a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.” On four out of those five grounds, the Bamian couple would clearly qualify, as officials at Western embassies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have told them, and proving it would be relatively easy." [emphasis added]

But see: Merkel urges Afghans to stay at home (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the German Chancellor has urged Afghan migrants not to seek refuge in the Bundesrepublik... The reason is that by the end of October, 68,000 Afghan asylum seekers had registered in Germany, with 31,000 arriving in that month alone. In terms of arrival numbers, Afghans rank second behind Syrians..

News (7.12.15)

Proactiva OpenArms Rescue night (link)

The “European refugee crisis”: why all migrants matter (Open DEmocracy, link): "With the closure of the Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian borders to all migrants who are not of Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan nationality, the international community has sent out a worrying signal."

Greece to set up island screening centres to ease refugee crisis (Observer, link): "Threat of suspension from Schengen zone prompts Athens to publish surprise legislation that opposition says will kill tourism on Aegean islands...The law, published in the government gazette early on Saturday, took many by surprise. Local authorities on islands such as Kos have long claimed the establishment of such centres will only attract more refugees. In a strongly worded statement, the Kos branch of the main opposition conservative New Democracy party said the decision would lead with “mathematical precision” to the destruction of the island’s tourist industry."

EU: Paving the Road to Hell with good intentions (EUobserver, link): "Europe is experiencing multiple crises. The influx of refugees and the terrorist attacks have created a framework in which core EU rights and freedoms are continuously challenged. Major revisions of core EU policies seem possible as long as there is a promise for more security. Politicians seem to have forgotten that everything comes at a price."

Wave of young Afghan migrants seen hurting economy they leave behind (Reuters, link): "There are no accurate figures for the number of Afghans who leave each year in search of a better life abroad, but more than 160,000 have gone to Europe this year, UNHCR data show. The majority of those have been in the last few months."It's not necessarily everyone with master's degrees, but you have a large number of youth, the most dynamic, potentially productive strata of society, who are leaving," said Richard Danziger of the International Organization for Migration."

Refugee crisis: State of play: Commission statistics: September 2015 ongoing (3.12.15)

Comment on the current situation: Nothing is moving, offers of relocation and returns static.

- State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis Updated on 3 December (pdf)

- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (Communicated as of 3 December 2015) (pdf) Now 3,346 offers of relocation out of 160,000 needed - up by 130 since last report. Only 159 people have been relocated: 129 from Italy and 30 form Greece - no change from last week and week before.

- Returns since September 2015 (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 609 people plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as last week.

- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (3.12.15, pdf): No change from last week

- Pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million (pdf): The total Shortfall was: 2,227,660,000 euro now 2,224,890,000 euro - shortfall for Africa Trust (following the Valletta Summit) is: 1,718,630,000 euro.

- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (pdf) Lots of "needs" unmet and Greece joined last week.

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

Turkish, German leaders discuss Syria, refugee crisis (hurriyetdailynews.com): Although denied by officials in Brussels the Merkel "mini-summit" with Turkey is going ahead on 17 December 2015 in the margins of the EU Council Summit:

"op Turkish and German leaders have discussed the upcoming mini-summit that will take place between Turkey and eight EU countries on Dec. 17 in Brussels, where they will discuss how to best handle the growing refugee crisis... The eight EU member states involved in the meeting are Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Greece."

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3-4 December 2015: Final Press release: 3-4 December (pdf) See pages 8-9 on refugees and Schengen

Greece: Government unveils plan to set up five hotspots (ekathimerini.com):

"Only days after requesting European Union help in tackling the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis, the Greek government has unveiled plans to set up five so-called hotspots to register and identify arrivals.

The decision, which was published early Saturday in the Government Gazette, foresees the creation of screening centers on the eastern Aegean islands of Chios, Kos, Leros, Samos and Lesvos. Their operation will fall under the responsibility of the Southern and Northern Aegean regional authorities and will rely on Defense Ministry technical infrastructure and personnel."

News (5-6.12.15)

UNHCR: Latest figures: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (UNHCR, link): 899,620 arrivals in the EU, 751,873 to Greece and 144,100 to Italy. 3,550 dead/missing.

Europe has a deal with Turkey, but migrants will keep coming - Refugees' misery still drives them to leave (Economist, link)

Italy rescues 4,600 people from Mediterranean (Reuters, link): "More than 4,600 people were plucked to safety from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast, the Italian coastguard said on Sunday, as they took advantage of calmer waters this weekend to attempt the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. On Saturday alone, the coastguard operations centre in Rome co-ordinated nine rescues, pulling 1,123 people to safety from two boats and seven inflatable dinghies."

Norway extends border controls as numbers fall (The Local.no, link): "Norway’s tightened border control measures, including identity checks at ferry terminals, have been extended for a further 20 days."

EU risks being shaken apart by refugee crisis, warns Brussels (The Observer, link): "European migration commissioner says countries must do more to shoulder burden of new arrivals and fund local authorities to deal with the problem... Avramopoulos said anyone resisting the arrival of migrants should remember that Europe is an ageing continent and needs to attract new people, as well as develop strategies to send home those who enter illegally. The confusion in terminology between refugees and economic migrants has caused problems, he said. "We must not listen to nationalists and to xenophobic groups that unfortunately are gaining more and more ground in Europe right now because this misconception exists.""

Few refugee arrivals at weekend (sta.si, link) "Ljubljana, 6 December - Only one train carrying refugees arrived in Slovenia on Saturday with 742 people on board, with another one early on Sunday brining 1,121 migrants, Novo mesto police have said."

Greece: The 25ft mountain of lifejackets left behind by the refugees who have arrived on Lesbos (apokoronasnews.gr.link)

Thousands still at Greek-FYR Macedonia border (UNHCR, link): "IDOMENI, Greece, Dec 4 (UNHCR) – Thousands of refugees and migrants were stuck at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Friday following tense protests which prevented anyone from crossing for more than 24 hours. By Friday morning, the chaos had calmed though passage through the border was far slower than usual. Only refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are allowed to cross under restrictions implemented last month by authorities along the Western Balkans route. Tensions have increased around along the Greek side of the border at Idomeni, since November 18, when FYR Macedonia started admitting only nationals from those three countries. Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia implemented similar screening systems by nationality."

Germany and France urge more powers for Frontex, report (DW, link): "Germany and France have called on the EU's executive body to strengthen the European border protection agency, Frontex, a German newspaper has reported. It says they want the agency to be given more autonomy to act.... Under the Code as it currently stands, the Commission can only recommend that a member state accepts help in controlling its borders but not force it to do so."

Anti-Muslim prejudice ‘is moving to the mainstream’ - Report warns of rapid growth of far-right groups that plan to provoke a ‘cultural civil war’ (Guardian, link) "The “counter-jihad” movement in the UK is expanding rapidly, according to new analysis showing that 24 different far-right groups are currently attempting to whip up hatred towards Muslims and provoke a cultural civil war. The most comprehensive report yet into the alliance of international counter-jihad organisations warns that Islamophobic groups in Britain are capitalising on public concerns following the Paris attacks and ongoing refugee crisis. The report, by the anti-racist group Hope Not Hate, chronicles 920 anti-Muslim organisations and key Islamophobes in 22 countries, noting that such groups are becoming increasingly well-resourced, particularly in the US, where eight foundations have donated more than £38m since the 9/11 attacks."

and see: The Counter-Jihad movement: From the Margins to the Mainstream (Link):Is a new report from HOPE not hate. It is the most comprehensive and detailed report into the international Counter-Jihad movement produced and profiles 920 organisations and individuals in 22 countries.

FROM BOAT TO BOAT: Kos and the Refugee Crisis (Hope Not Hate, link): HOPE not hate recently spent several days on the Greek island of Kos, witnessing first-hand the flow of people arriving daily from nearby Turkey. In this special video and report, Joe witnesses first-hand the hope, difficulties and tensions of just one small part of the largest humanitarian crisis since World War Two."

Turkey detains 3,000 refugees after EU deal (Guardian, link): "Detainees, mainly from Syria and Iraq, were preparing to travel to Greek island of Lesbos from north-western town of Ayvacik... The Turkish coastguard apprehended a total of 2,933 people, mainly from Syria and Iraq, as they were preparing to make their way to the Greek island of Lesbos from the north-western town of Ayvacik, in Çanakkale province, and sent them to a detention centre where some could face deportation, Dogan news agency reported." and 2,933 migrants detained in four days in Turkey’s west (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "In 1,038 separate operations since the beginning of the year, 47,622 migrants have been captured on the shores of Çanakkale"...

Swiss edge toward possible "Swexit" from EU bilateral pacts (euractiv, link): "Switzerland threatened yesterday (4 December) to impose unilateral curbs on immigration should it fail to agree with the European Union on limiting the influx into a country where nearly a quarter of the population is foreign."

EU mulls plan to take charge of Europe's borders (euractiv, link): "The European Union is considering giving a new EU border force powers to intervene and guard a member state's external frontier to protect the Schengen open-borders zone, EU officials and diplomats said yesterday (4 December). Such a move might be blocked by states wary of surrendering sovereign control of their territory. But the discussion reflects fears that Greece's failure to manage a flood of migrants from Turkey has brought Schengen's system of open borders to the brink of collapse.

'Die Ziet' analysis on refugee home attacks this year shows just four convictions (DW, link) "An analysis by German newspaper 'Die Zeit' has found that from 222 dangerous attacks on refugees homes this year, there have been just four convictions. There have been 637 reported incidents...."

Attacks on refugees in Germany double in three months (DW, link): "The number of registered attacks against refugee accommodations and asylum seekers in Germany has doubled in the last three months. Severe crimes such as arson, bombings and assault have tripled."

RABITS team to go to Greece to "combat "illegal immigration"": European Commission: Refugee Crisis: Greece activates EU Civil protection mechanism, agrees Frontex operation at border with former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and triggers RABIT mechanism (pdf)

What are RABITS? EU:

Rapid Border Intervention Teams (Statewatch database) and FRONTEX and RABITS: the European Union is stepping up its operational efforts combating illegal immigration (Commission press release, pdf)

and The Rapid Border Intervention Teams mechanism (RABIT) (pdf): "The Rapid Border Intervention Teams mechanism (RABIT) was established in 2007. It offers rapid operational assistance for a limited period of time to a Member State facing a situation of urgent and exceptional pressure at points of the external borders, with large numbers of third-country nationals trying to enter illegally the territory of the Member State" [emphasis added]

EU border agency confirms Greece’s request for help (ekathimerini.com):

"“Greece asked Frontex yesterday to launch a Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) mechanism on the Greek islands in the Aegean, where it continues to face massive migratory pressure,” the agency said in an announcement on Friday, adding that Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has five working days to evaluate the situation and decide whether to activate the mechanism. If the mechanism is activated, Frontex explained, EU member states and Schengen associate countries would be obligated to provide border guards and equipment for the operation"

Frontex to assist Greece with registration of migrants at its land border (link): "Frontex agreed with Greece today to expand its activities to the country’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where the agency will assist with registration of migrants"

IOM: Mediterranean staistics: 4 December 2015 (pdf): 893,970 arrivals, 744,662 to Greece, 145,098 to Italy and 3,631 dead/missing.

Boats in the night (open democracy, link): "Even if we didn’t do a perfect job, we could do something together. It would be better than nothing and certainly better than the absence of support offered by our governments".

Germany: Just four convictions for refugee home attacks (The Local.de, link): Just four out of 222 recorded attacks against refugee homes in Germany this year have ended with a conviction for the perpetrator, an analysis by German newspaper Die Zeit shows... Out of the 93 fire attacks, almost half were against buildings where people were already living. So far in 2015, 104 people have been wounded in fire and other attacks against refugee housing. But prosecutors have secured convictions against just four of the people behind the violence, with a further eight cases ongoing – making for a total of five percent of cases that have even seen a day in court."

EU: Council of the European Union adopt (4.12.15): Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the governments of the Member States on Statelessness (pdf):

While: "Recalling: that the right to a nationality is a fundamental right recognised by Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that this is one of the basic principles of the 1997 European Convention of Nationality...."

These non-binding Conclusions simply: "Invite: the Commission to launch exchanges of good practices among Member States..."

Turkey rounds up 3,000 migrants planning to cross into Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkish authorities have rounded up in the past four days nearly 3,000 migrants planning to cross the Aegean Sea to EU member Greece, local media said Friday.

The detentions were part of a major operation that was launched on Monday, a day after Turkey and the European Union reached a deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe. The Turkish coastguard apprehended a total of 2,933 migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, as they were preparing to make their way to the Greek island of Lesbos from the northwestern town of Ayvacik in Canakkale province, Dogan news agency reported.

Thirty-five suspected smugglers were also detained while hundreds of migrant boats were seized, it added. The migrants will be sent to a detention centre where some could face deportation, Dogan said, without giving details." [emphasis added]

News (4.12.15)

Four days, zero migrants at Norway-Russia border (The Local.no, link): "On Monday, police in Eastern Finnmark began acting on new stricter requirements regarding who is allowed to come over the border to Norway. This means that border control agents are now assessing asylum seekers’ identification papers before they even leave the Russian area. As a result, asylum seekers are essentially stopped before they even come to Norway."

France scolded for 'round-ups' of refugees (The Local.fr, link): "A top prison inspector has slammed France for its response to the refugee crisis in Calais, stating that the policy of "unclogging" the 'Jungle' camp by flying migrants around the country must stop....The inspector, whose job is to ensure that people deprived of liberty in France have their fundamental rights respected, concluded in an eight-page report on Wednesday that there are "serious violations of human rights" at the camp. "

Greece's suspension from Schengen had never been raised in the EU framework: govt speaker (ocus-fen.net, link): "Greece's suspension from Schengen had never been raised in the EU framework, but there are untrue reports pushing a hostile agenda about Greece in an attempt to persuade the Athens government to improve its handling of migrants and refugees"

IOM Monitors Greece-FYRoM Border Amid Security Concerns (link):"The situation at Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM) is extremely tense with protests and sporadic rioting by stranded migrants and refugees. Nobody has crossed the border since Wednesday, when some 4,058 refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were allowed to cross, according to IOM staff. But another 3,500 migrants of other nationalities are now stranded on the Greek side of the border, together with some 2,500 Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, who have been caught up in the border closure, but who are expected to be admitted to the FYROM when the border re-opens."

Pakistan sends deported migrants back to Greece (Guardian, link): "In latest flare-up of tension between EU and Islamabad, Pakistan rejects 31 people it says were illegally returned Although 19 out of the 50 deportees who came in on a charter plane were taken into custody in Pakistan, the remainder stayed on board for almost two hours before returning to Greece after the government said they did not have the correct paperwork."

The refugee crisis in Brussels is deteriorating rapidly (euractiv, link): "Citizens engaged in helping hundreds of refugees arriving in Brussels are overwhelmed. The Belgian government should take greater responsibility for the humanitarian crisis, write Elke Zander and Anja Werner."

Visegrad Four mobilise to keep Schengen intact (euractiv, link): "Four eastern EU member states yesterday (3 December) rejected the idea of cutting the 26-member passport-free Schengen zone down to include fewer countries as a way to cope with the refugee and migrant crisis. The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, the countries known as the Visegrad Group or V4, said in a joint statement that "any open or hidden attempts to limit free movement" inside the European Union were unacceptable."

EU debates longer-term suspension of Schengen travel-free zone (euracttiv, link): "EU interior ministers will discuss a proposal on Friday (4 December) that could allow new border controls between European states for up to two years as an unprecedented migration crisis strains the Schengen free-travel zone". and see: Integrity of the Schengen area, LIMITE doc: 14300-15, (pdf)

European Parliament: Questions to the Council and Commission on "hotspots" and relocation

- To the Commission: Compatibility of the establishment and management of hotspots with EU law (pdf)

"Since September, within the activated "Hotspot" in Lampedusa, public authorities have adopted new illegal practices in violation of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. Migrants are hastily "interviewed" and provided with an inadequate form as regards asylum procedures.

Therefore, many migrants are subjected to return decisions without having a real opportunity to apply for asylum under Directives 2011/95/EU and 2013/32/EU. After return decisions have been adopted, migrants are driven out of the centres and only supplied with an expulsion order establishing to leave the country within seven days, via "Fiumicino" airport...."

- To the Council: Implementation of Council Decisions on the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece (pdf):

" 21 Member States have identified national contact points and (...) so far, only six Member States mechanism have notified (the) reception capacity they have made available to host relocated people". Likewise, a mere 86 asylum seekers had been relocated until that day from Italy under the new scheme. The 3rd of November, a press release from the Commission underlined that the first relocation flight from Greece with 30 asylum seekers was about to leave to Luxembourg.

We ask the Council which steps it intends to take so that its representatives quickly commit to relocating asylum seekers as soon as possible bearing in mind the urgency of the current humanitarian challenges."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3 and 4 December 2015: "B" Points agenda

The Council is discussing: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a crisis relocation mechanism... amending the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person - State of play (pdf):

"During these discussions, a number of delegations raised general scrutiny reservations and reiterated their positions according to which they consider that it would be preferable to evaluate the functioning of the temporary emergency relocation schemes, adopted by the Council on 14 and 22 September, before the discussion on the proposal on the crisis relocation mechanism continues.

They are of the view that shortcomings in the implementation of the relocation decisions, including the functioning of the hotspots and the prevention of secondary movements, should be addressed as a matter of urgency." [emphasis added]

Pakistan sends back 30 'illegally deported' migrants to Greece (DW, link):

"Islamabad has sent back 30 migrants that Athens was trying to repatriate. The Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said Greece had failed to provide adequate proof that they were Pakistani citizens.. Shortly after the arrival of a chartered flight at Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Thursday, Pakistani officials refused to allow 30 of the aircraft's 49 passengers to disembark.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry said their identities had not been confirmed and therefore they could not be repatriated under a 2010 agreement with the EU to accept the repatriation of illegal Pakistani migrants.

"Any deportee with the unverified documents will be sent back on the same flight to the country he would arrive [from]," Khan said.".

EU-GREECE: Threats to seal Greek border or suspend Greece from Schengen?

EU Commissioner Avramopoulos on scenarios regarding Greece exiting the Schengen area (ANA-MPA, link):

" According to Avramopoulos, "the immediate and full implementation of the agreed measures, both in Greece and in all the member states, will strengthen the security of maritime boundaries and will restore control in the northern border, where non-unidentified migrants try to continue their trip to the north.""

Greece faces Schengen threat amid refugee impasse (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As Greece comes under intense pressure to tighten its borders, authorities are still grappling with a relentless influx of migrants. Pressure on Greece appeared to grow on Tuesday as senior EU officials warned that the country faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the crisis by mid-December.

“The Germans are furious and that’s why people are talking about pushing Greece out,” an anonymous EU ambassador was quoted by the FT as saying noting growing frustration about Athens’s failure to meet its obligations."

Greece warned EU will reimpose border controls:

"The EU is warning Greece it faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the migration crisis by mid-December, as frustration mounts over Athens’ reluctance to accept outside support." (FT, link)

EU weighs internal border checks to shut Greek refugee route (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European Union governments will consider suspending some passport-free internal travel for as long as two years to prevent refugees who make it to Greece from moving on to western Europe, a draft document showed.

The proposal, designed to pressure Greece into allowing EU policing of its Aegean Sea border with Turkey, will be weighed by home affairs ministers of the 28 EU countries at a meeting in Brussels on Friday. Legal provisions will be discussed “that one or more member states decide to reintroduce border control at all or at specific parts of their internal borders,” according to the document, which was published by the Statewatch.org civil liberties website."

Report: Greece threatened with Schengen suspension (euobserver, link)

Post-deportation risks: Criminalized departure and risks for returnees in countries of origin (pdf)

A country catalogue published by the /Post-Deportation Monitoring Network /(Rights in Exile programme) about *"Post-Deportation risks: criminalized departure and risks for returnees in countries of origin*".... We are very happy to share this outcome with activists and researchers. This work is not exhaustive, even if we tried to gather all the
inforation and sources we could find during these 9 months. Nonetheless, *we really hope that some organizations and activists could use the country catalogue and its references/sources to raise awareness about specific risks that people will face if authorities want to return them to the country of origin. ***

and see: Rights in Exile Programme - International Refugee Rights Initiative (link)

EU: Council: Heads of JHA Agencies meeting, 3 - 4 November 2015 (pdf)

Agencies agreed to focus in particular on:

– ensuring fundamental rights, data protection and privacy of the people in Europe in the area of freedom, security and justice;
– developing further support to Member States for the management of irregular migration;
– streamlining inter-agency cooperation in the Hotspots and tackl ing irregular migration at the Western Balkan route;
– enhancing joint operational activities aimed at addressing the threats to Europe and the Schengen free movement area.....

An overview of anti-Muslim violence and abuse in the UK since the Paris attacks. IRR< link):

"The terrorist attacks in Paris last month, killing over 100 people and injuring hundreds more, have been followed by anti-Muslim violence across Europe. In the UK, sixty-four religious or racially motivated hate crimes were reported to the police in Scotland in the week that followed, almost as many as were reported in the whole previous year. In London, the seventy-six ‘Islamophobic incidents’ that were reported to the police in that same week were triple the number reported in the previous one. The UK-wide anti-Muslim hate crime reporting body Tell Mama says that there had been a 300 per cent increase in the number of incidents it had recorded, with 115 reports – the victims being mostly women and girls... "

News (3.12.15)

Merkel urges Afghans to stay at home (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the German Chancellor has urged Afghan migrants not to seek refuge in the Bundesrepublik... The reason is that by the end of October, 68,000 Afghan asylum seekers had registered in Germany, with 31,000 arriving in that month alone. In terms of arrival numbers, Afghans rank second behind Syrians.."

Macedonia: Tear gas and rubber bullets as border tensions mount (AI, link): "Amid increasing tension and violent clashes in the policing of refugees and migrants protesting at the Greek-Macedonian border, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia) border police must show restraint and comply fully with international policing standards, said Amnesty International today. In repeated incidents since the erection of a border fence last Saturday, the Macedonian police have used rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades against refugees and migrants who are protesting over being blocked from entering the country on the basis of their nationalities.... “This is yet another example of Europe’s wholesale failure to deal with the current refugee crisis. From Greece, Turkey and across the Balkan states, the plight of refugees and migrants will only worsen unless states grasp the nettle and provide a coordinated response.”"

EU Council President: Detain refugees arriving in Europe for 18 months, says Tusk - European council president says tougher screening measures needed to counter security risks and describes Angela Merkel’s open-door policy as ‘dangerous’ (Guardian, link): "Refugees arriving in Europe should be detained for up to 18 months in holding centres across the EU while they are screened for security and terrorism risks, the president of the European council has said... Tusk suggested that it was a myth that the majority of refugees reaching Europe were Syrians in flight from war and said that more than two-thirds were irregular migrants who should be turned back." and Tusk: 'Wave of migrants too big not to be stopped' (euobserver, link)

UNHCR concerned by violence at Greek border, calls for improved security (UNHCR, link): "UNHCR is deeply concerned about the tension and violence at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and calls on the authorities of both countries to manage the border in a manner consistent with human rights and refugee-protection principles. As a result of restrictions by the authorities along the Western Balkans route to the admission of refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, tensions have been rising at Idomeni, on the Greek side of the border, in recent days. These tensions have lead on several occasions to violence and a temporary closure of the border."

Migrant electrocuted at Greek-FYROM border (ekathimerini.com, link): "A man believed to be from Morocco has died on the Greek-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) border, electrocuted after touching high-power overhead railway cables when he climbed on top of a train carriage. Other migrants lowered the man's severely burned body to the ground and covered it with a sheet, and a volunteer doctor in the area confirmed the man had died. The doctor hurried away before giving his name."

Tusk's 'concerted action doesn't make sense' (DW, kink): "In interviews with several European newspapers, European Council President Donald Tusk called for a u-turn in European refugee policy. How helpful are his remarks in finding a much-needed compromise? "

Turkey must release detained asylum seekers and stop sending them back to Syria (GUE press release, link) and GUE/NGL MEPs shocked at undignified conditions of refugees in Calais (GUE, link)

Number of migrants reaching Europe dips but 1 mln in sight for year - UN (Reuters, link)

Is migration the elephant in the room? (IRIN, kink): "The migration crisis that has preoccupied Europe for the last six months has highlighted how unprepared one of the richest continents in the world is to deal with what lies ahead as climate change steals away livelihoods, multiplies weather-related disasters and aggravates many of the socio-economic problems that drive conflict."

The Czech cabinet should speed up the drafting of laws enhancing the protection of the border and inhabitants against illegal migrants and it should promote the formation of an international coalition to fight terrorism and to maximally support forces fighting IS, the Senate said on Wednesday. (Prague Monitor, link)

Sweden mulls bid to close bridge to Denmark (The Local.se, link): "The Swedish government wants to be able to close the road bridge connecting Sweden to Denmark if the country's record refugee influx continues, according to a legislative proposal."

Italy: Over 1,500 boat migrants rescued off Libya (The Local.it, link): "Over 1,500 migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast in seven separate operations, the Italian navy said on Thursday, after a break in bad weather sparked fresh attempts at the perilous Mediterranean crossing."

EU- Hungary: Secret pact on taking in Syrian refugees (PM, link): "Regarding mandatory resettlement quotas, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán expects to see a “secret background agreement” to be revealed in the next few days, based on which the European Union would take in some 400–500 thousand Syrian refugees."

EU: BORDERS: Sealing off Europe: Council Presidency proposals for protecting the "integrity of the Schengen area"

- Council Presidency issues proposals to "prepare debate" at JHA Council meeting on 3 and 4 December
- Smart borders discussions rumble on in background

A Frontex operation should be set up in northern Greece, identity controls within the Schengen area should be increased and the Council should call for the reintroduction of border controls in "one or more" unnamned Schengen states, according to proposals from the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU.

See: Note from: the Presidency to: Permanent Representatives Committee (Part 2)/Council, Integrity of the Schengen area, 14300/15, 1 December 2015 (pdf)

And: SMART BORDERS: Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee, Summary of discussions, 13193/15, 17 November 2015 (pdf)

EU-ITALY: Statewatch Briefing: The Italian Roadmap 2015 Hotspots, readmissions, asylum procedures and the re-opening of detention centres (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico

The following is an annotated translation of the Italian Roadmap produced on 28 September 2015, which also refers to eight attachments which are not available. By way of introduction, it is worth noting that it illustrates the Italian Interior Ministry’s position and plan for reception of migrants and refugees in the context of the current crisis in late September. Some preliminary comments are in order, including:

  • The absence of any reference to access to legal representation or a right of appeal for those deemed “irregular” and/or excluded from the relocation and/or asylum procedures or those for the granting of international protection.
  • The great plans for “relocations” appear increasingly uncertain and have currently stalled, considering the number of places offered by Member States to date, as reported by the Commission on 24 November 2015, which have been stuck at the figure of 3,216 (out of 160,000) for two weeks.
  • In the section on forced returns and cooperation with third countries, the document refers to both the “more for more” principle and the “laissez-passer” travel document procedure, both of which were dropped due to opposition by African states in the Valletta Conference on 11-12 November 2015
  • Contributions pledged by member states for the Africa Trust Fund, which the Roadmap (p. 13) describes as potentially useful for the purpose of setting up and implanting an AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) in third countries in Africa, are well below the required levels, as reported by the Commission on 27 November 2015

EU: Will aid stop migration?

The EU has announced a €350 million aid package described as "the single biggest EU measure in response to the Syrian refugee crisis to date," which will fund programmes aimed at helping "up to 1.5 million Syrian refugees and overstretched host communities in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq."

According to a Commission document, the fund has "two main strategic objectives" - to "stabilise the overstretched host countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)" and "reduce the pull factors and root causes of the migration crisis (in the entire region)".

EU: HOTSPOTS: « Hotspots » and « processing centres »: The new forms of the European policy of sorting, encampment and outsourcing of exiles (pdf)

Public meeting in Calais, France on 12 December: "the « hotspots » terminology (especially for Italy and Greece) and « processing centre » (in Niger in particular) have become the new keywords in the European institutions’ communication. Activists and researchers gathered in Calais will exchange views both on these projects and the effects which can already be observed in a number of regions declared as “front lines” of the fight against the so-called illegal emigration. Participants from Greece, Turkey, Italy and Niger will share their experiences and analysis in order to strengthen the defence of human rights and the collective struggles in favour of freedom of movement in Calais, Europe and beyond."

French: « Hotspots » et « processing centres » : Les nouveaux habits de la politique européenne d’encampement, d’externalisation et de tri des exilé•e•s (Migreurop, link)

News (2.12.15)

Child drowns as refugee boat tries to reach Greek shores (ekathimerini, link): "A 4-year-old child was reported drowned in the early hours of Tuesday as she and 28 fellow passengers tried to swim to the shore of Rho, a small islet off the coast of Kastellorizo in the southeastern Aegean."

Children Account for 20% of Maritime Arrivals to Europe in 2015: IOM and UNICEF (IOM, link): "A new data brief produced by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre and UNICEF shows that children make up at least one in five of the 870,000 refugees and migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea so far this year.

The share is greatest along the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece and through the Western Balkans, where children make up over one quarter of arrivals. About 10 per cent of arrivals to Italy are children, with nearly three quarters unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.

Children are among the most vulnerable of the migrants and refugees travelling to Europe. More than one third of all deaths in the Aegean Sea this year have been of children, many of them infants."

CROATIA: Once a Refugee, Now a Helping Hand (UNHCR, link): "Some of the humanitarian workers, volunteers and police officers were refugees themselves 24 years ago. Then war raged across the Balkans. In Croatia they still remember the help they received from UNHCR when they themselves fled in search of safety."

Dispatches: Risks of the EU-Turkey Migration Deal (Human Rights Watch, link): "Asylum seekers fleeing most countries today cannot obtain effective refugee protection in Turkey. Syrians are given only temporary protection, and Afghans and Iraqis don’t receive even that. Preventing people from travelling to the EU will deny protection to many people who need it. Given the Turkish police force’s reputation for using excessive force, there is a risk that Turkey will use abusive tactics to prevent people from reaching its EU neighbors Greece and Bulgaria."

European Parliament press release: Permanent relocation scheme and list of safe countries of origin: state of play (pdf): "Two legislative proposals to tackle the migration and refugee crisis, one on a permanent mechanism for relocating people in need of international protection among EU member states under extreme pressure and another on an EU common list of safe countries of origin, were debated by the Civil Liberties Committee with the EU Commission, Council of Ministers, European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) on Tuesday afternoon."

European Union Naval Force Mediterranean SOPHIA: Press release 04/15: First Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) meeting for the Mediterranean Sea (pdf): "Since the EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia launch, last 22nd of June, 43 people have been reported to the Italian Authorities as suspect smugglers and 46 boats have been removed from illegal organizations’ availability while the EU Task Force contributed to save more than 5700 people."

Flow of refugee and migrant children into Greece doubles, UN agencies report (UN News Centre, link): "About a third of the refugees and migrants who have drowned in the Aegean Sea this year were children, while the number of children applying for asylum in the European Union has doubled compared to 2014, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today, warning of the increasing perils facing youngsters as winter takes hold."

Number of migrants reaching Europe dips but 1 million in sight for year: U.N. (Reuters, link): " An estimated 140,000 refugees and migrants reached Europe by sea in November, a big drop from October, although the numbers crossing remain very high and could reach 1 million for the year, the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday."

Syrian refugees expected to face mental health challenges (Toronto Sun, link): "Refugees are at a high-risk for mental health issues and often suffer spiked rates of depression and substance abuse, Canadian experts say.

Dr. Kwame McKenzie, a psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, says challenges for newcomers often stretch far beyond post-traumatic stress disorder following time in war zones or refugee camps."

Turkey Detains Hundreds of Asylum Seekers (AJ+ on Facebook, link to video): "The EU offered Turkey lots of cash to stem the flow of people entering Europe. Hours later, Turkey detained 1,300 refugees and migrants."

GREECE-TURKEY: PRESS RELEASE: No More Lives Lost in the Aegan Sea! (pdf)

"The undersigned organizations call on the EU and the Greek Government:

• to develop sufficient and effective resettlement programmes for refugees from third countries to the territory of European countries
• to develop refugee relocation programmes from Greece to other EU countries under which there will be significant increase in both the number of refugees relocated and the eligible countries of origin
• to offer to Greece the financial and technical support needed
• to remove the fence from the Greek-Turkish border and in any case to take all the necessary steps to ensure safe access to the land Greek-Turkey border for people entitled to international protection
• to take all the necessary steps so that the people entitled to international protection entering Greek territory are enjoying appropriate reception conditions that respect foremost human dignity."

Signed by AITMA, ARSIS, Network for the Social Support of Immigrants and Refugees, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greek Forum of Refugees, PRAKSIS, Initiative for Detainees' Rights.

News (1.12.15)

EU: Aktuality.sk: Slovakian Prime Minister urged to exclude Greece from Schengen area (Focus, link): "Greece should leave the Schengen area, Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico urged, cited by Aktuality.sk. “It is high time to do so,” he said in Brussels, where he participated in the extraordinary meeting of EU leaders and their Turkish counterpart. “We cannot tolerate one of the countries openly to refuse to fulfil its obligations under the protection of the Schengen borders. In such a situation, the Schengen area is useless,” Fico said.""

EU: Asylum seeker reception: Dignified standards must be maintained across the EU (EurActiv, link): "With unprecedented numbers of refugees arriving in Europe, we must do more to guarantee their safety and dignity, and help them to integrate into European society, writes Denis Haveaux."

Europe split over refugee deal as Germany leads breakaway coalition (The Guardian, link): "Months of European efforts to come up with common policies on mass immigration unravelled on Sunday when Germany led a “coalition of the willing” of nine EU countries taking in most refugees from the Middle East, splitting the union formally on the issues of mandatory refugee-sharing and funding."

GERMANY: CDU and CSU increase refugee pressure on Merkel and SPD (Deutsche Welle, link): "The domestic policy spokesman for Germany's conservative parliamentary parties can imagine a scenario in which authorities turn back refugees at the border. The timing of his comments is presumably not coincidental."

GREECE: Migrant wave unabated as EU makes deal with Turkey (ekathimerini, link): "Thousands of migrants arrived on Greek islands on Monday, just a day after Turkey pledged to help curb an influx of people heading through its territory to Europe via Greece at a landmark European Union summit.

After a lull of a few days, the number of arrivals picked up again over the weekend with more than 5,000 people arriving on Lesvos alone in the past two days, fueling concern among authorities who remain ill-equipped to handle the influx."

ICELAND: Will Iceland leave Schengen? (Iceland Monitor, link): "The question whether Iceland should remain a member of the borderless Schengen Area has been at the heart of a growing debate in the country following the migrant crisis in Europe and the terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Both the President and Prime Minister of Iceland are among those who have in recent weeks aired doubts about the country's membership of the cooperation."

Turkey arrests 1,300 asylum seekers after £2bn EU border control deal (The Guardian, link): "Turkey has stepped up a crackdown on people smuggling, arresting 1,300 asylum seekers in a single operation just hours after the country promised to curb the flow of refugees to Greece in exchange for financial aid from the EU."

UK: Refugee who fled horrors of Syrian war faces being DEPORTED from his new home in Britain (Mirror, link): "Yousef Hassan, 20, sought safety in the UK after leaving behind the deadly Syrian conflict - but now he could be sent to Italy"

EU-TURKEY: Talking Turkey: €3 billion to control migration

In the days leading up to the EU-Turkey summit that EU Council President Tusk said would "change the rules of the game when it comes to stemming the migration flow," the Commission issued its Decision on the project's funding: the €3 billion "Refugee Facility for Turkey" (pdf).

The Facility is supposed to be funded with €500 million from the EU and €2.5 billion from the Member States, and has the aim:

"to assist Turkey in addressing the immediate humanitarian and development needs of the refugees and their host communities, national and local authorities in managing and addressing the consequences of the inflow of refugees."

See also: Mülteci-Der (Association for Solidarity with Refugees): Put an end to the dirty deal and respect the human rights at the EU-Turkey summit on 29 November, 2015! (pdf): "We denounce this dirty deal over the lives of refugees. We say that no political, economical or social argument could be more precious than human lives. We call the EU and Turkish leaders to terminate this dirty deal at today's summit, to respect human rights and human honour in all their policies and practices and to be transparent in their negotiations and in their asylum/migration policies/practices."

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