October


October 2015

LESVOS, GREECE: We are lfieguards and we are saving lives (link): "We are Proactiva Open Arms, a NGO from Badalona (Barcelona, Spain) and we are dedicated to saving lives in the sea. In the beginning of September we decided to move to the Island of Lesvos to help the refugees that arrive to the Greek coast."

Grcka je hot-spot za izbjeglice, a mi privremeno utocište (slobodnadalmacija.hr, link) [Greece is a hotspot for refugees, and we have temporary shelter]

"According to Ranko Ostoji, Croatian Minister of Intenior, during a statement at the press (30 October 2015), there will be only a hot Spot Greece, while the other Balkan countries have the task to provide a temporary home to people crossing their territory. Applicants to be returned will be evicted and those who have refugee status will be let in to go to countries of the EU.[machine translation] Comment: How "temporary" will be "temporary"? The Minister is describing a "hotspot".

News (30.10.15 - 1.11.15)

Greece: As More Children Drown, Volunteers on Lesbos Say Rescues Are Left Largely to Them (INYT, link)

Health cards to be given to refugees landing in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece plans to provide refugees and migrants arriving in the country with a health card, a senior public official said on Saturday. Speaking to Praktoreio FM, General Secretary for Public Health Yiannis Baskozos said the cards would be handed out to each new arrival. “We have decided there should be a health card that will include the basic results of health tests that are carried out and which will be useful for them when they move about within the country or across borders and for their reallocation to other countries,” he said, adding that the cards would be available in around a month." and Six infants drown as migrant boat capsizes off Samos (ekathimerini.com, link): "Eleven migrants including six infants drowned when their boat capsized off the Greek island of Samos, trapping most of them in the cabin, the coast guard said on Sunday. Fifteen others were rescued when the six-meter boat sank in the early hours near the coast of the Aegean island."

German coalition fails to resolve rift on refugees (The Local.de, link): "Germany's ruling coalition failed at crunch talks Sunday to resolve major differences over the country's refugees policy as it braces for the biggest influx since World War II."

Germany restricts refugee access from Austria (The Local.at, link): "Germany said on Friday that asylum seekers would only be able to enter the country at five points along its border with Austria to better control a mass influx."

Europe’s fear of Muslim refugees echoes rhetoric of 1930s anti-Semitism (Washington Post, link): "Over the past year, many in Europe have bristled at the influx -- from far-right political movements and fear-mongering tabloids to established politicians and leaders. The resentment has to do, in part, with the burden of coping with the refugees. But it's also activated a good amount of latent xenophobia--leading to anti-Islam protests, attacks on asylum centers and a good deal of bigoted bluster."

Italy to relocate 100 refugees to France, Spain - immigration chief (Reuters, link) "Italy will send 100 refugees to France and Spain next week as part of a European Union relocation plan aimed at easing the burden on border states, the country's top immigration official said on Friday.... Only Eritreans, Syrians and Iraqis, whose asylum requests have a high rate of acceptance, qualify to be relocated, according to the plan."

Germany: Passau: A border town at the limit (DW, link): "Politicians call it "chaos," the media call it an "onslaught." But Passau's aid workers and police hardly complain. Despite the immense strain, they're managing the ongoing refugee crisis, reports Nemanja Rujevic"

Austria: Racism forces Erasmus student back to UK (The Local.at, link): "A black British student doing an Erasmus year in Salzburg says he left after just three weeks after experiencing “more racism and discrimination than [in his] entire life in London”"

Hundreds of refugees disappear in Germany (The Local.de, link): "Around 700 of the 4,000 refugees who have been housed in Lower Saxony over the past week have gone missing and authorities mostly have no idea who or where they are."

Bulgarian Authorities Detain 495 Illegal Immigrants, 16 Human Smugglers (novinite.com, link): "Bulgarian authorities detained 495 illegally residing foreigners and sixteen human smugglers during a large-scale joint operation of the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for Security (DANS) carried across the country. llowing the operation, actions have been taken against 525 people accused of committing crimes against the political rights of citizens. A total of 2749 police officers from all regional departments of the interior ministry across the country participated in the operation. During the operation, the authorities carried out checks on 2895 sites, 12 820 people and 5987 vehicles, the press service of the interior ministry informs."

EU: Another step after months and months of dithering: Entropy or incompetence? IPCR (Integrated Political Crisis Response) is the joint responsibility of the European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS): Council of the European Union Press release: 30 October: Migratory crisis: EU Council Presidency steps up information sharing between member states by activating IPCR (pdf):

"The EU Integrated Political Crisis Response arrangements (IPCR) reinforce the European Union's ability to take rapid decisions when facing major crises requiring a response at EU political level."

See: Finalisation of the CCA review process: the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) arrangement (2013, pdf)

"Some major emergencies or crises, of internal and/or external origin are of such a wideranging impact or political significance, that they require timely policy coordination and response at EU political level. This could result from the number of affected or involved Member States, or the cross-sectorial nature of the crisis, the imminence thereof, or from time constraints, or a combination of these factors...."  [emphasis added]

and: Concept Note on "Arrangements for Crisis Coordination at EU political level (2012, pdf):

"whether the CCA [EU Emergency and Crisis Coorination Arrangement] in its current configuration is the politically and strategically agile tool required by the EU as a whole to respond quickly and adequately to a serious crisis situation; as appropriate, develop proposals that incorporate all relevant EU level actors and crisis coordination tools...." [emphasis added]

IOM Mediterranean Update (link): Number of arrivals: 724,228, with 579,642 in Greece and 140,636 in Italy (30 October):

"With the latest tragic drownings in the Aegean on Wednesday and Thursday—along with four new deaths reported today off Spain—IOM now estimates that the total number of migrant deaths on Mediterranean sea routes to Europe have surpassed 3,329 in the first ten months of 2015."

Greece: Death toll in migrant boat shipwrecks rises to 22 (ekathimerini.com, link): "At least 22 people drowned in two new shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea Friday as thousands of Middle Eastern refugees and economic migrants sought to reach the Greek islands in rough seas, while the death toll over the past three days has reached nearly 50."

Tsipras slams EU response to migrant crisis as death toll rises (ekathimerini.com, link): With frightening picture of a refugee boad listing: "At least 22 migrants, among them 13 children, drowned overnight when two boats sank off the islands of Kalymnos and Rhodes, Greek port officials said on Friday. The latest drownings prompted a sharp response from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who said he felt "shame" over Europe's failure to prevent the tragedies."Our first duty is to save lives and not to allow the Aegean to become a cemetery... for that we are not asking for even a euro" from our European partners, he said."

Tsipras says level of EU debate on migrants is 'sad' ((ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras slammed on Friday the level of debate among European Union governments in dealing with the migrant crisis as 'sad' for a lack of cohesive action in dealing with the crisis. "I feel shamed as a member of this European leadership, both for the inability of Europe in dealing with this human drama, and for the level of debate at a senior level, where one is passing the buck to the other," Tsipras told Parliament.

"These are hypocritical, crocodile tears which are being shed for the dead children on the shores of the Aegean. Dead children always incite sorrow, But what about the children that are alive who come in thousands and are stacked on the streets? Nobody likes them."

Tsipras: Unlike Hungary, Athens will help resolve the refugee crisis ((euractiv, link): "Greece will help the EU tackle the refugee crisis, despite certain member states’ unwillingness to contribute, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday (29 October)... Referring to the latest tragedy, the premier said it was a “humanitarian duty” to address the situation.,,, The Greek leader believes that the EU border agency Frontex should be reinforced, and reacted strongly to recent suggestions that Greece conduct joint patrols with Turkey in the Aegean."

News (30.10.15)

Desperate calling from Lesbos (Video: YouTube, link): Where are the EU & international aid agencies? "Eric Kempson calls to the world and the UNHCR to come to Lesbos and take their responsibilty in preventing a human disaster on European grounds."

PM Orbán: Europe’s Peoples Are Beginning To Awake (hungarytoday.hu, link): "The Prime Minister also called attention to the fact that the European Union’s refugee quota system, which has been opposed by Hungary fom the outset, “has grown into an even greater danger” with the will to turn the distribution of new arrivals into a permanent mechanism.”This we utterly reject”, Mr. Orbán insisted. He said that the “invasion” of migrants is propelled by two factors, the “business” of human trafficking networks and activists who “support everything that weakens nation states”.

Orbán aide calls US criticism 'downright irritating' (euractiv, link): "Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's chief of staff on Thursday (29 October) rejected criticism of the Hungarian government by the US ambassador to Budapest, saying her remarks amounted to interference in Hungary's affairs."

It’s up to Europe to show the way towards global refugee policies (http://europesworld.org, link): "Europe must welcome those fleeing from conflict zones by raising resettlement quotas, issuing more humanitarian visas and extending Temporary Protective Status to citizens of countries in distress. We must also ask what policies we want to put in place to better prepare us for such challenges in future. Put simply, we need a comprehensive approach that covers all facets of contemporary mobility." and Europe’s refugee crisis: the good, the bad and the ugly (link): "Harrowing images, heart-wrenching headlines and the grim reality on the different “fronts” in the crisis – the Mediterranean sea, the scene of many shipwrecks and deaths, the Western Balkans where desperate refugees are using land routes to reach Europe and Calais where thousands are stuck in a no-man’s land between France and Britain – reveal a Europe in disarray. Certainly, the crisis has brought out the worst in Europe. But – at least in some cases – it has also brought out the best."

Lesbos volunteer tells of 'huge amount of trauma' as refugee boats capsize (Guardian, link): "Children among the dead after vessels sink in bad weather off Greek island, which is short of clothing and blankets for survivors"

Czech police leave for Hungary to protect Schengen border (Prague Post, link)

Populist, Pernicious and Perilous : Germany's Growing Hate Problem (Spiegel Online, link): "Even as Germany has welcomed its refugees, another, uglier side has been festering with the return of the anti-Muslim Pegida movement. The threat posed by the far-right has the potential to spiral out of control."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Zeman: Most refugees do not deserve compassion (Prague Post, link)

Slovakia: Fico: Inflow of migrants raises security risks (Prague Post, link): "Slovak prime minister says migrants are linked to terrorist groups. Europe is faced with a growing security risk as the influx of migrants to the continent has been increasing despite all expectations, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today."

Czechs may accept Christian refugees from Iraq (Prague Post, link)

Pressure on Merkel grows over refugees (The Local.de, link): "Demands are growing for Chancellor Angela Merkel to do more to limit the number of refugees entering the country ahead of an emergency summit of coalition government leaders at the weekend."

Worsening weather brings more tragedy to eastern Aegean (UNHCR, link)

Czech police officers to help reinforce Hungarian border (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "Fifty Czech police officers yesterday left for Hungary to help it guard the Schengen border for one month and their mission will cost the country about 10 million crowns. The participants were chosen from 400 police officers from all parts of the country who wanted to join the mission."

The Next Wave: Afghans Flee To Europe in Droves (Spiegel Online, link): "As the situation in Afghanistan becomes ever more chaotic, an increasing number of Afghans are heading towards Europe. But as one family's story shows, the trip often ends in tragedy."

DENMARK: Danes more relaxed about refugee influx (The Copenhagen Post, link)

DENMARK: Man photographed spitting on refugees charged with racism (The Copenhagen Post, link)

German Vice Chancellor Gabriel condemns infighting over refugee crisis (Deutsche Welle, link)

GREECE: As More Children Drown, Volunteers on Greek Island Say Rescues Are Left Largely to Them (New York Times, link)

GREECE: Migrant tragedy in Greek seas shows dangers as winter nears (AP, link)

Italy aims to allow force on migrants who refuse photo ID (Gazzetta del Sud, link): "The Italian government aims to introduce rules that will allow the use of force on migrants who refuse to undergo photo identification procedures, an official from the Interior Ministry's Department of Public Security told a parliamentary commission on Thursday"

Macedonia Refugee Camp Braces for Winter (Balkan Insight, link)

Risk of refugees freezing to death: Bavarian police (The Local, link)

Restore sense of community on migrants says Mattarella (Gazzetta del Sud, link)

SWEDEN: Wallstroem: Sweden Democrats to blame for fires at asylum accommodation (EUobserver, link)

"The Europe We Want!" Refugee crisis: Here’s a ‘to do list’ for the refugee crisis from Strasbourg’s human rights watchdogs (europesworld.org, link): by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights: "Migration is the most controversial issue in Europe of this decade. It is creating new divisions between European countries and is feeding the widespread euroscepticism that far-right political movements have so promptly exploited...."

ECRE/AIDA: The new asylum procedure at the border and restrictions to accessing protection in Hungary (pdf):

"increasing pressure has triggered a series of changes in the Hungarian asylum system which raises multiple legal and policy concerns. At the same time, Hungary appears to be a transit country for a large number, if not most, of refugees and asylum seekers arriving there, who seek to continue their journey towards other European countries....

the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has sought to gain an in-depth understanding of the new border procedure applied at the Hungarian border and the conditions facing asylum seekers in the new transit zones. This enquiry is followed by an assessment of the treatment afforded to persons who enter the country irregularly, as well as by a discussion on the broader effects of the recent restrictions imposed by Hungary for refugees seeking protection in Europe "

Sweden to keep shelters for asylum seekers secret (euractiv, link): "The Swedish Migration Agency has decided to keep the locations of refugee housing facilities secret, following 21 being torched since March.

Yesterday, the municipality of Danderyd, a town located north of Stockholm, announced that a new residence for 70 asylum seekers will be opened in November, in facilities that previously belonged to a public school. But around 2AM this morning (28 October), the building was set alight. On Tuesday (27 October), a building that was meant to be used for refugee accommodations in Färingtofta, in southern Sweden, was likewise destroyed in an arson attack.

In order to prevent more fires, the Migration Agency has decided to make it harder for the public to locate the addresses of planned homes for asylum seekers. This means that 66,000 residences will be kept a secret. "The level of security has deteriorated and it's worrying with all these fires. We will keep the residences a secret so that they won't become common knowledge," said Willis Åberg, operations manager at the Migration Agency, according to Radio Sweden" [emphasis in original].

EU naval anti-smuggler operation “not working”, needs intervention in Libya: French admiral (Libya Herald, link):

"The EU naval operation to clamp down on illegal migrant crossings from Libya is not working, according to its deputy commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean. The only way to stop the flow, he said in Rome yesterday, was by going to Libyan territory, both the country’s inshore waters and on land and hitting the smuggler networks.

“The operation will only be effective when we can work close to the networks, go after the big fish not the little ones who go out to sea,” he said.

In the three week since it started, the operation, codenamed Sophia and designed to arrest the smugglers and seize their boats them had not done so at all so far, the French rear admiral admitted."

Greece: Lesvos: Death Toll Still Rising!! 29/10/2015 (Youtube, link) by Eric Kempson, heart-rending report

News (29.10.15)

Dutch king calls for calm on migration - Rise in threats to politicians leads to royal intervention. (politico, link): "The Dutch king on Wednesday called for sensible debate on migration as the Netherlands faced a surge in violence and intimidation.... In recent days, the country has seen rising anti-migrant sentiment and political shouting matches. The parliamentary chairman of the liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was sent a bullet in the mail, and a far-left politician’s car was set on fire on Tuesday night."

Migrants' hardship continues (DW, link): "As winter approaches, refugee camps in Croatia and Slovenia are still struggling to provide shelter and medical supplies for all. Helpers are now treating women and children first. But quick solutions are needed to avoid a humanitarian disaster "

Lesbos braces for winter as refugees keep coming (DW, link): "On Lesbos, the numbers of refugees coming continue to rise, despite the weather. Omaira Gill reports from the Greek island where even the cemetery is overwhelmed by new arrivals from across the sea."

More than 1,000 migrants rescued off coast of Libya: Italian coast guard (DW, link): "Ships from several different EU countries have participated in a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the vessels were part of the bloc's new anti-smuggling operation."

EU Commission president and Austrian Chancellor unite against fences in Europe (DW, link): "European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann have warned that fences are not welcome in the EU. Shortly before, Vienna suggested building a barrier on its Slovenian border."

Seven children die after migrant boats sink off Greece (.ekathimerini.com, link): "Amnesty International's Deputy Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said it was “obscene that European leaders allowed such a chain of tragedies on its shores”.

As Migrants Flow In, More Europeans Question Open Borders (npr, link)

Bavarian allies heap pressure on Merkel over refugees (euractiv, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under intense pressure for her handling of the refugee crisis on Wednesday (28 October), with her Bavarian allies warning of a coalition crisis unless she limits a record influx of migrants. The Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), have been outspoken in their criticism of her "open doors" policy towards asylum seekers, in part because their home state of Bavaria is the entry point for virtually all of the migrants arriving in Germany."

Austria says won't close border, still plans small fence (euobserver, lkink): "Austria tried on Wednesday (28 October) to alleviate concerns over its plan to erect a fence on its border with Slovenia, the first such plan between two Schengen countries. In a phone call in the afternoon, Austrian chancellor Werner Fayman and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker agreed that "fences have no place in Europe," the Commission said. "There is no fence with Hungary and no fence with Slovenia," Fayman said later on Austria's ORF TV channel."

Germany cracks down on Afghan migrants (politico, link): "Merkel’s government claims deportations will rise “significantly.”... While there are calls for more Afghans to be deported — Germany, after all, has been part of the coalition trying to make their homeland safe — critics of the policy say that Afghanistan is not secure enough for people to be sent back. Based on the number of refugees “both this month, as well as over the course of 2015, Afghanistan ranks number two in the list of countries of origin of refugees – that’s unacceptable,” German Interior Minister Thomas De Maizière told journalists Wednesday." and "Austrian interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, has called for the same “Fortress Europe” Orbán wants. “The current situation in Slovenia, Austria or Germany proves that we need to build on a Fortress Europe as soon as possible. We need a controlled access to Europe…” (politico)

Refugee crisis: The map that shows how Europe is becoming a fortress to keep people out (The Independent, link)

Withheld EU report raps Turkey on rights, media, justice (Reuters, link)

EU naval anti-smuggler operation “not working”, needs intervention in Libya: French admiral (Libya Herald, link)

Unravelling the Drivers behind EU Border Militarization (Border Criminologies, link)

EU: Civil protection mechanism activated at last? EU struggles with migration edicts (politico, link): "Greece recoils at demands to “create a ghetto for 50,000 refugees.” and see: EU Civil Protection Mechanism (link)

Greece may seek EU help to meet migration pledges (ekathimerini.com, link): "Sources told Kathimerini that authorities were mulling a request that the European Union’s civil protection mechanism be activated to help Greece meet the targets. The mechanism coordinates the bloc’s humanitarian aid efforts, channeling financial support and sending specially equipped teams to disaster areas.

“We had been prepared for 2,500 places – not for 20,000 in two months and another 20,000 via the rent-assistance program,” a source who wished to remain anonymous told the newspaper."

Opening remarks by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Maison de la Paix, Geneva: Lessons from the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Towards New Global Coordination 27 October 2015 (Full-text, pdf)

and see: Derogatory speech against migrants can lead to murders, UN official warns (euractiv, link): "Politicians who use derogatory language about refugees and migrants may be responsible for causing violence and racism, UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein warned yesterday (27 October). "Once you classify people along lines such that they pose a threat - that these are 'hordes', that we are being 'invaded', that there are 'swarms' of people coming, you have started the process of dehumanizing them as we know from history," he said." and U.N.'s Zeid says politicians' anti-migrant rhetoric can be deadly (Reuters, link)

Frontex begins testing accelerated registration process in Lesbos (link)

"Frontex began testing a new accelerated process of identifying and registering migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos today. The entire process takes place at a mobile office, set up as part of the implementation of the “hotspot” approach. Inside, a team composed of two Frontex guest officers works together with Greek authorities to register migrants and provide them with information on international protection.

More than 35 people, including several Syrian families, have already passed through the new facilities established by Frontex in Moria, where they were registered and had their fingerprints scanned electronically with a Eurodac device. At the end of the process, a European Asylum Support Office (EASO) official explained the possibility of requesting international protection and the relocation mechanism." [emphasis added]

News (28.10.15)

Over 700,000 migrants reached Europe's shores in 2015: UN (Yahoo News, link): "More than 700,000 refugees and migrants have reached Europe's Mediterranean shores so far this year, amid the continent's worst migration crisis since World War II, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday. Some 562,355 people desperately fleeing war and misery reached Greece's shores, while around 140,000 arrived in Italy this year. Taking into account arrivals in other European countries, the total number of people landing on the continent's shores was more than 705,200, the UN said."

Slovenia expects German police help with migrants from Wednesday (Reuters, link): "The pledge of 400 extra border guards from other European Union states was made at a meeting on Sunday of EU and Balkan leaders that agreed 17 steps to share the burden of the biggest migration crisis to hit Europe since World War Two. Sefic said the 400 would come from Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain and France. Eight Austrian police officers arrived earlier to assist Slovenia"

Austria in border disputes with Slovenia and Bavaria (euobserver, link): "Austria threatened on Tuesday (27 October) to erect "technical barriers" at its border with Slovenia, and has been accused of waving migrants on to Germany's Bavaria region, which itself threatened to close its border with Austria.... She said the government would take "special building measures" to strengthen the border. A government paper leaked in Austrian media later on Tuesday mentioned "solid, technical barriers several kilometers on the left and right of the border crossing". "The point is to provide a controlled approach," the document added." and Austria plans border fence with Slovenia (DW, link) "Vienna has said it will erect a barrier along its border with fellow EU member Slovenia. The Austrian interior minister says up to 8,000 migrants have been crossing daily." and Austria accused of waving through refugees into Bavaria (euractiv, link)

Calais : un chauffeur ayant percuté quatre migrants activement recherché par la police (nordlittoral.fr, link):[A driver collided with four migrants injuring three and killing one.The migrants were walking along the side of the road in Calais around midnight when the accident happened. The police are still looking for the driver.]

Europe’s right-wing “civil war” against refugees (ROARMAG, link)

FRANCE: Refugee crisis: Story of two Syrian men who died trying to swim to England (The Independent, link)

French, Britons more hesitant about migrants than Germans (EUobserver, link)

Frontex to strengthen operations in Greece and launch additional activities on land borders (Frontex, link)

Refugee spending to be exempt from EU deficit rules (EUobserver, link)

Russian attacks trigger refugee exodus from Syria (Irish Times, link)

Spain tests new refugee reception plan (EurActiv, link)

Refugees could promote anti-Semitism, Jewish group says (euobserver, link): "The Central Council of Jews in Germany warned German chancellor Merkel Tuesday refugees could stoke anti-Semitic feeling in Germany because they "come from countries in which Israel is viewed as the enemy”"

Understanding Migration and Asylum in the European Union (Open Society Foundations, link)

Germany drafts bill to ease bank account access for homeless, refugees (Dw, link): "A proposed law from the German government would mandate banks to provide universal access to basic bank accounts. The law would particularly affect homeless people and refugees."

Dispatches: On Board a Rescue Boat in the Aegean (HRW, link)

Sweden's new migrant restrictions will not be in place before 2016 (euractiv, link): "New rules aimed at tightening Sweden's migration policies to discourage further asylum seekers from seeking to enter the country will not come into force until at least next year, and possibly 2017, according to the Ministry for Justice and Migration."

Spain tests new refugee reception plan (euractiv, link): "In a first screening exercise (to select possible candidates for asylum), Spanish authorities will work on the basis of specific profiles, taking into consideration whether immigrants are willing to stay and live in Spain, or just want to temporarily settle in the Iberian country, and then continue their journey to northern Europe and stay there."

AUSTRIA-European Commission: Proposal for a COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of Return by Austria (LIMITE doc, pdf):

"Austria should:

(1) improve the collection and provision of data and statistics in the field of return policy...

(3) review the current law and practice as regards the procedural rights and treatment of unaccompanied minors belonging to various age-groups to make the rules clearer both for the minors and for staff dealing with them in the return procedure.

(4) bring the rules on the maximum period of detention fully in line with the return acquis (the maximum period should not exceed 18 months)...

(7) make the facilities and detention regime at Rossauer Lände and Hernalser Gürtel more suitable for detaining irregular migrants; ensure that the open regime is the general rule (and consider the amendment of the PAZ centres’ in-house rules accordingly) and that detainees in solitary confinement are not denied the right to visits and outdoor exercise.

(8) find a more appropriate solution for holding returnees in pre-removal detention that have special medical needs either in ordinary hospitals or in suitably equipped specialised detention centres for returnees.

(9) review the monitoring system to allow for monitoring of the in-flight phase when commercial flights are used for forced returns..."

EU-Afghanistan: the EU is trying to "return" refugess there: See: Foreign Affairs Council (26.10.15): Adopted Conclusions (link) include:

"The European Union stands firm in its commitment to Afghanistan and its people in this critical phase. The past months have seen a serious security situation, renewed terrorist attacks with record numbers of civilian casualties, and the concomitant internal displacement and exodus of thousands of Afghans, putting mounting pressure on the region and the European Union."

News (27.10.15)

Hungary: Greece Must Apply The “Hungarian Model” To Tackle Immigration Crisis (Hungary Today, link): "Hungary’s foreign minister has proposed for the “Hungarian model” to be applied in Greece because the immigration situation is “unmanageable” without the protection of the European Union’s external borders. Speaking on the state-run Kossuth Rádió and all-news channel M1 on Tuesday morning, Péter Szijjártó also blasted the EU for “hypocritically” failing to launch proceedings against Greece."

Calais: Hunt for driver after refugee hit-and-run (The Local.fr, link): "A refugee was killed and three others injured after a car knocked them down in a hit-and-run in Calais, northern France. Police are hunting for the driver who remains on the run."

NGOs fear that development funds are getting spent on barbed wire (euractiv, link): "While EU ministers met yesterday (26 October) in Luxembourg to discuss “policy coherence” for development, NGOs expressed concerns that EU monies are increasingly being spent on border security, rather than fighting poverty and inequality."

Greek Minister Rejects Criticism Over Allowing Transit of Migrants (WSJ, link): "In interview, Yiannis Mouzalas criticizes Europe’s slow response to influx... “Greece can guard its borders perfectly and has been doing so for thousands of years, but against its enemies. The refugees are not our enemies,” Yiannis Mouzalas said in an interview.... “In practice what lies behind the accusation is the desire to repel the migrants,” said Mr. Mouzalas. “Our job when they are in our territorial sea is to rescue them, not [let them] drown or repel them.”"

We are watching the death of open frontiers in Europe (Daily Telegraph, link): "The endless wave of migrants - for which we have utterly failed to prepare - will unleash extremist politics throughout the Continent "

Balkan migrant route plan full of caveats (euobserver, link)

1990s Albanian Refugee Route Could Reopen (Balkan Insight, link): "Refugees heading for Western Europe could start using a route from Albania to Italy previously used by tens of thousands of Albanians after the Communist regime collapsed in the 1990s."

Bulgarian Police Arrests 106 Illegal Immigrants Across Country (novinite.com, link): "Bulgarian police arrested 106 illegal immigrants across the country in the past 24 hours, the press service of the interior ministry informed on Tuesday. A total of 54 foreign citizens were detained on the territory of Sofia in three separate police operations. None of the arrested foreigners in the capital was in the possession of identity documents. Only two of them identified themselves as being Syrian citizens, all of the remaining claiming to be from Afghanistan.... Nineteen of them presented documents from the State Agency for Refugees (DAB), while the remaining nine had no identity documents."

Swiss to vote again on immigration curbs (The Local, ch, link): "Voters in Switzerland will go to the polls again to decide whether immigration curbs approved by the population in February 2014 should be implemented."

Sweden: Massive Malmö migrant camp to be shut down (The Local.se, link): "More than 200 mostly Roma migrants who have been living in a shanty camp on the outskirts of southern Sweden's largest city have been told they're being evicted from the site."

Bavaria slams Austria for unchecked refugee flow (The Local.at, link): "Bavaria's state premier has blasted Austria for waving on thousands of refugees to Germany without informing local authorities and has called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to intervene."

Former Hungarian PM again courts controversy with barbed statements on migrants (Politics.hu, link): "Former Prime Minister Péter Boross has made another controversial statement on the refugee situation only two months after calling immigration “an issue of race and ethnicity”,"

Fly, don't walk, EU will urge Balkan migrants (euractiv, link): "The European Union plans to persuade refugees to wait in Greece for paid flights to other countries offering asylum, rather than risk dangerous winter treks through the Balkans, EU officials said on Monday"

Berlin seeks to deport more failed Afghan refugees (euractiv, link): "The German government wants to deport more rejected Afghan refugees as part of a European readmission agreement. European Parliament President Martin Schulz supports the idea." Statewatch comment: There is no readmission agreement with Afghanistan.

Slovenia: Measures announced for faster refugee registration (Slovenian Times, link) "Slovenia will introduce a series of measures to speed up refugee registration and reduce the burden on its security forces and the locals in the border area affected by the refugee flow... Authorities in Slovenia will take a series of steps to speed up registration of refugees arriving to the country, including by performing some of the registration on trains which arrive from Croatia, said Interior Ministry State Secretary Boštjan Šefic.... This will be coupled with measures to reduce the burden on police, including by bringing in private security guards for some of the security tasks. Around 50 to 60 security guards are expected to start work as early as today. Customs agents will also be brought into the registration centres" and see: Slovenia to use private security firms to help with migrant flows (Reuters, link)

Report: Germany to send police to Slovenian border amid migrant influx (DW, link): "Germany plans to send police to Slovenia to assist authorities, a German newspaper has reported. Slovenia is struggling to cope with refugees as Croatia diverts the flow of migrants to north."

UN: At least 120,000 displaced in Syria in past month (SFgate, link): "The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the people fled their homes in the Aleppo, Hama and Idlib governorates between Oct. 5 and Oct. 22."

The Illegality Industry: Notes on Europe’s Dangerous Border Experiment (Border Criminologies, link)

Violence in Syria Spurs a Huge Surge in Civilian Flight (New York Times, link)

Life in Lesbos: "The Children's Feet Are Rotting - You Guys Have One Month and Then All These People Will Be Dead" (The Huffington Post, link)

"Refugeeism", the ideology of Fortress Europe (INFOaut, link)

Refugees on Slovenia-Croatia border – drone video footage (Guardian, link): "Aerial footage shows the scale of migration at the Slovenian-Croatian border, where hundreds of refugees are seen crossing farmland on foot on Sunday. The Balkan route switched to Slovenia after Hungary closed its border"

Turkish fishermen rescue baby: 'Brother, he is alive' (CNN,link): "The footage was shot recently in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Kusadasi, Turkey. A boat carrying migrants capsized, according to Turkey's Dogan News Agency (DHA). The video shows fishermen approaching what looks to be a floating life jacket. A baby boy is inside. One of the men pulls the child out of the water and strips off his life jacket, turning the boy over and upside down in an apparent attempt to clear water from the boy's lungs. He wraps the child in a blanket."

News (26.10.15)

From: IOM, 23.10.15: Infographic (link): 680.928 arrivals: 537,460 to Greece and 139,518 to Italy. 3,175 dead/missing.

Greece: PM Tsipras: Greece rejects proposal for 'refugee ghetto', EU accepts gov't alternative (ANA-MPA, link): "Three proposals that included the creation of a ghetto for 50,000 refugees in Attica were rejected, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said early on Monday, following the conclusion in Brussels of a mini-Summit of European leaders on migration.... sipras said that the three proposals included the creation of the equivalent of a city, with 50,000 refugees, within Greece; the option of an EU country to bar entry to refugees from another EU country, which would have created a domino effect stressing Greece; and a new operation by EU border police Frontex in northern Greece to check migratory flows towards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In explaining the rejection of each of the proposals... "

Greece agrees to host 50,000 refugees as part of new EU plan (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece committed on Sunday to opening enough reception centers to house 30,000 refugees by the end of the year, with the United Nations to provide another 20,000 places, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. "We will increase reception capacities to 100,000 places in Greece and in the western Balkans," he said following a meeting of 11 European leaders in Brussels.... the final agreement included a Greek commitment to increase to 30,000 by the end of this year the number of places it has to host migrants - officials said it currently has some 7,000-10,000. A further 20,000 people should be sheltered in private accommodation in Greece, the statement said, while another 50,000 places should be available in countries further north."

EU leaders criticize each other at summit on refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):"European leaders lashed out Sunday at each other's handling of the continent's greatest immigration crisis since World War II, even as they came together to seek ways to ease the plight of the tens of thousands marching across the Balkans toward the European Union's heartland.... Many say the EU needs to get control of the refugee flow at the bloc's external border between EU-member Greece and Turkey. Migration experts, however, say the flood of refugees won't be halted until the world resolves the war in Syria, which is driving millions out of the country."

Leaders clash at migration mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Leaders of the countries of the so-called “Balkan route” clashed on Sunday (25 October) with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with some of them using the argument that the Union may fall apart because of the refugee exodus.... Hours elapsed. The meeting scheduled to finish at 7 PM finished past midnight, many of the leaders having left in the meantime. Finally, Juncker faced the press, alongside Merkel and the UN high commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres. Juncker said that the only way out of the situation was to slow down the uncontrolled flows of people. “The policy of waving through people to neighbouring countries has to stop. I want to be clear: people must be registered. No registration, no rights,” Juncker said."

EU and Balkans agree plan for 100,000 places in reception centres for refugees GUardian, link): "Brussels summit agrees a 17-point plan to manage the flow of refugees in the Balkans, including more shelter, border registration and increased naval operations"

Opinion: EU refugee summit over Balkan route has saved Europe for now (DW, link): "Facing the complete failure of the handling of the refugee crisis, key European Union (EU) states have agreed upon emergency measures. These need to work now, otherwise the EU is in danger, says DW's Bernd Riegert."

Western Balkan countries agree to work together on migration (Politico, link): "Leaders commit to tighter controls on the flow of refugees, but details still need to be worked out"

Egypt to found court on human trafficking, illegal immigration (c\airopost, link): !"Egypt will found a court specialized in human trafficking and illegal immigration, Justice Minister Ahmed el-Zend announced Friday during a meeting with William Lacy, head of the International Organization for Migration.... The Egyptian authorities routinely foil the attempts of migrants from Egypt, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria and Iraq to migrate illegally to Europe, but no certain numbers are available about how many are able to successfully slip under the radar."

EU: Slovenian President discusses refugee crisis with Schulz (ep, link)

FINLAND: Most Finns would cut social security for asylum seekers, survey finds (helsinkitimes, link) and Level of asylum applications is unsustainable, says Sipila

Serbia PM: Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania should act jointly, show solidarity with Europe, ask for solidarity from European countries (focus-fen.net, link)

EU: Refugee crisis: 25-10-15: Final Statement: Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans Route: Leaders’ Statement  (pdf):

Greece to build camps to hold 30,000 refugees plus 20,000 in rented homes and UNHCR a further 50,000 further north

- "Under the current circumstances, we will discourage the movement of refugees or migrants to the border of another country of the region. A policy of waving through refugees without informing a neighbouring country is not acceptable. This should apply to all countries along the route...

- Greece's intention to increase reception capacity to 30.000 places by the end of the year and commit to supporting Greece and UNHCR to provide rent subsidies and host family programmes for at least 20.000 more. Financial support for Greece and the UNHCR is expected. This is an important precondition to make the emergency relocation system work...

- We will work with the UNHCR who has committed to support our efforts in improving our capacities. An additional capacity of 50.000 would allow for a better and more predictable management of the flow....

- We will work with the European Commission and Frontex to step up practical cooperation on readmission with third countries; cooperation will be intensified with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, in particular in the area of returns....

- Upscaling the Poseidon Sea Joint Operation in Greece, in particular Frontex's presence in the Aegean Sea, and strengthening significantly Frontex support to Greece in registering and fingerprinting activities...

- We reconfirm the principle that a country may refuse entry to third country nationals who, when presenting themselves at border crossing points, do not confirm a wish to apply for international protection (in line with international and EU refugee law, subject to a prior non-refoulement and proportionality check)...

It should be noted that there is nothing further on "relocation"

The European Commission has called a meeting - mini-summit- in Brussels of the leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia: Leaders' Meeting on the Western Balkans Route: Draft Leaders’ Statement (pdf): Note this "Draft" was circulated on Saturday 24 October the day before the meeting organised by the Commission.

News:Sunday 25 October 2015: Slovenia sees end to EU if leaders fail on migrant plan (Reuters, link): "The European Union is set to deploy more than 400 border guards within a week to help tackle a migrant crisis in the western Balkans, according to an draft statement to be considered later on Sunday by leaders from central and eastern Europe." and EU mini-summit seeks unity in Balkans over migrant crisis (Reuters, link) and Migrant crisis: Emergency talks on Balkans under way (BBC, link)

Frontex slows down registration procedures in “Hot Spot” Moria, leaving refugees for days in life-threatening conditions (w2eu.net, link):

"Since Frontex has entered the scene, registration processes were dramatically slowed down. Frontex procedures of ‘screening’ individuals takes a long time which has caused great delays and thus created a situation of humanitarian emergency for the hundreds of people waiting outside. The official opening of this hotspot on Lesvos coincided with increased numbers of new arrivals and deteriorating weather conditions...

The ongoing tragedy in the “Hot Spot” and around, mirrors the failure of Europe to protect refugees and the violence of the border regime on which European Migration policies are based. Screening and registration are priority, peoples’ lives are not.

We demand the immediate end of hotspot procedures and the instant withdrawal of Frontex personnel. The EU has to immediately put an end to the slowing-down of registration procedures produced by Frontex which is life-threatening. We denounce the procedure of ‘speeding up returns’ in the strongest possible terms." and:

Moria/Lesbos: Rain-sodden feet, frozen white hands, hypothermic pregnant women and trampled down children (w2eu.net, link):

"The “Hot Spot” of horror is what Moria turned to the last week and since its inauguration when numbers of new arrivals were high and the weather conditions harsh with constant rain falls. The authorities together with the UNHCR and all other involved actors of the humanitarian aid regime failed in protecting hundreds of refugees from what was a predictable catastrophe." [emphasis in original]

EU: "Returns" package

Under the so-called "hotspot" process refugees are first "nationality screened" (national officials lead by Frontex) and then divided into two groups: a) those to be returned and held in "closed" camps (they have no legal representation or right of appeal) and b) those to be "relocated" within the EU who are "asylum" processed, by EASO and national officials, to be held in "open" camps.

1. European Commission: CONTACT GROUP “Return Directive” (2008/115/EC) 14 October 2014: Preparation of Return Handbook (80 pages, pdf)

2.European Commission: Recommendation: Preparation of Returns Handbook (COM 6250, pdf)

3. European Commission: ANNEX: Return Handbook (116 pages, pdf): "The content of this handbook deals essentially with standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals and is based on EU legal instruments regulating this issue (in particular the Return Directive 2008/115/EC)."

4. European Commission: EU Action Plan on return (COM 453-15,pdf)

5. Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Europe: The Role of EU External Action (Commission and EEAS, pdf)

6, Council conclusions on the future of the return policy (pdf):

"Member States must systematically issue return decisions, take all necessary steps to enforce them and provide adequate resources, including funding and staff, necessary for identifying and returning illegally staying third-country nationals. All measures must be taken to ensure irregular migrants' effective return, including use of detention as a legitimate measure of last resort. In particular, Member States should reinforce their pre-removal detention capacity to ensure the physical availability of irregular migrants for return and take steps to prevent the abuse of rights and procedures."

7. Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

8. Council of Europe: Guidelines on forced returns (pdf)

News (24-25.10.15)

Sweden: Officials called to parliament after fires (The Local.se, link): "The head of the Swedish Security Service, Säpo, and the national police commissioner have been called to appear before a parliamentary committee in the wake of a string of fires at refugee shelters."

How private companies are exploiting the refugee crisis for profit (Independent, link): "Across Europe, some of the most vulnerable people are being seen as a financial opportunity... A grim reality of the current migrant crisis sweeping Europe – a continent that prefers surveillance over humanitarian support – is the growing number of corporations seeing financial opportunity in the most vulnerable people. Refugees become numbers to be processed; the profit motive is paramount in the minds of many multinationals."

Balkan trio threatens to erect migrant fence if Germany closes border (DW, link): "Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania have threatened to erect border fences to stem refugee flows if other EU countries close their borders. Leaders have called for a common European response to the crisis. The leaders of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia huddled together on Saturday in Sofia to develop a common position on the migrant crisis that has upended the Balkan region, ahead of a mini-EU summit on Sunday. "The three countries, we are standing ready, if Germany and Austria close their borders, not to allow our countries to become buffer zones. We will be ready to close borders," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said after meeting with his Serbian and Romanian counterparts."

Greece: Migrants keep coming despite bad weather (ekathimerini.com, link)

The British family helping refugees in Lesbos (Channel 4 News, 19 October 2015 (video, link)

Operation Sophia - Tackling the refugee crisis with military means (EU ISS, link): "‘...the remit of EU crisis management operations has traditionally been the
object of a broad consensus among the main international powers, within the Security Council and beyond. This could be challenged were EU operations to shift to more coercive activities.’ "

"Ten-day-old children are getting hypothermia, and we don't have a blanket to give them. We need action"(Sky video, link): "Thousands stranded in the cold in "hellish" conditions are allowed into Croatia as its PM admits barring them is "no solution".

EU: 5 ways the EU migration strategy is unraveling - Another migration summit, but will it do any good? (politico.link): "On Wednesday, 70 asylum-seekers left Italy for Sweden and Finland. A first wave of relocation took place two weeks ago and saw 19 refugees move from Italy to Sweden. Next week, about 30 refugees will move from Greece to Luxembourg, EU officials say. However, only nine countries have told the EU how many migrants they are prepared to take in — a total of just 854." [emphasis added]

EU's migration commissioner rejects review of Schengen (ekathimerini.com, link): "Avramopoulos also played down criticism of Turkey, which has been accused of not doing enough to stop migrants and refugees from crossing into Greece, saying that “we have to recognize the huge burden it has accepted, with 2 million refugees at reception centers and another 2 million roaming around the country without papers.”"

UNHCR concerned at reports of sexual violence against refugee women and children (link): " The UN refugee agency said today it was concerned by "credible testimonies" it has received of sexual violence and abuse against refugee and migrant women and children on the move in Europe and called on authorities to take steps to ensure their protection."

France: Police evacuate last refugee camp in Paris (The LOcal.fr, link): "Police transported the group from the school in a fleet of buses early in the morning, according to AFP journalists at the scene, taking them to hostels and special accommodation around Paris."

Sweden: Another building planned for refugees burns (The Local.se, link): "A building under consideration for refugee housing was destroyed by fire in Eskilstuna on Friday night. Police suspect arson. It was the latest in a string of suspicious fires at prospective refugee centres. "

Germany to push for compulsory EU quotas to tackle refugee crisis (Guardian, link) "Merkel is said to want hundreds of thousands of refugees brought directly from Middle East to control numbers and avoid perilous journeys... The plans, being prepared in Berlin and Brussels, are certain to trigger bitter resistance and major clashes within the EU. Berlin backs European commission plans to make the proposed scheme “permanent and binding”. But up to 15 of 28 EU countries are opposed."

Asylum crisis and Western Balkans This WEEK (euobserver, link): "Migration is set to dominate this week following a mini-summit of leaders over the weekend concerning refugee flows in the Western Balkans. “We are struggling with our agencies and with our member states on all fronts. We have people living in forests”, European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels on Friday (23 October). Sunday's mini-summit in Brussels will involve leaders from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.... Only around 80 asylum seekers from Italy out of a target total of 160,000 have so far been relocated. Greece has yet to dispatch any. Member states are also falling to fulfil their pledges of humanitarian aid, asylum relocation spots, and experts for the EU’s border agency Frontex and the European asylum support office (EASO)."

The Secret Mass Graves of the Refugee Crisis - Looking for 243 people who disappeared crossing the Mediterranean, we uncovered the shocking reality of what happens to those who perish at sea (medium.com, link)

PLS SHARE: Update from Lesvos: Frontline of refugee crisis: Posted on Facebook: 22.10.15 by Marienna Pope-Weidemann

"People will die tonight. This I can say for certain. I can't recount in writing the horror of the past 12 hours. Camp Moria has descended into madness. The Syrian side of this segregated hell hole is bad enough. The 'Afghan side', which is for everyone else - refugees from the wars the West wants to ignore - is like another dimension. They segregate themselves now, men with sticks policing the lines our colonial empire taught them to build....The EU has the blood of the world on its hands tonight. I have never been so angry, and I will never be the same...."

Czech Republic: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Zeid urges Czech Republic to stop detention of migrants and refugees (pdf)

"The High Commissioner expressed concerns that the authorities continue to practice this policy, even though those detainees who have been able to challenge the detention in court have been released. He noted that most detained migrants and refugees are not in a position to swiftly challenge their detention in court – as is their right -- because they do not receive information about free legal aid and because civil society organizations that work with refugees have reportedly been receiving very restricted access to detention facilities like Bìlá-Jezová (80 km north of Prague)." [emphasis added]

and: Czech ombudsman criticises conditions in refugee facility (pdf):

"The severe conditions which children and families with children have to endure in Belá-Jezová constitute a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Objectively speaking, children in the facility have worse living conditions than inmates in Czech prisons. Belá-Jezová is a former military facility where the living conditions are, in many ways, much worse than those in Czech prisons. Prison inmates are people who committed a crime and were convicted for it. On the other hand, the people in Belá have not been convicted of any crime and no sentence has been imposed on them. The fact that hundreds of children are detained in this facility goes against our notion of the Czech Republic as a civilised country." [emphasis added]

Full-text of Ombudsman report (pdf)

Also: UN: Czechs violate refugee rights to deter others (euobserver, link)

Greece Records Highest Weekly Migration Inflows in 2015 So Far (IOM, link):

" This week IOM Greece recorded the highest migration inflows since the beginning of 2015. Despite deteriorating weather conditions, approximately 48,000 refugees and migrants crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands – or about 9,600 migrants and refugees in each of the past five days.... The influx has left many local authorities unprepared. The island of Lesvos continues to receive the highest percentage of refugees and migrants. Some 27,276 reached the island during the period, while 9,750 arrived in Chios."

This year up to 22 October 139,518 refugees have arrived in Italy and 537.460 refugees arrived in Greece:

"Data for Greece are derived by the new and updated data collected by IOM Regional Staff in Greece and Greek authorities (1/1/2015 – 20/10/2015). Numbers are not the actual daily arrivals but the number of migrants who have officially been recorded by the Greek authorities after their arrival."

EU: Commission Issues Opinion on Temporary Reintroduction of Controls at Internal Borders: Germany and Austria acting in compliance with Schengen Borders Code (Press release, pdf): "The Commission has concluded that the initial reintroduction of controls at internal borders by Germany and Austria, as well as the subsequent prolongations, are in compliance with the Schengen Borders Code."

Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights: Second Annual Report: 2014 (pdf) and First Annual Report: 2013 (pdf)

News (23.10.15)

Fearing rough seas, refugees chance Bulgaria land route (UNHCR, link): "This family is among 13,000 asylum-seekers who have beaten a path through Bulgaria this year on a trek to find a safer route to Europe, a journey with many hazards of its own as land borders harden. Caught in their first attempt to reach Bulgaria, Faisal's family landed in jail. Their identity cards were confiscated before they were sent back to Turkey, where they tried again to cross a border that is tightening."

Austria's foreign minister says border fences work (euobserver, link): "Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz warned the "surge [of migrants] into Europe" has become too big, and EU members have a responsibility to protect their borders. Saying that fences do not work "is quite honestly false... The question is, do we do it or not," "

Britain says Cyprus military base will not become migrant route (.ekathimerini.com, link): "A British military base in Cyprus will not become a new route into Britain for migrants, Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said on Friday following the arrival of more than 100 people earlier this week. Although the migrants arrived on what is considered British territory, officials have said an agreement is in place with Cyprus, which would assume responsibility for them."

Slovenia mulls border fence in refugee crisis (The Local.at, link): "Slovenia says it is considering building a border fence to help stem a record influx of migrants and refugees, as thousands more people arrived from Croatia on Friday."

Swedish parties reveal temporary asylum plan (The Local.se, link):": The Swedish government and four opposition parties have agreed to introduce temporary residence permits for a number of refugees arriving in the Nordic country."

Briefing: The EU refugee deal with Turkey (IRIN, link)

Sweden struggles to cope with migrant tide; Orban warns of threat (Reuters, link): "Sweden said on Thursday it expected up to 190,000 migrants this year, putting unprecedented strain on a country famous for welcoming refugees but planning to house many in tents this winter. At the opposite pole of the angry debate on the migration crisis, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged European leaders to change their immigration policies and consult voters, or face a threat to the democratic order."

Why Europe's tough migrant trail is still so busy (RTL.lu, link)

EU calls for more cooperation with Sudan on migration (Al Arabiya, link)

EU: Briefing: The EU refugee deal with Turkey (IRIN, link)

EU: Survey: Two out of every three Europeans want migrant crisis tackled at EU level (European Parliament, link)

German daily documents anti-migrant hate speech on Facebook (Yahoo! News, link)

GREECE: Athens Jewish Cemetery Vandalized by Neo-Nazi Group (Greek Reporter, link)

Greece's only refugee camp (Al Jazeera, link): "Eleonas camp in central Athens shelters mostly Afghans whose papers are processed slower than those of Syrians."

Greek Political Opposition Leader Calls for Creation of EU Coast Guard (Greek Reporter, link)

HUNGARY: Parliament authorizes mandatory medical checks for refugees at time of crisis (Politics.hu, link)

Lessons in refugee hospitality from the Horn of Africa (The Conversation, link)

Sweden: Doubling the number of refugees as centres burn (Al Jazeera, link)

Germany arrests suspected anti-refugee plotters (DW, link): "German officials have arrested three far-right extremists and seized explosive material that could be used in attacks on migrants. The authorities say right-wing groups plan to intensify their anti-refugee violence."

Juncker urges EU member states to respect migrant aid pledges (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday chided EU member states for not respecting their pledges of humanitarian aid to tackle the migrant crisis, saying “urgency” was needed.... A dividing line is emerging between governments that see the crisis primarily as a security issue requiring stronger action to control the EUs borders, stem the flow of migrants, send back those not entitled to asylum and pay other states if necessary to keep them at bay, and those that see it above all as a humanitarian integration challenge."

Greece: Bad weather causes problems for migrants, authorities (ekathimerini.com, link): "A worsening of weather conditions has created additional problems for migrants and refugees trying to get to Greece by sea from neighboring Turkey and for authorities on the islands trying to accommodate them."

Juncker urges EU member states to respect migrant aid pledges (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday chided EU member states for not respecting their pledges of humanitarian aid to tackle the migrant crisis, saying “urgency” was needed.... A dividing line is emerging between governments that see the crisis primarily as a security issue requiring stronger action to control the EUs borders, stem the flow of migrants, send back those not entitled to asylum and pay other states if necessary to keep them at bay, and those that see it above all as a humanitarian integration challenge."

Greece: Bad weather causes problems for migrants, authorities (ekathimerini.com, link): "A worsening of weather conditions has created additional problems for migrants and refugees trying to get to Greece by sea from neighboring Turkey and for authorities on the islands trying to accommodate them."

Greece: On Lesbos, today's refugees are met by the children of refugees from a century ago (PRI, link): "Constantina Mesisklis and her friends, women in their 80s and 90s, are a fixture on the bench in Skala Sykaminia, the tiny seaside village on the northern coast of Lesbos where 1000s of refugees have been arriving from the nearby Turkish coast every day for months on end. The population of Skala Sykaminia numbers about 150 and all of them are the children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of a another group of refugees — the Greeks who fled Turkey in 1922-23 after what is known in Greece as “The Asia Minor Catastrophe.” Thousands escaped in boats as the Turks routed the Greek army and set fire to Smyrna, today’s Izmir. Eventually a population of 1.5 million Greek Orthodox, Greek language speakers would be expelled from Turkey to Greece; likewise, 500,000 Muslims were forcibly resettled from Greece back to Turkey. Today more than half the population of Lesbos descends from the 1922 refugees."

Tusk and Orbán on collision course with Merkel over refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "EU Council President Donald Tusk and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán indirectly rebuked German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday (22 October), calling arguments over how to accommodate refugees "naïve" as long as Europe fails to stop them."

Member states lag behind on refugee pledges (euobserver, link): "EU member states made a commitment to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy but have made only 854 pledges to date"

Europe, please act! An Open Letter to the Governments of Europe (link):

"We, the front-line volunteers who for months now have been helping thousands of refugees, call on all the governments of Europe to act immediately and decisively to alleviate the situation....

Winter is coming quickly and we all have just a few days to respond in a humane way.

We call on all European countries to provide immediate help to all those countries affected by the refugee crisis, instead of helping those countries that are building fences.

We call for the building of safe reception and transit centres with facilities that can cope with the harsh winter conditions of the region.

We also call for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people that need it, for the provision of appropriate medical services and for the coordination of all efforts on a pan-European level.

We also call on the EU to immediately implement other mechanisms which aim to provide safe passage to the EU."

Boat refugees been sunk five times (link): Great interview by Eric Kempson (Lesvos) on the shameful EU role and that of Turkish coastguard.

See also: Masked Greek Coastguards again? Attacks on Boats Risk Migrant Lives (HRW, link):

"Armed masked men have been disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch spoke to nine witnesses who described eight incidents in which masked assailants – often armed – intercepted and disabled the boats carrying asylum seekers and migrants from Turkey toward the Greek islands, most recently on October 7 and 9, 2015. The witnesses said that the assailants deliberately disabled their boats by damaging or removing the engines or their fuel, or puncturing the hulls of inflatable boats. In some cases, the boats were towed to Turkish waters".

Boats from Greece confront refugees at sea with guns (Youtube, link): "Published on Sep 8, 2015 CBS News has obtained video showing a group of men on a boat confronting migrants at sea near the Greek coastline. The men cut the migrants' fuel lines, leaving them stranded at sea. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports."

EU: Valletta Conference 11-12 November 2015: Update and background

Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Three (LIMITE doc no: 12560-rev-2-15, pdf) and: Draft Council Conclusions on the EU Horn of Africa Regional Action Plan 2015-2020 (28 pages, LIMITE doc no: 13200-15,pdf)

""[T]hree issues affecting EU interests in the region have gained particular salience: the influence of the wider region on the Horn of Africa, violent extremism and migration and forced displacement....

"The high number of people in the region who are willing to migrate is by far larger than the limited possibilities of legal avenues for migration, be it within the region or outside. Lack of opportunities for legal migration or complex and expensive procedures mean that many migrants feel that they have no other option than to use irregular channels."

See also: EU: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria prioritised for "pilot initiative on return" (Statewatch database)

European Parliament Study: EU cooperation with third countries in the field of migration (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, reflects on the imbalances of EU external action as well as on the lack of evidence on the impact and efficiency of EU funding regarding the objectives of the migration policy, which are sometimes conflicting with the development goals.

The study brings forward recommendations for rationalization and coordination of action, more balance between the different components of the GAMM, more transparency for a better evaluation and scrutiny, and a reinforced partnership approach with third countries."

European Commission: President Juncker calls Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels on refugee flows along the Western Balkans route (pdf) Leaders from the following countries have been summoned: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

and see: Balkan summit highlights Juncker-Tusk leadership gap (euobserver, link): "By calling a mini summit on Sunday (25 October), European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has decided to push forward the Commission's role in addressing the migrant crisis. By doing so, he has also highlighted an apparently widening gap with the president of the European Council Donald Tusk, a fellow member of the centre-right EPP party."

and yet another "Extra" Justice and Home Council has been called on 9 November, in Brussels.

Fundamental Rights Agency: Fundamental rights implications of the obligation to provide fingerprints for Eurodac (link) and see: Report (pdf): "The swift identification and registration of asylum seekers is an important measure to ensure their protection. Under EU law, registration procedures also include taking fingerprints. To help authorities ensure fingerprinting practices do not violate fundamental rights, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has produced a 10-point checklist for rights compliance in its latest Focus paper."

News (22.10.15)

Bulgaria: BHC Disputes Official Version of Events in Migrant’s Shooting Death (link): "The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) on Tuesday disputed the official version of last week’s incident, in which an Afghan migrant was shot by Bulgarian border police after illegally crossing into Bulgaria from Turkey and died on his way to hospital....On Monday, BHC officials talked to 20 people from the group who had been sent to a migrant distribution centre in the nearby town of Elhovo following their detention.... The discrepancy between the original version of the events presented by the authorities and the allegations made by the eyewitnesses raises questions about the intention of the authorities to reveal the genuine circumstances of the fatal shooting, according to BHC." and German MP Calls on Bulgarian Prosecutors to Investigate Death of Afghan Migrant (novinite.com, link): "

Refugees face long cold and wet night at crowded Balkan border crossings (UNHCR, link): "Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) MP, Dieter Dombrowski, has called on the Bulgarian prosecution to investigate the death of the Afghan migrant, which occurred near the country's border with Turkey last week. In an interview for Berlin Brandenburg radio, Dombrowski did not accept as plausible the version of the Bulgarian interior ministry that the migrant died after being hit by a rebounded bullet fired by a border policeman."

Orbán slams EU migration policies ahead of Juncker’s mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán urged European leaders late yesterday (21 October) to change their “politically correct” immigration policies and involve voters in a debate about the continent's future, saying they would otherwise face a political crisis and a threat to the democratic order."

Athens Jewish Cemetery Vandalized by Neo-Nazi Group (Greek Reporter, link): "as C-18. The vandals sprayed vulgar words and swastikas on the walls, as well as the German word “Raus” which means get out."

Czech leader rejects UN rights chief's criticism (7 News, link): "The Czech Republic's president and the Interior Minister have rejected the criticism by the U.N. human rights chief of their country's policy of detaining migrants and refugees and their treatment."

Denmark increases Syrian residence permits (The Local.dk, link): "Syrians now receive more residence permits in Denmark than US citizens, although the number of the latter is also on the rise."

Free access to Sciences Humaines: Crise des migrants: comprendre et agir [Migrant crisis: understand and act]: "...an initiative to help better understand who the refugees are and how to help them."

The Mediterranean: A sea of death (link): "They were 40 miles from the coast of Libya, a lawless country at war with itself since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. The country has become a launch pad for overcrowded boats ferrying migrants and refugees to Captain Margiotta’s homeland, Sicily."

UK must resettle refugees who arrived on Cyprus military base, says UN (Guardian, link)

France remains stingy at handing out visas (The Local.fr, link)

Greece: Kotzias says closer cross-border cooperation with Turkey key to stemming migrant flow (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has said closer cooperation and better coordination with Turkey is key to stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

Hungary will not open "corridor" for migrants -govt (Reuters, link)

Federal Criminal Police Office warns of xenophobic violence (DW, link): "The number of attacks against refugee shelters has more than doubled this year compared to 2014. The Federal Criminal Police Office fears that right-wing extremists will intensify their anti-refugee violence."

German air force to help deport asylum seekers (euractiv, link): "The German government has agreed upon a faster deportation system, using military support, for refugees whose asylum requests are rejected."

Latest Relocation Flight for Eritrean and Syrian Asylum Seekers Leaves Italy for Scandinavia (IOM, link): " On Wednesday, 21 October, an IOM charter flight left Rome’s Ciampino Airport for Finland and Sweden. On board were 68 asylum seekers – 19 from Syria and 49 from Eritrea."

Czech Republic: Living conditions in detention centre of migrants under close scrutiny (Radio Praha, link): "Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová met on Tuesday to discuss ways of improving conditions for migrants in the detention centre in Belá-Jezová north of Prague. The Ombudswoman last week severely criticised conditions in the facility, saying they were worse than in prison, and called on the interior minister to take immediate steps to correct the situation."

EU calls mini-summit on refugee crisis as Slovenia tightens border - Serbia and Macedonia have been invited to Sunday’s meeting in Brussels as the EU seeks ‘greater cooperation and more consultation’ (Guardian, link)

EU: Avramopoulos slams dismal refugee response: The migration chief scolds his party: “I was very much disappointed.” (politico, link): "The European Commission’s migration chief condemned on Wednesday the use of armed forces to secure Europe’s borders and launched a stinging attack on Europe’s national governments for failing to manage the refugee crisis."

Report from Lesvos: without safe access to asylum, people will keep risking their lives in the Aegean (The Conversation, link): "Her baby should not have died. The journey from Turkey to Lesvos is short and safe. If I wanted to take a ferry trip from the port of Mytiline to Ayvalik on the Turkish coast, the trip would take around an hour. I could get there and back for just €30. That’s because I’m British. I am not Syrian, Afghan, Palestinian, Iraqi, Somali or Eritrean."

Greece: Lesvos feeling refugee strain again (ekathimerini.com,link): "Authorities’ capacity for processing refugees and migrants on Lesvos are being stretched to breaking point again due to a higher influx of people over the last few days. A total of around 43,000 migrants reached Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, mainly Lesvos, over the past five days, the government said Wednesday. It is estimated that the number of people stuck on Lesvos has risen above 11,000 again." and Over 2,000 refugees disembark at Piraeus, more expected (ekathimerini.com,link): "Over 2,000 refugees disembarked at the Greek capital’s main port of Piraeus on Thursday morning from the islands of the Aegean and more were expected to arrive later in the day."

EPP calls for Dublin overhaul and hotspots outside the EU (euobserver, link): "The centre-right European Popular Party (EPP) adopted a resolution on migration policy at its congress on Wednesday (21 October), calling for a "complete reform of the European asylum system", a separation of refugees and economic migrants "before their arrival in the EU", a legal migration policy based on labour market needs and a revision of the family reunification EU directive."

For a Thousand Lives: Be Human: An Appeal from European Filmmakers and Other Film Professionals to our Governments and to the E.U (link): Over 5,500 cinema directors and actors sign a petition:

"Every day, people fleeing war, terror, political persecution and misery are drowning in the sea, suffocating in the back of a truck or tumbling to their death in ports or train stations in their desperate attempts to reach Europe. According to Amnesty International, more than 23.000 people have lost their lives that way since 2000. These deaths are a direct consequence of E.U. immigration policies. The guilt doesn’t just lie with the traffickers; Europe cannot deny its share of responsibility.

To make matters worse, those who reach Europe often find themselves in degrading living conditions and are subjected to inhumane treatment. The E.U. is spending up to twenty times more money on border control, than on welcoming centres for refugees."

Filmmakers urge EU leaders to welcome refugees (euobserver, link)

Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (UNHCR, infographic, link) 502, 840 arrivals (29 October, 2015)

News (21.10.15)

German Government Draws Line Between Greek-Turkish Coordination and Joint Sea Patrols (Greek Reporter, link): "German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert clarified Germany’s stance on how Greece and Turkey must approach the refugee crisis.... “Coordination, I believe, is what we should pursue. We know of course Greece’s sensitivities, but coordination along the EU’s external borders with a NATO counterpart like Turkey must be pursued. That does mean joint patrols. That is something else,” he said."

Arsonists attack another migrant centre in Sweden (france24, link)

Dispatches: Lesbos is a Disaster for Asylum Seekers. Will Becoming a "Hotspot" Improve it? (HRW, link)

NETHERLANDS: Minister writes to refugees, warning of "austere reception" (Durch News, link) and A record 8,400 refugees came to the Netherlands in September

Poland announces refugee numbers (the news.pl, link): "Deputy Foreign Minister Rafał Trzaskowski has confirmed that Poland has agreed to accept fewer than 7,000 refugees as part of an EU programme."

Migrant workers' house in Germany destroyed in fire (DW, link)

African Dictatorship Fuels Migrant Crisis (wsj, link): "Thousands flee isolated Eritrea to escape life of conscription and poverty"

Slovenia gives army expanded powers to tackle refugee crisis (DW, link): "Ljubljana has granted the military the power to patrol the border where police are absent. Slovenia has seen thousands of migrants come through from Croatia just this week."

Opinion: European refugee policy descends into chaos (DW, link): "More and more refugees are flooding into the EU. European politicians appear hapless and helpless. Now, everything depends on Germany, says DW's Bernd Riegert, who wonders when Germany will close its borders."

Few takers for refugee relocation from Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Only 15 Syrian refugees in Greece have so far applied to be relocated to Luxembourg, which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, Kathimerini has learned."

Migrants come ashore on British RAF base in Cyprus (ekathimerini.com, link): "Two boatloads of migrants came ashore at a British military base on Cyprus on Wednesday, authorities said, the first time since Europe's migrant crisis began that refugees have landed directly on what is considered British sovereign soil. Vessels carrying the migrants were spotted in the early morning hours off RAF Akrotiri, a sprawling military facility on the southern coast of Cyprus used to bomb Islamic State targets in northern Iraq. Authorities initially said there were four boats, but later corrected that figure to two."

EU plans to deal with refugee crisis about to fail (euractiv, link): "An EU scheme to relocate asylum seekers from overstretched Italy and Greece could grind to a halt just two weeks after it began if member states fail to meet their obligations, an EU source said on Tuesday"

Juncker calls EU-Balkans mini-summit over refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has called a mini-summit in Brussels on Sunday (25 October) to tackle the migrant crisis along the western Balkans route, his office said. The leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia will meet their counterparts from non-EU states Macedonia and Serbia."

Far-right parties always gain support after financial crises, report finds (euractiv, link): "Extreme and populist right-wing parties have always been the biggest political beneficiaries of financial crises, according to a new study." Report;Going to Extremes: Politics after Financial Crisis, 1870-2014 (pdf)

Weekend Greece Arrivals Exceed Peak Summer Day Total (IOM, link): as at 20-10-15: 651,132 refuge arrivals (Greece: 507,825 Italy: 139,711) and 3,138 dead/missing people.

"IOM Greece reports, after consultations with the Hellenic Police, an unprecedented number of migrants arriving in Greece this weekend, with totals exceeding arrivals during peak summer sailing days. On Friday (16/10) over 8,900 migrants crossed into Greece; on Saturday (17/10) arrivals exceeded 9,100; and on Sunday (18/10), arrivals approached 9,200.

A total of over 27,000 migrants entered Greece last weekend, the majority of whom arrived on the island of Lesvos (16,448). The island of Chios, which previously saw arrivals of up to 300-500 migrants a day, over the weekend, witnessed the arrival of over 4,300 migrants."

Turkey 'not concentration camp', won't host migrants permanently: PM (Daily News, link):

"Turkey is “not a concentration camp” and will not host migrants permanently to appease the European Union, which wants Turkey to stop the flow of people to Europe, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Oct. 19, a day after Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Istanbul to discuss refugees....

“We cannot accept an understanding like ‘give us the money and they stay in Turkey,’” Davutoglu said in a live television interview a day after talks with Merkel on the migrant crisis.

“I told this to Merkel, too. No one can accept Turkey becoming a country like a concentration camp where all refugees live,” he said."

Commentary: EU Should Make Minor Compromises for Turkey’s Help on Refugees (German Marshall Fund (link)

News (20.10.15)

Greece: Resettling migrants from Middle East camps could ease crisis, minister says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece said on Tuesday that resettling migrants from camps in the Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, where they first arrive, could ease Europe’s refugee crisis."

Denmark preparing harder residency rules (The Local.dk, link): "The Venstre government is preparing its next round of tighter immigration laws, this time targeting those who want to obtain permanent residency."

France: 96 percent of asylum rejects stay (The Local, fr.link): "France's asylum procedures have been slammed as too long and inefficient, with as many as 96 percent of refugees who are refused asylum not being deported, an official report found."

Zeman: Refugees will apply sharia law (Prague Post, link): "NGOs, politicians, others reject president's comments, say he discredits country ... Islamic refugees will not respect Czech laws and habits, they will apply sharia law, so unfaithful women will be stoned to death and thieves will have their hand cut off, President Miloš Zeman said in a debate with the employees of a local butcher's today."

German anti-refugee movement sparks fears - Officials warn a resurgent far-right has seized on the crisis to incite hatred and violence. (politico, link): "German politicians warn that a resurgent far-right has seized on the refugee crisis to incite hatred and, in some cases, violence against refugees and the elected officials who are seen as sympathetic to them."

Media Interest in Refugees May Have Peaked ... the Influx Hasn't (Huffington Post, link): "When challenged, the argument you'll hear in newsrooms will be that the refugee flows aren't really news anymore. It is a common failing. Unable to come up with fresh angles on a story, editors tend to move on and forget to follow up on stories only a few weeks before they couldn't seem to get enough of."

Anti-racism: an integral part of the current migration and asylum debate (ENAR, link)

Bulgaria Border Poilice 'Ill-Prepared', Its Fmr Chief Says after Migrant Death (novinite.com, link): "The quality of training and preparation of border police officers in Bulgaria has become extremely low over the past years, a former border police chief said on Tuesday. Commenting on the incident last week when an Afghan man died after being hit by a bullet fired by a police officer as a warning shot that rebounded, he added other recent events such as the death of a commando in a special operation i Lyaskovets were a sign of mismanagement.... He added police officers were previously told they should only draw their weapons when there it is likely to be used, whereas in the present conditions they tended to do so more often."

Fourth asylum home on fire in west Sweden (The Local.se, link): "Housing for asylum seekers near Munkedal in western Sweden is on fire, in the fourth suspected arson attack on refugee accommodation in just over a week. Police in the area said that emergency services were called to the building just after 4am, with firefighters still working to put out the blaze five hours later."

Over 500,000 refugees, migrants reach Greece this year, arrival rate rising, says UN .(ekathimerini.com, link): "Over half a million refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in Greece this year and the rate of arrivals is rising with over 8,000 coming on Monday alone, in a rush to beat the onset of freezing winter, the United Nations said on Tuesday.UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said 27,500 refugees and migrants remained in transit on Greek islands near Turkey from which hundreds of thousands have come. “We have reached another dramatic milestone, with the arrival yesterday (Monday) of 8,000 people, bringing the total to 502,000. Obviously we knew this was coming, but we do see a spike in arrivals in Greece,” Fleming told a news briefing". and Turkey suspected over spike in refugee arrivals (ekathimerini.com, link): "The flow of refugees and migrants to Greece from Turkey is rising rather than falling, with Greek officials suspecting that Turkish authorities are turning a blind eye to traffickers on purpose."

Sealing of Hungarian borders puts Croatia, Slovenia to the test (euractiv, link): "The Balkans struggled with a growing backlog of refugees yesterday (19 October) after Hungary sealed its southern border and Slovenia tried to impose a limit, leaving thousands stranded on cold, rain-drenched borders where tempers frayed."

Cyprus to block restart of Turkey-EU talks (euobserver, link): "Cyprus said on Monday (19 October) that it will continue to oppose restarting Turkey’s stalled accession negotiations to join the European Union because Ankara has not done enough to reunite the divided island."

Hungary links Roma to jihadists in Syria (euobserver, link): "Hungary’s minister of justice Laszlo Trocsanyi on Monday (19 October) said there is a risk Roma could end up in Syria as foreign fighters alongside jihadist or other radical groups.Speaking at a conference in Brussels, the centre-right Fidesz minister said the some 12 million Roma in Europe “could be a target for radicalisation”."

Fifty Czech police officers to protect Schengen border in Hungary (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The police will be serving at the Hungarian-Serbian border, police spokeswoman Jana Macalikova has told CTK. "It will be the task of the police to conduct the patrolling activities along with the Hungarian soldiers and police officers," Macalikova said.... Twenty Czech soldiers have been in Hungary since last week. They are mainly drivers and equipment staff. They are helping the Hungarian military with transport of materiel and building a fence."

Greece: 2,336 refugees from Mytilene and Chios arrive at Piraeus port (anampa, link)

European Commission: The "Returns" package:

1. Returns Handbook: Full text (106 pages, pdf)

2. ANNEX: Return Handbook (116 pages, pdf): "The content of this handbook deals essentially with standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals and is based on EU legal instruments regulating this issue (in particular the Return Directive 2008/115/EC)."

3. Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

4. EU Action Plan on return (pdf)

5. Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Europe: The Role of EU External Action (Commission and EEAS, pdf)

6. Council of Europe: Guidelines on forced returns (pdf)

News (19.10.15)

Sweden: Refugee homes become 'secret' after fire attacks (The Local.se, link): "Plans to welcome 150 asylum seekers to the northern town of Umeå are being kept under the wraps after a series of suspected arson attacks on refugee centres across Sweden."

Austria: Graves defiled with swastikas and slogans (The Local.at, link): "A Jewish and a Muslim cemetery were defiled with Nazi symbols and anti-migrant slogans in western Austria, police said on Monday, just weeks after similar attacks on a refugee hostel and Jewish museum."

Czechs under fire for harsh, lengthy migrant detentions (Reuters, link): "When two young Syrian refugees crossed the Czech border from Slovakia in a smuggler's car last month they thought their dangerous 24-day journey to Germany would be over in hours. Instead the 23-year old childhood friends were arrested, handcuffed, strip-searched and detained for six weeks by Czech authorities, with only sporadic access to legal aid or interpreters and little chance to contact families."

MISSING MIGRANTS PROJECT (IOM, link): As at 16 October there have been 617,179 refugee arrivals and 3,117 dead/missing in the Med

A Libyan militia confronts the world’s migrant crisis In a chaotic country, a militia tries to halt the ships bound for Europe. But is it possible to stop the migrants? (Washington Post, link)

On The Migrant Trail in Calais (IOM, link): "In recent days, French authorities confirmed that the number of people living in informal camps outside Calais, France, has doubled to 6,000 and that since June, a total of 16 migrants have been killed in or near the Channel Tunnel while trying to make the journey from France to the United Kingdom. "

Italian MEP asks Brussels about 'secret Malta-Italy migrants-for oil deal' (.independent.com.mt, link): "Italian MEP Elisabetta Gardini has asked the European Commission to explain the abnormally low numbers of migrants being disembarked in Malta after being rescued at sea, and questioned whether the Commission is aware of any informal agreement between the Maltese and Italian governments related to rescue operations in the Mediterranean. “How does the Commission explain the inactivity of the Maltese navy in recent months, which is demonstrated by the number of people arriving on the island?” read one question put forward to the Commission by Ms Gardini."

Migrant crisis: Tensions rise as Balkan path blocked (BBC News, link): "Tensions are building among thousands of migrants heading north through Balkan states as their route to western Europe is stalled by new controls. Many spent Sunday night in the cold and rain as Slovenia restricted the numbers it allows in from Croatia. Restrictions on the flow have produced bottlenecks on Croatia's borders with Slovenia and Serbia. An official told the BBC that Croatia could run out of room in its transit camps within days." and Balkan bottleneck after Slovenia puts cap on migrants (euobserver, link) and UNHCR: More than 10,000 refugees stranded in Serbia (ITV News, link)

Balkans struggles with growing backlog of migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "n desperate scenes, several thousand people, many of them Syrians fleeing war, spent the night on the muddy ground of no-man’s land between Serbia and European Union-member Croatia. "Open the gate, open the gate!" they chanted, held back by lines of Croatian police."

Swiss vote turns into plebiscite on EU, immigration (euractiv, link): "The anti-immigration Swiss People's Party (SVP) won the biggest share of the vote in Sunday's national parliamentary election (18 October), projections showed, keeping pressure on Bern to introduce quotas on people moving from the European Union. Success for the Swiss People's Party (SVP), coupled with gains made by the pro-business Liberal Party (FDP), led political commentators to talk of a "Rechtsrutsch" - a "slide to the right" - in Swiss politics."

Scotland: Celtic FC Foundation donation funds ambulance to help refugees (celticfc.net, link): "CELTIC FC Foundation has donated £17,000 to fund an ambulance which is being taken to the Greek island of Lesbos to assist in the current refugee crisis.The donation is to the Glasgow Cares appeal, and the ambulance will provide medical aid for refugees."

Merkel, in bind on migrants, ready to back faster Turkish EU bid (Reuters, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered Turkey the prospect of support for faster progress on its bid to join the European Union on Sunday in return for cooperation in stemming the flow of migrants and taking back those rejected by Europe"

Some notes on the relations between UNSC Resolution 2240 (2015) fighting smugglers in Mediterranean and the EUNAVFOR Med “Sophia” operation (EASFJ, link)

UK: Why I glued myself to a ticket barrier and shut down the Eurostar (open democracy, link)

Is Europe's 'refugee deal' giving in to blackmail by Turkey? (euractiv, link): "Two million Syrian refugees are being treated as bargaining chips, with the result being European complicity in rigging Turkey's 1 November elections, writes British MEP Richard Howitt."

Germany: PEGIDA marches on 'first anniversary' in Dresden (DW, link): "A rally marking the anniversary of the first PEGIDA demonstration has begun in Dresden. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has condemned the movement as "hard right-wing extremists." "

Migrants stuck at borders as officials squabble along Balkan route (DW, link): "Thousands of refugees waited for hours in the rain before entering Croatia, as officials struggled with a growing backlog. Slovenia has capped the number of arrivals, triggering a domino effect across former Yugoslavia."

Refugee Crisis Update: Over 2,500 Refugees Rescued from the Aegean Sea; Oct.16 – 19 (Greek Reporter, link)

Thousands of Refugees Remain Stranded in Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):"Croatia is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees and with transporting them to Slovenia, after Hungary shut its border."

Establishing control of refugees took precedence over providing humanitarian aid

First hotspot inaugurated on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link): "“If this had taken place 10 months ago, we could have avoided what we went through this summer,” Avramopoulos said. “More importantly, we would have been able to treat all those people who are seeking for a better life in Europe in a more humane manner,” he said. Additional hotspots on Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros are expected to be fully operational by end-November."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos's statement does not hold water. His DG produced on 13 January 2015 a: "Fact Sheet: Facts and Figures on the arrivals of migrants in Europe" (pdf) predicting what was to unfold this year - it said 276,113 refugees had arrived in 2014. The simple truth is that the EU had no plans to swiftly put in place humanitarian aid and protection from January 2015 in Italy and Greece. This aid has only come now, ten months late, with the so-called "hotspots" which ties aid to registration and fingerprinting (with "proportionate coercion" if necessary). Estabilishing control of refugees took precedence over providing a "humane" response."

EU: Greece and Italy "state of play" from the European Commission including "return flights": First groups "nationality screened" for "return"

- Greece – State of Play report from 11 October 2015 (pdf):

"Returns: What has been done so far

1. Frontex has organized a joint return flight which will leave to Nigeria on October 15, the first after the interruption of the return programme on June 30, 2015.

2. The Commission has assisted Greece in finding an agreement with the Embassy of Pakistan in Athens clarifying and streamlining the return procedures under the EU/Pakistan Readmission Agreement.

3. A call for tender for the resumption of the return programme funded by ISF will be launched by the end of this week.

4. A further joint return flight organized by Frontex has been scheduled to Pakistan. The Pakistani Embassy has committed to issue the relevant travelling documents for 26 nationals.

5. Greece has currently sufficient pre-removal detention capacity to implement a forced returns programme."

- Italy – State of Play report from 11 October 2015 (pdf)

"Return: What has been done

1. The Italian authorities have invested significant resources in the field of return and the procedure is now well established in many cases (Egyptians, Tunisians). Since the beginning of the year, 72 return flights have been organized.

2. Italy is currently negotiating with several Sub Saharan countries operational agreements to ensure swift return of third country nationals (particularly in Western Africa). An agreement has been reached already with Gambia, while others have been proposed to other Third Countries. Cooperation with Nigeria has also been enhanced.

3. Italy participates in joint flights organised by Frontex on a regular basis."

Map of the 'Hotspots' designated in Greece (pdf): Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos and Map of the 'Hotspots' designated in Italy (pdf): Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Augusta, Porto Empedode and Trapani

European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) Statement: With winter approaching ECRE urgenty calls on Europe to act (pdf)

"With the winter season approaching, European countries must ensure adequate reception conditions and treat people in need of protection with dignity and respect.
The current focus on increasing border controls may have the opposite effect and deny these children, women and men fleeing war and persecution from
accessing the international protection they need."

News (17-18.10.15)

Bulgaria: Amnesty International Urges Independent Probe into Bulgaria Migrant Death (.novinite.com, link): "AI's Barbora Cernušáková told the Bulgarian National Radio on Saturday it is of key importance to determine whether force had been used by police and whether its reactions with regard to the migrant groups had been "proportionate".The group of 54 people of which the dead migrant was part might have been looking for asylum and this would suggest measures taken by police were "extreme", Cernušáková warned" and UNHCR Condemns Incident with Migrant near Bulgaria's Border (UNHCR, link): ""We condemn the fact that the death of an asylum seeker from Afghanistan occurred and that it happened while he was trying to reach safety in Bulgaria and to exert his universal right to seeking asylum," Cheshirkov told the Bulgarian National Radio, also urging an "immediate, thorough, transparent, and independent" investigation into the tragic event.."

Sweden: Three Swedish refugee centres hit by fire (The Local.se, link): "An old school building in Onsala, Kungsbacka, 30kms south of Gothenburg, caught fire on Saturday evening. It was the third time this week that prospective asylum accommodation has been badly damaged by fire."

UK: Bishops in stinging rebuke to David Cameron over refugee crisis (Observer, link): "Clergy release text of private letter sent in September as it emerges that PM snubbed church’s offer of help. An extraordinary row between the Church of England and the prime minister has burst into the open as 84 bishops accuse David Cameron of ignoring their offers to help to provide housing, foster care and other support for up to 50,000 refugees." and the The bishops’ letter to David Cameron: refugee crisis ‘calls all of us to play our parts’ (Observer, link)

Slovenia calls on army to aid migration flow (DW, link): "Slovenia has called on the army to assist police as hundreds of asylum seekers arrive in the Schengen member state via Croatia. The move follows Hungary's decision to lock down its border with Croatia."

Swedish nationalists to copy Danish refugee ads (The Local.dk, link): "Sweden’s anti-immigration Sweden Democrats has announced plans to place advertisements in foreign newspapers encouraging refugees to stay away."

Italy: PM slams EU boss over Hungary comparison (The Local.it, link) : "Italian Premier Matteo Renzi reacted angrily to comments comparing Italy and Hungary's handling of the refugee crisis, made by European Council President Donald Tusk on Thursday. Speaking at an EU leader's summit EU leaders summit , Tusk said Italy and Hungary were both guilty of breaking EU rules during the refugee crisis. But for Renzi, there was no comparison.The far-right government of Hungary has been steadily building defences to keep refugees out, while Italians have been working hard to accommodate as many as possible."

Croatia diverts migrants to Slovenia after Hungary border closure (Reuters, link): "Migrants streaming across the Balkans reached Slovenia on Saturday, diverted overnight by the closure of Hungary’s border with Croatia in the latest demonstration of Europe's disjointed response to the flow of people reaching its borders.Hungary’s right-wing government declared its southern frontier with Croatia off limits to migrants, blocking entry with a metal fence and razor wire just as it did a month ago on its border with Serbia."

Hungary reinstates border controls at Slovenian frontier (DW, link): "Hungary has announced that it has reactivated border controls at its Slovenian frontier. The move follows Budapest's decision to close its border with Croatia, forcing migrants to divert their route through Slovenia."

Germany ready to give Greece financial aid to tackle refugee crisis - Berlin acknowledges Greek economy too weak to cope with influx and is willing to give support in return for more robust border controls (Guardian, link): "An article in the respected economic publication Wirtschaftswoche quoted a government insider as saying: “Our highest priority right now is that more refugees stay in Greece.” The source went on to say: “Germany will bear the brunt of the costs of the refugee crisis – we must be realistic about that.”"

Just how safe is the EU ‘safe list’? (euractiv, link): "The inclusion of countries that persecute homosexuals on the “safe list” has led the German Greens to ask for infringement proceedings to be launched. EurActiv’s partner Tagesspiegel reports. The so-called 'safe list', which is due to be extended, includes countries where individuals are not at risk from political or sexual persecution. On Wednesday (14 October), the German Greens asked the EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, what has been done for the asylum rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people."

A Warm Austrian Welcome for Refugees (UNHCR Tracks, link): "A grandma, a teacher and a mayor are among thousands of volunteers from all over Austria embracing desperate refugees seeking safety in Europe."

UK: Asylum seekers face eviction four weeks after being allowed to stay in Britain (Guardian, link): "Charities predict worst winter for homelessness thanks to Home Office regulations"

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Text of "Revised": EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan (dated 16.10.15, pdf)

EU COUNCIL: RESPONSE TO REFUGE CRISIS: SUMMIT CONCLUSIONS (16.10.15, pdf):

"welcomes the joint Action Plan with Turkey as part of a comprehensive cooperation agenda based on shared responsibility, mutual commitments and delivery. Successful implementation will contribute to accelerating the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap towards all participating Member States and the full implementation of the readmission agreement. Progress will be assessed in spring 2016."

See: Turkey’s Erdogan calls the shots at EU summit (euractiv, link): "Faced with a refugee crisis they seem unable to control, EU leaders last night (15 October) tried to accommodate ambitious demands by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just two weeks before crucial elections in Turkey.... Yesterday morning in Ankara, Commission First-Vice President Frans Timmermans had agreed with his Turkish counterparts a "package" in exchange for Turkey's help in stemming the flow of refugees to the EU." and: Merkel backs multibillion-euro refugee package for Turkey (FT, link) also: EU bid to stem refugee influx stalls on how much to give Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): "European leaders failed to reach a final agreement on recruiting Turkey to help stem the flow of refugees from the Middle East, with some eastern member states dragging their heels over how much aid to grant their neighbor.... While the member states agreed to send hundreds more border guards to help Frontex and other joint agencies patrolling the bloc’s borders, leaders made little progress on how to redesign the system of distributing immigrants, forming an EU border guard corps or on how to ensure arrivals are properly processed. “These are all divisive issues and the goal today was to have the first serious exchange,” Tusk said"

EU migrant crisis: Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban pushes for Greek border to be sealed (IBT, link): "The country's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said: "We have urged Greece and the European Council to put together a joint European force to protect the external Schengen border. Unfortunately this decision has not been made. "If this decision is not made during the European Council meeting today and tomorrow, we really have to put into serious consideration to protect the Schengen zone at the Croatian-Hungarian border," he added. Hungary has already built a fence along its border with Croatia in a bid to keep Middle Eastern migrants out.

EU-TURKEY: READMISSION AGREEMENT: Full-text: AGREEMENT between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation pdf) This is not yet operative and it part of the "deal" to stop refugees arriving that the EU wants - including the return of people from Syria.

Turkey demands €3 billion on EU asylum crisis (euobserver, link): ""We were able to reach an agreement this evening as regards the shape this action plan will take", European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters on Thursday (15 October). It requires Syrian and other refugees in Turkey to remain in the country and prevent them from transiting into the EU. EU Council chief Donald Tusk said an agreement with Turkey only "makes sense only if it effectively contains the flow of refugees... Turkey, for its part, wants to speed up membership to the European Union and have visa restrictions removed next year. The official deadline for removing the visas has already been set to October 2017 and is unlikely to change". [emphasis added]

Afghan Migrant Shot Dead in Bulgaria near Border with Turkey, (novinite.com, link):

"An Afghan man died in Bulgaria after being indirectly hit by a bullet of border police on Thursday, authorities say. The incident took place around 22:00 local time (EEST), the Interior Ministry's Chief Secretary, Georgi Kostov, has announced. Pretrial proceedings have been launched.

It happened as border police detected the movement of 54 people trying to enter Bulgaria near the town of Sredets, in the country's south-east, not far from the border with Turkey. After shooting in the air as a warning sign, a bullet "rebounded" hitting one of them in the back of the neck by mistake, Kostov has explained, without elaborating." [emphasis added]

Seven people die off Lesvos as tensions flare at crowded reception facility (UNHCR, link):

"Authorities in Greece have reported up to seven people were killed – four of them children – in a collision between a smuggling boat and a Greek Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Lesvos, the UN refugee agency said today.... The collision between the Coast Guard patrol vessel and a wooden fishing boat carrying 38 people occurred off the island's north-western coastal town of Molyvos, the Greek Coast Guard said on Thursday (October 15). Seven bodies, including those of the four children, were subsequently recovered. Thirty-one people were rescued following the incident. The Greek authorities have announced that they are investigating the matter, UNHCR said." and see:

Seven migrants killed when their boat, reportedly fleeing, collides with Greek coast guard vessel (japantimes.co.jp, link): "LESBOS, GREECE – A wooden boat carrying dozens of migrants from Turkey to Europe sank Thursday near the island of Lesbos after colliding with a Greek coast guard vessel, leaving at least seven people dead, including four children, rescuers said. The boat sank within minutes of the crash with a 30-meter (100-foot) patrol vessel on Thursday morning, in circumstances that were being investigated.... An AFP photographer who witnessed the crash from the shores of Lesbos said the boat went down just two or three minutes after the collision, which took place some 2 km (1.2 miles) from land."

EU: GERMANY BORDER CONTROL LETTER TO EU: Prolongation of the temporary reintroduction of border controls at the German internal borders in accordance with Article 25 of Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (pdf)

News (15-16.10.15)

Seeing double? How the EU miscounts migrants arriving at its borders (The Conversation, link)

Turkey pours cold water on EU migrant plan (ekathimerini.com, link):: "Just hours after the European Union announced the accord with great fanfare at a leaders’ summit, Ankara said the plan to cope with a crisis that has seen some 600,000 mostly Syrian migrants enter the EU this year was just a draft....

Temporary Protection: EU had plan for migrant influx (eoobersver, link): "EU Ministers struggling with mandatory quotas to address a migration and refugee crisis over which they have little control, seem to have forgotten or overlooked the fact that fourteen years ago their predecessors created a tool ready for use in just such a crisis. The 2001 Directive on Temporary Protection is designed for mass influx situations. On paper, it is the perfect tool to deal with the Syrian arrivals."

Hungary to seal border with Croatia to stem flow of immigrants (ekathimerini.com, link):: "Hungary will seal its border with Croatia from midnight on Friday to stem the influx of refugees, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Budapest after a meeting of the national security council. "This is the second best option," Szijjarto told reporters. "The best option, setting up an EU force to defend Greece’s external borders, was rejected in Brussels yesterday.""

Claims that Greek police officers robbed, pushed back Syrian refugees to be probed (ekathimerini.com, link): "Authorities in Greece are investigating a series of allegations that Syrian refugees who entered the country by land from Turkey were robbed and forced back across the border by Greek police. A judicial official said Friday that Thessaloniki prosecutor Lefteris Michailidis has ordered the police internal affairs squad to investigate more than 20 complaints forwarded by human rights groups. The official spoke on condition of anonymity."

Surge in migrant arrivals in Greece (IOM, link): Number of arrivals: 613,179, of whom 472,754 arrived in Greece, 3,117 dead or missing this year: "Greece - Since the beginning of October, IOM reports that over 68,000 migrants have now crossed into Greece, with the majority arriving on the island of Lesvos (41,954). Smaller numbers have arrived on the islands of Samos (10,283) and Chios (6,393). Despite deteriorating weather conditions, the flow of migrants and refugees arriving at the main entry points continues to average over 4,500 a day."

Migrants may give Europe's economy a new lease of life (Reuters, link)

Greece: PM Tsipras after EU Summit on migration: "EU on right path, but going as slow as a turtle" (amna.gr, link)

Denmark: Tech whizzes create apps to help refugees (The Local.dk, link): "A group of Vienna-based software developers have created four new apps for smartphones, designed to make life easier for refugees fleeing from war and poverty - and to put them directly in touch with aid workers.... The software was programmed last weekend, as part of a ‘Refugee Hack Vienna’ event which saw 25 volunteers get together to see what they could create. “It’s amazing what people who have never met each other before can make in a short space of time,” one of the organisers, Helene Pattermann said."

How many refugee children can Sweden take? (UNHCR, link)

'Women put their babies into our arms begging us to keep them safe' (The Local.es, link): "As more and more refugees crowd into rubber dinghies to reach Europe, a Spanish volunteer lifeguard tells The Local how he's swapped the tourist packed beaches of Catalonia to go on patrol in Lesbos."

Norway to send some Syrians back to Russia (The Local.no, link): "Norway plans to send back hundreds of Syrian refugees who have crossed its northern border back to Russia, arguing that many had been living in its northern neighbour for a long time prior to applying for asylum. "

Refugees not 'invading' France, Hollande blasts (The Local, fr, link): "French President Francois Hollande has tried to put the record straight insisting that France is not being "invaded" by refugees as the far right would have people believe."

Germany passes controversial asylum seekers bill (DW, link): "Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has passed a new asylum seekers policy. The government's opposition and various refugee organizations have harshly criticized the reforms."

Eastern EU states agree joint border patrols (euobserver, link): "The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have agreed to send dozens of police and military officers to Hungary’s frontier with Serbia to reinforce border controls in a joint effort they say could serve as model for the rest of the EU. "

Angela Merkel at the European Parliament: from words to action? (eumigrationlawblog.eu, link)

MEPs caution against using our neighbours as border guards and challenge EU (GUE, link):"to deal with root causes of migration through coordinated international efforts"

Why was the EU not prepared for the refugee crisis and what to expect next? (epc.link)

Spain: Impunity for border control killings in the Canary island: No charges in case involving Guardia Civil patrol boat which sank dinghy near Lanzarote in 2012

On 13 October 2015, El Diario newspaper reported that the third instruction court in Arrecife shelved the case involving the sinking of a dinghy by a Guardia Civil patrol boat in December 2012 which resulted in a Moroccan boy's death and the disappearance of six other passengers.

UPDATE: EU: MED-REFUGEE SUMMIT: New European Council: 15-16 October 2015: Draft Conclusions (LIMITE doc no 11140-15, pdf)

Previous versions: European Council: 15-16 October 2015: Draft Conclusions (LIMITE doc no 11139-15, pdf) and European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no:1137-15, (pdf)

Frontex: 710 000 migrants entered EU in first nine months of 2015 (link) Frontex gets headline news with this kind of press release but are they accurate?

"Clarification: Frontex provides monthly data on the number of people detected at the external borders of the European Union. Irregular border crossings may be attempted by the same person several times in different locations at the external border. This means that a large number of the people who were counted when they arrived in Greece were again counted when entering the EU for the second time through Hungary or Croatia."

This is why the Frontex figures always exceed those of IOM and UNHCR: Mediterranean Arrivals Near Record 600,000 (IOM, link) and October 2 (UNHCR) refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015.With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000"

EU: SUMMIT ON THE MED: Council President Tusk invitation letter to Heads of State Summit: 15-16 October, 2015:
"Even if the influx of refugees slows down during winter, we must be ready for spring and the threat of bigger waves flowing to Europe".(pdf)

"Let us be clear about one thing. The exceptionally easy access to Europe is one of the main pull factors. In this context we should consider:

1. The future of the Dublin system, which is now in force - whether to keep it as it is or to look for alternatives;
2. The specific role of hotspots in light of different opinions as to their character and purpose;
3. The strengthening of our external borders, including a possible EU border guard."

News (14.10.15)

Immigrant kids may soon be 'de facto' Italians (The Local.it, link): "Italy’s Lower House has backed new legislation granting citizenship to babies born in Italy to foreign parents. Children born to immigrant parents in Italy have to wait until they turn 18 before being eligible for citizenship. But the new bill, which has now been passed to the Senate, would grant citizenship to babies born to foreign parents in the country if at least one of the parents has a long-term permit to stay."

SNCF to show 'humanity' to ticketless refugees (The Local.fr, link): "French rail operator SNCF has been forced to deny suggestions it is allowing refugees to travel en masse for free on trains across France after a leaked memo to staff provoked anger from those on the right"

EU Satisfied with Greece’s Processing of Refugees (Greek Reporter, link):"after the cooperation between Greek authorities and the Pakistani embassy, repatriation flights will start immediately"

Three People Missing After Shipwreck off the Coast of Lesvos (Greek Reporter, link) and see: Video Showing Coast Guard Officers Threatening Immigrants (Greek Reporter, 31 January 2015)

EU border guards to be considered as migrant crisis intensifies (FT, link): "The proposal is one of a series of hardline measures being considered by EU leaders in order to toughen the EU’s border controls, which range from more guards to increased use of deportations, and even biometric testing — encompassing everything from fingerprinting to eyeball scanning."

International Migrants Day - 18 December 2015 (UNHCR, link)

The snarling dud of May (The Economist, link): "Higher migration levels means lower public-sector borrowing figures and is one of the reasons why migration to Britain is a good thing."

Migrant crisis: Germany considers 'transit zones' on borders (BBC News, link): "Germany is considering setting up "transit zones" on its borders, where migrants would be kept while their asylum claims are assessed."

Commission: German transit zones only temporary (euobserver, link): "German government plans to establish transit zones for registering people seeking protection will have to be temporary and can only lead to a limited reintroduction of border checks, the European Commission said on Tuesday (13 October). Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, under pressure from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of her Christian Democrats (CDU), is mulling the idea of setting up transit zones along the German border. The idea, opposed by Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), is that the transit zones would facilitate the processing of migrants who are coming from safe countries, and are therefore not in need of international protection. "

Watchdog: Czech refugee camp offers 'worse conditions' than prisons (DW, link): "Migrants in a Czech refugee center were "debased in front of their children," according to human rights official Anna Sabatova. The conditions violate international conventions, she said after visiting the facility." and Ombudsman criticises conditions in refugee facility (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The Living conditions of refugees in the detention facility in Bela-Jezova, central Bohemia, are very bad and their children live there worse than Czech prisoners, Ombudsman Anna Sabatova told reporters yesterday."

Tusk: 'Easy access' to EU is main lure for migrants (euobserver, link)

Refugees themselves, Iraqis volunteer to help others reach safety in Germany (UNHCR, link): "SALZBURG, Austria, Oct 12 (UNHCR) – Childhood friends Hussein and Jaffa fled war ravaged Iraq together, crossing seven borders and the Aegean Sea to seek refuge in Europe. As they seek asylum in Austria, they decided to help those following in their tracks.Donning fluorescent jackets, they volunteer in a makeshift camp on the Austrian side of a bridge to Germany, helping 1,000 or so foot-sore refugees to get hot food, medical care, tents to sleep under and warm clothes to beat the autumn chill."

European Council President Donald Tusk told Turkey yesterday (13 October) that it could win concessions from the EU, such as visa-free travel, if it successfully reduces the flow of refugees reaching Europe (euractiv, link): "Three EU Commissioners are due to visit Ankara today, ahead of Thursday's (15 October) EU summit."

Brussels wants Hungary’s answers over migrants crackdown (euronews, link)

Lesvos, Greece: The refugee boats keep coming, but we’re making a difference - How a University of Melbourne Law student was moved by a harrowing image to help out on the frontline of Europe’s refugee crisis (unimelb.edu.au, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council Presidency Letter to the President of the European Council for the Summit meeting on 15-16 October 2015 (pdf): A summary of the actions taken and future plans: Includes two sets of Conclusions and 1994 Recommendations (EU return Laissez-passer) in which national and European parliaments have no say at all:

"To increase the effectiveness of the EU's return system, Ministers reiterated their willingness to implement all measures, including the use of detention as a legitimate measure of last resort. They underlined the need to reinforce pre-removal detention capacities to ensure the physical availability of irregular migrants for return....

an integrated system of return management by building on synergies between all relevant stakeholders [see footnote]....

The Council also highlighted the importance of all EU actors exploiting the full potential of EU diplomacy on the ground and prioritizing readmission in all relevant contacts at political level with countries of origin of irregular migrants, thus helping to identifying potential leverage. On this issue, Commissioner Avramopoulos stressed his strong support for the organization of planned joint return flights to Pakistan by the end of the month...

addressing the future management of the external borders of the European Union. In the current circumstances, further efforts need to be undertaken on hotspots, with a focus on green [land] borders....

Influx of migrants to the European Union will not abate in the short run."

Footnote: New initiatives to try and persuaded, or "bribe", the so-called "more for more principle" if African states agree to the return of refugees:

"Notably the European Integrated Approach on Return towards Third Countries (EURINT), the European Reintegration Instrument Network (ERIN) and the European Return Liaison Officers network (EURLO), as well as Immigration Liaison Officers (ILOs), Frontex Liaison Officers and European Migration Liaison Officers (EMLOs), to be deployed by end of 2015 to Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Pakistan, Serbia, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Sudan, Turkey and Jordan." [emphasis added]

EU: AUSTRIA: Xenophobia on the increase in Austria (euractiv, link): "The Council of Europe is concerned about a rise in racism in Austria. Certain political parties and organisations, as well as media outlets, are cultivating a chauvinistic discourse."

and see: European Commission against racism and intolerance (CoE): ECRI report on Austria (pdf)

Athens rules out joint sea patrols with Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): !Diplomatic sources in Athens Monday ruled out the prospect of Greek and Turkish naval forces conducting joint patrols in the eastern Aegean in a bid to curb a dramatic influx of migrants and refugees.

Speaking to Kathimerini, the same sources from the Greek Foreign Ministry stated that no official European documents raise the issue of joint sea patrols – which was first reported in the German press ahead of the draft action plan signed last week between the European Union and Turkey on the support of refugees and migration management."

Spain-Morocco: Two deaths at Spain-Morocco border after marines overturn raft

Two migrants died and 20 others were injured at the Spanish-Moroccan border on Friday 9 October after a raft on which they were travelling was overturned by the Moroccan Royal Marines, according to a report on the website of Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

Cadena SER cited eyewitness testimony from people working with the NGO Caminando Fronteras, who said: "The immigrants were travelling in a raft which was intercepted and overturned by the Royal Marines with great violence; they were subsequently beaten."

Watch The Med Alarm Phone‘s 1 Year Anniversary Statement 12.10.2015 (pdf):

"While we are confronted with a lot of despair, we have also been inspired uncountable times by the willingness to overcome the sea and to move on to desired places throughout Europe.

They grew stronger, louder and more visible every day in the past months: the incredible social and political struggles of refugees and migrants for the freedom of movement. To overcome the Mediterranean Sea in small overcrowded boats is one of the most dangerous aspects of these migration journeys towards the European Union as safe and legal pathways are closed down and fenced off by its government."

Website: www.alarmphone.org

ECRE Comments on the proposal for an EU common list of safe countries of origin (AIDA, link):

"ECRE seriously questions the compatibility of the safe country of origin concept with international refugee law, as it is at odds with the obligation on states under the 1951 Refugee Convention to treat refugees without discrimination based on their country of origin. The use of safe country lists, whether nationally designated or at EU level, further contributes to a practice of stereotyping certain applications on the basis of their nationality and increases the risk of such applications not being subject to a thorough examination of a person’s fear for persecution or risk of serious harm on an individual basis, which is at the core of the refugee definition and crucial to ensuring full respect for the principle of non-refoulement....

In that regard, ECRE is opposed to the adoption of a common EU list of safe countries of origin as proposed by the Commission, as it is part of a worrying development in EU asylum law to increasingly assume a negative outcome of an asylum procedure on the basis of the nationality or profile of the applicant as being manifestly unfounded prior to a proper examination of the application."

and see: ECRE Comments on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin and amending the recast Asylum Procedures Directive (COM(2015) 452) (pdf)

News (`13.10.15)

Turkish students attacked in Poland (.thenews.pl, link): "A group of students from Turkey were attacked and told to”'go back to their country” on Monday in Slupsk, northern Poland."

Drahonice detention centre opens to migrants (Prgague Daily Monitor, link): "The complex is closed and the refugees are not allowed to leave it"

EU migrant arrivals 170,000 in September, says Frontex (ekathimerini.com, link): "Some 170,000 irregular migrants entered the European Union in September, the bloc's border agency Frontex said on Tuesday, taking the total for the year so far to 710,000. That compares to 282,000 migrants crossing EU borders irregularly for the whole of 2014 as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II."

Migrant sea deaths top 3,000 this year, says migration organization (ekathimerini.com, link): "Ninety percent of the deaths this year were on the high Mediterranean, mainly between Libya and Italy. The IOM says that those arriving in Italy are much more diverse, with large contingents from at least 16 countries."

Tears, relief and joy: Lesbos - the tiny Greek island on the frontline of Europe's refugee crisis (ITV News, link)

Czech Prison Service to help guard detention facilities (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The Czech Prison Service will help guard migrants in detention facilities as from November 1 at the request of the Interior Ministry, for which Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (for ANO) has released up to 70 people, he told journalists yesterday."

AI: FENCED OUT: Hungary's violationd of the rights of refugees and migrants (pdf)

UK-GREECE: positive action. taking action. rebuilding lives: So you're interested in volunteering? We just need a few pieces of information to get things going.(Positive Action in Housing, link)

Angela Merkel au Parlement européen, des paroles aux actes? (EASFJ, link)

Winter Is Coming, But Activists Fear The Tide Of Refugees Isn’t Slowing Down - “What rational people would say is unsafe may not be enough to stop you if you’re a refugee,” one advocate said. (Buzz Feed, link)

“Migration in a World in Disarray”: IOM Director General (link): "IOM Director General William Lacy Swing yesterday (12/10) spoke of “Migration in a World in Disarray” and called for improved global migration management at a time of unprecedented human mobility.... “More people are on the move than ever before – more than one billion in our seven-billion person world. Of these, 250 million are international migrants, and 750 million are domestic migrants. International migrants have remained constant at about 3 percent of the world’s population for several decades, but numerically, migrants are more numerous than ever before,” he said." and see: IOM Launches Online Platform to Track Europe’s Migration Emergency (link) also: Mediterranean Arrivals Near Record 600,000 (IOM, link)

Greece promises five hotspots operational within month: Brussels, 12/10/2015 (Agence Europe) - "Hotspot" facilities should be operational in Greece in about ten days' time, with the first at Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, Luxembourg Immigration and Asylum Minister Jean Asselborn announced on Saturday 10 October, during a visit to Greece with European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. Four further hotspots on the Greek islands will be set up subsequently, with the Port of Piraeus currently the centre from which the logistics of these hotspots are being organised. Greek Minister Delegate for Immigration Yannis Mouzalas said that the country's five hotspots would be operational "in a month's time". Asselborn and Avramopoulos are expected to return to Mytilene to check progress at the end of this week."

EU Commission concerned by Hungary's migration laws (euobserver, link): "The EU Commission has expressed concerns over Hungary's new and amended migration laws in a letter sent last week which asked for clarification. The letter, published earlier by Hungarian media and now on Statewatch, a non-profit organisation committed to transparency, was sent on 7 October and was signed by the Commission's director general for migration and justice. The letter challenges recent Hungarian legislation that seems to fast-track people seeking refuge back to Serbia with a ban on entering the EU for a year." See: Letter to Hungary: and detailed Annex: Comments and preliminary concerns on recent legislative changes related to the migration crisis (pdf)

"Hotspots" in Germany: Germany will filter refugees in camps at borders (euractiv, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Bavarian allies have agreed on a plan to set up "transit zones" at the border, to identify migrants who are ineligible for asylum, Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer said on Monday (12 October). Seehofer, who heads the Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said a concrete proposal would be drawn up by the two parties, the Bavarian government and the federal government, this week. Speaking at a CDU event at the northern city of Stade, Merkel said the idea was to stop directly at the border those migrants who were coming from countries deemed as safe.

Greece: Chaos, Insecurity in Registration Center - Information, Attention to Vulnerable Groups Urgently Needed (HRW, link): "Poor organization and a lack of personnel is creating chaos and insecurity at a police registration center and surrounding informal camp for asylum seekers and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos, Human Rights Watch said today.In a visit to Lesbos on October 4 and 5, 2015, Human Rights Watch found that women with young children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities or medical conditions are often not identified as vulnerable groups nor ensured that they can register and get proper access to basic services such as food and health care."

EU: European Commission: Letter to Hungary: and detailed Annex: Comments and preliminary concerns on recent legislative changes related to the migration crisis (pdf)

"This preliminary assessment reveals a number of concerns and questions on substance and implementation relating inter alia to:

- a possible quasi-systematic dismissal of applications for international protection submitted at the border with Serbia

- a possible lack of sufficient safeguards in the asylum procedure implemented at the border, including as regards the existence of effective remedies to challenge a decision on the admissibility of an asylum application

- the criminal sanctions introduced relating to the crossing of the border and a possible lack of adequate safeguards ensuring respect of the rights of defence and effective remedies in the criminal proceedings

- the closing of border crossing points

- the powers granted to the military forces in border management and questions as to the existence of adequate safeguards and remedies

- a possible general lack of specific procedures or safeguards for children"

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: VALLETTA CONFERENCE: 11-12 November 2015: Council of the European Union: Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Two (LIMITE doc no 12560-rev-1-15, 7 October 2015, pdf)

EU SUMMIT: European Council meeting 15-16 October 2015: European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (pdf): "achieve concrete operational measures at the forthcoming Valletta Summit with African Heads of State or Government, focusing, in a fair and balanced manner, on effective return and readmission, dismantling of criminal networks and preventing illegal migration... See earlier version: Possible elements for the Outcome Document for Valletta - annotated version (LIMITE doc no 11534-15, pdf)

UK: REFUGEE CRISIS: Call from the Legal Community for Urgent Action:This statement calls for an urgent, humane and effective governmental response to the refugee crisis. Its signatories include retired judges, Queen’s Counsel, barristers, solicitors and law professors (Letter in Guardian and Times, link):

"Like many others, we consider that the UK Government’s offer to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East, spread over 5 years, is too low, too slow and too narrow."

Greek minister says EU refugee relocation program undermined by racism (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union must stop countries picking and choosing which refugees they accept in its relocation program, otherwise it will turn into a shameful "human market", Greece's new migration minister said....Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said in an interview that Greece was having trouble finding refugees to send to certain countries because the receiving nations had set what he called "racist criteria". He declined to name the states concerned....

"Views such as 'we want 10 Christians', or '75 Muslims', or 'we want them tall, blonde, with blue eyes and three children,' are insulting to the personality and freedom of refugees," Mouzalas told Reuters. "Europe must be categorically against that." ...

several thousand, mostly Afghans, have ended up trapped in Greece for lack of money. European authorities are reluctant to treat Afghans systematically as refugees, and a result, they are shut out of the relocation process. "It's absurd to think that Afghans are coming to find better work. There is a long-lasting war, you aren't safe anywhere, that's the reality," Mouzalas said."

EU: Council of the European Union: Council conclusions on Migration Foreign Affairs Council, 12 October 2015 (pdf):

"The Council recalls the importance to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with African countries of origin and transit in order to jointly manage migration and asylum flows in the spirit of partnership, ownership and shared responsibility. In this regard, the Council welcomes the efforts by the Presidents of the European Council, the Commission and the Presidency of the Council of the EU, in close cooperation with the HRVP, in preparation of the Valletta Summit on 11 and 12 November and encourages all those involved to find comprehensive and balanced solutions and make substantial progress on all priority domains of the draft Action Plan."

News (12.10.15)

EU's refugee relocation scheme 'not enough,' says UNHCR chief (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union's current relocation scheme for refugees is “not enough” to address the scope of the problem, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Monday.... “You cannot have a technocratic approach to relocation,” he told a news conference in Athens. “Without a human approach to relocation, this process could fail,” he warned."

Catastrophic moral failure as rich countries leave millions of refugees to cruel and uncertain fates (AI, link): "Eight-point plan to respond to global refugee crisis - Only a tenth of 1.15 million most vulnerable refugees being resettled - 86% of refugees now hosted in developing countries - UN refugee appeals chronically and severely underfunded"

Praise and concern for migrant, refugee facilities on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link): "The head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres has praised the efforts made by authorities on Greek islands to deal with the influx of migrants and refugees... “After months with huge numbers of people arriving in Lesbos, the authorities still don’t have an effective system for registering people so that they can travel onward,” said Eva Cossé, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch."

Austria's far-right makes gains but fails to topple Social Democrats in Vienna election (DW, link)

Czech Republic: Senate to select refugees to be accepted (Prague Daily Monitor, link): "The Czech Senate should again reject EU mandatory refugee redistribution quotas, its European committee has said, adding that the upper house of parliament should also ask the government to maximally influence the selection of asylum applicants to be placed in the Czech Republic.... According to the committee, the government should also thoroughly check whether the migrants to be selected in Italy and Greece for relocation to the Czech Republic may pose a threat to national security and the public peace."

12,220 refugees enter Austria in 36 hours (The Local,.at, link): "A total of 12,220 people entered eastern Austria in the previous 36 hours as the flow of refugees from the Balkans to northern Europe continued, police said on Monday."

I'm not scared of polls or my own party: Merkel (The Local.de, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that she would not be turned from her course in the refugee crisis by headwinds in the polls or rumours of rebellion in her own party, repeating her insistence that Germany can weather the storm."

Migrants in Sicily befriend elderly Italians (The Local.it, link): "It's a win-win relationship: asylum seekers battling boredom in Sicily as they wait for their applications to be processed volunteer to keep elderly and lonely Italians company."

Sweden sees highest asylum levels in history (The Local.se, link): "More refugees have sought asylum in Sweden so far in 2015 than in any other year in the Nordic nation's history, new figures released by the country's Migration Agency have revealed."

MEP Ska Keller: Bulgaria Has Important Role in EU's Plans on Refugees (novinite.com, link): "Being an external border of the EU, Bulgaria has an important role in the plans of the Union on addressing the refugee crisis. This was stated by Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Ska Keller, in Plovdiv on Sunday, private bTV station informs"

Dublin is over: the rise of Europe's new migrant prisons (Open Democracy, link) "By getting the UNHCR and Frontex to more directly intervene in the first moments of arrival with identification and fingerprinting, the EU is attempting to retake control of movement throughout Europe."

V4 to jointly protect Hungary's border, Croatia really upset (portfolio.hu, link): "The Visegrad Four countries can start border authority co-operation from next week, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, told public television M1 late on Thursday. Croatia’s Interior Minister is not overly fond of the idea."

EU to open first refugee reception 'hotspot' in Greece (DW, link):"Greece is setting up its first refugee hotspot to receive migrants coming into Europe from the Middle East and Africa. The center, on Lesbos, is the first of five designed to register and screen all incoming migrants."

Alternatives to detention for asylum seekers and people in return procedures (FRA, link)

Ireland may help EU in expelling refugees (Irish Examiner, link): "Ireland is considering contributing personnel to help cope with the mammoth task of sorting and relocating asylum-seekers from camps in Greece and Italy to other member states.... While Ireland has opted-out of the EU Directive on Returns introduced in 2008, it has joined with other countries and Frontex in sharing flights to return refugees whose request to remain in the country has been rejected."

Trilateral centre for police cooperation at Bulgaria’s Kapitan Andreevo border crossing held up as example (focus-fen.net, link)

Greece: Chaos, Insecurity in Registration Center - Information, Attention to Vulnerable Groups Urgently Needed (HRW, link): "Poor organization and a lack of personnel is creating chaos and insecurity at a police registration center and surrounding informal camp for asylum seekers and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos, Human Rights Watch said today."

EU: European Parliament study: EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of EU funding and agencies in the field of migration, asylum and integration. It begins with a brief assessment of their effectiveness and efficiency before examining whether the design of management, budgeting and control systems is effective in preventing the misuse of resources. The study illustrates good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations on how to achieve greater transparency in the implementation of future EU funding programmes."

See: also: MED CRISIS: Billion-euro budgets to be distributed to Member States; plus latest news reports (Statewatch database): "The European Commission has announced the approval of 23 more national programmes for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund, paving the way for the release of up to €2.4 billion to Member States to "improve migration management, foster cooperation and make Europe safer".

UN: EU Med Operations: Resolution 2240 (2015), Security Council Authorizes Member States to Intercept Vessels off Libyan Coast Suspected of Migrant Smuggling (Full-text, pdf)

See: U.N. council OKs mission against human trafficking off Libya (Reuters, link):

" The United Nations Security Council on Friday authorized European Union naval operations for one year to seize and dispose of vessels operated by human traffickers in the high seas off Libya. The 15-member council adopted the British-drafted resolution with 14 votes in favor. Venezuela abstained.

The resolution approved the second of three phases of an EU naval mission intended to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe, which has escalated into a major crisis in recent months. The third phase of the EU mission, which is not covered by the resolution, would involve European operations in Libyan territorial waters and coastal areas."

EU: Declaration of the High-level Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean - Western Balkans Route (Full-text, pdf):

"Improve and share data collection, tracking of movements of population, joint needs assessments, mapping or analysis of socio-economic impact in order to ensure a more targeted and effective response and anticipate trends, while respecting privacy of personal data and legal safeguards...

Enhance capacity to manage borders and to ensure prompt registration of all refugees and migrants and effective, rapid and quality processing of asylum applications, in full respect of human rights and in line with international standards. Support swift return to their countries of origin of persons not entitled to international protection, in full respect of the principle of non-refoulement....

Enhance police and judicial cooperation, including intelligence-gathering, sharing and analysing, as well as capacity building of law enforcement and judicial authorities, with a specific focus on the conduct of financial investigations...."

NEWS (10-11.10.15)

Greece’s first ‘hotspot’ to open on Lesvos this week (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece’s first so-called migrant hotspot on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos will start operating next week, Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said on Saturday, adding that another four screening centers will follow on other islands."

Refugee crisis is a boon to Vienna's far-right party (DW, link): "The Freedom Party is tapping into anxiety over the high number of migrants in Vienna. The far right has become a challenge to the Social Democrats, who have ruled Austria's capital for decades, Alison Langley reports." and Could far-right leader conquer 'red' Vienna? (The Local.at, link): "

Big rise in German attacks on migrant homes in 2015 (BBC News, link):"The German government says there have been almost 500 attacks on homes intended for asylum seekers this year - three times more than in 2014. " and Protesters, police clash at refugee homes in Germany (DW, link): "Police have been attacked by protesters at asylum seeker shelters in the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg. The overnight unrest comes after the government reported a massive increase in attacks on refugee homes."

Eritrean refugees protest in Lampedusa - Want their freedom (ANSA, link): "Boosted by a surge in popularity in the wake of Europe's refugee crisis, the leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, hopes to finally break the Socialists' 70-year reign in Vienna in Sunday's regional election."

UNHCR head Guterres urges massive EU response to help Greece attend to refugees (link): ""We know how to winterize a camp. We know how to winterize a tent. We know how to winterize a building. We don't know how to winterize a crowd moving every day from one country to another. It's impossible … With the kind of weather that you have in the Balkans, we could see this turn into a tragedy at any moment."... "We have been insisting on this for months … but this is not something that we can ask Greece to do by itself. It is only with a massive investment by the European Union that Greece will be able to do it. Leaving Greece on its own in a situation like this would be totally unacceptable""

Commission’s proposal to put Turkey on ‘safe countries' list under attack (euractiv, link): "Commission plans to put Turkey on a list of "safe countries", to which migrants can be quickly returned as they would not risk oppression, have run into opposition from several European nations, sources said"

Greece: Islands see surge in refugee arrivals (ekathimerini.com, link): "The number of refugees arriving on Greek islands has risen from 4,500 a day in late September to 7,000 over the past week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday, as a toddler was found dead off the coast of Lesvos in the eastern Aegean.... sources said that a police officer who was photographed kicking a refugee in a temporary reception center on Lesvos had been identified. He is expected to be summoned to explain himself following an urgent investigation into the incident."

Macedonia Faces Massive Surge in Refugees (balkaninsight.com, link): "Macedonia says it faces the greatest spike in arrivals since the start of the refugee crisis, with about 10,000 people trying to enter and cross the country each day on their way to the West."

Update: Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria (w2eu.info, link): "Please note that up until now, nobody knows what will happen with these registrations in the future but so far there is no official confirmation that they will be conncected to the Eurodac database. Austria and Germany have both said in recent days that they will enforce the dublin regulation to its full extent. But the situation now is very chaotic and it might not be so easy for the countries to enforce dublin for the people who are crossing at the moment. "

János Lázár holds weekly marathon press conference (Budapest Beast, link)"Defending Hungary’s borders

Lázár said the Croatia border fence is 99 percent complete, but the government isn’t sure yet whether it should serve the same function as the fence erected along the Serbian border. He said the government will make the decision following discussions which presumably are to take place with EU and Croatian leaders. Beyond that, the government also plans on using personnel from Visegrád 4 countries to protect Hungary’s southern border with Serbia."

30 migrants reach north African Spanish enclave from Morocco (The Local.es, link): "Some 30 African migrants succeeded on Saturday in crossing a barbed wire fence into the Spanish enclave of Melilla in north Africa, authorities said.About 50 migrants attempted to cross the six-metre (20-foot) high fence on the border with Morocco at 7:00am (0500 GMT), a spokesman for the Melilla government told AFP. They were part of a group of 130 people who had attempted to make it to the Spanish territory, most of whom were arrested before they reached the fence."

EU SUMMIT: European Council meeting 15-16 October 2015: European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (pdf):

"achieve concrete operational measures at the forthcoming Valletta Summit with African Heads of State or Government, focusing, in a fair and balanced manner, on effective return and readmission, dismantling of criminal networks and preventing illegal migration... See: Possible elements for the Outcome Document for Valletta - annotated version (LIMITE doc no 11534-15, pdf)

"devise technical solutions to reinforce the control of the EU's external borders to meet both migration and security objectives, by making full use of technological developments in order not to hamper free circulation and to facilitate travel" See: France says protect free movement with mass fingerprinting, face scans and entry-exit logs and:

"press ahead with the establishment of further hotspots...

step up implementation by the Member States of the Return Directive...

development of a European Border and Coast Guard System...

enlarge the Frontex mandate on return to include the right to organise joint return operations on its own initiative and enhance its role regarding the acquisition of travel documents for returnees...

promote the acceptance by third countries of an improved European laissez-passer as the reference document for return purposes.[*]"

[*] The Council's legal basis is relying on 1994 Recommendations for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: Final Press release: 8-9 October 2015 (pdf) including:

The future management of the EU external borders
The future of the return policy
Relocation
Visa policy

Commission’s proposal to put Turkey on ‘safe countries' list under attack (euractiv, link): "Commission plans to put Turkey on a list of "safe countries", to which migrants can be quickly returned as they would not risk oppression, have run into opposition from several European nations, sources said on Thursday (8 October).... Several member states refuse to add Turkey - home to two million refugees from the Syrian war - because of its poor record on judicial independence, minority rights and freedom of expression, several diplomatic sources told AFP." and see:

Turkey frowns at EU refugee aid plan (euractiv, link): "Turkey has given a lukewarm response to a European Union plan to assist Ankara in coping with over two million Syrian refugees, indicating that funding needs to be drastically increased.... Turkish officials, so far, are not rushing to embrace the plan."The EU is in a hurry but we are not," a Turkish official, who asked not to be named, told AFP."

See: Commission Press release: EU-TURKEY: Draft Action Plan: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq (6.10.15, pdf)

IOM Monitors Mediterranean Migrant Flows: 7,000 Crossing Daily to Greece (link):

"Despite the increased number of arrivals on the island of Lesvos, the congestion on the island has declined significantly. This is due in part to the fact that 70 per cent of migrants and refugees who arrived in Greece last week immediately crossed into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at Greece’s Idomeni border.... Migrants and refugees have to pay for their own tickets for all their transport in Greece and, according to people interviewed by IOM, nationality has become an important factor in determining how quickly they can leave the islands and travel to the FYROM border.

Syrians are now travelling faster from the islands to the border because they can afford it. They buy tickets for boats to Athens, buses straight to the border and sometimes even pay for taxis that can cost up to EUR 700 a family from Athens to the border.

Afghans, on the other hand, often have to work to get enough money to buy tickets or have to contract friends or relatives to borrow funds for onward travel. Consequently they spend more time transiting Greece."

See: Med infograpics with latest figures (pdf)

News (9.10.15)

Croatian Section Of Hungary’s Anti-Migrant Border Fence Completed (hungarytoday.hu, link): "The anti-immigration fence along the Hungarian-Croatian border is 99 per cent complete, Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár has said."

Czech NGOs call for better approach to migrants (Radio Praha, link) "A consortium of 18 Czech non-governmental organisations working with migrants last week issued a document in which it outlines the basic principles the country should adhere to in dealing with immigrants."

Alarm in Austria over Seehofer's Bavaria border plan (DW, link): "Alarm is growing in Austria over the Bavarian state premier's plans to reduce the number of migrants crossing the border. Austria had grown accustomed to its role as a transit country"

Lesvos struggles to be ready as EU 'hotspot' (ekathimerini.com, link): "Wet, scared and already weary from a dangerous sea crossing from Turkey, many Syrian families with small children are currently forced to walk a distance longer than the Athens Marathon from the beaches where they land to the points of registration near the port capital of Mytilene. Buses provided by local authorities and rides by volunteers do not suffice, especially as many refugees continue to land at night."

The EU’s Grapple with Hate Crime (liberties.eu): "If rising anti-Semitism is a sign that Europe is becoming hostile towards all minorities, it is difficult to understand why a recent European colloquium on hate crime focused on only two vulnerable groups."

The Latest: Czechs to boost migrant checks on Austria border (Yahoo News, link)

Norway to limit asylum grants to five years (The Local.no, link): "Norway’s right-wing government is to limit grants of asylum to a five-year term, after which refugees will be automatically sent home if the situation in their country has changed for the better. “If the war in Syria ends, or conditions in Iraq improve, they will have to prepare for the return trip,” State Secretary Joran Kallemyr, a senior official from the Progress Party in the Ministry of Justice told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK"

UN: Sweden is bearing brunt of migrant crisis (The Local.se, link): "Sweden and Germany cannot continue to take in the majority of refugees seeking new lives in the EU, a top UN official has said, days after Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that immigration could become a bigger challenge than the Greek debt crisis."

Bavaria threatens Merkel with court over refugees (The Local.de, link): "The Bavarian government is threatening to take Chancellor Angela Merkel to the country's highest court to make her change her refugee policy. If the federal government does not take the initiative itself to control the number of people coming into the country, the Bavarian government will force it to through the Constitutional Court, the Bavarian government announced on Friday after an emergency meeting of the state cabinet."

Denmark's refugee quota plan skips Copenhagen (The Local.dk, link): "The Danish Immigration Service has released its plan to distribute 12,000 expected refugees across Denmark and the nation’s largest city will take zero."

EU gets tough on expelling migrants, talks to neighbors (Reuters, link)

‘Refugees welcome’ say Sion demonstrators (The Local.ch, link): "Around 400 people joined a peaceful demonstration in support of refugees held in the centre of Sion on Thursday night."

Western Balkans migrant route in EU spotlight (euobserver, link): "The talks on Thursday also addressed how to help the capacities in the region for the countries to slow down the influx of people. On the sidelines on the meeting, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland agreed to participate in protecting the southern borders of Hungary and the Schengen free-travel zone."

EU moves first group of refugees to Sweden (aljazeera.com, link)"First 20 Eritreans will be relocated from Italy according to quota system, but experts question viability of scheme... Sweden committed to taking in 821 from Italy and 548 from Greece as part of a first total of 40,000 people from Eritrea, Iraq and Syria to be redistributed across the EU in the next two years." and First 19 refugees leave Italy as part of EU redistribution plan (ANSA, link): "The group, which included five women, arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa a few days ago."

Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn in Italy: First Relocation Flight and Hotspot visit (Coomiision, link)

Merkel slams eastern Europeans on migration - Chancellor makes emotional plea in closed-door meeting (politico.eu, link)

Baby dies after migrant boat breaks down off Greek island (ekathimerini.com, link)

Greece’s Tsipras in Lesvos: Hiding the refugee crisis under the carpet (link):

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Lesvos on Tuesday, Oct. 6, accompanied by Austrian chancellor Werner Feymann, to ostensibly appraise the refugee crisis on the islands firsthand, but what they saw there did not correspond to the everyday reality. Journalist Sofia Christoforidou was at the Mytilene harbor and tweeted updates on the preparations there while waiting for the PM’s visit....

“Tsipras and Faymann came from the back entrance, saw few refugees, everything in order at port, and they departed.”...

Boat arrivals in Lesvos’ northern beaches, which usually number in the dozens daily, practically stopped for the duration of the two leaders’ visit....

Hours after Tsipras’ visit, the boats came back, and the arrivals of refugees continued."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: "B" Points agenda (for discussion, including some non-legislative items), "A" Points - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points -non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and see: Background Note (9 pages, pdf)

Agreed: Council conclusions on the future of the return policy (pdf)

See: Director of IOM: Swing Asks EU to Respect Rights of Vulnerable Migrants Arriving on its Shores (to be delivered later today at a high level EU conference in Luxembourg on refugees and migration flows through the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans, link):

"Mr Swing underscored that care needed to be taken when dealing with asylum seekers who do not neatly fit into the category of refugees. “Many of those on the move defy easy categorization. Many will be covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention and many others will not. But it is too simplistic to conclude that all of them fall into a single broad category of “economic migrants,” he said.

“I am speaking of a wide range of vulnerable migrants - families with children; persons seeking to re-unite with their families already in Europe; unaccompanied and separated children; victims of trafficking; single and pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and the injured. The majority are coming from countries facing great strife, abject poverty or simply, hopelessness,” he noted."

and Migrant crisis: EU considers faster deportations (BBC News, link) also: EU to step up deportation of economic migrants (euractiv, link): "European Union governments are set to agree today (8 October) to accelerate the repatriation of illegal immigrants among the hundreds of thousands who have failed to win asylum, as they try to cope with a surge in refugees from war-torn Syria. Diplomats say interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg should agree, among other things, to back the detention of those who may abscond before expulsion and exert more pressure on African and other poor states, including via aid budgets, to make them accept the return of citizens refused entry to Europe."

News (8.10.15)

EU ministers to discuss 'smart borders' (euobserver, link): "Among the ideas is the future roll-out of a €1 billion digital dragnet known as 'smart borders'. Smart borders is a two-tiered system of biometric scans of visiting non-EU nationals – the registered travellers programme (RTP) and the entry-exit system (EES) The European Commission had presented the package in 2013 but it was temporarily shelved following concerns over projected costs and possible law enforcement access.An EU diplomat on Wednesday (7 October) said the Commission is set to make new smart border proposals before the end of year."

The refugee crisis: Four steps to be taken (euractiv, link) View of Bulgarian PM

EU to step up deportation of economic migrants (euractiv, link): "European Union governments are set to agree today (8 October) to accelerate the repatriation of illegal immigrants among the hundreds of thousands who have failed to win asylum, as they try to cope with a surge in refugees from war-torn Syria. Diplomats say interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg should agree, among other things, to back the detention of those who may abscond before expulsion and exert more pressure on African and other poor states, including via aid budgets, to make them accept the return of citizens refused entry to Europe."

The Latest: UN rights chief: EU should ensure migrant 'hotspots' aren't detention centers (USNews, link)

Merkel rules out freeze on refugee intake (DW, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out any freeze on migrants entering Germany, claiming that it would be impractical. In a television interview, the chancellor said she was "convinced" that the country would cope. "

Merkel and Hollande short of ideas on refugee crisis (euobserver, link): ""Pretending that Schengen, in its current operations, makes it possible to resist the pressure would be a mistake," Hollande said, calling for the creation of a European corps of border guards and coast guards. Merkel said the EU’s so-called Dublin system to mange asylum requests is "obsolete”."

Merkel, Hollande call for unity against nationalism (euractiv, link): "In a rare address to the European Parliament on Wednesday (7 October), French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, acknowledged that the refugee crisis was a “test of historic proportions” that was putting the EU at risk, and warned against the destructive power of nationalism."

UN council eyes vote on EU action against migrant smugglers (ekathimerini.com, link): "The UN Security Council is expected to vote, possibly as early as Thursday, on a draft resolution authorizing European military action against migrant smugglers in the high seas off Libya’s coast, diplomats said"

Do they want to abolish the Geneva Convention? GUE/NGL MEPs denounce draft Council conclusions on return as unacceptable and dangerous (Press release, link)

EU migration policy ‘will fail’ without comprehensive, human rights focus – UN rights chief (link): "“These ‘hotspots’ seem to be conceived not simply as a means of registering new arrivals, but also as a way of preventing them from moving further until it is decided whether they are in need of international protection or should be returned,” Mr. Zeid said.W"

EU ministers to step up deportations in bid to deter refugees (Guardian, link): "Draft documents for meeting of EU interior ministers says member states must do more to return refused asylum seekers.. The scale of the current emergency is complicating the response, say the officials. “The logistical problems in returning 200,000 people are immense,” said one." [emphasis added] and useful breakdown of where refu'gees are coming from and why: Refugee crisis: apart from Syrians, who is travelling to Europe? (Guardian, link) "Half of the 380,000 crossing the Mediterranean are from Syria, but refugees from other countries are also tackling tortuous routes to flee conflict"

Secret EU plan to throw out thousands of migrants (The Times, link):

" Hundreds of thousands of failed asylum seekers will be deported from Europe within weeks under secret plans leaked to The Times. Brussels will threaten to withdraw aid, trade deals and visa arrangements if countries such as Niger and Eritrea refuse to take back their economic migrants. The proposals also envisage EU states detaining thousands of migrants to prevent them from absconding to avoid deportation.....

Tony Bunyan, the director of Statewatch, an EU civil liberties watchdog, said: “Refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The returns policy proposed is not going to work,” he said. “It cannot be seriously expected that Turkey would accept the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

See: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015

EU ministers to step up deportations in bid to deter refugees

Draft documents for meeting of EU interior ministers says member states must do more to return refused asylum seekers

EU ministers to fast-track migrant deportation (euobserver, link):

"EU ministers are coming up with plans on how to best to use the deportation of failed asylum seekers as a deterrent for others. A leaked paper from the Council, representing EU member states, says some €800 million will be set aside on larger efforts to remove people without the proper paper work from the EU back to their home countries....

"The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws", said Statewatch director Tony Bunyan."

EU HOTSPOT" APPROACH UNDER ATTACK: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:EU migration policy will fail unless comprehensive and grounded in human rights – Zeid (link):

"He raised particular concerns about the nature of the ‘hotspot’ approach.

“These ‘hotspots’ seem to be conceived not simply as a means of registering new arrivals, but also as a way of preventing them from moving further until it is decided whether they are in need of international protection or should be returned,” the High Commissioner said. “While we welcome the efforts of the EU to offer support to the frontline Member States receiving large numbers of migrants, States must ensure that these ‘hotspots’ are not, in effect, detention centers in disguise.”

“Italy and Greece have both reduced the use of immigration detention. It is important to guard against a return to, or expansion of, a practice which is fraught with human rights concerns centred on the legality and conditions of detention,” he added. “I urge the EU and its individual Member States to avoid the ugly spectre of arbitrary or prolonged detention of people who are not criminals, and to ensure the adoption of human rights-based alternatives to detention.” "

EU-Africa: The 'Khartoum Process': beefing up borders in east Africa

The 'Khartoum Process' is intended to limit the number of people travelling to Europe via the "Horn of Africa migration route" and involves east African states, EU Member States, the European Commission and the African Union. Formally known as the 'EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative', it has been criticised by the human rights organisation AEDH as attempting "to arrange the material conditions to avoid that they [migrants and refugees] come to Europe, especially by establishing asylum processing centres" within African countries. The 'Process' foresees, amongst other things, the enhancement of law enforcement powers and border controls in east African states.

EU-TURKEY: Draft Action Plan: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq (6.10.15, pdf): Note it is a "Draft":

"The Action Plan identifies a series of collaborative actions to be implemented as a matter of urgency by the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Turkey with he objective to assist Turkey in managing the situation of massive influx of refugees and preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU....

Prevent further arrivals of irregular migrants to Turkey and irregular departures of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the EU...

Ensure prompt return to the point of origin of irregular migrants who are not in need of international protection and who were apprehended by the law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States or Turkey and support the reintegration of returnees to the countries of origin....

Support Turkey to strengthen its capacity to combat migrant smuggling, notably by reinforcing the Turkish Coast Guard patrolling and surveillance capacity...

The implementation of the Action Plan is set to start immediately; it will be jointly steered and monitored by the European Commission and the High Representative / Vice President and the Turkish government through the establishment of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogue on migration."

and Press release (pdf)

And see: "“The contents of this are not agreed,” said the Turkish official, who insisted the plan represented a European wishlist. “We see it differently from the EU. The EU is in a crisis and it wants things done very quickly. We don’t have the same urgency. And it’s basically money and nothing else that they are offering.” (Guardian, link)

European Parliament study: EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of EU funding and agencies in the field of migration,asylum and integration. It begins with a brief assessment of their effectiveness and efficiency before examining whether the design of management, budgeting and control systems is effective in preventing the misuse of resources. The study illustrates good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations on how to achieve greater transparency in the implementation of future EU funding programmes."

News (7.10.15)

Europe will end if it's not united, Hollande warns (The Local.fr, link): "In an historic speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday French President Francois Hollande warned of the "end of Europe" if EU member states failed to remain united to tackle a number of crises...."I acknowledge that Europe was slow in understanding that tragedy in the Middle East or Africa could not but have consequences for Europe itself," he said." and EU refugee rules are 'obsolete': Merkel (The Local.de, link)

Denmark eyes series of immigration law changes (The Local.dk, link): "The government has released an overview of 182 law proposals it hopes to pass this session and a large number of them focus on foreigners in Denmark. "

GUE/NGL MEPs on Turkey: We need to help refugees, but not Erdogan (GUE, press release, link)

Migrant crisis: EU to begin seizing smugglers' boats (BBC News, link)

CCC campaigns to provide Internet access to refugees in Germany (EDRI, link): "German EDRi member Chaos Computer Club (CCC), along with free network associations Freifunk Berlin and the Förderverein freie Netzwerke, is running a fundraising campaign in support of the non-profit organisation Refugees Emancipation (RE). The project, initiated by asylum-seekers, aims to prevent the isolation and enhance the connectivity of refugees in Germany by enabling their access to the Internet. To do this, RE has established several self-organised Internet cafés and offers computer courses in refugee accommodations."

Hungarian Roma regularly prevented from boarding Canada-bound flights (cbbcnews, link): "Air Transat, CBSA wouldn't comment on specific cases but advocate suspects Canada wants to curb refugee claims"

My Escape From Syria: Europe or Die (VICE, link) with video: "Syria's brutal civil war has created hundreds of thousands of refugees, civilians who have been forced to leave everything behind at home and travel in search of a new life in Europe. Ismail, 25, filmed his journey to Germany with 19-year-old Naeem, capturing the most dangerous parts of a perilous trip, including the boat crossing from Turkey to Greece where hundreds of refugees have died this year. In this exclusive footage, VICE News gives an insight into a desperate trek, as Ismail and Naeem give first-hand accounts of their journey, the life they left behind, and their hopes for the future."

IOM figures 6 October (link): "Mediterranean arrivals now stands at 557,899 – virtually double 2014’s full-year total of 219,000 migrants... 421,341 to Greece."

Refugee ‘hotspots’ to be operational within 15 days, EC says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece’s refugee “hotspot” centers will be operational within the next fifteen days, the European Commission has said. During comments made Wednesday, the EU executive’s deputy chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva also said that Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker had spoken on the telephone with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann who called for additional staff and experts to assist the bloc's border agency Frontex." and First migrant hot-spots in Greece to be ready in two weeks, EU Commission's Andreeva says (amna.gr, link)

EU to crack down on people refused asylum (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union countries are set to agree a crackdown on migrants refused entry into the bloc and move to swiftly send them home. More than 500,000 people have arrived this year seeking sanctuary or jobs, sparking the EUs biggest refugee emergency in decades. But some 40 percent of people who fail to obtain asylum or residency in the 28-nation EU over the past several years have been sent home. EU interior ministers will agree on Thursday that “all measures must be taken to ensure irregular migrants' effective return”

Roberta Metsola: EU leaders must show more responsibility in dealing with refugee crisis (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link)

Majority of German people want border control (New Europe, link)

Romania Withdraws Bid to Join Schengen Area (Balkan Insight, link): "Romania has abandoned hope of being invited to join the passport-free Schengen zone on Thursday, as it became clear that Bulgarian and Romanian admission is on hold"

EU starts military operation against ‘mafia of the sea’ (euractiv, link): "A military operation to catch migrant traffickers begins today (7 October), with European warships patrolling international waters in the Mediterranean to arrest smugglers dubbed the "mafia of the sea". The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced last month that EUNAVFOR MED, an operation launched to dismantle the network of smugglers abetting the migrant boat crisis, was to enter its second phase."

Commission details offer to Turkey to tackle refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "The EU has offered Turkey a plan under which it would resettle more refugees, but only if Ankara establishes new camps and boosts its coastguard to slow the flow of people to Europe, officials said on Tuesday (6 October)."

EU wants ‘stepped up’ action on migrants - New plan promises greater resettlement effort on asylum seekers in Turkey.(Politico, link): "New plan promises greater resettlement effort on asylum seekers in Turkey."

German anti-immigrant protests revive — and radicalize - “Lying” media targeted in weekly protests centered on Dresden (Politico, link)

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: RETURNS POLICY: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015. Includes:

"The visa regime in Turkey was a source of concern for many delegations. Both Egypt and Algeria have introduced visa requirements for Syrian nationals. Turkey maintained visa-free travel, which has been identified as a source of concern. Turkey had the capacity to act as a significant transit point for migrants from the wider Middle East-North Africa region: migrants may legally enter Turkey but then illegally enter the EU. Along with Syrians, Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan, Georgian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iranian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Turkey." and

"The Council invites the Commission and the EEAS, and the Member States, in particular through their representations outside the EU, in close cooperation with the liaison officers mentioned in paragraph 9, to promote the EU laissez-passer (standard travel document for the expulsion of third-country nationals) which should become the travel document commonly accepted for return purposes by third-countries. Moreover, Member States commit to using more regularly the EU laissez-passer in return operations." (Point 14, emphasis added])

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The Commission and the Council have never understood that refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws.

This is compounded by the Council is relying on 1994 Recommendations as the legal basis for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

The returns policy proposed is not going to work. There are currently 17 readmission agreements in place and national lists of "safe countries of origin". Very few of the refugees who have arrived in the EU come from either list of countries - with the exception of Turkey which has a readmission agreement and it cannot be seriously expected that Turkey - a transit country- would accept the return hundreds of thousands of refugees."

Currently 17 readmission agreements (link) are in force with the following countries: Hong Kong, Macao, Sri Lanka, Albania, Russia, Ukraine, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, Pakistan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Cape Verde and the "safe countries of origin" list (pdf) to which people can be returned. Very few of the refugees who have arrived in the EU come from either lists of countries - with the exception of Turkey which has a readmission agreement and it cannot be seriously proposed to return refugees there - only Bulgaria has Turkey on its list of "sate countries of origin. The Council of the European Union is proposing that Turkey be included - the European Parliament is opposed to this move. To return refguees to many African countries the EU has to rely on the controversial Article 13 in the Cotonou Agreement which " commits all participating States to readmit their own nationals without further formalities."

European Parliament failure to bring proceedings against Hungary: "According to internal European Parliament emails seen by Playbook (Politico), the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, chaired by Claude Moraes from U.K. Labour, has rejected a request by the Liberal faction ALDE group supported by Greens, far-left parties and Italy’s Five Star Movement to trrigger an “Article 7.1 procedure” against Hungary for its behavior towards refugees. The move was blocked by the two big parties, who instead put to a vote a Socialist proposal to request that the Commission follow through on a June request that it “present a proposal to establish an EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.”

News (6.10.15)

The CJEU’s Ruling in Celaj: Criminal penalties, entry bans and the Returns Directive (EU Law Analysis, link)

President Erdogan shames EU with Turkish stance on Syrian refugee crisis - Mr Erdogan wants to solve the refugee crisis by training the Syrian opposition, declaring a safe zone along the border in northern Syria, and creating a no-fly zone (Independent, link)

How the EU migration crisis will transform border security (defenceiq.com, link): " “I have never seen anything like this in my 40 years of border management,” says Tony Smith CBE, Former Director of the UK Border Force and now CEO at Fortinus Global. He is talking about the wave of migration hitting European soil as millions continue to flee war-torn Syria and North Africa in an exclusive interview"

Erdogan tells EU: Act in Syria, or get ready to accept more refugees (euractiv, link): ""The root cause of the refugee crisis today is the war in Syria," Erdogan told reporters following a series of meetings in Brussels with top EU officials. He called on the EU to do more to train rebels, set up a protected zone inside northern Syria, and enforce a no-fly zone to Assad's aerial attacks on civilians. The European Union, meanwhile, said Turkey must do more to stop the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have landed on its shores in the worst such crisis since World War II."

Turkey warns 3 mln more refugees may be headed to EU from Syria (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey has warned the European Union that 3 million more refugees could flee fighting in Syria as the EU struggles to manage its biggest migration emergency in decades. Around 2 million refugees from Syria are currently in Turkey, and tens of thousands of others have entered the EU via Greece this year, overwhelming coast guards and reception facilities."

EU seeks to contain migration flows, relocation program set for launch (ekathimerini.com, link): "According to sources, an estimated 600 staff will be posted across Greece’s “hotspots.” Operating under the Poseidon umbrella, these centers will help register and fingerprint new arrivals and start the process of relocating Syrians and others likely to be granted refugee status in other EU states. Meanwhile, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), an EU agency, called for 374 additional experts to be deployed in Greece and Italy to support asylum procedures in the two countries."

Tricky talks with Erdogan in Brussels (DW, link): "The EU is turning to Turkey for help with the refugee crisis. The political price is likely to be high, though, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the opportunity for his own ends. Barbara Wesel reports."

EU: Council of the European Union: The future management of the EU's external borders (LIMITE doc no: 12541-15, pdf):

"How can the collective responsibility of Member States and Frontex evolve, e.g. for ensuring a better and at times compulsory allocation of border guards and equipment from low risk areas to those most affected by illegal migration?" [emphasis added]

Moria camp on Lesbos: Registration chaos, police violence, hunger, thirst and sleeping rough (w2eu.net. link):

"In the first days of October 2015 Moria has become for one more time a nightmare to refugees and activists alike even though registration procedures have been speeded up since September. Anyhow, the system changes every day with no one knowing how to actually get documents. The despair of the people arriving wet from the coasts, staying outside in the cold without shelter, food or water, medication and without any information on what to do – specifically in the nights – is creating anxiousness and stress....

While many refugees are pushing to enter and get registered, riot police is controlling the gates with clubs and tear gas by force. Moria officially includes since a few weeks a First Reception Center (FRC) and a Pre-removal center. The different sections just look alike though."

EU: Council of the European Union: Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoðan (5.10.15, pdf):

"It is indisputable that Europe has to manage its borders better. We expect Turkey to do the same....

Turkey needs to be equally ready to act. The situation where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to the EU via Turkey must be stopped. And we cannot do it on our own, we need the Turkish side. Strengthened cooperation will benefit both sides. Europe wants a real solution to this very real crisis."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: Background Note (9 pages, pdf) Including "returns" policy.

The Humanitarian Caste System? (IRIN, link): "Syrians collect their registration papers from the Greek authorities at Kara Tepe camp. Queues here are calm and well managed... The difference? Kara Tepe is for Syrians only. Everyone else must go to Moria... At Moria camp, Greek riot police push back non Syrian refugees from the barbed wire surrounding the registration centre. Here, people wait for hours in the hot sun before they can complete papers... "

EU: TURKEY: EU Action on Migratory Pressures - targeted update and the outcome of discussion on Turkey (LIMITE doc no: 9491-15, 15 pages, pdf):

"Turkey had the capacity to act as a significant transit point for migrants from the wider Middle East-North Africa region: migrants may legally enter Turkey but then illegally enter the EU. Along with Syrians, Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan, Georgian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iranian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Turkey."

EU and Turkey to discuss plan to stem flow of migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet with Juncker on Monday.

A spokesman for the European Commission said the meeting was "precisely about seeing how to step up cooperation to jointly tackle the refugee crisis" and said any new announcements would be made at a news conference on Monday.

Asked about the newspaper report, a spokeswoman for the German government said Merkel, Juncker and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann had held a phone call on Wednesday but she declined to comment on the content of their discussion."

See also: Erdogan brings Turkish election campaign to Strasbourg, Brussels (euractiv, link): "Supporters and foes gathered in Strasbourg on Sunday (4 October) on the occasion of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has apparently turned his European tour into part of his election campaign..... The European Commission and Turkey have agreed on a plan to stem the flow of refugees to Europe by patrolling Turkey's frontier with Greece and setting up new camps, a newspaper cited sources in the Commission and the German government as saying yesterday.... However a senior EU official involved in the negotiations with Turkey told Reuters that the newspaper report went beyond what was currently under discussion between Brussels and Ankara. "It's a bit exaggerated," he said."

and EU and Turkey have struck plan to stem flow of migrants - newspaper (Reuters, link)

News (5.10.15)

Refugee centre daubed with swastikas (The Local.at, link): "A refugee centre in Hohenems, Vorarlberg, has been defaced with red graffiti - including swastikas and the words “stop the asylum flood”. The wall of the building in Erlachstrasse was defaced sometime during Saturday night, police said. A second building in Bahnhofstrasse was also daubed with similar graffiti."

501 illegal immigrants detained in Bulgaria (standartnews.com, link): "501 illegal immigrants were detained in Bulgaria in a joint operation of the MI, NSA and prosecution, said Interior Ministry Secretary in Chief Georgi Kostov and senior representatives of the Prosecutor's Office and the National Security Agency at a press conference today, announced Nova TV."

Danes donate record amount to Red Cross (The Local.dk, link)

Erdogan harangues EU at Strasbourg rally (euobserver, link): "Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “crush” Kurdish “terrorists” and harangued the EU over its handling of the migrant crisis at two rallies."

Germany: Report: Up to 1.5 million refugee arrivals in 2015 (The Local.de, link): "Authorities believe that up to 1.5 million refugees could arrive in Germany in 2015, according to an internal government document seen by Bild."

Minister: Detention centres for migrants must improve (Prague Monitor, plink): "The conditions in the Czech detention centres for migrants must markedly improve as these facilities are even worse than prisons in some aspects, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (for ANO) told public Czech Television (CT) Sunday. "The migrants do not stay in the facilities as punishment. They only committed an offence according to our law," Pelikan said."

EU and Turkey 'agree on refugee plan' (The Local.fr, link): "The European Union and Turkey have agreed in principle to a plan of action to help ease the flow of migrants into the bloc, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.... Under the plan, Turkey would agree to stepped-up efforts to secure its frontier with the EU by taking part in joint patrols with the Greek coastguard in the eastern Aegean coordinated by EU border protection agency Frontex, the report said.

Any migrants picked up would be taken back to Turkey, where six new camps for up to two million people would be built, co-financed by the EU."

Frontex asks for 775 border guards - refugees to be "nationality" screened (link):

"This is the largest number of border guards Frontex has ever requested in the history of the agency. The officers are to assist mainly Italy and Greece in the registration and identification of migrants coming from Libya and Turkey.

“Since the beginning of this year over 470 000 migrants arrived in Greece and Italy alone. No country can possibly handle such high migratory pressure at its borders by itself. It is crucial that all those arriving in the EU are properly registered and identified,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

Frontex requested 670 officers – mainly screeners, debriefers and interpreters to be deployed in Italy and Greece, in addition to 105 officers to be deployed at various external land borders of the European Union.

The screening officers play a key role in helping authorities to determine the nationality of the incoming migrants in order to identify and register them. Debriefers gather information about the activities of smuggling networks." [emphasis added]

Frontex "Screening officers" will be carrying out "nationality screening" (Frontex in European Parliament hearing on 23 September 2015), followed by registration and fingerprinting after which refugees will be divided into two groups, those destined for "return" to their country of origin to be held in closed camps and those to be relocated in the EU through asylum procedures in open camps.

Refugee sea arrivals in Greece this year approach 400,000 (UNHCR, link):

"ATHENS, Greece, October 2 (UNHCR) -- The UN refugee agency said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015. With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that the continuing high rate of arrivals underlines the need for a fast implementation of Europe's relocation programme, jointly with the establishment of robust facilities to receive, assist, register and screen all people arriving by sea. "These are steps needed for stabilizing the crisis," he said.

As of this morning, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea since the beginning of the year, more than 153,000 of them in September alone. The nine-month 2015 total compares to 43,500 such arrivals in Greece in all of 2014. Ninety-seven per cent are from the world's top 10 refugee-producing countries, led by Syria (70 per cent), Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Iraq (4 per cent)."

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 08-09/10/2015 (pdf):

"The Council will have a discussion on the future management of EU external borders and of the return policy. On the latter the Council is expected to adopt conclusions.... Ministers will also take note of a progress report on a directive on the use of passenger name record data (PNR) for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime....

Mixed committee: Under the visa policy, ministers will hold a policy debate and will take stock of work regarding a regulation on the Union code on visas (recast) and a regulation establishing a touring visa. As for the future of the return policy, they will discuss a Commission communication concerning an EU action plan on return, and a Commission recommendation establishing a common 'return handbook' to be used by member states' competent authorities when carrying out return related tasks. [emphasis added]

News (3-4,10.15)

Massive rally shows support for refugees (The Local.at, lkink): "A rally in support of migrants fleeing the Syrian conflict and other hardships drew tens of thousands to Vienna on Saturday, organisers and police said. Austria has been a key transit point for many refugees reaching eastern Europe, and organisers said their bid to show public solidarity drew some 60,000 into the capital's streets."

Let's Not Militarize the Refugee Crisis in Croatia (liberties.eu, link): "The Croatian president's announcement to raise the degree of readiness of the Croatian Army ahead of the UN Security Council session is an unnecessary and insensitive response to the migrant crisis."

Europe Begins at Lampedusa: Remembering the Tragedy of October 3 (liberties.eu, link): "Two years have passed from the tragic Lampedusa shipwreck stunned the world. Today more than ever, it is important to remember why we need to protect people, not borders."

Croatia President to Meet Orban to Defuse Crisis (Balkaninsight, link): "Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic will visit Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss the refugee crisis and the disputes that have damaged relations"

Refugee crisis: Greece finds a legacy for its Olympics by housing refugees in empty stadiums (The Independent, link): " Residents on Lesbos say the first Syriza government, which took power in January, did nothing about the refugees flooding through... "  and Athens has space but no cash to host migrants, officials say (ekathimerini.com, link): "As thousands of migrants and refugees continue to stream into Greece from Turkey, despite the worsening weather, authorities in Athens, where most of the new arrivals end up, say they lack the funding to host them all. Although there are several venues that could be transformed into temporary accommodation, there is no money for such projects, local authorities say."

Sweden: Funding questioned as refugee numbers rocket (The Local.se, link): "Sweden's government has promised to boost funding for refugees in its next budget, but with its forecast for new arrival numbers in 2015 set to be reached this month, official calculations are being called into question.... According to official statistics quoted by the TT news agency, 73,000 people had applied for asylum in Sweden by the end of September, close to the 74,000 expected in the country in the whole of 2015."

Vienna demo and concert in support of refugees (The Local.at, link): "A demonstration and concert to show solidarity for refugees is taking place in Vienna on Saturday - with tens of thousands of people expected to attend."

Minister: Abuse of fear of migrants is dangerous (praguepost.com/czech-news, link): "Jirí Dienstbier praises Angela Merkel for her approach... Abusing people's fear of migrants and Muslims in the political struggle is very dangerous mainly for mainstream parties most of which are moderate, Jirí Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD), Czech human rights and equal opportunities minister, told Czech journalists today. He said such procedure only plays into the hands of extremist groupings and it consequently turns against the mainstream parties."

Czech government prepares for tight-border security scenario (Radio Praha, link): "The Czech government on Wednesday approved a bill on state border protection which would enable the Interior Ministry to order the imposition of border checks in the event of a serious security threat to the country. Meanwhile, the army and police have been undertaking a joint training exercise along the Czech-Austrian border to prepare for such an emergency."

Refugee crisis puts Athens on the brink (DW, link): "The flow of refugees through Greece is greater than ever, but bad weather and border closures threaten to strand thousands and stretch coping mechanisms beyond control. Pavlos Zafiropoulos reports from Athens."

Refugee sea arrivals in Greece this year approach 400,000 (UNHCR, link): "The UN refugee agency said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015. With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000. As of this morning, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea since the beginning of the year, more than 153,000 of them in September alone. The nine-month 2015 total compares to 43,500 such arrivals in Greece in all of 2014. Ninety-seven per cent are from the world's top 10 refugee-producing countries, led by Syria (70 per cent), Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Iraq (4 per cent)."

Calais refugee camp conditions diabolical, says report (Guardian, link): "First study of conditions at camp known as the Jungle finds an ‘absolutely abject situation’, with ‘harmful levels of bacteria and appalling hygiene’"

Germany: Viktor Orbán, Bavaria’s hardline hero - Berlin seethed with anger, calling the visit a ‘backstabbing’ by Merkel’s allies.(Politico, link): "Angela Merkel’s conservative Bavarian allies fêted hardline Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán as the guardian of the EU’s external borders — a direct rebuke of the chancellor and her refugee policy."

EU hopes Turkey summit to ease migrant crisis (euobserver, link)

Nordic states fret over migrant threat to borders (The Local.dk, link): "Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in Copenhagen on Saturday said she feared for Europe's borderless Schengen zone and urged countries to shore up their external frontiers in the face of the migrant crisis.".

EU: Austria and Slovenia prolong border controls

Border controls reintroduced in central Europe in response to the refugee crisis are set to continue until at least the middle of October. Austria has announced its intention to "continue to temporarily position adequate police forces at the border crossings initially with Hungary and Slovenia," and "if necessary... with other neighbouring states." Slovenia is also prolonging controls on its border with Hungary.

FRONTEX & FORCED RETURNS: Decision of the European Ombudsman closing her own-initiative inquiry OI/9/2014/MHZ concerning the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) (May 2015)

and see: Closing Summary: Proposals to improve the monitoring of Frontex Joint Return Operations (link):"Frontex needs to enhance the transparency of its JRO work, amend its Code of Conduct in areas such as medical examinations and the use of force, and engage more with the Member States. Frontex must do all in its power to promote independent and effective monitoring of JROs." and Ombudsman: How Frontex can ensure respect for migrants’ fundamental rights during "forced returns" (link):: "She calls on the agency to ensure that families with children and pregnant women are seated separately from other returnees. Frontex should also promote common rules on the use of restraint, publish more information on JROs, including monitors' reports, and require the Member States to improve complaints procedures. The Ombudsman continues to be unhappy with the refusal of Frontex to establish its own complaints mechanism."

News (2.10.15)

Italy: Sicily ‘hotspot’ to be prison-like centre (euractiv, link): "It will be one of Italy's brand new hotspots for identifying newly-arrived migrants -- but as the Pozzallo reception centre in Sicily prepares its fingerprinting kits, the EU-led plan for these facilities is still plagued with unresolved issues... When Pozzallo becomes an official hotspot at the end of November, new arrivals will instead be obliged to provide their fingerprints as part of an asylum request, or be taken to a detention centre to await expulsion from Italy. The hotspots will be closed-door centres, sharply reducing the chance that people can flee and head north off their own backs. Those very likely to win refugee status -- Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis -- will be fast-tracked and taken to a separate centre, where they will be divided up and distributed to other countries within the European Union.... What will happen if Syrian or Eritrean nationals refuse to give their fingerprints, seeing as they cannot be expelled? Would they be kept in a detention centre until they change their minds?." See also: Centro accoglienza Pozzallo primo hotspot in Italia (corrierediragusa.it, link). And: Italy's migrant 'hotspots' face tough tests (The Local.it, link): "It will be one of Italy's brand new "hotspots" for identifying newly-arrived migrants - but as the Pozzallo reception centre in Sicily prepares its fingerprinting kits, the EU-led plan for these facilities is still plagued with unresolved issues."

Italy to relocate asylum seekers 'in coming days' (euobserver, link): "“Hopefully the plan is to start with the relocation process in the coming days”, a spokesperson from the European support asylum office (EASO) told this website on Wednesday (30 September).. The Malta-based agency says the receiving member states have already been identified but would not disclose which because the process “is ongoing.”

40 years a refugee: From Western Sahara to CPH (The Local.dk, link): "November will mark forty years since Morocco invaded and colonized Western Sahara, today Africa’s last colony. Abba Malainin was only a child when he had to flee the war by foot through the desert to Algeria, to refugee camps where his family and thousands of other refugees still live today."

UNHCR says weather causes lull in refugee arrivals in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "The number of migrants and refugees arriving on Greece's shores has fallen this week due to poor weather but the flow will pick up again if the weather improves, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday."

CDRE Crise des réfugiés : les propositions de la Commission concernant la politique de retour de l’UE [CDRE Refugee Crisis: the Commission's proposals for the EU return policy] (EASFJ, link)

EU: Commission wants member states to criminalise hate speech (euractiv, link)

Austria: Tensions in government as refugee crisis bites (The Local.at, link): "Tensions within Austria's government, stoked by the refugee crisis, burst into the open on Thursday as the head of the conservative People's Party threatened to scupper the ruling coalition after less than two years in office."

Commission: Most Muslims not a threat to Europe (euobserver, link)

Norway child champion calls for refugee camps (The Local.no, link): "Norway's children's ombudsman has called for the country to set up refugee camps, as the present poor level of refugee reception is actively harming child asylum seekers."

Swiss bunkers 'could house 50,000 refugees' (The Local.ch, link): "Switzerland's network of nuclear bunkers could house up to 50,000 refugees in an emergency situation, the country’s defence minister said on Thursday. Around one third of the capacity of the country’s emergency public bunkers is fully operational, meaning 50,000 asylum seekers could be given temporary shelter, defence minister Ueli Maurer said."

Czech Republic: MPs reject idea of permanent refugee relocation quotas (Prague Monitor, link): "The Czech Chamber of Deputies rejected yesterday the idea of a permanent mechanism of refugee relocation among the EU states and backed measures aimed to improve the protection of the EU's outer border, the readmission of migrants without the right to asylum and crackdowns on people smugglers."

Don't let Muslim migrants in, says Bulgaria's Orthodox Church (standartnews.com, link): "Bulgaria's Orthodox Church has called on its government not to let any more Muslim refugees into the country to prevent an "invasion"."

Bulgarian MPs to Vote on Migration Law Amendments (novinite.com, link): "Lawmakers in Bulgaria's Parliament are due to hold a final vote on amendments to current legislation on migrants. The move will introduce the notion of "international protection" which adds the terms of "refugee status" and "humanitarian status" in a way conforming Bulgarian legislation to common EU rules."

Germany Urges International Community To Solve Refugee Crisis - "The world has become smaller but the crises are no fewer" (Huffington Post, link): ". UNITED NATIONS -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country has spearheaded Europe's response to its ongoing refugee crisis, demanded in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that the international community "crawl out of [its] diplomatic trenches" to provide help for those seeking refuge."

Convicted foreigners may lose residence permit (Prague Post, link): "Lower house passes tougher rules, NGOs urge Senate not to follow suit - Foreigners who will be sentenced to more than three years in prison over a deliberate crime or who were repeatedly convicted will have their residence permit cancelled, the Czech Chamber of Deputies decided today.However, the lower house has refused to order the courts to expel the repeat criminals from the ranks of foreigners directly. The legislation is yet to be passed by the Senate and signed by President Miloš Zeman. The NGOs helping migrants have criticized the toughened rules and asked the lawmakers not to back them. “The proposals are to avoid the evaluation of the adequacy and to cancel the stays and expel automatically,” Pavel Cižinský, from the consortium of NGOs working with migrants, said recently."

"WORDS MATTER": Patrick Stewart and other celebs point out 2 words people keep confusing about the refugee crisis. (upworthy.com, link): "Bottom line: It's important that when we're talking about refugees, we say "refugees" and when we're talking about migrants, we say "migrants." Their needs are different and helping them requires different approaches."

Asylum seekers to leave Italy 'within days' (The Local.it, link): "A plan to move 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to elsewhere in the EU, including Estonia, Luxembourg and Sweden, will get underway “within days”, Ansa reported on Friday.... Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on Wednesday that 130,000 migrants had arrived in Italy since the start of the year, 8,000 less than during the same period last year. Most of the people had arrived by boat from Libya, with the majority being from Eritrea. Some 98,000 are currently housed in state-run refugee centres."

Italy's migrant 'hotspots' face tough tests (The Local.it, link): "When Pozzallo becomes an official "hotspot" at the end of November, new arrivals will instead be obliged to provide their fingerprints as part of an asylum request, or be taken to a detention centre to await expulsion from Italy. The hotspots will be closed-door centres, sharply reducing the chance that people can flee and head north off their own backs. Those very likely to win refugee status - Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis - will be fast-tracked and taken to a separate centre, where they will be divided up and distributed to other countries within the European Union.."

EU: What is the role of "hotspots"?: A European Commission official told the parliament's LIBE (Civil Liberties) Committee this morning (Thursday) that the 'hotspots' concept would mean:

"People may be placed in closed centres for the return procedure
- For relocation people will be the possibility of centres - which are open to a degree are necessary
- Attempts will be made to convince them to stay in the reception centre in order to be resettled
- Centres: Hotspots for relocation would be open centers and closed centres for returns"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"How many people are going to be forced to "return" and held in closed camps? The pre-screening process will be carried out by Frontex and member state officals who will decide who is to be "returned" - prior to them being allowed to make an asylum application. Will refugees being vetted for return have interpreters and lawyers to help and represent them? And is there a right of appeal?"

And see ‘Hotspots’ for asylum applications: some things we urgently need to know (EU Law Analysis, link)

Where will "hotspots be? In Lampedusa and Catania in Italy and in Greece in Piraeus, a port in Athens and Lesvos.

CoE: Anti-immigrant sentiment was rising in Germany before refugee influx: Council of Europe committee on national minorities (Press release, link):

"Before the recent flow of refugees from war-torn Syria and other parts of the Middle East and Africa entered Germany, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments and attacks against asylum seekers had been on the rise already, according to a new opinion by the Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). Adopted in March – but released today with a first reaction on the findings from the German government – the Advisory Committee opinion assessed data from 2010 to 2015, noting increased anti-Muslim sentiment and negative attitudes towards immigrants and asylum-seekers. It criticizes marches attended by thousands of persons, under the banner “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West” (“Pegida”, in its German acronym), for example.

Despite these developments, the Advisory Committee praises the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency for its “considerable efforts” to raise awareness of anti-discrimination legislation in place. The Advisory Committee calls on Germany to stop the practice of ethnic profiling and take steps to build trust between persons belonging to minorities and the police. It recommends ensuring that racist elements of criminal offences are systematically taken into account by law enforcement." [emphasis added]

See: ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES: Fourth Opinion on Germany adopted on 19 March 2015 (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

European rights body concerned over rising racism in Germany (DW, link): "The Council of Europe has said reports of rising racism against Muslims and refugees in Germany are concerning. However, the human rights body also noted that protection for minority rights is high." and Rising racism worries Council of Europe (The Local.de, link)

Council of the European Union: Eastern Mediterranean - Western Balkans route conference, 08/10/2015 (link)

News (1.10.15)

The Roots of Europe’s Refugee Crisis (carnegieeurope.eu, link): "At the analytical level, Europe was not unprepared for the large stream of refugees that developed into a trek of biblical proportions over the summer. Experts from various policy fields (migration, security, development, the environment) had frequently warned about the risk of unchanneled mass migration toward Europe. But politically, the EU was completely unprepared. Knowledge did not translate into action." [emphasis added]

Cyprus: OPINION: Why migrants try to avoid this EU country (ewn.co.za, link): "Tania Karas says Cyprus’ asylum policies are the main reason migrants shun that country. Nine months after Fadi, a refugee from Homs, Syria, landed in Cyprus on a boat carrying some 340 smuggled refugees, he still had not applied for asylum. He chose instead to attempt to reach mainland Europe by any means possible. Fadi’s reluctance to plant roots in Cyprus, the European Union country closest to Syria, stems from Cyprus’ policy preventing most of those granted asylum from bringing their family members to join them."

Ban call UN nations to share the responsibility of accepting refugees (http://neurope.eu, link): "The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stressed the need for responsibility sharing among nations, calling on states to “significantly boost” the number of refugee resettlement places and to “share equitably in this effort.”

Hungary government criticised for hyping fear of refugees, Muslims (Sofia Globe, link): "Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban raised eyebrows when he said refugees and migrants flooding through the country are a potential threat to Europe’s Christian values. Most of them are Muslim and fleeing war and poverty in Asia and the Middle East. The comments ruffled Hungary’s Muslim minority."

Czech police deploy to Austrian border (The Local.at, link): "Five hundred police officers and 300 soldiers held drills along the Czech border with Austria on Wednesday as Prague mulled reintroducing border checks in case of a wave of migrant arrivals."

Italy to relocate asylum seekers 'in coming days' (euobserver, link): "The relocation of asylum seekers from Sicily in Italy to other member states could start before the end of the week.“Hopefully the plan is to start with the relocation process in the coming days”, a spokesperson from the European support asylum office (EASO) told this website on Wednesday (30 September)."

East coast of Lesvos, Greece: The sea is starting to get a bit rough: Life Savers!!!!! (Eric Kempson, video, link)

Athens mayor calls for action as tensions rise at makeshift camp (ekathimerini.com, link): "The presence of hundreds of refugees and migrants in the capital’s squares continued to cause problems on Wednesday, with Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis calling for an immediate solution to the situation at Victoria Square, which has been turned into a makeshift refugee camp. A brawl broke out in the square on Wednesday night, reportedly between migrants and suspected people-smugglers. A group of local residents have called on shops to stay closed on Thursday in protest. Sources told Kathimerini that the group includes “extremists,” apparently referring to far-rightists who have staged protests in the area in the past."

Cold weather, new laws, harden EU refugee trail (euobserver, link): "Increasingly cold weather in Europe is making the already-perilous journey of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria and other troubled countries more difficult, as some EU states introduce stricter asylum measures to stem the flow of migrants.... After Germany scrapped some of the benefits for migrants on Tuesday, Finland said on Wednesday it has suspended decision-making on asylum claims by Iraqis and Somalis, indicating that some of the asylum requests were not based on persecution or on fleeing war. The Finnish Immigration Service also said it might tighten guidelines for asylum awards after completing an assessment of the situation in the next couple of weeks.... While sending refugees and migrants arriving from Croatia to Austria, Hungary is also making use of tough new laws to punish migrants for breaching its razor-wire fence on the border with Serbia. According to Reuters, in the 10 days since the new legislation took effect, courts ruled in 176 cases, sentencing migrants mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq to expulsion from Hungary back to Serbia. Nobody has been acquitted and only 10 cases were appealed."

Slovakia pushes ahead with legal action over EU refugee quotas (euractiv, link): "Slovkia agreed on Wednesday (30 September) to take legal action at the European Court of Justice against the EU plan to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers, Prime Minister Robert Fico said yesterday."

Bulgaria grateful to Turkey for stopping the migrants from entering the EU (standartnews.com, link): "The EU and Turkey are part of the solution to the refugee crisis. President Rosen Plevneliev and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rallied behind the idea during a bilateral meeting within the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York."

More Than 88 500 Migrants Enter Croatia in Two Weeks (novinite.com, link)

A bit late? New knowledge centre to help the EU minimise risk of disasters (EU Joint Research Centre, link)

Hungary: 'This is a creeping dictatorship' (DW, link): "Police in Hungary have allegedly beaten and detained foreign journalists covering the refugee crisis. DW spoke with leading Viktor Orban critic Kim Lane Scheppele, who says Hungary is becoming a police state."

Why the UN Meeting Is No Friend to Refugees (.telesurtv.net, link): "Resolving the refugee crisis requires understanding displacement and migration as central to anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles."

Refugee Crisis in Europe Prompts Western Engagement in Syria (NYT, link): "Suddenly, at the United Nations General Assembly this week, leaders of the world’s most powerful countries want to meet with him, all of them deeply worried about the refugee crisis.So what has changed? Well, nothing, Mr. Guterres said, “except refugees came to rich countries,” expanding the crisis from nations like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan to those in Europe."

Europe’s Migration Crisis in Context: Why Now and What Next? (MPI, link)

Walking with migrants: 'Arrested, nearly knifed, but I've made it as far as Serbia' (D.Telegraph, link) "A daily diary of migrants' stories as they travel from Greece to central Europe "

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