June



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.6.16)
GERMANY: Far-right violence rising sharply in Germany

"The number of violent crimes committed in Germany by far-right extremists has risen by over 40 percent in one year, the nation's internal intelligence agency says. In particular, asylum seekers have been targeted...."

Greece: Lesvos: Doctors of the World accuses police of violence against migrant children (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Humanitarian aid organization Doctors of the World (MDM) has accused Greek police of subjecting 12 Pakistani minors at the Moria reception center for refugees on the island of Lesvos to mental and physical abuse earlier this week, and called on Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas to launch an investigation.

The minors allegedly came to blows and threw rocks at each other on the night of June 23, before they were handcuffed and dispatched to the local police station where they were held for 14 hours and reportedly subjected to mental and physical abuse."

and see: Reported incident of police violence towards unaccompanied minors at Moria Reception Center in Lesvos (mdmgreece.gr, link)

and: Lesvos: Inter Agency Consultation records on 23 June: "Thirty eight (38) trouble makers from Moria have been transferred to Paranesti, Drama. UNHCR and protection partners are following up on their cases." [emphasis added]

Mourning the dead while violating the living (open democracy, link)

"As of the end of April 2016, the Italian Navy has deployed four ships to fish out the wreck of a migrants’ boat from a depth of 370m and retrieve the bodies of the several hundred migrants who remained trapped inside since the night of the 18th of April 2015. Following a collision between the migrants’ severely overloaded vessel and a 147m cargo ship that had approached to rescue it, the boat capsized, causing the death of more than 800 people – the largest shipwreck in recent Mediterranean history...

If the EU-Turkey deal is not blocked through institutional means, then all that will still stand in its way will be the acts of civil disobedience such as those enacted by activists by blocking the Frontex operated ferries on their route to Turkey with their very bodies, and forms of direct support to migrants’ illegalised crossings through the work of the numerous NGOs and activists who have, since summer 2015, transformed the Aegean islands into a new laboratory of transnational solidarity. The re-opening of a safe(er) passage through the Aegean is a matter of life and deaths for thousands of migrants, and an urgent response to revert the self-destructive course the EU is heading in. For as long as migrants will drown, Europe will keep sinking."

BULGARIA: “Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants”: STATISTICAL REVIEW (EPIM, pdf):

"It seems that one common European response to the “flow” is the increased detention of migrants. This statistical review illustrates the implication of this common trend for Bulgaria. It is appears as if detention has become a migration management tool, especially in times when most states found themselves unprepared for the increased numbers of migrants arriving on their territories. Furthermore, the ongoing economic crisis and the mass austerity measures around the continent provoked the proliferation of far-right political movements.

Pressured by a potential loss of votes, liberal European politicians also started to resort to practices that are more akin to the far-right spectrum: migrants are more than often portrayed as a national security threat and criminals, and detention practices are often used as summary punitive measures against migrants in the name of the protection of the national interest."

HUNGARY: Refugee crisis: "show trials" for "violating the border fence"

"This report is based on the talk and discussion on an event on of the Röszke trials in Hungary, on refugees accused of violating the border fence during a riot/mass disturbance - which was held in Auróra, Budapest 24th 2016. As our guest, we had Tamas Fazekas, who works for the refugee program at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. Fazekas is a criminal lawyer, the defendant of three of the accused, and works for the HHC since 2001. The views expressed in the event and in this blogpost are his own and not representative of the HHC. HHC has unique access to all refugee camps and detention centers in Hungary. They are independent from the Hungarian government and do not receive any project money the EU, and provide free legal aid for people seeking international protection in Hungary."

European Court of human rights turns a blind eye on migrants’ life endangerment in Chios (GISTI, French and English, link):

"Last weekend, the European court for human right rejected a request for emergency measures sought on June 16th by 51 Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi nationals (amongst which many minors) who are forcibly maintained on Chios Island, Greece, in a desperate situation. This island, like many others in the Aegean Sea, has become an open-air prison. The victims, lead by a GISTI lawyer, a French NGO for the defence of migrants, had asked the court to compel Greek authorities to put an end to the violations of their right to life and to the inhuman and degrading treatment they have been enduring in Chios since an immigration deal was concluded between Turkey and the EU on march 20th – more than three months now - and which puts their children’s’ and their own lives at risk.

Although they all applied for asylum, none of those 51 victims enjoyed any of the fundamental civil rights theoretically guaranteed by Greek and European law. They received no legal assistance at all. Most claimants ... the grounds for this «house arrests» on an island, which turns every day more into an Alcatraz, and cannot understand why they are forced to live in such appalling and degrading material conditions. They are granted neither safe nor decent housing, and lack basic access to health: medical assistance is grossly insufficient compare to the number of civilians in the camps who would need specialised care or hospital recovery. (only some prescriptions are given but no drugs). In one of the island’s three “camps”, the authorities do not even provide for food.)"

News (30.6.16)

Italian navy recovers ship that sank with over 800 people on board - Forensic experts to begin identifying victims of 2015 Mediterranean disaster in which vessel capsized off Sicily (Guardian, link)

Schulz: Switzerland and EU need to find compromise on immigration (euractiv, link): "Switzerland and the European Union have to find a compromise on how to act on a Swiss referendum to limit immigration without breaching bilateral treaties with the EU, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a TV interview on Wednesday (29 June)."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-29.6.16)
Are You Syrious (link):

Bulgaria Drops Case against Border Police Officer Who Shot Migrant

 

"Prosecutors in Burgas decided to end pretrial proceedings into the death of an Afghan migrant who was killed not far from the Bulgarian border last October. Border police claim that officers noticed the movement of over 50 people near the border and that after shooting in the air “as a warning sign”, a bullet “rebounded” hitting one of the people on the move in the back of the neck. Human rights organizations pointed to the development as a possible case of police brutality.

Burgas District Prosecutor’s Office investigation established that no crime had been committed accepting the version according to which the bullet fired ricocheted off the bridge, changing its movement and hitting the migrant."

Hungary: New law that allows push backs of people

"Hungarian president signed the “8km law” that will be in effect from 5th July. The law allows pushing back people to the Serbian side of the fence. Namely, the new amendment of the law allows the police to ‘escort’ all refugees that are caught within 8km of the fence to the ‘no man’s land’ at the other side of the fence where they have to wait for days and weeks in inhumane conditions and almost no legal counseling. The only independent source of legal assistance in transit zones, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, but they have limited access and capacity to deal with each case."

Germany: Rise of far-right extremists attack

"An annual report by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency recorded 1,408 violent crimes by far-right extremists in 2015. That compares with 990 such crimes the previous year.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Tuesday that far-right extremists targeted asylum seekers in particular last year. Far-right groups have seen a rise in membership and support amid growing anti-foreigner sentiment last year, as Germany saw an unprecedented influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa."

BORDER CONTROLS INCREASE DEMAND FOR SMUGGLERS: Europol: 39 migrant smugglers arrested during Sirocco-2 Action Day along Western-Balkan route (Press release, pdf)

""Border management restrictions in the South East European region have created demand for criminal networks to offer their services to those migrants who are stranded in various phases of their journey. Facilitators often appear in refugee camps and offer their services to asylum seekers."

Greece: Lesvos: Reported incident of police violence towards unaccompanied minors at Moria Reception Center in Lesvos (link):

"Médecins du Monde – Doctors of the World Greece expresses its deep concern about the reported incident of police violence towards unaccompanied minors detained in Moria Reception Center in Lesvos.

On the 24th of June 2016, twelve (12) unaccompanied minor of Pakistani nationality, accompanied by the coordinator of the Centre, were examined by the doctor and the psychologist of the medical team of MdM."

European Parliament Study: The Reform of the Dublin III Regulation (pdf):

"It examines the performance of Dublin and of relocation schemes, and assesses the Commission’s “Dublin IV” Proposal in this light. It argues that by retaining the Dublin philosophy and betting on more coercion, Dublin IV is unlikely to achieve its objectives while raising human rights concerns. It advocates re-centring EU responsibility allocation schemes on one key objective – quick access to asylum procedures. This requires taking protection seekers’ preferences seriously and de-bureaucratising the process. Such a reform would need to be accompanied by (a) stepping up the enforcement of refugee rights across the EU, (b) moving solidarity schemes from a logic of capacity-building to one of compensation, and (c) granting protected persons real mobility rights."

Towards compassion and a ‘compact’ on refugees (euractiv, link):

"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeals to European leaders meeting in Brussels today (28 June) to contribute for a new Global Compact on Responsibility-sharing for Refugees, as well as a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

The author is Secretary-General of the United Nations.

New figures released last week by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show that forcible displacement has reached new heights: 65 million. Every minute, 24 people are uprooted – four times the level of a decade ago. As European leaders meet in Brussels, they must focus on humane solutions that save lives, uphold international law and protect human rights."

European Council: 28-29 June: Draft Conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 8471-16, pdf):

"the return of migrants to Turkey in full respect of the provisions on inadmissibility under the Asylum Procedures Directive..."

Comment: The problem with the Asylum Procedures Directive is that is based on the lowest possible standards and does not requite third countries to implement the 1951 Geneva Convention standards and protections.

"In the Central Mediterranean, flows of predominantly economic migrants remain at the same level as last year..." [emphasis added]

Comment: People arriving from north Africa are refugees.

"fast and operational returns of irregular migrants, including by applying temporary arrangements, pending the conclusion of full-fledged readmission agreements."

Comment: To be based on the use of "leverage", that is, threats to withdraw development aid and trade if not compliant to EU demands.

See: EU to use aid and trade to stop Africa migration (euobserver, link): "EU leaders are likely to agree to use all means possible to keep irregular migrants from leaving Africa to reach Europe when they meet at a summit in Brussels later, according to leaked papers seen by this website. The heads of state are set to back a master plan to use development aid and trade as leverage against so-called countries of origin in Africa."

EU-AFRICA: ARCI: Steps in the process of externalisation of border controls to Africa from the Valletta Summit to today (pdf)

"While the logic of externalisation of borders control to neighbouring countries, has been an essential feature of EU strategy over the last ten years, as evidenced first by Tony Blair’s government’s proposal of 2003 to create asylum seekers’ camps in transit countries, by the Italy-Libya agreement of 2008, by that between Spain and Morocco of 2012, as well also as the EU-Turkey readmission agreement of 2014, we are now witnessing an acceleration in the agreements and in their effects.

This is also due to the considerable funds it has been decided to invest in the criminalisation of migration. Trust funds for Africa, established at the Valletta Summit, have made cash available to facilitate dealings with African countries. This monetisation of the relationship with African countries opens up a trade logic that appears to skate over questions of human rights and the fate of thousands of people on the African continent."

Report in Italian (pdf) and French (pdf)

NGOs warn EU against opening ‘dark chapter in its history’ on migration (euractiv, link):

"More than 100 NGOs have called upon the European Commission to put a stop to its controversial migration plan. EurActiv Germany reports.

The executive’s plan sees trade deals, development aid and other financial tools being used to limit the number of migrants reaching Europe from third countries. “We propose to use a mix of positive and negative incentives to reward those third countries willing to cooperate effectively with us and to ensure that there are consequences for those who do not,” said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. EU leaders will discuss the plan this week at a summit being held in Brussels.

The NGOs have criticised the EU for focusing solely on curbing migration through its foreign policy and highlighted that this undermines the bloc’s credibility and authority when it comes to defending human rights. The organisations therefore called upon the member states to reject the Commission’s proposal."

See: See Statement: Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 28-29 June 2016: NGOs strongly condemn new EU policies to contain migration (pdf)

News (28-29.6.16)

French politicians warn about migration from UK (New Europe, link): "France is reviewing the Touquet accord, an agreement signed in 2003 to reinforce French-British cooperation on immigration. The deal essentially moved the British border to cross-channel embarkation areas in France and Belgium and allowed London to offload some responsibility for border control."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.6.16)
Statement 26th of June 2016: Three deaths in the straight of Gibraltar caused by the arrival of the Marine Royal (Moroccan Navy) (Alarmphone, link): "During the interception the migrants’ boat capsized. The survivors witnessed that the Marine Royal did not rescue all passengers, but only 5 of the 8. The Marine Royal then left the three dead bodies behind.

 

On Sunday the 26 of June 2016, the Alarmphone got a call from a Senegalese man staying in Morocco. His brother had left in a rubber boat with a group of 8 persons, heading from Tangier in direction of Tarifa. During the interception the migrants’ boat capsized, because of the big waves produced by the ship of the Marine Royal.

The survivors witnessed that the Marine Royal did not rescue all passengers, but only 5 of the 8. The Marine Royal then left the three dead bodies behind. In anguish the Senegalese comrades in Tangier wrote the following statemen"

Europol press release: Latest trends in migrant smuggling: nearly 7000 suspected smugglers reported, increased exploitation, higher prices (pdf): "Between January and June 2016, Europol received intelligence on more than 7000 newly-identified migrant smuggling suspects. 95% of them are male, with an average age of 36. Recent data also shows that migrant smuggling remains an increasingly profitable business for criminals, with the
prices for migrant smuggling having tripled. These are only a few of the most recent trends perceived by Europol and published today.

At the end of last summer, migrants were paying between EUR 2000 and 5000 for their entire trip, i.e. from the country of origin to a final destination country in the EU. Nowadays, prices have increased significantly, with migrants paying up to EUR 3000 for just one part of the journey, for example from the country of origin to the EU entry country. More then needs to be paid for the next part of the journey. One of the consequences is that the overall time between leaving the country of origin and arriving in the country of destination is longer. Last year, the trips were sometimes completed in one to two weeks; now a journey can last for months. An increase in pressure on secondary movement routes is expected."

Over 100 NGOs to European Council: don't try to curb migration at the expense "of fundamental values and human rights"

"The European Union is set to open a dark chapter in its history unless it rejects the European Commission’s proposal on migration, a coalition of more than 100 NGOs warned on Monday. Shifting towards a foreign policy that serves the single objective of curbing migration, the EU and its member states risk further undermining their credibility and authority in the defence of human rights, the organizations say. They call on European leaders to reject the Commission proposal that would cement this approach, making deterrence and return of people the main objective of the EU’s relationship with third countries."

See Statement: Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 28-29 June 2016: NGOs strongly condemn new EU policies to contain migration (pdf)

EU: (Language) policing at Europe’s borders (IRR, link): "Frontex plays a key role in screening of new arrivals on Europe’s southern borders, with its interpreters often deciding nationality. Aisha Maniar shows the inappropriateness of this role, given Frontex’ quasi-military role in policing the borders."

Unaccompanied minors in the hotspot (ECRE, link): "Italian law prescribes that unaccompanied children cannot be placed in detention centres or in reception centres for adults. However, in practice unaccompanied minors (UAMs) are placed together with adults in hotspot facilities in Italy, in “closed” centres in open violation of Constitutional law. Paradoxically, they are obliged to remain in a detention-like situation longer than adults due to the lack of available places in dedicated reception centres for them. These centres are few in number and usually overcrowded, and there are few places available due to the sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied minors arriving over the last few years. According to data from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, in 2015, 11,921 unaccompanied minors were accommodated in Italy, whereas in 2014 10,536 were accommodation. The number was 6,319 in 2013. While adults generally remain in the hotspot facilities from between two to six days, minors have had to stay for several weeks (mainly in Pozzallo and Lampedusa). For instance, 260 unaccompanied minors reached the Sicilian coast in a disembarkation on 25 May in Palermo. They were sent to the hotspot facilities for identification and registration. As of 11 June, ten of them were still in the hotspot premises at Trapani waiting for available places within the dedicated centres. On that date, in Lampedusa there are 66 unaccompanied minors still waiting to be transferred to dedicated reception centres."

European travel document: MEPs and ministers strike informal deal (EP press release, link): "A new standard European travel document to speed the return of non-EU nationals staying "irregularly" in EU member states without valid passports or identity cards was informally agreed by MEPs and EU ministers on Thursday evening. A key goal during the talks has been to increase third countries’ acceptance of the document through improved technical details. To enter into force, this informal deal needs to be formally endorsed by the full Parliament and the Council of Ministers."

EU: Border and coast guard: consolidated text of proposed Regulation

This is the text agreed in an informal deal between negotiators from the Parliament, Council and Commission last week. The Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee will vote on the text today.

See: REGULATION (EU) 2016/… OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 (pdf)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: Resolution 2128 (2016): Violence against migrants (pdf): "1. The Parliamentary Assembly is very concerned about the increased phenomenon of violence against migrants in Europe, which manifests itself in forms such as physical violence, labour exploitation, trafficking, sexual harassment and abuse, discrimination and hate speech.

2. Regrettably, very few European governments have taken active steps to combat the root causes of violence against migrants. Moreover, during the recent economic crisis, anti-migrant rhetoric has been widely used by populist parties and mass media, provoking stigmatisation, intolerance and xenophobia. The introduction of increasingly restrictive policies towards migrants and harsher measures against irregular migration is also exacerbating the situation.

3. The Assembly is deeply concerned about women and children migrants, who are particularly vulnerable to different forms of violence and abuse, including sexual violence, especially in detention centres or places with high concentrations of migrants. These groups should receive special protection from the receiving countries, including through the provision of safe reception facilities and alternatives to their detention.

4. The Assembly believes that the opening of regular channels for migration, combating the exploitation of migrants in the labour market, the promotion of a positive image of migrants in political discourse and in the media, as well as the development of social inclusion programmes are the most effective steps to combat violence against migrants in Europe.

5. The Assembly therefore calls on all member States of the Council of Europe to place the protection of the human rights of migrants at the forefront of migration management priorities and to combat racism, discrimination and hate speech, which lead to violence against migrants."

Rethinking asylum distribution in the EU: Shall we start with the facts? (CEPS, link): "Ten months of what has alternatively been called a "refugee crisis", a "migrant crisis" and a "migrant and asylum crisis" in the EU has fuelled an exceptionally vivid discussion about statistics. All member states are required to provide Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, with data on immigration and asylum in accordance with a regulation that sets out clear and concise rules on what data must be submitted. The purpose of the regulation is to ensure that the data on migration and asylum the member states provide to Eurostat for publication is comparable across all EU countries.

A number of member states also have other data sources that do not conform to the Eurostat regulation but which they release to the public. These data, for instance in the case of Germany, from the EASY registration system designed to allocate responsibility for possible asylum applicants across Germany, are not consistent with the data member states must produce for Eurostat, so the results can be startlingly different. Over the past ten months of the refugee crisis, uncertainty about the numbers has been a real challenge for policy-makers.

To understand the distribution of asylum seekers across the EU, the only consistent source of information is that released by Eurostat. So what do the Eurostat data reveal about the distribution of asylum seekers in the EU? According to the report it issued on 3 March 2016, relating to the full year of 2015, the total applications received for asylum was just over 1.2 million, with the number by month shown in Figure 1."

News (27.6.16)

Boat migrant rescues surge, as calm seas return to Mediterranean (EurActiv, link): "Ships manned by humanitarian organisations, the Italian navy and the coast guard helped rescue more than 2,000 migrants on boats today (23 June) as calm seas returned to the Mediterranean prompting a surge in departures.

The Topaz Responder, a ship run by the Malta-based humanitarian group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), said 23 different migrant boats had been spotted in the sea about 20 nautical miles from the Libyan port city of Sabratha.

Rescue operations were ongoing, the Italian coast guard said. “The mass movement is probably the result of week-long, unfavourable weather conditions” that have come to an end, MOAS said on Twitter."

GREECE: Vital refugee centre on Lesbos forced to close and British owners hit with €10,000 penalty (Daily Mirror, link): "Neck deep in freezing waves, Philippa Kempson battled to pull a little boy from a sinking boat crammed with 80 people.

Terrified six-year-old Mohammed, who had arrived at the Greek island of Lesbos after a perilous 1,600-mile journey from Syria, was just one of thousands of refugees Philippa and her husband Eric have helped.

But now the British expat couple, who run a beachside refuge for migrants called Hope Centre, face being closed down after a ruling by local authorities.

They have been told their 20-room centre – a former holiday hotel – can no longer be used to provide shelter, food or clothing."

HUNGARY: Top court rejects all four quota referendum appeals (Politics.hu, link): "Following a court ruling rejecting several appeals against the government-backed referendum against the EU mandatory migrant quota system, the popular vote on the quotas will go ahead, a government spokesperson said. The Constitutional Court rejected on Tuesday four appeals against plans to hold the referendum. “Left-wing politicians attacked the government’s plans to put the issue to a popular vote but no obstacles remain”, Bence Tuzson, state secretary for government communications, told a press conference. According to the legal timetable, the referendum is most likely to be held in September or October. The government asks Hungarians to say no to EU quotas, he added."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.6.16)
EU: European Border and Coast Guard: Parliament and Council compromise position

 

On 22 June negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached an "informal agreement" on the text for a Regulation establishing a European Border and Coast Guard, which will upgrade the Frontex agency with an increased role in returns, greater access to technical equipment, more powers for liaison officers and new possibilities for the Council to reintroduce border controls where states refuse to accept asssistance from the new agency.

A leaked copy of the text (pdf, html) sets out the positions of the institutions and the compromise text, which will be voted on by the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee on 27 June and, if they agree to it, by the full Parliament in July.

Swedish crackdown targets migrant families (EUobserver, link): "Sweden’s parliament passed a restrictive asylum law on Tuesday (21 June) that critics said could put more children at risk.

A broad majority backed the government’s proposal, which aims to sharply reduce the number of asylum seekers over a three-year period during which Sweden is to improve its capacity for reception and integration of migrants.

The law makes it harder for people who get asylum, but who are not classified as refugees, to bring in family members. It also replaces permanent residence permits with temporary ones, which must be renewed every 13 months.

The Social Democratic-Green coalition government said its goal was to bring Sweden in line with the EU’s minimal conditions for asylum rights."

And see: Sweden: Restrictive Asylum Bill (Human Rights Watch, link): "The Swedish Parliament is expected to approve a restrictive new asylum bill on June 21, 2016, that could harm the well-being of migrant children in need of protection and undermine their opportunity to effectively integrate into Swedish society, Human Rights Watch said today. The bill, which will apply to all children and adults who applied for asylum after November 24, 2015, will temporarily roll back some rights currently available under Swedish asylum law."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.6.16)
EU: Border Guard: European Border and Coast Guard agreed: European Commission - Press release: The European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached an agreement, endorsed by the Council today, on the Commission's proposal on a European Border and Coast Guard (Press release, pdf):

 

"The European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached an agreement, endorsed by the Council today, on the Commission's proposal on a European Border and Coast Guard, paving the way for the reinforced Agency to be up and running starting this summer. The European Border and Coast Guard will combine a new reinforced Agency, building on the foundations laid by Frontex, with the ability to draw on a reserve pool of people and equipment."

See: Background documentation: Regulation on a European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Statewatch SEMDOC)

European Court of Human Rights: Grand Chamber hearing concerning the confinement and return to Tunisia of irregular migrants who arrived in Italy by sea (Press release, pdf):

"The case concerns the detention in a reception centre on Lampedusa and subsequently on ships moored in Palermo harbour, as well as the return to Tunisia, of clandestine migrants who had landed on the Italian coast in 2011 during the events linked to the “Arab Spring”....

The applicants, Saber Ben Mohamed Ben Ali Khlaifia, Fakhreddine Ben Brahim Ben Mustapha Tabal and Mohamed Ben Habib Ben Jaber Sfar, are Tunisian nationals who were born in 1983, 1987 and 1988 respectively. Mr Khlaifia lives in Om Laarass (Tunisia) and Mr Tabal and Mr Sfar live in El Mahdia (Tunisia)....

On 1 February 2016 the case was referred to the Grand Chamber at the request of the Italian Government"

See also Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italy’s treatment of Tunis ians in 2011 (pdf)

European Parliament: MEPs ask EU to verify whether Turkey is shooting Syrians who try to cross border (Press release, pdf):

"The European Union should check the veracity of reports that Turkish border guards are shooting and killing Syrians who are trying to flee their country, said the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. MEPs also asked the European Commission to assess whether the EU-Turkey deal to manage migration and refugee flows can continue to apply in these circumstances."

15 Years Fortress Europe: Interactive map of migrant and refugee deaths on the way to Europe, or trying to stay in Europe (link) Click "Start"

Returning and Deporting Irregular Migrants: Not a Solution to the ‘Refugee Crisis’ (Human GEography, link):

"This article questions whether the presentation of the return and deportation of irregular migrants as a solution to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ is ethical. Legally, the return of irregular migrants may be a legitimate activity by the state, but the current pressure by the European Commission on member-states to increase the current 40 percent rate of effective returns can lead them to operate returns below minimal human rights standards in a bid to increase the rate."

News (22.6.16)

Swedish crackdown targets migrant families (euobserver,link): "Sweden’s parliament passed a restrictive asylum law on Tuesday (21 June) that critics said could put more children at risk.A broad majority backed the government’s proposal, which aims to sharply reduce the number of asylum seekers over a three-year period during which Sweden is to improve its capacity for reception and integration of migrants. Critics said more women and children likely to attempt perilous crossings as families try to stick together (Photo: europarl.europa.eu) The law makes it harder for people who get asylum, but who are not classified as refugees, to bring in family members. It also replaces permanent residence permits with temporary ones, which must be renewed every 13 months."

Dispatches: Greece’s Prime Minister Should Uphold Refugee Rights at the Council of Europe (HRW, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should take the opportunity to address pressing concerns about the fate of refugees and asylum seekers in his speech today before the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.6.16)
Greece Overhauls Appeals To Speed Up Returns To Turkey (News That Moves, link):

 

"The Greek Parliament voted late last week to change the composition of the Appeals Committees who are tasked with examining the claims and appeals of asylum seekers who crossed into Greece from Turkey after March 20.

The legal amendments state that Committees will now be composed of two judges appointed by the government and one member nominated by UNHCR. In the previous structure, there was one civil servant and two independent experts nominated by UNHCR and by the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR).

The GNCHR yesterday expressed concern about the constitutionality of the Committees’ new composition and the timing of the additional reforms." [emphasis added]

See also: The government manipulates the Asylum Appeals Committees (AnalyzeGreece, link), link in Greek and: Letter by members of the Asylum Appeals Committees of Greece (Presidential Decree 114/2010), regarding the latest developments in the asylum claims review process (pdf)

Leading rights groups slam EU-Turkey refugee deal (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Leading rights groups used World Refugee Day Monday to criticize the recent EU-Turkey refugee agreement and the conditions in which refugees live in Turkey....

Instead of increasing the means by which refugees could safely and legally enter Europe, “the EU made unlawful agreements with Turkey in order to stem the tide of migration,” Amnesty said in a statement. Thousands of migrants have lost their lives on the perilous sea journey to Europe.

An EU-Turkey agreement reached in March allows Greece to return Syrian asylum seekers to Turkey without evaluation of their protection claims on the basis it is a “safe third country.”

In order to limit refugees crossing into Greece by sea in keeping with the agreement, Amnesty claimed Turkey had not only increased unlawful detentions but was also forcibly returning them to Syria or pressuring them to return “voluntarily.”"

Brexit would prevent UK from returning asylum seekers (euobserver, link):

"should it go, Britain may inadvertently become a brighter beacon for those hoping for international protection who are already near the UK borders.

EU asylum law gives governments the right to return people to the EU state they first entered. The UK is a staunch defender of the agreement, also known as the Dublin regulation, because they get to send people packing. A Thursday vote to reject the EU would annul the UK's participation and also deny the UK access to Eurodac, an asylum-seeker fingerprint database.

It means EU states would not need to accept the return of any asylum seeker who somehow made it to the UK.

"It seems obvious that we would no longer be a part of the Dublin system and therefore we have to rely on some kind of bilateral arrangement or informal arrangement to send people to EU countries," Steve Peers, a professor of EU and human rights law at the University of Essex, told this website."

UNICEF slams treatment of refugee children in Germany (DW, link):

"Germany does not extend the same rights to refugee children as it does to native-born children, UNICEF has said. This was worrying for a group in need of special care, the children's organization has warned. "

Seeking Refuge - Unaccompanied Children in Sweden (HRW,link):

", the arrival of tens of thousands of children in 2015 has put a strain on this system. This report, based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in Sweden from January 25 to February 8, 2016 identifies key shortcomings in the system. As a result of these shortcomings some children are not rece iving the care and attention they need and to which they are entitled."

News (21.6.16)

UN Official critical of Hungary’s plan to shut refugee centres (New Europe, link): "Hungary’s plan to close its refugee reception centres will make it much more difficult for people granted asylum to integrate, forcing them to leave the country, the regional head of the United Nation’s refugee agency said June 20. Montserrat Feixas Vihe, the UNHCR representative in Central Europe, said conditions in the countries refugees are fleeing from have not improved but it is now much harder for them to seek protection in Europe. “The need for them to flee is just as bad as last year,” Feixas Vihe told The Associated Press. “They need to seek protection and they are not able to get it here. That is a major problem.”"

EU: Don’t Send Syrians Back to Turkey - Lack of Jobs, School, Health Care Spurs Poverty, Exploitation (HRW, link): "Delays in registration and limited implementation of temporary protection policies in Turkey mean that many Syrian refugees are left without effective protection or access to jobs and services that they desperately need, Human Rights Watch said today. As long as Turkey remains burdened by overwhelming numbers of refugees and unable to provide sufficient protection and security for all, the European Union should not be sending Syrian refugees back to Turkey."

Let Aid For Refugees Pass – Convoy to Calais (passeursdhospitalites, link): "The Convoy to Calais, on Saturday 18 June 2016, was refused entry into France. Over 250 vehicles carrying many tonnes of much needed aid for refugees in the ‘Jungle Camp’ were turned away at the border by the French authorities. The reasons given for refusing the convoy entry were spurious, including the ‘State of Emergency’, football hooliganism and the threat of terrorist attack. None of these had any connection with our humanitarian mission. While two lorries and a handful of cars and vans managed to get through, less than half of the aid collected was delivered."

EU: ‘Lighthouse for Lampedusa’ erected on Brussels skyline (euractiv, link): "A makeshift lighthouse – constructed out of the remnants of refugees’ dinghies – was erected on the Brussels skyline on Sunday night (19 June), to mark World Refugee Day and pose an ongoing question to EU policymakers through the summer."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.6.16)
EU-TURKEY: New information platform on EU-Turkey migration policy launched: “A critical monitoring of the EU-Turkey deal is absolutely necessary” (pdf): "While the EU is intensifying its cooperation with Turkey regarding border surveillance and deterrence, there is a lack of independent analysis and information on politics and practices onsite. The critical civil society of Turkey is facing practices of intimidation, making independent research and media reporting more and more difficult. At the same time, the importance of Turkey for the European border regime is growing rapidly.

 

“In the situation we are facing right now, we feel that it is crucial to establish a critical and free source of information, which aims at strengthening the power of civil society”, explains Lülüfer Körükmez. Activists and the interested public, as well as researchers and journalists should use the information provided by HarekAct to follow, initiate and comment on recent debates, discourses and activities around migration policies."

See: HarekAct (link): "This blog-project is the collective work of a group of researchers and (no border) activists from Turkey, Austria and Germany active in networks such as kritnet (Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies), GAR (Migration Researchers’ Platform, Turkey), Mülteci-Der, borderline-europe, and bordermonitoring.eu."

Greece sidelines officials who blocked expulsion of refugees to Turkey (The Guardian, link): "The Greek government has sidelined members of an independent authority that had blocked the deportation of Syrian refugees, following sustained pressure from other European countries.

Greek MPs voted on Thursday to change the composition of the country’s asylum appeals board, in an attempt to sideline officials who had objected on legal grounds to the expulsion of Syrians listed for deportation to Turkey.

The appeals board had jeopardised the EU-Turkey migration deal, the agreement enacted in March that is meant to see all asylum seekers landing on the Greek islands detained in Greece – and then deported."

See also: The government manipulates the Asylum Appeals Committees (AnalyzeGreece, link), link in Greek and: Letter by members of the Asylum Appeals Committees of Greece (Presidential Decree 114/2010), regarding the latest developments in the asylum claims review process (pdf)

EU: COMMON LIST OF SAFE THIRD COUNTRIES: European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Council adopts opinion

"The Rapporteur welcomes this proposal which should help the swift processing of asylum applications from persons originating from these countries and reduce divergences between existing national lists. The proposal includes provisions on the regular review of the situation in the countries on the common list and on the removal of a country from the list in case of sudden change of situation.

It is important to stress that the inclusion of a country on the list cannot establish an absolute guarantee of safety for nationals of that country and therefore will not dispense with the need to conduct an appropriate individual examination of their applications for international protection.

The Rapporteur notes that in the case of Turkey, the rate of asylum applications considered by EU Member States as well-founded is relatively high, testifying to the fact that discrimination and human rights violations of persons belonging to vulnerable groups still occur there. While the Rapporteur agrees with the Commission's conclusion that Turkey is a safe country of origin within the meaning of Directive 2013/32/EU, he considers it of particular importance to make sure that the duty of individual examination of asylum applications is fully respected."

See: OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin for the purposes of Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and amending Directive 2013/32/EU (pdf)

European Commission: Joint Statement ahead of World Refugee Day 2016 (press release,19 June 2016, pdf): "On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the following statement is issued by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, and Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management"

Austria says agrees to help Hungary secure Schengen border (Reuters, link): "Austria agreed on Friday to provide equipment and personnel to help Hungary secure its Schengen border and prevent illegal immigration, an Austrian Defence Ministry spokesman said.

(...)

But at a meeting in Sankt Martin an der Raab in the Austrian state of Burgenland, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Hungary, ministers agreed to increase cooperation on Hungary's southern and eastern borders.

They also discussed conditions under which Austria could send back refugees who initially applied for asylum in Hungary but moved on to the Alpine republic afterwards, a spokesman for Austria's Interior Ministry said.

Two working groups were formed to provide concrete proposals within four weeks."

GREECE: 127 refugees have arrived in Lesvos, according to the UNHCR (20.6.16).

Millions in asylum claim backlog (IRIN, link): "The latest refugee and asylum figures, released by UNHCR today, show the global population of refugees rising to 16.1 million at the end of 2015.

(This figure excludes Palestine refugees.)

Africa, Asia and Europe all saw increases in refugee registrations, but Europe's "crisis" should be seen in perspective:

Europe has not yet processed all the applications by asylum-seekers that have arrived in the last year or two, and has about one million cases yet to consider, about one-third of the global total caseload.

Even so, of the global backlog of 3.2 million asylum applications, Europe is by no means exceptional, as today's figures for UNHCR show:"

AUSTRALIA: The worst I've seen – trauma expert lifts lid on 'atrocity' of Australia's detention regime (The Guardian, link): "Exclusive: In his 43-year career, Paul Stevenson has worked in the aftermath of the Bali bombings and the Boxing Day tsunami but says nothing he witnessed was as bad as the treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus "

GREECE: A colourful place in a bleak reality (ECRE & AIRE Centre, link): "We are standing outside a big white tent in Hara Hotel, a makeshift camp on the side of the road, a bit further down from the intersection leading to Idomeni, in Northern Greece. The name comes from a hotel and petrol station which, quite unbelievably, are still running. We are approached by smiley Ali, the only teacher in the camp, who wants to open the tent and show us the school of Hara.

A little boy starts running towards us. He is visibly excited, with his notebook in hand and a small backpack, and starts chanting the latin alphabet: “A B C D E. A B C D E. A B C D E.” Another boy is following in silence.

“This is Omar,” says Ali pointing at the little boy who is all excited about the thought of going to school one more time today. Ali greets the other boy who is quietly looking at us and tells us with a soft smile and proud eyes: “This boy has my name – Ali – and is one of my best students. He can write some words in English already”. He modestly shows us his school and the donations he has received. Books, pencils, pens, white boards, notebooks – everything he needs to teach. The only thing missing are more teachers willing to join him. “The children need to learn history, maths, so many more things and I can only teach English. They are missing out on school”. Makeshift Hara is hard, and the thought of making a life in this camp scares many, who see their situation as temporary, and so starting to teach in a school is not appealing to everyone, he explains."

UN refugee chief: Worrying ‘climate of xenophobia’ in Europe (EurActiv, link): "The UN’s refugee chief says a worrying “climate of xenophobia” has taken hold in Europe as the continent struggles with the biggest influx of migrants since World War II.

Speaking to AFP in Tehran at the start of a regional tour, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said European leaders needed to do more to coordinate migration policies and to combat negative stereotypes about refugees.

“Refugees… don’t bring danger to us, they flee from dangerous places,” said Grandi, who took office in January.

National leaders need to better explain that immigration “in fact contributes to the development of societies”. he said.

“Those who do the opposite, who stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants, have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today’s Europe,” he said."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.6.16)
Turkish border guards 'kill 11 Syrian refugees' in indiscriminate shooting - Syrian groups condemn 'massacre' – but Turkey denies reports (Independent, link):

 

"Turkish border guards have killed at least eight Syrian refugees, including several children, as families were “fired on indiscriminately” after attempting to cross into the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said.

At least eight others were injured, according to the UK-based violence monitor, with the death toll likely to rise due to the number of people in “critical” condition.

The Observatory said in a statement: “Turkish border guards have committed and are committing massacres against several refugees fleeing from the brutality of the regime and its bombardment since the beginning of the year.

GREECE: The government manipulates the Asylum Appeals Committees (AnalyzeGreece, link):

"On the 16-6-2016, with a last minute amendment, the Greek Government changes the composition of the Asylum Appeals Committees, because the existing ones were not sending refugees back to Turkey, were not considering turkey a safe third country for each applican as the implementation of the EU-Turkey refugee deal imposes. This is a disgraceful intervention and some members the existing Asylum Appeals Committees explain about it..

Managing legal issues by use of political priorities raises many questions about the future of the asylum system in Greece, the protection of human rights and the rule of law. For us, it is apparent that the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement is incompatible with the guarantees of the existing asylum system and the level of protection of human rights which has been achieved within the international and European legal framework. Unfortunately, the Ministry’s orchestrations indicate that whenever any decision making body, old or new, is not in line with the objective of mass returns to Turkey, such law amendments and wresting of authorities and responsibility will not be in the future the exception but rather the rule."

See: Link in Greek and: Letter by members of the Asylum Appeals Committees of Greece (Presidential Decree 114/2010), regarding the latest developments in the asylum claims review process (pdf)

EASO recruits security firm giant G4S: LESVOS, GREECE: New Security on Greek Islands Reduces Access: European migration commentator Apostolis Fotiadis probes the legality of the European Asylum Support Office’s decision to limit access to asylum proceedings as part of new security measures on the Greek islands.(News Deeply - Refugees Deeply, link):

"On June 9, the Lawyers Association of Mitilini (Lesvos) sued the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) for obstructing access to asylum proceedings by its members. The lawyers claim that EASO officials and private security guards are prohibiting access to specific areas of the holding centers, also called hotspots, that host the EASO offices and the asylum proceedings.

“The [lawyers’] association will guard the rights of its members as well as refugees against anyone who creates obstacles to their representation according to law,” said Haris Petsikos, a lawyer and member of the association....

The lawyers in Lesvos have accused the European agency of using increased security measures to deliberately limit uninhibited monitoring of how the asylum proceedings are being conducted. Reacting to questions about the unusual security measures, an EASO spokesperson confirmed that it has contracted G4S, a private global security company, to provide services inside refugee hotspots on the Greek islands due to “serious safety concerns” about their officials.

G4S is the world’s largest security company in terms of revenue and operates in 125 countries. Recent controversies involving the company include allegations of using immigrant-detainee labor in prisons, misconduct in child custodial institutions and manipulating police telephone data. Given this record, human rights groups and lawyers are understandably concerned about the rights and treatment of asylum seekers.

Civil society activists and advocacy groups such as Pro Asyl have also criticized the European asylum office for purportedly acting beyond its stated mandate. Some groups also claim that the EASO is helping impose a policy of en mass inadmissible decisions on asylum claims, in order to bolster the E.U.-Turkey deal."

MSF rejects EU funding in protest at refugee deal - Aid group could lose €60m but says it cannot take money from countries that are ‘pushing away’ people and their suffering (Guardian, link):

"The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières will no longer take money from any member of the EU, including Britain, in protest at the way Europe has responded to the refugee crisis. The decision could see the organisation miss out on €60m (£47m), the amount MSF was given by EU members, EU institutions and Norway in 2015.

MSF says it can no longer take money from countries and institutions that are “intensifying attempts to push people and their suffering away from European shores. This decision will take effect immediately and will apply to MSF’s projects worldwide.”

In particular, MSF has criticised the EU-Turkey deportation deal, the agreement created in March that is meant to ensure the deportation of almost all asylum seekers arriving by boat to Greece, and which has seen thousands of people stranded in legal limbo in squalid conditions on the Greek islands.

MSF has also condemned Europe’s ongoing attempts to pay dictatorships in Africa to stem migration flows before they reach Europe.......

Jérôme Oberreit, MSF’s international secretary general, said. “The EU-Turkey deal goes one step further and has placed the very concept of ‘refugee’ and the protection it offers in danger.”"

UN chief calls Lesvos 'island of peace' during visit to refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):

"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Lesvos "the island of peace" and the Aegean "a sea of solidarity" during a visit to the eastern Aegean island on Saturday.

The UN chief expressed his thanks to the Greek government, local authorities and the people of Lesvos for their efforts to help refugees. Accompanied by Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas and local officials, Ban visited the Moria reception center and the Kara Tepe refugee settlement."

ITALY: Oxfam report: HOTSPOT, RIGHTS DENIED (pdf):

"The lack of a legal framework is threatening the rights of migrants reaching the Italian shore. Oxfam calls for immediate and mid-term action....

The European response to the refugee crisis is proving ineffective and dangerous. Ineffective, because it is failing to hold back the migratory flows, which was its main objective, and to ensure an appropriate management of incoming migrants, as we will see in this report which tries to describe the situation in Sicily."

And: Report in Italian (pdf)

Countries must do more help Greece with migrant crisis, UN chief says (ekathimerini.com, link):

"United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Saturday for countries to do more to help cope with Europe's migrant crisis, saying Greece could not manage on its own.

Speaking in Athens before heading to the Greek island of Lesbos, the gateway into Europe for nearly a million people last year, Ban said Greece had shown "remarkable solidarity and compassion" in dealing with the hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war, despite its economic hardship.

"Greece should not be left alone to address this challenge on its own," Ban told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras."

FRANCE: La Cimade’s Charter Awards highlight unlawful practices enacted by prefectures against migrants which subordinate the law to immigration policy objectives (pdf): "Detention and expulsion: prefectures awarded prizes for their illegal and abusive practices."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.6.16)
Illegal detention of migrant children in Switzerland: a status report (Terre Des Hommes, link):

 

"“Children in the context of migration, whether accompanied, separated or unaccompanied should never be remanded in custody. Migratory status should not be considered as an offence and should not justify the detention of children as such.” Jean Zermatten, Founder and former director of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE) and former President of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child."

Full report: English, German and French (links)

Lesvos: Platanos Refugee Solidarity (Facebook, link)

"In 24 hours, three boats with refugees arrived on the shores around the ladder sykamiás. Saturday morning, the situation went to escape when inflatable boat with 55 refugees was stopped by the Greek coast guard off the stairs and 6 refugees scared dived into the sea to get away, thinking the coast guard will return them to turkey. Some people don't even have life jackets and even a wife yelling "I'd rather die than go back to turkey". Thankfully, all were picked up safely from the salvage vessel of proactiva. For many of these people, this is the second or third time attempting to come to Greece and many have already gotten violent return (push backs) in the Aegean Sea and return to turkey, which although illegal conducted continuously in the tandem NATO - Frontex-EU-Turkey.

Then the coast guard was carrying refugees in mólyvos, put them in a row and forced them to cross the entire village walk, under the condemnation of local residents who are protesting against the resurgence of refugees and the threat to the "tourist them heaven". Yes some shopkeepers you insulted me vulgar and propelákisan volunteers who went to give water to thirsty refugees. Again, humanity above all...

We have to keep in mind that many of these people have already experienced violent interceptions at sea in their attempt to come to Greece. Some of them have tried 2 or 3 times to cross and were turned back by the turkish coastguard (push back). Apart from the turkish government, these illegal tactics are carried out with the participation of NATO and EU.

Eventually, the greek coastguard took the refugees to Molyvos where they made them walk through the entire town under the heavy boos of local residents who see the refugees as a threat to their tourist-based local economy, In particular, some angry shop owners verbally attacked volunteers who were giving water to thirsty refugees. Shame."

Eric Kempson linked this story on Facebook - see what happened next: Incitement To Hate! 16/06/2016 (YouTube, link)

News (17.6.16)

UN chief due in Greece for talks on refugees as new panels set up (ekathimerini.com, link): "the government is trying to overhaul its asylum processing system, setting up new committees to rule on hundreds of asylum claims being lodged by migrants arriving in Greece. The reform comes after the current committees upheld the vast majority of appeals by migrants against overturned applications and ruling that Turkey is an “unsafe country” to which to return the migrants."

Asylum requests plummet across Europe (euobserver, link): "Some 287,000 people made their first application for asylum in the EU in the first quarter of this year, a fall of 33 percent from the last quarter of 2015, Eurostat figures show. Syrians continue to be the most common nationality asking for protection, making up a third of all requests, the EU's statistical office said on Thursday (16 June). Iraqis and Afghans remained the second and third largest groups, with around 35,000 applications each. The three nationalities account for 60 percent of all first-time applicants."

Russia-Trained Civil Militias Along Bulgaria's Borders Are ‘Ready for War With Refugees’ (Global Voices, link): "At least 800 people are involved in organized militias that hunt refugees along the borders of Bulgaria. According to their leader, they receive free training from Russia. An investigation by German public television channel ZDF aired on June 8 found that at least half of these men have done stints in the Bulgarian military. They wear masks and military camouflage, and most carry knives. Some, however, have guns as well."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.6.16)
UPDATED: Thursday 16th June: French border police ban aid convoy from sailing from Dover (Peoples' Assembly)

 

"Last night we were contacted by the Metropolitan Police who informed us that the French authorities have decided to ban the Convoy to Calais from entering France and, as things stand at the moment, we will not be granted permission to cross the border.

We are doing all in our power to get this overturned. It is more important than ever that we go ahead and show the strength of feeling and support for refugees. If the authorities still refuse to let us cross the channel we will be holding a protest in Dover.

We will still assemble the convoy on Whitehall at 8:30am and will drive to Dover.
We are in negotiations to get the ban lifted and are putting political pressure here and in France to allow the convoy to cross the French border.

How you can help: Sign and share the petition Calling for a reversal of the ban and demanding that the UK government gets involved. Sign the petition here"

WatchTheMed Alarm Phone denounces illegal push-back operation with Frontex present! (link):

"Following a period without any reported incidents of push-backs since January 2016, and decreased numbers of emergency calls from the Aegean Sea which is clearly related to decreased border crossings as a consequence of the EU-Turkey deal from March 20, the Alarm Phone documented a push-back operation on June 11, 2016. "

Bodies of 34 migrants, including 20 children, found in Niger desert (France 24, link):

"The bodies of 34 migrants, including 20 children, who were abandoned by people smugglers while trying to reach neighbouring Algeria were found in the Niger desert last week, authorities said Wednesday."

Appeal for the closure of Detention Centres and HOTSPOTS in Europe! (pdf):

"There are 393 Administrative Detention Centers in Europe. Their purpose is to keep foreigners who have an irregular administrative status locked up before they are expelled from the territory. ...

We demand that the European states close those places, that serve to establish differences between human beings, those who have rights and those who are considered as «undesirable foreign objects» in violation of articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We demand that the European states adopt reception policies that respond to the urgency of the humanitarian situation at the external borders and within the territory of the European Union...

First Signatories

Antirazzista Catanese (Italia), Askavusa Lampedusa (Italia), ATMF (Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins de France), BAAM (Bureau d’accueil et a’accompagnement des migrants - France), CISPM (Coalition internationale des Sans Papiers et Migrants), CISPM New Haven (USA), CSP93 (Coordination 93 de lutte pour les Sans Papiers - France), CSP75 (Coordination 75 des Sans Papiers - France), Fondation Frantz Fanon (France), Intégration 21 (France), Kâlî (France), MAFED (Marche des Femmes pour la Dignité - France), Tanquem els CIEs (España), UNSP (Union nationale des sans papiers et des migrants - France), Union syndicale Solidaires (France)....

EU trying to bury report on Turkey migrant returns (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission and some member states want to bury a report by an EU agency that is likely to say Turkey is unfit for asylum seekers, EUobserver understands.

People sitting on the management board of the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office (EASO), including EU commission staff from the home affairs department, DG Home, are unhappy with EASO's efforts to determine if Turkey is a safe third country....

EASO is now caught in a dilemma. Either they publish a credible report or one that toes the EU line on how Turkey is fit for returned asylum seekers. The report is not yet finished.

Asked to comment, Schembri says they are still in consultation with the management board and with the commission to determine "if this [safe third country] is in our role or not."

EUobserver also understands that the UK members on the management board had objected to the EASO probe and then decided to write their own report."

European Parliament Briefing: Towards an EU humanitarian visa scheme? (pdf)

"With large numbers of protection seekers continuing to risk hazardous sea crossings to reach the European Union, there has been considerable focus on the need for legal entry channels, notably resettlement. Humanitarian visas represent one such legal channel. This briefing provides a succinct overview of what humanitarian visas are, the rationale for their use, how they function, how they are regulated in EU law and the scope for future development of a fully-fledged EU
humanitarian visa scheme."

EU pushes Greece to set up new asylum committees (euobserver,link):

"The EU wants Greece to quickly set up new appeals committees to better cope with the large number of asylum requests.

"New appeals committees under the new law will be set up in the next 10 days, I am confident that procedures will be accelerated soon," EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told journalist on Wednesday (15 June).

EC prods Greece to enforce Dublin Regulation (/ekathimerini/news, link):

"Even as the process of relocating refugees from Greece and Italy to other European Union member-states as part of an EU program proceeds very slowly, the European Commission on Wednesday called on Greece to improve its implementation of the so-called Dublin Regulation which stipulates that migrants who have traveled on to other countries in the bloc via Greece be returned to Greece."

See: Asylum: Commission calls on further efforts from Greece to allow resumption of Dublin transfers

UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN: Supporting unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Greece (pdf)

"In a collaborative effort, the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) and eleven other European Foundations, including the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Bodossaki Foundation and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation are dedicating a funding programme to the particularly urgent situation of unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Greece. The programme is part of the Europe-wide initiative “Never Alone –Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe”.

Are You Syrious (link)

WatchTheMed Alarm Phone denounces an illegal push-back operation with Frontex present.

WatchTheMed says a refugee boat between Chios and Cesme was illegally pushed-back to Turkey by Greek coast guards. It says that refugees reported being told by the coastguard that they were safe but were later handed over to the Turkish coast guard. The refugees were brought back to the port of Cesme and later detained.

UNHCR Weekly report: Greece: 15 June:

Situation on the islands

"Situation on the islands Conditions in the Reception and Identification Centres (RICS) on the Greek islands continue to be dire, particularly for people with specific needs. On Lesvos, families with specific needs who were transferred to the open facility Kara Tepe have begun to spontaneously return to Moria asking to be transferred to facilities with better living conditions and where cash assistance is distributed by some NGOs. On Samos, 128 refugees and migrants arrived during the reporting period, while no additional accommodation space is available. There are currently 1,063 people present in the RIC in Samos, which has a capacity of 636. As a result, new arrivals are staying in tents, which has led to increasing need for communal water and sanitation facilities and protection risks for the population."

Situation at the border between Serbia and Hungary

A significant number of refugees and migrants continue to accumulate at the border between Serbia and Hungary. Between 6 and 12 June, there were on average, 600 people, mainly women and children, awaiting admission into the “transit zones” in Hungary, without appropriate shelter or sanitary conditions. UNHCR, UNICEF and the Red Cross continued to distribute food and non-food items to people present at the border in Horgos I and Kelebija. Some 213 individuals were admitted in the “transit zones” in the past week. Tensions remained in the pre-transit areas along the Serbian border. In addition, in relation to people trying to cross irregularly to Hungary, reports about pushbacks, physical abuse and harassment by Hungarian police forces and military personnel have increased in recent weeks. UNHCR has raised concerns about the increase in reported incidents with the Hungarian police."

News (17.6.16)

Turkey fails to meet criteria for visa-free EU travel - European commission says Turkey has not met conditions of possible deal including border security and human rights issues (Guardian. link)

UNHCR warns of ‘collective failure’ following London donor conference (euractiv, link): "The UNHCR warned of a “collective failure” by the international community to deliver on pledges made to help the countries which bear the heaviest burden of the Syrian refugee crisis."

UN authorises EU operation against Libya arms smuggling (euractiv, link): "The UN Security Council on Tuesday (14 June) approved an EU operation to intercept ships suspected of arms smuggling to Libya, moving to shore up Tripoli’s unity government as it battles the Islamic State group."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.6.16)
EU-TURKEY: Commission publishes second progress report on the implementation of EU-Turkey deal

 

"This Second Report sets out the considerable further progress made in implementing the EU-Turkey Statement since the First Report, and identifies the next steps required to consolidate this achievement so as to maintain the momentum. These are needed given that the context remains difficult and geopolitical risks continue to exist, while all aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement are not yet established on a firm footing."

EU-GREECE: Asylum: Commission calls on further efforts from Greece to allow resumption of Dublin transfers

The European Commission has today adopted a second Recommendation setting out requirements that Greece must meet to allow the resumption of transfers of asylum-seekers to the country under the Dublin system. Dublin transfers to Greece were suspended following judgements in the European Court of Human Rights case M.S.S v Belgium and Greece and the European Court of Justice case NS v Secretary of State for the Home Department.

The new Recommendation follows one adopted in Februay this year and provides more detail on "the significant amount of progress" that Greece must make in seven areas: reception conditions and facilities; access to and resources for the first instance asylum procedure; appeals authority; legal aid; treatment of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable persons; use of EU funding under national programmes; and reporting on actions taken.

EU-AFRICA: The Valletta process gets going: €125 million for border control and security; €21 million for training and job programmes

Six projects worth a total of €146 million have been approved by the European Commission as part of the follow-up to the Valletta Summit. Four of the projects - worth a total of €125 million - focus on policing, security and border control, while two - worth a total of €21 million - focus on education and training opportunities for "young Chadians in vulnerable situations" and "job and training opportunities for returnees and people most likely to migrate" from the Gambia.

Fatal Journeys, Vol. 2 - New Global Report from IOM (IOM, link): "IOM reports in the latest edition of its publication Fatal Journeys Volume 2: Identification and Tracing of Dead and Missing Migrants that over 60,000 migrants are estimated to have died or gone missing on sea and land routes worldwide since 1996.

According to the report released today (14 June), an estimated 5,400 migrants died or were recorded as missing in 2015. In 2016, already more than 3,400 migrants have lost their lives worldwide, this year over 80 percent of those attempting to reach Europe by sea.

The true number of migrant deaths is surely greater, said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC). Laczko explained countless deaths remain unknown as a result of migrants dying at sea or in remote areas where fatalities seldom are witnessed or recorded.

“But what happens to those who die? Who are their families and will they ever know what happened?” asked Laczko. “A further tragedy to the loss of life, is the fact that many of the dead remain nameless.”"

See the full report: Fatal Journeys Volume 2: Identification and Tracing of Dead and Missing Migrants (4MB, pdf)

And for an in-depth examination of what happens to those who die in the Mediterranean, see: Statewatch Analysis: In Potters' Fields by Catriona Jarvis (pdf)

EU risks fuelling horrific abuse of refugees and migrants in Libya (Amnesty International, link): "The EU’s plans to cooperate more closely with Libya on migration risk fuelling the rampant ill-treatment and indefinite detention in horrifying conditions of thousands of refugees and migrants, said Amnesty International.

Last month the EU announced plans to extend its anti-smuggling naval mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, for another year and to train, build up the capacity of and share information with the Libyan coastguard following a request by the new Libyan government. However, testimonies gathered during visits to Sicily and Puglia in May 2016 reveal shocking abuses by the Libyan coastguard and at immigration detention centres in Libya."

And see: EU willing to pay ‘almost any cost’ to stop refugees (EurActiv, link)

UK-FRANCE: Press release - Convoy to Calais, Saturday 18 June 2016

Hundreds of vehicles will be leaving Whitehall on Saturday 18th June as part of a Convoy to Calais in what will be the largest display of solidarity with refugees this country has seen for generations. As the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War unfolds across the channel, lorries, cars and minibuses will be making the crossing, taking aid donations and with the aim of pressuring the UK government to provide safe passage to those fleeing desperate situations and sending a clear message that refugees are welcome here.

The Convoy was initiated by the People's Assembly, Stop the War Coalition and Stand Up to Racism and is supported by trade unions including UNISON, Unite, CWU, PCS, ASLEF, TSSA, FBU, faith groups including the Muslim Association of Britain, and charities including Humanitas and Care4Calais who work in the camp.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt believes Europe has room for 1 million additional refugees (CPH Post, link): "Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s new position as head of the international charitable organisation Save the Children seems to have softened her stance on immigration issues.

Though her government sought to tighten Denmark’s asylum laws, Thorning-Schmidt now believes Europe has the capacity to accept a further 1 million refugees."

Migrant crisis: EU's top diplomat in Turkey resigns (BBC News, link): "The EU's top diplomat in Turkey has resigned after a row with the government in Ankara over his criticism of its conduct in a landmark migrant deal.

Hansjoerg Haber came under fire for comments made last month in which he castigated the government's implementation of the deal.

Mr Haber had been in his post only since October.

The agreement is aimed at halting the mass movement of migrants into Europe."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.6.16)
Mediterranean: 2016 data shows massive increase in deaths compared to 2015

 

"International Organization for Migration reports an estimated 207,260 migrants, including refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 8 June, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Deaths so far this year are 2,856, compared with 1,838 through the first six months of 2015. In other words, fatalities in the Mediterranean in 2016 are over 1,000 more than last year’s mid-year total, although we now are some three weeks shy of 2016’s mid-year point." (emphasis added)

Reports on unaccompanied child migrants in Europe and Spain

"Migrant children making the perilous journey to Europe to escape war and poverty face possible beatings, rape and forced labor in addition to risk of drowning in the Mediterranean, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

Minors account for a growing percentage of migrants and refugees, particularly those trying to reach Italy by sea from Libya, it said in a report, "Danger Every Step of the Way".

Of the roughly 206,200 people who arrived in Europe by sea this year to June 4, one in three was a child, it said, citing figures from the U.N. refugee agency.

"Every step of the journey is fraught with danger, all the more so for the nearly one in four children traveling without a parent or guardian," UNICEF said."

See: Children face beatings, rape, death trying to reach Europe: UNICEF (Reuters, link)

UNICEF press release: “If you try to run, they shoot you; if you stop working they beat you. It was just like the slave trade.” (link)

And the full report: Danger Every Step of the Way (pdf)

The Spanish arm of Save the Children has also recently released a report on the situation for unaccompanied minors in Spain: Invisible childhood: unaccompanied foreign minors, victims of trafficking and refugees in Spain (Infancias invisibles: menores extranjeros no acompañados, víctimas de trata y refugiados en España, pdf)

Published in Spanish, it contains an executive summary, an introduction and six chapters, under the headings of: foreign unaccompanied minors; children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation; refugee childhood; Fortress Europe; what Save the Children is doing; and a conclusion entitled "children versus migrants".

European Border Guard Agency: European Parliament position for negotiations with the Council

On 30 May the European Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE) adopted its position on the proposed Regulation for a European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which would significantly expand the powers of Frontex. The text adopted by LIBE will be used as the basis for the Parliament's negotiations with the Council in the secret "trilogue" procedure.

Report of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief: Fleeing Persecution: Asylum Claims in the UK on Religious Grounds (pdf)

This report examines the treatment by the British state of claims for asylum on the grounds of religious persecution. It is based on an enquiry set up "to look at the quality of the assessment of religion-based asylum claims in the UK and the impact of the asylum procedure on the fairness and quality of decision making."

The executive summary highlights the main concerns raised by the report: that while the UK Home Office has updated its guidance on religious asylum claims and has offered relevant training to its staff, "there is a disparity between the Home Office policy guidelines and what is actually happening in practice."

These concerns include lack of knowledge amongst decision-makers leading to poorly and wrongly-assessed claims; procedural problems (for example "the adequacy of resources in the asylum system, the legal representation of asylum seekers as well as religious literacy training of Home Office asylum process staff"); problems with interpretation; and a lack of statistics on the grounds for asylum claims submitted in the UK.

U.N. rights boss deplores detention of migrants in Europe (Reuters, link): "The U.N. human rights chief on Monday decried a "worrying rise" in detentions of migrants in Greece and Italy and urged authorities to find alternatives to confining children while asylum requests are processed.

More than one million migrants, many fleeing Syria's war, have arrived in Europe through Greece since last year. More than 150,000 have come in 2016 so far - 38 percent of them children, according to United Nations refugee agency data. Italy has also set up mandatory detention centres.

"Even unaccompanied children are frequently placed in prison cells or centres ringed with barbed wire. Detention is never in the best interests of the child – which must take primacy over immigration objectives," Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"Alternatives to the detention of children must be developed," he told the start of a three-week council session."

UNHCR report puts projected resettlement needs in 2017 at 1.19 million (UNHCR, link): "With a multitude of conflicts and crises causing record displacement around the world, resettlement has become an increasingly vital part of UNHCR’s efforts to find solutions and advocate for fairer responsibility-sharing for refugees, a UNHCR report released today at an annual meeting in Geneva says.

While the UNHCR Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2017 report says that more than 1 million refugees were submitted by UNHCR to over 30 resettlement countries in the past decade, the number of people in need of resettlement far surpasses the opportunities for placement in a third country.

The report says that despite increased resettlement quotas from some countries, expansion in global resettlement capacity, and increases in submissions, the projected number of people in need of resettlement in 2017 will pass 1.19 million.

In response, UNHCR expects to submit 170,000 refugees for resettlement next year, based on the expected global quotas from resettlement states. This compares to a current target of some 143,000 in 2016 and more than 100,000 in each of 2015 and 2014 respectively. Despite the increase in quotas from states and submissions made, the gap in terms of needs remains great."

Full report (30MB, link to pdf): UNHCR Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.6.16)
Death at the Serbian-Hungarian border and demonstrations in detention centers (Migszol update from Hungary, May 25 - June 9) (migszol.com, link):

 

"We urge all other European Union member states to immediately stop all Dublin deportations to Hungary. In addition, we urge all member states to stop the deportation of people who already have a refugee status in Hungary, but are now seeking to stay in other EU countries." [emphasis in original]

UNHCR Daily Report (11-12.6.16): 108 refugees arrived in Lesvos over the weekend

Thousands of Minor Refugees Stranded Alone in Greece (IPS, link):

"Closure of the Western Balkans route has trapped tens of thousands of refugees heading to Central and Northern Europe in Greece, including many unaccompanied minors who either escaped from war zones after having lost their relatives, or were sent ahead in hopes of helping their families follow afterwards.

While the Western Balkans corridor remained open, many minors opted to declare they were adults or register as relatives of other refugees transiting the country to avoid being put in protective custody and reception facilities.

According to a May 31 report by Save the Children, more than 1.2 million refugees have headed to Europe since 2015 – the continent’s “biggest wave of mass migration since the aftermath of the second world war.” They come mainly from conflict-torn countries like Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea."

Italy: Over 250 migrants arrive at Porto Empedocle, some 1,000 coming - 1,230 rescued yesterday, body found (ANSA, link):

"PALERMO, JUNE 13 - Some 257 migrants are expected to arrive in Porto Empedocle on Monday morning. They were rescued at sea over the last few hours by the Dignity Ship of Doctors Without Borders. Overall, 1,230 people were rescued in the Strait of Sicily, and one body was found, in nine operations yesterday."

and see: More than 3,000 migrants rescued at sea in 72 hours, says Italian coast guard - Italy's coast guard has confirmed that the number of migrants rescued in the past three days has reached more than 3,000. (DW, link)

News (13.6.16)

Amnesty says Spain asylum system 'obsolete (WB, link): "Amnesty International called Tuesday on Spain to reform an asylum system it labelled "inefficient, obsolete and discriminatory", blasting the "embarrassing" low number of refugees that have been taken in.After interviewing more than 80 asylum seekers and refugees and visiting several reception centres, the rights group concluded these faced big -- often years-long -- waits for their cases to be dealt with, coupled with inadequate financial aid that forced some onto the streets."

Police start evacuating migrant camps in northern Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek Police officers on Monday started evacuating a scattering of makeshift camps for migrants around the area of Polykastro in northern Greece. Around 300 officers were taking part in the operation to relocate a total of around 4,000 migrants from the makeshift camps into state-run facilities." and Makeshift refugee camps in northern Greece evacuated (http://apokoronasnews.gr, link)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-12.6.16)
EU: Council of the European Union: Central Med Route, Relocation and IPCR

 

- Central Mediterranean route (LIMITE doc no: 8624-16, pdf) Written on 3 May before the arrival of thousands of refugees in Italy:

"due to the limited reception capacity in the hotspots, migrants are being transferred to larger reception centres. Due to the large number of migrants not eligible for international protection, the anticipated increase in arrivals during the summer months and difficulties with enforcing effective return, the pool of migrants in Italy and possibly Malta and elsewhere may increase. Without agreements on return, this will create an additional burden on those countries to handle the situation. All EU Member States have a responsibility to assist in this matter. Additionally, for the relatively small number of migrants eligible for relocation, continued and urgent efforts are still required."

- COUNCIL DECISION amending Decision (EU) 2015/1601 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (LIMITE doc no: 8330-16, pdf):

"Member States may choose to meet their obligation by admitting to their territory Syrian nationals present in Turkey under national or multilateral legal admission schemes for persons in clear need of international protection, other than the resettlement scheme which was the subject of the Conclusions of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 20 July 2015. The number of persons so admitted by a Member State shall lead to a corresponding reduction of the obligation of the respective Member State."

- Refugee and Migration Crisis focused analysis of the use of the IPCR Web Platform between period of 1 October 2015 to 30 April 2016 (LIMITE doc no: 9398-16, pdf):

"Refugee and Migration Crisis focused analysis of the use of the IPCR Web Platform

This report presents an analysis of the use of the IPCR Web Platform with a specific emphasis on the Refugee and Migration crisis page. The creation of the monitoring page on this topic dates back to September 10, 2015. The IPCR was then activated in information sharing mode on October 30, 2015, leading to the creation of the crisis page (de facto replacing the monitoring page). The IPCR activation was then upgraded to full mode on November 9, 2015. The timeframe of the present analysis ranges from October 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016."

Note: It was not until 30 October 2015 that the Council Presidency launched this initiative: "The Council has taken over the last weeks a number of decisions to respond to the current migratory crisis. The scale of migratory flows has demonstrated the need for a more coordinated information sharing. The Luxembourg Presidency therefore decided on 30 October 2015 to trigger the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) arrangements on an "information sharing mode". The aim is to monitor the development of migratory flows, to support decision making and to better implement the agreed measures."

See: 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).

Are You Syrious (link)

GREECE

"EASO has been controlling the entry of refugees’ lawyers into the Moria camp, who need to specify exactly with whom they are going to talk and about what subject, violating the attorney-client privilege.

Furthermore it is often not a Greek civil servant that asks the questions but someone from a private security company or an EASO expert. Last Tuesday, one of these Easo experts prohibited some laywers of entering the camp which clearly goes beyond their mandate and violates national legislation on lawyers’ status. This Easo expert was brought to the police station but was released later on. The lawyers have filed charges and investigations are ongoing."

ITALY: Dozens continue to arrive in Italy, with a significant portion of them being unaccompanied minors

"These children are limited from the view of journalists and other watchdog entities. The number of children has climbed over 129% according to a recent study. For more information on the plight of refugee children in Italy, please explore this New York Times article."

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL: UK: Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme (link):

"Extending educational opportunity to people from asylum seeking and refugee communities. What is it? The scheme offers scholarships to people from refugee and asylum seeking communities to study at University. The scholarship offers support towards the costs of Higher Education."

New FRONTEX agency: satellite reconnaissance and drones over the Mediterranean (digit.site36.net/, link) by Matthias Monroy:

"The EU is taking its maritime surveillance to a new level. The three agencies responsible for coastal and maritime surveillance are to be merged. 81 million euros has been earmarked for unmanned aerial vehicles alone, with hundreds of millions also being spent on the necessary satellite capabilities. The money is flowing into the coffers of arms companies."

Greece: Gov't plans 12 more centers for migrants in central Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The government has announced the creation of 12 additional migrant accommodation centers in central Greece and its intention to reconstruct shelters at Koutsohero in Larissa, Katsika in Ioannina and Ritsona in Evia – three centers beset with serious structural problems... His remarks came amid growing anger at living conditions at migrant centers around the country and increasingly louder protests from local residents....

The latest official estimate puts the number of migrants throughout Greece at 57,112.

Of this number 5,509 are staying at shelters and structures managed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 8,197 are on islands in the eastern Aegean and 14,830 are in Attica – with the port of Piraeus providing temporary shelter to 1,397 while there are more than 3,600 refugees at the three shelters in Elliniko and 3,000 at Skaramanga.

In central Greece, there are 2,155, 283 in southern Greece and 26,139 in northern Greece (Macedonia and Epirus).".

News (11-12.6.16)

Refugees in Elliniko expressed mixed feelings about pre-registration as the first phase of the operation got underway at the three sites this week (News That Moves, link): "On June 8, teams from the Greek Asylum Service started issuing wristbands to people as part of a process to pre-register applications for asylum, family reunification and relocation to another EU state. Afghans, who make up more than 90 per cent of the population at the three Elliniko sites, are not currently eligible for the EU relocation program, but may be eligible to apply for family reunification. Registering for asylum is a prerequisite for applying for either program."

Refugees In Lesvos: “We Reached Breaking Point” (News That MOves, link): "Refugees on the island of Lesvos say they have reached breaking point and more antisocial behaviour is inevitable unless their situation improves.."

Eritrean accused of being people smuggling kingpin says he is innocent (Guardian,link): "Man in custody in Italy after being extradited by Sudan tells lawyer he is not Medhanie Mered but Medhanie Berhe"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.6.16)
EU: Council of the European Union: Legal challenges to Turkey "deal", Entry-Exit and EU Border Guard

 

- EU-TURKEY "DEAL": Cases before the General Court of the European Union (LIMITE doc no: 9897-16, pdf):

"The three applications are directed against the European Council and request the Court to annul the "EU-Turkey statement" which was issued following the meeting of 18 March 2016 of the Members of the European Council and their Turkish counterpart (See press release 114/16 of 18 March 2016)....

The applications in Cases T-192/16 and T-257/16 state that they are brought on behalf of individuals who are nationals of Pakistan and who are currently staying at the "No Borders Refugee Camp", in Lesbos, Greece. The application in Case T-193/16 states that it is brought on behalf of an individual who is a national of Afghanistan and who is currently staying at the "Onofiyta Refugee Camp", in Athens, Greece."

- ENTRY-EXIST SYSTEM: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System (LIMITE doc no: 9910-16, pdf): Council Presidency addition and deletions for compromise on its negotiating position.

- EU BORDER GUARD: European Border Guard: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - Progress report (LIMITE doc on: 9716, pdf):

"In the context of the second trilogue held on 7 June 2016 the Presidency, the Rapporteur and the Commission discussed the outcomes of the technical meeting and reflected upon possible compromises ... and had a first exchange of views on return"

and see: Correction (Not LIMITE, pdf)

Are You Syrious : SPECIAL REPORT: Desperate situation in camps around Thessaloniki (link):

"After camp in Idomeni, Greek—Macedonian border, was relocated, a group of independent volunteers started traveling in the area of Thessaloniki, where most of government run camps are, in attempt to collecting information about the situation. Some of the camps are “new”, others have already existed before the closure of Idomeni. This is their report."

ECRE: European Council on Refugees and Exiles: The slow unfolding of the EU-Turkey deal? (link):

"The first decision, handed on 20 May 2016, was hailed by several human rights organisation as proof that the EU-Turkey deal is unworkable and should cease to exist. “This decision goes to the heart of why the EU-Turkey deal was so deeply flawed to begin with,” Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International stated. A European Commission spokesperson, however, defended the validity of the EU-Turkey agreement, stating that these decisions only mean that there would be no blanket or automatic returns of people to Turkey.

The past week was also marked by the first case related to the EU-Turkey deal to reach the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Three Greek lawyers cooperating with ECRE members Pro Asyl and the Greek Council for Refugees applied for interim suspensive measures at the ECtHR to stop the deportation to Turkey of a Syrian man persecuted by ISIS."

European Court of Human Rights: Violation of the right not to be tried twice for the same offence and breach of the presumption of innocence in cases involving accusations of smuggling (pdf)

"In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Sismanidis and Sitaridis v. Greece (applications nos. 66602/09 and 71879/12) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 7 (right not to be tried or punished twice) to the European Convention on Human Rights as regards Mr Sismanidis, and

a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 2 (right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time and presumption of innocence) of the Convention as regards Mr Sitaridis.

The case concerned the institution of proceedings against each of the applicants for smuggling despite the fact that the criminal courts had already irrevocably acquitted them of the same offence."

UN chief headed to Greece over migrants (ekathimerini.com/, link):

"United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he will head to the Greek Island of Lesvos next week to assess the migrant situation and show his solidarity. Ban said Thursday his trip to Lesvos on June 18 was part of the effort to formulate a global response to the crisis which has seen hundreds of refugees and migrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea as they attempt to flee war and persecution in their home countries.>

Migrant spat brews between Austria and Hungary (euractiv, link):

"Hungary refused yesterday (9 June) to take back any of the several thousand migrants that Austria says should be returned under EU rules, adding to a brewing spat between the two neighbours.

“(It) is clear that Hungary cannot take back these migrants,” Defence Minister István Simicskó told a joint news conference in Budapest with visiting Austrian counterpart Hans Peter Doskozil.

“In order to take them back they would have had to begin their journey here. But… they crossed several countries before arriving in Hungary. They didn’t suddenly get here by magic, they crossed several safe countries”, including Greece, Simicskó said."

And: Hungary refuses to take back migrants from Austria (euobserver, link)

ITALY: Italy/Ventimiglia: Statement by PHM Italy in solidarity with migrants in transit and the No Borders network (pdf):

"As the People’s Health Movement Italy, a network of activists working to promote health, we express full solidarity and political support to the migrants in transit who are blocked at the Italian-French border and to the activists of the international No Borders network, particularly with regards to the serious events which are taking place in these hours in the territory of Ventimiglia....

The visit by interior minister Alfano which took place just over three weeks ago contributed to making a situation which was already intolerable harsher, leading to the closing of the centre set up by the Red Cross near to the station, to an increase in police control activities and to the creation of a tent city below the bridge of a highway which runs along the river Roia."

Greece returns 13 Syrian refugees to Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities say they have returned 13 Syrian refugees to Turkey under an agreement between that country and the European Union to stop the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe....

The rate of returns has been slow after thousands applied for asylum. So far fewer than 500 people have been returned under the deal."

Frontex: West Balkan Risk Analysis (pdf):

"The unprecedented massive flows of people along the Western Balkan route proved to be unmanageable for the border authorities involved. These flows also exposed clear limits of border controls in the absence of uniform EU-wide migration and asylum policies.

All contingency plans were designed with lower numbers in mind and with a presumption that the arriving people would not refuse to follow the existing procedure."

News (10.6.16)

Italy: Over 2,500 migrants to arrive in Italy between Fri and Sat - MSF vessel docks in Palermo with 592 people in board (ANSA, link)

Europe looking to make more deals to keep out migrants as legal challenges loom (humanosphere.org, link): "Europe is making moves to decrease the number of migrants coming from Africa and the Middle East. At the same time, pending legal challenges may overturn the recent deal with Turkey that has helped to limit the number of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. Two migrants filed suit against the deal with the top court in the European Union....“To say today that we have a solution to our problem, that we are going to simply duplicate the deal with Turkey, and we’re going to roll it out to all the other countries – sorry, that is not the way forward,” Guy Verhofstadt, head of the European Union’s Liberal bloc, told the AP"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.6.16)
ITALY: Any hotspot to identify migrants at sea is illegal

 

It will be impossible to effectively guarantee rights in an adequate manner on the high seas. ASGI asks the interior ministry and the Italian government to immediately abandon this course, considering the unlawful aspects listed below, and it invites UNHCR to carefully monitor the situation in order for effective access to the international protection system in Italy to be guaranteed.

GREECE: Blockade not stopping arrivals on Aegean islands

UNHCR: Inter-Agency Coordination, Lesvos, 2 June reports that:

"160 persons of concern (PoC) arrived in the last week (until 31 May). Today, on the 2 June, 22 additional PoCs arrived in the North.
- Average of 25 PoCs arriving per week
- A total of 525 PoCs have arrived in Lesvos in the month of May"

EU-TURKEY: Council to Greece: forget judicial independence and individual assessment, tell your judges Turkey is safe for Syrians

"The European Council on Justice and Home Affairs is applying pressure on Greece over a recent statement about the EU-Turkey migration deal. They are urging Athens to recognise Turkey as a safe third-country.

“We have to make clear to Greece that the vast majority of member states consider Turkey a safe country for Syrians to be returned to,” stressed one diplomatic source on June 8, prior to the Justice and Home Affairs Council that is slated to be held in Luxembourg on June 9-10.

(...)

The Council also urged Greece’s government to explain to the country’s judges that Turkey is safe for Syrians and to review the composition and role of the appeal committees since people from civil societies are not neutral."

See: EU Council: Why Greece should consider Turkey safe for Syrian refugees (New Europe, link)

Unaccompanied child refugees' suffering on route to Europe laid bare (The Guardian, link): "The suffering of unaccompanied child refugees who have made their way to Sweden has been laid bare in a report detailing the horrific abuse some have been subjected to at home and on their journeys north.

Interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch (HRW) with 50 unaccompanied child refugees aged nine to 17 reveal the scale of trauma suffered by many making the perilous voyages from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria and other countries."

See: Sweden: Migrant Children Face Barriers (Human Rights Watch, link): "Unaccompanied migrant children in Sweden are experiencing delays and difficulties in getting critical care and support, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Sweden has had an unprecedented increase in the arrival of unaccompanied children, but it should do more to ensure that all unaccompanied children get special protection, including swift processing of their asylum claims."

Morocco: Migrant dies trying to enter Spain via sewer (New Europe, link): "The Moroccan state news agency says a migrant from sub-Saharan Africa has died after trying to cross from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla through the sewage system.

The MAP news agency reported the man was evacuated from the sewer by local authorities along with three other migrants. He was hospitalized in the Moroccan border town of Nador and died Tuesday.

MAP said the other three migrants were treated and released."

Britain helps arrest people-smuggling kingpin known as 'The General' (The Independent, link): "One of the world’s most wanted people-smugglers has been arrested after an operation involving Britain’s National Crime Agency and GCHQ.

Mered Medhanie, dubbed "The General", is said to be the mastermind of an international smuggling network who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean.

The 35-year-old Eritrean, who earned the nickname because he styled himself on former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was arrested in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in May before being extradited to Italy on Tuesday."

'Where can I find peace?' Paris police clear makeshift refugee camp before Euro 2016 (Middle East Eye, link): "Before authorities began evacuating a squalid makeshift camp in the early morning, lorries transporting beer in preparation for the 2016 UEFA European championship roared down the street lined with tents and the sleeping bodies of almost 2,000 desperate migrants.

Homeless refugees and migrants from Afghanistan and Africa began living on the edges of Eole Park in north Paris a month ago. In the past week, their numbers swelled to about 1,850 people, all hoping for an official evacuation that would see them housed by local authorities. Amid the detritus and waste generated by hundreds crammed into a 4,000-square-metre area, many had lived in tents provided by local volunteers, and those without shelter passed nights on the pavement on cardboard boxes, pallets or in sleeping bags."

Refugees' Ramadan in Greece: No dates or milk, just bread and potatoes (Middle East Eye, link): "Sara will not be eating her traditional Ramadan iftar this year. “In Afghanistan, we have this thing called bolani [a stuffed flat bread] and we eat it with tomatoes and potatoes… and the fruit juices… It was all so yummy”, she said longingly.

“But here we have to eat the food they give us,” she added, looking thoroughly glum at the prospect.

The 17-year-old from Kabul, currently living with her parents and five siblings in Elionas camp near Athens, later sent this reporter a hurried WhatsApp message, just before breaking her fast.

“Maybe the food will be different for iftar. It has to be different. Am I right?” she wrote hopefully.

For the 50,000 refugees currently trapped in Greece, many from Muslim families, Ramadan will certainly be different this year."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.6.16)
Greece: Rulings back 35 migrants appealing deportation (ekathimerini.com, link)

 

"Fears are rising about the possible breakdown of a deal between the European Union and Turkey for the return of migrants after legal committees in Greece upheld dozens of appeals by refugees against their deportation.

By late Monday, Greek appeals committees had ruled in favor of 35 refugees, ruling that Turkey is “an unsafe country.” Only two rulings overturned appeals by refugees against their deportation....

Hundreds of applications are pending and there are fears that they too will result in rulings in favor of refugees, undercutting a deal signed between Ankara and Brussels in March to return migrants to Turkey.

Meanwhile there are also concerns about a pickup in arrivals from neighboring Turkey."

Greece: Samos Hotspot: Roaring With Rage But Who is Listening? (samoschronicles. link):

"The decision to place all the arrivals in a closed detention centre which followed on from the EU/Turkey pact led some activists and NGOs to withdraw from direct work in the Samos hotspot (aka the Camp). Given the dubious legality of the pact and the intention to return the majority of the arrivals back to Turkey which has been deemed a safe place for refugees, it was considered that any interventions with refugees in the Camp would signify compliance with this latest inappropriate and inhumane response to the refugees. As one MSF worker observed at the time, “how can I help and welcome the arrivals on the beach when I know that they are going to be locked in the camp and then possibly deported to Turkey? I can’t do that”....

the numbers now coming to the frontier islands such as Samos, Lesvos and Chios are slowly increasing. 55 refugees arrived on 7th June and a further 60 three days earlier."

Are You Syrious (link)

The EU is trying to halt migration by bribing the world into compliance.

"In an effort to halt the unstoppable, EU is trying to broker deals based on the failed EU/Turkey deal with Lebanon, Tunisia, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, and Libya , and as Guardian reports they are also mulling over whether or not to make the same deal with Sudan, the president of which is wanted for war crimes. To top it all off, the EU is looking for a partner in Eritrea, a country whose government is accused of crimes against humanity by the UN. Commissioner Avramopoulos says that the EU plans to secure up to €62bn of funding to convince these states to hold back the migration. EC has reportedly threatened ‘uncooperative partners’ in the migration crisis with ‘positive and negative incentives’ if they do not work sufficiently with the EU in combating the flow of migrants trying to reach Europe. Countries that do not let migrants cross their country and/or accept to take migrants back will be rewarded."

Refugees arriving in Crete are reportedly being stripped of their right to seek asylum.

According to reports which we have received, there are around 113 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (including families and children) who wanted to go to Italy from Turkey but have been caught in a Greece Island (Crete) from last several days.According to the information received from the island, they are “being kept in bad condition where there is no medical facilities and no good food...".

No new relocations for unaccompanied minors in almost two months.

"As for the relocation of the most vulnerable—News That Moves reports that not one unaccompanied minor has been relocated since April 12. There are unaccompanied minors from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Burundi, Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Bahrain, Maldives, and British overseas countries and territories. Note that the so-called eligible nationalities for relocation are changing every three months, but currently these are the ones that are. The EU Commission stated that the process of relocation of unaccompanied minors has to be more efficient, but as it seems no real solution is in sight. According to UNHCR and Amnesty International observations, due to the time consuming procedures for the appointment of legal guardians in Greece and Italy, and due to the lack of effective information about their rights, unaccompanied children are often not effectively given priority for relocation."

EU migration policy suggests Europe prefers strongmen over reality (Guardian, link):

"Cuddly language cannot hide preferred EU method of dealing with migration: gratify those who cause it in the first place...

There is nothing especially seismic about the latest version of the EU’s migration policy, which was unveiled on Tuesday afternoon. The central premise is the same one that Europe has long employed: asking the developing world to deal with migration, so it doesn’t have to.

In a carrot-and-stick approach, Europe is offering aid, trade and expertise to countries bearing the brunt of migration flows in the Middle East and north Africa. Those that fail to comply will not get the aid or the trade. “There are consequences,” one EU memo ominously reads, “for those that refuse.”

Those taking the carrot will be expected to make life a bit better for the millions of migrants within their borders. Above all, they are tasked with readmitting the few who manage to escape – and to stopping the rest from leaving in the first place. It is the EU-Turkey deal, but repeated across the southern Mediterranean and the Sahara."

Greece: USEFUL LINK: Lawyers Available In European Countries (News That Moves, link): "The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has published a list of lawyers and experts from several countries in Europe who work on asylum and immigration law. The list contains contact phone numbers for lawyers and organisations offering legal aid to refugees."

EU Court of Justice: The Return Directive prevents a national of a non-EU country who has not yet been subject to the return procedure being imprisoned solely because he or she has entered the territory of a Member State illegally across an internal border of the Schengen area (Press release. pdf):

"That is also the case where that national, who is merely in transit on the territory of the Member State concerned, is intercepted when leaving the Schengen area and is the subject of a procedure for readmission into the Member State from which he or she has come"

See: Judgment: Full-text (pdf)

And: Imprisoning woman trying to illegally enter UK was wrong, EU rules (Guardian, link):

"European court of justice says France acted wrongly after Ghanian woman was found with false passport at Channel tunnel...

France was wrong to imprison a Ghanian woman who was arrested at the Channel tunnel during an attempt to enter Britain illegally using a false passport, the EU’s most senior court has ruled.

The European court of justice said on Tuesday that the EU directive on returning irregular migrants prevents any member state imposing a prison sentence on a non-EU migrant who is in the country illegally, and whom they have not attempted to return."

Germany’s refugee policy: ‘Borders on cynicism’ (euractiv, link):

"Arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the return of refugees to Afghanistan and the deal with Turkey: Germany’s peace institutes have come out firing against many of Germany’s more controversial policies....

The five leading peace institutes in Germany have made wide-ranging criticisms of Berlin’s foreign and security policies.

In a new report, the organisations criticised Germany’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular, because of their links to the funding of terrorism and the propagation of fundamentalism...

“The fact that Germany arms countries like Saudi Arabia is scandalous,” said Margret Johannsen from Hamburg University’s Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.6.16)
EU: New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan

 

The European Commission has published a series of new "migration management" proposals that foresee new "partnerships" set up with non-EU states; the reform of the 'Blue Card Directive' on the entry into the EU of highly-skilled workers; and an action plan on "the integration of third-country nationals and their economic and social contribution to the EU." See:

All at sea: Libyan detention centres at crisis point (IRIN, link): "“Yesterday, we received 203 new migrants, today it was 585, and tomorrow there will be more, and the next day, and the day after.”

Khalid al-Tumi runs the Zawiya migrant detention centre, 23 kilometres east of Sabrata in northwestern Libya. The coast around Sabrata has become one of the main departure points used by people-smugglers following a crackdown on their former hub of Zuwarah. All of the migrants he is referring to have been apprehended from boats and returned.

Zawiya houses 1,727 detainees, far above its official maximum capacity of 1,200. Food and water supplies are already inadequate and al-Tumi said he has no additional resources for the new arrivals.

“Next week, we will face a really major problem and I don’t know how I will manage. We have no more blankets or mattresses,” he told IRIN. “Everything I have is already being used.”"

EU-Turkey Deal: deportation of homosexual Syrian threatened by ISIS looming (Pro Asyl, link): "Yesterday evening three lawyers cooperating with PRO ASYL, a local Greek lawyer and the Greek Council for Refugees applied for interim measures at the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg in order to stop the imminent deportation of a Syrian persecuted by ISIS from Greece to Turkey. This is the first case under the EU-Turkey Deal reaching the ECHR."

And see: The EU-Turkey migration deal is dying. What’s Plan B? (IRIN, link): "It’s been less than 11 weeks since the EU struck its controversial deal with Turkey to stem the flow of asylum seekers into Europe. The agreement was immediately under pressure on several fronts and now looks set to unravel completely, even before any mass returns come to pass.

Two weeks ago, a committee on the Greek island of Lesvos upheld the appeal of a Syrian asylum seeker whose initial claim had been rejected and who was facing deportation to Turkey. This week, nine more appeals by Syrians were upheld. Many more such decisions are soon to be delivered, according to Pro Asyl, the German NGO whose lawyers represented the Syrians. So far, just one appeal case by a Syrian has been rejected.

The appeal decisions are significant because they shatter the illusion that had given the accord its legal veneer – the principle that Turkey is “a safe third country”, one that even genuine asylum seekers can be returned to without running foul of international refugee law."

GREECE: Dispatches: Stranded Asylum Seekers Pay Price of EU Foot Dragging (Human Rights Watch, link): "With the Western Balkan route closed, more than 50,000 asylum seekers, including many women and children, are stranded in Greece in largely unsafe and appaling conditions. Meanwhile the EU scheme to relocate refugees moves at a glacial pace.

Last September, a majority of EU Council countries made a legally binding agreement to move 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. The idea was to alleviate pressure on Greece and Italy where migrants typically first arrive, and to create legal and safe access to other European countries as an alternative to the chaotic routes through the Balkans.

EU Commissioner Avramopoulos has expressed his frustration at the failure of EU states to fulfil obligations to relocate refugees and urged member states “to get ready to move at last.”"

EU: European Parliament press release: Martin Schulz praises Portugal for how it integrates refugees (pdf): "Schulz praised Portugal for its welcoming approach to refugees during a visit to a refugee reception centre in Bobadela, which currently hosts 271 people. "This is a model to be followed by all 28 member states, which have to take up their responsibilities in this matter," he said. Schulz also gave the example of the kindergarten where Portuguese children mingle with children from other countries, calling it "the best way to combat racism and xenophobia"."

Lampedusa: Red Letter Days (openDemocracy, link): "'The journey to make my life easier has actually been the most difficult experience I have ever faced in my life'. An unaccompanied minor recounts his journey to safety in Europe."

Migrant men in Greece are selling sex to survive (PRI, link): "The first time Abdullah had sex for money was just two weeks after he arrived in Athens.

He was living at a disused airport along with thousands of other Afghan migrants. A week after he moved in, some friends took him along with them to the Pedion tou Areos, Athens’ main public park.

Abdullah didn’t like it. “It was a dirty place,” he said. “There were people there using drugs. A lot of strange people.”

Some of those people were older men who would come up and start talking to him. It was then that his friends told him why they came to the park. “They told me, ‘We have sex with these guys, and they pay us.’”

In his birth country Iran, he had slept with both girls and boys, he said, but never with “old men.”

“I got angry,” he said. “I had just arrived, and I had to do this just to get some money.”"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.6.16)
Cyprus sidelined as Brussels scrambles to save Turkey migrant deal - Push to allow Turkish participation in European agencies worries Nicosia (politico.eu, link)

 

"The European Commission has put new pressure on Cyprus in a bid to meet Turkish demands for quicker integration into the Brussels lawmaking machine.

After convincing Nicosia earlier this year to soften its opposition to Ankara’s EU membership bid in order to secure a deal with Turkey on stemming the flow of refugees into Europe, the Commission is now reviving long-frozen Turkish requests for participation in European rule-making bodies on issues such as maritime safety and industrial standards certification.

Diplomats said Cypriots have raised objections in several EU meetings over the last two months to the Commission’s efforts, which could lead to Turkish officials having input on European policy even though it is not an EU member."

EU-Turkey readmission deal in doubt (euobserver, link):

"Authorities in Turkey have yet to ratify a key component in the migrant swap deal with the EU despite the European Commission saying otherwise.

People who are not Turks but who reside in the EU without proper papers and who entered EU territory from Turkey can now be sent back to Turkey under the terms of a bilateral readmission agreement for third country nationals.

The agreement is part of a bigger package to let Turkish nationals enter the EU’s Schengen travel zone without a visa.

The readmission accord was supposed to have entered into full force on 1 June. But a government spokesperson from Turkey told this website on Monday (6 June) that the law has yet to be ratified."

Are You Syrious (link)

Another big refugee wave in the Balkans region

"While the so-called Balkan Route remains officially closed, more people are finding their way across the Balkans. More people are in Bulgaria as well as Serbia. In Belgrade, volunteers are asking for help while exhausted and dehydrated people are arriving in significant numbers. At the same time, Austria’s right wing politician suggests that the EUshould keep refugees offshore rather than allow them on to the continent. Meanwhile, no signs of peace in Syria."

The end of the EU-Turkey deal?

"German media, quoting Turkish pro-government media, are reporting that the deal between Turkey and the EU is suspended. The Turkish government threatened several times now that this would happen if the EU did not grant visa-free travel for its citizens, as it is set in the deal. The news about official suspension came from the “government close sources” of the newspaper Aksam and news agency AB Haber.... Turkey set the end of June as a deadline for the 28-member bloc to scrap visas. The EU officials claimed that it is nearly impossible to meet the deadline from the very beginning. At the same time, Turkish government claims they met the EU’s criteria for visa-free travel. Human rights activists, among others, claims the Turkey?—?EU deal is unacceptable and contrary to the international law."

EU to put migration top of foreign policy agenda (euobserver, link):

A new proposal by the European Commission puts stemming the flow of migrants in the centre of foreign relations with some neighbourhood countries by providing financial incentives for them to stop people flowing into Europe.

The new communication by the EU executive, to be unveiled on Tuesday (7 June), suggests using visa liberalisation and trade policies with countries such as Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Niger and Ethiopia as bargaining chips to stem the flow of migrants....

critics warn that a similar attempt to tackle migration last year at the Valetta Summit with African leaders have yielded few results. "

Greece: Frontex denied help to refugees including 'unresponsive' baby (middleeasteye. link):

" Frontex denied aid to refugees including a baby and kept them floating in the sea off Greece for nearly two hours, according to aid workers.

Eyewitnesses told MEE that Frontex officers prevented aid workers helping 50 people as they landed on the northern shore of the Greek island of Lesbos early on Monday. Their tactic was to take them directly into detention "without any aid, even the injured," one aid worker said."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5.6.16)
UNHCR calls for investigation into river-drowning of Syrian refugee in Hungary (DW, link):

 

"The UN refugee agency has documented over 100 cases of 'excessive use of force' against refugees trying to enter Hungary. Budapest has taken bold measures to block migrants from entering the country."

Austrian FM urges EU to keep refugees on islands ‘like Australia’ (Press TV, link):

"Austria’s foreign minister says the European Union should follow the controversial “Australian example” and lock up the refugees on some islands to block their access to Europe’s mainland....

“A refugee, who stays on an island like the [the Greek island of] Lesbos with no chance of receiving asylum, will be more willing to return voluntarily, as someone who has moved into an apartment in Vienna or Berlin,” he added......

Australia denies settlement to refugees attempting to reach the country by boat. The refugee boats are intercepted and sent to the remote islands of Christmas and Manus in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific, where they are kept in reportedly inhumane conditions, and held indefinitely while their refugee applications are processed. The Canberra-run camps have been widely criticized by human rights agencies for harsh conditions and reports of systemic child abuse."

Greece: NGO targeted in Thessaloniki (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A group of unknown assailants threw Molotov cocktails at the offices of a nongovernmental organization in the northern port city of Thessaloniki in the early hours of Saturday, authorities announced.

The NGO’s offices are located on the ground floor of a building in the area of Kamara. Initial reports suggested the building’s entrance and a car sustained damage."

Report from Lesvos 30.5.16: Platanos Refugee Solidarity (link)

"Another boat landed yesterday morning at Skala harbour accaccompanied by a Frontex vessel. After the public outcry over the incident of May 29, where Frontex and greek coastgurad kept refugees away from front-line support and medical assistance, yesterday they changed their stance and they let volunteers to offer help to the refugees. Around 30 ppl from different countries got changed at the harbour of skala before getting taken by the coastguard buses to Moria. Our report against the abusive behaviour of frontex-greek coastguard on the 29 May went viral and was shared largely on local and national press. We assume this is the reason for them being so eager to cooperate yesterday. No human right was ever "granted" without struggle".

See report from: Platanos on the disgraceful events of 29 May (see translation, link):

"Late last night, inflatable boat with 50 refugees arrived accompanied at the port of stairs sykamiás. The Maltese frontex spotted the boat near Cape Korakas and did not offer any help, even though the machine of refugees was broken. For an hour just stood beside her, forbidding the other rescue boats to assist. After an hour, a frontex put the machine of refugees in front and led them to the port of the stairs. Two hundred meters before they reach the shore, xanaakinetopoioún refugees and keep them in the open outside the port for another hour. From the pier of the stairs, we heard the voices of refugees in the middle of the night screaming for help, unnecessarily anxious from waiting. Finally the waiting vans phrontexádes coast guard coming to take the refugees in moria and only then brought them to the coast....."

EU: Quaker Council on European Affairs (QCEA): Briefing on Operation Sophia (pdf)

"On 18 May 2015 the Foreign Affairs Council approved Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/778, establishing a military CSDP operation that would involve attempting to disrupt the operations of people smugglers in Libya. This operation was originally named EUNAVFOR MED, but was later renamed Operation Sophia. (For convenience, this document uses the term “Operation Sophia” even when referring to the part of the operation conducted before the operation was given that name.)

We at the Quaker Council for European Affairs have been concerned about the possible consequences of Operation Sophia for refugees and migrants. Therefore, in March and April 2016 we conducted a short, focused advocacy project that included meetings with relevant staff from three of the Member State Permanent Representations, as well as with a representative of the EEAS."

Meijers Committee: Note on the Reform of the Common European Asylum System (pdf):

"In its communication of 6 April 2016 (COM(2016) 197 final), the European Commission announced reforms of EU legislation in respect of the qualification for international protection, asylum procedures and reception conditions. In this note the Meijers Committee would like to make the following comments with regard to the proposed reforms."

Greece: Hundreds rescued, 9 die in shipwreck as tensions rise in migrant camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Hundreds of migrants were rescued on Friday after a smuggling boat sank in international waters south of Crete, while the Hellenic Coast Guard recovered the bodies of at least nine drowned migrants.

The 25-meter vessel capsized in the early hours of Friday morning under circumstances that remained unclear, leaving hundreds of migrants in the sea, some 70 nautical miles south of Crete. According to the International Organization for Migration, around 700 migrants had been aboard the vessel.

Five ships – cargo and commercial vessels – had been near the scene and offered assistance, rescuing scores of migrants. The Hellenic Coast Guard sent two vessels while the navy dispatched two Super Puma helicopters to scour the area. By late Friday, 340 migrants had been rescued and the bodies of nine migrants pulled out of the sea by rescue workers...."

UNHCR Launches Pro-Refugee Petition (News That Moves, link):

"The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) this week launched an online petition asking governments to act to support refugees. The #WithRefugees petition asks governments to ensure:

- every refugee child gets an education,
- every refugee family has somewhere safe to live
- every refugee can work or learn new skills."

Are You Syriious (link)

Greek rescuers respond to capsized migrant boat off island of Crete

"Greek rescuers have saved more than 300 people from a capsized boat in international waters south of the island of Crete. It was unclear where the migrant boat was launched or where it was heading.

Greek coastguard boats, helicopters and four nearby ships came to the aid of a “significant number” of people stranded after their boat capsized about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Crete in international waters, Greek authorities said Friday. At least four bodies were retrieved and more than 300 rescued. The death toll was expected to rise as rescue operations continued to search for at least another 300 believed to have been on board."

"First Deportation Following Asylum Rejection in Lesvos

"The first deportation of a Syrian citizen is going to be carried out on Thursday in Lesvos, after the final rejection of his asylum petition. The asylum request was rejected on the second, and final degree, while the petitioner has not been called for a vis-a-vis hearing.

The Homosexuality Claim

A Syrian claimed to be homosexual yet this argument to grant him asylum was also rejected by the committee. According to the Syrian’s representatives, the EASO employee asked him which were the colors of the Rainbow flag and whether he knew any famous Syrian homosexual. He answered that he was not active in the homosexual community of Syria and knew no such information as he was forced to hide his own sexual preferences. Accordingly, his claim, that he was homosexual was rejected."

Italy: FROM THE HUMANITARIAN BLACKMAIL OVER FOOD TO TODAY'S VIOLENCE

Permanent NoBorders Monitoring Post in Ventimiglia - May 24, 2016 | Presidio Permanente No Borders - Ventimiglia·Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"The mayor of Ventimiglia withdraws the order on the provision of food and drinks

When Ventimiglia's mayor Enrico Ioculano issued a mayoral order forbidding the provision of food and drinks to migrants who were in transit in the town's territory last July, various voices were heard criticising what in effect amounted to a criminal offence of solidarity. While the self-managed kitchen at the border monitoring post continued working at full speed, the only people who bore the brunt of this measure were some Islamic associations from Nice which went to distribute food to the people in the station every evening.

The order had two main objectives: to discourage solidarity towards the people who were travelling and to designate the Italian Red Cross as the only body responsible for managing the emergency. In the camp, its effects were the opposite: the self-managed kitchen's capacity was increased and the migrants decided not to accept any more food from the same organisation which was cooperating with deportations from Ponte San Luigi to the reception centre in the station. "

Migszol: Migrant solidarity group of Hungary: Solidarity with the people protesting against poor conditions in the closed asylum detention center in Kiskunhalas, Hungary (link):

"People imprisoned in the closed refugee detention center of Kiskunhalas organized a protest yesterday, June 1st 2016. Today, the protest continues. They are demanding freedom to leave the prison and live in an open camp, a faster asylum procedure and better living conditions in the camp. According to Julia Ivan, a lawyer at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, many of the protesters are people that Hungary is trying to deport to Greece with the Dublin regulation, despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled against such deportations.

Kiskunhalas is one of the asylum detention centers, where asylum seekers are kept imprisoned up to six months, without ever having committed a crime..."

Amnesty International: No safe refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkey (link):

"The European Union (EU) must immediately halt plans to return asylum-seekers to Turkey on the false pretence that it is a “safe country” for refugees, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.

The briefing, No safe refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkey, details the shortcomings in Turkey’s asylum system and the hardships refugees face there that would render their return under the EU-Turkey Agreement of March 18 illegal – and unconscionable."

German minister criticises ‘sluggish’ deportation rate (New Europe, link):

"Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says he wants to speed up migrant deportations by assigning more police offers to the task.

In an interview with German mass circulation newspaper Bild, the minister said he will present a report bemoaning “long procedures” and “insufficient personnel” for this task. He said German states have “little political will to apply the residence law” resulting in the “sluggish” deportation rate.

As reported by Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), an interior ministry report based on March 31 data shows there were over 219,000 migrants set to be expelled from Germany. Almost 168,000 of them had been issued the so-called Duldung (tolerance) permits, allowing them to stay in the country until obstacles for their deportation are cleared. The remaining 51,000, however, were to be expelled as soon as possible."

GREECE: Pro Asyl: Press Release: Appeals Committee on Lesbos stops deportations to Turkey (link)

"PRO ASYL calls for an end to the inhuman large-scale experiment in the Aegean – stop deportations to Turkey!

Yesterday night three positive decisions by the Administrative Appeals Committee of Lesbos were published. Lawyers of the PRO ASYL project “Refugee Support Program in the Aegean (RSPA)” represented nine Syrian protection seekers before the second instance on 20 and 21 April. The concerned asylum seekers were greatly relieved to receive the news that their deportation to Turkey has now been stopped. By now ten decisions by Appeals Committees have been published in which it is asserted that Turkey is no “safe third country” for Syrian refugees." and see:

Greek court halts Syrian deportations to 'unsafe' Turkey (euobserver, link)

Are You Syrious (link)

Today’s numbers and news of new arrivals

"Today’s numbers as released by the Greek government are as follows: 8,417 refugees are currently in the islands, nearly 1,000 more than the official maximum capacity of the existing camps. The Attica region is hosting 14,510 refugees, while Northern Greece is hosting 26,840. Central Greece is hosting 2,262 refugees and Southern Greece has 289, bringing the total number throughout the country to 52,318."

A boat containing 22 people landed in North Lesvos. Between 130 and 140 refugees landed on Chios in the morning.

Dozens of asylum seekers have been injured in a riot at Moria Camp. There are also problems at Samos.

"Ekathimerini reports that clashes in the morning have left dozens injured after a group of Pakistani refugees accused Afghans of trying to seize control of the camp, with the Afghan refugees alleging that Pakistanis were stealing food as well as sexually harassing women and children. Fires were set in the camp.

Meanwhile there are also riots in Samos. Our sources report that these clashes were between the Algerian and Pakistani residents of the camp. 6 people were injured and 2 containers were burned down."

News (2-5.6.16)

Migrant crisis: Rescue under way from capsized boat off Crete (BBC News, link): "About 250 people have been rescued from a migrant boat that has capsized in the Mediterranean sea, Greek officials say.A coast guard spokesman said four ships were involved in the operation, with helicopters on their way.Hundreds of migrants were "in distress" in the water. The boat was found in international waters, 75 nautical miles south of the Greek island of Crete."

Bodies wash up in Libya, rescue off Crete (DW, link): "The bodies of more than 100 boat migrants have come ashore near Libya's western city of Zwara. Far out in the Mediterranean, off Crete, 304 people have been rescued from another stricken vessel."

Austria on brink of reaching self-imposed refugee limit (euractiv, link)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.6.16)
Two women try to stop deportation (Refugee Trial, link): "

 

"he was dragged onto the plane, where two women stood up to protest his deportation and called on other passengers to do the same....

In a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie, the stewardesses then walked through the plane and, according to a journalist who was inside, “asked passengers if they were happy with the plane departing.” This offered every single passenger the chance to save Eze from deportation. Not a single person did."

EU ships in Libyan waters would undermine Tripoli government: diplomat (Reuters, link):

"The U.N.-backed government in Libya has not invited European ships into its territorial waters to help stop people smuggling because this could harm efforts to broaden support for the fledgling government, its envoy to Rome said on Tuesday.

Ahmed Elmabrouk Safar, ambassador to Rome for Fayaz Seraj's Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), told reporters foreign warships within sight of its coast "would not help Libyan stability".

"Inviting foreign military and naval forces in Libyan waters could be seen as an important security-led step which might cut down on the number of people who are crossing over the Mediterranean, but would it help in unifying the country in the current phase?" the envoy said.

The Tripoli government, established in March, is still struggling to assert its authority. It does not control the entire country, including much of the coastline. Armed groups hold real power on the ground and in the east there is a separate government that has not accepted the GNA."

Greece: Over 100 migrants land on Crete island (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A group of 113 mostly Afghan migrants has landed on Greece's biggest island Crete, officials said on Wednesday, the first big arrival on the island since the migrant crisis began.

Crete, Greece's southernmost island, lies north of Libya and Egypt. The migrants said they had set off from Antalya on Turkey's southwestern coast, some 260 nautical miles away, police and coastguard officials said."

Are You Syrious (link)

Turkey: Doctors Without Borders Refuses EU Funds Over Turkey-Migrant Deal

"The international aid organization Doctors Without Borders has decided to refuse all future European Union funding as it protests the bloc’s recent migrant deal with Turkey.

The decision follows a May 13 open letter from the group that called the agreement, under which people arriving on Greek islands are to be returned to Turkey, an “historic abdication of [the EU’s] moral and legal responsibilities.” It also described the official welcome offered by Europe to those stranded in Greece as “shameful.”"

Uptick in migrant arrivals raises concerns on Greek islands

"A recent spike in refugee and migrant arrivals from Turkey onto Greek shores is raising concerns among authorities on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, Skai reported on Tuesday, also quoting sources saying that hundreds are gathered on the coast of Izmir waiting to make the passage that will bring them into European Union territory.

According to Skai, 160 migrants and refugees have landed on Lesvos in the past five days, marking an increase after a few weeks of almost no arrivals, bringing the total number being hosted on the island to just under 4,000 and stretching resources."

Czechia: Prima TV station told reporters to depict refugees as a risk and a threat or they would be fired

"The Czech NGO HlídacíPes.org (“Watchdog”) has testimonies from several sources inside Prima TV stating that the television station’s management gave producers there clear instructions during a meeting on 7 September 2015 about what angle to take toward the refugee “crisis” in its news reporting. The station’s reporting on the issue took center stage this spring because of how it chose to report on the arrival of Christian refugees from Iraq to the Czech Republic." and see:

Recording shows Prima ordered journalists to report negatively on refugees (Praha Radio link)

Greece: UNHCR reports that so far: EASO and Greek Asylum Service::

"Out of the 700 interviews conducted thus far, 200 have been considered inadmissible and subject to readmission to Turkey. Those deemed inadmissible are able to appeal the decision"

Denmark and Sweden extend border checks until November (euractiv, link):

"Denmark and Sweden on Wednesday (1 June) extended their border controls until November to curb the tide of migrants into their nations, saying the European Union still lacked security at its external borders.

Denmark received more than 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, a 44% jump from 2014 but significantly less than its northern neighbour Sweden, which registered 163,000 applications in the same year.

“In the current situation, where there still isn’t a sustainable solution for securing Europe’s external borders,” Danish Integration Minister Inger Stojberg said in a statement."

European Parliament: Study: The Implementation of the Common European Asylum System (pdf):

"This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. It provides an overview of the current implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) from both a legal and practical perspective. Against the background of large inflows of seekers of international protection, the study covers the CEAS instruments as well as the EU policy responses brought forward in 2015 until May 2016....

Reception conditions represent a very difficult field of harmonisation. Standards set by EU law cannot erase the economic differences between EU MS, implying that prospects in some EU MS remain better than in others. As evidenced in the study, the reception conditions vary significantly in EU MS. The shortcomings in the EU reception conditions trigger secondary imovements and consequently thwart any distribution mechanisms."

European Parliament: Press release: MEPs back new EU travel document to ease return of irregular non-EU residents (pdf):

"The Commission's proposal for a standard EU travel document, to speed up the process of returning non-EU nationals who stay "irregularly" in EU member states without valid passports or identity cards, was endorsed by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Monday. Members highlight that many EU countries are currently facing serious difficulties in returning these residents to their home countries in a safe and lawful way.

The text, drafted by Jussi Halla-aho (ECR, FI) and approved by 39 votes in favour to 9 against, with 2 abstentions....

Finally, MEPs call on the EU and member states to promote the use of this harmonised document in the context of readmission agreements reached with third countries."

The "New Europe" headline is a more accurate one: MEPs back new EU travel papers for undocumented migrants (link):

Statewatch comments: Previous attempts by the EU to issue its own travel documents for forced returns have been resisted by African states.

EU-Turkey deal 'not working' - Boldrini (ANSA, link):

"Greek court ruled Turkey 'unsafe' for refugees says speaker.

Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini said Monday an EU-Turkey accord on asylum seekers is not working. There are political and juridical "problems", she told reporters. The European Parliament has decided not to proceed until they see a commitment from the Turkey side to satisfy all the criteria" contained in the bilateral deal, Boldrini explained. "A Greek court of appeals has ruled Turkey cannot be considered a safe country of first arrival" for asylum seekers, the speaker pointed out."

News (1.6.16)

Migrants rescued off Lefkada on Greece-Italy sea route (BBC News, link): "Greek rescuers have picked up 29 migrants at sea off the western island of Lefkada as they headed for Italy. It is the first time migrants have been rescued trying to cross from Greece to Italy since Greece's land border with Macedonia was closed in March."

Sudan: Hundreds Deported to Likely Abuse (HRW, link): "(Nairobi, May 30, 2016) – The Sudanese authorities deported at least 442 Eritreans, including six registered refugees, to Eritrea in May 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. Sudan denied the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to identify those who wanted to claim asylum and also denied the agency access to 64 Ethiopians still in detention who risk deportation."

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