September



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.9.16)


EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal

- Deal to be signed next week to start immediate refugee "return" flights
- Is Afghanistan a "safe country"?
- Quick return of 80,000 refugees planned
- "effectively implement readmission commitments"
- by-passing parliamentary scrutiny

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Under the dodgy EU-Turkey deal we have two Letters and a Statement now for the Afghanistan deal there is to be a "Declaration" - yet again by-passing formal law-making and parliamentary scrutiny. Yet again the Council demonstrates its contempt for the rule of law. There is no way Afghanistan, even in Kabul, is a safe country to return refugees to."

See: Dated 22 September 2016: Draft Joint Way Forward on migration issues between Afghanistan and the EU - Adoption (LIMITE doc no: 12191-16, 2016, pdf). And a joint "non-paper" from the European Commission and the European Action Service (EEAS) in March 2016: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan (Restricted do no: 6738-16, pdf)

Athens: Appalling abuse of 5 refugee children by policemen, Greek Police ordered investigation (Keep TalkIng Greece, link):

"The appalling case of abuse of several refugee children by Greek police has been denounced in social media by several members of solidarity movement. According to the reports, Greek police allegedly detained and abused 5 refugee children, aged 9-14.

The incident occurred on Tuesday, September 27th 2016, at 12 o clock noon, when the refugee children together with two companions (aged 20-22) from the solidarity movement were walking in downtown Athens in order to participate in a theater play.

The police stopped the group, sized plastic toy-guns which were to be used in the play, their mobile phones and one laptop. Police took the children to the police station in Omonoia square and allegedly abused the minors, forcing them to strip, making racist and sexual comments and denying them access to their parents."

No Border Kitchen Lesvos: Arrests and deportations happening on a daily basis

"Repression is high on the island at the moment. We hear from different sources about an increasing number of deportations. According to our information a lot of people were deported in the last days directly from Mytilini to Turkey. We heard about 175 people but cannot confirm this number or the exact way of deportation at the moment. What we are sure about is that there are a lot of arrests and that the people are brought on ferries."

GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands overcrowding growing

Overall the number of refugees ("Guests") on the islands at 29 September was 14,003 and the capacity in detention/hotspots was 7,450. There were 151 arrivals that day

Latest Greek government figures: 5,942 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,684 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,573 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,813 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 733 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000. Rises in all centres except Leros.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 29-09-16 (pdf)

Are You Syrious (29.9.16, link)

No Border Kitchen Lesvos issues a harrowing report on the situation in Lesvos.

"The post, which may be accessed in its entirety here, speaks of an unprecedented wave of deportations from the island, with random arrests happening throughout, and reports of violence being employed by the police. Some of the people arrested and slated for deportation were in the middle of applying for asylum. They report that a total of 136 people were deported on Monday alone."

Numbers

"There are a total of 151 new arrivals in the last 24 hours: 104 on Lesvos and 47 on Samos. This brings the total number of refugees on the island to 14,003. This is the first time that the figure has been over 14,000. The population continues to grow despite official camp capacity remaining at 7,450.

In the last 24 hours, Megisti formerly housing 14 refugees has been removed from the list of camps. Skaramagas Dock witnessed a drop of 121 people, bring the number from 3,500 to 3,379. The complete figures provided by the Greek government may be found here."

In the Loop has published an excellent newsletter on the Moria Fire.

2The newsletter features the testimony of the camp’s inhabitants and may be accessed here."

Italy: Refugees in Treviso protest living conditions.

"More than 150 asylum seekers - most of them residents of the Centro di Accoglienza Temporaneo per Migranti, situated at the ex barracks “Serena”- are protesting in front of the city’s prefecture. Since yesterday, they have been hoping to meet with the prefect in order to receive clarifications on the long waiting time to receive ID documents, or even to get an interview with the commission. They are also denouncing the inhumane conditions in which they live, overcrowded spaces (more than 880 people are hosted in the ex barracks), lack of proper hygienic standards, and and poor food servings. Moreover, there is no legal service active in the center. The asylum seekers are worried about the large number of international protection requests which have been rejected and complain about the no clear policy and system of the local authorities."

Dresden counters right-wing extremism following bomb attacks: Earlier this week, the Saxon capital of Dresden was rocked by two apparently xenophobic bomb attacks. Linda Vierecke reports on how people are coping after the explosions.(DW, link)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.9.16)


Brussels pushes Greece for action on migrants sought before Dublin pact reboot (ekathimerini.com, link):

 

"European officials are calling on Athens to take action by the end of this year ahead of the review and reactivation of the Dublin Regulation, which would lead to EU member-states returning migrants to Greece.

The European Commission on Wednesday asked Athens to improve reception facilities, accelerate the processing of asylum claims and create separate facilities for unaccompanied minors.

European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said there will be no returns to Greece in the months leading up to the review of the pact, which stipulates that migrants lodge their asylum appeals in the first EU country they enter."

Comment: Once it is agreed that refugees, who entered the EU through Greece, can be returned to Greece it is up to each EU Mmber State to activiate the "return" provisions under the Dublin rules.

Closing off the Balkan corridor: Brussels, Sofia on track to sign the grant agreements that will strengthen the management of migration flows (New Europe, link):

"“By fast-tracking the requests, we will make available up to €108 million in emergency funding to Bulgaria to strengthen the management of migration flows and strengthen border surveillance and border control activities,” the Commission said in a presse release.

Following constructive meetings between the Commission and Bulgaria on September 26, both sides are on track to sign the grant agreements and proceed with the first disbursements quickly, the Commission said."

Are YouSyrious (28.9.16):

79 refugees arrive in Greece

"A total of 79 refugees have been registered in the last 24 hours up to 7:30am this morning?—?49 in Lesvos, 9 in Samos and 21 in Kalymnos. Two boats arrived on Lesvos today according to volunteers, one with 55 people on the southeast coast, and the other with 47 on the north coast. The number of refugees in Skaramagas has increased from 3,382 to 3,500 according to official statistics."

Chios residents protest and demand measures to reduce the number of refugees on the island

"Chios residents held a protest today, demanding immediate measures to reduce the number of refugees on the island. Organizers said the rally will be closely monitored to avoid the intrusion of far-right elements. Employees of the Greek and European Asylum Service on Chios also staged a symbolic protest on Tuesday, by blocking the entrance to the overcrowded Vial camp, demanding greater policing."

France: Donations needed in Paris

"Aid Box Convoy says it will be opening a new warehouse in Bristol next week to respond to the crisis in Calais and Paris, and asks people to have their “tents, sleeping bags and camping equipment ready for drop off”. These items are especially necessary in Paris, as people arrive there to claim asylum and are often forced to sleep in the streets without protection from cold or rain. The group plans to buy things directly from shops in Paris until their physical donations can get there."

Turkey to complete Syria border wall within 5 months, official says (Reuters, link):

"A concrete wall being built to stop illegal crossings along the length of Turkey's 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria will be finished by the end of February, an official at a Turkish state institution with knowledge of the project said on Wednesday.

Ankara has long been under pressure from its NATO allies to seal off the border with Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria and is also concerned by the presence of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which controls most of its Syrian border."

Greece: Deputy FM Xydakis: “7,000 refugees ready to relocate, but some EU-states don’t even respond to Greece’s requests” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greece plans to relocate a large number of migrants to the mainland to relieve the islands on the Eastern Aegean Sea, despite the fact that EU Turkey Deal provides that new arrivals after march 20th should stay in hot spots on these islands and be prevented from further travel.

Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, told German conservative Die Welt, that Greece “will soon begin to bring a large number of migrants to the mainland to relieve the islands in the eastern Aegean. This will be very well organized and conducted in a legal manner. We will accommodate them in guarded premises”...

The minister blamed the EU for the appalling situation and the occasional unrest in some refugee camps on the islands as a result of member-states reluctance to relocate refugees as well as lack of support. And he warned that with refugees and migrants keep coming to Greece “the situation in the camps can easily escalate.”

“For the time being, 7,000 refugees could be immediately relocated from Greece to other EU countries, all formalities for this procedure have been met. But it does not happen."

Turkey denies protection to returning Syrians (euobserver, link):

"A migrant swap deal with Ankara is progressing well despite returning Syrians being denied guaranteed protection status in Turkey, says the EU commission.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters on Wednesday (28 September) that "adequate standards" were in place for those returned under the March deal.

But earlier in the day, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said not a single Syrian returned from Greece has been granted any temporary protection status, despite the "formal guarantees" under the EU's deal with Ankara.

"As we speak today, none of the Syrians that have returned to Turkey have got temporary protection," Vincent Cochetal, UNHCR's Europe director, told this website."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.9.16)


Turkey denies protection to returning Syrians (euobserver, link):

 

"A migrant swap deal with Ankara is progressing well despite returning Syrians being denied guaranteed protection status in Turkey, says the EU commission.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters on Wednesday (28 September) that "adequate standards" were in place for those returned under the March deal.

But earlier in the day, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said not a single Syrian returned from Greece has been granted any temporary protection status, despite the "formal guarantees" under the EU's deal with Ankara.

"As we speak today, none of the Syrians that have returned to Turkey have got temporary protection," Vincent Cochetal, UNHCR's Europe director, told this website."

EU's secret ultimatum to Afghanistan: accept 80,000 deportees or lose aid (Guardian, link):

"Memo leaked in advance of Brussels aid summit reveals EU plans to make assistance to Afghanistan ‘migration sensitive’ despite security concerns.

When international donors and the Afghan government convene in Brussels next week, the EU secretly plans to threaten Afghanistan with a reduction in aid if the war-torn country does not accept at least 80,000 deported asylum seekers.

According to a leaked restricted memo (pdf), the EU will make some of its aid “migration sensitive”, even while acknowledging that security in Afghanistan is worsening.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government is also struggling with internal turmoil, and has failed to revive the economy or produce jobs for the young who leave the country in droves.

It would be challenging for Afghanistan to absorb 80,000 deportations. So far, in 2016, about 5,000 Afghans have returned voluntarily from Europe

The EU said in the leaked memo that it is “aware of the worsening security situation and threats to which people are exposed” and that Afghanistan is suffering “record levels of terrorist attacks and civilian casualties”.

The memo added: “Despite this, more than 80,000 persons could potentially need to be returned in the near future.”

An EU official said in an email: “We don’t comment on leaked documents.” He added that the EU and Afghanistan have a “constructive dialogue” on migration." [emphasis added]

Based on a document made available by Statewatch: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan (Restricted doc no: 6738-16, pdf).

European Commission: EU-Turkey-Greece-Italy-returns-relocation

- EU-Turkey deal: The Commission is today reporting on the progress made on the EU's relocation and resettlement schemes and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (Press release,pdf)

- EU-Turkey deal: Third Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM 634-16, pdf)

- EU-Turkey deal: Implementing the EU-Turkey Statement – Questions and Answers (pdf) includes:

"What is the state of play as regards visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens? As regards the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, the Second Report of 15 June 2016 described seven benchmarks that remain to be met:

- issuing biometric travel documents fully compatible with EU standards;
- adopting the measure to prevent corruption foreseen by the Roadmap;
- concluding an operational cooperation agreement with Europol;
- revising legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards;
- aligning legislation on personal data protection with EU standards;
- offering effective judicial cooperation in criminal matters to all EU Member States;
- implementing the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement in all its provisions."

Still negotiating.

And: "there are still shortfalls for both EASO and Frontex experts for the period of September to December 2016."

Also: "Since the Statement entered into force, there have been 578 returns from the Greek islands to Turkey, including 53 Syrians. Other nationalities returned have included Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, Iranians as well as people from Iraq, India, Congo, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Nepal, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority." and:

For returns to Turkey: "Frontex has mobilised the following resources for the time being: 1 ferry - 5 buses for transportation from the hotspots to the ports - 1 charter plane - 56 Frontex escort officers."

- Sixth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 636, pdf)

- Annex 1: Relocations from Greece (COM 636, pdf):

Commitment legally foreseen: 63,302: Pledges: 9,776 and Pledges effected: 4,455.

- Annex 2: Relocations from Italy (pdf) Commitment legally foreseen: 34,853: Pledges 3,544, Pledges effected: 1,496

- Annex 3: Resettlement in the EU (pdf)

- Management of the Migration Crisis in Greece since October 2015 and Implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement
since 20 March 2016
(pdf)

Includes general; charts on: Registration rates (now said to be 100%), Assisted Voluntary Returns (AVR): 582 in August 2016, Hotspot capacities, Deaths in Aegean (said to be 11 post EU-Turkey deal 18 March) and returns to Turkey (1,078 post 28 March 2016).

European Commission: Schengen border checks: Report on the application of Council Implementing Decision of 12 May 2016 setting out a Recommendation for temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 635, 28.9.15, pdf):

"The present report contains the findings of the Commission after monitoring the manner in which the current temporary internal border controls are carried out, as foreseen by the Council Recommendation. It focuses on whether, as recommended, the reintroduced internal border controls by the above Schengen Member States have been limited to what is strictly necessary and proportionate in light of the serious threat to public policy and internal security posed by the persistent risk of secondary movements of irregular migrants entering via Greece and who might move to other Schengen Member States. It also analyses whether the circumstances have changed so as to require an adaptation of the Council Recommendation." [emphasis added]

See also: Back to Schengen: Commission proposes Roadmap for restoring fully functioning Schengen system (pdf, March 2016 , pdf)

Greece: Another 70 People Deported To Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"On September 26, Greek authorities returned 70 people from the Greek island of Lesvos to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal.

According to official information (link in Greek only) from the Hellenic government, the group included “70 irregular migrants” – 51 from Pakistan, nine from Sri Lanka, seven from Algeria, and one each from Morocco, Turkey and Afghanistan. All are men.

Out of the total, 63 did not seek asylum in Greece, whereas the remaining had their asylum claims withdrawn or rejected....

Altogether, 578 people of different nationalities have been returned to Turkey from Greece under the EU-Turkey deal."

Migrant Arrivals in Mediterranean Reach 302,149; Deaths at Sea: 3,501 (IOM, link):

"Italy - IOM reports that 302,149 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 25 September, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

By comparison through first nine months of 2015, a total of 508,347 arrivals were recorded crossing the Mediterranean – some 206,000 more than in 2016 thus far."

Greece: Chios residents plan rally as frustration over migrant crisis mounts across Aegean (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Chios residents plan to hold a protest rally Wednesday demanding immediate measures to reduce the number of migrants on the island. Along with other eastern Aegean islands, Chios is engaged in an uphill struggle to cope with the increasing number of migrants and refugees. The total number of people stranded on eastern Aegean islands now stands at 13,863."

The EU’s new offer to Africa (euobserver, link):

"As with the original European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main plank of the Juncker commission’s economic policy, there’s not much hard cash behind the initiative.

The investment vehicle will be based on a €1.5 billion guarantee from the EU budget, and a further €1.85 billion from the European Development Fund and EU budget. It will subsume the existing EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, which has paid out more than 90 grants to infrastructure projects since 2007.

At a time when European governments are seeking to increase their deportation rates, the fund is a bid to sweeten the pill on tackling migration to their African counterparts."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.9.16)


France urged to house children living in Calais camp on their own (Guardian, link):

 

"Children’s commissioners for France and England call on French government to rescue 1,000 asylum-seeking children as a ‘matter of urgency’"

New EU border guard agency is no magic bullet (euractiv, link):

"The European Union’s new border guard agency is meant to remedy the failings of its predecessor, Frontex. Dr Lisa Watanabe asks whether the EBCG will be endowed with what Frontex lacked....

But, the new agency will still encounter difficulties in improving situations on the ground where border management and asylum systems are severely deficient or where national agencies are reluctant to cooperate with intervention teams that have not been requested. As such, the new agency will not be a magic bullet, but it should go some way to reducing the scale of emergencies."

Maarten Verwey: EU-Turkey agreement is working, unaccompanied minors a challlenge (New Europe, link):

"However, the implementation of the deal has not been easy for all sides. The Greek side is facing issues with Asylum, Migration & Integration Fund (AMIF), Internal Security Fund (ISF) and EU funding absorption, an issue that the European Commission plans to tackle by assigning the process to the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, that is also responsible for EU’s Structural funds in Greece."

EU migrant quota idea is finished, Fico says (euobserver, lkink):

"Slovak prime minister Robert Fico, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has declared the idea of migration quotas “politically finished”.

"Quotas today clearly divide the EU, therefore I think they are politically finished," he told journalists in Bratislava on Monday, according to Reuters.

The quotas were introduce last year at the peak of the refugee crisis with an aim to distributing asylum seekers streaming into the continent among European Union member states based on solidarity....

The Visegrad countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - have long opposed the scheme, and presented an alternative proposal at the Bratislava Summit two weeks ago.

It calls for “flexible solidarity”, whereby countries that do not want to take migrants could contribute to the EU’s migration policy with other means, financially, with equipment or manpower, something the Visegrad countries are already doing in the Balkans."

Germany: CSU warns against Turkish visa liberalisation (euractiv, link):

"Bundestag Vice-President Johannes Singhammer (CSU) has warned that refugee numbers would increase if plans to grant visa liberalisation to Turkey come to fruition."

Amnesty International slams treatment of refugees in Hungary (DW, link):

"A new report from human rights group Amnesty International has accused Budapest of allowing police to abuse refugees. It also suggested that the government has purposely made applying for asylum difficult"

See: AI report: Stranded (pdf)

Are You Syrious (26.9.16):

Greece: 51 new arrivals to Lesvos

"There were no new arrivals this weekend to Greek islands, but up until 8 o’clock this morning 51 people arrived to Lesvos. As for changes in the rest of the camps since Friday - Vagiohori dropped from 132 to 81 (-51) with overall capacity of 631 and Skaramagas jumped in numbers from 3450 to 3597 (+147) with only 3200 in official capacity. Still, there are over sixty thousand people stuck in Greece with numbers slightly rising daily."

New deportations to Turkey

"While we are playing the numbers game?—?76 people were returned from Greece to Turkey today on account of being deemed as “irregular migrants”.

Hungary: Fear and hate referendum to be held in Hungary this Sunday

"As the right wing government of Hungary is set to push this country into more hate by organizing a referendum on October the 2nd with the question: Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly. There are strong left wing parties campaign and civil society one trying to advocate for abstinence and make this shameful fear mongering referendum invalid. 22 Hungarian NGO’s and the Hungarian satirical party, the so-called Two-Tailed Dog Party, teamed up to campaign for invalid votes. They are spending the second biggest amount on its campaign (after the government), making fun of the government’s messages, using money donated by people."

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the refugee crisis

This speech is from the UN high commissioner for human rights a must to read.

"When millions of people see freedom's invitation only through the flapping canvas of a tent. When they carry their children and possessions on their backs, walking hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles. When they and their families risk drowning, and are kept cramped in appalling detention centers and, once released, risk abuse by racists and xenophobes. There is no cause for comfort here."

New powers for the German Federal Police: undercover agents to combat unwanted migration (link)

"In the future, the Federal Police will also be able to deploy undercover agents. The provision is part of the new “Act to Improve Information Exchange in the Fight Against International Terrorism”, which the Grand Coalition adopted on 24 June 2016 and the parliamentary groups of the opposition voted against."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.9.16)


European Parliament: From 42 MEPs: Letter to Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex concerning "Shoot First" policy (pdf):

 

"We are contacting you with reference to a number of incidents reports documenting the recurrent use of weapons by coast guards within Frontex operations to stop boats driven by suspected smugglers, injuring or killing refugees. The documents, published on August 22nd 2016 by the online publication.

The Intercept (“Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show”), show multiple cases of firearms use against boats carrying refugees by the Greek and FRONTEX’s operators leading to severely endangering refugees in the process. The reports cover a 20-month period from May 2014 to December 2015. Each case of firearms use — even if it resulted in someone being wounded — was described “as part of the 'standard rules of engagement' for stopping boats at sea”."

See: Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show (The Intercept, link) and full file: Serious Incident Reports (190 pages, pdf) also Frontex rules: Serious Incident Reporting (pdf).

Number of asylum seekers slightly up again: Eurostat (New Europe, link):

"The number of first time asylum seekers went slightly up again to almost 306 000 in the second quarter of 2016, with Syrians continuing to be the most numerous, according to data released today by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency.

During the second quarter of 2016 (from April to June 2016), 305 700 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the member states of the European Union, up by 6% compared with the first quarter of 2016 (when 287 100 first time applicants were registered)....."

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Committee calls for the protection of unaccompanied minors in Europe to be harmonised (link):

"PACE Migration Committee today called on European governments to improve the protection of unaccompanied migrant minors and to avoid them going missing. The present migration and refugee crisis, the committee said, has exacerbated the challenges of how to treat and assist these children on the move, and “generated new problems with the realisation that large numbers of children are going missing at different stages of their journey”, especially directly after arrival at reception centres.

Adopting a draft resolution, based on the report prepared by Manlio Di Stefano (Italy, NR), the parliamentarians called on Council of Europe member States to protect children from trafficking and criminal activities to which they are particularly vulnerable, uphold the right to family reunion in the case of separated migrant minors and harmonise the rules concerning the establishment of guardians and legal representatives."

See: Draft report and resolution (pdf)

Are You Syriuos (24-25.9.16)

AUSTRIA: Austrian government statistics reveal twofold rise in attacks against centers for asylum seekers.

"In 2015, there was a total of 25 attacks against centers. In the first 6 months of 2016, there had already been 26 such attacks, ranging from hateful posts on the internet, to arson and acid attacks. The situation in Austria is particularly tense given the near-victory of the presidency by the candidate of the Freedom Party, a far right nationalist group. Another election for the post is scheduled to take place on December 4, and with the Freedom Party’s marginal loss, the results of the election are anybody’s guess.

The rise of far-right wing parties is widespread throughout Europe, having recently been stoked by xenophobic attitudes against refugees. These anxieties have caused in neighboring Germany the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, previously an extremely marginal group, to come in second place in the parliament of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Bundesland."

GERMANY: Afghans protest discriminatory asylum system

"Hundreds of Afghans gathered in Hamburg today to demonstrate against discriminatory behavior of German authority in processing their asylum claims in Germany. They also called on the Afghan government to withdraw the decision of signing MOU that will encourage forced return of Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan."

DENMARK: Danish couple fined over 5,000 euro for helping refugees.

"A disturbing new development has come from Denmark which has officially convicted a Danish couple of “people smuggling” for giving refugees rides and some small food items. The woman who did not know she was breaking the law transported the family from the south of Denmark to Copenhagen, not ever crossing international boundaries. They were initially prosecuted under the Danish Aliens Act in March, but appealed their sentence. Now the Danish High Court has upheld the sentence and increased the penalty by five hundred British pound. They now must pay 5,700 British pounds for their act of kindness."

FINLAND: 15 thousand gather in Helsinki to protest racism

"In the aftermath of the death of a man at the hands of neo-Nazi radicals, 15 thousand have taken to the streets of Helsinki in a protest against fascist violence. Thousands more participated in similar demonstrations across the country. Among the participants is the current Premier of the country, Juha Sipila, who vowed that the government will soon be tackling such groups."

Migration Summit in Vienna: They agreed that they mainly disagree (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The so-called Balkan migration route has been the focus of attention at a mini summit in Vienna of leaders from affected countries. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern welcomed head of states form Germany,Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia as well as the European Council President Donald Tusk...."

Greece: Another parents' group votes to block refugees from schools (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Two parents' associations voted over the weekend to block child refugees from attending local schools, the latest in a string of objections to the government's initiative."

Violence against refugees, attacks on shelters rising in Austria (Daily Sabah, link):

"Attacks on centres for asylum seekers in Austria are on course to double this year, according to government figures released on Saturday.

Twenty-four were recorded in the first half of 2016, compared with 25 for the whole of 2015, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said in reply to a parliamentary enquiry. The incidents ranged from arson to acid attacks to stones thrown through windows, or racist or Nazi graffiti and hate postings on the Internet....

The far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), in common with similar parties across Europe, has stoked concerns about the influx to boost its support.

Polls put the FPOe's Norbert Hofer neck-and-neck with independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen to be elected to the largely but not entirely ceremonial post of president on December 4."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.9.16)


EU's Tusk demands closure of Balkan route to refugees 'for good' (DW, link):

 

"European leaders have met in the Austrian capital to find a common solution to the wave of migration to the continent. The European Council's president has called for restoring control over the EU's external borders...

"Obviously, an essential precondition for achieving this goal is close cooperation with our partners in the Balkans and Turkey," he said. "(But) we need to confirm - politically and in practice - that the Western Balkan route of irregular migration is closed for good."

Merkel wants to send back dud migrants (The Local.at, link)

"Echoing Merkel, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Saturday that this showed that the EU needed to send people back to Egypt, Libya and other countries. Orban, who has been scathing about Merkel's "open-door" policy and has called immigration "poison", has refused to take in a single migrant under the EU relocation scheme.

Attacks on asylum seekers

Meanwhile, attacks on centres for asylum seekers in Austria are on course to double this year, according to government figures released on Saturday. Twenty-four were recorded in the first half of 2016, compared with 25 for the whole of 2015, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said in reply to a parliamentary enquiry."

European Parliament Study: Overview on the use of EU funds for migration policies (pdf):

"The aim of this document is to give an overview of the use of EU funds on migration policies during the first two years (2014-2015) of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and present a preliminary budgetary outlook for 2016---2017 and the remaining MFF period, taking into account the uncertainties relating to the evolution of the migration situation and pressures on EU funding....

Within the current EU framework, potential changes in policy and practice to deal with the migration crisis are under discussion. Such changes include revisiting legislative instruments on asylum and legal migration, as well as (within an overall vision adapted to the needs of the crisis) the competences of the EU agencies involved in migration management. Any revision of the latter should involve a budget increase accompanied by the necessary staff reinforcements."

Hungary PM suggests giant migrant city in Libya (BBC News, link):

"The European Union should set up a "giant refugee city" on the Libyan coast to process African asylum seekers before they reach Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.

Mr Orban, who has taken a hardline stance against migration, suggested a new Libyan government run the camp. He made the remarks at a Vienna summit of European and Balkan leaders....

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has faced criticism from the Hungarian prime minister over her so-called "open-door" policy towards refugees and migrants, said the solution was to secure deals with African countries to send back migrants who do not qualify for asylum. "

Greek positions on refugee crisis reiterated at Vienna mini-summit (Tornos News, link):

"In Vienna, Tsipras will be able to highlight the challenge facing Greece due to the migration crisis, noting that 60,000 refugees and migrants were now trapped in the country since its northern borders were unilaterally closed. He is also expected to make clear that if Greece fails in its efforts to cope with the crisis, only the most xenophobic, nationalist and far-right forces in Europe stand to gain, as reflected in elections and polls in Austria and neighbouring countries."

Are You Syrious (23.9.16, link)

Greece: Today, 241 new arrivals were registered in Greece (1 at Lesvos, 123 at Chios, 41 at Samos, 58 at Kos, and 18 at Kalumnos). Unofficial number could be higher.

"For a long time we are reporting about dire situation on overcrowded islands, but until now little has been done to improve the situation. Those responsible?—?authorities, UN and the EU?—?are not finding any solution. Chios will soon have 4,000 people, and that means that the capacity will be at 400 percent. Skaramangas increased from 3362 to 3450 refugees. People have no place to stay, no warm clothes, or anything. In total, 13,983 refugees are currently on the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean while the maximum capacity of the camps is 7,450."

Macedonia

"While nobody is watching, more people are arriving to Macedonia, while about 180 are stranded in the camps of Tabanovce and Gevgelija since February. After so many months, the UN human rights team visited Macedonia and raised some concerns about the conditions in “transit centers” in Macedonia, noticing that people’s freedom of movement is restricted, while kids do not go to school."

Serbia

"There is no improvement of living conditions for refugees in Serbia, another country that hardly anybody pays attention to at this moment. Hundreds of refugees are arriving every day, while hundreds are already in different centers, private accommodation, or out in the streets. Last night temperature warm 8 degrees. People who are in centers have limited freedom of movement, and people in the streets are in constant fear of police that is every day in the are near a train station in Belgrade. Most of the people have the only document saying they can stay in Serbia for 72 hours, but many of them are there for a couple of months waiting to cross to Hungary and continue their journey."

New fears for 1,000 lone children in Calais refugee camp (The Observer, link):

"French authorities hope Britain will honour pledges and rescue minors when the bulldozers move in....

Up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors will be left to fend for themselves when the so-called jungle camp for refugees in Calais is bulldozed next month. The French authorities have made no plans to rehouse the children, the Observer has learned, because it is hoping to force Britain to honour a promise to help child refugees.

The French interior ministry has informed charities and aid organisations that it intends to destroy the camp in less than four weeks."

And see: Panic sweeps Calais camp as refugees await the bulldozers (Guardian ,link): "With demolition of ‘the Jungle’ only weeks away, the fate of some of its most vulnerable residents hangs in the balance."

Pope says journalism based on fear-mongering, gossip is form of 'terrorism' (Reuters, link):

"Journalism based on gossip or rumors is a form of "terrorism" and media that stereotype entire populations or foment fear of migrants are acting destructively, Pope Francis said on Thursday."

Greece: PM to join more talks on refugees amid unrest (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras joins nine of his European counterparts, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Vienna on Saturday to discuss the refugee crisis, authorities on the Aegean islands on Friday struggled to keep order at overcrowded migrant reception centers.

Another 241 migrants arrived on islands of the northern Aegean from Turkey on Thursday, according to government figures released on Friday, including 123 on Chios, where violent clashes broke out between migrants at the local camp.

In total, 13,983 migrants are currently being hosted at camps on the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean while the maximum capacity of the camps in question is 7,450.

The overcrowded conditions at the camps, where most migrants have been waiting months for their asylum applications to be processed, often fuel unrest and, occasionally, riots.

In the early hours of Friday morning, unrest broke out at the migrant reception camp on Chios when a group of Algerian nationals, who are believed to have been inebriated, started breaking beds and throwing stones."

Greece: Inside Moria's African neighborhood (DW, link)

"Following the fire that destroyed a large part of the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, life seems to be back to normal - but not for everyone. Marianna Karakoulaki and Dimitris Tosidis report from Lesbos."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.9.16)


Photo Exhibition “Reaching Europe – Refugees arriving on Lesvos” in the European Parliament: Tuesday 27 September at 18:30, in the ASP building (link):

 

"Ska Keller, spokesperson on migration and Vice-President of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, and Philippe Lamberts, Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group, are hosting the Photo Exhibition “Reaching Europe – Refugees arriving on Lesvos”next week in the European Parliament. The exhibition documents the arrival and the situation of refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos. All photos have been taken by Members of the Mytilini Photo Club.

The opening of the exhibition will take place on Tuesday, 27 September, at 18:30. We will have the great pleasure and honour to welcome the photographers of the Myrtili Photo Club on this occasion, as well as refugees and activists from Lesvos."

If you want to attend the opening, contact us by Monday morning at 10.00, please at: ska.keller@ep.europe.eu

The hidden failure of Europe’s migration policy billions (IRIN, link):

"It’s tempting to think that Europe’s migrant and refugee “crisis” is largely behind us, that the EU’s desperate deal with Turkey has had the desired effect – images of dozens of boats depositing refugees on Greek shores and trekking through the Balkans have largely disappeared from our TV screens....

Even more worrying are the wider, ripple effects as other countries are encouraged to emulate Europe’s approach with their own deterrence policies.

“It’s highly risky because if others join this race to the bottom, it could result in even greater flows to Europe,” said Foresti.

The forced closure of Kenya’s camps in Dadaab, hosting more than 300,000 Somali refugees, for example, could see some of those refugees making their way towards Europe."

Greece: Moria: Local threatens refugees & migrants with rifle (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"A local resident of the village of Moria on Lesvos grabbed a rifle and threatened to shoot at refugees and migrants standing outside the hot spot that was burned down on Monday evening. The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon, when the 84-year-old man appeared with his rifle in front of refugees and migrants hanging around outside the burned camp. He threatened to shoot at them.

In panic, the crowd started to flee in all directions. Police was called in and detained the local before he made his threat true.

He was a permission to own the rifle."

And see; At this turtle pace, “Europe will need 18 years to fulfill its relocation commitments” to Greece (Keep Talking Greece, link) also: Tensions building on Lesvos over migrants (ekathimerini.com, link)

EU and Greece: Stop fanning the flames in Lesbos (Lesbos Legal Centre, link):

"We, the Lesvos Legal Centre, publish this statement to call on Greek and EU authorities to protect the rights of all individuals seeking protection in Europe who have been subjected to detention at the Moria camp, where a fire spread on Monday 19 September, destroying a large section of the camp."

Are You Syious (22.9.16, link)

GREECE: The people stranded in Greece are living in “appalling conditions” and face “immense and avoidable suffering”

Another report shaming the European countries for their lack of political will and poor response to the refugee crisis, along with the recent harsh critics from the president of the EC, comes from Amnesty International. “The organization noted with regret that Greece’s current response to the refugee crisis, including the European Union (EU) -Turkey Agreement of 18 March 2016, is not consistent with international human rights and refugee law, including the principle of non-refoulement. Amnesty International urges Greece to refrain from returning asylum-seekers to Turkey under this deal.”

Arrivals: Greece:

92 people were registered arriving to the Greek islands by 7:30 in the morning on Thursday, according to the official government statistics: 50 on Lesvos, 19 on Samos and 23 on Kos. 125 arrivals were registered on the island Chios during the morning, according to the Chios Eastern Shore Response Team."

Serbia: A shift in the approach?—?The Daily Center for Refugees

"The Daily Center for refugees in Belgrade opened in this September and more than 70 refugees visit them daily. It was formed by a small group of diverse, but experienced volunteers and their aim to provide a place to relax, get together for cultural and sport activities, learn languages, use the internet, take a shower and have a warm beverage. They also plan to prepare and serve warm soup for the refugees. Apart from the great need for financial support, they could also use: male shoes, underwear, trousers, backpacks, beanies and gloves."

L'Autriche envisage de fermer sa frontière avec la Hongrie (link):

"Preparations, which involve digging and implementing vertical pipes, began Monday. But the decision to the eventual establishment of a fence
has not yet been taken, said a police spokesman.

Such fence near the crossing point of the town of Nickelsdorf in Burgenland, Austria will be erected if [there is a decision] to activate drastic measures, quickly stemming the bulk of migrants on their arrival at the border"

CEAS: Coercion,prohibition and great expectations: The continuing failure of the Common European Asylum System (pdf) by Maarten den Heijer, Jorrit Rijpma and Thomas Spijkerboer:

"It has to be emphasised that the present European crisis is a crisis of refugee policy, not a refugee crisis. The numbers in themselves are not the problem; the way in which the European deals with them is. The direction in which the European Union is now taking asylum law and policy mainly reproduces, and in important ways intensifies those elements of European law and policy which have caused the crisis. Therefore, the European response is likely to make the crisis worse. This is tragic, all the more so because it is not necessary. A less disastrous approach would require doing away with the tunnel vision in which European policy makers are presently caught - would rrequire doing away with the idea that if policy does not work, more of the same policy is the appropriate response. It would require a reconsideration of the very fundaments of the Common European Asylum System: coercion, prohibition, unrealistic expectations of what borders can do, and a confederate approach without addressing legitimate concerns of Member States, third states and refugees."

EGYPT: At least 162 bodies recovered after boat carrying hundreds of refugees sinks - One man at the scene appears to shout 'the sea is littered with bodies' (Independent, link)

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.9.16)


EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Migration, security and fundamental rights: A critical challenge for the EU (Press release, pdf):

 

"it is vital that the reform of the EU’s border policy be further assessed to ensure its full consistency with the respect for the fundamental rights of those who enter and leave the EU.

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “The EDPS understands the need for the EU to better address the challenges of migration, borders and refugees. However, we recommend considering additional improvements in the revised proposals which will involve a significant collection of data concerning non-EU nationals whose freedoms, rights and legitimate interests may be significantly affected. Border management and law enforcement are distinct objectives and need to be more clearly distinguished. Refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and ordinary travellers may require separate considerations”.

The EDPS recommendations to enhance data protection in these proposals relate in particular to retention periods, the collection of the facial images of travellers requiring visas, the use of sensitive information such as biometric data, and to security measures.

In his Opinions, the EDPS draws attention to the role of eu-LISA and Frontex performing specific processing operations such as those related to statistics, as well as to the situations of minors when subject to the collection of fingerprints."

See also: EDPS Opinion on the First reform package on the Common European Asylum System (Eurodac, EASO and Dublin regulations) (pdf), EDPS Opinion on the Second EU Smart Borders Package Recommendations on the revised Proposal to establish an Entry/Exit System (pdf) and Commission Press release:Commission launches discussion on future framework for stronger and smarter information systems for border management and internal security (pdf)

EU: Frontexit: A reinforced Frontex agency: EU turns a deaf ear to NGO’s warnings (pdf):

"More powerful than ever and enjoying complete impunity, the EU border management agency has a new name with a reinforced mandate. The European Union has indeed opted for an increase in the means allocated to deportation, control and external cooperation activities, with no regard for the rights of migrants and refugees....

Yet, the agency continues to put a number of rights at risk: first and foremost, the right to leave any country including one’s own; but also the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement, the right to personal data protection and the right to an effective remedy."

Are You Syrious (21.9.16, link):

Greece: No Border Kitchen statement on Moria fire

"In a statement, the No Border Kitchen in Lesvos said “Moria camp is completely overcrowded, now housing double its intended capacity. The people are forced to stay in overcrowded tents or outside, there is not enough food or water, and hygienic conditions are very bad."

More than 5,777 people on Lesvos despite capacity for 3,500

"100 people were registered on Aegean Islands in the 24 hours up to 7:30 this morning?—?74 in Lesvos, 1 in Chios, 13 in Samos, 2 in Leros, and 10 in Rhodes.

The speedboat that landed in Rhodes had two Turkish families seeking protection from alleged political persecution in Turkey.

According to volunteers, one boat with 22 people landed on the north coast of Lesvos this morning and two other boats with 12 and 11 people respectively landed later during the day. More than 5,777 people are now on Lesvos, despite an official maximum capacity of only 3,500. The maximum capacity number has not been updated after the fire in the Moria camp.

The ferry that was supposed to accommodate more than 1,000 people in Lesvos will not arrive as planned, as the Greek shipping ministry has cancelled the tender. Bids are open until Friday."

Austria: Protest over Austria’s asylum policy on Saturday

"The ‘Platform for a human asylum policy’ will be holding a protest this Saturday, during the same time as the European asylum summit in Vienna. The organizers will protest against the Austrian emergency decree and upper limit on refugees and insist on the rights of refugees. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are willing to accept and help refugees, while the government is doing everything it can to stop refugees from entering the country."

Germany: Accommodation center set on fire this Monday

"Several right-wing protests against refugees have shocked Germany in the past few weeks. On Monday night, a still empty accommodation centre for refugees was set on fire in Bremen. 500 individuals spontaneously marched against right-wing violence on Tuesday night."

NGOs: EU Failed In Lesvos (News That Moves, link):

"The fire at the overcrowded Moria detention centre in Lesvos is an indication of Europe’s failure to tackle the refugee crisis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Greek branch of Medecins du Monde (MDM) said, in the aftermath of the blaze."

Austrian election set for early December after 'gluegate' (The Local.at, link):

"Austria's parliament has approved December 4th as the new date for the presidential election re-run in a scandal-ridden race that could usher in the European Union's first far-right head of state."

Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration (The Local, ch, link):

"Never has a proposed law diverged so far from the text of a publicly-voted referendum..

In its decision, parliament voted to maintain the free movement of people and its related bilateral agreements with the EU rather than implement fixed immigration quotas as voted for, in principle, by the Swiss people in the legally-binding 2014 referendum."

Migrant deaths at sea signal Egypt becoming departure country (euractiv, link):

"A boat carrying up to 450 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean off Egypt’s north coast yesterday (21 September), drowning 42 people and prompting a search operation that rescued 163 passengers, officials said.."

Report: Hungary could push for treaty change on migration (euobserver, link):

"Hungary's government might push for a treaty change to keep asylum rules in national competences if it wins a referendum on migration quotas on 2 October, Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag reported Wednesday (21 September).....

According to the paper, Hungary would propose exempting national migration rules from the common European policies."

MEPs urge Sweden to end border checks (euobserver, link):

"Five MEPs from the European parliament’s civil liberties committee (Libe), who visited Sweden on Tuesday and Wednesday (20-21 September), urged it to end checks on the border with Denmark as soon as possible.

The head of the delegation, Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes, said border checks were an exception to EU rules and must be a temporary solution....

Sweden reintroduced the borders last autumn after the arrival of a record number of refugees. Some 163,000 people were registered by the Migration Agency last year. EU rules say that a country can temporarily reintroduce borders as "a measure of last resort" when faced with a threat to public order and safety. "

£100m of UK aid budget to be spent controlling immigration from Africa - Theresa May uses UN speech to outline plans to return Somali refugees and stop people trying to cross Mediterranean (Guardian, link):

"More than £100m of the UK aid budget will be spent on returning Somali refugees to the country they fled and encouraging people escaping war zones not to cross the Mediterranean under plans outlined by Theresa May in New York....

Her plans attracted criticism earlier in the summit over the suggestion that those fleeing war zones should stay and claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, rather than seeking sanctuary in European nations such as Britain."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.9.16)


Are You Syrious (link)

 

How European inefficiency and disregard caused the fire at Moria

"The yesterday’s fire at Moria camp forced the evacuation of the camp’s estimated 4000 residents, who ran into fields in the vicinity, tried to seek shelter in the nearby village of Moria?—?where, according to some reports, they were thwarted by disgruntled residents?—?and even trekked 25 kilometers to the island’s capital of Mytilene.

Videos posted on social media on Monday night showed elderly men and women and families with children trying to flee the burning camp with little but the clothes on their backs, many squeezing through an opening in a fence as they scrambled to get away....

Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection says protests happened particularly because of the such lack of information and rumors, while Lesvos mayor PASOK, ND and Golden Dawn supporters propagate xenophobia and try provoking already frightened refugees."

Local extremists attacked refugees and volunteers who were escaping the Moria fire

"As No Border Kitchen reports, around 200 fascists attacked refugees and their supporters in Moria village yesterday. One volunteer car was smashed but, luckily, all volunteers and refugees managed to escape the fascists’ violence."

In the fire’s aftermath, unaccompanied refugee children to be transferred from Lesvos to mainland

"The government on Tuesday put into motion the transfer of 91 unaccompanied refugee children from Lesvos to the Greek mainland, following a destructive fire in Moria. The 91 kids were transferred to a separate site at the PIKPA summer camp when rioting broke out at the government-run Moria camp. Several families with children were also transferred from the Moria hot spot to unofficial center run by non-governmental organizations and the municipality at Kara Tepe."

Statement by the Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza blaming the government and police for events in Moria

"The government and police are responsible for the explosive situation in Moria yesterday. On the one hand, the police showed provocative tolerance to fascist bullies pretending to be “indignant citizens”?—?exactly as they did in Chios recently. Fully armed riot police stood idly by as the Nazis bullied defenseless people. On the other hand, the government (with the EU’s blessing) insists on the unacceptable policy of detaining refugees inside terrible camps, with no future in sight."

Asylum-seekers flee fire at Greek hotspot as tensions flare (euractiv, link):

"No casualties were reported from the fire and its cause was unclear. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, linked the fire to poor living conditions and a sense of insecurity among many of the residents...

Roland Schoenbauer, UNHCR’s spokesman in Greece, said people were “sick of waiting” in the camps. “They don’t know when their asylum claims will be processed. Some people feel they don’t have enough information,” he said."

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants (euobserver, link):

"Leaders along the Western Balkan migratory route, which saw 1 million people pass through last year on their way to Germany and northern Europe, pledged not to let the influx repeat this year ahead of a migration summit in Vienna on Saturday (24 September)....

"There is now an understanding in the European Union that we have to stop the flow of illegal migrants, and that we need border controls to our external borders," Kurz said, according to the AP news agency....

The European Commission said on Tuesday transfers from the island to the mainland would be limited.

"To avoid secondary movement to the rest of Europe, that means keeping asylum seekers on the islands for the most part," said a commission spokeswoman.""

UK delays resulting in exploitation of Calais children, says anti-slavery chief (Guardian, link):

"Kevin Hyland says lack of urgency in UK response has left unaccompanied children vulnerable."

Migrant boat carrying 600 capsizes off Egypt, at least 29 dead (Reuters, link):

"A boat carrying around 600 people capsized off Egypt's coast, killing at least 29, officials said on Wednesday, in the latest disaster to befall migrants attempting to make the crossing to Europe.

The boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Burg Rashid, a village in the northern Beheira province. Of the 29 bodies found so far, 18 were men, 10 were women and one was a child, local officials said.

Rescue workers have so far saved 150 people, officials said. The boat was carrying Egyptian, Syrian, and African migrants"

Federal report laments rising xenophobia in Germany (DW, link):

"The federal government has released its latest evaluation on the country's status, 26 years after reunification. Leaders are worried about rising xenophobia and lagging economic progress in the east.

In a report on the Status of German Unity released by the cabinet on Wednesday, leaders expressed concern about the increasing incidents of anti-immigrant and right-wing attacks, especially in eastern states that were part of the former German Democratic Republic."

Lawmakers slam diversion of EU aid to ‘Trust Fund for Africa’ (euractiv, link)

"A little under a year since its launch, the EU’s Trust Fund for Africa is largely financed with EU development money and has failed to convince Members of the European Parliament, who warn about diversion of aid to stem migration flows from authoritarian regimes.:.... The report was voted by a comfortable majority, of 511 to 126....

First among the report's criticisms is the lack of funds allocated to the instrument proposed at last year's migration summit in Valletta.
"The contributions from member states have been too small," the report said. "As a result, they are a long way from meeting the official commitment, with a total of just €81.71m in April 2016 (4.5% of the €1.8bn planned)," it added....

Member states' minimal contributions to the fund have generally been just generous enough to grant them access to the fund's council of administration, but have gone no further."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.9.16)


Greece: Lesvos: Golden Dawn supporters stir up ugly scenes and "Guantanamo-style" Moira detention centre set on fire

 

Nine arrested after Greek refugee camp burns (BBC News, link):

"Nine people have been arrested after a large fire destroyed parts of the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Up to 4,000 migrants were evacuated from the camp, as the blaze destroyed tents and prefabricated homes. No fatalities were reported, but large areas of the camp, which was already crowded, were left unusable. The Greek government said it would send a ship to hold at least 1,000 people as a temporary overflow area.

Early reports suggested a riot broke out as rumours of imminent mass deportations to Turkey spread. Other witnesses said it was the result of an argument over food.

The nine people arrested under suspicion of starting the blaze included people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Senegal, Syria and Cameroon, the AFP news agency reported, citing a police source. Additional riot police have been dispatched to the island."

See also: Fire At Moria: Thousands of Refugees Flee (News That Moves, link) and see: EU: Migrants to stay on Greek islands despite fire (ekathimerini.com, link).:

"“The EU and Greece cannot carry on stockpiling refugees indefinitely on the Greek islands,” Amnesty International's Giorgos Kosmopoulos said.

“Witnessing the charred remains of Moria camp is shocking but comes as little surprise. Holding thousands of vulnerable people on Lesvos in appalling conditions with no knowledge of their fate inevitably creates an incendiary atmosphere of fear and despondency.”

Also: EU Commission found THE solution: Migrants will remain on Greek islands “as much as possible” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Finally! The European Commission found a solution for the Migration crisis in Greece and the Greek islands. During a press conference on Tuesday, the EC coordinating spokesperson, Natasha Bertaud, revealed the well-hidden plans:... EU Commission spo Bertaud says migrants will remain on islands "as much as possible"

To avoid secondary movement to the rest of Europe, that means keeping asylum seekers on the islands for the most part,” Bertaud said also and threw the ball in the court of the Greek government. She said “the Greek government had described the situation as being under control. Transfers to the mainland would remain limited,” Bertaud said.

If this is all the EC can say after the ugly incidents of Monday on the island of Lesvos, it is clear that the migrants will remain indefinitely on the Greek islands, the EU Turkey Deal was just a bunch of papers to use for packing Fish & Belgian Fries and that the European Union will send prayers and good vibes."

Statewatch correspondent reports (20.9.16): "Volunteers trying to get in to help. There are a lot of fascists around after weekend fascist rally who stirred up the locals, pretty ugly. The volunteers got in around the back in the end through a hole in the fence. At the weekend people trying to get in were greeted by angry mobs."

Lesvos, Greece: Moria hot spot on fire – 4,000 evacuated, among them 150 unaccompanied minors (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The hot spot in Moria was set on fire on Monday night after clashes between migrants and refugees groups of different nationalities. Some 3,000 to 4,00 people have been evacuated. Around 150 unaccompanied minors were brought in safety into a state nursery home.

The volume of the damage is not known, some tweet from the area that the camp has burned down. Greek police told foreign reporters that “all tents have burned down and some prefabricated units. A total disaster?

According to official figures, a total of 5,600 refugees and migrants are on the island of Lesvos in the eastern Aegean Sea. Some 4,000 are estimated to be in the Moria hot spot, the rest in the reception center of Kara Tepe."

See also: Thousands flee as blaze sweeps through Moria refugee camp in Greece - An estimated 4,000 people have been forced to leave the camp on Lesbos as strong winds fan the flames (Guardian, link)

Comment: Moira is a closed detention centre with "Guantanamo-style" fencing, razor wire, steel cabins and floodlights. It holds refugees mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan and over a hundred unaccompanied children. Adjacent to it is the "open" Kara Tepe camp.

Are You Syrious (link):

Greece: More people in the already severely overcrowded islands

"As the overall number of people stranded in Greece continues to inch upwards, while relocation programs proceed at a snail’s pace, we take a look at the overall statistics.

In Chios, the number of refugees has reached an all-time high. Almost 4 000 people currently reside in its reception centers, exceeding the official capacity by 336%. As AYS has reported previously, this overcrowding creates a breeding ground for clashes, unrest and all sorts of mental and physical problems that can accompany such ill treatment of people."

Numbers in the islands reach an all time high

"Over the weekend, 308 people arrived in the northern Aegean islands over this weekend. For the first time since the border closings, more than 10 000 are stranded in the northern Aegean islands. Taking the other islands into consideration, a tota of 13 536 people are currently stuck in Greek island centers."

Volunteers needed!

"With these increasing number of arrivals, the volunteer group om Samos is announcing through all reliable channels that they urgently need more volunteers. Please, if you are willing and able, contact them here."

With solidarity and organization, people take over two camps in the Greek mainland

"In news that bring hope, we bring you stories from two camps in Greek mainland. In Lete Derveni, as were have reported, people were increasingly disillusioned by the empty promises of UNHCR and IOM to meet their basic needs. Refugees and independent volunteers raised their voices in protest and petitioned these big organizations to leave and let them, through their organized bodies for decision making, organize the camp. In an unprecedented turn of events, they succeeded. Currently, decisions in the camp are made by refugees and independent volunteers.... Power to them and all of us rooting over here! Follow them on their FB page

Parents at northern Greek elementary school oppose admission of refugee children (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The parents’ association of an elementary school in the northern Greek town of Filippiada on Tuesday sent a memo to education authorities expressing their opposition to government plans to use school facilities to hold classes for refugee children staying at nearby camps...

The memo comes in the wake of a protest by parents in Oresteiada, also in northern Greece, opposing the admission of refugee children into the local school and threatening sit-ins if the government proceeds with its plans to provide schooling to hundreds of migrant and refugee children trapped in Greece."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.9.16)


Lesvos, Greece: “NGOs Out Of Kara Tepe Camp”

 

"From ANA-MPA, the Lesvos municipal council has requested all NGOs leave the island’s Kara Tepe refugee camp. Mayor Spiros Galinos accused aid groups working there of “deceiving him,” claiming they were helping create a new refugee camp without his knowledge. The resolution was passed during an emergency council meeting and includes almost all aid groups operating at Kara Tepe, adding that the municipality should have exclusive jurisdiction over the camp, limiting NGOs to support roles. Galinos called the meeting after media reports that a new camp was being built at a former military base. Work was halted after Defence Minister Panos Kammenos intervened." and:

Lesvos in Migration Crisis: Situation at risk of getting out of control with protests, attacks and unwanted NGO’s (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Hundreds of residents of Moria village and surrounding areas on the island of Lesvos took to the streets on Monday morning protesting the presence of refugees and migrants outside the hot spot of the same name....

The protest rally turned really ugly when extremists from the ultra right-wing Golden Dawn who joined the protest attacked three women, one of them a volunteer at a refugees reception center. The woman was transferred to the local hospital for treatment. According to local website Empros.net, the police that was present did nothing to hinder the attack.

According to the same website, the injured were four university student attacked by 15 GD members while others from the same party were shouting “throw them to the sea...

Kara Tepe has been a model refugee camp, often visited by international VIPs who come to Lesvos to express solidarity with the refugees.”

(19.9.16) Report from Mytilene: "Neonazis are having gatherings all over town."

ECHO budget almost doubles – but migration strings attached (IRIN, link):

"But it’s not so straightforward, according to some observers.

“Totally extraordinary,” said Kathrin Schick, director of VOICE, a network of European NGOs active in humanitarian aid. “The scale and nature of the Turkey portfolio for ECHO goes beyond the ‘harmonica system’ of expanding and contracting budgets that ECHO has become used to.”

There are many international NGOs in Turkey that have standing partnerships with ECHO, but their ability to operate is limited, their registration in Turkey short-term, and restrictions on visas and internal travel hampers their ability to work, Schick said....

She and other NGO analysts pointed out that the needs of unregistered refugees and asylum seekers, and their protection, should not be left out. And what about other nationalities? Only Syrian refugees may to be eligible for the safety net, according to a fact sheet: “Whilst the monthly cash-transfer under the ESSN will reach the most vulnerable families among registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, a referral system will be put in place as part of the ESSN to address the needs of other persons of concern too.”"

When is "solidarity" not "solidarity"? When Its "flexible": ‘Flexible solidarity’ becomes new tool in response to refugee crisis (euractiv, link):

"The Bratislava summit marks a turning point in the evolution of the EU’s response to the migration crisis, as Germany and other Western nations appeared to accept the Visegrad Group’s alternative to relocation and migrant quotas, called ‘flexible solidarity”.

At the summit, the Visegrad Group (V4), consisting of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, submitted an appropriately-titled Joint Statement consisting of proposals for the future of the Union after Brexit.....

The idea that relocation doesn’t work seems to be accepted by Germany. The European Commission is the only one to religiously promote the concept."

See: Papering over overt racism: Visegard Group: Joint Statement of the Heads of Governments of the V4 Countries Bratislava, 16 September 2016 (pdf):

"Concerning migrations, it is necessary to halt the number of irregular migrants and to guarantee the security of the EU, the Member States and individual citizens. The countries of the Visegrad Group have therefore been underlining that enhanced cooperation with third countries, including with Turkey, whether transit or origin, as well as protection of EU external borders are key tools."

Bulgaria: Report from the project: Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants (pdf):

"Since 2013, Bulgaria, as an external border of the EU, has experienced an unprecedented for its history number of migrants passing through its territory, primarily asylum seekers and refugees. The majority of the arriving migrants are subjected to administrative detention, where the decisions made by the administrative bodies appear to be dictated by policy rather than by individual and objective assessment.

The current project “Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants” examines this proposition, while aiming to contribute to increasing the transparency in the decision-making process for the administrative detention of migrants in Bulgaria and to the adopting of transparent and just detention practices that are in line with the principles of proportionality and individual assessment defined in international and European law."

EU: Council President Tusk speech at UN: Speech by President Donald Tusk at the UN summit for refugees and migrants (pdf):

"You have to know that today the European Union has a clear objective to restore order on its external borders. As a result, this will lead to the further reduction of the irregular flows to the EU. There will be no repeat of the year 2015 with more than 1 and a half million irregular migrants....

We are also setting up new partnership agreements with African countries. Moreover, we are determined to continue our cooperation with Turkey and with the Western Balkans countries." [emphasis added]

Comment: President Tusk fails to mention that the "new partnership agreements with African countries" are intended to stop refugees reaching the EU and if they do to send them back to countries of origin or transit.

Fundamental Rights Agency: Monthly data collection: September 2016 (link)

Video from Lesvos: Bridget Bardot in Skala 17/09/2016 (Eric Kempson, link) and "Hope Centre": Hope Is Not Lost 17/06/2016 (video link)

Hungary’s War on Refugees (HRW, link):

"Throughout this period, the Hungarian government has stirred up xenophobic sentiments against refugees and migrants and has gone to great lengths, and cost, to spew hateful messages nationwide. Along with restrictive new laws making life difficult for asylum seekers and refugees, anti-migrant rhetoric by decision makers and high-ranking politicians is commonplace.

Asylum seekers and refugees are called, “intruders,” and “potential terrorists,” all bent on destroying Western civilization, burying Christianity and the Western culture. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself in July referred to migration as “poison.”"

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-18.9.16)


The Bratislava Declaration - appeasing "extreme or populists" causes?

EU: European Council meeting: The Bratislava Declaration and The Bratislava Roadmap (16.9.16, pdf):

 

In his "State of the Union" address Commission President Juncker said:

"“The recent terrible events in the Mediterranean have shown us that Europe needs to manage migration better, in all aspects. This is first of all a humanitarian imperative. I am convinced that we must work closely together in a spirit of solidarity.”

In response to "extreme or populists forces", which include a number of EU Member States, the EU promises to try and complete "Fortress Europe".

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The " principles of responsibility and solidarity" and hunanitarianism have patently failed so the EU answer is to concede to and appease "extreme or populists forces" arguments."

See also: The Bratislava Declaration and The Bratislava Roadmap (16.9.16, pdf):

- Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the Bratislava summit (pdf): "Never to allow for the return of uncontrolled refugee flows of last year and to ensure full control of our external border to get back to Schengen. We are determined to continue our co-operation with Turkey and Western Balkans but also to establish migration compacts with African countries"

- STATE OF THE UNION 2016 by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission 14 September 2016 (pdf)

Europe’s refugees and migrants: hidden flows, tightened borders and spiralling costs (Overseas Development Institute (ODI), link):

"The European response to the current migration ‘crisis’ has been swift. Since 2014, at least €17 billion has been spent on deterring refugees and migrants through tighter border controls and bilateral agreements, such as the EU-Turkey deal. These measures have been effective in reducing flows – as few as 330,000 refugees and migrants are likely to arrive in Europe this year via the Mediterranean through ‘overt’ routes.

However, Europe will still see 890,000 asylum applications in 2016. This discrepancy between overt arrivals and asylum applications shows that there are many people whose journeys to Europe we know little about. Border controls have, in many cases, simply rerouted refugees and migrants towards alternative, ‘covert’ routes."

See report: Europe’s refugees and migrants: Hidden flows, tightened borders and spiralling costs (pdf)

Are You Syrious (17.9.16)

New arrivals: Kos: 10, Chios: 46 and Lesvos : 51

"Currently, 60.079 refugees are in Greece, but people are arriving all the time. Volunteer Rafat Hammoud posted a story about a group of refugees he found near the road on the south coast in Mytilini."

Serbia: Ultra right protest announced

"Ultra right organization Nacionalni srpski front announced anti-migrant protest for the beginning of October to be held in Belgrade. This organization, which is officially registered in Serbia, as one of the goals of their work, puts “to stop migrant invasion”.

At the same time, Srpski narodni pocket Zbor announced a public event for the end of September with the guests from ultra right German groups."

Bulgaria: 2776 asylum seekers in August

The State Agency for Refugees (SAR) registered 2,776 asylum seekers in August, that is 1,543 asylum seekers more than in July.

From January the 1st until August the 31st, the SAR granted refugee status to 376 people and 302 got humanitarian status, 597 people were refused. Until the end of August, 11,952 people were registered by the SAR to have sought “protection” in Bulgaria in 2016.

The number of people in camps is also rising and currently, 93 percent of the overall capacity is filled, the Border monitoring reports.

According to the Ministry of Interior, from the 2nd-8th of September, the 664 people have entered Bulgaria. During this year, police in Bulgaria arrested 12,500 people who tried to cross the country, most of them from Afghanistan."

Germany: Another attack on refugees

"Refugee home in Erbach, southern Germany, was set a fire yesterday. Five people were injured and taken to the hospital.

Police said the place was deliberately set on fire overnight while 26 people were inside. In 2015, there were 1,047 attacks on planned and completed refugee shelters across Germany, and authorities warn the tally could be even higher for 2016."

Refugees are welcome in UK

"Big solidarity march was held today in London with tens of thousands people on the streets wishing welcome to refugees. They urged the government to take more action and help refugees, demanding that the UK take a “fair and proportionate” share of international refugees, provide more safe routes to the UK and offer more support to those already in the country.

Solidarity with Refugees director Ros Ereira said: This demonstration is the public’s best opportunity to show the Government that’s what we want them to do. Britain is a country that should welcome people fleeing desperate situations?—?let’s make that message heard loud and clear.”"

Push-Backs at the Greek-Macedonian border violate human rights (Pro Asyl, link):

"From Idomeni to Strasbourg: Refugees demand their right to have rights at the ECtHR

Strasbourg/Berlin/Frankfurt, 14 September 2016 – Eight individuals from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are resisting the violation of their human rights on the route across the borders of Europe. They submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against their unlawful push-back from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the border camp Idomeni in Greece in March 2016. The claimants assert that FYROM’s practice of collective and often violent expulsions breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Pro Asyl provide support for the complaints. They see these legal proceedings as an important step in the struggle against push-backs at European borders and for refugees’ fundamental “right to have rights.” The applicants are represented by ECCHR’s cooperating attorney Carsten Gericke from Hamburg."

See: ECHR Case report

Greece: Police Use Tear Gas on Chios Residents Protesting Migrant Situation (Greek Reporter, link):

"Greek police used tear gas against Chios residents during a protest march to the Suda migrant camp, causing a riot in the island’s capital central square....

Chios residents gathered at 6:30 pm at the capital’s main square to protest the overflowing migrant camps and the rising number of petty crimes committed by stranded migrants.

Initially, the demonstration was peaceful. Then protesters decided to hold a protest march towards the Souda camp where about 1,800 migrants and refugees are accommodated."

EU: Council of the European Union: EU Border Guard and Maritime Safety Agency

- Extending Frontex's roles: REGULATION on the European Border and Coast Guard and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (176 pages, pdf): Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.

- European Border and Coast Guard: final approval (Council press release, pdf)

- REGULATION amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (pdf):

Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.Involves all EU maritime roles in cooperating with Frontex and other agencies for the purpose of gathering intelligence, border control and search and rescue:

"National authorities carrying out coast guard functions are responsible for a wide range of tasks, which may include maritime safety, security, search and rescue, border control, fisheries control, customs control, general law enforcement and environmental protection.... strengthen their cooperation, within their mandate, both with each other and with the national authorities carrying out coast guard functions, in order to increase maritime situational awareness and to support coherent and cost-efficient action....

providing surveillance and communication services based on state-of-the-art technology, including space-based and ground infrastructure and sensors mounted on any kind of platform...

enhancing the exchange of information and cooperation on coast guard functions including by analysing operational challenges and emerging risks in the maritime domain..."

  Bulgaria To Receive EUR 108 M in Emergency Assistance (novinite.com, link):

"Bulgaria will receive EUR 108 M in emergency assistance for border defence and for dealing with the migrant flow, stated President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.".

Hungarian European Society: Make the Referendum Invalid! (link)

"Hungarian non-governmental organisations, including the Hungarian Europe Society, condemned the anti-refugee referendum announced by the government in a joint declaration on 14 September 2016. They advice citizens to boycott the referendum or to submit an invalid vote.

The question put to referendum fails to promote our common concerns. It does not offer a solution either to the situation of refugees or the future of the European Union. It rejects solidarity with our fellow human beings in plight, just like with the other European member states. It has no intention to create a framework for peaceful coexistence. We are convinced that nobody can feel safe in the long run where public discourse is defined by hatred."

Greece prepares to induct 22,000 refugee children in schools (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The government has launched an awareness campaign ahead of plans to induct some 22,000 child refugees into the Greek school system early next month.

The children will join 800 classes at schools across the country, according to the government’s plan. The schools that will participate in the program are to be announced in the coming days amid concerns of more reactions like the backlash in Oraiokastro, near Thessaloniki, where a parents’ association last week threatened to occupy a local school if refugee children are admitted."

UK Foreign Secretary: Britain says EU mission should turn back migrant boats (Reuters, link):

"A European Union naval force deployed in the Mediterranean should turn back migrant boats after they leave Libya and prevent them from reaching Italy, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday. ...

"I think personally (the boats) should be turned back as close to the shore as possible so they don't reach the Italian mainland and that there is more of a deterrent," Johnson said, speaking alongside his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni.

"I think I am right in saying we have turned back about 200,000 migrants," Johnson said, before a nearby diplomat hastily corrected him. "Sorry, saved, saved. Thank you. We have saved 200,000 migrants and turned back 240 boats."

See: Britain’s Foreign Secretary Gets it Wrong on Boat Migration from Libya - Forcing Migrants Back is Uninformed and Inhumane (HRW, link)

GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands a drop but still overcrowded

Latest Greek government figueres on hosting capacity for refugees.4,369 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,072 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,349 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,015 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 737 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 16-09-2016 (pdf)

IOM Aids EU Relocation of 5,000 Asylum Seekers in First Year, Urges Renewed Effort (link):

"As the European Union (EU) relocation scheme reaches its one year anniversary, only 5,000 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States with IOM assistance. The EU programme adopted a year ago was set up to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from frontline EU Member States. Since then, IOM has assisted 4,954 people relocate from Greece and Italy.."

Germany: Confrontations between refugees and extremists in Bautzen have made international headlines this week. So what is going on in the east German town? And how do locals feel about the unrest? Kay-Alexander Scholz reports. It is illegal to turn back migrant boats once they reach international waters. (DW, link): ""Bautzen is my favorite town," says Menekse, a Kurd, in the town's central Kornmarkt square. This is also where violent clashes between refugees, police and right wing protesters have erupted in recent days. "

Ninety per cent of migrants and refugees crossing Sahara in hope of reaching Europe have witnessed death, torture and beatings (Telegraph, link):

"Ninety per cent of refugees and migrants crossing the Sahara in the hope of reaching Europe have seen fellow migrants murdered, beaten or drop dead of exhaustion during their nightmarish journeys, a humanitarian organisation said on Tuesday.

Doctors for Human Rights, an Italian humanitarian group, based their findings on interviews with 1,000 African migrants who trekked across the desert to Libya and from there paid smugglers for their passage across the Mediterranean in ex-fishing boats and rubber dinghies."

Libya frees German migrant aid workers: NGO (News 24, link): "Two migrant aid workers from Germany who were held by Libyan coastguards have been freed, the group Sea Eye said Wednesday, adding that the circumstances of their arrest remain unclear. The two were released late on Monday, said Hans-Peter Buschheuer, spokesperson for the humanitarian group that rescues migrants at sea who are trying to reach Europe from North Africa."

Are You Syrious (15.9.16)

New right-wing riots expected on Chios: Last night’s protests attracted 800 residents who rallied against the refugees.

"Following yesterday’s right-wing riots on Chios, when riot police had to intervene to keep a crowd of 800 people from approaching two refugee camps, new protest is announced for Friday, 16th of September. Volunteers on the ground say the same group of thugs leads all the extremist riots, but they have never seen any of them arrested, while several volunteers were taken in to police station yesterday after trying to prevent the mob from approaching the refugees in Souda camp. Both volunteers and refugees are adviset to try to remain calm and not engage in potential conflict. You can find a disturbing volunteer report from yesterday’s demonstrations here."

Greece: Number of refugees in camps drops on daily basis

"Following our reports about refugees who are leaving the camps and continuing their trip irregularly after loosing hope in EU administration, official numbers of camp residents in Greece keep dropping on daily basis: Today, Lesvos had 33 fewer officially registered refugees than yesterday, Chios 20 less. Daily drops have been registered in the mainland as well: Skaramagas dropped from 3450 yesterday to 3286 today (official capacity is 3200), and we couldn’t track the people who left the camp in the official statistic of the refugees in Greece. Attiki total dropped from 8757 to 8593 people. Andravida also dropped from 246 to 215, but has a capacity of 300. Larissa “lost” 9 residents. We have also noticed the increase of UNHCR host families from 269 to 284 and hotel accommodations from 2562 to 2617, but apartment accommodation dropped from 4692 to 4684 today."

Cruelty and care in Chios, Greece (IRR News, link):

"an article by Malcolm James* on a visit he paid to Chios in Greece and what he witnessed while volunteering in early 2016 and the contradictions between caring for refugees and the cruelty meted out to them....

In the everyday actions on the island cruelty and care were also intertwined. Coastal rescue, the registration centre, food provision and the registering of volunteers provided different sites and practices through which these tensions could be understood......

Coastal rescue on Chios has been devolved to the Beach Team which has lookouts at strategic points on the coast and lit safe landing areas (such as beaches) with cars’ headlights to help refugees avoid the rocks. When the boats got close enough, volunteers would wade into the water and help people ashore. The volunteers worked to ensure that those lives, which they valued, could be saved."

Greece: PM seeks relief from immigration pressure (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heads to a crucial European Union summit on Friday in Bratislava hoping for progress with regard to the refugee crisis as the numbers of migrants stranded in Greece continue to climb, putting additional pressure on already overcrowded reception centers and camps across the country."

Migrant death toll expected to exceed 10,000 in 2016 (The Observer, link): "Projected figures on migrant fatalities released as US prepares to host two major summits on refugee crisis."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.9.16)


Juncker signals about-face amid refugee quota opposition (ekathimerini.com, link):

 

"European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says solidarity cannot be imposed on EU member countries amid vehement opposition in some states to his refugee quota scheme.

Juncker told EU lawmakers Wednesday that "solidarity must be voluntary, must come from the heart.""

OXFAM: Different conflict, same crisis (link):

"Close to four million refugees and asylum seekers have fled from one conflict zone to another, Oxfam said today ahead of two summits on migration in New York next week. Oxfam analysis shows that these millions of vulnerable women, men and children were registered in 15 countries - having fled their own - where conflict had caused a total of 161,250 deaths. That’s almost 16 percent of all people who have fled violence, persecution or war at home as they have ended up in another country that is itself in conflict or in a state of insecurity."

See: Briefing (pdf)

Europe Pledges to Help Migrant Children in Greece - Funding Should End Unjustified Detention of Children in Deplorable Conditions (HRW, link):

"In his State of the Union address this morning, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asked the EU and Greece to take strong and immediate action to help unaccompanied children: “without protection of these children, Europe is betraying its historic values.” On September 10, the European Commission announced €115 million in new emergency funding to improve conditions for refugees in Greece, including for facilities for unaccompanied children. ...

Leaders in Greece and other EU countries should heed Juncker’s call, and act in concert to put an end to the unjustified detention of children and ensure these children get the care to which they are entitled."

How a media mogul helped turn Czechs against refugees - Politics in central and eastern Europe are increasingly driven by the businesses that own media outlets (Economist, link):

"In a report issued in June, the Czech broadcasting regulator found that the station’s tone shifted dramatically after the September 2015 meeting. It condemned the broadcasts for “not pay[ing] much attention to the perspectives of the refugees themselves and depict[ing] them rather as a source of problems”. It plans to release a longer report this month that may recommend sanctions. Robert Brestan, the reporter who broke the story of the TV Prima meeting, called it “a clear attempt to manipulate public opinion”. With media in central and eastern Europe increasingly controlled by politically connected owners, that description is starting to fit more and more of the region’s news."

Croatia can accept migrants allocated to it, says FM (dalje.com, link):

"Croatia is ready to take in 550 migrants and can also provide for an additional 1064, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said on Wednesday after the European Commission unveiled a plan for the refugee crisis under which a total number of refugees who should be redirected from Greece, Italy and Hungary to Croatia is 1,614.....

“It remains to be seen whether the states (EU members) will accede to the obligatory refugee quotas or if they will be for non-binding quotas,” the Croatian minister said. Pusic said that migrants needed help, and she called for cooperation with countries neighbouring the EU, primarily Turkey as well as Lebanon and Jordan, and Egypt that are “neighbours across the Mediterranean” and that have already received a huge number of refugees."

Are You Syrious (14.9.16)

Anti-refugee riots on Chios

"International volunteers have reported a anti-refugees rally that was held on Chios last night. According to the people on site, loud explosion was heard around 8pm at the main square before some of the thugs moved to Souda trying to intimidate the refugees. The crowd was much bigger than the last protest and refugees were frightened. Riot police had to intervene and the protest caused a massive backlog of traffic in the town. Some of the volunteers were taken to the police station and held for few hours after standing up against the riot. There are no reports about arrests of the local thugs yet. Our fellow volunteers have expressed their frustration following the arrests, saying most of the thugs who are constant presence were never taken in."

UK must do more to stop migrants from Libya drowning due to its role in country’s destabilisation

"The report from the Foreign Affairs Committee said: “Given its role in the conflict and subsequent destabilisation in Libya, the UK has a particular responsibility in relation to migrants and refugees, an issue which has been exacerbated by the collapse of the Libyan state.”

The cross-party group of politicians claimed the UK bears “particular responsibility” for the migration crisis that the Libya intervention sparked and called on ministers to reassess their claim that rescuing people from sea creates a “pull factor” for more to come.

The demands were included in a damning report on the 2011 Libya campaign, which concluded that it lacked both “accurate intelligence” and a coherent strategy for the aftermath of removing Colonel Gaddafi."

New from Migszol: Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary (links)

- Greetings from Belgrade, from the other side of the fence

-  Analysis of the 2nd October referendum

- Overview of developments in Hungary between August 4 and September 4 : "Out of sight, out of mind? Violence continues on the anniversary of the Hungarian-Serbian border closure "

Refugees and vulnerable migrants in Europe by Humanitarian Practice Network (link):

"This edition of Humanitarian Exchange is dedicated to the humanitarian response to the influx of refugees and vulnerable migrants into Europe over the past year."

Secret Aid Worker: Greece has exposed the failures of the aid community (Keep Talking Greece, link)

"The usual excuses of the international aid community as to why planned projects do not materialize do not work in an EU country like Greece. So why does the international aid community fails to meet the needs for the refugees in Greece, when there is an EU funding of €86million, infrastructure and a stable government?"

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.9.16)


EU: Expel Hungary from EU for hostility to refugees, says Luxembourg (The Guardian, link):

 

"Luxembourg’s foreign minister has called for Hungary to be thrown out of the European Union over its increasingly hostile approach to refugees, as campaigners accuse Viktor Orbán’s hardline government of whipping up xenophobia to block a European plan to relocate asylum seekers.

Jean Asselborn said Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the EU for treating asylum seekers “worse than wild animals”.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, he said: “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.”"

MALTA: Calls for preventive action against vigilante group Soldiers of Odin (Malta Today, link): "The Soldiers of Odin, a vigilante group that has been branded as “anti-immigrant”, has found a following in Malta and begun patrolling the streets, according to local media reports.

The group is part of a controversial international network with same name, which proclaims that its goal is to protect people – especially women – from migrants committing crimes.

The first Soldiers of Odin group was set up in Finland during the European migrant crisis last year, and several other groups have sprouted across Europe since."

GREECE: Syrian refugee’s wait for asylum in Greece is ‘like death’ (Business Insider, link):

"Life in Greece has become so difficult for Amir and Walaa, teachers from Syria, that they sometimes think about returning to the home they risked everything to flee.

"I know in Syria we have war and bombs every day," says Amir, visibly exhausted. But there, "every Syrian dies once. Here we die every day. Every day is bad."

For the past six months, home is a bleak tent on the Aegean island of Chios, pitched in a dusty medieval castle moat, where they wait without work or money for a verdict on their asylum claims."

FRANCE: Photo-reporting at Visa pour l’Image describes refugee sorrow (RFI, link): "Reflecting the headline news stories of the past year, migrant issues are prominent again at the annual international photojournalists’ meet in France. RFI’s Rosslyn Hyams reports from the host city of Visa pour L’Image, Perpignan.

Two of the event’s 20 selected exhibitions focus on the plight of people escaping from conflict, famine and poverty to countries where they have nothing and often aren’t welcome."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.9.16)


Reflections on a Crazy Summer; Samos Island 2015 (Samos Chronicles, link):

 

"Samos is close to the coast of Turkey and has long been one of the gateways into western Europe for refugees. What made the summer of 2015 so distinctive were the very large numbers of refugees coming to the island, as to all the frontier islands of Greece in the eastern Aegean. It was a tsunami of people fleeing mainly from Syria but also from other war torn places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine as well as from countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Pakistan where widespread corruption and mafia politics makes ‘normal’ living virtually impossible for many."

Are You Syrious (12.9.16, link):

3400 people rescued in Mediterranean over the weekend

"This weekend saw the another surge of rescues in the Mediterranean, with 3400 people saved in just two days. These rescues form part of a wave of migrations that began in August and is still ongoing."

Overcrowding in camps on the islands

"With new arrivals coming every day, many shelters on the islands have once again become overcrowded. Sometimes there are almost two times more people than the official capacity. Currently, there are approximately 13,080 people are living in camps whose capacity is only 7450. As Ekhathimerini news reports, “Thousands of migrants have been cooped up in overcrowded reception centers on the Aegean islands for weeks or even months awaiting a decision on their applications for asylum.”

Italy/ Switzerland: Protest on the border

"With the Italian and Swiss border becoming increasingly difficult to cross, clashes between the No Border Group and the police in Chiasso broke out yesterday afternoon. A group of people gathered to protest against the policy of ejecting migrants from Switzerland. The crowd, about 250 people from Switzerland and abroad, as reported by police, walked to the city centre, with a stop at the international station, where protests threw paper bombs and smoke bombs. The group then moved to the border."

RETURN TO SENDER: Italy has forcibly deported Darfur migrants back to Sudan (Quartz, link):

"A group of 48 Sudanese migrants are back in Sudan, after Italy delivered them to Khartoum last week with seemingly no questions asked.
According to eyewitnesses, Italian police detained the Sudanese from Ventimiglia, a border town near France, and then loaded them on two buses and deported them from Turin-Caselle Airport via a chartered EgyptAir flight."

CoE: Spain: Commissioner Muižnieks calls for guidance to border police on how to handle migration flows in Ceuta and Melilla (link):

"In a letter to the Minister of Interior of Spain published today, Commissioner Muižnieks has urged the Spanish authorities to adopt a procedural framework to ensure that border police in Ceuta and Melilla have clear instructions on how to handle mixed migration flows in full compliance with human rights."

See: Letter (pdf):

"Given the seriousness of the human rights violations at stake, I should like to request you to provide me with further information on your authorities’ position as regards the adoption of a text regulating the work of border police in Ceuta and Melilla. I would also like to strongly reiterate that the practice of summary expulsions must be stopped."

Juncker promises Bulgaria aid to strengthen border with Turkey (euractiv, link):

"Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in a letter seen by EurActiv.com that he is aware of the “fragile situation” of the country and that considerable support for the consolidation of the country’s border will be made available.

The letter, dated 12 September, comes ahead of the Bratislava summit on 16 September, where Borissov is expected to voice his concerns of a worst-case scenario – the collapse of the EU-Turkey deal and a massive arrival of migrants across the Bulgarian border."

Provide Genuine Refuge to World’s Displaced - At Global Refugee Summits, Commit to Resettlement and Aid (HRW, link):

"The massive refugee crisis demands an unprecedented global response. At two summits on September 19 and 20, 2016, at the United Nations, world leaders should take bold steps to share responsibility for millions of people displaced by violence, repression, and persecution.

Leaders will gather in New York to discuss providing greater support to countries where refugees first land, just as many of those countries are at breaking point. There is a grave risk to the bedrock foundation of refugee protection, the principle of nonrefoulement – not forcibly returning refugees to places where they would face persecution and other serious threats. People are fleeing violence in Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Honduras, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria, among others."#

Hungary’s Xenophobic Anti-Migrant Campaign - Government Has Spent €16M Spreading Distorted Facts About Refugees (HRW, link):

"“Forced settlement endangers our culture and traditions.” This is one of many fearmongering anti-migrant messages included in an 18-page booklet – just part of Hungary’s tax-payer funded anti-migrant campaign designed to counter a binding EU relocation quota, which asks Hungary to take in a mere 1,294 asylum seekers."

and see: “We must stop Brussels!” referendum booklet warns Hungarians (Budapest Beacon, link)

More than 60,000 migrants and refugees stranded in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The number of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece is estimated to be over 60,000, according to reports Tuesday.

A total of 143 individuals arrived on the Aegean island of Lesvos on Tuesday. Another 40 arrivals were recorded on Chios. The number of migrants and refugees on Greece’s islands has reached 12,171."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.9.16)


GREECE: Open letter from Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Ritsona camp

 

A translation of a letter written by Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in the Ritsona camp near Chalkida in Greece, around one hour north of Athens. It was originally published on the website R Project in Greek; the text below is a translation of that in Spanish published by Diagonal on 27 August 2016.

EU: HOTSPOTS: Council, Europol and "expert group" press on with plans to boost "information exchange and information management"

In May this year the Council of the EU drew up an extensive "roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management" in relation to justice and home affairs policies - principally policing, migration and counter-terrorism. A recent leaked document provides a summary of progress on a number of those actions, including detailed information on how security checks in the "hotspots" in Italy and Greece function.

EU-TURKEY: 13 migrants returned from Greece to Turkey with no opportunity to access legal assistance

On 8 September, 13 migrants were returned from Lesvos to Turkey without being given the opportunity to access legal assistance. 10 of the migrants - from Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Palestine and Lebanon - were dismissed at first and second instance while the other three had waived their right to file an application against their return.

UK: Help reunite refugee families, faith leaders urge May (BBC News, link): "More than 200 religious leaders have urged the UK to relax immigration rules so refugees from Syria and other areas can be reunited with their families.

In a letter to the prime minister, they say close relatives of Britons and refugees already in the country are living abroad in "desperate conditions" and should be given a legal route in.

People are now making "unsafe" journeys with "avoidable tragedies", they say.

Ministers say the UK has been at the head of the response to the crisis.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is among representatives from the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faiths to have signed the letter to Theresa May."

See: REFUGEE CRISIS: Faith Leaders' Open Letter to the Prime Minister (pdf) and: interfaithrefugeeinitiative.org (link)

EU-GREECE: EU announces new €115 million in emergency support to improve conditions for refugees in Greece (European Commission, link): "Today, the European Commission has stepped up its funding to improve living conditions for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Greece. New funding worth €115 million will be released to humanitarian organisations operating in the country."

UK-FRANCE: ‘Kindertransport’ Britons help today’s child refugees in Calais (The Guardian, link): "British beneficiaries of the Kinder-transport programme, the organised effort to rescue thousands of children from Nazi Germany, have begun raising funds to help the scores of unaccompanied refugee children stranded in Calais.

Almost 80 years after Britain sanctioned a mission to help children escape the antisemitic aftermath of Kristallnacht, Britain’s Jewish community is raising funding to evacuate at least 120 child refugees identified as having the legal right to be reunited with their families in the UK but who remain trapped in northern France."

GREECE: Seven sketches inspired by Athens' refugee squats – in pictures (The Guardian, link):

"Illustrator Ella Baron spent the summer volunteering in Athens in squats occupied by some of the thousands of refugees prevented from continuing west by the EU-Turkey deal. Her drawings capture their struggles"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.9.16)


UNCHR (10.9.16): 292,113 Arrivals in the Med: 164,730 in Greece and 124,449 in Italy. 3,196 dead/missing.

 

And: GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands still massively overcrowded

Latest Greek government figueres on hosting capacity for refugees. 5,545 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,528 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,353 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,517 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 717 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 08.00 09.09.2016 (pdf) and:

UNHCR Weekly Report (7.9.16):

Update on Relocation

"From Italy, nine Eritrean nationals were relocated to Malta on 29 August and six Eritrean nationals were transferred to Romania on 02 September, bringing the total number of departures from Italy since the adoption of the relocation scheme to 1,026 -only 2.6% of the 39,600 target of those to be relocated by September 2017.

From Greece, there were 82 asylum-seekers relocated to Finland including 11 unaccompanied children during the reporting period. Thus far, a total of 3,493 (5.2%) asylum-seekers against the targeted 66,400, have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries since the beginning of the relocation programme in November 2015."

Are You Syrious (10.9.16)

GREECE: Closing of camps on Chios announced

"Refugees staying at the Greek island of Chios, one of the prominent Greek islands that only today counted together 52 new arrivals, those who had submitted their papers for asylum would very soon be moved to the mainland, Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said this Friday, after the meeting with the officials on Chios. The expected result of that is closing of the two camps on the island and a reduction of numbers at the notorious VIAL facility, Ekathimerini reports."

HUNGARY: Indignation

"As the situation concerning the refugees in Hungary is getting more and more serious, dangerous and uncertain for many, the members of the Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary are extending their invitation to join a protest that will be held this month in solidarity with the Roszke11, but also as a gesture to call for a boycott of the upcoming referendum imposed by the government. The event will take place on September 22 in Budapest and also the following day, September 23, in Szeged, in front of the court where Ahmed H. of the Roszke11 will have a trial.

As the situation concerning the refugees in Hungary is getting more and more serious, dangerous and uncertain for many, the members of the Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary are extending their invitation to join a protest that will be held this month in solidarity with the Roszke11, but also as a gesture to call for a boycott of the upcoming referendum imposed by the government. The event will take place on September 22 in Budapest and also the following day, September 23, in Szeged, in front of the court where Ahmed H. of the Roszke11 will have a trial."

ECRE-AIDA: New report (link)

"A report launched this week by the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), managed by ECRE, documents the limited and fragmented application of admissibility and safe country concepts in 20 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Serbia and Turkey."

See: Report: Admissibility, responsibility and safety in European asylum procedures (pdf)

Irish Refugee Council: One year on, Government needs to act fast to keep its promise on refugees (link):

"A year since Ireland pledged to take in 4,000 refugees, the Refugee and Migrant Coalition has called on the Government to ensure it keeps its promise."

Libyan coast guard detains German charity rescue boat (DW, link):

"The Libyan coast guard has detained two people from the German rescue charity Sea-Eye after they entered the North African country's territorial waters. Sea-Eye has rescued nearly 4,000 migrants at sea in four months."

Forgotten inside Greece’s notorious camp for child refugees (The Observer, link):

"Many of the 3,000 refugee children in Greece are housed in ‘deplorable’ conditions with poor food and few facilities. They are the lucky ones."

Five Syrians Returned To Turkey (News That Moves, link)

"The Greek authorities returned five Syrian nationals from the islands of Lesvos to Turkey on September 7. The returns were carried out under the EU-Turkey deal.

The five Syrians, one woman and four men, did not apply for asylum in Greece and requested to be transferred to Turkey, according to the Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection (link in Greek only). They were transferred by plane from Mytilene to Adana, Turkey. Since March 20, 489 persons have been returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal." "

No security in Austria for migrants as many consider leaving (Daily Sabah, link):

"In the face of growing anti-Muslim rhetoric and rising far-right parties in Austria, over half of the migrants are considering leaving the country as they have been gradually feeling insecure in Europe."

EU ups Greece refugee aid after damning report (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The European Commission announced 115 million euros in extra funding Saturday to help Greece deal with migrants, a day after a damning report into conditions migrants face.

The new EU money aims “to improve conditions for refugees in Greece, and make a difference ahead of the upcoming winter,” said EU aid and crisis management commissioner Christos Stylianides.

The extra funding will focus on improving existing shelters, building new ones but also on helping refugees get access to schooling and providing for unaccompanied minors.

The EU announcement came after Human Rights Watch published a report Friday slamming the “prolonged arbitrary detention” of child asylum seekers in Greece."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-9.9.16)


10,000 MISSING CHILDREN: Petition: To The Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union (wemove.eu, link):

 

"10,000 of these children are currently missing in Europe - many trafficked into sex slavery and other forms of exploitation. Tens of thousands more are at risk of a similar fate.

We demand that the EU takes immediate action to protect this most vulnerable group of people."

GREECE: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Greece: Migrant Children Held in Deplorable Conditions - End Unjustified Detention of Vulnerable Unaccompanied Kids (link):

"Greek police routinely lock up unaccompanied children in small, overcrowded, and unhygienic cells for weeks and months, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The 27-page report, “‘Why Are You Keeping Me Here?’: Unaccompanied Children Detained in Greece,” documents arbitrary and prolonged detention of children in violation of international and Greek law. Children are held in unsanitary conditions, sometimes with unrelated adults, in police stations and detention centers where they have little access to basic care and services. The report is based on interviews with 42 children who were or had been detained, as well as visits to two police stations and two detention centers in mainland Greece."

Also: Conditions for Greece's migrant children shocking, says Human Rights Watch - They are being made to live in filthy, bug-and-vermin-infested cells, sometimes without mattresses or access to showers, claims report (link)

Afghan refugees in PakistanHomecoming spleen - One of the world’s largest refugee populations is being driven out of Pakistan (The Economist, link):

"FOR weeks the voluntary repatriation centre run by the United Nations on the outskirts of Peshawar has been besieged by trucks laden with Afghan refugees and their worldly possessions. Inside the compound hundreds of men, children and burqa-clad women wait bad-temperedly in the sun to complete the achingly slow formalities of leaving Pakistan, a country that has hosted legions of displaced Afghans since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, but now wants to be rid of them."

Germany: CSU comes under fire for 'catalogue of inhumanity' over refugee policy - A list of the CSU's demands regarding Germany's refugee policy has been leaked to the media, prompting a backlash of criticism. Included are a proposed burqa ban and an upper limit on refugees. (DW, link)

EU wants Greece, Bulgaria to jointly patrol borders, while member-states are 90% behind the relocation target (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greek and Bulgarian police are to start joint patrols along the Greek-Bulgarian and Bulgarian-Turkish borders in a bid to prevent undocumented migrants from continuing their journeys via the so-called Balkan Route."

GREECE: Unknown rightwing group claims attack on refugee squat (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An unknown group calling itself the Lone Wolves of Radical, Autonomous, Militant National Socialism has claimed responsibility for an arson attack last week on an abandoned building being used a squat for refugees on Notara Street in Exarchia, downtown Athens."

Are You Syrious (8.9.16, link):

GREECE

"164 refugees landed to Greek islands today. Volunteers from Chios have reported three boats with 16, 42 and 45 persons this morning, but the government has only registered the boat with 45 people. According to official numbers, additional 61 people have arrived to Lesvos."

Support groups for LGBT refugees in Greece

"LGBT refugees are one of the most vulnerable groups, but often not recognised as such. News That Moves has bundled a list of groups working with LGBT individuals, including umbrella organisation OLKE, Geeek Transgender Association and Colour Youth for young refugees."

FRANCE: Serious food shortage in overpopulated Calais

"Our colleague Rando Wagner has published a report from Calais camp, warning that both Belgian and Malaysian kitchen desperately need rice, tinned tomatoes, chick peas, cooking oil and milk in order to feed up to 10,000 refugees. As result, many are left without their daily meal."

People Leaving Camps In North Of Greece (News That Moves, link):

"as of September 6, 1,975 were hosted in Polykastro (Nea Kavala), down from 2,378 on August 16 and 3,682 on August 5. The capacity of Nea Kavala is 4,200.

This is not part of an organized transfer by the government. Rather, people are leaving the sites on their own, the Coordinating Body for the Refugee Crisis Management confirmed to News That Moves. The Coordinating Body estimates that as many as 8,000 migrants and refugees ‘self-settled’ on mainland Greece and are living outside organized sites and camps. That number is up from 2,200 on August 5."

Refugee Boat Capsized Amidst Rescue Operation (The Libyan Gazette, link):

"Over 1,000 refugees were rescued from sinking boats just under 20 kilometers off the coast of Libya in a rescue mission that lasted more than three hours. Refugees were found on dinghies, and some were carrying as much as 160 people.

A Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) rescue boat was radioed by the Italian Coast Guard early Monday morning.

Of the 1,000 refugees were three babies. Marco Cauchi, the MOAS Onboard Operations Officer, said “Today it was intense for the fact the rubber boats were jam-packed… they put as many people as they can… they put in 160 people it was incredible.”

“These boats are built to only take 100 people. It was dangerously loaded,” he said. “People were jumping out, fumes were coming up, people were fainting, so it was horrible.”"

More refugees, migrants arrive on Greek islands (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Over one hundred refugees and migrants have entered Greece by sea over the past 24 hours, the Athens-Macedonian news agency said on Thursday. According to the agency, 106 people reached islands in the northern Aegean."

No New Sites On Greek Islands (News That Moves, link):

"Greek authorities have no plans for opening or building new sites on the islands to decongest the camps because many people gradually leave to the mainland for their asylum procedures, the governmental Coordinating Body for the Refugee Crisis Management told News That Moves.

There will be no massive and organized transfer of people from the islands to the mainland, a Coordinating Body spokesperson said, noting that authorities are still building smaller long-term camps on the mainland.

More than 12,500 people who crossed to Greece after March 20 are now hosted in sites on the Greek islands, according to official data. The capacity of organized sites on the islands is 7,450.

Yesterday, the mayor of Lesvos asked for the transfer of a large number of people from the island to mainland Greece, describing the situation on the islands as “particularly worrying and dangerous.” More than 5,800 are hosted in Lesvos, where the capacity of organized sites is 3,500." [emphasis added]

Greece, Bulgaria to jointly patrol borders (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek and Bulgarian police are to start joint patrols along the Greek-Bulgarian and Bulgarian-Turkish borders in a bid to prevent undocumented migrants from continuing their journeys via the so-called Balkan Route....

A Greek Police official involved in the planning for the joint patrols told Kathimerini that both Greece and Bulgaria have come under European pressure to thwart migrants and refugees who entered Greece from Turkey and aim to continue on to Central and Western Europe."

European Commission: DG Home: Study on smuggling of migrants: Characteristics, responses and cooperation with third countries - Case Study 3: Pakistan – Turkey – Greece (pdf):

"In this case study, Pakistan was selected as the country of departure, with Turkey chosen as a transit country and Greece as the country of first entry to the EU. This case study covers the land border from Pakistan to Turkey, as well as the sea border from Turkey to Greece. It focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean land and sea routes....

Smuggling along this route is not organised by mafia type organisations, but rather more horizontal networks, which enables flexibility and poses particular challenges for apprehending migrant smugglers...."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.9.16)


REPORT: Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children (Unicef, link):

 

"Across the globe, nearly 50 million children have been uprooted – 28 million of them driven from their homes by conflicts not of their making, and millions more migrating in the hope of finding a better, safer life. Often traumatized by the conflicts and violence they are fleeing, they face further dangers along the way, including the risk of drowning on sea crossings, malnourishment and dehydration, trafficking, kidnapping, rape and even murder. In countries they travel through and at their destinations, they often face xenophobia and discrimination."

And see: Nearly half of all refugees are children, says Unicef (Guardian, link): "Report shows child refugee figures have jumped by 75% in five years to 8 million, and calls for urgent action to protect the 50 million child migrants worldwide."

European Commission urges Greece to implement Dublin regulations (ekathimerini.com, link):

"One day after a senior German official suggested that his country could send migrants back to Greece, the European Commission on Monday urged Greece to implement the so-called Dublin Regulation.

The agreement, which is currently under review, stipulates that migrants who have traveled on to other nations in the bloc via Greece be returned to Greece.

In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said: “We have done a lot in Europe in order to improve the refugee situation in Greece. This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to Dublin regulations.”"

Slovenian PM: Greece needs to do more to secure Schengen border (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece needs to do more to secure the Schengen external border, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar has said adding that failure to do so could mean exit from Europe’s 26-nation zone of passport-free travel.

“Let’s be honest. The Greeks are not doing enough to secure the Schengen border,” Cerar said in an interview with the German Die Welt newspaper adding that migrants were still crossing the country’s northern frontier.....

Asked whether Greece could face a Schengen exit, the Slovenian prime minister said: “If Greece does not show enough responsibility and solidarity, then other Schengen members will soon have to consider all available options.”

Turkey won't accept delay in EU visa liberalization: spokesperson (Finland Times, link):

"Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said on Tuesday that Turkey will not accept a delay for visa-free travel to the European Union (EU) until the end of the year, Daily Sabah reported.

Speaking in an interview with NTV, Kalin said that such delay is out of question, and he believed the remaining issues would soon be solved.""

UK immigration minister confirms work to start on £1.9m Calais wall (Guardian, link): "Robert Goodwill says four-metre high wall to stop refugees boarding lorries is part of £17m Anglo-French security package"

Danish premier to defy EU with tough asylum law (euractiv, link):

"Denmark’s prime minister on Wednesday (7 September) said his minority government would push ahead with a bill to reject asylum seekers at the borders in times of crisis even though such a move might breach the EU’s Dublin System.

Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he wanted to guard against a situation like last year when 21,300 asylum seekers entered the country and the rules that say people must stay and claim asylum in the first EU country they reach were discarded."

Greece balks at ‘unacceptable’ German plans to send back refugees (euractiv, link):

"Germany’s interior minister wants to start sending refugees back to Greece next year, but Athens has already given the plan short shrift. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports...

According to the Interior Ministry, 521 refugees were returned to Italy, 311 to Poland and 165 to Hungary during the first six months of 2016. However, Germany has not sent anyone back to Greece since 2011, since the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that there are serious shortcomings in the Greek asylum system.

But de Maizière has now said that returns will be possible once again starting in January 2017, a stance that he first shared with his EU colleagues at a meeting in Slovakia in July."

Are You Syrious (6.9.16)

Turkey: Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Istanbul

"Istanbul is the city with that hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees, around 500.000 only from Syria. New research, supported by Support to Life Association (HDD, Hayata Destek Dernegi) pints out toward some of the needs of refugees in Istanbul, and warns about their bad position.

Prof. Ayaan Kaya (Istanbul Bilgi University) and Aysu Kiraç (HDD) prepered an extensive report, which warns about “anti-immigrant, anti-Arab, racist and xenophobic discourses” that have surfaced among the Turkish public.

See: Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Istanbul (researchturkey.org, link)"

Greece: Boat report

"One boat with 25 people, of whom 11 are men, 6 are women, and 8 are children, landed in the north-east Lesvos around midnight. They were found walking on the road passing Kapi Petro station. Most of them have been already picked up by police. It looks like more refugees are still walking and, therefore, land teams of volunteers are still searching for them.

3 boats with a total of 107 people landed on Chios this morning."

The bare life of refugees at Softex camp

"On several occasions, AYS warned about inhuman conditions in Softex camp. UK daily the Guardian visited this place, and several other in Northern Greece reporting about “prisoners of Europe”, refugees who are agains their own will kept in these camps."

Serbia: New danger for refugees in Serbia

"Volunteers from Info Park in Belgrade reacted after, what they call, “a disturbing joint press conference of Victor Orban and Aleksandar Vucic, Hungarian and Serbian Prime Ministers in Belgrade”.

On Monday, Orban was in an official visit to Serbia where he talked with his local government representatives about the economic cooperation, but the main topic of the meeting was refugee route.

A number of the newcomers in Serbia has gone up from 2700 in mid July to more than 6000 today. At the press conference, Vucic mentioned that 81% of the newcomers are Afghan economic migrants, emphasizing “the increasing cases of violence and robbery in the shopping malls”. There is omnipresent fear among volunteers of radical actions from the authorities, including arrests and deportations."

Austria threatens to sue Hungary for refusing to take migrants back (hurriyetdailynews.com, link):

"Austria’s interior minister threatened on Sept. 7 to sue Hungary if it refused to take back migrants who had crossed their shared border, as political tensions mounted over immigration before presidential elections.

Austria’s government, facing a challenge from the far-right Freedom Party, has repeatedly accused Hungary of letting migrants enter its territory in the face of EU rules that asylum seekers must stay in the first country they enter in the bloc.

Hungary, itself preparing for a referendum on whether to accept a Europe-wide asylum quota, has insisted that most refugees enter its territory from other EU states, notably Italy and Greece, in a growing blame game. "

Greece Urged by EC to Implement the Dublin Regulation (Greek Reporter, link):

"The European Commission (EC) on Monday urged Greece to implement the Dublin Regulation that stipulates that migrants who have traveled to other nations in the bloc via Greece be returned to the country of arrival.

The report comes one day after German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, in an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, said that a lot has been done in Europe to improve the refugee situation in Greece. “This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to Dublin regulations,” he said.

EC Spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said on Monday that although the EU’s refugee system is set for a shake-up Greece should implement the Dublin Regulation until these provisions are reviewed. Berlin has suspended deportations to Greece since 2011 due to deficiencies in the Greek asylum processing system and the number of arrivals in Greece."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.9.16)


'Prisoners of Europe': the everyday humiliation of refugees stuck in Greece (Guardian, link)

 

"Europe’s migration policies are turning the country into a giant holding pen, with the people trapped in it close to breaking point.

But most observers acknowledge the general situation is dire – and has the potential to turn into a long-term tragedy.

The EU relocation scheme and the EU-Turkey deal are collectively meant to see most asylum seekers moved out of Greece. But with both schemes faltering, one of the early architects of the EU-Turkey deal believes many refugees may end up never leaving.

According to Gerald Knaus, the thinktank chief who first envisaged the deal last September, Greece could end up becoming a giant holding pen for refugees, performing the same controversial role for Europe that Nauru and Manus Island perform for Australia in the Pacific."

Help to vulnerable on Lesvos wins Efi Latsoudi 2016 Nansen Award - Efi Latsoudi named as one of two winners of the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award for her tireless work helping refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos (UNHCR, link):

"Efi Latsoudi doesn’t keep fresh milk at home. With so much time spent helping refugees, there’s never chance to use it. “It’s dried, I hope that’s okay,” she says, apologetically, stirring powder into coffee.

Today is a rare morning off from her work at "PIKPA village", on the Greek island of Lesvos, where Latsoudi has been helping vulnerable new arrivals – including children, pregnant women and people with disabilities – find sanctuary since 2012. At the height of the influx in 2015, when more than 10,000 people per day were reaching the shores of Lesvos, her volunteer-run initiative became a lifeline for thousands. Now, having been named one of two winners of the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award, her extraordinary efforts are finally receiving the recognition they deserve."

Are You Syrious (5.9.16)

Greece: 110 new arrivals to Greek islands

"As of 8 o’clock this morning, 110 new arrivals had reached the Greek islands. Most of them arrived to Leros, where 72 people landed, and the rest to Lesvos. In total, 59,569 people are now stranded throughout Greek territory."

Deaths in the Mediterranean. Again

"Reuters reports that “fifteen bodies were recovered and more than 2,700 boat migrants rescued off the coast of Libya on Monday, the Italian coastguard said, in another day of mass departures from north Africa. Italy’s navy and coastguard, ships patrolling on a European Union anti-smuggling mission, vessels run by humanitarian groups, and a commercial tug boat aided in the rescues.”

Call for donations to Samos

"Samos volunteers report that they have seen an increase in arrivals in the last two days and are low on donations. “The long process of applying for asylum means many asylum seekers are spending a very long period of time at the camp,” the says. “This is an alarming prospect and due to the low stock on items of clothing and an increasing number of arrivals we are in need of donations.” If you are able to help, please follow this link."

Croatia approves international protections for Syrians and Iraqis

"Initiative Welcome from Croatia has recently received statistics from Croatian Ministry of Interior that say that in a period between 15 July and 01 August 2016, 831 people applied for protection. Out of that number, 81 were denied and 34 approved. 486 of the total left Croatia “willingly,” according to the Ministry. In the same period, Croatia received 162 people that previously been in other EU countries. These returns were carried out under the provisions of Dublin agreement."

European Parliament: Study: Reception of female refugees and asylum seekers in the EU Case study Belgium and Germany (pdf):

"Commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, this study provides an overview of the implementation of Directive 2013/33/EU laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection. It outlines the legal framework and examines how gender related aspects and the reception needs of vulnerable groups are considered in practice in Munich (Germany) and Brussels (Belgium)."

Greece: IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC): Missing Migrants: Management of Dead Bodies in Lesbos (pdf):

"In this report we seek to survey how the bodies of migrants who die or go missing in their effort to cross the Aegean Sea are managed in Greece, and what laws, policies and practices are in place to ensure that the dead are identified and families informed. Our research focuses on the Greek island of Lesbos, one of the key entry points to Europe for migrants and refugees during the recent crisis, and close to of which a number of deadly shipwrecks have occurred.

Our aim is to both identify apparent deficiencies in current approaches to migrant fatalities in Greece, as well as noting where good practice exists that should be duplicated. We identify a policy vacuum around the problem, marked by a lack of cooperation among different state agencies and the absence of standard operating procedures."

One year after launch, EU fails on relocation (euobserver, link):

"EU-led efforts to relocate people seeking international protection from Italy and Greece to other EU states remain dismal.

The two-year plan, broadly hatched last September, aims to dispatch some 160,000 people arriving on Italian and Greek shores to other EU states.

But one year in and less than 3 percent of that total have found a new home outside either country. Some ended up in non-EU states like Norway and Switzerland, which are also part of the scheme. As of earlier this month, just over 1,000 people left Italy and 3,493 people left Greece."

Small Percentage Of People Relocated (News That Moves, link):

"The pace of relocations of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other European countries remains slow, with only 4.2% of the 106,000 target, European Union data show.

As of September 2, only 4,513 people have been relocated from Greece and Italy to another European country:

3,493 people have been relocated from Greece, out of a target of 66,400 (5.2%of target);
1,020 people have been relocated from Italy, out of a target of 39,600 (2.5% of target).

The plan for relocating people stranded in Greece and Italy was the cornerstone of the EU strategy to deal with the refugee crisis, helping the countries on the frontline of the crisis coping with the flow of migrants and refugees."

EU: Relocation statistics: As at 5 September (pdf): 13,288 places offered by 25 EU Member States out of 160,000 needed.

Europe’s Last Chance (New Europe, link):

"Instead of sustained peace and “ever-closer union,” Europeans are experiencing episodes of disorder and violence almost on a daily basis. These include the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU; a spate of terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice, Normandy, and elsewhere; renewed aggression by Russia; and a bloody failed coup in Turkey, followed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on Turkish civil society, which has raised concerns about Turkey’s reliability as a partner to the West.

Moreover, Europe’s refugee crisis, with asylum-seekers pouring in from the Middle East and North Africa, has yet to be resolved."

Greece: Overnight Clashes at Lesvos Hotspot among Child Refugees (Guardian, link)

"Five minors were hospitalized and many more were injures late on Sunday night after major clashes broke out at the Moria hotspot in the Aegean island of Lesvos. About 40 children refugees are believed to have fled the venue."

Cities for Migrants (New Europe, link):

"the news is not all bad. Even as corrosive political discourse impedes effective action at the national and international levels, at the municipal level, progressive and effective immigrant-integration initiatives are flourishing.

Mayors and local administrators are building social and physical infrastructure that supports the reception of migrants and refugees into local communities. For them, the newcomers are not just statistics; they are real people – and potentially productive members of the local community. The key to tapping their potential, city officials recognize, is a well-managed integration process."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.9.16)


UN to Greece: end automatic detention of migrants, improve reception standards

 

The UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on the Greek government to end the automatic detention of migrants arriving on the Aegean islands, to improve living conditions and ensure the rule of law is upheld in detention centres, and to do more to protect and provide for migrant children.

See: United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 'Concluding observations on the twentieth to twenty-second periodic reports on Greece', 26 August 2016 (pdf)

GREECE: Hotspots on Aegean islands still massively overcrowded

Latest Greek government figueres on hosting capacity for refugees. 5,388 "guests" are being held on Lesvos, where there is capacity for 3,500 people. On Chios, 3,316 "guests" are being held in a camp intended to hold 1,100; on Samos there are 1,351 people in a centre designed to hold 850; and on Kos 1,531 in a 1,000-person centre. Leros is the only island not suffering from overcrowding, with 719 "guests" being held in a space able to accomodate 1,000.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 08.00 05.09.2016 (pdf)

GERMANY: Interview with Angela Merkel on the refugee crisis: much left unsaid on safe passage

An interview between German tabloid Bild and the country's chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been translated into English. The interview focuses almost entirely on the arrival in Europe of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and Germany and the EU's response. Although it touches on many aspects of the situation, the interview leaves much unsaid.

UK-FRANCE: Sarkozy promises to move Calais ‘Jungle’ across the Channel (EurActiv, link): "“As most foreigners come to Calais to try and reach Great Britain, I want our British friends to start dealing with requests for asylum in the UK in a closed centre on their own territory, and to take responsibility for returning those whose requests are rejected,” he told the regional newspaper on Monday (5 September).

The former French president suggested that “teams of French and British police and customs officers” should carry out preliminary checks on migrants in France, so their asylum applications can be processed as quickly as possible."

EU: First Vice-President Timmermans visits Italy for discussions on migration and the future of Europe

"On 1-3 September, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will visit Italy to hold a Citizens' Dialogue meeting with members of the public in Sicily and a series of meetings. The First Vice-President will meet with staff from EU agencies at the European Regional Task Force in Catania, which was set up in June 2015 as part of the European Agenda on Migration to coordinate the work of the EU agencies involved in the management of migration crises in the most affected Member States. He will then engage with the public in the open forum format of a Citizens' Dialogue at the Teatro Greco in Siracusa, Sicily at 19:00 on Thursday 1 September. The event will be live streamed online. On 2 September the First Vice-President will be in Milan meeting business and political leaders as well as innovative entrepreneurs turning the circular economy into a reality. He will then participate in the Ambrosetti Forum on 2-3 September. First Vice-President Timmermans will deliver a speech at the Forum on Saturday morning during a session on 'The Agenda to Change Europe', and will then take part in a question and answer session with young business leaders."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-4.9.16)


EU-TURKEY "DEAL": A reminder of the conditions Turkey has to meet before visa-free travel becomes a possibility:

 

Overview: Turkey meets 65 of 72 requirements for visa liberalisation (Statewatch, link):

As part of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, signed on 18 March 2016, the EU agreed:

“to accelerate the implementation of the visa liberalization roadmap with all Member States with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016.”

On 4 May the Commission published the ‘Third Report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap’.

Turkey ‘must meet conditions’ for visa-free travel, says Merkel (ekathimerini.com, link):

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted that Turkey must fulfill all 72 preconditions before the European Union grants visa-free travel to its citizens.

“These 72 conditions have not yet been met, and of course we will insist that agreements are honored by our side and Turkey,” Merkel told private TV network RTL."

Turkish EU minister says no deal on migrants without visa-free travel (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Turkey will not apply a readmission agreement with the European Union meant to stem the flow of illegal migrants if it does not get the visa-free travel to Europe it has been promised, its EU affairs minister Omer Celik said on Thursday."

EU: DG Home Commissioner: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Press Conference with Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik (pdf):

"Let me be clear on a very important issue: the EU remains committed to keep up the momentum and dialogue on visa liberalisation. A lot has been achieved during the past months and we want to further build on these achievements.

Since March, Turkey has made considerable progress but there are still outstanding benchmarks to be met, and the EU is fully committed to help Turkey achieve those."

Europe swings far-right, leaving fate of thousands of refugees in limbo (Daily Sabah, link):

" With no solution to the refugee crisis, racism, xenophobia and ultra-nationalism have dominated the social and political environment in Europe, which is gripped by anti-Muslim hysteria

Europe, gripped by anti-Muslim hysteria, which often goes to the extent of associating Islam with terrorism, now seeks comfort in extremist right-wing political figures who have been drumming up support with ultra-nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric bordering on racism."

German interior minister floats idea of returning migrants to Greece (link)

"German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Sunday that he wanted to send migrants back to Greece.

"We have done a lot in Europe in order to improve the refugee situation in Greece," de Maiziere told the "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper. "This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to the Dublin regulations.""

Are You Syrious (3.9.16, link)

Greece: 11,662 people arrived this year

"While tens od thousands of people are stuck in inhuman conditions in camps for over six months now, relocation remains shamefully slow: only 5 percent (3,386) so far.

Meanwhile, people are arriving continuously to overcrowded islands. Over the last three days, 78 people reached #Kos. According to the #UNHCR data, between 22 and 28 August, 521 people crossed the sea, which is less than the week before (923). But overall, more people arrived so far in August (2,810) than in July (1,920). The total since April is 11,662 (same period last year it was 225,505).... Capacity at the islands is 7,450 and currently there are 11,690 persons there."#

Borders will remain closed

"Today, we heard several rumors about possible opening of the borders. Unfortunately, there are no official plans for something like that anytime soon....

The borders are officially not open, but some people are crossing while risking their lives. Those who manage to enter #Serbia irregularly, do have a chance to enter #Hungary after several weeks, sometimes even months of waiting at the border in Northern Serbia....

There’s no way to enter Croatia or Slovenia legally. However, if a refugee is found on Croatian soil, he or she can ask for asylum (there are no guarantees he or she will get it)."

Italy: Number of new arrivals to Italy on par with the last year

"During the last week, UNHCR registered 1,953 new arrivals to Italy by sea. The number of arrivals in 2016 continues to be on par with 2015: 105,628 this year, compared to 116,149 in the same period the previous year.

Most of the people coming to Italy are from #Nigeria, #Eritrea, and #Gambia, while 15 percent of all arrivals are unaccompanied and separated children."

British warship sent to Libya to target people-smugglers - Deployment of HMS Diamond part of EU crackdown as number of migrants trying to cross Mediterranean reaches record level (The Observer, link):

"But the plan to deploy HMS Diamond was met with scepticism by Crispin Blunt, head of parliament’s powerful foreign affairs committee, who is due to grill British officials about Libya policy later this week.

Blunt said that without Libyan cooperation naval forces could achieve only partial success, with the smugglers having impunity to operate inside coastal waters. “The smugglers are taking advantage of the fact there is no coherent government in Libya,” Blunt told the Observer."

Are You Syrious (2.9.16, link)

Greece

"985 people reached Greek islands from 29th of August to 2nd of September.

One speedboat dropped off 20 people (ten men, five women, four children and one baby) today on Korakas’s cliffs, in northern Lesvos."

Protests in Thessaloniki

"A group of refugees held a protest in Thessaloniki, demanding open borders and expressing their frustration with delays in the asylum processing system and the relocation procedure."

40 refugees relocated to Finland today

"42 refugees were relocated from Greece to Finland on Monday and 40 today, including 38 Syrians, one Iraqi and one Eritrean. Ten unaccompanied minors were among them.

Since the beginning of the relocation program, 419 people have been relocated from Greece to Finland, including 38 unaccompanied children. Only four unaccompanied children have been relocated to other EU Member States."

Bulgarian government looking to set up closed refugee camps

"Balkan Insight reports on a massive fight between over 500 people of different nationalities inside the Harmanli refugee centre on August 28th. Following this brawl, the government decided to allow the State Agency for Refugees to set up closed refugee camps, or transform existing open camps into closed facilities if they assess that it is necessary.

The decision has drawn criticism from human rights activists, who argue that existing Bulgarian laws should simply be applied to individuals that break them.

Harmanli, the largest refugee camp in Bulgaria, hosts around 1,500 asylum seekers mainly from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan."

Europe’s migrant crisis is back with a vengeance - The Mediterranean remains the world’s deadliest maritime area for refugees (FT, link):

"In rubber dinghies and ramshackle wooden boats, refugees and migrants have been risking their lives in the Mediterranean this week in one desperate expedition after another. These voyages mock the notion that the EU is in command of the emergency engulfing its southern borders. Since Saturday, the Italian coastguard and other rescuers have saved about 13,000 people trying to make their way from north Africa to Italy."

France vows to dismantle 'Jungle' refugee camp in Calais - Interior minister says France will create accommodation for thousands of refugees elsewhere in France ‘to unblock Calais’ (Guardian, link):

"France is to gradually dismantle the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais, the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has vowed.

Cazeneuve told the regional newspaper the Nord Littoral he would press ahead with the closure of the camp “with the greatest determination”, dismantling the site in stages, clearing the former wasteland where record numbers of refugees and migrants are sleeping rough in dire sanitary conditions as many hope to reach Britain.

He said France would create accommodation for thousands elsewhere in the country “to unblock Calais”"

Child refugees struggle alone in Bulgaria (DW, link)

"One of the more disturbing effects of the refugee crisis is the increasing number of unaccompanied minors. As Emanuela Barbiroglio and Ambra Montanari report from Sofia, the situation in Bulgaria is particularly bad."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.9.16)


Switzerland pushing back people to Italy (ECRE, link):

 

"Switzerland is facing wide criticism for turning back thousands of people at the Swiss-Italian border. Between July and August, the Swiss authorities have pushed back 7,000 at the Como(Italy)-Chiasso(Switzerland) border. The Swiss Refugee Council (OSAR), the Italian Association of Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), the Swiss Organization Firdaus as well as Amnesty International Switzerland have criticised the Swiss government for violating the right to claim asylum.

The Swiss Refugee Council has told the ECRE Weekly Bulletin that they have a well-founded suspicion that some people who want to claim asylum in Switzerland are not being admitted into the asylum procedure and are instead immediately pushed back to Italy."

Poland: Worsening restrictions and refusals of entry at the Eastern border (AIDA, link)

"A protest by approximately 150 asylum seekers, mainly of Chechen origin, who are denied entry into Poland, was recently held near the Brest crossing point of the Polish-Belarussian border.

Ongoing barriers to accessing the asylum procedure in Poland have been reported by civil society organisations including the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Association for Legal Intervention (SIP). A recent report by SIP documents systematic refusals by border guards in Brest and Terespol to allow entry to persons expressing the wish to apply for international protection."

And see: Poland pushes back thousands of refugees, many fleeing crackdown in Tajikistan (Statewatch News Online, August 2016)

French interior minister says Calais camp will be removed (again)

"France is to gradually dismantle the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais, the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has vowed.

Cazeneuve told the regional newspaper the Nord Littoral he would press ahead with the closure of the camp “with the greatest determination”, dismantling the site in stages, clearing the former wasteland where record numbers of refugees and migrants are sleeping rough in dire sanitary conditions as many hope to reach Britain."

EU: One year after the death of Alan Kurdi

One year after three-year-old refugee Alan Kurdi drowned in the Aegean Sea, his father "has urged Europe to keep its doors open to migrants," while his grandfather has made a "plea for world leaders to end the war in Syria." Amnesty International's general secretary said on the anniversary of the child's death: "The outpouring of sympathy for Alan Kurdi seen last year must be extended to the countless other refugee children who are in dire need of help," with the organisation noting the "dismal failure of world leaders to tackle the refugee crisis."

BULGARIA: Battle in Refugee Camp Leaves Bulgarian Town Nervous (Balkan Insight, link):

"Following the brawl in Harmanli, the government decided to allow the State Agency for the Refugees to set up refugee camps of a closed kind, or transform existing open camps into closed facilities if they assess that it is necessary.

The decision has drawn criticism from human rights activists, who argue that existing Bulgarian laws should simply be applied to individuals that break them.

Harmanli, the largest refugee camp in Bulgaria, hosts around 1,500 asylum seekers mainly from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan.

While the camp held just over 150 asylum seekers only few weeks ago, the number of refugees stuck in Bulgarian refugee camps has steadily grown since Serbia tightened controls over its border with Bulgaria in July, sending army units to join border patrols."

14,000 migrants saved in Med in five days (The Local, link):

"The Italian coastguard said that 1,725 migrants were rescued off the Libyan coast on Thursday, bringing the total number saved since Sunday to at least 14,000.

Those plucked from the Mediterranean Thursday were on 16 small boats, mostly dangerous inflatables, and were rescued by Italian naval vessels, ships from the EU's "Sophia" anti-trafficking mission, NGO boats and two passing merchant ships, the coastguard said."

Migrant crisis: Bavaria asylum claimants told where to live (BBC News, link):

"Migrants in the German state of Bavaria will no longer be able to choose where to live, as instead they will be told which town will become their new home.

The new ruling applies to anyone whose application for asylum has been accepted in Bavaria, but who is still dependent on the state for housing.

Once the claimants have found a job and can support themselves financially, they are then free to move.

The aim is to help refugees integrate into German society."

Asylum seekers in Germany and Austria are already obliged to remain within their state of residence while their claim is processed, under the Residenzpflicht requirement. See: Mass protests across Germany for the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants (23 October 2012, pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.9.16)


EU: Commission: Relocation from Greece and Italy (30.8.16, pdf):

 

- 1,020 relocations from Italy out of 39,600
- 3,435 relocations from Greece out of 66,400

- Overall: 12,990 relocation places made available out of 160,000 from 24 EU Member States

Denmark seals gate to immigrants as numbers hit new low (Daily Sabah, link):

"As part of plans to make the country even less attractive to newcomers at a time when asylum numbers and overall immigration are already down, the Danish government released its 2025 Plan to introduce more restrictions on border controls. According to the plan, the Danish police would be able to reject asylum seekers at the borders in times of crisis like in 2015 when thousands of migrants sought to enter the country."

Greece: Stranded migrants stage protests outside camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migrants are staging demonstrations at four sites around Greece, to protest delays in asylum procedures promised under a European Union agreement with Turkey.

Around 500 migrants chanting "open the borders" gathered Thursday in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki.

Protests were also held on the islands of Chios and Lesvos, while scores of migrants at a camp near Greece's border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) blocked the main highway linking the two countries for about 30 minutes."

Turkish EU minister says no deal on migrants without visa-free travel (ekathimerini.com,, link)

"Turkey will not apply a readmission agreement with the European Union meant to stem the flow of illegal migrants if it does not get the visa-free travel to Europe it has been promised, its EU affairs minister Omer Celik said on Thursday."

Jump In Arrivals To Greek Islands (News That Moves, link):

"More than 460 migrants and refugees crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands between August 29 and August 30, the highest number over 24 hours since April.

According to data from the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body, 462 persons arrived to the islands, including 176 on Lesvos, 128 on Kos, 86 on Chios, and 70 on Rhodes.

On August 29, 149 people arrived on Greek islands from Turkey, while 23 arrived on August 28.

The numbers may indicate a steady increase of arrivals from Turkey to Greece, despite the EU-Turkey deal. As of August 19, only 482 people have been returned from Greece to Turkey under the agreement.

Almost 1,500 migrants and refugees crossed from Turkey to Greece in June; more than 1,800 in July; more than 3,200 in August.

Including the new arrivals, more than 12,100 people are now waiting on the islands, where the capacity of overcrowded organised sites is 7,450."

Are You Syrious (link)

Italy: 13.000 people arrived over four days

"More than 1,000 people arrived in Lampedusa, where the hotspot is beyond its capacity since it can accommodate only 480 people, the local media reports. Currently, there are 1,580 people in the hotspot. One thousand landed in Palermo and more than 600 in Cagliari. Altogether, 13,000 people arrived in Italy from North Africa in the last four days, mostly from Libya and Egypt.

On August 30th alone, 3,000 people arrived."

Germany and Italy to step up repatriations of economic migrants (euractiv, link)

"Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed Wednesday (1 September) to step up efforts to send migrants with no right to asylum in Europe back to their homelands....

“It is important that we make deals with the countries of origin,” Merkel said, giving the example of the deal struck between Italy, France and Germany and Mali and Niger to promote economic growth in the sub-Saharan countries."

See also: Merkel-Renzi: more migrant repatriations needed (DW, link):

"During talks in Italy, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that failed asylum seekers will have to leave the country. Her Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi, said there were limits to the EU's migrant policy."

How NGOs took over migrant rescues in the Mediterranean (euobserver, link):

"The launch of Operation Triton in 2014 shifted the focus of EU efforts in the Southern Mediterranean from Search and Rescue (SAR) to border control. Several NGOs have since attempted to fill the gap left by the absence of large-scale humanitarian operations....

In late 2014, philanthropists Regina and Christopher Catrambone set up the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), equipping a former fishing vessel with two drones and staffing it with former Maltese Navy personnel.

MOAS offered an example that has been imitated by other NGOs. In 2015, the Brussels and Barcelona branches of MSF developed their own SAR capabilities using their own vessels, the Bourbon Argos and Dignity I.

German NGO Sea-Watch also purchased a vessel to search for migrant boats in distress in 2015. In February 2016, SOS Mediterranee chartered a 77 metre ship to conduct operations in partnership with the Amsterdam branch of MSF.

The non-for-profit spin-off of the Spanish lifeguard company Pro-Activa and two other German NGOs – Sea-Eye and Jugend Rettet – also started rescuing migrants in the Central Mediterranean a few months later. The Dutch charity Refugee Boat Foundation and Save the Children are set to start SAR operations soon.

All these organisations usually conduct rescues between 20km and 50km off the coast of Libya upon authorisation of the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC)."

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August

 

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