Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.4-1.5.17)
EU: "Hotspots": Court of European Auditors: Migration hotspots are working, but critical issues remain, say EU Auditors (Press release, pdf):
"The EU’s so-called “hotspot” approach for irregular migrants arriving in Italy and Greece has helped to significantly improve the registration, identification and security checking of migrants. But more needs to be done as thousands of migrants are still stranded on the Greek islands after their arrival, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Many of those affected are unaccompanied minors, say the auditors, and more should be done to help them.....
relocation is no longer an option, and returns are slow. As a result, there are still more migrants arriving at the hotspots than leaving, and they are seriously overcrowded." [emphasis added]
See: Full report (pdf)
Sweden mosque damaged in suspected arson attack (Daily Sabah, link):
"Swedish police said Monday they suspected arson in connection with an overnight fire that damaged a Shiite mosque near the capital, Stockholm.
The Imam Ali Islamic Centre in Jarfalla, a municipality north-west of Stockholm, said in a post on Facebook that about one-fourth of the building was destroyed.
No one was injured in the blaze that appeared to have started on one of the outer walls, according to police who have opened an investigation into arson."
Are You Syrious (30.4.17, link)
Feature: Another possible tragedy in the Mediterrenean
"While the MSF’s Aquarius arrived safely in Italy with 187 people rescued off the Lybian coast, the NGO Jugend Rettet fears another tragedy in the Mediterrenean, as it discovered an empty dingy this morning which could have had between 120 and 150 people on board. The group had looked all day for a boat in distress after getting an alert from the Italian coastguard. Meanwhile, the MSF’s other boat Prudence recovered four dead bodies....."
Germany: 1239 cases of church asylum in 2016
"Neues Deutschland reports on the increasing number of cases of “church asylum” in Germany. In 2016, 1139 people found protection against deportation in churches up from 1,015 refugees in 2015. Most cases fall under Dublin, with people facing imminent deportation to Italy, Hungary or Bulgaria, but there is also an increased number of Afghan refugees as Germany accelerates its deportations to that country."
Hungary completes second border fence with Serbia (News That Moves, link):
"The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, has announced that a second border fence on the Hungary-Serbia frontier has been completed.
The fence covers a length of 155 kilometers and is three meters high. Hungary had already fenced off the border with Serbia and Croatia in 2015.
The new fence on the Serbian border was designed as a “complementary line of defence” against irregular migration from Serbia, the government previously said.
The fence is equipped with an alarm system, thermal and video cameras, and sensors that send alert signals to border patrols if the fence is touched or damaged."
The war over distributing meals, it is constant (passeursdhospitalites, link):
"Police pressure is not limited to the distribution of evening meals, organized by the associations (see here, here and there), it is diffuse and also covers all distribution throughout the day.
As of last week, there are several testimonies from volunteers who made night marauds with tea and food, and who had to undergo identity checks, vehicle control, security palpations. Volunteers were told by the police that they were forbidden to return to those places and that distributions were prohibited."
Are You Syrious (27.4.17, link):
FEATURE: Are You Syrious and Center for Peace Studies publish detailed report calling out Croatian Ministry of Interior and Security and Intelligence Agency for “arbitrary and unlawful” practices in handling international protection applications
"Organizations Are You Syrious (AYS) and Center for Peace Studies (CPS) have published a damning report detailing misconduct in processing and not approving asylum applications of asylum seekers in Croatia. In a press conference on Wednesday, the organizations announced their findings which were published in the report titled “Report on arbitrary and unlawful practices by the Ministry of Interior and the Security and Intelligence Agency of the Republic of Croatia related to (non)approval of international protection or status of foreigners in Croatia” which analyzed thirty cases of individuals who, despite meeting multiple qualifications for protection, had their cases not approved.
Generally speaking, what made these cases in particular stand out was that the reason cited for the non-approval of their plea was that of stating that the individual possibly posed a threat to national security."
See: Read more about the press conference here (link)
Turkey has completed the first phase of the projected 900-km-long wall with Syria, as of recently, finishing over half of the three-meter-tall concrete barrier.
“The rest of the wall is due to be completed by the autumn, at which point it would be the second-longest structure in the world, after the 3,460-kilometre Great Wall of China,” according to the online publication Zeen ".
Greece: A violinist unable to pass visa barriers drowned in the Aegean Sea: He was found hugging his violin box (harekact.bordermonitoring.eu, link):
"Via Gazete Manifesto (Translation from Turkish) – This week, another boat carrying refugees drowned in the Aegean between Sivrice Burnu (Çanakkale) and Lesvos. 16 people died and only two people survived the shipwreck, they are now on the island of Lesvos.
On board of the ship was also a young Turkish violinist – Baris Yazgi, 22 years old, born in Siirt – who wanted to go to Belgium – where his brother lives – to study music. His dead body was found hugging a violin box. Inside his violin box he carried his instrument as well as handwritten compositions."
International Commission of Jurists: Briefing: Common Asylum Procedure Regulation ICJ comments on the current proposal of the Regulation (pdf):
"The areas most impacted include access to legal information; legal assistance, representation and legal aid; accelerated and border procedures; and access to an effective remedy.
The proposed Regulation is one of the instruments of the Common European Asylum System4 of the EU. It is intended to replace the current Asylum Procedures Directive with a Regulation and thereby aims to reduce the scope of discretion enjoyed by Member States in the implementation of matters covered under its provisions."
Greece: Migrants protesting on Lesvos (News That Moves, link):
"Migrants and refugees, supported by local activists, peacefully protested on April 26th in Mytilene, the main city on the Greek island of Lesvos.
Greek media reported that about 300 took part in the protest, mostly migrants of African origin. The protesters said they had been kept for months on the islands and asked to be allowed to leave Lesvos for Athens.
They also blocked the entrances to the port of Mytilene, before police showed up in force.
A leaflet distributed at the site of the protest, at the port of Mytilene, said that migrants and refugees were “treated like criminals” and that “a false border has been erected between the mainland and the islands”.
"Yesterday I woke up to an alarming text message: “Hi, call me please. My brother today [will be] deported [to] Turkey.” The text was from Arash, a 30-year-old Iranian asylum seeker stuck on the Greek island of Lesbos, who was desperate to help his brother Amir, also stranded there. Less than an hour later, one of Amir’s lawyers confirmed the bad news. “They are deporting him in 15 minutes. Call whoever you can,” she urged me....."
Are You Syrious (25.4.17, link):
"Shocking new numbers reveal that Germany has become far less hospitable towards refugees from Afghanistan. In January and February of 2017, only 47.9% of refugees from the country had their application accepted. This is a stark drop in acceptance rates, as in 2015 77.6% of asylum seekers had their applications accepted. By 2016 the number had dropped to only 60%. These latest figures reveal a deeply upsetting downward trend towards. The move comes at a time when German Prime Minister Angela Merkel is seeking reelection, and as a sizable minority of the population is deeply opposed to Germany’s granting of asylum, now is the time to appear tough for the incumbent. Angela Merkel hopes that by doing this she will prevent the rise of the far-right AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) party, but the move only serves the interests of the violently xenophobic element."
Greece: Two hospitalized from Moria hunger strike
"Two people were taken to the hospital last night after getting sick from the hunger strike currently taking place in Moria owing to the poor living conditions and unacceptable wait times to be transferred to the mainland. After being discharged, the two have continued their strike. This is the fifth day of the hunger strike, and there are a total of 12 participants. Please see our special report on the situation for more information."
"Almost one year ago, a group of young people from Syria formed Jafra R2R Team. R2R stands for Refugees helping Refugees. Their idea was to provide support from refugees for refugees, the idea that has huge support inside the community, but often lacks understanding from big INGOs and NGOs. AYS visited the shelter which Jafra Team runs in Athens to hear some very important lessons about life, respect, being refugee…"
35 migrants stopped from leaving Turkey (News That Moves, link):
"From the Associated Press: Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency has reported that 35 migrants were detained in western Turkey while trying to reach Europe.
They were intercepted while onboard an American-flagged sailboat off of Turkey’s Izmir coast. The migrants included 18 Syrians, 16 Pakistanis and one Iranian. There were ten children and two women among the group."
"“It is the political and moral responsibility of all European countries to contribute financially to dealing with the current migration and refugee crisis, according to the means at their disposal,” declared PACE today. The Assembly went on to say that these countries must do their utmost to allocate funds where needs are greatest, keeping administrative costs and structural obstacles to a minimum.
Parliamentarians also expressed regret over the fact that the complex decision-making and budgetary procedures and slow implementation of EU programmes on the ground, make it difficult to put the necessary infrastructure in place and provide assistance in a timely manner."
See: Report (pdf)
EU: Migration monitoring in the Mediterranean region – Libyan military to be linked up to European surveillance systems (Matthias Monroy, link):
"The Mediterranean countries of the EU are establishing a network to facilitate communication between armed forces and the border police. Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia are also set to take part. This would make them, through the back door, part of the surveillance system EUROSUR. Refugees could then be seized on the open seas before being returned to Libya."
"The satellite-supported communication infrastructure of the Seahorse Mediterranean network will be established in 2017, if the security situation in Libya allows, and will enable the Libyan Coast Guard to exchange information on incidents and contribute to rescue operations.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will support this cooperation with regular monitoring and surveillance information.
Regional engagement of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt in the Seahorse network is ongoing. In the framework of the EU-Tunisia high political level dialogue on security and the fight on terrorism, held on 19 January 2017, Tunisia has been encouraged to join the Seahorse project by joining the network and participating to the training.
The same approach was followed in a bilateral meeting with Egypt in the margins of the Valletta Summit on 8 February 2017 and with Algeria at the 7th sub-committee on justice and home affairs on 22 February 2017."
GREECE: Refugees drown off Greek coast, others start hunger strike in Lesbos camp (Deutsche Welle, link):
"At least 15 bodies were recovered by vessels from Greece's navy and the EU's Frontex agency on Monday. The Greek coastguard said one of its patrol vessels rescued two women, including one who was pregnant.
Authorities said the dead comprised two children, four women and nine men.
On Saturday in Rome, Pope Francis described Lesbos arrival centers he visited last year as "concentration camps," and urged European nations to provide relief by receiving those "left there inside."
At Moria, one of the camps on Lesbos, where the statuses of 13,800 refugees remain unresolved, 14 Kurds from Syria remain on hunger strike.
They began their protest against the slow processing of their appeals on Friday, sitting in blankets in front of the camp's asylum bureau."
The International Commission of Jurists has published two new notes offering critical observations on the EU's proposed Asylum Procedures Regulation and Reception Conditions Directive, noting with regular to the former that "the areas most impacted include access to legal information; legal assistance, representation and legal aid; accelerated and border procedures; and access to an effective remedy."
Immigrant detention: a prospering business (The Prisma, link):
"Four multinationals manage 7 of the 9 detention centres in the United Kingdom, with the contracts they sign worth millions of pounds. Nevertheless, there are complaints, allegations and deaths amidst what is happening under their management. Which are they and how can this system be explained? "
And see: UK: Behave or get deported, says G4S (OpenDemocracy, link):
"EXCLUSIVE: The world’s biggest security company, landlord to asylum-seekers, threatens tenants with expulsion from the UK.
About 900 people who are seeking asylum live in the city of Sheffield, in South Yorkshire. For five years G4S, the world’s largest security company, has held the government contract to accommodate them whilst they await the outcome of their claims for asylum."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-24.4.17)
Migrants and refugees in the Western Balkans who are trying to access the territory of the EU "are being routinely abused by law enforcement officials," who are "subjecting people to violence and intimidation and denying access to asylum procedures to those seeking international protection," says a new report by Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association and Oxfam.
GREECE: At least eight drown as migrant boat sinks off Greece's Lesbos island (Irish Independent, link):
"At least eight people, including a child, drowned when an inflatable boat carrying refugees and migrants sank off Greece's Lesbos island, the Greek coastguard said on Monday.
The United Nation refugee agency UNHCR said the number of dead was at least 12. Citing survivors, it said 25 people were on board.
Two survivors, one of whom is pregnant, were taken to the island's main hospital, the coastguard said."
"The Easter weekend saw one of the biggest Search and Rescue (SAR) operations carried out in the Mediterranean Sea in the past few years, with 8,360 people rescued between Friday the 14th and Sunday the 16th of April 2017. The WatchTheMed Alarm Phone network was involved in 2 emergency cases and could observe first-hand both the sheer inadequacy of rescue efforts of EU authorities and the crucial contribution of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in preventing instances of mass dying at sea, which we had to witness so often in the past."
The recent newsletter of the Eastern Partnership Panel on migration provides updates from the first quarter of 2017 on relations between the EU and the 'Eastern Partnership' countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. This includes events such as the EU providing €3.4 million of "communication, surveillance and detection equipment for the strengthening of Georgia’s capabilities of guarding the green border with Turkey," including "watch towers".
"Mukuschev spent ten weeks in Czech custody also because he found himself in a legal vacuum outside Austria. For the Czech court, he was still a Russian citizen, in spite of his long stay in Vienna. The Austrian authorities could not support him like they support Austrian citizens, since asylum holders do not enjoy their host country's full legal protection abroad."
UK: Petition: Stop using NHS patients’ personal information for immigration enforcement (38 Degrees, link):
"The UK government and NHS Digital, the NHS body that stores patient information, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January to give the Home Office easier access to patient information. This allows immigration officials to use NHS patients’ personal details, such as their addresses, to track down, arrest and deport undocumented migrants.
Patient confidentiality is essential for NHS staff to be able to do their job – and yet there has been no consultation with NHS staff or the public about this deal. Concerns raised by medical organisations have been ignored and the agreement was made in secret.
The deal makes some of the UK’s most vulnerable people scared of getting healthcare. The medical charity Doctors of the World regularly sees people in urgent need, including pregnant women and cancer sufferers, who are scared to see a doctor for fear that their details will be passed on. Creating a society where everyone can see a doctor easily and safely is also important for public health.
Sign the petition to demand that NHS Digital withdraws from the MOU and no longer provides information to the Home Office, so that our healthcare service is safe for everyone living in UK."
See: Crackdown on migrants forces NHS doctors to 'act as border guards' (The Guardian, link)
GREECE: A Co-operative Way Out of Exploitation: Reflections on the Manolada Strawberries Case (Leiden Law Blog, link):
"It is important to not see this case as an isolated incident. Exploitative labour practices at the expense of irregular economic migrants continues to be a reality in Greece and other EU countries, with thousands seeking to eke a living as agrarian day labourers. Having indebted themselves and their families in paying the extortionate sums demanded by traffickers for their dangerous passage to Europe, these individuals are constrained to accept any form of work available, under any terms. Due to their undocumented status, they are at the mercy of anyone willing to hire them, thereby perpetuating conditions of modern slavery.
Yet in spite of the de-humanising conditions in which these men and women work, and despite their victimisation, they are not stripped of their agency or dignity. In the absence of supportive civic spaces, they create their own, in the shape of informal evening markets where they socialise and sell work gear and food products from home. They aid each other in making their living conditions more bearable by planting vegetable gardens, in remitting money to their families back in their home countries, and in reaching out to NGOs for support and legal advice, after incidents like the Manolada shooting. This is one of several examples of self-organisation around Europe where migrant workers create supportive structures for themselves. This solidarity among migrant workers can be institutionalised through forming social cooperatives for migrant workers."
"Since November 2016, FRA’s monthly reports highlight key developments in 14 Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. This month’s highlights are published alongside full country reports. No focus section is being published this month."
"Last Friday, 07/04/17, stateless Kurds from Syria (Ajanib), decided to stage as yet another protest with the aim of getting their applications for Cypriot citizenship re-examined. The protesters have set up tents outside the presidential palace and are calling on the President of the Republic to intervene in order for the Ministry of Interior to re-examine the unjustified and arbitrary rejection of their applications. The undersigned NGOs consider the requests of the protesters to be legitimate and support their struggle.
It is reminded that the said persons have been fighting for access to their rights for more than two years now and that on 18May 2015, the Ministry of Interior himself and the General Director of the Ministry, blaming the inflexible attitude of the competent authorities for granting the status of recognised refugee, urged them to apply for Cypriot citizenship. In fact, three of the protesters were then granted the Cypriot citizenship, while the Ministry suggested to the remaining persons to reapply after a year, when they would have completed the required residence period in the Republic."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20-21.4.17)
"Police forces in the EU member states could be able to use fingerprints and DNA traces collected by the US military in Syria and Iraq in the near future. Intelligence services would also be granted access....
Alongside Operation Gallant Phoenix, the US Government has offered to set up a database on “foreign fighters” for a number of EU member states and to compare this information with the biometric data of incoming refugees. According to another paper by the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union, this is “battlefield data from Syria and Iraq and other conflict zones”.
See: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting, Valletta, 1-2 March 2017 (LIMITE doc no: 7163-17, pdf) and Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no 6717-17, pdf)
"The Finance Ministry of Denmark, a country which has displayed a xenophobic attitude towards migrants in the past, has made calculations which show that immigration is indeed beneficial for the country and that Denmark's economy needs refugees and immigrants."
Are You Syrious (20.4.17, link)
Feature: Racist attacks on Chios
"Today a group of local radical right winged militants, reportedly Golden Dawn, attacked refugees whilst they held a protest against Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario, a Spanish NGO that has been helping refugees on Chios. The NGO is in the process of opening a new clinic on the island and was targeted today by a group of fascists that started protesting at in the morning and physically attacked some refugees outside the Chios Labor Center before they proceeded later in the evening to surround Souda camp and throw stones at the compound......"
Mediterranean Sea: Two NGOs have got together and managed to get and start using a plane to help in their rescue missions at sea
"Sea-Watch together with the Humanitarian Pilots Initiative - HPI deployed a small airplane in the area of the Mediterranean where most shipwrecks happen in order to patrol the Mediterranean graveyard as well from the air. “The “moonbird” will be operating the whole summer to help coordinate rescue missions, to reinforce the pressure on the EU which is letting people die in the Mediterranean and to prevent more shipwrecks from happening, as happened during this Eastern weekend...."
Greece: There was another busy day for the teams on the islands as boats keep arriving
"Today one boat landed on Samos in the morning with 27 people on board, 19 men, 3 women and 5 children from Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Dominican Republic and Iraq.
On Chios on boat arrived last night with 12 people on board, 4 men, 3 women and 5 children, all in good health."
"In another report of abuse of power, Baobab Experience told us how the police in Rome took 60 refugees to the station while their belongings were put in the trash."
"A hundred refugees and migrants crammed into a small dinghy that started taking in water in the Mediterranean endured an agonising 30-hour wait before they were rescued, a maritime log passed to the Guardian has revealed.
The incident happened over the Easter weekend, the unofficial start of the “sailing season”, which sees increased numbers of people attempting the crossing from Africa to Europe as the weather improves. Twenty children and 10 women, one of them pregnant, were among the passengers on the overcrowded dinghy. NGO rescues off Libya encourage traffickers, says EU borders chief...
The log was passed to the Guardian by Watch The Med’s Alarmphone network, an NGO which passes distress calls from migrant boats to the Italian coastguard so that a rescue can be coordinated."
Council of the European Union: Relocations, Eurodac & Skilled migrants
• Implementation of Relocation Commitments (LIMITE doc no:, 8168-17, pdf):
The Note asks: "How many applicants for international protection will you be relocating from Greece and Italy over the coming five months (May-September) and how many will you be relocating per month?"
The latest 11th Report on relocation by the Commission says that: "Right now, Malta and Finland are the only two Member States so far on track to meet their obligations in time for both Italy and Greece."
And records that since September 2015 only 11,339 refugees have been relocated out of 63,302 from Greece (just 18%) and 5,001 of 34,953 from Italy (just 14%)
• Eurodac Regulation: Inclusion of colour copies of passport or ID documents in Eurodac (LIMITE doc no: 8221-17, pdf):
"Where available, a scanned colour copy of an identity or travel document, and if not available, of any other document which could facilitate the identification of the third-country national or stateless person for return purposes.... Most Member States indicated that while the document should be scanned and uploaded in Eurodac immediately, establishing the authenticity of the documents should be done at a later stage."
• Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 8280-17, 76 pages, pdf): Latest Council negotiating position with 152 Member State positions in Footnotes.
Inside Europe: A helping hand for refugees in Greece (DW, video, link)
"The Greek government has been trying to close refugee camps and rehouse about 10,000 migrants and refugees in the coutnry. Some have already been moved to apartments or hotel rooms in cities and are waiting for their asylum and relocation requests to be approved. In Thessaloniki Greece's second largest city the majority of local people have welcomed their new neighbours. Alexia Kalaitzi reports."
Greece: Two far-right bullies arrested for attacking refugees in Souda hot spot, Chios (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"Two people belonging to the far-right political spectrum have been arrested and taken to the prosecutor. They are accused of attacking refugees in the surrounding area of ?? the hot spot of Souda on the island of Chios.
The two were identified by their victims, while one of them was being transferred to hospital to receive first aid for injuries."
Greece: Over 830 arrivals on the islands (News That Moves, link):
"Around 40 people per day are continuing to arrive on the Greek islands, data from the Greek government shows.
More than 830 people arrived on the islands between April 1st and April 20th. In March, 1,600 crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands, with 50 arrivals daily on average. In February, some 1,000 people arrived on Greek islands."
SPAIN: Report denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at Spain's southern border
Press release published by the Andalucian Association for Human Rights (Associación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) on 29 March 2017. Emphasis in original.
APDHA denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at the southern border - During 2016 deaths increased 34% at European coasts and 125% at Spanish coasts.
GREECE: MEDECINS DU MONDE - DELEGATION HELLENIQUE: Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on the follow-up to the concluding observations on Greece (pdf):
"MdM Greece has, since the first moment, been present and active in the refugee-migrant crisis, reinforcing its ongoing and already existing structures and programs to respond to the increasing and pressing needs of the high numbers of refugees arriving daily and residing for longer periods in Greece. At the same time, MdM Greece has undertaken new initiatives intervening in those places where third-country nationals concentrate, such as the usual entry and exit points for refugees in Greece."
Abandoned refugees will eventually leave Greece, legally or illegally (The New Arab, link):
"According to official sources, 62,156 refugees are at the moment living in Greece, with 14,268 accommodated in official facilities on the Aegean islands, prohibited from travelling to the mainland until their asylum applications are processed.
These refugees have been stranded since March 2016, in formal and makeshift camps around the country.
On the first anniversary of the EU-Turkey refugee deal in March, thousands of refugees, along with their supporters, gathered in central Athens.
"We are humans. We demand our rights," they shouted in the streets of the Greek capital. "Open the borders."
Return of the Fast Track? (Detention Action, link):
"ustice Secretary, Liz Truss, announced proposals to introduce a fast track system to process the deportation of detained asylum-seekers and ex-offenders who have completed prison sentences in the UK. The new proposals will be considered by the Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC), a non-departmental body, responsible for making rules that govern the practice and procedure in the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal. Last year, the TPC refused to set rules for a new fast track system."
See also: Government publishes plans for revamped express deportation system (Statewatch)
PORTUGAL: How to support refugees – European experiences of volunteer work for and with refugees (EUalter, link):
"Refugees are one of the most vulnerable populations, and therefore need safe and professional care and support. Volunteers’ contribution can be an important part of it as it is the collective work of people all around the world that will eventually make a difference."
Greece: Survey shows divided opinions on refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Only 5 percent of refugees currently living in Athens want to remain in Greece, with the rest all keen to continue their journeys toward western and northern Europe, particularly Germany, according to survey carried out by Public Issue on behalf of Athens City Hall’s observatory for refugees and made public on Wednesday.
The same research showed that most Greeks want authorities to show solidarity to refugees and provide them with schooling and healthcare, but do not want them to stay in the country permanently."
Hungary will cease providing Kiskunhalas asylum-seekers with food by end of April (Budapest Beacon, link):
"Asylum-seekers at the camp were first told last week that the funds they receive from the Hungarian state for purchasing food will be withdrawn, a source inside the camp told the Budapest Beacon. At the same time, refugees were told that the camp will not offer them food provisions directly either.
According to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, individuals currently in their first asylum procedure and those with protection status will be taken Thursday to Vámosszabadi refugee camp, near the border with Slovakia. An estimated eight to ten people, including a pregnant woman, will remain in Kiskunhalas but will not be provided with any food or medical services after April 28."
Attacks on migrant homes double in Austria (The Local.at, link):
" Austria recorded a sharp rise in attacks against migrant shelters last year, with 49 cases that mostly went unsolved compared to 25 in 2015, authorities said Friday.
The incidents, revealed in a response by the interior ministry to a parliamentary enquiry, ranged from racist graffiti to arson, stones being thrown through windows and gas pipes being slashed.
According to opposition lawmaker Albert Steinhauser who made the enquiry, 44 of the incidents that were clearly motivated by hatred.
Steinhauser told the Austria Press Agency (APA) that in 77 percent of the cases, police had not managed to track down the culprits."
Are You Syrious (19.4.17, link)
"The German State of Hesse plans mandatory residence for refugees. Political parties plan to dictate the place of residency for refugees in order to prevent the formation of ghettos in major cities, to ensure that no one can receive their social welfare more than once (by only paying it out at the mandatory place of residence), and to fight rural depopulation. As such, the entities behind the plan view it as a “win-win.” German integration law allows the States to issue such directives."
"Sursaut Citoyen has launched an interactive web map of relief and support efforts for refugees in France. It has a phonebook in order to help put everyone in touch with one another and speed communication and coordination. Check it out here.
In a report by Europe 1, information about the informal and formal camps around Paris was published."
"Horror and grief on the sea again as MSF Sea reported that a woman had a miscarriage after watching her husband drown as they attempted to cross the sea. Additionally, a boat with the bodies of 28 people was found floating off of Libya, highlighting that the dangers at sea are not only in the water.
Commercial ships continue to pick up the slack for EU as Opielok Offshore Carriers picked up a total of nine boats on the sea, rescuing a total of over one thousand people. Much thanks and support to the commercial ships who are saving lives around the clock.
Additionally, two boats carrying 199 people were intercepted by the Turkish coast guard on the 19th of April."
GREECE: Detention centres for migrants and refugees on Greek islands at 150% of capacity
The latest figures released by the Greek government show that the "strutures" and "hosting facilities" used to hold migrants and refugees on Greece's Aegean islands - principally Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos - currently have 13,003 "guests" but officially room for just 8,696 people.
A new report by AITIMA details the problems faced by asylum-seekers in Greece, including a lack of access to the asylum procedure, the issues raised by restrictions on residence that confine people to islands in the Aegean, the "extremely limited" legal advice and assistance available, and the involvement of the European Asylum Support Office in the first instance asylum procedure that "raises issues of competence".
FRANCE-UK: Child refugees in northern France facing exploitation and violence on a daily basis, Unicef warns (The Independent, link):
"Child refugees in northern France are facing exploitation and violence on a daily basis?, including threats from adult men armed with knives and machetes, Unicef has warned.
An alarming report has revealed that unaccompanied minors who lived in the Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk before it burnt down last week were “constantly fearful” of sexual abuse and attacks with weapons, and that no one – including the police – was there to care for them or to protect them.
In a series of interviews conducted by Unicef last month, 13 unaccompanied minors said due to brutal treatment by the authorities in France during their journeys, they had turned to smugglers and traffickers who were offering information and apparent protection, but who in turn abused and exploited them.
The report also found that despite frequent contacts with the authorities in European countries on their journeys towards the UK, children have repeatedly been ill-informed about their legal rights to protection, including their right to be reunited with their families."
The Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) "has now reached an enhanced level of maturity," according to the body's annual report for 2016, and is an "unparalleled platform for information-sharing and joint analysis with African countries" which has "captured further attention from the key policy makers in Europe and Africa."
"A new fast-track system to deport detained asylum seekers and criminals who are foreign nationals has been proposed by the justice secretary, Liz Truss.
Her proposed rules will mean the time taken to hear the appeals of about 2,000 people against being removed from Britain each year will be capped at between 25 and 28 working days."
UK: Probe into death at immigration detention centre (Migrants' Rights Network, link):
"An investigation has been launched into the death of a 43-year-old man in an immigration removal centre on 9 April. The 43-year-old man, who has not yet been named, was being held at the Verne immigration removal centre in Portland, Dorset."
EU: Thousands of migrants rescued from Mediterranean in three days (CNN, link):
"Italian authorities were still bringing migrants and refugees to shore Monday after one of the busiest weekends ever for rescue services operating in the central Mediterranean sea.
At least 8,500 refugees and migrants were plucked from small boats over the past three days in 73 separate rescue operations, the Italian Coastguard told CNN Monday.
Thirteen bodies were recovered, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old boy. It is not known how many died before they were sighted. "
ITALY: 200-bed Lampedusa center overflowing with 1,000 migrants (ANSA, link):
"Almost a thousand migrants arrived on the island of Lampedusa over Easter weekend. Four women were among the arrivals, including one pregnant one, as were four injured men.
The number hosted on the island's reception center and hotspot thus stands at 1,040, compared with a just over 200-person capacity. In order to deal with the latest arrivals, bunk beds have been set up and mattresses have been laid on the floors. The Red Cross, which runs the center, is in charge of the lodgings. During the day and while awaiting transfer to other centers, the guests leave through a hole in the fence and remain in the vicinity."
EU-LIBYA: Circumventing International Law: The EU’s Responsibility for Rights of Migrants Returned to Libya Under Operation Sophia (The Comparative Jurist, link):
"From January to October 2016, nearly 160,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean to Italy. In response to the smuggling and trafficking across the Mediterranean, the European Union created Operation Sophia. However, Operation Sophia has resulted in migrant and refugee boats being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and being returned to Libya. Through the Operation Sophia training program, the EU has effectively delegated European border control to the Libyan Coast Guard. This practice allows the EU to evade both their duty of non-refoulement and duty to rescue distressed persons at sea. The EU has trained Libyans to conduct actions which the EU could not legally accomplish itself under international law, and is therefore violating international human rights law by aiding and assisting Libya’s wrongful actions."
GERMANY: How does cleaning the Lager toilet for 80 Cents per hour integrate you into the society? (Refugee Movement, link):
"INTERVIEW WITH AN ACTIVIST FROM WOMEN IN EXILE
WIE: We hearing that they are forcing people to work in the Lagers, do you have any idea or experience about this?
A:Yes that is very true. They are forcing people to work in the Lagers and I am one of the victims of this policy. They told me I should work in the Lager and that they will pay me 80 Cents per hour. I told them I am going to school, and though I would like to work, I have no time since I cannot combine both. But they said no. I would have to work because if I didn’t they would cut my social money for food. They also said that I have to work because this work would help me to integrate with the society. I said: That’s not true because I know that without the language I can’t interact with the community. I told them to wait until I get done with my language course and then I can come back to work since then I will understand everything in German. But they said no. I would have to work first."
IRELAND: Mum forced to carry sick child home from hospital on her back (Connact Tribune, link):
"A mother of two carried her five-years-old sick child home from hospital to Salthill, because she couldn’t afford transport.
The woman and children are asylum seekers living at the Eglinton Direct Provision centre in Salthill. The family has sought asylum in Ireland within the past year.
After receiving treatment, the child was released from the care of UHG but they had no transport to bring them back to Salthill.
The Eglinton is on a bus route, the 401, but it does not pass-by UHG. In any event, it is understood the child was discharged late in the evening when bus services aren’t operating.
The woman receives a weekly allowance of €19.10 per week, and so could not afford to take a taxi home. Instead, she carried her son on her back and walked the two miles from UHG to Salthill."
EU: EIB: Council agrees to increase funding to address migration issues (press release, pdf)
"The Council has agreed to additional funding by the European Investment Bank for projects outside the EU that address migration issues.
Up to €3.7 billion would be earmarked for projects that address the root causes of migration and the needs of transit and host communities.
On 5 April 2017, EU ambassadors asked the presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament. They approved a mandate for the negotiations, on behalf of the Council.
A first 'trilogue' meeting with the Parliament and the Commission is scheduled for 12 April 2017."
ITALY: Refugees bring Italian village back to life (New Europe, link):
"The laughter of a small group of refugees has broken the silence of a once-dying village in the foothills of the Aspromonte mountains in southern Italy.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the tiny village of Sant’Alessio has been welcoming families and vulnerable migrants for three years in a project which not only provides humanitarian assistance but brings with it invaluable economic and social benefits.
Over the years the village has dwindled to only 330 inhabitants, many of them elderly. The steep cobbled streets are deserted and most windows are shuttered, residents having left over the years for better work opportunities in Turin, Milan or as far away as Australia.
In an attempt to reverse the trend, however, since 2014 the council has been renting eight of these empty flats to house up to 35 migrants at a time as part of the national SPRAR network (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees)."
UK: Charter flights: ‘when politics come before people’ (Detention Action, link):
"The use of charter flights to facilitate deportation is not uncommon. A Freedom of Information request by End Deportations found that more than 1,500 people were deported on charter flights to Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana and Jamaica in 2016. The flights come with little advance warning, people facing deportation often being informed shortly before the flight is due to depart.
After the departure of the flight to Jamaica in March, I caught up with one of our clients, David*. Just days before the flight was due to take off, David was told that he would be removed on a charter flight. Not long before the flight took off he was granted a last minute reprieve following an intervention from his lawyer."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-18.4.17)
Italy: 8,500 migrant arrivals in 3 days,13 dead (ANSA, link):
"Thirteen migrants died as some 8,500 asylum seekers washed up on Italy's shores over the Easter weekend, leaving the interior ministry grappling with thousands of resettlements..."
Fire at the Grand Synthe Camp : minors have been abandoned (passeursdhospitalites, link);
"The Grande-Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk was a place of contradictions. It had been created by the municipality and Médecins Sans Frontières to respond to a disastrous material situation on the site where an Exile camp was once and for several years. A disastrous situation due to the very rapid increase in the number of Exiles, from less than one hundred people in the Spring of 2015 to nearly three thousand in November of the same year."
Offenses against asylum homes in Germany remain high in number (Daily Sabah, link):
"German authorities say there were 169 violent offenses against homes for asylum-seekers last year, almost as many as in 2015, though the figures sank as the year progressed.
The Federal Criminal Police Office said Tuesday that the number of violent offenses compared with 177 the previous years.
In all, authorities counted 994 offenses against asylum shelters in 2016, a little below the previous year's 1,031. The police office said that most of them had a far-right motive."
Judges proposing tribunals for migrant cases (Prague Daily Monitor, link):
"Czech courts are so overburdened with the cases relating to refugees that some judges have proposed the establishment of special tribunals to only deal with the asylum agenda, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Saturday.
There is the threat that if the measures are not taken, the verdicts on refugees, which have a priority under law, may paralyse courts if there is a large migrant wave, MfD writes.
In 2015, when the migrant wave came to a head, regional courts had to deal with some 586 new cases associated with "international protection," it adds.
However, the figure soared to almost 800 last year."
Are You Syrious (17.4.17, link)
GREECE: In case of rejected asylum request
"News That Moves issued new Rumors on what can be done if your application gets rejected. As confirmed by IOM, people hosted on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, who have entered Greece after March 20th, 2016 and whose asylum request has been rejected, have five days to either appeal against the rejection decision or ask for assistance from IOM for voluntary return to their home country if eligible, writes NTM. Find more information here."
"This morning, ship Chimera arrived in Porto Empedocle with 447 migrants (352 men, 83 women and 13 minors). The people rescued from three boats totaled 451 (145, 157 and 149 migrants respectively). Four migrants were taken to Lampedusa. In the last two days, a total amount of 4,500 people have been rescued, including children."
Around 13,000 still on the islands (News That Moves, link):
"Despite arrivals dramatically dropping since the EU-Turkey deal was signed in 2016, the situation on the Greek islands remain difficult, with thousands of migrants and refugees stuck in substandards camps for many months, unable to leave for the Greek mainland.
Greek government data show that currently around 13,000 people are still hosted on the islands, with more than half in official sites and the remaining in other hosting facilities (UNHCR and other state run facilities)."
"We are where we’re needed, what’s the EU doing?'
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a medical charity which has carried out hundreds of rescue operations in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the migrant crisis, has criticised Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard agency, who operate official EU patrols on migration routes.
MSF said in a series of tweets that NGOs were being forced to fill gaps in service provision left by the EU coastguard.
“Frontex Director says it’s a paradox that a third of rescues are done by NGOs. We agree. Where are Frontex boats in a day like this?” MSF tweeted.
“Many more people could have died in a day like this if we arrived a few hours later. We are where we’re needed, what’s the EU doing meanwhile?"#
Are You Syrious (16.4.17, link)
Minors put into detention centres
"Passeurs d’hospitalités reports that five young refugees will appear in court on Thursday in Calais, to decide whether their detention is legal and whether to extend their detention. The refugees claim to be minors but were declared as “adults”, with the police report saying all five were born on 1.1.1999, allowing them to be put in a detention centre and later deported from the country. On Friday, a camp close to Calais was destroyed, including the tents and personal belongings of around 20 people. There was no legal decision for the eviction and the destruction of personal belongings is illegal anyways. Three NGOs, Cabane juridique, le Réveil Voyageur and Utopia 56 have published a press release protesting against police violence in Calais, the lack of access to shelter, especially for minors, and the acceleration of placements into detention centres."
Migreurop Brief - April 2017 (link):
"Externalisation across the board : from the EU-Turkey arrangement to Migration Compacts in Africa."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-13.4.17)
Greece: Latest arrivals on 13 April show a big rise: 205 come in a day: Greek Ministry figures (pdf): Lesvos: 46, Chios: 121 and Samos: 38.
Greece: Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on the follow-up to the concluding observations on Greece (Greek Helsinki Monitor, pdf):
"The three specific recommendations for which the HRCttee requested in 2015 from the authorities of Greece relevant information on their implementation so as to conducts in 2017 a follow-up are:
The State party should ensure that all allegations of unauthorized and disproportionate use of force by law-enforcement officials are thoroughly and promptly investigated by an independent authority, that the alleged perpetrators are prosecuted, that those found guilty are punished with sentences that are commensurate with the gravity of the offence, and that compensation is provided to the victims or their families....."
UK-EU: House of Lords Select Committee on the EU: External Affairs Sub-Committee Corrected oral evidence: Operation Sophia (pdf):
"Lord Horam: I think we should narrow it down a bit from this tour d’horizon, which is extremely interesting, and look from Europe’s point of view at the migration issues that Operation Sophia was trying to cope with. We are now trying to get better co-operation on the ground. Is that at all realistic, given the scenario?
Joseph Walker-Cousins: The chances of having any meaningful success as things are set up, under the political paradigm we have at the moment, are very limited. The EU and all its constituent parts and subordinate bodies now operating on the ground are being directed for political purposes to deal with the GNA.
Lord Horam: You think that is a mistake.
Joseph Walker-Cousins: The GNA are incapable as they currently stand of doing much."
"Following recent calls from ECRE and UNHCR for a suspension of transfers to Hungary under the Dublin Regulation, Germany announced steps to suspend transfers to the country on 11 April 2017."
Slovenia says tougher EU border checks ‘unacceptable’ (euractiv, link):
"Newly-introduced tougher checks on the EU’s external borders aimed at stopping suspected Islamist fighters from Iraq and Syria are “unacceptable” and should be amended, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said."
See: Statements by Slovenia and Croatia (pdf):
Slovenia: "In Slovenia's view, checks carried out systematically on all persons crossing the external borders, including those enjoying the right of free movement under Union Law, without targeted checks as a basic principle for efficient border checks and without taking into consideration justified exemptions, is a disproportionate measure in relation to the pursued objective of the change. Additional doubts to the efficiency of the new provisions of Article 7(2) of the Code are related to the possible transitional period for border checks at air borders that are especially vulnerable part of the external borders."
Croatia: "the Republic of Croatia regrets that these measures are to be implemented not only at the European Union's external borders but also at internal borders between Member States fully applying the Schengen acquis and Member States not yet fully applying the Schengen acquis. The title of the Regulation itself implies its application at the European Union's external borders, not at Schengen borders. For that precise reason, all Member States should have been treated equally."
Are You Syrious (12.4.17, link):
FEATURE: Europe’s response to Child Trafficking- ttoo little, too late.
"The relief efforts for Dunkirk after the devastating fire that leveled the camp are ongoing, however Calais Action released sobering information - 129 children still remain missing, most likely driven into the hands of traffickers lying in wait. Although we all anxiously wait for the recovery of these children, we know that the reality remains - that legislation targeting and marginalizing refugees only strengthens the power of evildoers...."
Rights of Child Ombudsman reports on Lesvos (News That Moves, link):
"Meetings were held with children and adolescents in eight shelters for unaccompanied minors, in a primary school, a secondary school, the informal school for refugee children at the open accommodation center of Kara Tepe, and at the Reception and Identification Center in Moria."
Refugee rescue group accuses EU border agency of conspiracy (euractiv, link):
"A Spanish NGO that has been rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean since 2016 accused the EU’s border control agency Frontex on Wednesday (12 April) of plotting to discredit private aid organisations in order to put off donors.
Allegations by Frontex that donor-funded rescue vessels may have colluded with traffickers at the end of last year prompted Italian prosecutors to begin an informal investigation into their funding sources.
“The declarations by Frontex and political authorities are intended to discredit our actions and erode our donors’ trust,” said Proactiva Open Arms head Riccardo Gatti."
Riot police stop refugees returning to Dunkirk camp destroyed by fire (Guardian, link): "Homeless families prepare for night on streets, refusing to sleep in cramped sports halls they say are unsuitable for children."
European Commission: 11th report on relocation and annexes
• Relocation and Resettlement: Steady progress made but more efforts needed to meet targets - Today, the Commission adopted its eleventh progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 2 March 2017 (Press release, pdf):
"Whereas some Member States (Luxembourg and Portugal) are steadily progressing on their obligations for Greece and Italy, others (Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia) are relocating on a very limited basis. Whilst Austria has announced it will start relocating soon, others (Hungary and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the relocation scheme at all. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for both Italy and Greece in time."
• Eleventh report on relocation and resettlement (COM 212-17, pdf)
• Annex 1: Greece (pdf): Formally pledged: 19,603, Effectively Relocated: 11,339, Commitment legally foreseen in the Council Decisions: 63,302, % of legal commitment effectively relocated: 18%
• Annex 2: Italy (pdf): Formally pledged: 10,659, Effectively Relocated: 5,001, Commitment legally foreseen in the Council Decisions: 34,953 % of legal commitment effectively relocated: 14%
• Annex 3: (pdf): Relocations from Italy and Greece by 10 April 2017:
• Annex 4: (pdf): Resettlement State of Play as of 10 April 2017, under 20 July 2015 Conclusions and under the "1:1 mechanism" with Turkey (in application since 4 April 2016)
• A European Agenda: On security: State of play: April 2017(pdf): In same press release on terrorism and organised crime...
• Protecting all children in migration: Commission outlines priority actions (Press release, pdf): "Over the past two years, a growing number of children in migration have arrived in the EU, many of them without their families."
• The protection of children in migration (COM 211-17, pdf)
• Implementation of the Action Plan on UAMs (2010-2014) (SWD 129-17, pdf)
Returns diplomacy: levers and tools (EU ISS, pdf):
"‘The EU has three main sources of leverage which it can put behind returns bargains: access to the single market (visa and trade concessions), its overseas spending (EU development aid and investment support) and diplomatic engagement.’"
"Italy remained under migratory pressure last month. The number of migrants arriving through the Central Mediterranean route in March rose by more than one-fifth to 10 800. This brought the total for the first three months of the year to nearly 24 250, almost 30% higher than the figure from the same period of 2016...
Better weather also helped boost the number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean to 1 690. This was up almost a half from February but only 6% of the figure from a year ago, when the EU-Turkey statement came into effect in the second half of the month.
Syrians, Iraqis and Pakistanis accounted for a majority of the detections on the Eastern Mediterranean route."
" ROME, APRIL 12 - A reported 27,000 migrants have landed in Italy in 2017, up 35% on the same period last year, when a record 181,000 arrivals were overall recorded, according to data updated Tuesday and released by the interior ministry.
The majority of migrants hailed from Bangladesh (3,521), Nigeria (3,397) and Guinea (3,320).
Unaccompanied minors were 3,557, according to the data. Asylum seekers reallocated to other countries were 4,438, under a relocation program.
Despite a constant flow of arrivals, the number of migrants staying at reception centers was down to 175,480 people from the 176,554 registered on December 31 last year."
"Hundreds of refugees and migrants are missing and facing a night in the open after a large fire ripped through the Dunkirk camp where they were living, destroying the wooden huts and leaving the site uninhabitable.
Officials spent Tuesday trying to find new shelter for the estimated 1,500 people who had been displaced. It is feared that the destruction of the country’s only official migrant camp will result in asylum seekers returning to sleeping rough along the coast near the Channel ports."
"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today called for a temporary suspension of all transfers of asylum-seekers to Hungary from other European States under the Dublin Regulation. The Dublin regulation is an EU instrument that determines which European State is responsible for examining an asylum seeker’s application.
“The situation for asylum-seekers in Hungary, which was already of deep concern to UNHCR, has only gotten worse since the new law introducing mandatory detention for asylum-seekers came into effect,” said Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Given the worsening situation of asylum-seekers in Hungary, I urge States to suspend any Dublin transfer of asylum-seekers to this country until the Hungarian authorities bring their practices and policies in line with European and international law,” he added."
A report recently published by The Intercept examines Frontex's Operation Triton - introduced as a meagre follow-up to the Italian-led Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean - and suggests that the available evidence shows that the EU border agency has been "deliberately patrolling in the wrong area and quibbling with definitions of distress, meaning that its ships would almost certainly arrive late [to distress calls], if at all." An accompanying article argues that recent claims by officials and politicians that non-profit search-and-rescue operations in and around Libyan waters act as a "pull factor" are overblown.
Evidence mounting for Hungary’s brutal treatment of migrants (Atlatszo, link):
"There is an increasing number of reports that Hungarian authorities are extremely brutal to migrants trying to get to Western Europe. Two representatives of the Helsinki Committee human rights advocacy visited a transit site in February and told Atlatszo.hu about experiences, where defenseless refugees were tied up with barbed wire or had dogs set on them."
Why jobs in special economic zones won’t solve the problems facing the world’s refugees (The Conversation, link):
"In a new book, two Oxford professors, Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, are calling on politicians to harness “the remarkable opportunities of globalisation” to reorient the refugee system away from humanitarian assistance and towards development. Focusing primarily on the arrival of large numbers of Syrian refugees in Europe during the course of 2015, they argue that the refugee system has failed to provide long-term solutions for refugees who are left festering in underfunded “humanitarian silos”.
The proposition is a simple one: provide companies with tax incentives and opportunities for trade in return for providing refugees with opportunities for work, autonomy and self-reliance. They argue this will create a “win-win” situation for both the developing countries which carry the burden of supporting the majority of the world’s refugees with limited resources, and the rich countries struggling politically to manage the consequences of increased irregular migration.
But as I argue in a review published in the journal Nature, neither the book’s diagnosis nor its vision take us closer to a solution because it engages only partially with the complex political and economic realities facing the world’s refugees."
EU: The case for a common European refugee policy (Bruegel, link):
"Legal and political issues left the management of the 2015-16 refugee crisis mostly in the hands of national governments, but this is incompatible with an integrated economic area that has largely abolished internal borders. It is also incompatible with some founding European Union principles, such as the existence of a common European policy on the mobility of people.
A greater role for European institutions and policies is needed both for policing the common borders and imposing common welcome policy standards for refugees, based on best practices. EU measures are also required to face the long-term problems related to immigration, as it is very likely that economic and demographic differences between the EU and neighbouring countries will lead to further crises in the future. Planning for this requires ample and dedicated resources, and a long-term strategy based on agreements with immigrants’ countries of origin, a task that no EU country can pursue alone."
EU-SUDAN: EU funds to Sudan may worsen fate of refugees (EUobserver, link)
"These improved EU-Sudan relations may also mean EU support for Sudan’s notorious Janjaweed militia, rebranded the Rapid Support Force (RSF) in 2013. And just like their Janjaweed predecessors, the RSF is well-known for its extensive human rights violations within Sudan...
the very same Rapid Support Force has also been hired to curb migration via EU funds. In January, the RSF thwarted an operation to smuggle a group of illegal migrants across the desert to Libya, according to what a state official from North Darfur told The Sudan Tribune, who added that the captured migrants came from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen.
The RSF also said that it had handed over 1,500 alleged illegal migrants to the interior ministry earlier that month, claiming to have captured the migrants near the Sudan-Libya border in Northern State. The RSF’s involvement in anti-migration efforts was corroborated last August after RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti”, explicitly claimed that his force had been patrolling the Sudan-Libya border on the EU’s behalf."
UK: The Hostile Environment: turning the UK into a nation of border cops (Corporate Watch, link):
"In 2012 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced a new approach to immigration: to make Britain a “hostile environment” for people who have “no right to be here”.The introduction of compulsory ID checks in hospitals, due to start this month, is just one element. The plan is to make it ever tougher for people without the right immigration papers to get a job, rent a flat, use a bank, drive a car, get medical treatment, send kids to school, or otherwise live a normal life.
This report outlines 13 of the main hostile environment policies introduced so far... [there are] three basic themes across all these measures: mass information sharing, criminalisation of migrants, and widespread citizen collaboration."
ITALY: Asylum system overhauled: "there are so many ways you can build walls: with concrete or with rules"
A new decree (the Minniti-Orlando immigration decree) has been heavily criticised by Lorenzo Trucco, president of the Association for Legal Studies on Immigration (ASGI), who notes that the new rules mean "the entire asylum system will be changed, for the worse," and that "there are so many ways you can build walls: with concrete or with rules."
On Tuesday 4 April the Spanish interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, announced the creation of three new migration detention centres (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros, CIEs) in Malaga, Algeciras and Madrid.
UK: 'It's a shambles': data shows most asylum seekers put in poorest parts of Britain (The Guardian, link):
"More than five times as many asylum seekers live in the poorest third of the country as in the richest third, according to a Guardian analysis, which has prompted leading politicians to call for a complete overhaul of the dispersal system.
MPs have labelled the way asylum seekers are distributed around Britain “appalling”, “dreadfully designed” and “a deeply unfair shambles” because of the way it disproportionately houses people in poor, Labour-voting areas in the north of England and Wales, as well as Glasgow."
EU-LIBYA: Libya: The strategy that wasn’t (CEPS, link):
"As a failed state in the European Union’s immediate neighbourhood that serves as a base camp for terrorists and a conduit for irregular migration to Europe, Libya is precisely the kind of place for which the EU’s foreign policy instruments were designed, or so one might think. Since the NATO intervention that helped oust Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the EU has deployed most of its crisis response approaches and instruments in the country, including new procedures set out in the 2013 review of the European External Action Service (EEAS), most notably a Political Framework for a Crisis Approach (PFCA).
Yet, almost nothing in Libya has followed the liberal peacebuilding playbook, which assumes an improving security situation followed by reconstruction and sustained democratic political transformation. Instead, the EU has struggled to make any impact while the ongoing chaos in the country has deepened divisions among member states, with migration control emerging as the lowest common denominator for EU action."
AUSTRIA: Attacks on refugee homes double in Austria (New Europe, link):
"Attacks on refugee accommodation have doubled in Austria, according to data revealed by the interior ministry.
The data was presented at the request of Albert Steinhauser, an opposition Green party politician, who said he was dismayed to find out that more than three quarters of the 49 recorded cases remain unsolved.
“The most important thing is for the interior ministry to take these incidents seriously and make every necessary effort to investigate,” he told the Austria Press Agency."
GREECE: Regarding the rumors on the imminent evacuation of refugee squats and the escalation of the anti-refugee policy (City Plaza, link):
"It looks like the government attack against the refugee housing squats is being escalated. Following the evacuation of the Thessaloniki squats in the summer, the Alkiviadou refugee housing squat and Villa Zografou were evacuated a few weeks ago. Following the statements by Minister of Public Order Nikos Toskas last week, regarding the evacuation of refugee housing squats, rumors and leaked information has been circulating, setting the stage for a new round of attacks."
1,350 rescued in Mediterranean (News That Moves, link):
"From Reuters: Ships from humanitarian organisations and the Italian Coast Guard rescued 1,350 migrants in 12 separate operations in the Mediterranean Sea on April 6th.
The rescue operations were coordinated by Italian coast guard vessels and included ships from NGOs Proactiva Open Arms and Sea Watch."
EU: Council of the European Union: High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) (LIMITE doc no: 7430-17, pdf): With pages 5-32 on:
" GAMM UPDATE: 8 March 2017
This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."
This covers: Part 1 - The regional processes; (A) The Prague Process (B) The Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum (C) The Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue (D) The Rabat Process (E) The Budapest Process (F) The Khartoum Process (G) The ACP-EU Migration Dialogue (H) The EU-CELAC Migration Dialogue (I) The Valletta Summit
Part 2 - The bilateral dialogues (A) Turkey (B) Southern Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon) (C) Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus) (D) Russia (E) African countries (Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, South Africa) (F) Asian countries (China, India) (G) United States of America (H) Brazil
Part 3 - The global processes: Global Forum for Migration and Development, United Nations
And see: EU: Beyond the borders: overview of "external migration dialogues and processes" (Statewatch database)
EU Commission: Latest statistics: Relocations in the EU (6.4.17, pdf):
Greece: 11,339 relocations out of 63,336 needed, Italy: 5,001 out of 34,953 needed. Overall 27,393 pledges from Member States out of 160,000 called for.
and "Hotspots" situation in Greece and Italy (3.4.17, pdf)
Are You Syrious (8.4.17, link)
Denmark: No more transfers of vulnerable
"Denmark stops transferral of vulnerable refugees back to Greece, who already got protection in Greece. They stop the deportation to Greece on the grounds that there is no accommodation, no proper social system and no economic support for them when they have got their protection status in Greece."
Feature: Refugees left unprotected in Turkey
"A mob of about 30 armed people attacked today unprotected refugees in Izmir’s Torbali neighborhood. About 30 people were wounded, and over 500 forced to flee due to this attack.
According to the reports, we received from volunteers in Izmir, the attack that took place in Pamukyazi and was carried out on a rumor that a child was beaten by the Syrians. The attackers used scrubs and sticks. While running aways, some Syrians, including families were children, tried to stop cars to take them away, but nobody stopped to help people. After they left, their tents in a makeshift camp were destroyed...."
"Since the beginning of this year, according to the IOM, 29,811 people came to Europe by sea. Most of them, over 80 percent, arrived to Italy, while the rest arrived in Greece and Spain.
“According to MOAS figures, the people we rescue come mainly from Sub-Saharan African and both East and West African countries, the 3 most common countries of origin being Nigeria, Eritrea, and Gambia. Many others we rescue come from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. All of these are countries from which people are fleeing war, terrorism, poverty, repression and violence.”
Greece: While more people are coming, need for help is growing
"During Saturday, 38 people arrived at Samos, two from Syria and the rest from Algeria. For those who are already in Greece, and all those who are coming, more help is needed."
Macedonia; Unlawful detentions
"Macedonian Ombudsman on 4th of April visited the Reception Centre for Foreigners - Gazi Baba, only to discover a number of the people who have been kept in an unlawful detention. Those people are not registered and issued with documents for their detention...."
Viewpoint: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers
A new European Commission evaluation of EU laws on migrant smuggling concludes there is a need to improve the situation around "the perceived risk of criminalisation of humanitarian assistance" to "irregular" migrants. The Commission argues that the answer to the problem is "effective implementation of the existing legal framework" - but it is the laws currently in place, which let Member States decide whether or not to punish humanitarian assistance, that permits the existence in some EU Member States of a very real risk of criminalisation.
Eight European countries deport 50 more Nigerians today (Vanguard, link):
"Some 50 Nigerians were on Thursday deported from eight European countries for committing immigration-related offences.
The Nigerians were deported from Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Hungary. Their deportation is coming barely 48 hours after another set of 40 Nigerians were deported by the Italian Government, for similar reasons.
The fresh batch of deportees arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMlA), Lagos at about 7.36 a.m. The deportees, comprising of 48 males and two females, were brought back in a chartered Privileged Time aircraft, with registration number EC-L20. ":
Letting people drown is not an EU value (euobserver, link):
"595. A nice round number, right? It refers to the dead and missing in the central Mediterranean, mostly between Libya and Italy, in the first three months of 2017. The known dead died from drowning, exposure, hypothermia, and suffocation. Horrible, agonising deaths.
24,474. This is a nicer number. It refers to the women, men, and children who made it safely to Italy this year, all of them plucked from flimsy, overcrowded boats by European vessels. Many were rescued by teams from nongovernmental organisations patrolling international waters just off Libya, where most migrant boats depart."
Stop feeding the beast! A review of ‘My Country: A work in progress’ (IRR News Service, link) by LIz Fekete:
"A play built around seventy long interviews with ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’ about their feelings after the Brexit vote, inadvertently, provides insights into the immigration debate.
The liberal consensus on immigration has broken down. That’s what Brexit has taught us, or at least that’s what the establishment tells us that Brexit has taught us. The Conservative leadership risk no crisis of confidence within its ranks when it comes to pandering to anti-immigration sentiment – the nastier, the more hard-line, the better its coverage in the Daily Mail and the Sun.....
Once again, a door opens to a wider perspective – one in which immigration is merely a sign that stands in for something else, namely the indignities and dislocations that arise with the end of an era that promised full employment. Addressing the loss of meaning that ordinary people have experienced as their workplaces have been destroyed, and the dislocation of neighbourhoods and communities, that have been abandoned by successive governments, now that certainly is ‘a work in progress’."
Over 120 migrant arrivals recorded on Greek islands in 24 hours (.ekathimerini.com, link):
"A total of 124 migrants and refugees have landed on Greek shores in the past 24 hours, with 80 arriving on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, 30 on Chios and 14 on Leros."
The EU's Member States have given a warm welcome to recent proposals from the European Commission to lower human rights standards in order to increase the number of deportations, according to the secret minutes of a meeting of one of the Council's migration working parties which Statewatch is publishing here in full.
Donald Tusk, the recently re-elected President of the European Council, has recently been in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Slovenia where he emphasised the important role those countries have to play in guarding the "Balkan route" to central and northern Europe. The route has been followed by thousands of migrants and refugees and despite its official "closure" in March 2016, it remains in use and continues to be a lucrative business opportunity for people smugglers. Numerous countries have recently committed to working together more closely to try to ensure control.
BELGIUM: European Court of Human Rights: Detention of asylum-seeker at Belgian border did not infringe right to liberty and security
"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Thimothawes v. Belgium (application no. 39061/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:
no violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the five-month detention of an Egyptian asylum-seeker at the Belgian border.
The Court found in particular that any measure depriving a person of his liberty had to be prescribed by law. Where the legal provision in question originated in international law, only the domestic courts, except in the case of an arbitrary or manifestly unreasonable interpretation, were empowered to interpret domestic law pursuant to the supranational provisions in question. The Court only scrutinised the conformity of the effects of that interpretation with the Convention.
In the present case, the scrutiny of lawfulness conducted by the domestic courts of the detention order had taken account of the case-law of the Court. Moreover, the issue of the applicant’s mental health was not, on its own, sufficient for a finding that his detention had been arbitrary. Finally, the assessment of the facts of the case supported a finding that his period of detention had not been unreasonably long."
See: press release: Detention of an asylum-seeker at the Belgian border did not infringe the right to liberty and security secured under the Convention (pdf) and judgment: AFFAIRE THIMOTHAWES c. BELGIQUE (French only, application no. 39061/11, pdf)
GREECE: Returns to be Turkey to be accelerated as Chios at "breaking point" following attempted self-immolation
"As the inflow of undocumented migrants to the islands of the eastern Aegean rises with the improving weather, the government is planning action to ease the pressure on increasingly overcrowded reception centers.
In the coming days, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas is expected to issue a circular, banning migrants who appeal against a rejection of their application for political asylum from a voluntary repatriation scheme being run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)."
See: Greece to accelerate return of migrants to Turkey as arrivals pick up (Ekathimerini, link)
And: Mouzalas says situation on Chios has reached breaking point (Ekathimerini, link)
"Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said on Friday that the situation at migrant camps in Chios has reached breaking point.
Speaking to Parliament in the aftermath of a suicide attempt of migrant that set himself on fire, Mouzalas said “the situation on Chios is exceeding its limits.”
According to the minister, 2,500 refugees and migrants have been transferred to the Greek mainland, while another 1200 moved by themselves."
TURKEY: Daily Sabah accusing foreign NGO’s working in humantarian aid for refugees (HarekAct, link):
"Daily Sabah published an article accusing foreign NGO’s active in Turkey “trying to degenerate the culture of Syrian refugees”, by teaching their children “how to become free”. The author, Yunus Paksoy, writes that “some vulnerable Syrians think that such foreign NGOs are being insensitive while others claim that they have a hidden agenda.”
As Harekact editorial team, we find the content of this news very controversial, but we think it should be published in order to show the exclusionary discourse of some newspapers towards foreign NGOs in the country."
See: Syrian parents feel threatened by foreign NGOs assimilating children (Daily Sabah, link)
EU: Council adopts conclusions on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child (press release, pdf):
"The Council adopted conclusions on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. These conclusions follow the 'Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (2017) - Leave No Child Behind' adopted by the Council on 6 March 2017. With these guidelines, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to comprehensively protect and promote the rights of the child in its external human rights policy.
In line with the guidelines, the conclusions focus on promoting gender equality, ensuring the empowerment of girls, mainstreaming the rights of the child in all sectors and in all programming, and encouraging partner countries to adopt a national strategy on the rights of the child. The Council reaffirms the EU's support for the work of relevant international and regional actors in the field of children's rights, in particular within the United Nations framework. The Council reaffirms the EU's active engagement in the processes protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all refugee and migrant children."
See: Council Conclusions on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (pdf) and: EU: Council adopts child rights guidelines days after Commission recommends more child detention (Statewatch News Online, 8 March 2017)
UK: New report on the impact of the "right to rent" scheme requiring immigration checks from landlords and letting agents
"This report examines the impact of the 'right to rent' scheme a year on from its nationwide roll-out in England. The scheme requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants and refuse a tenancy to irregular migrants. If they fail to fully comply with the scheme they face a fine of up to £3,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years. The report builds on JCWI's independent evaluation published in 2015.
The report reveals that foreigners and British citizens without passports, particularly those from ethnic minorities, are being discriminated against in the private rental housing market.
In addition, the Government is failing to adequately monitor the scheme to measure whether or not it is working as intended, or whether it is causing discrimination, enforcement under the scheme is low and there is no evidence to suggest that the scheme is encouraging irregular migrants to leave the UK."
See the report: Passport Please (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, link)
EU-BELARUS: Schengen visa facilitation: jeopardised by fear of migrants? (Belarus Digest, link):
"Recent statements by Belarusian officials have confirmed that the country's citizens should not expect a more liberal visa regime with Europe in the foreseeable future. Belarus's decision to introduce a conditional visa-free regime for nationals of eighty countries, many of them European, does not mean Europe has to reciprocate.
Georgia and Ukraine, Belarus’s fellow inmates in the Soviet camp, will soon join Moldova in the group of countries which enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen zone. Meanwhile, Belarusians are subject to the strictest Schengen visa regime amongst all Eastern European nations.
Differences between Minsk and Brussels over the readmission procedure, concerning migrants who attempt to cross the Belarusian border into the EU, have dashed hopes for imminent visa facilitation. Does this mean citizens of Belarus will continue to be targets of expensive, complicated, and sometimes humiliating visa procedures?"
And see: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus (Statwatch News Online, 1 February 2017)
Italy brokers deal with Libyan tribes to curb migrant influx (euractiv, link):
"The Italian government said yesterday (2 April) that dozens of rival tribes in southern Libya had agreed to cooperate on securing the country’s borders in an effort to curb the influx of migrants trying to reach Europe.
Italy’s interior ministry said the 60 tribal leaders, notably the Tuareg of the southwest, the Toubou of the southeast, and the Arab tribe of Awlad Suleiman, had reached the 12-point deal after 72 hours of secret talks in Rome."
EU-Turkey deal fails to stop refugee flow (DW, link)
"A year after the EU-Turkey Deal came into force, thousands of refugees remain stranded in Greece. The most desperate try to reach Europe by any means. Marianna Karakoulaki and Dimitris Tosidis report from Thessaloniki."
Sisyphus ordeal for refugees in Greece (DW, link)
Living in abandoned wagons near Thessaloniki's railway station, refugees squeeze into tiny holes inside freight trains as they try to sneak out of Greece. DW's photojournalist Dimitris Tosidis met them in Thessaloniki.
Scotland demands powers to bring in more migrants (euractiv, link):
"As British PM Theresa May presses ahead with a hard Brexit and a retreat from the single market, Scotland said on Monday (3 April) that its distinct demographic trends require powers over immigration to support public services and the economy.
The Scottish government predicts that 90% of the population increase in Scotland over the next decade will come from net migration, both from international migration and from the rest of the UK."
Tusk says EU determined to keep Balkan migrants routes closed (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"The European Union is determined to stick to a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of undocumented migrants into the bloc, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday.
Tusk, who met Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev, welcomed Sofia’s efforts to boost security on its southeastern border with Turkey to prevent migrants from crossing. He said Brussels would provide additional financing if the situation worsened.
“We are determined to keep routes of illegal migration in this region closed,” Tusk told reporters. “We remain committed to the full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement."
Greece: More than 1,600 new arrivals in March (News That Moves, link):
"March recorded a significant increase in arrivals of migrants and refugees to the Greek islands, month on month.
Data from the Coordinating Body for the Refugee Crisis Management shows that more than 1,600 people crossed by sea from Turkey to Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and other islands between March 1st and March 31th.
March was the month with the most arrivals to Greece in 2017.
In February, approximately 1,000 people arrived on Greek islands.
In January, about 1,400 crossed by sea from Turkey."
Afghans deported from Europe arrive home, to war and unemployment (Reuters, link):
"Two more planes carrying Afghans deported from Europe landed in Kabul this week, failed asylum seekers sent back under an agreement between the European Union and Afghan government.
The arrivals mean 248 people have been deported from Europe to Afghanistan this year, compared with 580 throughout 2016, said Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations.
The number of Afghans deported from Europe is small compared to the thousands returning voluntarily, but deportations are rising and some migration experts say expelling people to a country where the government controls less than two thirds of territory amid a Taliban insurgency is wrong.
Fifteen deportees arrived by chartered flight from Germany on Tuesday, while 19 landed on Wednesday from Austria and 10 from Sweden. Another flight, from Finland, is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday."
UK: Five appear in court following 'brutal attack on asylum seeker in Croydon' (Evening Standard, link)
"Five people have appeared in court charged with violent disorder after an alleged hate crime left a teenage asylum seeker fighting for his life in Croydon.
Daryl Davis, 20, Danyelle Davis, 24, Barry Potts, 20, George Walder, 20, and Jack Walder, 24, spoke only to confirm their names and addresses during the short hearing at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Monday afternoon.
George Walder was also charged with racially aggravated grievous bodily harm.
Kurdish Iranian Reker Ahmed, 17, was chased and subjected to what police described as a "brutal attack" after a gang discovered he was an asylum seeker."
EU: Council of the European Union: Eurodac and Posted Workers
Council documents proposing extending the reach of Eurodac and including an passports and ID documents in the system.
EU: Council of the European Union: Resettlement: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 7396-17, pdf): Extends its scope to include a "Humanitarian Admission Framework". With 128 Footnotes with Member States' positions
"As individual organisations, the attendees have come together in Brussels with the support of MEP Miguel Urban because of the on-going humanitarian crisis on Europe’s southern borders, and the Search and Rescue (SAR) NGOs ongoing essential efforts to save life at sea....
all attendees and representatives have agreed the objective and intent of the First Edition of the voluntary ‘Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue Operations undertaken by civil society Non-Governmental Organisations in in the Mediterranean Sea’ on the basis that the Code aligns with the three core areas for undertaking lawful SAR operations, those being; following accepted international humanitarian principles, defending fundamental human rights and the professionalization of operational conduct."
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