Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-30.9.17)
Surge in migration to Greece fuels misery in refugee camps (Guardian, link):
"Reception centres vastly overstretched as more than 200 people arrive every day, 40% of them children .
Greece is experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of refugees and migrants entering the country, exacerbating already deplorable living conditions on island camps.
The number of people arriving, across land and sea borders, has more than doubled since the beginning of the summer. Authorities estimate arrivals are now at their highest level since March 2016, with over 200 men, women and children being registered every day.
“It is dramatic and it is the most vulnerable of the vulnerable coming in,” said Elias Pavlopoulos, who heads Médecins sans Frontières in Greece. “There are whole families fleeing war zones in Syria and Iraq. In the last few months our clinics have seen more people who have suffered violence, who are victims of rape, who have been tortured, than ever before.(...)
Over 1,500 unaccompanied minors are currently on waiting lists in Greece to be housed in child shelters.”
See also: Greece: More than 400 migrants have landed on Aegean islands since Monday (ekathimerini.com, link): "New arrivals to the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos have raised the number of migrants landing in Greece from neighboring Turkey since Monday to 406, government figures showed on Friday.In the past five days, 207 migrants landed on Lesvos, 156 on Chios and 43 on Samos."
"This week, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, hosted the 21st meeting of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC), gathering representatives of 21 African countries and a number of EU institutions.
During the gathering, Frontex launched a project to develop the capacity of AFIC countries to work on joint intelligence analysis of crime. This project will focus on training experts and setting up AFIC Risk Analysis Cells (RACs). It is funded by the European Commission."
"Ultimately, Europe remains in a risky situation until real alternatives are in place: reform of the CEAS including the crucial solidarity piece; safe and legal channels in addition to protection for all who need it; and global level solutions with Europe doing its fair share. A lot of this goes beyond the Agenda but while it remains a framework to follow, more emphasis and resources should be on its positive and not its restrictive elements."
European Commission: Commission presents next steps towards a stronger, more effective and fairer EU migration and asylum policy (Press release, pdf)
"A more effective EU policy on return: A more effective EU policy on return With return rates remaining unsatisfactory (around 36% in 2014-2015) and an estimated 1.5 million people to be returned from EU Member States in the near future, the Commission proposes to step up return efforts on all fronts." [emphasis added]
The Connission states (COM 558-17): "And yet, according to EUROSTAT data, out of the approximately 1 million third-country nationals found to be illegally present in the EU in 2016, only half received orders to leave the EU, and less than half of that figure (226,000) were effectively returned."
Statewatch comment: This quote is a bit misleading as third country nationals "illegaly present" includes visa overstayers thought to comprise about half of the overall figure.
The Commission, in the same report, states: "Based on the lessons learned in Greece and Italy, the Commission will present later in the autumn guidelines, including a template for standard operating procedures on how to set up and use hotspots in case of disproportionate migratory pressure at the external border of any Member State." This appears to refer not just to taking the "hotspot" approach in states with sea borders but at land borders inside the EU.
The Latest Greek Ministry figures: 26.9.17 show that there are 13,427 on the Greek islands.
Numbers and capacity: Lesvos 4,788 with capacity of 2,330, Samos 2,863 with capacity of 700, Kos 810 with capacity of 772.
"Premises managed by Greek Police: Pre-return detention centres": Lesvos 157 refugees with capacity of 210 in Section B Moira and Kos 150 held with capacity of 500.
Detention in police stations: Lesvos 4, Chios 18, Samos 29 (with capacity of 240) Leros 2, Kos: none,"Other islands": 49.
New arrivals on the islands 152.
Migration : After France, Belgium collaborates with the dictatorial regime of Sudan (AEDH, link):
"Théo Francken, Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, called on Sudanese agents to carry out identification checks in the Maximilian Park in Brussels, where many migrants found ‘refuge’. The European Association for the Defense of Human Rights (AEDH) strongly condemns the resort to Sudanese agents at the service of President Omar Hassan Ahmad el Bashir dictatorial regime, who is himself under two international arrest warrants for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The identification of Sudanese nationals and the following forced returns endanger the lives of these individuals and their families. This situation is not only worrying but unacceptable as it contradicts, among others, Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union."
"What was before a more or less, albeit poorly, functioning asylum system, has been turned into a carefully constructed, but unsustainable, system of detention and transit zones. Systematic pushbacks to Serbia, and more recently to Romania, continue. The fence area has developed into a militarized zone of pushbacks and detention."
GREECE: Coast guard rescues more than 20 off Kastellorizo, 9-year-old girl dies (ekathimerini.com, link):
"More than 20 migrants or refugees were rescued and one child died Thursday on a Greek island after the boat they sailed from the Turkish coast overnight either capsized or sank, Greek authorities said.
Greece’s coast guard said a vessel from the European border agency Frontex initially picked up six people it spotted in the sea off the small southeastern island of Kastellorizo. One of the six, a 9-year-old girl, was taken to a hospital on the island but later died, the coast guard said. "
UNHCR Update: 512 refugees arrived in Lesvos, Greece between 20-26 September.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25-27.9.17)
Commission moves from mandatory refugee relocations to voluntary resettlement (euractiv, link):
"The Commission on Wednesday (27 September) made no proposals to continue with the divisive mandatory refugee relocation system and instead focused on resettlement, which means taking candidate refugees from outside the EU, on a non-mandatory basis."
The Commission has published a new version of the 'Return Handbook', that is supposed to be used by national authorities to implement the EU Returns Directive and has been revised in order to implement a host of recommendations on "making returns more effective".
"In a report on its April and July 2016 visits to Greece, published today, the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) raises concerns over the situation in the “hotspots” on the Aegean islands and is highly critical of the continued immigration detention of unaccompanied children."
See: Report (pdf)
"IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 134,549 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 24 September, with over 75 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 302,175 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.
IOM Rome’s Flavio di Giacomo reported on Thursday, 21 September that, according to official figures of the Italian Ministry of Interior, 103,318 migrants arrived by sea to Italy this year, or some 21.5 per cent fewer than last year in the same period.
Di Giacomo reported a shipwreck that occurred off the Libyan coast last week – with at least 90 missing migrants – has been confirmed."
The European Commission has announced a swathe of plans and proposals that will allow three-year internal border controls in the Schengen area; introduce an expanded, 50,000-place EU resettlement scheme for refugees backed by €500 million; attempt to increase the number of returns, including by "significantly reinforcing" Frontex's return operations; and inviting the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) "to coordinate a pilot project on private sponsorship schemes with interested Member States."
HUNGARY: Asylum system in Hungary dismantled as elections approach - Migszol update (Migszol, link):
"What was before a more or less, albeit poorly, functioning asylum system, has been turned into a carefully constructed, but unsustainable, system of detention and transit zones. Systematic pushbacks to Serbia, and more recently to Romania, continue. The fence area has developed into a militarized zone of pushbacks and detention.
Following the format of our previous monthly updates, this brief post overlooks the main developments in
Hungary in 2017 on the ground, while the next post coming up in a few days time looks at political developments. For legal developments and a monthly update on the asylum situation in Hungary, please see also the publications of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee."
Italy’s Dodgy Deal on Migrants (NYT, link):
"With the blessing of the European Union, Italy is offshoring its Mediterranean migration problem to a former colony, Libya. The goal is to prevent mostly sub-Saharan African migrants from leaving Libya’s shores for Europe. But the tactics could further destabilize Libya and condemn migrants to more misery.
Italy’s interior minister, Marco Minniti, isn’t shy about why his country has moved to beef up Libya’s coast guard, strike deals with tribesmen who control Libya’s southern border, persuade clan-based militias to prevent boats from leaving Libya and promise Libyan mayors sources of revenue to replace profits stemming from trafficking. It’s all about keeping populist parties from fanning migration fears ahead of Italy’s elections next spring."
"European countries have utterly failed to fulfil their commitments to relocate asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy, Amnesty International said, as the two year period in which asylum-seekers are eligible for the relocation scheme comes to a close on 26 September 2017.
“Two years after this scheme was agreed, most EU member states have fundamentally failed refugees and asylum-seekers, shirking their responsibilities and leaving thousands abandoned in Italy and Greece. This isn’t about paying lip service to doing right by refugees and asylum-seekers, it is a legal obligation... Other EU countries must step up and make good on the promises they made, or risk being taken to the European Court and potentially facing tough penalties,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland." .
On 19 July 2017, the French Council of State ruled on the conditions for the lawfulness of a transfer decision and detention under the Dublin III Regulation, following the request for legal clarity solicited by the Administrative Court of Appeal of Douai.
Quaker Council for European Affairs: Child Immigration Detention in Europe (pdf):
"The report concludes by reasserting that detention is never in the best interests of a child, having detrimental impact on health and well-being. While there is an international growing consensus on the need for alternatives to detaining children, European countries are continuing to do so."
DENMARK: Women Refugees in Denmark (Brave New Europe, link) by Victoria Canning and Alice Minor:
"For a country steeped in the rhetoric of rights, Denmark’s treatment of people seeking asylum has been its gradual fall from grace
Beyond the peripheries of the opulence of Nyhavn and The Little Mermaid, two hours from the centre of Copenhagen, sits a former psychiatric hospital that is now ‘home’ to around 300 people awaiting refugee status in Denmark.
The centre has an ironic beauty – like much of the Danish countryside, it sits close to forest, lakes and fields. After a month of visiting women living there, the irony becomes clear: there is little beauty in languishing in nothingness, where almost nothing exists to occupy ones months or even years. Access to communities outside of the ‘camp’, or asylum centre, is limited by poverty, spatial exclusion and – for some at least – the depletion of morale that comes with the realisation of time wasted."
Migrants caught between tides and politics in the Mediterranean: an imperative for search and rescue at sea? (BMJ Global Health, link):
"Our unequivocal call to Europe and the international community is clear. Introduce more rescue assets that will enable a higher level of proactive SAR operations that could save more lives. Europe also needs to give up deterrence-based policies and instead introduce safe and legal channels for migration as a primary solution to smuggling and dangerous sea crossings.
In the meantime, for humanitarian NGOs such as MSF, there is a valid humanitarian imperative to save lives through ‘SAR’ as it involves respecting international legal obligations, but more fundamentally, it is about upholding fundamental human values."
MEDITERRANEAN: Statement by Mission Lifelife: Attack by the Libyan Coastguard on the rescue vessel "Lifeline"
Our civilian rescue ship, the "Lifeline", was attacked yesterday by the Libyan coast guard during its first rescue operation in the Mediterranean.
While our crew provided humanitarian aid 19 miles off the Libyan coast (in international waters), the Libyan Coast Guard attacked our ship by firing shots and entering our rescue ship without the consent of our captain.
European Commission: Consultation on lowering the fingerprinting age for children in the visa procedure from 12 years to 6 years (link):
"This consultation is part of the preparations leading to a revision of the legal basis of the Visa Information System that the Commission is planning to put forward in 2018.
This public consultation is part of a wider process of consultation of the stakeholders, feeding into a study on the necessity and proportionality of lowering the fingerprinting age for children in the visa procedure as a way to respond to concerns of children going missing, being victims of trafficking, child abduction, and irregular migration involving minors.
The study on the necessity and proportionality of lowering the fingerprinting age for children will, in particular:
Brussels, 10 October: EU ‘take-back’ agreements with African countries: A promising tool to curb irregular migration? (CEPS, link):
"This seminar will consider the merits of two proposals put forward by migration experts to better manage these migration flows across the Mediterranean. First, the proposals emphasise the need to open up more legal pathways to the EU in order to provide alternatives to the perilous Central Mediterranean route. Second, they insist that a sustainable EU asylum system needs to provide stronger motivations to countries of origin to induce them to take back rejected asylum seekers.
Gerald Knaus, Chairman of the European Stability Initiative and architect of the EU-Turkey agreement, will present concrete ideas on how these two approaches can be combined to form effective EU ‘take-back’ agreements with African countries. An expert EU policymaker will then discuss the feasibility and challenges to Knaus’ proposals."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20-24.9.17)
Greece: Court decisions pave way for first forcible returns of asylum-seekers under EU-Turkey deal (AI, link):
"Two Syrian refugees are at risk of being forcibly returned to Turkey after Greece’s highest administrative court rejected their final appeals against earlier rulings declaring their asylum claims inadmissible. This could set a dangerous precedent for future returns of asylum-seekers under the EU-Turkey deal, Amnesty International said.(...)
“Today - for the first time since the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal - Greece, acting on behalf of the entire EU, took a conscious decision which will result in two refugees being sent to a country which is already struggling to meet the basic needs of almost three million other refugees,” said John Dalhuisen.
“Until such time as asylum-seekers and refugees can be guaranteed effective protection in Turkey, EU countries must stop sending them there.”"
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "This judgment could lead to mass forced returns to Turkey. And could also lead to thousands of Dublin returns to Greece from other EU Member States with the country being used as a detention state."
Greece: Lesvos (Eric Kempson reports, link): "Lesvos so far this month 49 boats have arrived, total 2,122 people."
Also according to Greek Ministry figures (22.9.17): the number of refugees held in Section B, Moira, Lesvos: "pre-return detention centres" has risen from 150 (14.9.17) to 165 and in Kos has risen from 150 to 168,
Are You Syrious (23.9.17, link)
Turkey’s high tech border wall nearly completed
"LoGcal news reports that the concrete barrier between Turkey and Syria will be completed by the end of September. They have so far completed 731 kilometres and have 97 to go.
Modular walls are being erected along the Turkish-Syrian borderline with seven-ton mobile blocks, two meters wide and three meters high. The blocks have also been topped with one-meter-high razor wire.
An electronic layer consists of close-up surveillance systems, thermal cameras, land surveillance radar, remote-controlled weapons systems, command-and-control centers, line-length imaging systems and seismic and acoustic sensors.
The advanced technology layer of the project includes wide area surveillance, laser destructive fiber-optic detection, surveillance radar for drone detection, jammers and sensor-triggered short distance lighting systems."
The search for bodies continued today in the Black Sea and it has now been confirmed that 42 people, including children, have died. Volunteers state that better communication with rescue teams will help to prevent further catastrophes such as this. Saad Kasem of United Rescue Aid has asked the people who are travelling to maintain contact whenever possible.
We are volunteers in rescue and refugee assistance, and we will not stop a moment from our work, please contact us to help save the lives of your children. +46 8 559 253 50 Alarmphone United rescue aid."
Greece: Hot spot staff warn of strain as arrivals spike (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Amid concerns over a rise in migrant arrivals from Turkey, staff at Greece’s reception and identification centers (RICs), commonly known as “hot spots,” wrote to Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas to complain about deteriorating conditions on the island facilities.
In their letter, workers warned about shortages in medical personnel following the government’s decision to terminate cooperation with humanitarian organizations and pass on responsibility for recruitments to the Health Ministry.
“For about a month in mid-summer, the Kos RIC was left without a single nurse for a population of 850 with a high morbidity rate,”
And: Overland arrivals: Police say dozens of Syrian families crossing into Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Police say a total of 168 Syrian refugees have crossed into Greece over its land border with Turkey. Police say that while border crossings, over land or sea, are everyday occurrences what is unusual in this case is that the refugees are all families and that traffickers are not involved."
Greece: Almost a third of UNHCR accommodation empty while refugees and asylum-seekers continue to sleep on the streets
In Greece the current occupancy rate of UNHCR accommodation is 71.2%. This means almost a third of places are empty.This is not because there is no one to fill them.
Volunteers and workers on the ground in Greece know that there are refugees and asylum seekers sleeping on the streets and in squats who have been trying to get accommodation for months.
See: Weekly accommodation update: September 19, 2017 (pdf) from UNHCR, Norweigan Refugee Council, Terre des hommes, Care, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.
"At least five migrants died and more than 90 were missing after their boat capsized off Libya's western coast, a major embarkation point for the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe, the Libyan coast guard said Thursday.(...)
At least five migrants died and more than 90 were missing after their boat capsized off Libya's western coast, a major embarkation point for the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe, the Libyan coast guard said Thursday."
Armed group ‘seeks legitimacy’ with Tripoli migrant deal (euractiv, link):
"A powerful armed group, known for smuggling people from Libya, is seeking legitimacy and state security jobs from the Tripoli government in exchange for stopping migrant boats from leaving the coast of Sabratha for Italy, a senior group member said.
The group, the Anas al-Dabbashi brigade, struck a deal with Libya’s United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) this summer to clamp down on trafficking, the senior brigade member, who gave his name as Mohamed, told Reuters."
Asylum seekers create EU 'limbo' nation (euobserver, link):
"The number of asylum seekers "in limbo" in the EU is likely to have become greater than the combined populations of Cyprus and Malta, estimates indicate.
More than 1.1 million of the 2.2 million people who sought asylum in the EU and associated countries Norway and Switzerland in 2015 and 2016 still do not know if they will get it, according to a new survey by US pollster Pew."
Direct Provision in Ireland: the holding pen for asylum seekers (IRR News, link):
"In the first of a series, asylum campaigner John Grayson examines the Direct Provision (DP) system for asylum seekers in Ireland. Part-two will examine the private companies involved in providing services under DP."
GREECE: Migrant rescue led to tension with Turkish coast guard, sources say (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Coast guard officers on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos have said that a migrant rescue officially reported as having been carried out without incident had actually involved serious tension with Turkish counterparts on Wednesday.
Sources on the island speaking to Kathimerini said that a Hellenic Coast Guard patrol boat called out to rescue an undisclosed number of migrants and refugees on the maritime border between Greece and Turkey was harassed by Turkish counterparts when the Greek officers refused to turn the rubber boat over to them.
According to their claims, a second Turkish coast guard boat joined the first after the Greek crew refused to comply with its demand and started making dangerous and aggressive maneuvers around the Greek vessel. Its antics were such that the rope attaching the rubber dinghy to the Greek coast guard boat was severed.
The harassment reportedly continued all the way into Lesvos’s port in Mytilene, where a Hellenic Navy boat thwarted the continued advance of the Turkish vessels."
Without Good Interpreters, Refugees Are Lost in an Information Void (Refugees Deeply, link):
"Humanitarian interpreters are in short supply, undermining effective refugee response in countries like Greece, writes Julie Jalloul of Translators without Borders, which is launching a new platform to help connect interpreters and refugee support groups."
Dubs scheme refugee children left on hold for a year in Greece (Guardian, link)
"Group of up to 60 unaccompanied children expecting to come to UK have heard nothing about their applications."
EU charting the wrong course in migration policy (euobserver, link):
"European officials have faced strong criticism for prioritising security interests over the rights of vulnerable people, in their efforts to stem migration flows.
In particular, many perceive the EU, which measures the success of its efforts in the reduced number of people crossing the Mediterranean, to be guilty of hypocrisy as it claims that its efforts are informed by "strong policies to protect human rights and ensure dignified living conditions for migrants in countries of transit". (...)
The EU and its member states have been impelled to work with problematic partner governments in order to 'do something' about migration. Particularly, the main approach has been to reinforce the capacity of priority countries - like Libya, Niger and Chad - to control their borders and, as such, control Europe's.
Nevertheless, this kind of support not only overlooks the role that these regimes play in pushing people out in the first place, but also the manner in which they deal with migrants and refugees on their territory."
UN: Unlawful death of refugees and migrants (pdf): Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard:
The present report focuses on the mass casualties of refugees and migrants in the course of their flight. It addresses killings by both State and non-State actors, and denounces a quasi-generalized regime of impunity, worsened by an absence of accurate data on the dead and missing. The Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings calls urgently on States to address this human rights crisis by prioritizing the protection of the right to life in their migration and refugee policies.(...)
Other violations to the right to life result from policies of extraterritoriality amounting to aiding and assisting in the arbitrary deprivation of life, and from the failure to prevent preventable and foreseeable deaths, as well as the limited number of investigations into these unlawful deaths. The report also presents best practices in search and rescue operations and for the dignified treatment of the dead, but points out that States do not implement them as they should, and fail to resource them adequately.
"Governments around the world know that people will die attempting to cross dangerous border regions, including deserts, rivers and seas. Here, the conflict between human rights and migration control could not be clearer: migrants are supposed to be deterred from crossing a border because they might die. It is impossible to protect the right to life while simultaneously attempting to deter entry by endangering life. Nor is it acceptable to discourage exit out of countries where lives are endangered on the grounds that doing so saves lives from the dangers of border crossing: that is simply permitting a more secret death elsewhere." [emphasis added]
Greece: Lesvos mayor issues warning on refugee numbers (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos has written to the government and the European Commission asking that immediate action be taken to reduce the number of refugees on the island.
In the letter sent to European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos and Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, Galinos says there are now more than 6,000 refugees and migrants on the island, which is far more than existing facilities can cope with."
Statewatch report: Greek Ministry report shows that as of morning of 19 September there were 5,916 refugees in camps on Lesvos. In the main camps there are 4,352 refugees which officially have a capacity of 2,330. 157 are being held in "Pre-return detention centres" (in Section B in Moria camp which has a capacity of 210) and 4 are held in detention at police stations.
The only other island with "Pre-return centres" is Kos with 165 refugees held (capacity 500)
A total of 13,038 refugees are on the Greek islands.
According to UNHCR 525 refugees arrived on Lesvos between 13-19 September.
Italy picks up more migrants (New Europe, link):
"Italy picked up another 2,000 migrants aiming to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in the past week, while Libya’s coastguard rescued more than 3,000"
Migrants in Tunisia/Libya: MEPs to assess search and rescue operations (EP press release, link):
"A Civil Liberties Committee delegation will be in Tunisia from 18 to 22 September to assess cooperation in migration management between the EU and countries in the region.
MEPs will evaluate “search and rescue” operations in the Mediterranean and the current situation in Libya. They will discuss visa liberalisation and readmission agreements with national and local authorities, as well as representatives of the EU, other international bodies, and NGOs."
AGREEMENT WITH SUDANN ON REFUGEES: De Morgen reports the Belgian government is cooperating with the Sudanese government to identify and send home refugees via sweeps of the Brussels North train station. The International Criminal Court accuses Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir of genocide and the regime hosted Osama Bin Laden and other extremist groups. More in De Morgen.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.9.17)
A new report by Global Health Advocates says that the EU's multi-billion euro 'Emergency Trust Fund for Africa', launched following the November 2015 Valletta Summit and designed to address "root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa", is prioritising "quick fixes driven by Europe’s short-term domestic priorities, with little involvement of local governments let alone civil society actors."
The EU’s militarisation of development aid (EurActiv, link):
"Security will be the keyword of the EU’s development policy in the near future.
On Thursday (14 September), the European Parliament gave a green light to start the discussion with other European institutions on the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).
This program allows member states to intervene to prevent or address a crisis.
For the first time, it will be possible to use it for military purposes, especially in African countries plagued by instability. The European Commission announced it will receive €17.5 million to “address the terrorist threat in Middle East and North Africa”."
See also: The new European consensus on development: 'our world, our dignity, our future' (pdf) agreed 8 June 2016 and: European Consensus on Development (European Commission, link)
"When the refugees disembark at port in Sicily, those with wristbands are handed off to Italian police, who will interview them again and arrest the suspected smugglers, in an effort to break up the criminal networks that have brought over 85,000 people to Italy this year. Regardless of whether rescued by the coast guard or ships run by NGOs, every boatload of refugees that arrives in Sicily goes through a similar process.
The Italian press cheer these operations as a key part of the fight against illegal immigration, lionizing figures like Carlo Parini, a former mafia investigator who is now a top anti-human trafficking police officer in Italy. Parini leads a squad of judicial police in the province of Siracusa in eastern Sicily, one of several working under different provincial prosecutors, and his aggressive style has earned him the nickname “the smuggler hunter.”
There is only one problem: the vast majority of people arrested and convicted by these police are not smugglers. Almost 1400 people are currently being held in Italian prisons merely for driving a rubber boat or holding a compass. Most of them paid smugglers in Libya for passage to Europe and were forced to pilot the boat, often at gunpoint."
Greece: No School for Many Asylum-Seeking Kids (Human Rights Watch, link):
"Greece’s Education Ministry should move quickly to implement positive new plans for the education of asylum-seeking children on the Aegean islands and make schools accessible to all of them, Human Rights Watch said today. When the school year began on September 11, 2017, hundreds of asylum-seeking children who are being prevented from leaving the islands due to a European Union deal with Turkey remained out of school.
Greece will extend a program that provides special Greek classes and integration support for non-native speaking pupils to asylum-seeking children on the islands. But this program excludes children in the so-called refugee hotspots and other reception facilities who cannot obtain the proof of address required to enroll in school. To reach children in these facilities, the Education Ministry recently announced it would open afternoon classes at public schools on the islands."
The Spanish interior minister, Juan Iganacio Zoido, announced on 12 September that a further €12 million will go to the border fence in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in north Africa bordering Morocco, as the fence does not currently "fulfil its purpose".
A study by the Hungarian Helsinki committee (May 2017) looks at the treatment of asylum seekers who are victims of torture or traumatised in eight EU Member States and finds that while EU legislation generally "provides sufficient guarantees", tortured or traumatised asylum-seekers are not being identified or treated because of "the lack of or improper transposition" of the EU's Reception Conditions and Asylum Procedures directives, or because of "the lack of actual implementation in practice".
BELGIUM: On the unfolding situation of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants sleeping rough in the streets of Brussels – Interview with Jolien Potemans Policy Officer at the Flemish Refugee Action who has been on location several times (ECRE, link):
"Informal refugee camps in cities – a (new) European reality? Reports of informal refugee camps and mounting police violence against the people inhabiting them are coming from all over Europe at the moment: Brussels, Paris and Rome. In an interview on the situation in Brussels, Jolien Potemans, Policy Officer at the Flemish Refugee Action, explains what is at stake for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants sleeping rough at the city’s Northern train station and how this problem is interlinked with national and European policies."
"...a national legislation such as that in Sweden, which allows for a detention to be maintained for 3 or 12 months until the transfer is carried out, is at odds with the DRIII and the guarantees under Article 6 CFREU."
"There’s no shortage of news on Libya’s migration crisis, but there is a serious dearth of policy solutions.
Late last month, the International Organization for Migration announced what passes for good news at the moment: no deaths on the Mediterranean for 20 days. This followed reports, later denied, that Italy had been paying militias to prevent people from leaving Libya’s shores.
But the risk of drowning is far from the only danger facing migrants attempting the central Mediterranean route into Europe. Migrants are subject to arbitrary detention, arrest, harassment, bonded labour, slavery, and sexual exploitation.
And even as drowning numbers are down, IOM says there has been an increase in trafficking rather than smuggling on the central Mediterranean route – the former distinguished by the coercion and extortion that continues after arrival at the destination. This trend is partly because fewer Syrians (and migrants in general) are making the journey, so those plying the route are seeking ways to keep profits up – sub-Saharan African women appear to be paying a horrible price in this shift, finding themselves forced into the sex industry in greater numbers.
Human rights groups, humanitarians, and governments are naturally concerned, but some rights advocates feel the anti-trafficking policies of the European Union and others are more aimed at stopping migration entirely."
"European policymakers increasingly are looking at the Fezzan, Libya’s vast and scarcely populated south west, as their frontier against sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees traveling the Central Mediterranean route to Europe. In 2016, over 160,000 took this route from Libya on makeshift boats; most had entered through this region, which connects the country’s southern border with its coast. Several European countries, chiefly Italy, hope that stabilising the situation in the Fezzan and reviving its economy will help curb migrant flows."
ROMANIA: Desperate Europe-bound migrants turn to capricious Black Sea (EurActiv, link):
"While the arrival of exhausted migrants may be common on Mediterranean shores, it’s a rare sight on the Black Sea coastline. But a string of recent arrivals from Turkey suggests it may be emerging as part of a new ‘Romanian route’ to western Europe.
Shortly before dawn on Wednesday (13 September), around 150 people, a third of them children, were rescued in the Black Sea – the fifth migrant boat to be intercepted by Romanian authorities since mid-August.
The arrival of some 570 Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Iranians and Pakistanis in less than a month remains modest compared to the influx recorded in the Mediterranean.
In 2014, the last year of relative activity, close to 300 migrants crossed the Black Sea to reach Romania."
And: Romania braces for migrant influx (New Europe, link): "Romania police reported that 2,800 migrants were caught trying to illegally enter the country since the start of this year. This is an increase of 1,624 compared to the whole of 2016."
The European Commission has said is up to the Member States to determine the national authority responsible for dealing with complaints about the activities of border guards working in Frontex operations, in response to a question from an MEP who asked whether it was right that Italy "lump migrants together with prisoners" by giving the role to the 'Italian Authority for the protection of the rights of people who are detained or deprived of liberty'.
Lampedusa migrants condemned by Mayor Salvatore Martello (Deutsche Welle, link):
"The mayor of the Italian island of Lampedusa, destination for many migrants setting off from Tunisia, complained on Sunday that his town was on the verge of societal collapse.
Groups of migrants were flouting laws, harassing women and getting drunk, Mayor Salvatore Martello said in an open letter to Italian news agency ANSA and in comments to Italian news outlets.
"Threats, harassments, thefts, Lampedusa is about to collapse," Martello wrote, calling for the closure of the "useless" migrant center on the island. "Police are powerless," he wrote.
His comments were rejected by his predecessor Nicolini, who told ANSA he was vastly overstating the problem and that there were very few thefts.
"This is an attempt to restore the climate of fear that existed on Lampedusa before my election," she was quoted as saying."
"Since 2015, more than one million people have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the coastlines of Greece and Turkey. At present, there are still more than 60,000 refugees stranded in Greece and more than three million in Turkey, of which nearly half are children.
From the start of the current mass migration, refugees have to live under disastrous humanitarian conditions. Last winter was the second in which an alarming number of people had to survive in inadequate camps of tents - highlighting the failure to address this humanitarian crisis with European competency. Binding agreements, such as the Relocation Program and the Reunification of Separated Families Program, are only partly implemented and connected to long administrative processes. Basic humanitarian care for refugees in Turkey and Greece is mainly provided by private initiatives and small NGOs that receive little or no support from the EU or local governments.
Together with representatives of the civil society, the public and the political sphere, strategies and action plans will be developed. Participants are invited to inform themselves about the current refugee situation and receive up to date and first-hand factual information."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-17.9.17)
Who Protects Refugees? 15/09/2017 (Eric & Philippa Kempson, Lesvos, Greece, You Tube, link)
"Civil society groups warn that further deterioration in protection is likely as Brexit looms.
Britain is heading for a confrontation this week at the UN human rights council over its failure to support more than 100 recommendations on subjects ranging from the rights of children to the international law on abortion.(...)
Among the recommendations that the government has declined to back, a number outline the need for the UK to limit how long someone can be held in an immigration detention centre. The UK is the only European country without such a time limit.
Britain has also declined to support recommendations on the detention of children in immigration centres. Of a total of 229 recommendations by UN members, the government will confirm that it is supporting just 96 – 42% of the total. The government has chosen simply to “note” the remainder."
They can't sail for Europe - so what's happening to migrants trapped in Libya? (MIddle East Eye, link)
"Militias are trying to take over government detention centres - and trade their occupants as human commodity (...)
Libya has become the preferred destination for migrants and refugees heading for Europe. In the first half of 2017, at least 2,030 people died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean for southern Europe. The greatest number set off from Libya.
The EU, and especially Rome, has tried to work with the Libyan authorities to return migrant ships back to North Africa."
Refugee surge on Greek islands (DW, link)
"As smuggling activity in the Aegean Sea has reached the highest level since last fall, the Greek islands are once again becoming overcrowded. Diego Cupolo reports that most new arrivals come via Turkey.
Aid groups are once again struggling to accommodate a rising number of people arriving on the Greek islands to request asylum. Despite heightened patrols in the Aegean Sea to deter smuggling activity between Turkey and Greece, about 3,700 refugees reached Greek shores in August and about 400 new arrivals have been recorded per week so far this month."
UK: Head of scandal-hit G4S detention centres is put on administrative leave (Guardian, link):
"G4S has placed Ben Saunders on administrative leave after undercover Panorama exposed abuse of detainees.
The head of two G4S-run detention centres has been placed on administrative leave after a series of scandals, the Guardian has learned.
G4S is believed to have placed Ben Saunders on leave from his role in charge of Brook House and Tinsley House immigration removal centres (IRCs) after an undercover Panorama exposed abuse of detainees there. Officers were seen to mock suicidal detainees and one officer is alleged to have attempted to choke a detainee."
Orbán wins the migration argument (Politico, link):
"Suddenly most EU leaders echo the Hungarian prime minister.
No one in Brussels wants to say it out loud, but Viktor Orbán is winning the migration debate.
The Hungarian prime minister may be much maligned in European capitals for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, his opposition to the EU’s refugee relocation policy, and for building a border fence.
But look closely at how EU leaders now talk about the issue and the policies they’ve adopted since the 2015 crisis, and it’s clear Orbán’s preference for interdiction over integration has somehow prevailed.""
Are You Syrious (15.9.17, link):
"Fascism is on the rise in Europe and around the world. Today this is illustrated by what is happening in Hungary, but we can easily find examples - some we will mention in today’s digest - all around the old continent.
The Hungarian media are reporting that the council of the southwestern village of Esztergályhorváti has adopted an ordinance obliging people who are renting accommodation to check refugees’ vaccination records before renting??!! If a person does not have proof of all the vaccinations obligatory in Hungary, she/he cannot rent a place in this village. Even before this order, not a single refugee had come to this village."
"Today, 262 people were rescued from the in international waters off the Libyan coast to the west of Tripoli. Among those rescued were 56 women, 7 children under 5 years and 48 unaccompanied minors. In the evening, another 109 people were saved by humanitarian boats.
Today we came across a report about a rescue mission by the Irish Defence Force. They rasponded to a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre and found a boat with 285 people on board 44 kilometers northwest of Tripoli. During the rescue operation, three people were declared dead."
And this is just another day in the Mediterranean
"This week, hundreds were saved, people from sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, Mali, Sierra Leone, but also Syria. They all came from Libya testifying, again, about the appalling situation in that country.
SOS MEDITERRANEAN saved some of their stories."
"But none of these reports is enough for the current politicians in Europe. According to the Italian activist group Radicali Italiani, the contents of the agreements reached by Italy and Libya are not completely known to the citizens or the parliament. The groups reacted by filing a complaint to the Procura della Repubblica di Roma for criminal conspiracy/offences and international corruption in the framework of agreements between Italy, the Government of Sarraj and the wanted Ahmad Dabbash, indicated by the press as head of violent armed groups and, at the time of the agreement, as one of the principal persons responsible for the smuggling of migrants at sea, said the secretary of Radicali Italiani Riccardo Magi, author of the petition together with the lawyer Francesco Mingiardi, member of Radicali Italiani."
EU: Migrants stuck on endless ferry journey as countries refuse entry (Guardian, link)
"Men stowed away on Istanbul to Odessa ferry and are stuck at sea while both Turkey and Ukraine refuse to take them.
Twelve migrants, apparently from North Africa, have been sailing to and fro between Istanbul and Odessa on a Danish passenger ferry for the last seven weeks, locked in four cabins with no country willing to take them.
According to the operator, DFDS, Turkey and Ukraine both refuse to accept the men."
Secret aid worker: Greece has exposed the aid community's failures (Guardian, link)
"The usual excuses don’t work in an EU country. With funding, infrastructure, and a stable government, why are we failing refugees in Greece? (...)
In Greece the aid community is being exposed. Our exposure is further compounded when we are unfavourably compared to organised and efficient groups of volunteers who work with less and achieve more. In comparison INGOs and the UNHCR seem money-orientated, bloated, bureaucratic and inefficient."
Greek, Italian leaders call for fairer EU migration rules (ekathimerini.com, link):
"At a joint summit on Corfu on Thursday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni declared that European countries should share the burden of dealing with migration.
Mediterranean countries must “find a way to act decisively, taking a leading role in this debate and in developments,” Gentiloni said. Tsipras, for his part, noted that refugee crises should be handled with solidarity and a shared sense of responsibility, not with “fences and exclusions that undermine our European values.”"
EU deadline on refugee pledges misses mark (euobserver, link):
"A looming deadline for the EU states to commit to their pledges on how many refugees they will resettle appears to have shifted.
The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told reporters in Brussels that he had pressed interior ministers on Thursday (14 September) to come forward with numbers ahead of a deadline initially set during the summer. (...)
Of the almost 39,000 people resettled from Africa last year, only around 1,800 ended up in Europe. The vast majority went to United States, followed by Canada and Australia.(...)
Niger - through which the vast majority of migrants travel to reach Libya - has only resettled one person since 2015. Similar figures are cited for Bukino Faso and Mali.
Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said on Monday that the "response has been very far from adequate." "
Home secretary ignores court order and sends asylum seeker to Kabul (Guardian, link)
"Samim Bigzad says he is living in fear in hotel room in Afghan capital after armed men arrived looking for him...
Samim Bigzad, 23, says he is a prime target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and American companies before he sought sanctuary in the UK.
Denmark Suspends Refugee Resettlement Under UN Program (Bloomberg, link):
"Denmark won’t allow any refugees into the country this year under a United Nations program and will seek flexibility in determining how many may resettle in the future instead of a set quota, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration said."
GREECE: Occupy Lesvos: Refugee Resistance at the Heart of the Border Regime (Novara, link):
"Recent acts of dissent within Moria have met with harsh police violence, and few positive outcomes. So the Afghan protesters left the camp, thrusting the continued struggle of detained refugees into the laps of the cocktail-sipping yacht-owners around the harbour.
Facing down threats of eviction and arrest, and violent abuse from an off-duty Moria guard, they won the promise that asylum claims which have dragged on for 12 or 18 months will be resolved within days. If these decisions do materialise, the occupation can be counted as a major victory for self-organised refugee struggle. Novara Media was on the ground for the duration."
"Delegations will find attached a Presidency revised draft compromise text of the abovementioned proposal, taking into account the discussions held at the Working Party for Schengen Matters (Acquis) on 19 June 2017 and 3, 4, 5 and 26 July 2017 and the written comments subsequently sent by the delegations."
"On land, movements across Europe continued in the first half of 2017, although at a much reduced level compared to the same period last year. People moving onwards irregularly from Greece and Bulgaria reported abuses at the hands of smugglers, as well as being beaten, and set upon by police dogs. In addition there were reports of robberies, and kidnappings by smugglers for extortion.
During the period of the report UNHCR and partners continued to receive allegations of push-backs by State authorities, including in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There were also reports of access to asylum procedures being denied and allegations of violence in some instances. While some States have taken steps to address such actions, for example through investigating allegations of human rights abuses at borders, the report notes that further measures are required."
See: Desparate Journeys report (pdf)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-12.9.17)
"As at 19 July 2017, IOM estimates that 11,122 persons have been intercepted and rescued by the Libyan Coastguard, coastal security and fishermen in 2017, while 348 human remains were retrieved along Libyan shores. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern about abuses and violations against such persons by the Libyan Coastguard during search and rescue operations, which, in some instances, further endanger the lives of people in distress at sea. Intercepted or rescued migrants are rarely provided with life jackets."
New report highlights need to improve data on dead and missing migrants to better inform policy and public awareness (University of Bristol, link):
"University of Bristol Senior Research Fellow, Ann Singleton, who co-edited Fatal Journeys Volume 3: Improving Data on Missing Migrants, said:
“Since 2014, more than 23,000 migrant deaths and disappearances have been recorded globally by the IOM, although the real number is likely to be significantly higher because many deaths are unrecorded.
“Few bodies of missing migrants are formally identified leaving families in limbo, without perhaps ever knowing whether a loved one is alive or dead.
“The focus of this year’s report is how data on missing migrants can be improved, to inform policies that can prevent further deaths, to meet the needs of families and those left behind to learn more about the fate of their relatives, and to improve the chances of identifying bodies.”
"Young migrants and refugees set out to escape harm or secure better futures – and face staggering risks in the process. For 17-yearold Mohammad, who travelled through Libya to seek asylum in Italy, violence and persecution back home meant the choice was clear: “We risked our lives to come here,” he says, “we crossed a sea. We knew it is not safe, so we sacrificed. We do it, or we die.”
For children and youth on the move via the Mediterranean Sea routes to Europe, the journey is marked by high levels of abuse, trafficking and exploitation. Some are more vulnerable than others: those travelling alone, those with low levels of education and those undertaking longer journeys. Most vulnerable of all are those who,
like Mohammad, come from sub-Saharan Africa.
These findings come from a new UNICEF and International Organization for Migration (IOM) analysis of the journeys of some 11,000 migrant and refugee children (adolescents aged 14–17) and youth (18–24),..."
"Laila is standing on the deck of the Sea-Watch 1, shivering. When speedboat driver Ben takes her hand, she doesn't let go. In her life, Laila has seen a lot more awful things than a German rescue ship. But last night she was scared to death again, when she was crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece. Together with her boyfriend, she left behind the war in Kobane, Syria. Everything she still carries with her from her past life fits into a small pink bag.
At 2.30 am, Sea-Watch captain Phil received an unusual call by the Greek coastguards in Kós: "Hello my friend, can you help us? Can you tug a refugee boat back to the harbor?" Since the start of the monitoring mission in the Aegean Sea, it seemed as though the Coast Guards did not appreciate the presence of NGOs in their waters. But for the Greek commander in Kós, it was a relief to be able to call the Sea-Watch crew for assistance. "This rescue was an important sign for us: Good cooperation with the authorities could always look like this", Captain Phil says.
All 27 rescued were taken to a camp in the interior of the island. Laila would not have had to risk her life again if there were legal ways to reach the EU for refugees. What she needs is security, no repression."
Eric Kempson reports from Lesvos (12.9.17)
"Yesterday we had two boats arrive, one on Kos with 29 people on board no breakdown.
The other arrived on lesvos, 81 people on board 44 children 17 women 20 men
Today two boats reportedly arrived in south Lesvos no numbers or breakdown at the moment."
Are You Syrious (11.9.17, link)
"In an unsettling follow up to the police actions on Saturday on Lesvos, there was a stunning and violent police action today in Souda camp on Chios. Twenty-three were transferred to the police station and four of these were arrested, three of them for possessing knives, one for possessing “untaxed cigarettes,” according to Theurgia Goetia. According to Enough is Enough, 350 police officers stormed the camp."
"Arrivals to Italy have dropped significantly in the wake of the policy change on July 16th, however a correspondent covering North Africa has grisly, uncomfortable details on the developing situation in Libya that shows there is another side to this story....
The new situation in Sabratah means actually more extorsion against migrants. Exploitation worsens."
"There were over thirty arrests of people in Belgium this morning in a coordinated police operation. As is common, the police came in the early morning, first around five to a common sleeping location. The arrests also continued at 7, even after volunteers attempted to wake people up to warn them about the possibility. Many items were left behind, some of them recovered. One man was hit by a car in his successful evasion of police. The most shameful chapter of the story comes as volunteers report that police, unsatisfied with the number of arrested, targeted a food distribution line outside of an NGO office."
FIDH: France: The harassment of Cédric Herrou, defender of migrants’ rights, must end (Press release, link):
"The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) condemns the police and judicial harassment in France against Mr. Cédric Herrou, as denounced by the Observatory in an Urgent Appeal published on August 28, 2017. This harassment reflects a policy from the French Government to hinder the work of defenders of migrants’ rights and their organisations.
Mr. Cédric Herrou is victim of harassment for defending migrants in the Roya valley, in Alpes Maritimes, where a huge police operation involving several hundred officers is taking place, with the aim of deterring the passage and presence of migrants in the region."
And see: GISTI:Actualité des poursuites et des mobilisations relatives aux délits de solidarité (link) and Avis: mettre fin au délit de solidarité (legifrance.gouv.fr, link)
Migrant sea route to Italy is world's most lethal (The Guardian, link):
"More than 22,500 migrants have reportedly died or disappeared globally since 2014 – more than half of them perishing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean, according to a study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
A clampdown on Europe’s eastern borders has forced migrants to choose more dangerous routes as the death toll in the Mediterranean continues to rise despite a drop in the overall number of arrivals, data compiled by the UN’s migration agency shows.
“While overall numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean by the eastern route were reduced significantly in 2016 by the EU-Turkey deal, death rates have increased to 2.1 per 100 in 2017, relative to 1.2 in 2016,” reads the IOM report which is released on Monday. “Part of this rise is due to the greater proportion of migrants now taking the most dangerous route – that across the central Mediterranean – such that 1 in 49 migrants now died on this route in 2016.”"
See the report: Fatal Journeys, Volume 3 Part1: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (pdf)
HUNGARY: Life in the Hungarian transit zones: no proper food, medical care or education (Atlatszo, link):
"An Afghan-Iranian family with three children waited eight months at the Serbian-Hungarian border to be able to apply for refugee status. After the long wait, in April 2017 they were admitted to the so-called ’transit zone’ where they were practically locked up behind barbed wire for four months. They told Atlatszo.hu about the inhumane conditions in the transit zone: no food for the father, harassment and doctor’s visits in handcuffs. Hungarian authorities want to keep the conditions in transit zones a secret, but we were shown cell phone photos that were taken inside."
"Finding that EU migration policies are still subject to inconsistency, legal uncertainty and discriminatory treatment, scholars call for the creation of new legal pathways.
Over the past 15 years, the ‘Europeanisation’ of policies dealing with the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals has led to the development of a common EU acquis. Yet questions related to policy consistency, legal certainty and fair and non-discriminatory treatment in working and living standards still characterise the EU’s legal framework for cross-border mobility. This book critically explores the extent to which EU legal migration policies and their underlying working notions match the transnational mobility of individuals today. It addresses the main challenges of economic migration policies, both within the EU and in the context of EU cooperation with third countries. Special consideration is given to the compatibility of EU policies with international labour standards along with the fundamental rights and approach to fairness laid down in the EU Treaties. The contributions to this book showcase the various uses and potential of social science and humanities research in assessing, informing and shaping EU migration policies. Leading scholars and experts have brought together the latest knowledge available to reappraise the added value of the EU in this area. Their reflections and findings point to the need to develop a revised set of EU policy priorities in implementing a new generation of legal pathways for migration."
EU: Refugees: Council next steps
- finance and train Libyan Coast Guard to end arrivals to Italy
- expedite "return" operations from the EU
- create "reception" centres across Africa
- continue actions under the "dodgy" EU-Turkey Statement
- yet another call for "relocations" within the EU
- redefine "safe third countries"
See: Note on: Migration: state of play and next steps - Exchange of views (LIMITE doc no: 11836-17, pdf).
Includes in EU-Turkey deal report: "Additional Hellenic Police officers are needed to better control entry/exit points and for patrolling inside the hotspots. The Greek Reception and Identification Service, in cooperation with EASO, is looking into establishing electronic entry/exit control systems at all hotspots, starting with a pilot project in Moria [Lesvos]."
And: "The Hellenic Police to issue return decisions at the same time as the notification of negative first instance asylum decisions."
LESVOS GREECE POLICE RAID ON MOIRA: Report from No Borders KItchen on police raid (20 hours ago, link)
"Early this morning, hundreds of police once again invaded Moria prison camp. Waking the inmates as they lay sleeping in crowded containers, they made sweeping controls and detained many refugees - including those with papers and the legal right to be here.
as a consequence, eleven more people have been arrested and now face deportation. those with papers should eventually be released, back for another restless night of sleep. they do not know when the police will next invade their "home" or harass them in the street, or when their time will finally run out and they will be deported back into the violence and persecution they fled in their home countries.
one clear purpose of these massive and indiscriminate operations is to instill fear and uncertainty into the population of Moria. the last "sweep" of the camp followed political protests, subsequent arrests and violent police abuse of refugees inside Moria and behind closed doors in the police station.
That operation sent the message that dissent would not be tolerated. this new wave of arrests was a further reminder that Fortress Europe is closed, and that those clinging to its brink with their fingertips can be swept away at any moment.
with love and rage always
your NBK crew."
GREEK ISLANDS: ARRIVALS: Today (10 September, link)
1st boat (South) 43 people
2nd boat (North) 32 people
3rd boat (South) 63 people
4th boat (South) 64 people
5th bost was pushed back by Turkish Coast Guard.
CHIOS 54 people
"According to reliable information from LesvosNews.gr, the police found only four (!!!) of them in the Morissian Hotspot, of course, arrested them and would take the way back to Turkey.
But it ended up being a rather big fiasco that used about 300 policemen and only made 4 arrests. Of course, as it is understood, the expectations of the Police Directorate of Lesbos wanted a large number of arrests, so this giant business was done, with even a lot of secrecy."
And: Are You Syrious reports: "“As a consequence, eleven more people have been arrested and now face deportation. Those with papers should eventually be released, back for another restless night of sleep. They do not know when the police will next invade their “home” or harass them in the street, or when their time will finally run out and they will be deported back to the violence and persecution they fled in their home countries.”
LESVOS GREECE POLICE RAID ON MOIRA: Press report (ekathimerini.com, link)
"More than 350 police officers took part in a pre-dawn operation on Saturday at the Moria camp on the Aegean island of Lesvos to transfer an unspecified number of migrants to the pre-deportation center.
These individuals, who have all received a final rejection of their asylum application, will be returned to Turkey."
Greece: Lesvos: Saturday 9 September: SECOND POLICE RAID TO ARREST REFUGEES: NOW: Giant police operation at Moria's Hotspot to arrest immigrants for deportation (Translation from Lesvos News, link):
"A giant police operation at Hoto Spot in Moria, in order to capture immigrants for whom a rejection, final and irrevocable decision not to issue a political asylum, and a return to Turkey have been in progress since 6:00 am today.
The police drew up a plan and caught the migrants in Moria, because in previous such operations the migrants were uprooted and caused extensive damage.
After the entire encirclement encircled the entire area, HotSpot entered a large police force and police teams with their decisions, tapping the door on the container to proceed with the arrests.
More than 350 police officers are involved in the police operation, while a proactive force in the Hot Spot of Moria is a major force of the Fire Brigade and an ambulance of the EKAB for every eventuality."
It is reported that 14 people have been arrested so far. This follows: From Lesvos Legal Centre on 31 August 2017:
"Yesterday Afghan refugees in Lesvos began a sit-in protest in Sapfous Square in Mitilini. Their statement follows: "Today Afghan refugees are protesting our imprisonment on Lesvos. Many of us have been here for over a year trapped on this island, and we are still waiting for decisions. We join the struggle of protests held on 17 and 18 of July, and demand that the right to freedom of movement be granted for asylum seekers who have been here since 2016. We also join the call of Afghan refugees who protested last week in Athens, and call on Greece to halt all deportations of Aghans. From the recent massacres of unarmed civilians in Mirzaolang in northern Afghanistan, in which children, women, and elderly were ruthlessly killed, to the daily suicide bombings across the country, to the reckless US drone strikes in Nangarhar, Afghan Asylum Seekers in Greece say -- Afghanistan is not a safe country, and all deportation should stop." :
And: FREE THE MORIA 35 (30 July 2017) Lesvos Legal Aid Centre, link) Plus this update:
"31 of the 35 have now had preliminary hearings and 30 of these have been ordered detained while awaiting trial.Â 10 are detained in Chios, 7 in Avlona, and 13 in Korydallos. The nationalities of the defendants are: Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Iran, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
One (who had been hospitalized for a week following his arrest/beating) has been released awaiting trial with restricted measures following his preliminary hearing. Four others are temporarily released, awaiting preliminary hearings, which have been delayed due to lack of intepreters (Bambara and Wolof).
The judge has indicated that the trial will go forward as soon as possible (possibly in November or December), but the procedure is currently delayed until preliminary proceedings have finished for the four defendants who have been temporarily released.
The following organizations and lawyers will represent the defendants: Legal Centre Lesbos, Lesvos Solidarity, HIAS, Metadrasi, Solidarity Now, and five Athens based criminal defense lawyers: Vasilis Papasterios, Viki Angelidou, and Christodoulos Tsakirellis."
UN slams EU over brutality migrants face in Libya (DW, link): "The UN has accused the EU of "turning a blind eye" to brutality faced by migrants in Libya. It follows a report from Doctors Without Borders that made similar claims."
UNHCR urges action to ease conditions at Greek island camps (ekathimerini.com, link):
"The UN Refugee Agency on Friday expressed concern at deteriorating conditions on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, as the number of new arrivals, which accelerated in August, is putting pressure on overcrowded reception facilities.
Speaking at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said the situation is most worrying on Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Leros, which have received the largest number of arrivals, including many children. More than half come from conflict-hit Syria and Iraq, she noted, adding that arrivals in August came to 3,695 against 2,249 in July."
"The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) search and rescue NGO has suspended all rescue operations in the Mediterranean citing, among other reasons, concern about the lawfulness of returns to Libya and alluding to the conditions of those returnees held in detention facilities in Libya....
“MOAS does not want to become part of a mechanism where there is no guarantee of safe harbor or welcome for those being assisted and rescued at sea. In this context, and on the basis of our humanitarian principles, the decision has been taken to suspend our search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean. "
Statewatch Analysis: A Pyrrhic victory? The ECJ upholds the EU law on relocation of asylum-seekers (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law:
"How should the EU deal with the perceived ‘migrant/refugee crisis’? It has done a number of things, but back in September 2015, when the numbers of arrivals were peaking, it did something truly remarkable – requiring Member States to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from the ‘frontline’ states of Italy and Greece, which were bearing most of the burden of new arrivals....
The Court rejected the arguments that the decision was not suitable to obtain its objectives. True, as Commission reports have pointed out, not many asylum-seekers have actually been relocated, but that could not be foreseen at the time – and that was implicitly partly the fault of the plaintiff Member States for not implementing the decision in practice. (The Advocate-General’s opinion dismisses this “I killed my parents, give me sympathy as a poor orphan” line of argument more bluntly)." [emphasis added]
EU-TURKEY DEAL: Operational implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf):
The total number of returns from Greece to Turkey under the "Bilteral protocol" since 21 March 2016 has been 588 people.
The total number of returns under the "dodgy" Turkey Statement in 2016 was 801
The total number of returns under the "dodgy" Turkey Statement in 2017 is so far 506.
Overall total: 1,895.
The total depoyment of Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and others in Greece is 1,177: The largest number 327 "Border Surveillance Officers and Crew Members assigned to Frontex (including the UK Border Force boat "Valiant" stationed in Mytilni harbour) plus 280 Security Officers - assigned to Frontex and 105 "Escort officers and readmission experts" under Frontex.
"An open letter from MSF International President Dr Joanne Liu to European government leaders...
What migrants and refugees are living in Libya should shock the collective conscience of Europe’s citizens and elected leaders.
Blinded by the single-minded goal of keeping people outside of Europe, European funding is helping to stop the boats from departing Libyan waters, but this policy is also feeding a criminal system of abuse.
The detention of migrants and refugees in Libya is rotten to the core. It must be named for what it is: a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion. And European governments have chosen to contain people in this situation. People cannot be sent back to Libya, nor should they be contained there."
ALARMPHONE: Deterrence no matter what - Europe escalates its War on Migrants (link):"Alarm Phone 6 Week Report, 24th July – 3rd September...
he EU and member states have sought to establish ever-more violent obstacles, and following the EU-Turkey deal of March 2016, they have focused their energies even more on Libya. The drastic consequences are currently becoming more visible than ever before."
Are You Syrious (7.9.17, link)
Feature: Human Cruelty - the cost of current “migration management
"Several groups of humanitarian workers and activists are trying to bring awareness to the corruption and dangerous collaboration between European leaders and Libyan officials in encouraging the harming of refugees setting out from Libya.
MSF has been extremely active on Twitter in calling for dissent and bringing awareness to the systematic human rights abuses against refugees in Libya....
Horrifying reports of sexual and all forms of violence against those pushed into the margins of society?—?at the mercy of smugglers or corrupt officials.
European officials hope to prevent further migration to Europe by blockading refugees in Libya, claiming they are not equipped to deal with this level of migration."
GREECE: GENERAL: REGISTRATIONS (Official) 6.9.17:
"Around 73 people arrived to Crete today, with 100 being transported from Crete to Athens. It is clear that there is continued effort to transport people from the islands to the mainland.
Activists report that Crete not be overlooked in terms of overloaded, under-supported reception centers. There is a serious shortage of services on Crete, no lawyers, not enough volunteers. "
AUSTRIA: URGENT CALL TO PREVENT DEPORTATION IN AUSTRIA
"A refugee from Afghanistan who has been living in Austria since March of 2015 and has since learned German to B1 proficiency and is working in an NGO was taken into custody and is facing deportation! He was picked up in Niedernsill and is being transported to Vienna, where he will face deportation to Afghanistan.
It is recommended that citizens of Austria immediately send this form letter or one like it to this address (in German)...."
"According to activists in Finland, six more individuals of Afghan nationality were deported the night prior. Follow Afghanistan Migrants Advice & Support Org for more information."
Where Dreams Come to Die Migrant Path in Europe Ends at Brenner Pass (Spiegel Online, link)
"Migrants who make it across the Mediterranean to Italy dream of continuing on to northern Europe. Most, though, are unable to make it past the Brenner Pass. A visit to Europe's waiting room.
"Whereas the number of migrants arriving in southern Italy has dropped recently, a new border has been established here in the north. In mid-August, the Austrian army sent 70 soldiers to the Brenner Pass, the Alpine border between Italy and Austria, and they use iron rods to poke through freight trains for stowaways. In addition, police are checking passenger trains more thoroughly than ever before. Austria is in the midst of an election campaign, and gone are the days when around 200 Africans, Pakistanis and Afghans heading north were waved through the border each day, while Bolzano residents handed out food and clothing. Today, says one railroad worker, residents are more likely to point out refugees hiding under the seats and say: "Look, mister conductor, there's another one trying to hide."""
European citizens want information on migration – not higher walls (The Conservation, link);
"The groups of citizens we spoke with did not see tougher border security measures by the EU as either an effective solution to the challenge of migration, or as reflecting their own views on the issue. Instead, they called for better information, greater dialogue with European citizens, and stronger efforts to manage integration between communities."
Dozens of migrants found in crippled yacht off Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Greece’s coast guard says it has located a crippled yacht carrying dozens of migrants in waters south of the Aegean island of Santorini, and is towing it to safety.
The coast guard says that between 50 and 70 people are believed to be on the vessel, which is expected to reach the port of Iraklion on Crete later on Thursday."
Fugees The Score (by Jan Piotrowsk) (fourmillionstepsblog, link):
"The military jeep at the entrance is the only overt clue the old factory is not what it seems. You could pass its unassuming walls everyday and remain unaware that hundreds of people live in purgatory within. The guards are to prevent unwanted visitors, and its refugee residents can leave whenever they want of course. However with international borders closed and the world looking at its feet, calling the camp anything but a prison feels like a semantic slight of hand. Among the scrubland pocked with industrial detritus, hope is a fragile thing, as insubstantial and difficult to grasp as the whirling dust clouds that whip across the hard, ocre dirt.
The camp I visited lies just outside Thessaloniki in northern Greece, but this scene is repeated again and again across Europe. Images of sprawling tent cities that populate peoples’ conceptions of refugees camps do exist: mostly at the entry points to the continent – Greek islands, Italy, increasingly Spain. Camps are more often are hidden away though, in warehouses, abandoned factories or stacked containers in remote border villages. Out if sight, out of mind...."
Court of Justice of the European Union: The Court dismisses the actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against the provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers (Press release, pdf)
"That mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate.....
Since the decision is a non-legislative act, its adoption was not subject to the requirements relating to the participation of national Parliaments and to the public nature of the deliberations and vote in the Council (as those requirements apply only to legislative acts)."
See: Judgment: full-text (pdf)
And: Hungary and Slovakia defiant after EU court rebuke (euobserver, link):
"Hungary and Slovakia pledged not to change their opposition to taking in asylum seekers after the EU's top court on Wednesday (6 September) dismissed the two countries' complaints over the EU's migration quota scheme.
Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said his country respects the European Court of Justice's (ECJ's) decision to reject their complaints but that it will not change his position.
"We will continue to work on having solidarity expressed in different ways other than forcing [on us] migrants from other countries that don't want to be here anyway," he said. Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, called the court decision "outrageous and irresponsible"."
EU rejects Hungary's demand to finance border fence (EUobserver, link):
"The European Commission rejected Hungarian demands to co-finance its fences along the country's shared borders with Serbia and Croatia.
"We are not financing the construction of fences or barriers at the external borders," EU commission spokesperson, Alexander Winterstein, told reporters in Brussels on Friday (1 September).
Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, in a letter addressed to EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, requested the money as a gesture of solidarity given the some €800 million Budapest has spent on the fences. Hungary now wants the EU to pay half.
But Winterstein also took issue with Orban's notion of solidarity, noting Hungary's refusal to take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy."
UK: Detainees 'mocked and abused' at immigration centre (BBC News, link):
"G4S has suspended nine members of staff from an immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport, following a BBC Panorama undercover investigation.
The programme says it has covert footage recorded at Brook House showing officers "mocking, abusing and assaulting" people being held there.
It says it has seen "widespread self-harm and attempted suicides" in the centre, and that drug use is "rife".
G4S said it is aware of the claims and "immediately" began an investigation."
And see: We are locking up people indefinitely. This inhumane practice needs to end (The Guardian, link) by Paul Blomfield: "We are the only country in Europe to hold migrants in detention centres with no time limit – some of them for years. We can’t let the government off the hook"
SPAIN: Outsourcing Border Control to Morocco a Recipe for Abuse (Human Rights Watch, link):
"“We had to get up at 4 in the morning to avoid the police. They caught me five or six times. They beat me with their batons. If you fall, they beat you. Each time, they sent me to Tangiers, Casablanca or somewhere else far away.”
Eighteen-year-old Emmanuel’s horrendous experience at the hands of the Moroccan police is a foreseeable consequence of Spain’s emphasis on deterrence and outsourcing of border control while turning a blind eye to Morocco’s abuses against migrants. This model also serves as an unfortunate blueprint for the European Union’s current approach to migration and asylum.
In 2015, Spain formalized in its law the longstanding practice of summary returns of would-be asylum seekers to Morocco, a move that breaches EU and international law. Spain’s close border control cooperation with Morocco, and wider EU investment in “effective migration management” in that country carries lessons as the EU pursues similar engagement with other countries, including Turkey and Libya. Morocco has taken positive steps but has yet to establish a national asylum system, and many of the abuses documented by Human Rights Watch in 2012 and by others continue."
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