January 2018

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-28.1.18)

European Court of Human Rights finds insufficent evidence of degrading treatment of three Afghans in detention in Chios, Greece

The ECHR : Detention of three Afghan nationals in Vial migrant centre in Greece (Press release, pdf) found that only one of four complaints could be upheld - Article 5 § 2 (right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest). It did not uphold the complaint of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment).

The “Human Cost” of The EU’s Response to the Refugee Crisis (Frontline, link):

"By the time the first week of 2018 had ended, the Mediterranean Sea had already taken a deadly toll. A rubber dinghy sank off the coast of Libya while carrying 150 migrants and refugees from across Africa. Just eight bodies, all women, were recovered. Another 56 went missing, disappearing beneath the waves. The remaining survivors were pulled from the water and brought to Italy.

It was an ominous start to the new year. Rickety boats and rubber dinghies sinking into the Mediterranean have become a distressingly common sight throughout the ongoing migration crisis. Less than a month into 2018, more than 200 people have already died or gone missing at sea, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

As the crisis enters its third year, Europe continues to struggle with how to respond to an influx that has seen more than one-and-a-half million refugees and migrants come to its shores — and nearly 12,000 perish or go missing attempting the journey."

Rise in migrant arrivals to Italy raises fears over Libyan lawlessness (Guardian,link)

"Possibility of elections in Libya this autumn is increasing tensions between military leader in east and UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

There was a 15% year-on-year rise in the number of people reaching Italy from Libya in the first three weeks of January, piling more pressure on the UN to try to end the political stalemate in the north African country."

Majority of refugees stranded on Aegean islands to stay in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The majority of migrants and refugees who have landed on the Aegean islands since the March 2016 deal signed between the European Union and Ankara will remain in Greece as conditions for their return to Turkey are considered “not safe,” according to data from the country’s Asylum Service.

According to the data, authorities have processed 25,814 applications for asylum submitted by individuals stuck at island screening centers, or hotspots.

Authorities have rejected 5,437 of those claims and, under the terms of the deal, the applicants should be returned to Turkey. However, only around 1,400 of that number have been returned so far."

Minister on MIgrants "Croatia wull decide who to allow into its territory" (total croatia news, link)

UK gets more EU migrant cash than any other member state (euobserver, link):

"The EU has given Britain more money from a migration management fund than any other member state, most of which it then used to eject failed asylum seekers.

Despite Italy and Greece having received the vast majority of arrivals over the years, with Germany settling some one million plus asylum-seekers, the UK still managed to secure a far bigger chunk from the EU purse.

The money, or just over €3 billion, comes from the EU's asylum, migration and integration fund (Amif) and covers a period from 2014 to 2020.

Out of the total, some €2.39 billion is used to finance member state national programmes. Of that, the UK obtained 16.3 percent, followed by Italy (13.6), France (11.6) and Greece (11.3). Germany got around 9 percent.

The UK then poured almost 60 percent of the EU funding into returns, more than twice as much as most other member states, according to a joint-report by the UN Refugee Agency and the Brussels-based European Council on Refugees and Exiles (Ecre)."

Bulgaria set to delay EU talks on refugee quotas (euobserver, link):

"The EU presidency under Bulgaria appears likely to wait until the very end of negotiations before broaching the controversial refugee quota issue in a key EU asylum reform bill.

The six-month presidency is mandated to find a political consensus by the end of June on the 'Dublin' regulation, which determines who is responsible for processing asylum claims."

EU: Countdown begins for tough EU asylum reform by June (euractiv, link):

"Bulgaria today (25 January) launches the first of several meetings aimed at bridging an east-west split over reforming Europe’s asylum rules by June, when Sofia’s EU presidency ends and the migration crisis could flare anew.

The European Commission aims to insist all member countries accept controversial refugee quotas at the talks in Sofia with the 28-nation bloc’s interior ministers.

Current asylum rules “literally split Europe”, said Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose country holds the six-month rotating EU presidency."

MEDITERRANEAN: Human smugglers operate as ‘independent traders’, study finds (University of Cambridge, link):

"First study to model the organisation behind trade in illegal border crossings shows no “Mafia-like” monopoly of routes from Africa into Europe via Mediterranean. Instead, myriad independent smugglers compete in open markets that have emerged at every stage of the journey.(...)

Dr Paolo Campana from Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology conducted the research using evidence from the 18-month investigation by Italian prosecutors that followed the Lampedusa shipwreck, in which 366 people lost their lives.

The work included data from wiretapped telephone conversations between smugglers at all stages, testimonies collected from migrants, interviews with police task force members, and background information on offenders.

“The smuggling ring moving migrants from the Horn of Africa to Northern Europe via Libya does not appear to have the thread of any single organisation running through it,” said Campana, whose findings are published today in the European Journal of Criminology."

GREECE-EU: Monika Gattinger: How can Europe be more traumatising than Mosul? (British Medical Journal Opinion, link):

"The people living in Moria, a refugee camp in Greece, have been abandoned by Europe and treated like criminals for nothing more than wanting to be safe (...)

Perhaps the only positive aspect of Moria, if I am forced to find one, is that because it is so crowded, those attempting suicide have no place or privacy to do it. People are stopped from harming themselves by others walking by or by those who sleep next to them. For example, there was a young Syrian man* who tried to hang himself outside the container he slept in. He was brought to the MSF mental health clinic by an older Somali man who stopped him. Now they come to all of his appointments together and he ensures that the young Syrian takes his medicine."

UK-FRANCE: 'Sandhurst Treaty' on border control cooperation: full-text, plus other documents agreed at UK-France summit

""French President Emmanuel Macron met Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, during a French-UK Summit at Sandhurst on 18 January 2018, where they signed a new protocol on migration control.

The “Sandhurst Treaty” is an addition to the Touquet Agreement, which is a bilateral treaty dating back to 2003 and signed between France and the UK that has allowed for juxtaposed border controls. The agreement has been criticized as imbalanced in making France responsible for all asylum seekers refused entry into the UK."

EU: Council of the European Union: International Protection: latest version of the proposed Dublin Regulation, chapters I-III

DUBLIN: Proposal for a Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 15991-17, pdf) and see COR 1 (pdf)

"Delegations will find below the revised texts of chapters I to III of the Dublin Regulation. The suggested modifications are based on the outcome of multilateral and bilateral discussions held under the Slovak, Maltese and Estonian Presidencies, and on the on oral and written comments made by Member States in the Asylum Working Party during the first examination (...)

It is understood that all delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the whole proposal. The following delegations have indicated previously that they also have parliamentary scrutiny reservations: CZ, ES, HR, HU, LT, LV, PL, SI, UK."

UK: Home Office: Report on review of cash allowance paid to asylum seekers: 2017 (January 2018, pdf):

"After careful consideration and for the reasons the report goes on to explain, we have decided that the standard allowance provided in respect to each supported person (asylum seeker or dependant) should rise from £36.95 per week to £37.75 per week. The change is being implemented through an amendment to the Asylum Support Regulations and will take effect from 5 February 2018."

And: "We do not consider travel and communication are essential needs in themselves, but accept that they may be necessary in limited circumstances to enable other needs to be met, including those related to maintaining interpersonal relationships and a minimum level of participation in social, cultural and religious life."

EU: 'Follow the money' - new report examines spending of EU's €3.1bn Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund

"In 2018, the European Commission (EC) is to carry out a mid-term review of the AMIF, taking into account interim evaluation reports prepared by MS on the implementation of their National Programmes. The EC's interim evaluation report is to be submitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions by 30 June 2018.

This report presents a critical analysis of the design, the programming and to the extent possible, the implementation of the AMIF via AMIF national programmes."

EU migration control: easier access to satellite intelligence (Matthias Monroy, link):

"Earth observation is playing an increasingly important role in European security and defence policy. Greater synergies are to be achieved between civil and military capabilities in future. This is being trialled in the field of migration control: satellites are providing information about refugees’ “hiding places”, among other things. The border agency Frontex is one of the organisations using this information."

Spain transfers migrants from jail after suicide (Yahoo! News, link):

"Spanish authorities said Wednesday they had transferred migrants being controversially accommodated at a jail just two weeks after an Algerian man was found hanging in his cell in an apparent suicide contested by his brother.

The lawyer for the victim's family said some of the migrants held in the prison in Archidona near Malaga in southern Spain had been transferred to other centres around the country, while others were deported.

Amanda Romero added that among those evacuated were potential witnesses to the circumstances surrounding the death of Mohamed Bouderbala, 36, who was found hanging on December 29."

ISRAEL: ‘I won’t fly refugees to their deaths’: The El Al pilots resisting deportation (Eritrea Hub, link):

"At least three pilots for Israel’s flag carrier publish declarations publicly refusing to take part in the forced deportation of asylum seekers should they be asked to. The Israeli government is giving tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers a stark choice: deportation or indefinite imprisonment.


In recent weeks the Israeli government approved the deportation of refugees to third countries. According to the plan, the Holot desert detention facility, where many asylum seekers are held, will shut down and those who refuse to leave “voluntarily” to Rwanda and Uganda (and perhaps other countries) will be imprisoned indefinitely. According to numerous reports, which Rwanda and Uganda have denied, Israel will pay those countries $5,000 for each refugee they take in from Israel. Additionally, Israel will pay $3,500 to each asylum seeker who agrees to leave, although that sum will get smaller over time, thereby incentivizing them to leave sooner than later."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-22.1.18)

EU: Commissioner to face awkward questions from MEPs over EU home affairs and migration spending

On Tuesday 23 January Commissioner Avramopoulos (DG Home) is to appear before the European Parliament's Budget Control Committee to answer: Written Questions on the 2016 Discharge to the Commission (pdf). They pose a number of awkward questions for the Commissioner.


Are You Syrious (22.1.18, link)

Fascists set fire to squat in Thessaloniki

During the course of a far-right wing demonstration, fascists torched a squat which had been active since 2008. Between 30–40 people were in the building at the time of the arson attack. Some of the participants of the demonstration, in which 100,000 people marched, took a detour to attack the Libertatia Squat. Unfortunately, this is one of many events that fit the same pattern across Europe. From Sweden to Germany to Italy, facilities which housed refugees were intentionally burned down by people who cannot tolerate the presence of foreigners in their countries. Here however there is also the additional political element, a targeting of anarchists. (...)

Prior to setting fire to the squat, the group attacked the School Social Center, an attack which was recorded on video. The attack was dispersed by the police, but those involved were able to go on to commit the heinous act."

Chios Eastern Shore Response Team desperately needs volunteers!

"Volunteers are needed for the months of February and March. The volunteer must commit to a stay of at least 14 days for this opportunity. Their current project is the servicing of a children’s center in Vial, as well as the creation of a general House of the People, which may be donated to at the link below. Click here to support Help put humanitarian aid in reach of trapped asylum seekers."

Hungary: Migszol responds to libelous accusations against them

"Reports in the Hungarian media have smeared Migszol, claiming that the group has a connection to terrorism as well as other untruths. The organization has responded strongly by posting an article in which they rebuke the claims."

France: CRS officer comes clean about CRS harassment of refugees

"A CRS officer who wished to stay anonymous gave an interview to the Ebdo Journal. The officer had worked in Calais for over 15 years. “Oh, I have destroyed many encampments, I have emptied canisters of tear gas to contaminate people’s sleeping bags… In Calais I follow orders and I don’t think. … I [have] colleagues who set tents on fire so badly that the fire brigade had to be called,” he told the journal."

The EU-Turkey deal returned just 4% of migrants who undertook the dangerous journey to Greece (Quartz, link);

Greece: Minister fears new crisis on islands if migrant influx continues (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Amid fresh threats by Turkey to stop enforcing an agreement with the European Union to curb human smuggling over the Aegean, Greek authorities fear a renewed crisis on the islands.

Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas is very worried about the current situation, as the influx of migrants from Turkey has increased since the summer, reaching an average of 100 to 150 a day, a ministry official told Kathmerini.

“If the daily influx continues at this rate, from March onwards we will have to build a new refugee camp every month to host new arrivals,” the official said."

The Government of Hungary has proposed a new bill to tackle illegal immigration (About Hungary, link):

"On the frontier of Europe, Hungary is particularly exposed to the effects of illegal immigration, and the government is proposing measures to stop it."

And see: Hungary’s Government Strengthens its Anti-NGO Smear Campaign (HRW, link): "Draft “Stop Soros” Law Announced Ahead of National Elections in April"

EU 'hypocrisy' condemns people to Libya (euobserver, link):

"The EU is condemning people to "nightmarish conditions" in Libya by training its coastguard to prevent them from fleeing towards Europe, according to Human Rights Watch.

Kenneth Roth, the NGO's executive director, said at a press conference in Paris on Thursday (18 January) that the EU policy is an exercise in hypocrisy."

Greece: The complicated politics of the refugee crisis (Infomigrants, link):

"In the Greek city of Konitsa, the local mayor has openly welcomed refugees. With only 100 migrants and refugees in the city, locals have been able to help and make a real difference to people's lives. But the future is unclear with the government in Athens planning to move more newcomers to the mainland."

GREECE-TURKEY: Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership, questions migrant deal (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey would reject any offer of partnership with the European Union that falls short of membership, Ankara’s minister for EU affairs said, warning that the current situation gave Turkey no reason to maintain its migrant deal with the bloc.

“A privileged partnership or similar approaches, we don’t take any of these seriously. Turkey cannot be offered such a thing,” Omer Celik told Reuters in an interview."

WALES: A Manufactured Catastrophe (Mid-Wales Refugee Action,link):

"“Fascism in Europe never starts with mass killings, it starts with the normalisation of hatred.” Brendan Cox

The situation of refugees in Calais is a tragedy, a miserable story of human suffering that has no place in the UK or France. Yesterday, Marcon and May agreed an extra 45 million towards on top of the existing 68 million to secure the Calais border.

In practice this means our taxes going towards building more fences, increasing CCTV and detection technologies and the continued beatings, use of tear, pepper spray and horrific treatment of those seeking safety suffer,

It is time to end this Manufactured Catastrophe."

Italy approves military mission in Niger, more troops to North Africa (Reuters, link):

"Italy’s parliament approved on Wednesday an increased military presence in Libya and the deployment of up to 470 troops in Niger to combat migration and the trafficking of people toward Europe (...)

Austrian far-right orders ‘border protection unit’ (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s new far-right interior minister has ordered the creation of a “border protection unit” in case of a major new influx of migrants, like the one in 2015.

“A repeat of 2015 cannot be allowed to happen. Therefore I have given instructions for the creation of a border protection unit,” said Herbert Kickl, of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPÖ), on Thursday (18 January)."

Germany: Far-right Identitarians want to become guardians for refugees (DW,link):

"The far-right Identitarian youth movement has called on its members to become guardians for underage refugees. The provocative action has been condemned by German authorities.

In a statement released on its website, the far-right Identitarian Movement in Hamburg claimed that members could earn between €19.50 and €33.50 ($23.90 - $41) an hour at the state's expense as guardians for underage refugees."

Hungary to tax NGOs that 'help' migration (euobserver, link):

"The Hungarian government on Wednesday (17 January) said it would propose a set of new laws that would tax and possibly sanction Hungarian groups which "assist illegal migration" and receive foreign funding.

The package was named 'Stop Soros', referring to George Soros, the Hungarian-born US billionaire whose foundation partly helps groups that advocate for the rights of refugees.

According to the proposed measures, any organisation that aids illegal migration would have to register and provide their data to the courts."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17.1.18)

GERMANY: Bamberg refugees 15.1.2018 Press release: For immediate release: Statement: Against inhumanity! Stop the camp system! We´re refugees, not prisoners! (pdf) and Deutsch (pdf):


"The AEO camp in Bamberg is worse than a prison. Currently 1400 refugees are housed here, the total capacity is 3400. We, refugees living in the camp, will not take anymore the constant harrassment and inhuman treatment. Our demand is for a life in dignity. On Wednesday 17th January 2018 we are going out and taking our demands on the streets. We are calling for all inhabitants of the AEO Bamberg, as well as groups and individuals to join us in solidarity for this peaceful demonstration through the town of Bamberg."

Refugees and migrants face high risks in winter weather in Europe (UNHCR, link):

"We are deeply worried at the situation of refugees and migrants faced with harsh winter conditions across Europe. We have stepped up our assistance in several countries, including Greece and Serbia. Saving lives must be a priority and we urge States authorities across Europe to do more to assist and protect refugees and migrants.

In Greece, we have transferred hundreds of people to better accommodation in Lesvos, and Chios over the past few days. However we are deeply worried at the situation of some 1,000 people, including families with young children, who continue to live under unheated tents and dormitories in Samos. (...)

Meanwhile, UNHCR is extremely concerned by reports that several refugees and migrants have lost their lives trying to enter or move across Europe, including five since the beginning of the year, due to the freezing weather."

Conditions are horrific at Greece’s ‘island prisons’ for refugees. Is that the point? (Washington Post, link):

"For years, the turquoise-ringed vacationer’s paradise known as Lesbos has been on the front lines of Europe’s struggle to contain its part of a global refugee crisis. But conditions at the Greek island’s vastly overcapacity, razor-wired main camp have rarely if ever been as bad as they are this winter.

The deterioration has occurred even though far fewer refugees are arriving on Lesbos now than at the height of the influx to Europe in 2015 and 2016.

That seeming paradox has led aid workers, island officials and human rights activists to a disturbing conclusion: The appallingly bad conditions are no accident, but rather the result of a deliberate European strategy to keep people away."

UK-EU: Brexit doesn't mean Brexit for migration control initiatives: UK to stay on Khartoum Process steering committee

Despite the UK's foreseen departure from the EU in March 2019 it plans to remain on the steering committee of the Khartoum Process, an EU-funded migration control initiative that involves partnerships with dictatorships such as Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan.

FRANCE-UK: France will not allow another refugee camp in Calais, says Macron (The Guardian, link):

"Emmanuel Macron has vowed there would never be another large refugee camp in Calais and warned those people remaining in the area who hope to reach Britain that they were at a “dead end”.


He criticised unnamed humanitarian organisations for their “lies and manipulations” in “encouraging men and women to stay here and even to cross the Channel” and encouraging claims of violence by police and gendarmes.

But he also warned law enforcement officers their behaviour must be “exemplary” and reminded them that migrants were “people who have travelled continents; these men and women are human beings”.

“It’s a delicate mission and for it you must be exemplary and in absolute respect of professional ethics and absolute respect of the law. This means not waking people up in the middle of the night, not using teargas during mealtimes,” he said. Any excessive behaviour, he warned, would be “punished”."

Jordan, Greece and Cyprus say more support needed to states on refugee frontline (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece, Jordan and Cyprus called for more effective support to countries on the frontline of the Middle East refugee crisis on Tuesday and pledged to deepen cooperation on a host of issues from water management to protection of artefacts.

As millions of people have poured out of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees, while Greece has been used as a launchpad for many seeking to reach other European countries."

More than 200 migrants storm Morocco-Spain border (Local, es, link)

Seven migrants found dead off shore of Lanzarote (BBC News, link):

"Five men were found dead in a drifting inflatable boat near a beach resort. Police said it appeared that two other men who had been able to get out of the boat died while trying to swim to shore in the Costa Teguise area.

The migrants were of North African origin, Spanish authorities said, and 18 survivors who made it to shore are being treated for hypothermia."

UK: "Hostile environment" faces criticism from parliamentary committee as new migration checks on bank accounts come into force

"The government needs to end its reliance on its error-hit “hostile environment” policy towards illegal migrants because it is not only deeply distressing to those involved but also undermines the credibility of immigration enforcement, MPs have said.

The Commons home affairs select committee says the longstanding lack of any official analysis of the scale and nature of illegal immigration has allowed anxiety over the issue to grow unchecked, and it calls for the publication of an annual estimate based on exit check data."

UK: Dying Migrants Too Scared To See A Doctor For Fear Of Deportation, MPs Are Warned (The Huffington Post, link):

"Seriously ill migrants are too scared to seek medical treatment in the UK for fear of being deported, MPs were warned today.

Experts told Parliament’s health select committee that data sharing systems between the NHS and Home Office leave many too scared to see a doctor, leading to people dying from treatable illnesses and pregnant women missing out on vital care.

Marissa Begonia of Voice of Domestic Workers, which campaigns for recognition and representation for household workers, was reduced to tears as she explained how one woman died because she was too worried about seeking help for her persistent cough."

ITALY-LIBYA: New "Control Centre against transnational crime, human smuggling and terrorism" links Italian and Libyan agencies

"On Friday, Italy revealed that a new Control Centre against transnational crime, human smuggling and terrorism was set in motion in Rome by Italy and Libya in presence of the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti.

This Centre will result in enhanced judicial and police cooperation, strengthened rule of law, rights and guarantees, and increased information exchange. It will consist of representatives from the coastguard, the illegal migration department, the Libyan Attorney General and the intelligence services, along with their Italian counterparts."

EU: Fundamental rights support to Italian authorities in migration hotspots (FRA, link):

"On 20 December 2017, FRA contributed to discussions on revising the standard operating procedures during steering group meeting organised by the Italian Ministry of Interior.

FRA’s comments and suggestions addressed, in particular, people with vulnerability and unaccompanied children. The Ministry of Interior decided to create two sub-working groups; one to focus on children and the other on health. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Italian Government, the European Commission’s hotspot team in Italy, EU agencies, the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration."

Torture in Libya and Questions of EU Member State Complicity (EJIL: Talk!, link):

"Amnesty International has reported that ‘tens of thousands’ of refugees and migrants are being subject to torture and other human rights abuses at the hands of Libyan state officials and non-state actors operating in, and out of, Libya (the full report can be accessed here). The publication of the report has led to allegations that the European Union (EU) is complicit in torture. One finding of the report is that ‘EU member states are and have been well aware of the widespread human rights violations and abuses suffered by refugees and migrants in Libya’ (p. 56). Amnesty International has claimed that EU states ‘are complicit’ in torture. Whether the complicity spoken of can trigger the responsibility of these states under international law is implied, but far from clear.

There are many tangents to questions of ‘European complicity’ in the torture of Libyan refugees and migrants. For example, issues regarding the obligation of non-refoulement (p. 53 of report), or the extraterritorial application of human rights obligations (pp. 54-56) (for insights on these particular matters see Gauci and Jackson respectively). The following post will briefly analyse the applicable secondary rules relating to how EU states could be held responsible for complicity in torture under general international law in light of the facts contained in the Amnesty report."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-14.1.18)

The Top Refugee Issues to Watch in 2018 (Refugees Deeply, link)


"We take a look at the major issues for refugees in the year ahead, while policy experts from around the globe explain what they’re watching out for in the next 12 months."

And see: Somalis Who Returned Home Flee to Kenya a Second Time (Refugees Deeply, link)

"While Kenya’s massive Dadaab refugee camp is shrinking due to a U.N. program repatriating refugees to Somalia, drought and insecurity are pushing some of the returnees to come back to Kenya."

Are You Syrious (13.1.18, link):

Protests in Vienna against far-right

"Protests have taken place in the Austrian capital of Vienna over the inclusion of the far-right Freedom Party in the new coalition government.

The Freedom Party’s interior minister Herbert Kickl caused outrage earlier this week with his comments over asylum seekers, suggesting they should be kept concentrated in one place.(...) Many organisations warned against repeating history, including the federation of Austrian antifascists, resistants and victims of fascism as well as the Jewish Students Union."

Spain: Boats arrive on the Spanish coast

"The Spanish coastguard rescued two boats off the coast of Malaga, with a total of 109 refugees. The Spanish Red Cross says five had to be transferred to the hospital. Another 32 were brought to Almeria and 13 people including six minors were rescued from three inflatable boat in the Straits of Gibraltar."

UNHCR reports that so far is 2018: 1,859 refugees have arrived in the EU: 839 in Italy, 730 in Greece, 675 in Spain and that there have been 166 dead/missing.

Most Croatians Neither Hate Nor Fear Refugees (LiIberties.eu, link):

"More than half of Craotian citizens believe their country should be open to refugees seeking protection, and about two-thirds do not think Croatia should build a border wall."

Greece: Refugee boat runs aground on Cephalonia (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A boat with 29 refugees on board ran landed on the shore at Megas Lakkos beach in Lixouri on the Ionian island of Cephalonia late Friday night, after an engine failure. All the refugees – 10 children, five women and 14 men – were in good health."

What is the Spanish migration control industry, and why does it matter? (ODI, link):

""In the last decade, €896 million of public funding was channeled through 1,000 contracts to 350 companies involved in the Spanish migration control industry. These companies both run the machinery, and profit from it. How these companies use and exploit the industry will have long-term effects on any sensible, global migration policy.."

Refugees return prerequisite to deny safe havens to Afghan militants: Pak army chief (khaama.com, link):

"Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said the return of the refugees is prerequisite in a bid to help the Pakistani forces deny safe havens to the Afghan militants."

Italy/Sudan: ASGI and ARCI appeal against mass deportation to Sudan deemed admissible by the ECtHR

At a press conference in Rome's Federation of the Italian Press (FNSI) on 11 January 2018, lawyers of the Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione (ASGI) and members of ARCI (vice-president Filippo Miraglia and Sara Prestianni, in charge of its observatory on externalization), spoke about the case they brought before the European Court of Human Rights, after it was admitted. Lawyer Salvatore Fachile, who submitted the case, noted that there were numerous violations of the ECHR regarding the expulsion of over forty Sudanese citizens from Italy in August 2016, and that the case was submitted following a mission the following December by ASGI lawyers alongside Sara Prestianni and some MEPs during which they met five of the deportees.

Their interviews did not focus too much on their treatment after their return to Sudan in order to protect the applicants from any possible reprisals, a decision which appeared to be justified after even the delegation were subjected to an "unpleasant" interrogation, Prestianni noted. Hence, it focused on the treatment they received in Italy, which is the key issue in the complaint.

EU: Civil Liberties Committee divided over dual status and inclusion of facial images on new database of third country nationals convicted of a crime in the EU

On Thursday 11 January the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE)discussed its negotiating position on: On a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) (pdf). The Committee was divided on two major issues: inclusion of those with dual status and the inclusion of facial images on the central database.

The Khartoum Process hands over Chairmanship for 2018 (link):

"On 7th December 2017, Members of the Khartoum Process met in Rome, for the last Senior Official’s meeting of the year which solidified Ethiopia’s handover of its Chairmanship of the Process to Italy.

Italy made reference to the Rome Declaration, adopted at the Ministerial Conference in Rome in 2014, whereby the members of the Process agreed to assist participating states in tackling human trafficking and smuggling between the Horn of Africa and Europe."

Belgian PM seeks EU help in row over deported Sudanese (euractiv, link):

"Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said yesterday (11 January) he would seek EU help to settle a row over his country’s deportation of Sudanese who were allegedly tortured on their return home.

Michel’s coalition government has faced an uproar since his immigration minister Theo Francken invited officials from Khartoum in September to identify Sudanese migrants and then deported around a dozen of them."

When Memory does NOT die (IRR News, link): By Liz Fekete: The legacy of A. Sivanandan, who passed away on 3 January, is being widely noted.

Spanish activist in Moroccan court over people smuggling charge (Guardian, link)

Helena Maleno is thought to have saved hundreds of lives by alerting maritime authorities to plight of vulnerable migrants.

A Spanish journalist and human rights activist who is thought to have saved hundreds of lives by alerting maritime authorities to the plight of vulnerable migrants in the Mediterranean has appeared in court in Morocco over allegations that she has been colluding with people traffickers.

Helena Maleno and her Walking Borders NGO have, over the past few years, fielded distress calls from people crossing from north Africa, passing on their details and locations to the Spanish coastguard so they can be rescued."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.1.18)

EU: Common European Asylum System (CEAS): Qualification Regulation trilogue document


Four-column document outlining the institutions' positions and potential compromise text, for discussion in a secret trilogue meeting today (10 January 2017).

See: Qualification Regulation (pdf)

Council of the EU: READMISSION: Admission procedures for the return of Ethiopians from European Union Member States (LIMIITE doc no: 15762-17, pdf):

Note this is not a readmission agreement (to which the European Parliament would have to agree).

EU: Eurodac: Austria dismisses fundamental concerns over coercive fingerprinting of six-year-olds

  • Letter from human rights organisations offered cursory reply
  • Council proposals for Eurodac database would see all Member States introduce "administrative sanctions including the possibility to use menas of coercion... for non-compliance with providing biometric data"

Hungary: Release Ahmed H and stop abusing terrorism laws (Amnesty, link):

"Ahmed has been labelled a terrorist and jailed for 10 years after using a megaphone to call for calm during clashes at the Hungarian border.

In August 2015, Ahmed left his family home in Cyprus to go and help his elderly parents and six other family members flee Syria and find safety in Europe. One month later, they found themselves among hundreds of refugees stranded at the Hungarian border after police fenced off the crossing with Serbia.

Clashes broke out as some refugees attempted to get through. Hungary’s police responded with tear gas and water cannon, injuring dozens. Some people threw stones, including Ahmed. But news footage also clearly shows Ahmed using a megaphone to call on both sides to remain calm.

For this, a Hungarian court found him guilty of an “act of terror”, under Hungary’s extremely vague counter-terrorism laws, and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Does this sound like terrorism to you?"

Are You Syrious (8.1.18, link)


"The retrial for Ahmed H. began on Monday at the court in Szeged, Hungary. The second trial day is due on Wednesday this week, while the verdict should be delivered already on Friday.

At the first instance, Ahmed was found guilty for an “act of terror” committed during the clashes with Hungarian police at the border on September 15, 2015, and sentenced for 10 years in prison. Nevertheless, after his lawyers filed the complaint, the second instance court referred it back to the first level for “lack of consideration of contradictions in the evidence”.

What Ahmed was doing is protesting the policy of closed borders, with many others. The protest was held just a few hours before Hungary had closed the border and had made any crossing a criminal offense.(...)"


"People keep coming to Greece. On Monday evening, one boat with 62 people arrived in North Lesvos. Earlier, one boat arrived at Samos with 47 people on board."


"Part of the politicians in Austria, those from the left and center, are strongly opposing the idea of restrictions on refugees proposed by the far right leader who are now part of the government.

“It’s a sign of political failure when you’re not even trying to help people who come here achieve independence, but simply lock them up instead,” Social Democrat Jürgen Czernohorszky, Vienna’s city commissioner for integration, said in a statement. He also called current Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as DW reports, “to distance himself from Strache’s ideas and get his coalition partner back in line.” (...)"

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reached 171,635 in 2017; Deaths Reach 3,116 (IOM, link):

"Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 171,635 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea during 2017, with just under 70 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 363,504 arrivals across the region through the same period last year."

UNHCR figures for 2017 (1.1.18)

Total in 2017: 171,332: Arrivals in Italy: 119,249; Arrivals in Greece: 29,716; Arrivals in Spain: 23,253; Arrivals in Cyprus: 1,111. Dead/missing 3,061.

Libyan Coast Guard saves 270 migrants and recovers two dead (ANSA, link):

"The Libyan Coast Guard on Monday announced in a statement that it saved 270 migrants of "various African nationalities" aboard two boats, and recovered the bodies of two women in an area of sea off the coast of Gasr Garabulli (Castelverde), east of Tripoli.

The statement, posted on Facebook, said the operation was conducted Sunday by the patrol boat "Sabrata".

The migrants were taken to the Tripoli naval base "where they were provided with medical assistance and food under the supervision of the international medical organism, the International Organization for Migrants, and the High Commissioner for Refugees," the statement said, making an implicit reference to IOM and UNHCR."

UN raises probable death toll in migrant boat sinking to 64 (The Guardian, link):

"The UN migration agency now says 64 people likely lost their lives when a boat carrying migrants sank off Libya on Saturday. Initial reports had put the death toll much lower in what was the first such incident in 2018."

Sixty-four dead after dinghy sinks in Mediterranean (Guardian, link):

"Italian coastguard rescues 86 people from boat launched from Libya, including three-year-old girl whose mother drowned"

Greece: Patra port security an uphill battle as migrants eye ferries to Italy (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The situation in Patra, where hundreds of migrants and refugees are awaiting the opportunity to sneak onto a ferry to Italy, is “barely manageable,” a coast guard officer in the western port city has told Kathimerini.

“Safeguarding the port’s security is a battle,” he said, voicing concerns that the number of potential stowaways squatting in abandoned buildings around the port is growing."

France: Police attack migrant camp // La police attaque un camp de migrant-e-s (Calais Migrant Solidarity, link):

"In the afternoon of 7 January, police raided a small migrant camp near an old Lidl. Friends who were there wrote about the event from their experience:

Autonomous medics and other allies to migrant communities in the various fractional encampment jungles of Calais rushed to the site of the old Lidl camp on reports of a CRS police raid. Upon arrival, a mass of CRS police had situated in a line facing off against a crowd of migrants and allies, including a man they had injured in the attack who was found lying on the ground." (...)

FRANCE: Refugees still sleeping rough in Paris despite Macron’s promises (France 24, link):

"In his first six months as president, Macron stressed that France was a land of welcome for refugees, saying he wanted all of them off the streets by the end of 2017. But in January 2018 hundreds of refugees are still sleeping rough in Paris.

In July 2017 a freshly elected Emmanuel Macron said he wanted refugees “off the streets, out of the woods” by the end of the year. On the campaign trail he said France was honoured to welcome refugees. But six months later in Porte de la Chapelle in the northeast of Paris, under bridges and underpasses and all along Avenue President Wilson, small groups of refugees are sheltering from the rain and the cold. Three friends from Afghanistan huddled around a fire, a Yemeni engineer from Sanaa, and a student from Sudan are among the 1,000 refugees that Médécins sans Frontières (MSF) say are still sleeping rough in the French capital."

Belgian government at risk of collapse over Sudan migrants scandal (The Guardian, link):

"Belgium’s coalition government is at risk of collapse over a scandal involving the forced repatriation of 100 people to war-torn Sudan.

The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, appeared on TV on Monday to insist he would not be intimidated by “blackmail or threats” after the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), a Flemish nationalist party that is one of his three coalition partners, warned that it could withdraw support for his administration over the affair.

The consequences of decisions taken by Theo Francken, a member of the N-VA and the minister for asylum and migration, are being examined following claims that some Sudanese migrants came to harm after he allowed three of the country’s officials to inspect their cases before they returned.

Fears have been raised that Sudan’s government, led by Omar al-Bashir, was in effect allowed to handpick political opponents for repatriation from Europe. Bashir, who came to power in 1989 after a military coup, is wanted in The Hague over allegations of crimes against humanity."

And see: Belgium teamed up with Sudan on deportations. Then, allegedly, there was torture (The Washington Post, link):

"The Sudanese citizens’ expulsions highlight new measures that might once have been seen as politically toxic. The men were repatriated after being identified by a delegation of Sudanese officials who had been invited to Belgium to screen migrants accused of being in the country illegally and to authorize the deportation of people from Sudan. Migrant advocates condemned the collaboration with Sudan, whose president, Omar al-Bashir, has been accused of war crimes and genocide."

Europe sends Afghans back to danger (IRIN, link):

"In a cafe in Kabul, Mohammad Elham’s eyes dart back and forth between a steaming cup of tea and the front entrance: the months since his return to Afghanistan have been spent in a state of constant fear.

Elham left Afghanistan on a cold night in 2010, he says, after the Taliban killed his wife and two children. Last year, he returned to the country he fled — this time, in handcuffs, one of a surging number of Afghan deportees ousted from Europe.

“It was hurtful and humiliating,” Elham said of his journey from Germany, where his asylum application was rejected, to Afghanistan, where he says his presence may again jeopardise his family’s safety.

As European countries tighten borders and asylum policies, the number of Afghan asylum seekers pushed out of Europe has soared. But returnees like Elham are being forced back to a volatile country, where conflict has uprooted more than one million people over the last two years and civilian casualties are at near-record levels."

UNHCR appeals to Israel over forced relocations policy (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR is again appealing to Israel to halt its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa. This is after some 80 cases were identified in which people relocated by Israel risked their lives by taking dangerous onward journeys to Europe via Libya.

All 80 cases involved Eritrean refugees or asylum seekers who were interviewed by UNHCR staff in Rome. Feeling they had no other choice, they travelled many hundreds of kilometers through conflict zones in South Sudan, Sudan and Libya after being relocated by Israel. Along the way they suffered abuse, torture and extortion before risking their lives once again by crossing the Mediterranean to Italy.

The interviews – all with adult males, some with family members still in Israel – took place between November 2015 and December 2017 in reception centres and informal settlements in the Rome area. All had entered Israel via the Sinai. In every case they reported torture, mistreatment and extortion before reaching Israel."

EU: Migration to dominate ‘Club Med’ summit in Rome (EurActiv, link):

"The heads of seven southern European states gather in Rome today (10 January) to tackle one of the stubbornest thorns in the EU’s side: flows of migrants from war-torn and impoverished countries.

The leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, called ‘Club Med’ by the press, will meet in the Italian capital for a short meeting at 7pm (1800 GMT), followed by a joint press conference and a working dinner.

It will be the fourth meeting of the ‘Southern Seven’ since Greece’s Alexis Tsipras launched the initiative in September 2016. The group met twice last year, in Lisbon and Madrid. A ‘Club Med’ meeting due to be held last October in Spain was canceled because of the Catalan crisis."

EU: Viktor Orbán: Europe will restore ‘the will of the people’ on migration in 2018 (Politico, link):

"European leaders will be forced to bow to public opposition to migration and concern over terrorism threats in 2018, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after meeting Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies in the German region Friday afternoon.

Meeting the Christian Social Union (CSU)’s parliamentary group at a former monastery in Bavaria, the Hungarian leader told reporters that migration has become a “problem” for democracy in Europe because “leaders in many places are not doing what the people want them to.”"

Decision in case 1328/2017/EIS on the refusal by Frontex to grant access to a document concerning the vessels used in the Poseidon and Triton border control operations

"The case concerned the refusal by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to grant full public access to a document concerning the vessels used in the Poseidon and Triton operations on border control and surveillance. Frontex refused to grant access to the document on the grounds that doing so would undermine public security.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that Frontex’s position was justified, so she closed the case with a finding of no maladministration."

EU-AFRICA: New EU External Investment Plan risks sidelining development objectives (Counter Balance, link)

29 November 2017: "As EU leaders meet their African counterparts in Abidjan for the 5th European Union/African Union summit, the European External Investment Plan (EIP) is in the spotlight. It is portrayed as the perfect recipe for the EU to combine development aid with migration control and economic interests. But such a plan risks deviating from genuine development goals unless strong safeguards and control procedures are put in place, claims a new report published today by Counter Balance.

Going back to the premises of the European Commission’s initiative – to tackle „the root causes of migration“ and leverage private sector investments – the study points out that linking development and migration objectives can have dangerous consequences and end up using aid money to finance „fortress Europe“."

EU: International Organisation for Migration: Four Decades of Cross-Mediterranean Undocumented Migration to Europe: A Review of the Evidence

"The report reviews available evidence on trans-Mediterranean irregular migration to Europe along various routes going back to the 1970s, particularly on the magnitude of the flows, the evolution of sea routes to Southern Europe, the characteristics of migrants, the extent to which one can separate between economic and forced movements, and mortality during the sea journey. The report also reflects on the causes of the so-called migration crisis – a record-high number of undocumented arrivals by sea between 2014 and 2016 – and the reasons for the substantial decrease in numbers in 2017. It concludes by identifying future data and research needs."

Taking the EU-Turkey Deal to Court? (Verfassungsblog, link):

"The three orders have been appealed to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The strict admissibility requirements laid down in the Plaumann ruling place an important constraint on the CJEU. If the case had been brought by the European Parliament, which was entirely sidestepped in the process leading to the deal, instead of dealing with issues of admissibility, the CJEU would be looking at the substance of the matter. This case illustrates how the checks and balances built into the system can be completely bypassed when the EU institutions collude with Member States to act outside the Treaty framework." [emphasis added]

See also: The EU-Turkey Statement or the ‘Refugee Deal’: The Extra-Legal Deal of Extraordinary Times? and: The EU-Turkey Deal in Front of the Court of Justice of the EU: An Unsolicited Amicus Brief (SSRN, links)



Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-7.1.18)

EU-TURKEY DODGY DEAL: Letters between the Commission and the Turkish and Greek governments April-July 2016 (ordered as in the pdf):


1. Letter to Commission from Permanent Delegation of Turkey in EU (12 April 2016)
2. Letter from the Director General of the Commission to Greek government (5 May 2016)
3. Letter from the Director General of the Commission to Greek government (27 April 2016)
4. Letter to Commission from Permanent Delegation of Turkey in EU (24 April 2016)
5. Letter from Commissioner for EU DG Home to Greek Alternate Minister for Migration (29 July 2016)

Sicily/Italy/EU/Africa: EU and Italian authorities accused of “system crimes” as court calls for the recognition of migrants as a “people” and as holders of rights (pdf):

"The People’s Permanent Court held a session on the rights of migrants and refugees in Palermo from 18 to 20 December 2017 following a request to do so, and submissions of evidence by over 100 international associations and organisations in Barcelona on 7-8 July 2017.

The session focused extensively on issues including deaths at sea, policies denying hospitality and rights and the externalisation of the EU’s and Italy’s immigration policies to the African coast and mainland, particularly in Libya, with the violence, abuses and deaths this entails."

Are You Syrious (5.1.18, link)

FEATURE: The sinister collaboration - how policy affects people

"In the night between 3 and 4 January, unknown people threw molotov cocktails at a door of a building meant to host migrants in the future. This incident happened in Capriglia, in the hill town of Pietrasanta (Lucca). The door is blackened by the hot fire, which fortunately burned out on its own. The Saturday before, some residents of Capriglia made a civil protest against the next arrival of asylum seekers in the town.(...)"


"In Serbia, a large number of expulsions have been reported by UNHCR and partners: 147 collective expulsions from Croatia, 85 from Romania and 79 from Hungary from December 11 to 24. To put this in context, this is 311 expulsions in less than two weeks."


"Austrian Vice Chancellor Strache argued that not only should refugees be put in military barracks while they wait on their asylum application, but that they be subject to curfew and other limitations. Even other members of the Vice Chancellor’s right wing party have distanced themselves from the proposal, which immediately drew backlash, but the disturbing implication remains that even though the Vice Chancellor’s plan will not be enacted “immediately” that it is a veritable option for Austria. (Source)"

Greece: As attacks on migrant homes spike, group fears Golden Dawn threat (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Attacks against migrant workers, and Pakistani nationals in particular, in the Piraeus suburbs of Renti and Nikaia have spiked since Christmas, a rights group warned on Thursday, saying the assaults bear the hallmarks of Golden Dawn’s so-called “assault divisions.”

According to the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (KEERFA) more than 30 houses tenanted by migrants have been attacked in less than a month in those two areas by black-hooded assailants throwing stones, sticks, bottles and even bitter oranges at the houses, breaking windows and frightening their tenants."

Are You Syrious (4.1.18, link)


"Two boats were reportedly stopped by the Turkish Coast Guard on their way to Greece during the night/morning of Thursday.
However, after the initial 400 people who arrived during Monday and Tuesday, more people have arrived in the Greek Aegean islands over the past 24 hours. 15 people arrived on a boat on the south coast of Lesvos earlier on Thursday.

A boat with 38 people (28 men, 6 women and 4 children) landed on Chios and 44 (12 men, 16 women and 16 children) people were on board the vessel that arrived to Samos." (...)

Inhumane and illegal detention case linked to the EU-Turkey deal

"The latest press release of the Lesvos solidarity was signed by a number of organizations active with refugees in Greece and it calls for the “immediate release of a vulnerable case currently unnecessarily detained in PROKEKA, the prison within Moria refugee camp.” They stress out that his case is one of many inhumane and illegal detention cases linked to the EU-Turkey deal. We wrote about it in yesterday’s Digest, you can read the entire text here."

ITALY: Police check-ups, detention and deportation

"On Wednesday another round-up on an ethnic basis was done in Ventimiglia, Italian volunteers report. Reportedly, after the usual cleaning of the river banks done by migrants and volunteers, in front of Eufemia-Info&Legal Point the Italian police stopped some of the boys goind to Taranto. One of them, despite the fact that he had all the documents, was detained “for an investigation”. The growing concern is that he might have also been deported because other people with documents have previously been reported to the south of Italy."

Greece: Aegean Boat Report

"The camps on the islands are overcrowded, people are suffering, because Europe don’t want to let them in. You have probably seen footage from Moria on Lesvos on the news, situation on Chios and Samos isn’t much better. People will again die in camps on the Greek islands this winter, living in summer tents, suffering from cold, under extremely poor living conditions.

A total of 730 boats reached the Greek islands in 2017, carrying 29.229 people. When the new year started, 13.671 people was stuck in camps on the Greek islands."

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends (euobserver, link):

"The past year has yet to deliver any meaningful reforms of the EU's fractured internal asylum system.

The half-dozen bills under discussion remain either mired in political standoffs, or left on the desks of understaffed and overworked EU delegations."

A seahorse for the Mediterranean: Border surveillance for Libyan search and rescue zone (link):

"Libya is to become the first third-state to join the EU’s satellite-supported “Seahorse Mediterranean” network. The Italian military is currently setting up the necessary control centres, to be followed by a new application for a search and rescue zone, supported by Italy. In the end, the Libyan coastguard is to coordinate all maritime search and rescue missions itself.(...)

Unlike the ships in the EU military mission EUNAVFOR MED or merchant ships, the Libyan patrol boats would be able to escort the rescued parties on board back to Libya without infringing upon the principle of non-refoulement enshrined under international law. Thus the creation of such a coordination centre means a nightmare for hundreds of thousands of refugees and independently-organised rescue missions that have been repeatedly shot at by coastguard units. There is already evidence about the Italian navy’s involvement in such a facilitating return of migrants to Libya."

UNHCR: 2017 (1.1.18)

Total in 2017: 171,332: Arrivals in Italy: 119,249; Arrivals in Greece: 29,716; Arrivals in Spain: 23,253; Arrivals in Cyprus: 1,111. Dead/missing 3,061.

2016: Total arrivals: 362,753. Dead/missing:   5,096
2015: Total arrivals: 1,015,078. Dead/missing: 2,051
2014: Total arrivals:   216,054. Dead/missing:  3,538

Meet Lamin (migrantsofthemed.com, link):

"18 years old and from Banjul, Gambia.

He was 17 years old when he left his country on a journey that took five months.

He did not want his photo shown.

To reach Sicily he crossed six countries: The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the most dangerous of all, Libya.(...)

Libya: Up to One Million Enslaved Migrants, Victims of ‘Europe’s Complicity’ (IPS, link):

"“European governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants detained by Libyan immigration authorities in appalling conditions in Libya,” Amnesty International charged in the wake of global outrage over the sale of migrants in Libya.(...)

“European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses... they are complicit in them” -- John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International."

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