July 2018

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Archives: July 2018

Analysis document: The dangerous link between migration, development and security for the externalisation of borders in Africa. Case studies on Sudan, Niger and Tunisia (ARCI, pdf):

"Within the framework of the Externalisation Policies Watch project, aimed at monitoring the externalisation of Italian and European migration policies, ARCI – in addition to its constant work of analysis of the evolution of the agreements signed with origin and transit countries, and to its field missions (in Niger in July 2018, in Tunisia in May 2018 and in Sudan in December 2016) has produced this document.

The report is a collection of the results of the work described above, to alert civil society and governments on the negative consequences of these strategies and their implications in terms of systematic violation of the fundamental rights of migrants and of people living in the African countries involved."

Child refugees might be missing due to Home Office failure’ – Safe Passage, represented by the MLP win at the Court of Appeal (MIrgants' Law Project, link)

"The Court of Appeal has today ruled that the government misled the High Court over its decision to refuse child refugees who had been in Calais the right to join their families in the UK, following the emergence of crucial emails showing that Home Office lawyers gave advice on how the UK government could avoid legal challenges by children stranded in France."

Translated sections of the Right to Remain Toolkit! (link):

"Right to Remain has teamed up with the brilliant Refugee Info Bus (who you can donate to here) to translate some sections of our popular toolkit into six (SIX!) languages."

Are You Syrious (30.7.18, link):


"Sea-Watch reports the first pushback to Libya by an Italian vessel. The ship “Asso Ventotto” was witnessed to disembark rescued people at the port in Tripoli. “The pushback is a clear breach of non-refoulement and a stark violation of the 2012 #Hirsi v Italy ruling”, Alarmphone adds. Additionally, the track of the ship’s route indicates, that a rescue mission could have been conducted. According to ProActiva Open Arms, 108 people were rescued. The IOM Libya stated, they assisted the disembarkation of more than 350 people today."


"Salvamento Maritimo said, it searched for more than 26,000 people from 1200 boats until 30th of July. 22,000 people were rescued, which is more than in whole 2017. Morocco rescued some 3900 people and 46 died or are still missing."

Sánchez backs Morocco’s call for support to stem migrant flows (euractiv, link):

"Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has included a Moroccan demand of resources for border management, in a letter addressed to the European Commission requesting further emergency assistance to tackle the surge in migrant arrivals. (...)

The Western Mediterranean route, from Morocco to Spain, is already the main entry point for irregular migrants to the EU. As to 30 July, 23,993 people have arrived in Europe through this course, above the 18,298 to Italy."

Three babies among six dead as boat capsizes off Turkish coast (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Six people including three babies died on Sunday when an inflatable boat carrying 16 people capsized off the coast of western Turkey, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Nine people were rescued by the coast guard overnight, it said, adding that search and rescue efforts were continuing for one missing person after the incident off the coastal province of Ayvalik.

The boat was believed to be en route to Greece’s Lesvos island which is around 20 km (12 miles) away from the Turkish coast, it said. From January to July this year at least 54 irregular migrants died trying to cross to Europe from Turkey, according to coast guard statistics."

Confinement, violence and chaos: How a European refugee camp is traumatising people on Lesbos (MSF, link):

" MSF calls for vulnerable people to be moved out of Moria into secure accommodation, and continues to call for a decongestion of the camp.

MSF insists on an end to policies of containment, and calls on the EU and state authorities to step up access to health and security for those in the camp.

The EU-Turkey deal is not an effective one; people will continue to flee war and terror in order to survive. Trapping these people in awful and unsafe conditions is simply further traumatising an already extremely vulnerable population. "

Are You Syrious (25.7.18, link)

Attack in Thessaloniki

"There was a racist attack in the early morning at Navarinou Square, in the center of Thessaloniki. Four people including three immigrants, were attacked by a group of 15 people.

The fascists was wearing helmets during the attack and one of the attackers was holding a knife. A witness said that the perpetrators were shouting “leave and go back to your country”, and continued beating anyone who was in front of them.(...)


"In Serbia, 3529 people were counted on 22 July. Of these, 400 people were seen outside the official centers, 150 in Belgrade city center and another 150 in the border areas with Hungary and Croatia. In Loznica, a border city close to Bosnia and Herzegovina, another 100 people were observed. The most common route to Serbia is from Macedonia."

EU/Italy/Libya: Disputes Over Rescues Put Lives at Risk - Allow European Rescues, Agree on Safe Disembarkation (HRW, link):

"The European Union’s obstruction of nongovernmental rescues and handover of responsibility to Libyan coast guard forces is a recipe for even greater loss of life in the Mediterranean and a continuing cycle of abuse for people trapped in Libya, Human Rights Watch said today."

EU offers to pay countries €6,000 per person to take in migrants rescued from Mediterranean (Independent, link):

"The European Commission has offered to pay countries €6,000 (£5,346) per person to host migrants in secure centres in their territory, as part of a plan to break the deadlock in Brussels over migration policy."

"EU state ambassadors met in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the European Commission concept papers on setting up controlled centres in EU states and disembarkation platforms in north Africa. Without fully endorsing the plans, they said it was still a basis for further work. None volunteered to host them. It will now be discussed at a UNHCR and IOM meeting on 30 July, along with some EU states".(euobserver, link)

EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-25.7.18) including:

  • new EU "disembarkation" and "controlled centre" concepts build on the hotspot model;
  • new Frontex proposals may appear in early September;
  • Spanish Supreme Court rules government must keep implementing EU relocation scheme

Swedish student faces consequences of plane deportee protest (Deutsche Welle, link):

"As passengers know, a plane cannot take off until all on board have taken their seats and buckled their seat belts. On Monday, a young Swedish activist named Elin Ersson used that rule to keep a flight carrying a 52-year-old Afghan man being deported to Kabul from taking off in Gothenborg.

The flight was scheduled to travel to Istanbul where the man was to be transferred to another plane to Afghanistan. With everyone else on the plane seated, the young Swede took out her cellphone and began livestreaming video on Facebook. She then proceeded to film herself speaking in English as she walked through the plane, explaining that the man was being deported to Afghanistan, "where he will most likely get killed."

(...) Ersson protested Swedish deportation policy with a group of 25 other activists before boarding the plane. Her video was clicked more than 1.9 million times in the last 24 hours and she has been applauded by many for her civil courage. Critics have called her selfish for singlehandedly making a decision on the country's deportation stance.

Despite the young woman's claims that she had done nothing wrong, Swedish authorities see the matter differently. Police pointed out that passengers who refuse to obey a pilot's orders while on board a plane can face fines or up to six months in jail."

Hungary slams EU legal action over asylum seekers (EurActiv, link):

"Hungary yesterday (24 July) criticised legal action by the European Union to make the country comply with EU asylum rules as “unacceptable” and an attack against those who protect Europe.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, last week referred Budapest to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the bloc’s top tribunal, for “non-compliance” with EU legislation.

It was after Hungary passed the so-called “Stop Soros” law last month, named after liberal US billionaire George Soros, who is accused by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government of orchestrating migration to Europe.

(...) In the first public comments by the government since the EU action, minister Gergely Gulyas said it was “unacceptable” for Brussels to challenge the law."

EU: Managing migration: Commission expands on disembarkation and controlled centre concepts

- Both concepts follow the model of the "hotspots" in Italy and on the Greek islands

The European Commission has published two "Non-Papers" on disembarkation points outside the EU in north Africa and "Control Centres" inside the EU:

"Following the call by EU leaders at the June European Council, the Commission is today expanding on the concept of controlled centres as well as short-term measures that could be taken to improve the processing of migrants being disembarked in the EU, and giving a first outline of the possible way forward for the establishment of regional disembarkation arrangements with third countries. Regional disembarkation arrangements should be seen as working in concert with the development of controlled centres in the EU: together, both concepts should help ensure a truly shared regional responsibility in responding to complex migration challenges." See - Press release (pdf)

EU: Frontex: proposals to reinforce EU border agency may be published in early September

Legal proposals to further increase the size and powers of the EU border agency Frontex could be published as soon as early September, according to an internal Council working document.

The document, produced by the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, provides an update on ongoing work to implement the conclusions of the 28 June meeting of the European Council.

See: Working paper: Updated follow-up to the European Council meeting of 28 June 2018 (WK 8327/2018 INIT, LIMITE, 10 July 2018, pdf)

Italy to keep accepting stricken migrants during EU talks (euractiv, link):

"Italy agreed on Monday (23 July) to continue accepting migrants rescued at sea, at least until a broader EU strategy to address fair distribution of people can be defined.

Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said after talks in Berlin with German counterpart Heiko Maas that EU partners would seek a solution on migration policy within the next five weeks.

“During this time, we ensure that ships with rescued people can dock in Italy,” he told reporters, confirming the “will of our government” to hammer out “common positions with our EU and NATO partners”.

But he added that Rome saw it as a priority “to overhaul the operational rules so as to avoid all the rescued people landing in one country”."

SPAIN: Government must continue implementing EU refugee relocation scheme, rules Supreme Court

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that the country must continue to implement the EU's refugee relocation scheme, having relocated less than 13% of the 19,449 refugees in Italy and Greece that it was committed to under the rules that came into force in September 2015.

Greece: Migrant camps run by military overcrowded (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Military facilities hosting undocumented migrants on the Aegean islands and the mainland are significantly overcrowded, it emerged over the weekend.

A total of 31 military facilities around the country, including venues on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Kos, and in Diavata near Thessaloniki, are hosting 29,139 migrants, 4,644 in excess of those camps’ capacity, according to official statistics."

Statewatch comment: On 19.7.18 official figures show that on the Greek islands alone there are 14,878 refugees with space for only 6,438.

MED: Libya rejects EU plan for refugee and migrant centres (Guardian, link):

"Blow to Italy as Tripoli snubs proposal to set up processing centres in Africa.

Libya has rejected a EU plan to establish refugee and migrant processing centres in the country, adding that it would not be swayed by any financial inducements to change its decision.

The formal rejection by the Libyan prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, is a blow to Italy, which is regarded as being close to his Tripoli administration.

In June, Italy proposed reception and identification centres in Africa as a means of resolving divisions among European governments.(...)

Speaking to the German newspaper Bild, Serraj said: “We are absolutely opposed to Europe officially wanting us to accommodate illegal immigrants the EU does not want to take in.”"

Great video: No Human Is Illegal - Full Documentary [2018] Refugees Detained on Lesvos (You Tube, link)

Are You Syrious (13.7.18, link)

Feature: Pushbacks from Slovenia

"In their recently published reports, Slovenian organizations Amnesty International Slovenia and Legal Information Center for NGOs, confirm that since June 2018 refugees entering Slovenia are being systematically pushed back to Croatia and from there to Bosnia. People’s right to asylum is being systematically obstructed.(...)

Italy: President called on to uphold the constitution as government ministers violate the separation of judicial and political powers

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, of the far-right Lega Party, is determined not to let migrants rescued in the Mediterranean land in Italy and in doing so has been using the rescued people as pawns, keeping them without a port of safety for days on end.

The appeal remains open for signatures by individuals, groups and associations in Italy and abroad on change.org: FACINOROSO E' CHI, RESPINGENDO I PROFUGHI, CALPESTA LO STATO DI DIRITTO (change.org, link)

EU-HUNGARY: At last the EU acts: Migration and Asylum: Commission takes further steps in infringement procedures against Hungary (Press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for non-compliance of its asylum and return legislation with EU law.

The Commission has also today sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary concerning new Hungarian legislation which criminalises activities that support asylum and residence applications and further restricts the right to request asylum.(...)

The new legislation – so-called "Stop Soros" by the Hungarian authorities – criminalises any assistance offered by any person on behalf of national, international and non-governmental organisations to people wishing to apply for asylum or for a residence permit in Hungary. The laws also include measures which restrict individual freedoms, by preventing anyone who is subject to a criminal procedure under these laws from approaching the transit zones at Hungary's borders, where asylum seekers are held. Sanctions range from temporary confinement to imprisonment of up to 1 year and expulsion from the country." [emphasis added]

EU to deploy border guards in Macedonia to curb migrants (euractiv, link):

"The European Union said it struck a deal on Wednesday (18 July) with Macedonia to deploy border guards to the non-EU Balkan state to help cope with any migrant surges. Serbia and Bosnia are expected to follow."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-18.7.18)

DENMARK: MPs call for explanation over confidential Denmark-Somalia deal after extortion allegation (The Local, link):


"Denmark has an undisclosed agreement with Somalia to return individuals to the Northeast African country, according to reports.

The agreement provides for up to 12 people to be returned to Somalia by Denmark annually, Politiken reported last year, but it has not been officially confirmed and details of individual cases have not been disclosed.

But one of the deportations that may have been carried out under the arrangement was reported by TV2 on Wednesday.

A woman from the Vollsmose neighbourhood in Odense told TV2 that she had been subject to attempted extortion by one or more immigration officers in Somalia over the deportation of her son from Denmark."

EU: Europol proposals on combating migrant smuggling: interoperability, "law enforcement-led response", "data fusion", deployments in African states

"At the COSI meeting of 26 June 2018, Europol presented the activity report of the European migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC). During the subsequent thematic discussion on migrant smuggling, Europol was requested to prepare a short presentation with proposals how to further strengthen the fight against migrant smuggling. This presentation was made at the informal COSI meeting in Vienna on 2 July 2018."

NIGER: In die Rebellion getrieben [Driven into rebellion] (Germany-Foreign-Policy.com, link):

"The EU's externalised refugee policy is creating new tensions in Niger and may even trigger a rebellion in the north of the country. Reports from the region confirm that the forced illegalisation of traditional migration business by Brussels, particularly in the city of Agadez, the gateway to the Nigerian Sahara, has deprived tens of thousands of people of their livelihoods. Announced EU replacement programmes have only helped a small proportion of those affected. Local observers warn that the readiness to rebel and to join jihadists is increasing. Niger is already the scene of growing jihadist terror and increased Western "anti-terror" operations: While Berlin and the EU are primarily supporting a new G5 Sahel intervention force - German soldiers may also be deployed in Niger - the United States has expanded its presence in the country. The US forces are currently building a drone base in Agadez, which is triggering new tensions."

RESETTLEMENT: EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe (EUobserver, link) by Malin Björk:

"In order to ensure that the EU makes a meaningful contribution to the annual global resettlement needs (as identified by the UNHCR), the European Parliament wants to see a resettlement programme where all EU member states participate.

However, council has rejected the compulsory nature of the programme outright.

Despite this, negotiations with the council had already reached quite an advanced stage when the file was blocked by the 'coreper' (committee of the permanent representatives of the governments of the member states to the European Union) just days before the EU summit in June.

Then, at the dawn of the Austrian EU presidency, the council meeting decided to shift focus: far from insisting on a reform of the Common European asylum system (CEAS) - and the Dublin regulation in particular - the council conclusions bear all the hallmarks of the far-right led by Viktor Orban, Heinz-Christian Strache and Matteo Salvini."

EU: Immigration, Lot of Myths and Little Reality (IPS, link) by Roberto Savio:

"According to the latest statistics, the total flow of immigrants so far in 2018 is 50.000 people, compared with 186,768 last year, 1,259,955 in 2016 and 1,327,825 in 2015. The difference between reality and perceptions is so astonishing, we are clearly witnessing one of the most brilliant manipulations in history.

The latest survey carried out of 23,000 citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States shows an enormous level of disinformation. In five of those countries, people believe that immigrants are three times higher than they actually are.

Italians believe they account for 30% of the population when the figure is actually 10%, an average which is lower than the media of the European Union. Swedes are those closest to reality: they believe immigrants account for 30%, when in fact the figure is 20%.

Italians also believe that 50% of the immigrants are Muslim, when in fact it is 30%; conversely, 60% of the immigrants are Christian, and Italians think they are 30% (...)

Meanwhile, the 7th report on the economic impact of immigration in Italy from the Leone Moressa Foundation, which based its research on Italian Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) data, has presented some totally ignored facts."

EU: INTEROPERABILITY: Shared Biometric Matching Service (sBMS): Feasibility study - final report (pdf)

"The sBMS has been conceived based on the key assumption that rather than having four or more individual biometric systems, each serving one IT system, eu-LISA and its stakeholders could benefit from implementing a unique shared biometric system that could be shared by all systems. Reduced IT complexity and costs, along with technical, financial, operational and managerial synergies have all been noted amongst the positive outcomes foreseen.

In this respect, eu-LISA had to identify and analyse the feasibility of different architectural options for the implementation of the sBMS, capable of supporting the various biometric operations of all current and future systems managed by the Agency.

To achieve this objective eu-LISA entrusted to an external independent contractor the execution of a study that had to take into account all biometrics functional and non-functional requirements of the IT systems, the state of maturity of biometric technology available on the market and eu-LISA’s operational and strategic objectives in this regard. The study also included an assessment of the ‘flagging’ functionality highlighted in the HLEG’s final report, with the possibility of the sBMS raising hit/no-hit “flags” from the various connected applications being specifically examined. This report provides an overview of the main outcomes of this study."

EU: Libyan Coast Guard left two adults and a baby to die at sea, says rescue group

The Libyan Coast Guard left two adults and a baby to die at sea after destroying the boat in which they were travelling some 80 miles off the coast of Libya, according to the sea rescue organisation Proactiva Open Arms.

EU Austrian Presidency document: "a new, better protection system under which no applications for asylum are filed on EU territory"

A crude paper authored by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU and circulated to other Member States's security officials refers disparagingly to "regions that are characterised by patriarchal, anti-freedom and/or backward-looking religious attitudes" and calls for "a halt to illegal migration to Europe" and the "development of a new, better protection system under which no applications for asylum are filed on EU territory," with some minor exceptions.

See: Austrian Presidency: Informal Meeting of COSI, Vienna, Austria, 2-3 July 2018: Strengthening EU External Border Protection and a Crisis-Resistant EU Asylum System (pdf)

Greece: Good news Lesvos Solidarity - Pikpa.(Are You Syrious, link)

"The judge delivered a decision in favour of Pikpa in the court case initiated by some hotel owners from the neighbourhood and some individuals. This is an important step to save Pikpa!

The fight against the Region’s decision to close Pikpa continues: the appeal was filed last week. The Region must reconsider their decision."

How far will southern Spain's resources for refugees go? (DW, link)

"When the Aquarius docked in Valencia, the 630 migrants on board were welcomed by over 2,400 volunteers and medical staff. But what happens to those who arrive from Morocco? Santiago Saez reports from Cadiz and Madrid."

Editorial: Towards a place of no return (ECRE, link):

"Horst Seehofer has managed to illustrate the inhumanity and futility of Europe’s return policy with a “joke” about the deportation of 69 people on his 69th birthday. The numbers no longer match: one of the group committed suicide after being returned to Afghanistan. He was a young man who had arrived in Germany as a child and had lived there for eight years, “returned” to a town he’d never been to.

For ECRE, return is a valid part of migration policy but only if certain pre-conditions are in place. First, fair asylum decision-making. Here, the huge variation in the rate of recognition of protection claims, particularly from key nationalities such as Afghanistan, demonstrates this is not the case – and probably indicates political interference in judicial decision-making. That the likelihood of a protection claim from an Afghan varies from 3% to 98% from one Member State to another with no objective explanation for the difference is evidence of injustice.

The second pre-condition is a return process that is effected in accordance with human rights; sometimes this is the case, often not. Finally, there should post-return monitoring. In many cases, including in Afghanistan, people just disappear after return, their fate unknown but unlikely to be positive. Without these preconditions, return should not be happening. But under no circumstances should people be “returned” to places they’ve never been."

EU: Informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers in Vienna: press releases

Three press releases were published by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU following an informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers in Vienna on 12 and 13 July 2018.

UN: At least 2.5 million migrants smuggled worldwide in 2016, says UNODC study

At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled in 2016, according to the first Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today. Migrant smuggling occurred in all regions of the world and generated an income for smugglers of up to US$7 billion, equivalent to what the United States or the European Union countries spent on global humanitarian aid in 2016.

Greece: immediate action needed to protect human rights of migrants (CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, pdf):

"“The humanity and hospitality that Greece’s people and authorities demonstrated towards migrants in recent years is truly commendable. In spite of these efforts, however, the situation remains worrying and much more needs to be done to protect the human rights of those who have had to flee their country”, said today Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of her five-day visit to Greece, which also focused on the impact of austerity on human rights (...)

Rapid action by the Greek authorities is required to improve migrants’ reception conditions, especially in the hotspots. The geographical restriction imposed on arriving migrants put the Eastern Aegean islands (on which the hotspots are located) and their population under heavy pressure, as the Commissioner could observe in Lesvos. “I am very concerned by the substandard living conditions prevailing in the Reception and Identification Centre of Moria, which is running at well over three times its capacity and has already expanded informally into the surrounding area, putting the human rights of its residents at risk. The combination of overcrowding, insecurity, poor hygienic conditions, the approaching high summer temperatures, and residents’ uncertainty regarding their future may lead to very serious problems if not addressed immediately”, said the Commissioner, who also warned about the increasing tensions that this situation inevitably causes both among the residents of the Centre and within the general population of the island. Underlining the need to act quickly, the Commissioner called on the Greek authorities to transfer more people to the mainland. She also called on the Greek authorities to speed up the processing of asylum applications, whilst ensuring all necessary safeguards for fair procedures are in place, increase the capacities of reception facilities across the country, and improve their quality. “Temporary camps can meet the standards, as I could observe at the Open Hospitality Centre for Refugees and Migrants ‘Kara Tepe’ run by the Municipality of Lesvos; however, given the length of the asylum procedure, there is also a need for more reception facilities adapted to prolonged residence,” she said. The Commissioner also praised the invaluable work of civil society actors and international partners in this field." (emphasis added)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9-15.7.18)

Are You Syrious (13.7.18, link):



"The Spanish Supreme Court condemned the Spanish Government for “partially failing to meet its obligation” to relocate a total of 19,449 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy between 2015 and 2017.

Spain met only 13 per cent of the goal.

But the other EU countries have not done much better. Only 12,692 people from Italy and 21,999 from Greece, were relocated, even though the goal set by the Relocation Decisions was 160,000 people initially. It was later revised to fall under 100,000."


"This year so far, 48,629 people arrived in Europe by sea. Forced to take this perilous journey due to closed borders, 1,422 people have lost their lives.

Only in the last four weeks, more than 600 people died while attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean."


"Samos Volunteers recorded 822 arrivals in June, which is more than double the number of people that arrived in May. On Friday, one boat landed on Tsipouri Beach, Eftalou, Lesvos, with 43 people, including 31 children.

At the moment there are 2,570 people living in the camp Vathy where the capacity is approximately 700 people.(...)

According to the latest official figures, 59,700 people are now in Greece, including 15,200 on the islands and 44,500 in the mainland."

Statewatch comment: As at 12 July the officials figures show that 18,054 refugees are on the Greek islands.

EU: Council plans to export refugees with negative asylum decisions to "Return Centres" outside EU

The Austrian Council Presidency has circulated the following to Member States' delegations: Presidency discussion paper on Return Centers (LIMITE doc no: 10829-18, pdf, 4 July 2018) calling for "the establishment of Return Centers in third countries."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"The idea of external "Return Centres" in Africa or elsewhere is objectionable in itself. Out of sight out of mind" would be the result.

And the notion that the EU would enforce European standards and be compliant with applicable international and European human rights law and the principle of Non-Refoulement" is highly questionable."

Where Are We Going? Italy (And Europe) at the Crossroads between Xenophobia and Hospitality (Border Criminologies. link):

"Salvini suggests that we (Italians and Europeans) are at a crossroads. Either we undertake an authoritarian, state-centred approach that is straightforwardly aimed at the exclusion of unwanted foreigners, shorn of humanitarian proclamations; or, we pursue full hospitality, integrating new arrivals in the social and economic EU fabric."

'Humanitarian crisis' cries out for EU values in Libya (euobserver, link):

"Last month, I visited a detention centre in Tripoli where the International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides health services to migrants who have been detained by the Libyan authorities.

The reports I'd read about these centres were grim, but seeing it first hand was even more alarming. The conditions were filthy, cramped and dangerous - among the worst I have seen in 12 years of humanitarian work. And this was one of the better-managed centres."

Greek islands: As at 11 July 2018: 18,018 on the islands including 9,584 refugees on Lesvos, 3,938 on Samos and 2,121 on Chios. (Greek Ministry)

Lesvos, Greece: Farmer shoots and injures 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker in Moria (Keep TalkIng Greece, link):

"A 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker is hospitalized in the hospital of Mytiline with injuries in the head and the feet. The teenager was shot by a local farmer of the Moria village around 6 o’ clock Tuesday afternoon.

The incident took place in a land plot north of the Moria reception and identification center (hotspot.)

The farmer’s motive for the shooting is not known so far, however the incident took place in front of the victim’s parents and an under-aged brother. The Syrian family reportedly arrived on the island of Lesvos two days ago, in the morning of July 8th.

The farmer run away but was apprehended by police later in the evening."

Austrian far-right minister doubles down on asylum reform plans (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s hardline interior minister Herbert Kickl said yesterday (10 July) he would push to change the EU’s migration policy to make it impossible to make asylum requests on European soil.

“That would be a proposal,” the minister of the far-right FPÖ party told journalists in Vienna.(...)

In the Austrian proposal, asylum requests would be made in refugee camps outside Europe to “a sort of mobile commission,” Kickl said.

Only exiles from countries that directly border the European Union would be able to make their asylum requests on EU territory."

MED RESCUES: I’m a doctor in Lampedusa. We can’t let these migrant deaths go on by Pietro Bartolo (Guardian, link):

"In the Mediterranean we’re witnessing a slaughter of innocents. I have seen the suffering, and I am ashamed of the Italian government’s response (...)

I stopped feeling proud to be Italian from the moment our government, denying all that had previously been done, decided to establish an agreement with Libyan groups in Tripoli – which meant, directly or indirectly, with people smugglers. I still remember how in 2016 my country had vigorously joined the outrage triggered by Europe’s decision to bankroll Turkey’s President Erdogan with €6bn so he’d ignore or stop the migration flows from Syria. Italy’s position was then sacrosanct. It has since been somehow inexplicably disavowed in deeds."

Safeguard lives of migrants at sea, human rights lawyer says in protest against PM - Decision to stop spotter planes from assisting in rescue operations 'unjustified, abusive, illegal' (Times of Malta, link):

"Human rights lawyer Tonio Azzopardi has filing a judicial protest against the Prime Minister calling upon him to respect human life and fulfill his duty of ensuring that fundamental human rights are safeguarded.

In his judicial act filed before the First Hall, Civil Court, Dr Azzopardi took upon himself the plight of the hundreds of migrants who perished in the Mediterranean while attempting to make the crossing from Libya after fleeing persecution in their home countries."

EU: Revising EU visa policy (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"Back in 2014, the Commission proposed a revamp of EU visa policy (concerning short-term visit visas), in the form of a proposal to revise the EU’s visa code. This proposal ultimately failed, because the EU Parliament and Council could not agree on whether it should include “safe passage” visas for those needing protection or not. Now the Commission is trying again, focussing this time on security concerns, rather than economic growth."

Greece: Islanders told they will not receive migrant returns (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas has sent a letter to the mayors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in an attempt to reassure them that asylum seekers will not be returned from Germany to hotspots on the islands.(...)

From June 22 up until on Monday, some 1,519 migrants and refugees arrived, bringing their total number on the islands to 17,924. Of these, 7,573 are at the Moria hotspot on Lesvos, 2,212 are at the Vial center on Chios and 3,914 are on Samos."

Comment: there are 9,573 refugee on Lesvos. See also: Berlin eyes deal for migrant returns with Greece by end July

Britain to double Western Balkans funding, security staff (euractiv, link):

"Britain is to almost double the funding it provides to countries in the Western Balkans to 80 million pounds (€90 million) and ramp up its number of security staff in the region to try and tackle organised crime gangs.

With Britain set to leave the European Union next year, the UK government said the moves, which also include improving the Western Balkans countries’ cyber capability and extending the presence of the pan-Balkans Strategic Reserve Force, showed it remain committed to the region’s stability.

“History shows that a stable and secure Western Balkans region means a more stable and secure Europe,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement ahead of summit of Western Balkans and some European leaders in London on Tuesday (10 July)."

And see: About the Western Balkans Summit: On 10 July 2018 the UK will host the Western Balkans Summit in London, the fifth summit convened under the Berlin Process (gov.uk, link)

Are You Syriious (9.7.18, link)

FEATURE: 5 People Arrested in Calais from the Solidarity Group: Committee of the Sans Papiers Paris. Face court tomorrow with fears of deportation.

"As the 54 walkers of solidarity from the CSP group (Committee of Sans Papers Paris) protested against border controls in Calais, 22 people without papers were stopped by the police and detained. They were taken to the Shells Administrative Detention Centre. 17 were released but 5 remain arrested and may be deported from French Territory.

The persons are currently being held in three different locations."

Norwegian Refugee Council: Principles under pressure (pdf):

"As states continue to adopt measures aimed at combating terrorist activity, humanitarian organisations remain concerned about the impact these measures have on their ability to deliver aid to populations in areas under the control of designated terrorist groups (DTGs). Counterterrorism measures apply to humanitarian organisations through legislation at various levels, and through relevant clauses in donor agreements."

EPIM (European Programme for integration and migration): Policy Update July 2018 (pdf) Very useful reportage.

GERMANY-GREECE: Berlin eyes deal for migrant returns with Greece by end July

"Even as Germany's interior minister Horst Seehofer threatens the launch of mass returns of migrants if bilateral agreements are not achieved, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen has suggested that such an accord with Greece may be signed by the end of the month."

EU: Frontex: Annual Activity Report 2017 (pdf)

"The first part (1. Developments and 2. Strategic Action Areas) of the Annual Activity Report contains comprehensive and easily understandable information regarding Frontex's work; it outlines:

the situation at the external borders in the course of 2017; developments achieved at policy and Agency level; the new and enhanced mandate of the Agency; and the main activities per Strategic Action Areas during 2017.

It also reports on cooperation with Third Countries, the way how fundamental rights underpin Frontex's coordinated activities, and the issue of public access to documents.

II. The second part (3. Key Results and Progress towards the achievement of general and specific objectives, 4. Budgetary and Financial Management, 5. Management and Internal Control) of the document represents a main instrument of management accountability...

III.The third part contains further detailed information to provide additional information on previous elements of the report."

BALKANS: Minister says "there will be no refugee camps in Bosnia"; Frontex to receive powers to intervene in Albania

The Bosnian Security Minister has reportedly said that "there will be no refugee camps in Bosnia" following a sharp increase in people arriving in the country and hoping to travel onwards to the EU. Meanwhile, the EU is close to finalising an agreement with Albania that would allow the border agency Frontex to intervene on Albanian territory for the purposes of border control and return operations.

Salvini to demand closure of Italian ports to 'international mission' migrant ships (The Local, link):

"Italy wants to prevent ships operating for "international missions" from bringing migrants rescued off Libya to Italian ports, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Sunday.

"On Thursday, I will put on the European table at Innsbruck a demand to close Italian ports to ships of international missions," Salvini said on his Twitter account, referring to a meeting with his EU counterparts in the Austrian town next week.

"Unfortunately, Italy's governments over the past five years signed accords allowing all boats to bring their migrants in Italy," he said.

Italy's new coalition government has set a goal of zero arrivals, and Salvini, who heads the far-right League party, has already banned boats chartered by charities to enter Italian ports."

And see: Migrants: Salvini tightens up asylum claims (ANSA, link)

EU: Temporary reintroduction of internal border controls: Council mandate for negotiations with European Parliament

"At its meeting on 19 June 2018 the Permanent Representatives Committee agreed on the mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament with regard to the above draft Regulation, as it is set out in the Annex.

The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in bold/italics and strikethrough."

Commission to table EU external border proposal by September (EurActiv, link):

"The Commission will translate the Council’s demands into a set of concrete actions in order to improve control of the EU external borders, Jean-Claude Juncker announced on Friday (6 July) during the visit of the College of Commissioners to Vienna.

The EU executive will present its proposal in September to increase European coastguards up to 10,000 by 2020 – ahead of the previous date of 2027. The Commission will also prose extending Frontex’s mandate in order to create a real EU border police.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a few Frontex ships and understaffed coastguards from member states at the front line,” EU sources warned.

This European border police will work in EU territorial waters in the Mediterranean. But it still needs to be clarified what will happen to those who would still manage to cross the maritime border."

European states must put human rights at the centre of their migration policies (CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, pdf):

"'European states’ current approach to the arrivals of refugees and migrants has transformed a manageable issue into an extremely divisive topic, in particular within EU member states. And it has caused immense suffering and hardship to thousands of people who sought our protection. It is time that European states put the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as the principle of responsibility sharing, at the centre of their migration and asylum policies.' said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, in a statement she released today.

'Whilst states have the right to control their borders and ensure security, this cannot come at the expense of human rights. The recent adoption of European Council conclusions, as well as decisions at national levels, raise a number of concerns that European states must address in order to meet the obligations under international human rights law which they have undertaken to respect.'"

And see: European Council on migration: documentation and reactions to the "summit of shame"

GERMANY: Full text of the interior ministry's 'Masterplan Migration': "even further restrictions"

German freedom of information website Frag den Staat (Ask the State) has published the full text of a "masterplan" on migration drawn up by the country's interior ministry, including a translation into English. In the words of the website (link): "The German Ministry of Interior is planning to put even further restrictions on Germany’s and Europe’s asylum and migration policies."

EU: Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, according to the EP

The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime, the European Parliament stated on Thursday.

In a non-legislative resolution (pdf), MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on help to irregular migrants are having “unintended consequences” for citizens that provide humanitarian assistance to migrants. The text was passed with by show of hands.


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-8.7.18)

Are You Syrious (7.7.18, link);


Feature - "Human Life is Inviolable” Article 1 of the EU Charter

"Numbers of missing and dead people continue to rise in the Mediterranean while EU governments sit back, watch, close their ports and lock their doors. Since 2015 over 20,600 people have died at sea while attempting to travel from Northern Africa and Southern Europe. This June, since Salvini became Interior Minister of Italy and other EU states decided to follow his brutal lead, has been the month with the highest death toll since IOM began their records.(...)

These are crimes against humanity, illegal under the laws of the sea, the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Human Rights Act and of our collective conscience. When will an EU member state finally stand up and say enough is enough? When will a critical mass of citizens and civil society finally refuse to comply with these policies and through this simple tool end the murderous route that EU leaders are trying to force us down?"

EU position on the Global Compact on Migration advocates some of the worst features of its policies and actions

The Council of the European Union is negotiating its position on: HLWG/CONUN discussion of 15 June 2018 on the negotiations of the Global Compact on Migration - Chairs’ Summary (LIMITE doc no: 10636-18, pdf) includes "search and rescue" when current EU policies in the Med are colluding in the death of refugees by refusing to allow NGO boats to pick them out of the sea.

EU-MED: Witnesses not welcome: Civil search aircraft blocked from operation (Seawatch, link):

"The political offensive against civil sea rescue continues: Now the civil reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird was blocked from operations as well. The aircraft is operated by Sea-Watch and the Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative (HPI) and is supported by the Protestant Church of Germany (EKD). The Maltese authorities do not allow any kind of search and rescue operations. From now on no search flights in the search area north of the Libyan coast are possible anymore. Since operations started, Moonbird was involved in the rescue of 20 000 people and more than 1000 would have drowned, if the Moonbird Crew would not have found their sinking boats in the last minute."

Institute of Race Relations: Who we are is what we do (link):

"Jenny Bourne, IRR veteran, writes on what the memorial event for A. Sivanandan held on 23 June at Conway Hall, meant for her (...)

"This was a looking back only as a way of celebrating and honing a particular perspective and political practice. In the light of current moves – towards elevating identity politics, emphasising ‘unconscious bias’ and changing just attitudes and representation – the meeting was constantly recalling the aptness of Siva’s practice reflected in down-to-earth aphorisms: ‘who we are is what we do’, ‘the racism that kills not the racism that discriminates’, ‘thinking in order to do not thinking in order to think’; his method of ‘lived theory’ and the urgency to build ‘communities of resistance'."

UPDATED: UNHCR: Lesvos, Greece: Weekly Snapshot (pdf): "Some 8,000 refugees and migrants reside on Lesvos". Statewatxh adds: Greece Ministry of the Interior figures for 4 July 2018 show: 9,486 refugees on Lesvos with a total if 17,773 on the islands.

And: Islands: An update on the new arrivals to Greece (Are You Syrious, link):

"Aegan Boat Report has concluded that UNHCR’s figures on the new arrivals on the islands for the month of June are not correct, stating this week, that “Arrivals on Lesvos was 257, not 316. [As UNHCR stated]. The week before was 153, not 96. How hard can it be to put out correct information.”

It is somewhat shocking that UNHCR is not even able to put together reliable statistics for the number of people arriving on the Aegean Islands. The UNHCR has long failed to provide for the basic needs and rights of refugees on the islands, yet they have always prioritized putting out their glossy data sheets. Now it seems they cannot even do this properly."

EU: Calls by Orban, Seehofer for more migrant returns (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Amid a widening rift in the European Union over how to manage the bloc’s refugee problem, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Thursday separately called for more migrant returns to Greece and Italy.

During a tense press conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Orban called for undocumented migrants to be returned to Greece, noting that it is the first country of arrival even if all migrants are not registered there."

Right of asylum: Austria’s unsettling proposals to member states (euractiv, link):

"According to an article by French daily Le Monde, Austria, which currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, sent troubling proposals to EU member states to reform the right of asylum. EURACTIV.fr reports.

In a document given to member states and seen by Le Monde, Austria believes that “the EU and the political elites have lost control of the situation” on migration (...)

In a controversial move, the document also suggests a reform of asylum policy “which would allow for asylum procedures not to be processed on European soil”.

UPDATED: European Parliament: Refugee crisis and humanitarian help: Discussion and vote today: MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION further to Question for Oral Answer B8-0034/2018 pursuant to Rule 128(5) of the Rules of Procedure on guidelines for Member States to prevent humanitarian assistance from being criminalised (2018/2769(RSP)) Claude Moraes on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (pdf) and see Agenda (link) and Press release (link)

Domino effect of German border closure awaits crucial Vienna talks (euractiv, link):

"The Austrian government remains cautious but warned there will be consequences if the German border is closed, ahead of a meeting with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Thursday (5 July) in Vienna.

The decision of the German government to close the border with Austria and establish centres on the border to process asylum requests “came by surprise”, Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister Karin Kneissl told reporters in the nation’s capital."

EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean (link)

"The European Union has mandated Italy to set up several maritime control centres in Libya. The Coast Guard and Maritime Police will be linked to European surveillance systems, the authorities will communicate directly with Frontex. The project costs 46 million euros and starts in July. But the Libyan Coast Guard has since long been connected to Italian counterparts."

Macron warning over EU's Africa migrant centre plans (BBC News, link):

"French President Emmanuel Macron has told the BBC that EU plans to create migrant processing centres in North Africa will not work unless the process is led by those countries."

Europe is using smartphone data as a weapon to deport refugees (Wired, link):

"Smartphones have helped tens of thousands of migrants travel to Europe. A phone means you can stay in touch with your family – or with people smugglers. On the road, you can check Facebook groups that warn of border closures, policy changes or scams to watch out for. Advice on how to avoid border police spreads via WhatsApp.

Now, governments are using migrants' smartphones to deport them.

Across the continent, migrants are being confronted by a booming mobile forensics industry that specialises in extracting a smartphone’s messages, location history, and even WhatsApp data. That information can potentially be turned against the phone owners themselves. "

Children are separated from parents in the UK just like in Trump’s America (Metro, link)

"The desperate cries of children torn from their parents by US officials on the US-Mexico border have rightly provoked outrage and revulsion worldwide. Less well-known is that the UK government also separates parents from their children for the purpose of immigration control by sending the parent into immigration detention.

Every day, my charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) works with detained parents separated from their children to try and secure their release from detention.

For a child who has left for school in the morning thinking that their dad or mum will be there in the evening to come home and find that they have been taken away and detained is absolutely devastating. The long-term psychological impact of such trauma on children is well documented. The “lucky” ones are those who have another parent to take care of them. In some extreme cases, children left behind can be taken into care."

Italy to give Libya extra boats to deal with migrant crossings (The Local, link)

"The Italian government will give Libya 12 boats to help them "fight human trafficking" and curb the flow of migrants into Europe, Rome announced on Monday.

The announcement comes as several EU nations are pressuring Libya to take charge of migrant rescues in the Mediterranean, with the bloc debating how to handle the influx of migrants to the continent.

The measure, adopted during a cabinet meeting, "aims to strengthen the operational capacity of the Libyan coastguard" to ensure the "proper management" of the migrant situation in the Mediterranean, a government statement said.

The measure "prioritizes the need to fight human trafficking, to protect human life at sea and to curb migratory pressure," the statement added. The Italian government will also take responsibility for the maintenance of the 12 boats until the end of the year and offer training to the Libyan coastguard and naval authorities."

UN sets conditions for EU 'disembarkation platforms' - full-text of the letter from the IOM and UNHCR

"UN agencies are imposing conditions before agreeing to any new EU plans to prevent boats leaving from north Africa to Italy and Spain (...)

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, wants the platforms outside Europe with the cooperation of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

But a joint confidential letter [pdf] sent by heads of the UNHCR and IOM says any such country, as in north Africa, must first set up reception centres that provide "adequate, safe and dignified reception conditions."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.6.18 - 2.7.18)

Italy’s war on migrants makes me fear for my country’s future (The Guardian, link) by Roberto Saviano:


"I have never felt a greater need to speak out. I have never felt a greater need to try to explain why this new Italian government cannot be allowed to survive. Even before it has got down to real work, it has already done so much irreparable damage. The drama of the migrant rescue ship, Aquarius, which last week was denied permission to dock at Italian ports, drew everybody in – it seems there are those who, indifferent to the fate of 630 human beings at sea, think it was right to teach Europe a lesson on the migrant issue. Yet, of course, others think it preposterous to use 630 lives as bargaining chips. The trouble is that we have all lost sight of the bigger picture."

The French-Italian border reveals the essence of the European clash on migration (The Washington Post, link):

"MENTON, France — The trains coming from Italy arrive at a station one mile past the French border, and that is where the journey for migrants tends to stop. French police board the trains, walk past beachgoers, look under seats and force their way into bathrooms. They take undocumented migrants off the trains, drive them up a hilly road and deposit them back at the Italian border.

Those denied entry typically walk the five miles back to Ventimiglia, the Italian town they started from, where they can catch another train to France and try again.

“I’m already thinking about the next place I’ll hide,” said Mohammed Yaugoub Ali, 19, from Sudan."

EU: European Council on migration: documentation and reactions to the "summit of shame"

Documentation and reactions to the European Council meeting on 29-30 June, which the German NGO Pro Asyl referred to as the "summit of shame" after EU leaders agreed to further strengthening the Libyan Coast Guard and to "swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms". An editorial published by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, on the other hand, argues that although "nothing much has been decided," if one reads "between the lines of the European Council Conclusions there are some interesting developments – and not all negative."

UK: Updated profiles on the four companies running the UK's migrant detention centres

Corporate Watch has published updated profiles of the four companies that, through government outsourcing contracts, run the UK's migrant detention centres.

For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The current crisis surrounding migration is not one of numbers – migrants’ crossings of the sea are at their lowest since 2013 – but of policies. The drive towards closure and the politicisation of migration are so strong after years of tension that the frail bodies of a few thousand migrants arriving on European shores are triggering a major political crisis throughout the EU.

(...) As EU member states will most probably continue to prove unable to offer a common response to migrants once they have arrived on European shores, they will reinforce the policy they have implemented since 2015: preventing migrants from crossing the sea by outsourcing border control to non-European countries.

(...) This consensus towards closure is delusional. Policies of closure that are completely at odds with the dynamics of migration systematically fail in their aim of ending the arrivals of illegalised migrants, as the record of the last 30 years demonstrates."

EU: European Commission publishes two reports on "information channels used by migrants" in Italy and en-route to Europe

"The study findings will support the development of communication campaigns and activities aimed at informing migratory choices in countries of origin and transit. The overall objective of the EU and Member State funded migration information and awareness raising campaigns is to sensitise the target audience and provide prospective migrants, their communities and diaspora members with objective information on the risks of irregular migration as well as EU asylum, migration and return policies."

UNHCR: Projected global resettlement needs 2019 (link to pdf):

"...this 2019 Projected Global Resettlement Needs sets out in its detailed regional and country chapters information on the close to 1.4 million refugees identified as needing access to this key durable solution in the coming year. The total is 17 per cent higher than that of 2018 levels and reflects needs from more than sixty countries of asylum, from both protracted and more recent refugee situations. It captures the need to continue efforts to assist refugees in the Middle East, with an ongoing focus in Syrians, while also bringing the spotlight to the ever-increasing needs in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) countries hosting large numbers of refugees as well as countries along the Central Mediterranean Route (...)

Despite States’ commitments in the New York Declaration, the global resettlement landscape has recently been characterized by fluctuations in State quotas. The growth in resettlement quotas over the last five years (2012-2016) saw a steep reversal with declining resettlement opportunities in 2017; the 20-year high record of 163,200 submissions in 2016 was more than halved in 2017, in which only 75,200 refugees were submitted for resettlement. In a global context characterized by unprecedented displacement and approximately 1.19 million refugees estimated to be in need of resettlement in 2017, the impact of this decline in resettlement places was significant."

Over 200 Migrants Drown in Three Days in Mediterranean -- Death Toll for 2018 Passes 1,000 (IOM, link):

"On Sunday (1/07), a small rubber boat packed with migrants capsized off AlKhums, east of Tripoli, with an estimated 41 people surviving after rescue. Some 100 people were reported missing by the Libyan Coast Guard. On Friday (28/06), three babies were among the 103, who died in a shipwreck similar to Sunday’s incident, also caused by smugglers taking migrants to sea in completely unsafe vessels.

So far this year, the Libyan Coast Guard has returned some 10,000 people to shore from small vessels (...)

From Friday to Sunday, close to 1,000 migrants were returned to Libyan shore by the Libyan Coast Guard, who intercepted small crafts as they made their way towards the open sea. Upon disembarkation to shore, migrants have received emergency direct assistance, including food and water, health assistance and IOM protection staff has provided vulnerability interviews. Those rescued and returned by the Libyan Coast Guard are transferred by the Libyan authorities to the detention centres where IOM continues humanitarian assistance."

Lesvos, Greece: Message from Pikpa camp: Reaction to announcement to close Pikpa camp

See: https://twitter.com/lesvosolidarity?lang=en (Twitter)

"The North Aegean regional governor announced the closure of Pikpa camp on the basis of a report by the health inspection which found shortcomings in the common kitchen handled by the residents, a broken net in the food distribution area and a leakage to a water tank for washing machines. For these reasons, it considers Pikpa dangerous to public health and the environment.

It is important to remind that the forest and public health services visited at a time when Pikpa camp responded to the urgent need to host 350 Kurdish refugees who had left Moria camp after fights broke out. It was the police who insisted to host around 70 people who had fled to a park in Mytilini in Pikpa camp on Friday night 25 May. They guaranteed that the next day the families would be transferred to Kara Tepe. Instead the next day, up to 1000 Kurdish people left Moria camp and Pikpa camp did not hear back on the promise to transfer the people to Kara Tepe. As soon as the temporary emergency with the Kurdish refugees in Pikpa camp started, this extraordinary situation has been used against Pikpa camp. Apart from sending several inspection services to the camp in this period, a court case was launched by several hotel owners from the neighbourhood and a few individuals, which will be heard on 6 July."

EU-MED: In the new climate of fear, our rescue boat turned away from people drowning - Last week, our rescue crew was afraid and 120 people probably died as a result (New Statesman, link):

" We called the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), the governmental body which oversees and authorises rescue operations. Normally we need their permission before we can do anything. But this time they gave us no guidance, other than to tell us to call the Libyan coastguard. In the past, the Libyan coastguard has threatened NGO boats like ours. Perhaps because of this, the captain decided not to contact them. At the same time, our NGO’s board in Germany told us to go north, away from Libyan territorial waters (which end 24 miles from shore), since the MRCC had given us no express orders to get involved. We headed north and then west, towards Tunisia. The VHF radio was silent for the rest of the night.

How is it that a rescue boat was fleeing from, instead of going towards, a boat in need?"

Lesvos, Greece: Moria community leader ends hunger strike after talks (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The leader of the Moria community on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos ended on Wednesday a hunger strike which he had started on Sunday in protest at overcrowding at the Moria reception center.

Nikos Trakellis called off his protest following talks with Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Balafas, though it did not appear that the latter offered additional pledges other than those made by the ministry’s general secretary on Tuesday.

In comments to Kathimerini, Trakellis indicated that his hunger strike had been a symbolic action, aimed at drawing attention to conditions on the island where more than 8,000 migrants live in cramped conditions at the Moria center."

European parliament 'won't pay for offshore migrant camps' - Labour MEP Claude Moraes says body would not back ‘extreme’ move as migration crisis looms (Guardian, link):

"A senior European politician has warned that MEPs would seek to block any use of EU funds for offshore migrant camps in north Africa.

The opposition to offshore centres for processing asylum claims raises tensions before an EU summit that will be dominated by a political crisis over migration that threatens Angela Merkel’s future as German chancellor.

As Mediterranean countries spar over who is responsible for people rescued at sea, the EU is reviving the idea of processing asylum claims in countries outside Europe.

Claude Moraes, a British Labour MEP who chairs the European parliament’s influential justice and home affairs committee, said the parliament “wouldn’t cooperate on the budget” for such centres, because “we think these ideas are extreme and we are not going to touch them”.

The parliament must give its consent to the EU’s next seven-year budget, which foresees spending €35bn (£31bn) on border management from 2021-27, compared with €13bn in the current budget."

And see: EU: Decisive Moment for Migration Policy - Summit Should Reject Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers (HRW, link)

Tsipras to bail out Merkel on refugees (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is ready to sign a deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to make it easier for Germany to send asylum seekers back to other European countries, the Financial Times reported."

And see: France adds its voice to stop NGO ships from acting as ‘taxis’ (euractiv, link)

EU: Bulgarian Council Presidency: At today’s summit, Merkel will seeks bilateral deals on migrant ‘secondary movements’ (link):

"German chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking bilateral talks on managing so-called secondary migration, at the two-day summit starting today (28 June). Georgi Gotev has the story.

The dispute is over plans drawn up by Merkel’s interior minister Horst Seehofer, the head of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), to send back migrants who reach the German border after having registered in other EU states. Merkel needs to take home a significant number of bilateral deals to be able to save its coalition."

Council of the EU: Sahel/Mali - Council conclusions (25 June 2018) (10026/18, pdf) including on migration:

"10. The EU reconfirms its commitment to strengthen its engagement with the G5 Sahel countries on migration in the region in line with the five pillars of the Valletta Action Plan, the Partnership Framework, the AU-EU Abidjan Declaration and the work of the Tripartite AU-EU-UN Taskforce on the migration situation in Libya. The EU underlines the need for enhanced collective efforts with the G5 Sahel countries to save lives, assist and protect migrants and refugees, fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings, secure humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in conflict zones, while providing viable alternatives to irregular migration, in particular to communities along the main transit routes. Enhancing cooperation in the area of returns and readmission in accordance with international law and standards is also crucial. The EU reiterates its determination to support broad-based cooperation between countries in the Sahel and Libya in pursuit of these objectives and to tackle related cross-border challenges, including on the southern borders of Libya, while taking into account the security situation in this region."

Walk or die: Algeria strands 13,000 migrants in the Sahara (AP, link):

"ASSAMAKA, Niger (AP) — From this isolated frontier post deep in the sands of the Sahara, the expelled migrants can be seen coming over the horizon by the hundreds. They look like specks in the distance, trudging miserably across some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain in the blistering sun.

They are the ones who made it out alive.

Here in the desert, Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, stranding them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).

In Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 15-kilometer (9-mile) no man’s land to Assamaka, less a town than a collection of unsteady buildings sinking into drifts of sand. Others, disoriented and dehydrated, wander for days before a U.N. rescue squad can find them. Untold numbers perish along the way; nearly all the more than two dozen survivors interviewed by The Associated Press told of people in their groups who simply could not go on and vanished into the Sahara."

Destination Europe: Evacuation (IRIN, link):

"The EU is now teetering on the edge of a fresh political crisis, with boats carrying people rescued from the sea being denied ports of disembarkation, no consensus on how to share responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees within the continent, and increasing talk of further outsourcing the management of migration to African countries.

Against this backdrop, the evacuation and resettlement programme from Libya is perhaps the best face of European policy in the Mediterranean. But, unless EU countries offer more spots for refugees, it is a pathway to safety for no more than a small handful who get the luck of the draw. As the first evacuees adjust to their new lives in Europe, the overwhelming majority are left behind."

Bulgaria under fire for ill-treatment of asylum-seekers (Bulgarian Presidency, link):

"French lawyers will today (26 June) bring a complaint against Bulgaria and will ask the European Commission to start and infringement proceeding for inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by this country’s authorities, the Green/EFA group announced. Georgi Gotev has the story.

In the presence of the Green/EFA group co-chair Ska Keller, the lawyers presented a 20-page report, based on shocking testimony by Afghan asylum-seekers, and answered journalistic questions.

Chloé Gerbert Cahuzac who represents the 14 Afghan claimants who are currently asylum seekers in France said they were in a state of anxiety aid groups had “never seen before”.

She quoted them as repeating the same sentence: “We prefer to go back to Kabul than to Sofia. In Afghanistan people kill you right away with one bullet, in Bulgaria they let you die slowly”."

EU: European Parliament briefing: A Europe without internal borders? Free movement of persons (pdf):

"The free movement of persons is one of the four freedoms of the EU single market, the other three being the free movement of goods, services and capital. Since the founding of the EU, internal borders have been progressively dismantled and these freedoms have expanded. Today the rights of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States are for the most part based on Directive 2004/38/EC. Free movement may in practice entail different rights for different categories of people."

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