June 2018

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.6.18 - 26.6.18)

New interoperable, centralised, Justice & Home Affairs database: Adoption of Regulations a democratic shambles

On 12 December 2017 the Commission put forward proposals on "interoperability" which will bring together into a central source data held in the Justice & Home Affairs databases on asylum, migration and borders for the first time.

The European Parliament and the Council got to work quickly, after all the proposals concerned migration and terrorism and only covered non-EU citizens so they were thought to be uncontentious. By June 2018 both the institutions - as co-legislators - were well advanced on agreeing their negotiating positions prior to starting trilogue talks.

But in June 2018 the Comission produced two Amended Regulations dependent on five underlying mesures which have yet to be agreed.There is all the makings on a democratic shambles.

Are You Syrious (25.6.18, link)

Greece: Fascist Attack

"Activists report that a fascist attack took place on Sunday night against a squatted social health centre, PIKPA, at Petralona, Athens. Twenty men attacked the building with molotovs during an assembly of the neighbourhood. One antifascist was injured in the head, while police arrested the antifascists instead of the attackers. A spontaneous demonstration happened after the incident.

On Monday, Krypteia, a neonazi group responsible for many other attacks, claimed responsibility, also mentioning Manolada (the immigrant worker’s area) and an arson attack which took place there a few weeks ago."

European Parilament: Hotspots at EU external borders - State of play (pdf):

"As migration continues to be one of the EU's main challenges, the hotspots are a key element of EU support for Greece and Italy to help them face the challenges of the humanitarian and border management crisis. However, reception conditions remain a concern. The majority of the hotspots suffer from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regards to camp facilities and living conditions, in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for action to ensure that the hotspot approach does not endanger the fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants."

EU: Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, say MEPs (European Parliament, press release, link):

"The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime Civil Liberties Committee MEPs said on Monday.

MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on humanitarian help to migrants is having “unintended consequences” for EU citizens that provide it, in a non-legislative resolution passed by 38 votes to 16, with 2 abstentions.

Under the 2002 “Facilitation” directive, EU member states are required to introduce laws listing criminal penalties for anyone who “facilitates” the irregular entry, transit or residence of migrants.

However, the EU legislation also empowers member states to exempt “humanitarian” action from the list of crimes.(...)

They call on EU countries to include this exemption in their national laws, to ensure that individuals and civil society organisations who assist migrants for humanitarian reasons are not prosecuted for doing so."

Austria holds border exercises in response to Germany (DW, link)

"As Germany's government bitterly debates border protection, Austria is undertaking a large-scale border operation. Austrian leaders say the German squabble and possible changes to European policy triggered the move.

Austria held border patrol training exercises on Tuesday. The country's leaders told German newspaper Bild that they came in response to a rift in the German government over migration."

EU: Council largely rejects Commission’s proposals on migration — again - New draft conclusions essentially take just one Commission suggestion (Politico, link):

"The latest Council draft conclusions on migration circulated on Monday and obtained by POLITICO, which EU leaders will discuss at a summit this week, largely leaves out amendments proposed by the Commission."

See: European Council meeting (28 June 2018) – Draft conclusions (Statewatch, LIMITE doc on: 8148-18, dated 25 June 2018, pdf)

"What the latest draft summit conclusions say: “In this context, the European Council supports the development of a concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM [the International Organization for Migration]. Such platforms should allow for rapid and secure processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor.”

EU summit to focus on lowering Mediterranean immigration (euractiv, link):

"European Union leaders meeting over migration later this week will agree to further tighten their external borders, give more support to Libya and look at creating “disembarkation” centres outside of their territory for people who arrive by sea.

But a draft of their statement showed no agreement on distributing asylum seekers around the bloc, a measure strongly opposed by the Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia).

With anti-immigration politicians raising the stakes in EU countries from Germany and Austria to Italy and Hungary, the bloc is seeking more ways to curb Mediterranean arrivals."

And see: Italian minister calls for migrant reception centres south of Libya - Far-right Matteo Salvini’s proposal designed to crack down on migration (Guardian, link)

Council of the European Union: Letter from the High Commissioner for Refugees to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria (LIMITE doc no: 10316, pdf): Backing the need for solidarity between EU Member States to take their fair share of refugees.

See also: Conte and Macron compare notes on migration at mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Sixteen EU heads of state and government held an emergency summit in Brussels on Sunday (24 June) to discuss migration – a crisis with a destructive potential for the EU. No results were announced but sources said the discussions had largely revolved around a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte." and Migration is threat to EU free travel area, says Italian prime minister - Giuseppe Conte presents 10-point plan to solve migration crisis at emergency summit (Guardian, link)

And: Migration crisis risks Europe’s dream - Antonio Tajani (Times, Malta, link): Antonio Tajani is president of the European Parliament.

220 dead and counting: multiple drownings are a direct effect of the crackdown on sea rescue. Sea-Watch calls for humanitarian contingencies (Seawatch, link):

"The UNHCR reports that in the last three days approximately 220 have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This spike in death toll caused the UN agency to call for more rescue capacity at sea, while European governments, with Italy in a leading role, do everything to avoid effective sea rescue. Sea-Watch warned on Wednesday of deadly days on the horizon due to a lack of rescue capacity; these drownings are a direct effect of the current crackdown on sea rescue."

CoE: Unrelenting rise in xenophobic populism, resentment, hate speech in Europe in 2017 (link);

"Xenophobic populism and hate speech have continued to be on the rise in 2017, with high levels of migration and challenges of integration, religious extremism, terrorist attacks and the austerity-driven socio-economic climate observed all over Europe, says the annual report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today."

See: ECRI report 2017 (pdf)

EU: Europe’s asylum system is broken and leaders must fix it (AI, link)

Hungarian aid groups would rather go to jail than abandon refugees (VICE, link):

"Hungarian humanitarian groups that help asylum seekers are standing in defiance of new draconian laws imposed by Viktor Orban’s authoritarian government that criminalize their work."

Hungary: “Stop Soros” provision on illegal migration should be repealed as it seriously impairs legitimate NGO work, say Venice Commission legal experts (CoE, link):

"An opinion adopted today by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission criticises a key provision on illegal migration of the so-called “Stop Soros” legislation that the Hungarian Parliament adopted this week.(...)

the Hungarian provision goes far beyond what is allowed under Article 11, as it unfairly criminalises organisational activities not directly related to the materialisation of illegal migration, including “preparing or distributing informational materials” or “initiating asylum requests for migrants.” Criminalising such activities disrupts assistance to victims by NGOs, disproportionally restricting their rights as guaranteed under Article 11, and under international law. Furthermore, criminalising advocacy and campaigning activities – under the new provision – constitutes illegitimate interference with freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10, according to the opinion." [emphasis added]

See: Press release (link)

European border surveillance in Libya - The shifting of the EU’s external borders to North Africa is generating profits for defence companies (link):

"The European Union is stepping up efforts to protect its external borders. The focus is on developing the Frontex Border Agency into a European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Another pillar of EU migration policy is the transfer of border security to third countries. Particular attention is paid to the maritime borders in Libya and neighbouring countries. Furthermore, most of the migrants reaching the European Union via the Mediterranean come from Libya. Their absolute number is declining, yet in 2017 almost 119,000 people fled.

The fragile „unity government“ in Tripoli controls only a fraction of the land borders. However, their military coastguard and civilian maritime police are responsible for those stretches of the coast from which many depart for the EU."

EU: Visegrad Four to shun EU's weekend mini-summit on migrant crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday said leaders of the Visegrad Four countries Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will skip a European Union mini-summit on the migration crisis this weekend.

All four eastern EU states strongly oppose calls from western counterparts especially Germany for all member states to accept a quota of migrants who have streamed into the EU since 2015 in order to share the burden around the bloc."

EU: Tensions build ahead of hastily prepared migration meeting (euractiv, link):

"Jean-Claude Juncker’s invitation to a handful of EU leaders for an informal mini-summit on Sunday (27 June) to discuss migration and asylum appears to have raised more issues than the meeting can solve."

"The heart is where the battle is": A celebration of Sivanandan's legacy, Saturday 23 June 2018. The Memorial event at Conway Hall. London will be live-streamed on the Institute of Race Relations News Youtube Channel from 1.30 to 5.00pm: https://www.youtube.com/user/IRRnews

Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application.... Preparation for the trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 9848-18, pdf)

"It is of utmost importance to Member States that the European Parliament has accepted the possibility for Member States to use a proportionate degree of coercion as a last resort to ensure the compliance of minors with the obligation to provide biometric data."

EU countries prepare mini-summit as migration row festers (ekathimerini.com,link):

"Leaders from a group of European Union countries, led by Germany and France, will meet Sunday to thrash out possible solutions to a divisive row over migrants.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose own government is in crisis over the management of migrant arrivals, is expected to join the leaders of Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain for “informal talks” at European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday."

This unusual move just days before an European Council (Heads of State) meeting was unowned by the Commission in a minimal way see: Informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues (Press release, pdf). The text simply says:

"President Juncker is convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming European Council."

Hungary approves ‘STOP Soros’ law, prohibits ‘resettlement of alien population’ (euractiv, link):

"Hungary’s parliament yesterday (20 June) approved a package of bills that criminalises some help given to illegal immigrants, defying the European Union and human rights groups.

Parliament, where Fidesz has a two-thirds majority, also passed a constitutional amendment stating that an “alien population” cannot be settled in Hungary – a swipe at Brussels over its resettlement quota plan.

The legislation narrows the scope for action by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), making their workers liable for jail terms for helping migrants to seek asylum when they are not entitled to it."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.6.18-20.6.18)

EU: Court of Justice: Member States are entitled to adopt a return decision as soon as an application for international protection is rejected, provided that the return procedure is suspended pending the outcome of an appeal against that rejection (press release, pdf):


"In today's judgment, the Court of Justice finds that an applicant for international protection falls within the scope of the directive on returning illegally staying non-EU nationals as soon as his application for international protection has been rejected by the responsible authority. In that regard, the Court notes that the authorisation to remain in the territory of the Member State concerned for the purposes of exercising the right to an effective remedy against that rejection decision does not preclude the conclusion that, as soon as that rejection decision is adopted, the stay of the person concerned becomes, in principle, illegal (...)

The Court also notes that Member States are required to provide an effective remedy against the decision rejecting the application for international protection, in accordance with the principle of equality of arms, which means, in particular, that all the effects of the return decision must be suspended during the period prescribed for lodging such an appeal and, if such an appeal is lodged, until resolution of the appeal."

See the judgment: Sadikou Gnandi v Belgium (Case C-181/16, French only, pdf)

Belgium: Council for Alien Law Litigation rules that Dublin transfers to Greece require a case by case analysis

On 8 June 2018, the Belgian Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALLL) ruled on case no. 205104, which concerned an appeal against a Dublin transfer from Belgium to Greece of an applicant from Palestine. The applicant arrived and lodged an asylum application in Belgium in October 2017. Since he was in possession of a valid visa delivered by Greece, Belgium sent a “take charge” request to Greece on the application of the Dublin III Regulation. The applicant appealed against this decision before the CALL based on, inter alia, the alleged existence of systematic deficiencies in the asylum and reception systems in Greece.

EU-Ethiopia return procedures: Council fails to answer three simple questions

On 15 February 2018 Judith Sargentini MEP asked the Council of the EU three questions concerning procedures for returning Ethiopians to their country of origin, which were approved by the Council at the end of January. The Council's answer came over four months later, on 18 June, and fails to answer any of the questions effectively.

EU to consider plans for migrant processing centres in north Africa

"The EU is to consider the idea of building migrant processing centres in north Africa in an attempt to deter people from making life-threatening journeys to Europe across the Mediterranean, according to a leaked document.

The European council of EU leaders “supports the development of the concept of regional disembarkation platforms”, according to the draft conclusions of an EU summit due to take place next week (pdf).

HUNGARY: The “Stop Soros” bill revisited (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"Tomorrow is D-Day for the so-called “Stop Soros” legislative package. At 3 p.m. the Fidesz voting machine, perhaps with the assistance of Jobbik, will accept all of the provisions of the 7th amendment to the constitution.

Since January, when it was first proposed and failed to pass because Fidesz didn’t have a super majority in parliament at that time, the bill has gone through several iterations. In the first version, foreign-financed organizations “supporting illegal immigration” were to be registered and a tax imposed on them. The bill would have included the issuance of restraining orders in an 8-km border zone in the case of Hungarian citizens; non-Hungarian supporters of illegal immigration would have been barred from Hungary altogether. All this was unconstitutional as far as Hungarian law was concerned and illegal under the laws of the European Union."

115 rescued, 5 dead in Libya wreck - Libyan Navy (Info Migrants, link)

"Libyan coast guards have rescued 115 migrants off Mellitah, west of Tripoli, according to a statement posted on Facebook by Libya's Navy. At least five were reported dead in the shipwreck.

Libyan coast guards rescued 115 migrants, including two children and 22 women aboard a rubber dinghy taking on water some eight miles north of Mellitah, west of Tripoli, the Libyan Navy said in a statement published on Facebook Tuesday. They were also reportedly able to ''recover five bodies,'' including three men and two women, according to the statement.

The coast guard vessel "Ras Jedir" carried out the rescue operation and saved migrants from different African countries and four Pakistanis. The statement said high waves had "destroyed part of the dinghy" and "some undocumented migrants fell into the sea," without elaborating."

European Migration Network: Annual Report on Migration and Asylum 2017 (pdf):

Covers: 1. Legal migration and mobility; 2. International protection including asylum; 3. Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups; 4. Integration; 5. Irregular migration including border control; 6. Return; 7. Actions addressing trafficking in human beings; 8. Maximising the development impact of migration and mobility.

EU: Resettlement of refugees: 11 Member States insist on using resettlement as "a tool for migration management and cooperation with third countries"

11 Member States are insistent on the need for a new scheme on the resettlement of refugees into the EU to be used as an instrument for trying to ensure that 'third countries' cooperate with EU policies on migration.

Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Greece, Malta, Austria and Ireland have "[stressed] the need to retain in the text the idea that resettlement is a tool for migration management and cooperation with third countries," according to a note distributed by COREPER (the Committee of Permanent Representatives, made up of Member States' head officials in Brussels) in response to a Bulgarian Council Presidency note drafted at the beginning of this month.

Greece: A New Nightmare: Picked up in the Aegean and Returned to Syria (Samos Chronicles, link):

"For the past ten days I have been waiting for news from Mohammad. Like me he comes from Aleppo but for the past 6 years he has been with his mother and brother living in Istanbul. Mohammad is 18 years old.

We became friends through Facebook where he saw that I was involved with many refugees in Athens and in Samos. He had read my story in the Samos Chronicles. As a young gay man he turned to me for advice and help which I was happy to give. Over the past six months we have talked a lot and a good friendship has developed. I know that he trusts me...."

MEP: In the long term, migrants will be part of solution in Europe (euractiv, link):

"More and more voices are calling for an urgent reform of the strained Dublin asylum system as migrants continue arriving across the Mediterranean and migration takes centre stage in Europe again.

In an interview with EURACTIV’s Karolina Zbytniewska, Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP for the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, is positive: “If we did not have the Dublin rules or if we had changed them, we wouldn’t be having what is now happening in Italian ports and in the Mediterranean.”

Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek EU roadmap (euractiv, link):

"French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany tomorrow (19 June) seeking progress with Chancellor Angela Merkel on elusive eurozone reforms, but the deepening EU rifts over migration threaten to dominate an already daunting agenda."

EU: European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Annual report 2017 (pdf):

"Importantly, recognition rates tend to vary across EU+ countries, at both relatively low and high values of the recognition rates, in particular for applicants from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, where the recognition rate ranged between 0 and 100 %. For others, there was relatively more convergence at higher (e.g. Eritrea and Syria) and lower (e.g. Albania and Nigeria) recognition rates."

See also: Sharp fall in number of people seeking asylum in EU (Guarsian, link): "Almost 730,000 applications were made in 2017, a 44% drop on the 1.3m made in 2016."

EU: The future of free movement of persons in the UK (Part 1) (EU Law Analysis, lnk):

"Concerns about immigration were a - no, probably the - main reason why many voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. There was a strong perception that the UK had ‘lost control’ of its borders; a Leave vote would enable the UK government to take back that control."

EU: Refugees in Orbit – again! (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new far-right home secretary, tweeted “Vittoria!” after news broke that the 629 persons stranded aboard the M.S. Aquarius would be forced to proceed to the Spanish city of Valencia rather than being allowed to disembark at much closer ports in Sicily (...)

But is it a victory for Italy, as the home secretary presumably meant to suggest? There is no doubt that Italy (and to a much greater extent, Greece) has shouldered more than its fair share of refugees arriving to seek protection in Europe. Nor can it be doubted that Europe and the rest of the world have acted too slowly and undependably to share-out what is in principle a common responsibility to protect refugees, thus fueling frustration and even anger. The EU’s absurd “Dublin Regulation” rule that allocates nearly all protection duties to the first country in which a refugee arrives is both unprincipled and cruel. So while nothing can justify Italy’s flagrant breach of the duty to facilitate speedy disembarkation of those rescued, its determination to force a redistribution of responsibility is perhaps more comprehensible.

In truth, the real villain here is an outmoded system of implementing protection obligations under the UN’s Refugee Convention. Under the status quo, whatever country a refugee reaches is the one and only country that has protection obligations to that refugee. Accidents of geography, rather than any principled metric, determine which states are obliged to carry the burdens for implementing what is in theory a universal duty to protect refugees."

TURKEY-AFGHANISTAN: Their Road to Turkey Was Long and Grueling, but the Short Flight Home Was Crueler (New York Times, link):

"KABUL, Afghanistan — Their desperate journey out of Afghanistan, en route to safer lives in Europe, had taken months through high mountains and treacherous deserts.

They survived bullets, beatings and insults from border guards. Bandits stripped them of nearly everything except their shoes and clothes — which over the months of the journey they would wash in whatever puddle or pool was available, laying the clothes out in the sun to dry and then wear again.

But their migration halted suddenly in Turkey, and now they were being deported to a home country racked by war. I flew with them on the return flight to Kabul from Istanbul that finally ended their hopes. It took just five hours last month."

Italy bars two more refugee ships from ports (The Guardian, link):

"Italy’s interior minister has sparked a new migration crisis in the Mediterranean by barring two rescue boats from bringing refugees to shore, a week after the Aquarius was prevented from docking.

“Two other ships with the flag of Netherlands, Lifeline and Seefuchs, have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers,” Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant party the League, wrote on his Facebook page. “These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports [not Italian] where to go.”

Italy’s closure of its ports to the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, which was carrying 620 people, triggered warnings from aid agencies of a deadly summer at sea for people trying to cross the Mediterranean."

EU: The EU’s Answer to Migration Is to Triple Funding for Border Management. Will This Do the Job? (Center for Global Development, link)

"Earlier this week, the European Commission published its proposals on migration and border security for the next EU budget (2021–2027). Financial support for migration, asylum, and border management is to almost triple, from €13 billion to €34.9 billion. What might this mean for the EU and future migration flows? (...)

The Aquarius incident serves as a reminder of how much pressure the unresolved migration challenges put on the EU’s internal cohesion. There is major disagreement on the future of migration policy within Europe, with Southern European states disagreeing and a deep East-West divide, especially as Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic refuse to take part in resettlement efforts for a fairer European allocation of asylum seekers, leading to the Commission launching infringement procedures against these member states last year. The unprecedented increase in funding for border management in the MFF seems to reflect the “principle of hope” that more money will do the job in reducing internal tensions during the budgetary negotiations. However, in the long-term and given the absence of legal migration mechanism and the EU’s struggle to build a coherent asylum system by successfully revising the Dublin regulation, population growth, instability, and economic development in Africa could drive more people into risking the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean, irrespective of cutting-edge border management technologies."

See: Massive funding increases proposed for internal security, border security and migration: full documentation

Big Data, Big Promises: Revisiting Migration Statistics in Context of the Datafication of Everything (Border Criminologies, link):

"We are witnessing the datafication of mobility and migration management across the world. In the context of Europe, programs like Eurosur use satellite images for surveilling the EU’s maritime borders, while the so-called hotspot approach aims to register all newly arriving migrants in biometric databases. Similarly, in the field of asylum, biometric databases are built for purposes of refugee management, while asylum seekers in Greece are distributed cash-cards. These new types and collections of data do not only change border and migration management practices. They also reconfigure how human mobility and migration are known and constituted as intelligible objects of government. The crucial innovation driving this datafication is the digitization of information that was previously stored – if at all – on paper files. This information is now available in a range of databases and can – at least in theory – be searched, exchanged, linked, and analysed with unprecedented scope and efficiency (...)

The ‘huge potential of Big Data’ to provide accurate and up-to-date accounts of international migration is promoted. Nevertheless, the promises driving these efforts are just as big as the data they refer to. In this post, we briefly discuss three reasons why it is rather unlikely that Big Data will simply solve the most important known limitations of migration statistics. Each reason is related to a form of politics which, taken together, shape the quantification of migration."

EU: Mastermind smuggler involved in 2015 migrant crisis arrested in Greece (Europol press release, pdf):

"One of most prolific migrant smugglers along the Western Balkan route was arrested in Athens on 12 June 2018 after very close cooperation between the Hellenic Police (Aliens Division of Attica), the Hungarian National Police (National Bureau of Investigation Illegal Immigration Unit) and Europol. The suspect, a Syrian national, was apprehended in Athens together with an accomplice who is involved in document fraud.

The main suspect, based in Hungary, was involved in the transport of migrants in 2015 and 2016. At that time, he was under investigation in different EU Member States for facilitating several smuggling incidents between Hungary and Germany. The investigation showed that he moved to Greece after the closure of the Western Balkan route to continue his criminal activities. Based on this information, a European Arrest Warrant was issued by Hungary. After an excellent exchange of information via Europol, both the Hellenic and Hungarian authorities met for a final operational meeting with the European Union Task Force (EURTF) in Greece to discuss future steps in the investigation."

See also in a seperate case: Greece: Leaders of Smuggling Network get 1,400 Year Sentence (OCCRP, link)

EU: BARCA NOSTRA - A Monument to the European Union (link)

"BARCA NOSTRA, a migrant initiative, announces the launch of its petition for the procession ‘March from Palermo to Brussels - A Monument to the European Union’ to bring the recovered refugee shipwreck from the 18th April 2015 from Italy to Brussels and install it as a permanent monument in the heart of the headquarters of European politics.

The procession through Europe with the recovered shipwreck of the refugee boat that sank in the Sicilian Channel in spring 2015, will start in Palermo in summer 2018 - referencing the Charter of Palermo and the freedom of movement as a human right, as well as the local tradition of the syncretic Santa Rosalia procession as a victory over the plague and a celebration of life.

The procession will move through Italy, crossing the borders of France, Germany and Belgium, to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels. There the shipwreck will come to its final halt and be displayed permanently in front of the European Council and Commission as a reminder of and transnational monument to Europe’s failed migration policies and its legislative machine that creates illegality and social destruction."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.6.18-17.6.18)

Greece: Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre, link):


"In the months since our last update on rights violations and resistance in Lesvos, our advocacy and campaigning resources were almost exclusively focused on the two trials for the Moria 35 and Moria 10 that took place in Chios in late April and early May 2018."

Greece: Unbelievable: Non-Schengen nationals need passport for beach Tsamakia on Lesvos (Keep talking Greece, link);

"An organized beach on the island of Lesvos has introduced new practices that stun not only swimmers but also local media. Tsamakia Beach requests from visitors to show their passport at the entrance if they are from countries outside the Schengen zone. With a notice posted at the entrance, visitors are warned that will be not allowed to enter the beach without a passport.

The warning is in English, French and Arabic."

And see: Lesbos Legal Centre (link)

Uprooted and unprotected A multi-agency approach to safeguarding children forced into migration through northern France (NSPCC, link):

"This report highlights learning from CTAC’s work with the Refugee Youth Service (RYS), safeguarding children who had lived in the Calais 'Jungle'. RYS refers children to CTAC when it suspects they have moved from France to the UK. CTAC then shares child protection information with relevant UK agencies and tries to establish the children’s whereabouts."

French police cut soles off migrant children's shoes, claims Oxfam (Guardian, link)

"Charity accuses authorities of detaining minors without food before illegally returning them to Italy.

French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.

A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby."

See: Oxfam report (link)

Hungary: Four men jailed over deaths of 71 migrants locked in lorry (Guardian, link): "Members of people-smuggling gang sentenced to 25 years each over deaths of men, women and children in 2015."

MEPs again angrily urge EU to act on refugee crisis (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link)

"The Italian government has been roundly condemned by MEPs for its refusal to allow the 629 refugees stranded on board the Aquarius to land"

EU: Merkel under internal pressure to abandon EU-wide solutions to migration crisis (euractiv, link):

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a tense showdown yesterday (14 June) within her divided conservative camp over the flashpoint issue of immigration that could threaten her political future.

Merkel was confronted with an open rebellion by her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, long a fierce critic of her liberal stance on refugees who wants to toughen border controls.(...)

Seehofer has demanded as part of his new “migration master plan” that German border police be given the right to turn back all asylum-seekers without valid identity papers and those who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union."

GREECE: Still Here: Samos Refugees June 2018 (Samos Chronicles, link):

"The recent silence of this blog does not imply nothing is happening with 2,335 refugees currently on Samos. We should have written earlier. In our silence we unwittingly supported the forgetting of the refugees detained on the Greek frontier islands such as Samos. This forgetting is an insidious process. For the refugees it compounds their sense of isolation and abandonment."

EU migration row boils over as Italy and France trade insults (Guardian, link): "Austria calls for ‘axis of the willing’ to take action, and rifts widen in German coalition"

Aquarius: EU and Member States must stop treating migrants as "hot potatoes” (AEDH, link):

"Stupefied and worried by this modern Exodus, we see on the horizon the infinite cabotage of this boat which status of lifeguard becomes one of burden. Although Rinaldo Melucci and Luigi de Magistris, the respective mayors of Taranto and Naples, declared to be ready to welcome Aquarius migrants, the new Italian government, largely committed to the xenophobic and racist ideas of Matteo Salvini, flex its weak muscles and refuses the entry of Aquarius into Italian ports. AEDH knew that nothing was to be expected from a government whose partners had announced during the election campaign that it would not respect human rights."

Stranding People at Sea is an Abomination (HRW, link):

"Italy and Malta’s Move Puts Lives in Danger.

After a nerve-wracking stand-off and intense negotiations, 629 people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Aquarius, a rescue ship run by two nongovernmental groups, SOS MEDITERRANEE and MSF, are finally heading towards Spain. Spain’s humane gesture stands in stark contrast to the disgraceful behavior by Italy and Malta."

Salvini announces Italian-German initiative to shield EU external borders (New Europe, link):

"The Italian Minister of Interior and leader of the far-right Lega, Matteo Salvini, announced a common political initiative with the German government to safeguard the EU’s external border.

Salvini told the Italian public News Agency (ANSA) that he had a cordial conversation with the German Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, in which there was complete consensus on immigration policy. The two ministers agreed not to “waste further time” in dealing with the issue, while Seehofer invited Salvini for consultations in Berlin."

EU: How we all colluded in Fortress Europe (The Guardian, link) by Kenan Malik:

"That mass drowning off Lampedusa in 2013 is an apposite place from which to start a discussion on the dehumanising of the Other. Too often when we discuss hateful portrayals of migrants or Muslims or other minorities, we focus on the far right, or on groups such as Pegida, or on countries such as Hungary and politicians such as Viktor Orbán. It is certainly important that we call out such organisations and politicians and eviscerate their arguments.

But we need also to recognise that the truth about dehumanisation is far more uncomfortable and far closer to home. The ideas and policies promoted by the far right and by populist anti-immigration figures have not come out of nowhere. They have become acceptable because the groundwork has already been laid, and continues to be maintained, by mainstream politicians and commentators.

There is a tendency among liberals to see a great divide on immigration between the mainstream and the populists and between a more liberal western Europe and a more reactionary east. That is to distort reality. For, while differences clearly exist, the divisions are not nearly as sharp as often suggested. It is the rhetoric and the policies emerging from the mainstream and from western Europe that have helped legitimise the hostility to immigration expressed by the populists and in eastern Europe."

MED: Agence Europe reports that: "Greens/EFA group, Philippe Lamberts, called for an addition to be made to Wednesday’s agenda for a debate with representatives from the Commission and Council on the “closing of Italian and Maltese ports to migrants on the Aquarius ship” (see other article). His proposal for a debate, without resolution, was approved by 212 votes in favour to 62 against, with 18 abstentions, but with a different debate title, “humanitarian emergencies in Mediterranean and solidarity in European Union”."

Aquarius standoff: MSF calls for people's safety to come before politics (MaltaToday, link):

"MSF Sea said the best option for the rescued migrants would be to disembark at the nearest port and be transferred to a safe country. (...) .

MSF said that they rescued parties were receiving supplies onboard the Aquarius. The Italian Rescue Authorities would then transfer some people from the Aquarius to Italian ships and will head to Valencia, Spain.

“MSF calls for people’s safety to come before politics.”

New German 'migration master plan' delayed as conservatives bicker (DW, link)

"Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's new "migration master plan" for Germany was set to be published on Tuesday. At the last moment, apparently amid disagreement with Chancellor Angela Merkel, it has been postponed."

Spain 'will accept' disputed Aquarius migrant ship (BBC News, link):

"Spain's prime minister has said the country will take in a rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean, to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

Pedro Sánchez said he would give "safe harbour" to the Aquarius and the 629 people on board, after Italy and Malta both refused to let the ship dock.

The UN refugee agency and the EU had both called for a swift end to the stand-off between the two countries.

Mr Sánchez has said the ship will dock in Valencia.

The migrants aboard the Aquarius were picked up in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast, according to the German charity SOS Méditerranée."

Migrant rescue boat waits to dock as Italy and Malta refuse to grant entry (Deutsche Welle, link):

"With 629 people on board, NGO rescue ship Aquarius has been waiting for a secure place to dock. Italy and Malta have refused to allow the migrant vessel into its ports.

A French NGO's rescue ship, the Aquarius, was waiting for a port to dock at on Monday as a diplomatic standoff played out over where it should go next. On Sunday, Italy had refused to allow the vessel to dock in its ports, demanding that Malta should take it in. Malta refused, and when Italy instructed the ship to stay at sea, Malta accused Italy of violating international norms.

The French organization SOS Mediterranee said the ship was carrying 629 migrants picked up in the Mediterranean on Saturday, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women. Among those on board are 400 migrants rescued by the Italian navy and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius."

And see: Southern mayors defy Italian coalition to offer safe port to migrants (The Guardian, link): "Mayors across the south of Italy have pledged to defy a move by the new Italian government – an alliance of the far right and populists – to prevent a rescue boat with 629 people on board from docking in the Sicilian capital.

But the mayors’ defiance appears unlikely to serve any practical purpose without the direct support of the Italian coastguard."

Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged (The Guardian, link):

"“It’s a lovely place,” says Jens Kramer, as he gazes across the harbour from his seat outside the wooden shed that serves as Holbæk’s boat club. “But I think people here are becoming more and more hostile to foreigners and I’m not proud of it. It’s not the Holbæk I love.”

Kramer is not alone in thinking that the tone of Denmark’s immigration debate has changed. In recent years, the rise of the rightwing anti-migrant Danish People’s party has led to previously radical positions becoming mainstream. And the country’s Muslim population in particular feels under siege. Earlier this month Danish MPs passed a law that, in effect, bans the burqa. It imposes a penalty of 10,000 kroner (£1,200) for repeat offenders.

In another move greeted with dismay by Denmark’s Muslims, a citizen’s proposal to ban the circumcision of children got the 50,000 signatures it needed to go to a parliamentary vote.

In Holbæk, an attractive small town in Zealand, the latest legislation has had a mixed reception."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.6.18-10.6.18)

Lesvos, Greece: Persecuted Kurdish People in Lesvos Release Statement to Authorities (link);


"The Kurdish individuals who are temporarily living in Pikpa Camp in Lesvos have released a statement demanding that Greek and European authorities protect their rights. These individuals fled war and persecution in Syria and Turkey and on 25 May 2018 they faced further violence in Moria Camp. The extreme violence they have fled and that they continue to face in Lesvos, Greece has left several injured and traumatized. Their trauma has not ended however, as Moria camp administration have this week threatened them with deportation to Turkey if they do not return to Moria Camp, which would subject them to collective expulsion and persecution in Turkey, in violation of human rights and refugee law.

Their statement and demands are here in Greek and English."

Turkey suspends ‘migrant readmission’ deal with Greece (hurriyetdailynews.com, link):

"Turkey has suspended its bilateral migrant readmission deal with Greece in response to a decision by a Greek court to release eight former Turkish soldiers who fled the country a day after the July 2016 coup attempt, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on June 6.

“We have a migrant deal with the EU. It is being implemented. We have a bilateral readmission deal with Greece. We have now suspended this agreement. The process is not fully over but our works towards Greece will continue,” Çavusoglu told reporters in Antalya."

See: EU Council of the European Union: Council Decision of 23 March 2016 establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the Joint Readmission Committee on a Decision of the Joint Readmission Committee on implementing arrangements for the application of Articles 4 and 6 of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation from 1 June 2016 (pdf)

This Decision brings forward the starting date on the main Agreement adopted in 2014: AGREEMENT between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation (pdf) (Statewatch database)

See: Migrant deal with Turkey not having much effect anyway (ekathimerini.com, link) and Turkey's suspension of migrant deal with Greece doesn't affect EU, says Germany (ekathimerini.com, link).

Are You Syrious (7.6.8, link);


"The Italian justice has definitely dimissed the case against Proactiva Open Arms, that led to the seizure of their boat. It confirms Proactiva acted in accordance with international law. The investigation started after Proactiva rescuers refused to hand over people they had rescued to a Libyan coast guard unit in international waters, despite instructions from the Italian maritime rescue coordination center to do so. Despite these good news, the future of rescue organisations remains uncertain, as Italian Interior Minister Salvini recently called rescue organisations “smugglers” and said no rescue boat should be able to dock in Italian ports."

Sweden votes law for new unaccompanied minors

"Dagens Nyheter reports the Swedish Parliament has voted in favor of a new law that allows thousands of refugees, mostly Afghan minors that have already been rejected, to get a new chance of staying in Sweden. The law gives the opportunity for those who meet very specific criteria and study at a high school level to finish their education and get a job, and then apply for permanent recidency. Not everyone will be able to apply. Hundreds of activists in Sweden have been holding demonstrations, meetings with lawmakers and raising their voice to give the young boys a new chance."

Danish PM proposes asylum camps outside the EU (infomigrants.net, link):

"The Danish Prime Minister has proposed camps for processing asylum seekers to be set up outside EU borders. The idea reportedly has support from several European countries - including Austria.

The Danish government's latest policy move to tighten immigration came during a speech this week marking Denmark's Constitution Day: Prime Minister Rasmussen said he wanted to set up centers for the reception of migrants and camps for rejected asylum seekers in a European country outside the EU. He said that Germany, the Netherlands and Austria had been included in discussions about the project, which could get underway within months." [emphasis added]

EU asylum agency chief resigns amid bullying allegations - José Carreira had been accused of bullying and using ‘psychological violence’ as a management tool (Politico, link):

"The executive director of the EU’s asylum agency stepped down Wednesday amid allegations of staff harassment, including “psychological violence” and an investigation by the bloc’s anti-fraud office."

Greece: Asylum-Seeking Women Detained with Men - Urgently End Dangerous Detention Conditions (HRW, link):

"Greek authorities are routinely confining asylum-seeking women with unrelated men in the northern Evros region, at the land-border with Turkey, putting them at grave risk of sexual violence and harassment. Authorities should immediately stop holding asylum-seeking women and girls in closed facilities with unrelated men.

Human Rights Watch research in Northern Greece in late May 2018 found women and girls housed with unrelated men in sites for reception and/or detention of asylum seekers. Twelve women and two girls interviewed said they had been locked in cells or enclosures for weeks, and in one case for nearly five months, with men and boys they did not know. Four said they were the sole females confined with dozens of men, in some cases with at least one male partner or relative.

“Women and girls should not be confined with men who are complete strangers, even for a day,” said Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These women and girls came to Greece seeking security and protection, and instead they are living in fear.”"

Refugee numbers surge to 1% of the world’s population (New Europe, link):

"According to the 2018 Global Peace Index approximately 1% of the world’s population – or 65,6 million people – were refugees at the end of 2016.

The number of refugees is comparable to the population of France or the UK.

More than half of the world’s refugees (55%) are from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. The flow of refugees is not likely to subside as conflict remains at its highest level in a decade.

The surge in refugee flows has also become a major political theme with anti-migrant parties gaining ground across Europe."

Libya: Understanding the impact of EU migration measures on refugees and migrants (REACH, link):

"Despite the political instability which ensued the two civil wars in Libya in 2011 and 2014 persists, more than 700,000 refugees and migrants are in Libya today. They are among the most vulnerable population groups in the country with grave protection concerns reported both in detention and in urban areas. Some of these include arbitrary detention, systematic exploitation and kidnapping by militia groups. In this context, and in the backdrop of a rise in arrivals from Libya through the Central Mediterranean Sea route to Italy since 2016, the European Union and its member states have put in place a number of measures with the United Nations backed Government of National Accord in Libya in order to stem the flow of refugees and migrants towards Italy.

As a result of these measures, the number of refugees and migrants reaching Italy from Libya has drastically decreased. Yet, it is not clear how these measures impacted refugees’ and migrants’ lives in Libya. REACH conducted this study, in partnership with UNHCR, to provide an understanding of the impact of migration measures implemented in Libya since early 2017 on mixed migration routes, smuggling hubs, and the lives of refugees and migrants in the country. It is based on 75 in-depth semi structured individual interviews with refugees and migrants in urban areas across the country and 32 key informant interviews with smugglers, law enforcement officials and civil society activists, conducted from 21st March to 2nd of April 2018.

The assessment finds that migration routes to and within Libya have diversified since early 2017. It finds an increase in arrivals from Algeria and Chad and a multiplication of smuggling hubs along the eastern coast of the country. In the face of increased coastguard controls along the Libyan coast, the numbers of refugees and migrants held for long periods of time with limited freedom of movement in warehouses and unsafe accommodations along the coast have increased."

Spain: Ombudsman calls for access to asylum in detention (AIDA, link):

"The Spanish Ombudsman has recently urged the authorities to set up a system of immediate registration of asylum applications in Detention Centres for Foreigners (CIE). As the adoption of an Implementing Regulation for the Asylum Act has been pending since 2009, Spain has no rules in place to instruct CIE on the handling of claims made in detention.

At the CIE of Madrid, persons seeking protection are instructed to put their written intention to apply for asylum in a mailbox and to wait until the mailbox has been opened for the asylum procedure to start. According to the Ombudsman, this has resulted in a number of asylum seekers being deported before the authorities have opened the mailbox to find their applications."

Libya signs borders control agreement with southern neighboring countries (The Libya Observer, link):

"Libya’s Foreign Ministry announced that Libya had signed an agreement with its southern neighboring countries Niger, Chad and Sudan to secure the joint borders against human trafficking and weapons smuggling.

The Foreign Minister Mohammed Sayala signed on Thursday in the capital of Chad N'Djamena the agreement which will help jointly secure the borders, according to the ministry’s statement.

“Libya is working on supporting joint relations between the four countries and is keen to support all efforts to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime, smuggling of all kinds, illegal migration, mercenaries, arms smuggling, and smuggling of all kinds of subsidized commodities and petroleum derivatives." Sayala said, according to the statement."

EU: Abolish Dublin Regulation for a humane asylum system built on solidarity (EurActiv, link) by Cornelia Ernst MEP:

"The European Parliament and the Council will soon negotiate a revision of the Dublin regulation, concerning the EU’s asylum system. This is an opportunity for the EU to develop a more humane system based on objective criteria, and for every member state to take its share of responsibility, writes Cornelia Ernst."

German Cabinet approves new refugee family reunification law (Deutsche Welle, link)

"Beginning August 1, the new migrant family reunification law will:

- Expand the right to family reunification to refugees living in Germany with lower-level "subsidiary" protection, a status that falls short of full asylum and doesn't grant indefinite stay.
- Grant an additional 1,000 refugees per month the right to settle in Germany, provided they have relatives with subsidiary status already living in the country.
- Allow only refugees' spouses, unmarried minors and the parents of minors already in Germany qualify for the scheme.
- Give priority to humanitarian cases, such as those affecting young children, the seriously ill or people facing political persecution.
- Carry over unfulfilled quotas from one month to the next, although only for the first five months.
- Under exceptional circumstances, even allow migrants in Germany flagged as potential Islamists to apply for family reunification, provided they can prove to authorities that neither they nor their relatives will pose a threat."

New report by ECRE and AIDA: Access to asylum and detention at France's borders (link to pdf):

"The confinement of asylum seekers arriving at the borders in France in order to decide on their right to enter the territory for the purpose of examining their asylum application has been an integral and controversial part of France’s asylum system. The European Court of Human Rights held already in the 1996 landmark judgment of Amuur v. France that the placement of individuals in hotel accommodation near Orly airport constituted deprivation of liberty and therefore needed to comply with the safeguards set out in Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

At the same time, the creation of waiting zones is not limited to the country’s airports or ports. More recently, informal zones have emerged as spaces allowing the de facto detention without any formal decision of migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Italy. Parallel to counter-terrorism measures, culminating in the permanent anti-terrorism legislation adopted in October 2017,1 the French government has stepped up controls at its internal Schengen borders, as well as the use of asylum and immigration detention, thereby suggesting a policy link between migration and counter-terrorism, without such a connection being substantiated by evidence on the ground."

EU: Europe and nationalism: A country-by-country guide (BBC News, link):

"Across Europe, nationalist and far-right parties have made significant electoral gains.

Some have taken office, others have become the main opposition voice, and even those yet to gain a political foothold have forced centrist leaders to adapt.

In part, this can be seen as a backlash against the political establishment in the wake of the financial and migrant crises, but the wave of discontent also taps into long-standing fears about globalisation and a dilution of national identity.

Although the parties involved span a broad political spectrum, there are some common themes, such as hostility to immigration, anti-Islamic rhetoric and Euroscepticism.

So where does this leave Europe's political landscape?"

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council 4-5 June, Luxembourg: Ministers will discuss: Migration: state of play (LIMITE doc no: 9286-REV-1-18, pdf): Includes: "the Commission services and the Greek authorities agreed on a Financial Plan 2018. This plan ensures adequate support to reception facilities and related services for up to a total of 47 500 reception places."

Czech PM rejects Merkel’s European border guard proposal (New Europe, link):

"The Czech Republic rejected on Monday a proposal by Angela Merkel for a pan-European border police force.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis has opposed the policy for the distribution of asylum seekers, in line with the common position of the Visegrad group: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In this context, the German proposal of pooling EU-wide resources undermines the fundamental position of the group that migration policy is the preserve of the nation-state."

EU ministers to debate compromise plan to break asylum impasse (euractiv, link): "EU interior ministers meet today (5 June) to try to break a two-year deadlock over reforming asylum rules with a deadline looming and pressure from Italy’s new populist leaders. The ministers will hear Bulgaria’s new compromise proposals on how to close an east-west rift over the reforms before a 28-29 June summit in Brussels."

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