Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.5.18-4.6.18)
Italy cannot be ‘Europe’s refugee camp’, Salvini says (euractiv, link):
"Italy’s new hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini said Sunday that “common sense” was needed to stop the country from being “Europe’s refugee camp” as he visited a migrant centre in the south.
The newly minted deputy prime minister in Italy’s populist coalition government travelled to Sicily, one of the country’s main refugee landing points, to push the anti-immigration platform that propelled him to power.
“Italy and Sicily cannot be Europe’s refugee camp,” he told a crowd of supporters under the blazing sun in the southern Sicilian town of Pozzallo, a migration hotspot."
And see: Italy Sends a Jolt Through Europe (Der Spiegel, link): "Euro-skeptic Italian populists are posing a serious threat to the European Union. Following the drama over Greece and Brexit, the political situation in Rome could throw Europe into its next major existential crisis."
"Conservative Janez Jansa and his anti-immigration SDS party came out on top in Slovenia's election, winning nearly 25 percent — but not enough to rule alone. Second-placed is comedian-turned-politician Marjan Sarec."
Migrant workers in southern Italy strike after Malian man shot dead (The Local.it, link):
"Migrant farm workers in Calabria were on strike on Monday to protest the death of one of their fellow labourers, a West African man shot dead at the weekend as he gathered scrap metal.
Soumaila Sacko, 29 and from Mali, was killed on Saturday night in a shooting that also injured two other migrants who, like him, lived in the tent city of San Ferdinando in Reggio Calabria, a sprawling encampment in that houses around 1,000 people who pick the southern region's crops, often for little pay."
At least 46 migrants drown off the coasts of Tunisia (AOL News, link):
"At least 46 migrants have drowned in two separate incidents after their boats sank off the coasts of Tunisia and Turkey on Sunday.
- In a third incident, one migrant drowned and at least 240 more were rescued from 11 small boats by Spain's maritime rescue service.
- At least 1,178 migrants have died worldwide in 2018 through May 28, with at least 660 of the deaths occurring in the Mediterranean."
No entry: Hungary's crackdown on helping refugees (Guardian, link):
"Parliament debates bill that could lead to activists and lawyers facing jail time.
Hungarian authorities plan to go after the few people trying to help asylum seekers to navigate the system. This week parliament will debate a proposed law that could lead to activists and lawyers facing jail time for advising asylum seekers on their rights."
Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture: Report on Greece reveals truly shameful situation
"The delegation received several consistent and credible allegations of informal forcible removals (push-backs) of foreign nationals by boat from Greece to Turkey at the Evros River border by masked Greek police and border guards or (para-)military commandos.""
Are You Syrious (2.6.18, link):
Greece - NE Lesvos
"Philippa Kempson recorded a video, saying Frontex “used aggressive tactics to try to stop” a boat from landing despite a rough sea. However, the boat landed safely and everyone was okay, she said. More videos of the incident can be found on her facebook profile. According to volunteers, 35 people were on the boat.(...)
Frontex aggressively trying to stop a boat of refugees landing on the beach. This tactic went on for over half an hour forcing the boat repeatedly away from the beach in rough seas. Welcome to FortressEroupe! There were tourists on the beach watching and filming this also. This is wha t"protecting" the holiday-makers looks like. It is lucky they didn't sink them, there are six children and three babies on this boat.i.f this is the behaviour of frontex in daylight when people are watching what are they doing during the night?"
"One Happy Family on Lesvos released a newsletter, summarizing the previous weeks and giving an update of the current situation. “With (again) more than 7,000 people residing in Moria, it is clear that medical and psychological services are hardly available”, the group says, criticizing the camp management to not provide protection and safety for the people stuck there. In 2018, their community center has an average of around 660 people."
“Numbers in Velika Kladuša are growing non stop, push backs from Croatia plus people coming from Sarajevo in order to try the game”, No Name Kitchen reports from the ground. Recently, a van with blankets and tents arrived from Sarajevo to cover the first needs. Also, NNK got a bigger water tank and is now able to provide showers for around 80 people a day."
Greece: Plans for more camps on Lesvos after riots (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Despite vehement local opposition, the government is planning to create new reception facilities for migrants and refugees on Lesvos after rioting at the severely overcrowded Moria camp on Friday prompted hundreds of Kurdish migrants to abandon the premises.
It is not the first time that riots have shaken the Moria camp, where, until last week, some 7,300 people were residing in a facility designed to host a maximum of 3,000.(...)
In a letter to Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas, Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos described the government’s plans to set up new reception facilities as a unilateral action that is in direct contravention of the will of the local community."
"Big Brother" interoperability: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) (LIMITE doc no: 9074-18. 24 May 2018, 69 pages, pdf): The Council discussing its negotiation position: 31 Footnotes including Member States positions:
"Delegations will find hereafter the text of the proposal for the aforementioned Regulation, as revised by the Presidency, based on the outcome of discussions at the JHA Counsellors meeting on interoperability of EU information systems on 18 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments."
Amnesty International: France: Pensioner facing jail term for showing compassion to children (link):
"Ahead of the resumption of the trial of Martine Landry, a 73-year-old woman who faces up to five years in prison and a fine of €30,000 for helping two 15-year-old asylum seekers in France, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Migration, Maria Serrano, said:
“Dragging a compassionate pensioner before the court on these surreal charges makes a mockery of justice. Acts of solidarity should be promoted, not punished.”
"A revised draft bill published by the Hungarian government on May 29, 2018, would criminalize efforts to help migrants and asylum seekers and curb their access to protection, Human Rights Watch said today.
The bill the government presented to parliament proposes amending nine existing laws related to asylum, the national border, and the police. It creates a new criminal offense in the Criminal Code of “enabling illegal immigration,” which is defined to include helping asylum seekers who are “not eligible for protection,” as well as to include border monitoring, producing and disseminating information, or “network building.” If committed “regularly,” or with the aim of “help[ing] several persons,” the offense would be considered aggravated. Anyone convicted would face a sentence of up to a year in prison."
EU: MEPs hope to break deadlock on migration reform (euractiv, link):
"Reaching a common EU response to the long-running migration crisis has been painfully slow. Ministers remain deadlocked on plans to reform the so-called Dublin Regulation that sets out the EU’s common migration and asylum rules.
Italian MEP Elly Schlein, the negotiator on Dublin for the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group, described this impasse as “shameful”.
“They have had the proposal from the European Commission for over two years. Instead, they are focused only on externalising borders,” by cutting deals with the likes of Libya and Turkey, she told EURACTIV."
"BUDAPEST, Hungary — At the end of World War II, there were seven border walls or fences in the world. By the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, there were 15, according to Elisabeth Vallet, a geography professor at the University of Quebec-Montreal.
Today, as President Trump pushes his campaign promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, there are at least 77 walls or fences around the world — many erected after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon.
"Walls are public relations exercises where governments demonstrate that they are actually doing something," Vallet said. "They usually create more problems.""
"IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 30,300 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 147 days of 2018, with about 40 per cent arriving in Italy, 35 per cent in Greece, with the remainder (25%) arriving in Spain.
This compares with 69,219 arrivals across the region through the same period last year and about 198,346 at this time in 2016.
In other words: Mediterranean arrivals at this point in 2018 are running at under half last year’s level on this date, and less than 15 per cent of 2016’s volume at this point in the year.
Also worth noting: in the month of May, arrivals to Italy rank second – trailing Spain and slightly ahead of Greece"
EU-TURKEY DEAL: When Greek judges decide whether Turkey is a Safe Third Country without caring too much for EU law (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link):
"A few days after the two-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey statement, almost 1,500 people have been returned to Turkey on this basis. Although most returnees originate from countries other than Syria, the legal precedent for returns of Syrians from Greece to Turkey has been established. On 22 September, the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece decided (dec n° 2347/2017 and 2348/2017, available only in Greek) that Turkey qualifies as a safe third country for two Syrians. This conclusion comforts the EU-Turkey statement concluded in March 2016 on the presumption that Turkey qualifies as a safe third country to which asylum seekers can be returned and enjoy adequate protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. Numerous controversial discussions regarding the statement arose, on the one hand, over its nature, and on the other, on the question whether Turkey qualifies as a safe third country. So far, policy-makers are satisfied as the arriving migratory flows have significantly decreased, whereas the CJEU deems itself to lack jurisdiction to rule on the legality of the agreement by risking to contradict its historical case law on the external competences of the EU. The present analysis will focus on the safe third country notion, as interpreted through the Greek judges’ lens."
Council of the European Union: "Safe countries" concept
The Council is discussing its "safe countries concept" which includes: safe third country, the first country of asylum and safe country of origin.
"As regards Turkey, the Commission proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation sets out that the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including ratification of all major international human rights treaties. Turkey has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened."
See: Reform of the Common European Asylum System - The safe countries concept = Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 8735-18, pdf)
Fortress Europe lives on in Poland (euractiv, link):
"Since 2015, Poland has strongly opposed receiving refugees from Italy and Greece. Until now, not a single person has been accepted under the quota system set by the European Commission. And the majority of Poles actually side with their government on the issue, EURACTIV Poland reports."
Council of the European Union: Asylum Procedures Regulation: Documentation
Six documents including Reform of the Common European Asylum System - Building blocks within different legislative files of the CEAS Reform (LIMITE doc no: 8816-18, 14 May 2018, pdf) which sets out new grounds for rejecting asylum applications:
"One of the purposes of the asylum reform is to discourage abuses and prevent secondary movements of applicants within the EU, in particular by including clear obligations for applicants to apply in the Member State of first entry and remain in the Member State determined as responsible for the examination of their application. This also requires proportionate procedural and material consequences in case of non-compliance with their obligations." [emphasis added]
EU: Austrian Presidency reveals iconoclastic plans to beef up EU’s external borders (euractiv, link):
"In interviews with two major European newspapers, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lifted the veil on the plans of his country’s EU presidency, which starts on 1 July. Unsurprisingly, the main highlight is to fortify the EU’s external borders.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Kurz described Brexit as “a terrible decision” and suggested the EU’s migration issues were a “main reason” for the vote.
“The closing of the Western Balkan route was successful and we did not have the support of Germany, France or bigger countries in the EU,” Kurz added."
Council of the European Union: European Criminal Records System (ECRIS) - Third Country Nationals
• Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 - Note with questions (LIMITE doc 8984-18, 18 May 2018, pdf):
"Delegations will find an updated four column table in 8983/18. All texts in blue have provisionally been agreed upon in the technical meeting, following 'green light' in the Working Party. It is assumed that Member States are still happy with these texts, so that they can be turned green at the next trilogue, which is foreseen for 6 June.
See: 8983-18 (LIMITE doc, 127 pages, 18 May 2018, pdf): Multicolumn document: State of play.
• Selected issues (LIMITE do no 8767-18, 14 May 2018, pdf):
"While substantial progress has been made in order to reach an agreement, one issue – regarding dual nationals – continues to pose a problem in the negotiations. (...) The European Parliament is strongly opposed to including in the central system identity information of EU-nationals who also have the nationality of a third country ("dual nationals")."
• 8767-ADD 1 (LIMITE doc, 16 May 2018, pdf):
"Further to informal contacts with the European Parliament, and in relation with question 3 in 8767/18, the Presidency invites Member States to reflect on the following compromise solution for the issue of "dual nationals": (...) While dual nationals will, for the time being, not be included in the ECRIS-TCN system, the Commission will be asked to carry out a study on the advisability of inclusion of dual nationals in the ECRIS-TCN system in the future."
• 8670-18: Note with questions (LIMITE doc,8 May 2018, pdf)
• 8669-18 (LIMITE doc, 8 may 2018, pdf): Previous 4-column document
Negotiations on the post-Cotonou Agreement stumble on migration (euractiv, link):
"Due to a lack of consensus on the issue of migration, member states cannot come to an agreement on a mandate to begin negotiations on the future partnership agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, EURACTIV.fr reports.
The disagreement among member states on the issue of migration in the future partnership agreement could postpone the start of negotiations, originally scheduled for 1 June."
Council of the European Union: DUBLIN IV
• Proposal for a Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 9047-18, pdf). Council Presidency seeking to deal with divisions in the Council:
"Following concerns raised by some delegations in Coreper, the Presidency proposed to replace the reversed qualified majority by reinforced qualified majority.
This option was presented to the JHA Counsellors held on 18th of May 2018. While many delegations supported this, others continued raising concerns and suggested as an alternative that this second layer of decision making be entrusted to the European Council. Moving the issue to the European Council risks, however, delaying delivering the support foreseen for the second sub-phase of the challenging circumstances."
Note: "Reinforced qualified majority": "When the Council acts without a Commission proposal or one from the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (i.e. in the fields of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters), the qualified majority must include at least two-thirds of EU countries."
• Proposal for a Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection by a third-country national or a stateless person registered in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (8895-18, 108 pages 17 May 2018, pdf): "the Presidency compromise suggestions on the above proposal."
And see: 8591-REV-1 (LIMITE, 97 pages, 14 May 2018, pdf)
Are You Syrious (26.5.18, link):
"AYS reported about the fight among Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans and Syrians Kurds in Moria with the consequence of hundreds of people leaving the camp, seeking refugee at Pikpa, Kara Tepe and at the football stadium.
On Saturday evening, 368 people were hosted by Humans 4 Humanity, while more than 300 (including residents) found a safe place in Pikpa, among them injured people, children and pregnant women."
And see: Six people injured in clashes in Moria migrant camp on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link)
EU: INTEROPERABILITY: "Big Brother" database: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 (LIMITE doc no: 8621-18, 8 May 2018, 69 pages, pdf): Council working on its negotiation position. 32 Footnotes with Member State positions:
"Delegations will find hereafter the text of the proposal for the aforementioned Regulation, as revised by the Presidency, based on the outcome of discussions at DAPIX: interoperability of EU information systems on 17-18 April and 2 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments. Changes to the Commission proposal are marked in bold italics and strikethrough."
New changes to the Commission proposal compared to ST 7651/18 are marked in bold italics underline and strikethrough underline.
See: 7651-18 (LIMITE doc 13 April 2018, pdf)
EU-GERMANY: Germany's immigration offices lack technology to scan and compare asylum-seekers' fingerprints (Deutsche Welle, link):
"Officials at immigration and welfare offices attempting to identify asylum-seekers face serious difficulty ensuring people are not taking advantage of German social services, according to reports in Die Welt and the Nürnberger Nachrichten newspapers on Thursday.
A lack of fingerprint scanners at 200 of Germany's 494 immigration offices and all social service offices mean officials cannot use fingerprints to confirm people are not using multiple identities to apply for social benefits, the papers said, citing information from the Interior Ministry.
The immigration offices would receive the devices by September while job centers and other social service offices would be equipped with fingerprint scanners by the end of 2018, the Interior Ministry said."
Asylum Information Databse: Country Report: Greece (2017 update, pdf):
"29,718 persons arrived in Greece by sea in 2017, compared to 173,450 sea arrivals in 2016. The majority of those arrived in 2017 originated from Syria (42%), Iraq (20%) and Afghanistan (12%). More than half of the population were women (22%) and children (37%), while 41% were adult men.In addition, a total of 5,651 persons have been arrested at the Greek-Turkish land borders in 2017, compared to 3,300 persons during in 2016.
The Asylum Service registered 58,661 asylum applications in 2017. The number of applications submitted before the Asylum Service rose by 15%. Greece received the 8.5% of the total number of applications submitted in the EU, while it was the country with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita among EU Member States (5,295 first -time applicants per million population). In 2017, Syrians continue to be the largest group of applicants with 16,396 applications. A substantial increase of applications submitted from Turkish nationals was noted in 2017 (1,827 compared to 189 in 2016)."
EU-AFRICA: Niger: Europe’s Migration Laboratory (Refugees Deeply, link):
"The [European Union] has pushed for the mainstay of northern Niger’s economy to be criminalized but it remains wary of compensating the individuals and groups it has helped to brand as criminals. There is no precedent for demolishing an informal economy in one of the world’s poorest countries and replacing it with a formal model. Some 60 percent of Niger’s GDP comes from the informal sector, according to the World Bank.
As a senior government adviser put it, “When you slap a child you cannot ask it not to cry.”
According to an E.U. official who followed the program, “the law was imposed in a brutal way, without any prior consultation, in a process where the government of Niger was heavily pressured by the E.U., France and Germany, with a minimal consideration of the fact Nigerien security forces are involved in this traffic [of migrants].”"
Community Leader Targeted in Chios Trial Acquitted on all Charges - Moria10 Defendants Acquited on All Charges! (Lersbos Legal Centre, link):
"In a case that never should have gone to trial, the #Moria10 trial ended with a verdict of not guilty! The verdict was unanimously reached by the Mixed Jury Court in Chios after even the prosecution’s witnesses testified that one defendant was a community leader who tried to peacefully solve problems in Moria Camp. The prosecutor also recommended acquittal after none of the State’s witnesses could credibly identify the three defendants who were on trial. Only three of the ten accused were tried today, as the other seven were never arrested. Two were present for the trial, the third was tried in absentia."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-21.5.18) including: Frontex condemned for fundamental rights failings; Germany to open "mass holding centres" for asylum seekers; new EU proposals on Visa Information System and Immigration Liaison Officers
Frontex, the EU's border agency, has been heavily criticised for failing to provide adequate staff and resources to its own Fundamental Rights Office, a problem that "seriously hinders the Agency's ability to deliver on its fundamental rights obligations."
Germany to roll out mass holding centres for asylum seekers (The Guardian, link):
"Mass holding centres that Germany’s interior ministry wants to roll out across the country will stoke social tension between locals and migrants and undermine the welcoming image the country has gained in the eyes of the world, aid organisations have said.
So-called anchor centres – an acronym for arrival, decision, return – are designed to speed up deportations of unsuccessful asylum seekers, by containing large groups of people and the authorities who rule on their claims inside the same holding facility.
Until now, Germany’s policy has been to embed new arrivals in communities across the country. But Angela Merkel’s government is seeking to reverse its strategy, as a populist backlash builds against the chancellor’s handling of the refugee crisis."
And see: German interior minister to keep migrants in asylum centers (Deutsche Welle, link): "Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is pressing ahead
PRESS RELEASE Last Rights Project announces the agreement and signing of the Mytilini Declaration (Lesvos, Greece, link) and:
"On the 11 May 2018, following two days of discussions between experts from across the world, the Mytilini Declaration was agreed. We believe this is a landmark in establishing the rights of and duties toward all those who experience suffering because of the death or disappearance of their loved ones as a result of migrant journeys and we now call upon all countries and international bodies to ensure that these rights are respected and that the standards contained in the Declaration are implemented as a matter of urgency."
Honouring Kamil: Disability and Migration - June 29th 2018 (poster, pdf):
Kamil Ahmad was a Disabled Kurdish man who came to Britain seeking sanctuary, having been imprisoned and tortured in Iraq.
He was murdered in Bristol on 7 July 2016.
There is also a Crowd Funder page, to raise funds to cover costs of the event. Even if you can not attend, please consider sharing this message.
Refugees Deeply: When Refugees Lead: A Conversation With Wales’ Refugee Coalition Chair (link):
"As part of our series “When Refugees Lead,” we speak with Rocio Cifuentes, chair of the Welsh Refugee Coalition and director of the Ethnic Youth Support Team, whose family fled dictatorship in Chile when she was an infant."
EU: Court of Auditors says member states and Commission must improve integration policies: See Briefing (pdf)
Migrant unemployment declines in Sweden (New Europe, link):
"Sweden’s New Public Employment Service has revealed that migrant unemployment is falling, although it remains almost four times as high as the country’s average.
Unemployment among Swedish-born residents stands at 3.7%, whereas 20.5% of those born abroad remain without work. The drop was in part facilitated by subsidised employment programmes, funded by the public sector."
Italy's populists aim to challenge EU on debt and migrants (BBC News, link):
"Italy's two populist parties will try to reach a deal on forming a government after a leaked draft revealed plans to defy EU rules on migration and debt."
Some 2,500 children asked for asylum in Greece in 2017 (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Some 2,500 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Greece last year, around 8 percent of the total 31,400 child refugees who sought asylum in European Union countries in 2017.
Italy received a relatively large chunk of applications for asylum – more than 10,000, or 32 percent of the total – followed by Germany, with 9,100 applications (29 percent)."
The European Commission has proposed introducing EU-level coordination of the existing network of immigration liaison officers (ILOs), made up of some 500 national officials who work in non-EU countries to gather information and intelligence with the aim of "preventing and combating of illegal immigration, facilitating the return of illegal immigrants and managing legal migration."
The Commission is today reporting on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and the Commission's roadmap from December 2017, and is setting out further key actions to be taken.
New research by Refugee Action reveals Home Office failings, including long delays and poor decision-making, are having a devastating effect on people seeking safety in Britain.
EU-AFRICA: The new European border between Niger and Libya (Open Migration, link):
"The game for controlling what Marco Minniti defined “the southern border of Europe” to “be sealed” is still open. However, last year’s experience shows that focusing solely on control, while leaving aside the safety and well-being of communities living in northern Niger, especially in Fezzan, might prove counter-productive. For the people living in Fezzan, beaten by the conflict, for migrants, facing increasing risks, and – perhaps – for Europe itself in its attempt to contain migrations.
“We rebelled against Gaddafi but we have obtained nothing,” Joseph Moussa concludes, tens of cigarettes later, in an Agadez falling more silent by the minute. “Migrants are our sole currency: only when we find a new one we will stop transporting them.”"
The Commission is today proposing to upgrade the Visa Information System (VIS), the database containing information on persons applying for Schengen visas, in order to better respond to evolving security and migratory challenges and improve the EU's external border management.
Ireland Says Welcome, in solidarity with refugee, undocumented and asylum seeking women in Ireland, wishes to draw attention to the situation of this group, who are easily forgotten in the upcoming referendum.
Greece changes asylum rules to fight camp overcrowding (ekathimerini, link)
"Greece’s parliament approved legislation Tuesday that is designed to speed up the asylum process for migrants, ease the overcrowding at Greek island refugee camps and to deport more people back to Turkey.
Under the new law, staff will be added at the office that handles asylum requests, the appeals process for rejected applications will be shortened and travel restrictions can be imposed on asylum-seekers who are moved from the Greek islands to the mainland.
Currently, restrictions on asylum-seekers are mostly limited to five islands near the coast of Turkey, where strained refugee camps are trying to cope with up to three times more residents than planned. More than 16,000 people are stuck there.
A group of 13 Greek human rights organizations, however, has accused the government of ignoring refugee rights."
Tensions with Turkey increase migration across Greece’s land borders (euractiv, link):
"Refugee flows through Greece’s land borders have started rising again, causing frustration among EU and Greek authorities. According to UNHCR data, in April alone 2,900 people entered Greece via land passages at the borders of Evros River, mainly families from Syria and Iraq.
Press reports say that increased migratory flows across the Evros are the result of the latest tensions in the Greek-Turkish relations."
UK: Capita staff used ‘excessive’ restraint on asylum seekers (Guardian, link):
"Damning report says staff used unnecessary force on low-risk detainees during removal flight.
Private contractors used excessive restraint on low-risk asylum seekers on a removal flight out of the UK, inspectors have revealed in a damning report.
Escort staff were led to believe by dire warnings during a staff briefing that they were dealing with a high-risk group, when the majority of passengers had no history of being disruptive, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said in a report."
"The European Commission has proposed an 89.5 billion-euro fund to battle irregular migration by investing heavily in countries outside the European Union, but its plans raise deep questions about the bloc’s aims.
It is unclear what the extra money could achieve, and the ultimate aims of the policy remain obscure."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-14.5.18) including: Sudan's feared secret police aid European migration policy; the rise of 'hostile environments' for migrants; new report on externalisastion of EU borders
SPAIN: Migrants in Spain are dying after losing healthcare access (InfoMigrants, link):
"The mortality rate among undocumented migrants in Spain has risen by 15 percent since reforms denied access to free public healthcare, according to new research.
A public healthcare reform introduced by the Spanish government in 2012, which excluded illegal immigrants from access to public healthcare has caused an average 15 percent increase in the mortality rate among undocumented foreigners in Spain, a new study has said.
The research was jointly carried by the University of Barcelona's Economics Institute and the University Pompeu Fabra's Center for Research in Health and Economics (CRES). The study focused on analyzing any changes in mortality rates in the population residing in Spain between 2009 and 2015 compared to the previous period from 2009 to 2012. The research found that an additional 70 deaths per year were registered among undocumented migrants since the law was approved in 2012. The reforms were introduced by the conservative government led by the Partido Popular."
"The EU has made migration control a central goal of its foreign relations, rapidly expanding border externalisation measures that require neighbouring countries to act as Europe's border guards. This report examines 35 countries, prioritised by the EU, and finds authoritarian regimes emboldened to repress civil society, vulnerable refugees forced to turn to more dangerous and deadly routes, and European arms and security firms booming off the surge in funding for border security systems and technologies."
See: Europe's solution to migration is to outsource it to Africa (EUobserver, link)
EU: Punitive populism: The global rise of ‘hostile environments’ for migrants (Red Pepper, link) by Liz Fekete:
"The parameters of policies aimed at ‘aliens’ are set in the stone of social control. Immigrants can enjoy pathways to citizenship; but aliens, at every identity check or internal control, carry the border within them. Historically, aliens’ laws have reduced residency to a gesture of clemency, a temporary order of hospitality, rescindable at any point. The alternative history has been one of the integration of migrants through immigration policy, whereby they can access social rights, including social care for troubled youngsters at risk of marginality and crime. But now, switching the approach to treat juveniles from a migrant background as aliens ensures that those who ‘fall through the net’ and commit crimes will never be allowed to integrate. Punitive policies aimed at those deemed alien means that resources that were formerly allocated to social care, anti-discrimination and integration can be transferred into immigration enforcement, punishment, warehousing and banishment."
Council of the EU: EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia: operation to contribute to better information sharing on crime in the Mediterranean (press release, pdf)
"The Council today adopted a decision allowing for the creation of a crime information cell within EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. The information cell will be composed of up to 10 staff members from relevant law enforcement authorities of member states and from the EU agencies FRONTEX and EUROPOL in order to improve information sharing between them.
The cell will be tasked to facilitate the receipt, collection and transmission of information on human smuggling and trafficking, the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, illegal trafficking, as well as crimes relevant to the security of the operation itself."
See: Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project (Statewatch News Online, 29 November 2017)
The EU’s refugee crisis: Effective handling or botched up policy? (EurActiv, link):
"Dealing with the refugee crisis has proved to be an insurmountable task for Europe, due to the apparent lack of a coherent immigration policy and political indecisiveness. Europe’s cohesion comes out shaken as a result, EURACTIV.gr reports.
Poor reception infrastructure, and difficulties caused by a bureaucracy unable to meet the basic needs of the refugees have lead to overpopulation – and Aegean islands are a prime example. The direct outcome is an unprecedented emergency situation.
“As long as European countries arbitrarily replace their international obligations with volunteer humanitarian programs and do not establish safe passages to Europe for the people who need them, they still have responsibility for hundreds of dead people in the Mediterranean,” Takou said."
Join us for an afternoon of collective imagining at the TATE Modern, Friday 25 May, 12:00-18:00
How does the creation of a hostile environment towards immigrants challenge the ways we create belonging, build communities and form solidarity? This symposium invites activists, practitioners, artists and academics to address the current hostile environment towards immigrants within and beyond the UK and Europe.
IRELAND: Asylum seekers waiting up to two years for decision, says UN (The Irish Times, link):
"Asylum seekers are being forced to wait an average of two years for a decision on their protection applications despite recommendations that the process be completed within 12 months, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned.
Retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon recommended in June 2015 that newly arrived asylum seekers receive a decision on their application within 12 months and that they be given the right to work after nine months. Nearly three years later, asylum seekers are waiting an average of 19 months for an interview at the Department of Justice, with the final decision likely to result in further delays. "
By Stifling Migration, Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Aid Europe (New York Times, link):
"At Sudan’s eastern border, Lt. Samih Omar led two patrol cars slowly over the rutted desert, past a cow’s carcass, before halting on the unmarked 2,000-mile route that thousands of East Africans follow each year in trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then onward to Europe.
His patrols along this border with Eritrea are helping Sudan crack down on one of the busiest passages on the European migration trail. Yet Lieutenant Omar is no simple border agent. He works for Sudan’s feared secret police, whose leaders are accused of war crimes — and, more recently, whose officers have been accused of torturing migrants.
Indirectly, he is also working for the interests of the European Union.
“Sometimes,” Lieutenant Omar said, “I feel this is Europe’s southern border.”"
UK: Government forced to stop making NHS give patient data to immigration officials for minor infractions (The Independent, link):
"The government has been forced into a climbdown over its use of NHS patient information for tracing minor immigration infractions, conceding the bar for breaching patient confidentiality “should be significantly higher”.
After years of pressure from doctors, MPs and charities, the government pledged to only seek patient data – which is handed to the Home Office by NHS Digital on request – in the event of serious crimes.
The concession comes after weeks of damaging revelations about the harm caused by Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy towards immigration offenders."
EXCLUSIVE: Niger sends Sudanese refugees back to Libya (IRIN, link):
"Niger has deported at least 132 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers back to Libya, drawing criticism that it is flouting international law by sending them back to dangerous and inhumane conditions from which they recently escaped.
The deportation, the first of asylum seekers from Niger’s migrant hub of Agadez, was confirmed by a high-ranking UN refugee agency (UNHCR) official, and later by an informed source in the Nigerien interior ministry who insisted those sent back were “criminals” fighting for militias in southern Libya. UNHCR put the number at 135, but the interior ministry said three people had escaped.
UNHCR said those deported were part of a group of around 160 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers arrested in Agadez on 2 May. The majority fled to Niger to escape harsh conditions and treatment in Libya and were receiving assistance from UNHCR."
The European Commission has published proposals for the EU's budget for 2021-27, with significant increases foreseen in spending on internal security - with a proposal for a 180% boost compared to the 2014-20 period - and on migration and border management, with a 280% increase.
"The new Hungarian parliament which will first assemble on 8 May is set to vote on draconian and regressive legislation which could arbitrarily restrict fundamental rights and freedoms of civil society. The proposed laws would further undermine and stigmatise organisations working to defend the human rights of migrants and refugees.
The treatment of our Hungarian members and partners and the laws being introduced to stifle civil society are deeply concerning. These will significantly limit their ability to carry out work independently, could ultimately lead to their closure and be damaging to the human rights of migrants and refugees. Such measures that penalise solidarity and support to migrants including asylum seekers and refugees should not be tolerated."
Mare Clausum: The Sea Watch vs Libyan Coast Guard Case: 6 November 2017 (Forensic Architecture, link):
"On 6 November 2017, the rescue NGO Sea Watch (SW) and a patrol vessel of the Libyan Coast Guard (LYCG) simultaneously directed themselves towards a migrants’ boat in distress in international waters. The boat, which had departed from Tripoli a few hours earlier, carried between 130 and 150 passengers. A confrontational rescue operation ensued, and while SW was eventually able to rescue and bring to safety in Italy 59 passengers, at least 20 people died before or during these events, while 47 passengers were ultimately pulled back to Libya, where several faced grave human rights violations – including being detained, beaten, and sold to an other captor who tortured them to extract ransom from their families. The unfolding of this incident has been reconstructed in a video by Forensic Oceanography in collaboration with Forensic Architecture.
To reconstruct the circumstances of this particular incident, however, Forensic Oceanography has produced a detailed written report which argues it is also necessary to understand the policies that shaped the behaviour of the actors involved, and the patterns of practices of which this event was only a particular instantiation."
See the report: Forensic Oceanography: Mare Clausum: Italy and the EU's undeclared operation to stem migration across the Mediterranean (link to pdf) and: Legal action against Italy over its coordination of Libyan Coast Guard pull-backs resulting in migrant deaths and abuse
GERMANY-LIBYA: Exclusive: Internal diplomatic report on "concentration camp-like" conditions in Libyan refugee camps (FragDenStaat, link):
"The EU is cooperating ever more closely with Libyan militias to prevent people from fleeing to Europe. A wire report published by the German Federal Foreign Office after our Freedom of Information request shows the conditions under which refugees have to live in Libya.
Seven years after the death of dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya is once again an important partner of the European Union. Although the country continues to be marked by internal power struggles, the EU's cooperation with the North African state is becoming ever closer. Italy, for example, recently decided to connect Libya to the Italian Navy's communication system.
Apparently, the European Union's asylum policy leads to refugees being deported to Libya in violation of international law. The German TV magazine Monitor, for example, states that "Libyan militias apparently have no inhibitions whatsoever to sacrifice human lives when it comes only to enforcing the European policy of isolation"."
GERMANY: Security guard violence in the AEO Bamberg – state-sanctioned criminalisation and persecution of refugees (Culture of Deportation, link):
"The AEO Bamberg, a large reception and deportation camp in the state of Upper Franconia, Bavaria, is Germany’s flagship for refugee isolation. It faces now a scandal of systematic violence by private security guards against asylum seekers. We demand a thorough investigation to all the incidents.
We were alerted to these in the course of the ongoing support campaign for Kumba and Dia. The two Senegalese asylum seekers were criminalised after having witnessed an attack by the guards on a third West African asylum seeker in the AEO in early September 2017. A number of former security employees and numerous inhabitants informed us that this is not the sole case: The scale of security guard violence against refugees in the AEO has been systematic since the summer of 2017. According to the inhabitants, the violence has somewhat gone down since the fall of 2017, but continues. The latest incident was on May 7 as a Nigerian couple were badly abused by the guards."
Seven of the #Moria35 face deportation on Thursday 10 May 2018. In a process fraught with procedural violations, they have had their applications for asylum rejected. After over a year of dehumanizing treatment, from Moria Camp, to the vicious attack by the police, followed by nine months of unjust imprisonment, they now face being sent to Turkish prison, and likely deportation to the countries they fled.
Seventeen survivors of a fatal incident in which a boat carrying migrants found itself in distress off the coast of Libya filed an application against Italy today with the European Court of Human Rights. The applicants included the surviving parents of two children who died in the incident.
GREECE: Rescuers from Denmark and Spain cleared of human trafficking by Greek court (The Local, link):
" A Greek court on Monday cleared three Spaniards and two Danes of trying to help illegal migrants enter Greece through the island of Lesbos while taking part in Aegean rescue missions.
"The accusation has not been proven," the judge said after the trial in the Lesbos capital Mytilene.
The firefighters from Spain and volunteers from Denmark, who faced up to 10 years in prison according to Amnesty International, enjoyed massive support from aid groups, with many sympathisers on hand for the verdict.
"A great victory for humanitarian aid," Spanish group Proem-AID tweeted after the ruling."
HUNGARY: Desperate times call for new measures (Migszol, link):
"Ever since Migszol began in 2012, we have based our work on information from the ground, on the situation at the borders, and testimonies of people from different camps. This has always provided the basis and the legitimacy to our activism.
But over the years things changed radically. Gradually the detention of practically all asylum seekers was implemented, while at the same time the space for civil society and independent media has become extremely narrow.
In the current situation, we find that we, unfortunately, cannot function the way we used to. We have no way of being in touch with detained asylum seekers, and even if we did, we would risk becoming targets of state-sponsored hate campaigns, also we would risk their personal safety during the asylum procedure."
"The fifth Ministerial Conference of the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development ended Wednesday in Marrakech, with the adoption of the Marrakech Declaration and Plan of Action.
The Marrakech Declaration "constitutes a new brick in the edifice that we have been building together for twelve years and which has enabled Euro-African migration to be taken off the list of problems to be resolved and placed in the register of the main themes of our dialogue and cooperation", said minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, in his closing remarks."
See: Rabat Process: Marrakesh Political Declaration and Action Plan (pdf) based on five "domains": Development benefits of migration and addressing root causes of irregular migration and the phenomenon of displaced persons; Legal migration and mobility; Protection and asylum; Domain 4: Prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings; Return, readmission and reintegration.
The Displaced; Migrant Brothers; Lights in the Distance – reviews (The Guardian, link):
"Three powerful, conscience-stirring books [The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives Edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Migrant Brothers: A Poet’s Declaration of Human Dignity by Patrick Chamoiseau; Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe by Daniel Trilling] use personal testimony to help us see the refugee crisis through the eyes of its victims"
"The Libyan coastguard on Sunday prevented a rescue ship belonging to two NGOs from approaching a boat in distress carrying migrants, an AFP photographer witnessed.
The Aquarius, chartered by SOS-Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was informed by the Italian coastguard of the presence of an overloaded boat off the coast of Tripoli, reported the photographer on board the NGO boat.
But Rome also alerted the Libyan coastguard which took charge of coordinating the rescue operation and banned the NGO ship from approaching, also ordering it to move away when migrants jumped into the water to avoid being picked up by the Libyans.
The Libyan navy later announced it had rescued more than 300 migrants in three separate operations, reporting one dead and three missing.
The two victims were with 114 other migrants including 21 women and four children, said a Libyan navy spokesman, General Ayoub Kacem, although he declined to say whether they had been aboard the boat seen by the Aquarius.
And he warned that tensions between the Libyan coastguard and the NGO boats could worsen over coming days if they continued to approach stricken boats."
"As the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, visits Lesvos, Greece for a regional conference, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warns that the situation on Lesvos is, once again, reaching breaking point. As a result of the Greek government’s continued policy of containing migrants and refugees on the Greek islands at any cost, thousands of men, women and children in Lesvos are living in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with insufficient access to health care. With around 500 new people reaching Lesvos every week, the overcrowding, as well as increased demand for healthcare and other services, are pushing the camp to breaking point. MSF is calling on the Greek authorities to immediately transfer people from Lesvos to the mainland, and in addition, immediately scale up the provision of healthcare on the island.
In the government-run camp of Moria there are currently more than 7,000 people in a camp that was built for a maximum of 2,500 people. The living conditions and the reduction in the provision of medical care represent a high risk to the health and lives of the people trapped on the island."
Council of the European Union: ECRIS-TCN: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU No 1077/2011 - Updated four column table (LIMITE doc no: 8258-18, pdf):
"Please find attached an updated four column table as it results from the third trilogue on 24 April and technical meetings on 24 and 26 April 2018."
"Organizations Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) and Are You Syrious (AYS) are hereby informing you about a series of pressures of the police and the Ministry of Interior on our work regarding human rights protection of refugees and migrants in the Republic of Croatia.(...)
In the last several weeks, we have noticed and experienced extremely dubious and illogical actions of the police towards our associations and attorneys with whom we are cooperating related to the case of the Hussiny family whose 6 year-old daughter died on 21 November 2017 from the hit of a train on the railway between Tovarnik and Šid, immediately after the illegal expulsion of the family from the Republic of Croatia, according to the family."
"Foreigners who work long hours for negligible pay in the Sicilian countryside are having their settlements razed, exposing them to even worse treatment."
"About 150 asylum seekers have confronted police officers in a small German town to prevent the deportation of a Togolese man. Authorities said, due to exceptional circumstances, they had no option but to release the man."
European Commission wants 10,000 border guards (euobserver, link):
"Some six years after Greece erected a 10km barb wired border fence along a stretch of the Evros river it shares with Turkey, the European Commission has announced plans to create a standing corps of 10,000 border guards.
On Wednesday (2 May), the EU executive proposed the idea as part of its aim to overhaul the EU budget for the years 2021-27."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.4-2.5.18)
Only four EU Member States prohibit the solitary confinement of child detainees even though such detention can harm a child’s health and development. This is just one of the many ways age limits can impact child’s rights, outlined in a new European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report. It suggests how Member States can remove inconsistencies to better deliver child protection.
Our data doubles: how biometric surveillance ushers in new orders of control (OpenDemocracy, link):
"The use of biometric data brings the border within the body: algorithms' apparent objectivity and efficiency obscure the brutality of the tasks they accomplish, deciding who is fit to stay or go, who to live or die."
GREECE: Lesvos: 17 locals to be charged for attacks against refugees, migrants and police (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"Police authorities on the island of Lesvos have prepared case files against 17 locals for the attacks against refugees, migrants and police officers last Sunday. According to local media, 5 of the suspects will be charged with felony charges, while the remaining 12 will face charges for misdemeanors offenses.
The case files reportedly refer to the first group of people who have been identified as being involved in the attacks against refugees and migrants but also policemen on Sappho Square in the capital of the island."
UK: Who is immigration policy for? The media-politics of the hostile environment (Corporate Watch, link):
"Most basically, migration figures continue to rise, while the ineffectiveness of vicious Immigration Enforcement measures is an open secret amongst Home Office officials. In fact the level of resources – and violence – required to really seal borders would go well beyond anything yet seen.
So what really drives the hostile environment policies? Our new report “Who is immigration policy for?” examines the following key points:
See also: Summary: Who is immigration policy for? Hostile Environment and anxiety media-politics (link to pdf)
Data shows migration more strongly linked to aspiration than desperation (EU Science Hub, link):
"A new global analysis of intentions to migrate suggests that individuals preparing to move abroad are more likely to do so out of aspiration for a better life, economic opportunities and development of skills, rather than sheer desperation.
While the analysis does not include individuals who are forced to migrate, such as refugees and asylum seekers, it provides valuable insights on voluntary migrants.
Between 2010 and 2015, around 30% of the population of 157 countries around the world expressed a wish to move abroad, while less than 1% have actually migrated.
The analysis finds that while being dissatisfied with one’s own standard of living is associated with a higher probability to desire and to plan a move abroad, the link with making concrete preparations is less clear."
See: EU Joint Research Centre technical report: A global analysis of intentions to migrate (pdf)
Greece reinforces land border with Turkey to stem flow of migrants (Guardian, link):
"Athens rushes to counter fears of new crisis after arrival of nearly 3,000 people in April.
Greece has rushed to reinforce its land border with Turkey as fears mount over a sharp rise in the number of refugees and migrants crossing the frontier.
Police patrols were augmented as local authorities said the increase in arrivals had become reminiscent of the influx of migrants on the Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast. About 2,900 people crossed the land border in April, by far surpassing the number who arrived by sea, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said. The figure represents half of the total number of crossings during the whole of 2017."
UK: Lord Dubs tables Brexit bill amendment to give young refugees sanctuary (Guardian, link):
"Refugee campaigner Lord Dubs has tabled a Brexit bill amendment to force the government to continue to give refugee children sanctuary post-Brexit.
Dubs has tabled an amendment to the European Union (withdrawal) bill that will include a specific provision for unaccompanied refugee minors stranded on the continent who have family in the UK already.
He said he found the Windrush scandal “shameful” and the amendment was important to ensure the “cold indifference” of the government was not the determining factor when it came to children seeking refuge for war and conflict zones."
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