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Statewatch Observatory
The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

Archive: January 2017

This Observatory covers the arrival of refugees and migrants, the reactions and failures within the EU (both governmental and within communities).

Edited by Tony Bunyan. See: "We are ashamed": Statement on Mediterranean: "The EU is behaving shamefully"

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January 2017

Greece: Moria, Lesvos: Alarm raised over third migrant death in six days (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The death Monday of a third migrant within a week at the Moria camp on Lesvos has increased concerns about the living conditions of thousands of people who continue to live in tents, and cast fresh doubts over a pledge by the Migration Ministry in early January to take the necessary precautions as heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures engulfed the country....

However, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said Monday....a plan to move people to hotels while the so-called hot spots received a makeover fell through after local authorities and hoteliers disagreed.

The man who died Monday in his tent was a Pakistani national, aged between 18 and 20. Authorities have ruled out foul play while doctors blamed carbon monoxide poisoning."

Greece to probe migrant deaths at island camp (euobserver, link):

"Greek migration minister Yannis Mouzalas has ordered an investigation into a series of deaths at the Moria asylum camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Aid agencies have long complained about the poor conditions at the camps. A Pakistani man died on Monday from carbon monoxide poisoning from a heater in his tent. An Egyptian and a Syrian who shared a tent died last week."

EU: Foreign fighters' helpers excluded from refugee status: the ECJ clarifies the law (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"What if a person claiming to be a refugee is an alleged terrorist, or at least giving assistance to alleged terrorists? Can they still claim to be a refugee – and if not, how should we define ‘terrorism’ for the purposes of rejecting their claim to be one? Today’s judgment of the EU Court of Justice in the Lounani case usefully clarifies some aspects of this controversial and legally complex issue, but inevitably leaves some difficult questions open. "

See: An application for asylum can be rejected if the asylum seeker has participated in the activities of a terrorist network - It is not necessary that the asylum seeker personally committed terrorist acts, or instigated such acts, or participated in their commission (Press release,pdf) and Judgment (pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-30.1.17)
EU: Commission: actions recommended for endorsement by EU heads of state or government at 3 February summit in Malta

The Annex to the Commission Communcation issued on 25 January: Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf) lists recommendation actions for the Member States to approve under the headings of:

See: ANNEX to the JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf)

And see: Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

EU-LIBYA: German report details Libya abuses amid pressure to stem migrant flows (The Guardian, link):

"Conditions for migrants and refugees in Libya are worse than in concentration camps, according to a paper sent to the German foreign ministry by its ambassador in Niger.

The German embassy in Niger has authenticated reports of executions, torture and other systematic rights abuses in camps on the refugee route in Libya, Die Welt cited the report as saying on Sunday.

The warning came as EU leaders prepare for a summit in Malta on Friday to discuss ways to control migration across the Mediterranean from Africa this summer, amid pressure from Italy to take decisive action."

EU: Commission offers €6 million for private expertise on irregular migration, smuggling and biometric population registers in Africa

The European Commission last week (25 January) published a contract notice offering up to €6 million for four years of work including research and analysis to inform EU policy-making on irregular migration; helping develop "awareness raising campaigns" targeted at non-EU nationals; and to draw up "needs assessments in priority third countries of origin and transit," including the development of "action plans in the area of population data collection, notably civil reigstries and biometric databases" in African countries.

See: European Commission, Tender specifications: Framework Contract for Technical and support services (TSS) in the field of Irregular migration and Legal migration (pdf)

EU: Joint NGO report on denial of access to asylum procedure in eastern EU Member States

"The report Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States presents the situation asylum-seekers often face at the eastern borders of the EU. The picture shown of Europe’s response to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is rather grim as presented by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria), Organization for Aid to Refugees (Czech Republic), Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Hungary), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland) and the Legal-informational centre for NGOs (Slovenia), all members of ECRE – a pan-European umbrella organisation of refugee assisting NGOs. Increased border controls and the construction of physical and legal barriers restricting access to protection for people fleeing war and terror characterize this ‘scary new’ reality. Country responses cited in the report range from violent push-backs, through the denial of entry to proposed legislative changes restricting access to protection."

See: Press Release – Pushed Back at the Door (Organization for Aid to Refugees, link) and the report: Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States (pdf)

ITALY: Anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (Council of Europe, link):

"The Council of Europe Group of experts against human trafficking (GRETA) has published today a report on the implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Italy. The report assesses the specific situation of forced returns of victims of trafficking from Italy and the identification of victims of trafficking among asylum seekers and migrants.

GRETA acknowledges the extreme difficulties which Italy is experiencing due to the unprecedented increase in the arrival of migrants and refugees, and the significant efforts made by the country, with the assistance of international organisations and civil society, to cope with the challenges posed by it.

The report, which was preceded by a visit to Italy in September 2016, reveals gaps in the detection of victims of trafficking among newly arriving migrants and unaccompanied children. Particular attention is paid to the situation of Nigerian women and girls, who have been arriving in Italy in increasing numbers and many of whom are likely to be trafficked for the purpose exploitation in Europe. GRETA raises concerns about the failure to identify them as victims of trafficking at an early stage, the disappearance of unaccompanied children from reception centres, and the manner in which forced returns of victims of trafficking to their country of origin take place."

See: Report on Italy under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for evaluating implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (pdf)

And: press release: Council of Europe anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (pdf)

Slovenian parliament legalises migrant push-backs (euractiv, link):

"Slovenia’s parliament amended its laws yesterday (26 January) to enable police to seal the country’s borders to most illegal migrants for a limited period in case of a new influx along the so-called Balkan route, sparking condemnation from rights groups...."

And see: Amnesty International slams Slovenia’s new anti-migration law (euractiv, link):

"Amnesty International said the Slovenian Parliament should reject amendments to the Aliens Act that, once triggered, would breach international law."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive

Latest version of the Council developing its negotiating position: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (LIMITE doc no: 5402-17, pdf): With 135 Footnotes giving detailed Member State positions.

"To ensure harmonisation and more convergence in asylum decisions and as regards the content of international protection in order to reduce incentives to move within the European Union and ensure an equality of treatment of beneficiaries of international protection that Directive should be repealed and replaced by a Regulation." [emphasis added]

This replaces the following objective in the current Directive:

"on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted."

"Suggested modifications (by the Presidency) are indicated as follows: added text is in bold and deleted text is in strikehtrough."

EU: Council of the European Union: Humanitarian visas rejected by the Council and Commission: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee (EU/Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, Liechtenstein): Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 15602-16, pdf):

"the Chair reported that the European Parliament (EP) had recently sent the Presidency the four-column table containing new compromise proposals from the Rapporteur, in which the provisions on the humanitarian visa had been maintained. Furthermore, the Chair reported that the Rapporteur had let the Presidency know that he would not agree to put the humanitarian visa on hold and wanted to continue negotiations on the other outstanding issues.

AT, FR, BE, NL, HU, SE, SI, ES and PT were against continuing negotiations....

The Chair announced that a trilogue would be held to formally inform the EP of the Council's decision. COM said that the Commission was attached to its proposal but was also against the idea of a humanitarian visa."

Europe’s crackdown on African immigration is hitting vulnerable refugees (Guardian, link):

"Such initiatives are developing rapidly, with civil servants using aid and security co-operation to crack down on this African exodus. And while we can all recognise the domestic, political pressures that EU governments face, and which are leading them to seek to halt the flow of migrants across their borders, we must also recognise that those affected are some of the most vulnerable people from some of the most repressive countries in Africa. There must be a legal route for refugees to escape persecution."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.1.17)
EU: Rapid introduction of new Frontex powers: EU and Member States prefer to shut the door and return refugees than relocate them

In 13 months (the year 2016 plus January 2017) EU Member States have "returned" 11,121 refugees but only relocated within the EU 8,123 refugees entering through Greece and Italy (the two main countries of entry) since September 2015.

The reports: Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (23 September 2016, pdf) and: 2nd Follow-up report (16 November 2016, pdf)

EU-GREECE: "Solidarity" on refugees: official reports lay bare Greek government frustration with other EU Member States

Statewatch is today publishing two official reports that set out how the Greek government has sought to comply with other EU Member States' demands to control its borders and to prevent refugees leaving the country. Both reports show significant frustration with the failure of other Member States to meet their obligations to relocate refugees and to provide the necessary human and material resources to assist the Greek authorities.

The reports: Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (23 September 2016, pdf) and: 2nd Follow-up report (16 November 2016, pdf)

TURKEY-GREECE-EU: Turkey may cancel readmission deal with Greece after court's failure to extradite FETÖ soldiers (Daily Sabah, link):

"Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey will take necessary measures against Greece following the court's failure to extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) soldiers involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt, to Turkey.

Çavusoglu said that Turkey may consider cancelling the readmission deal with Greece, which allows the latter to return illegal migrants -who traveled through Turkey- to Turkey, in order to be processed before they are sent back to their country of origin, TRT Haber reported.

He highlighted that the Greek court's ruling is a political rather than a legal decision, noting that it will have unavoidable implications for bilateral relations.

"They're not just petty criminals" Çavusoglu said, adding that the soldiers attempted to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

EU-Turkey refugee deal overburdens Greek islands (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The refugee camp on the island of Samos was built for 850 people, but it hosts more than 1,800 at the moment. More than 600 people are living in 56 sometimes unheated containers, while others are sleeping in tents - or wherever they find a free spot to lie down. Ralf Kist, the Frontex team leader of the German mission, told DW "the conditions at the camp are improving," but current and former residents of the camp complain about a life of misery among mud, dirt and rubbish."

EU-AFRICA: Will the EU's anti-migrant smuggling efforts in Niger backfire?

"In the case of northern Niger, however, haphazardly designed anti-smuggling efforts come with an even greater danger: destabilizing one of the few pockets of stability in a volatile region. Aside from the promise of money from Europe, the reality is that the Nigerien government has few incentives to crack down on migrant smuggling, in part because doing so is fraught with political and security risks.

In northern Niger, migrant smuggling is part of a broader political economy that is thoroughly enmeshed within formal and informal political and security structures. In fact, Niger’s anti-corruption agency found that state security forces in the region would not be able to function if they did not take bribes paid by smugglers, and would otherwise be unable to purchase basic necessities such as fuel, spare parts for vehicles and food.

Government officials in Agadez have also conceded that everyone from drivers, fixers, landlords, shop owners, currency dealers and even local law enforcement are profiting from the economic boom. “Many are eating off these migrants,” Ahmed Koussa, an assistant to the mayor of Agadez, told the New York Times. Abdourahamane Moussa, deputy-secretary general for the regional government in Agadez, struck a similar tone speaking to the Wall Street Journal. “Migrants are buying things, consuming our goods, animating our economy,” he said. “People here are benefitting. … How can we stop it?”

See: The E.U.’s Hollow Success Over Migrant Smuggling in Niger (Refugees Deeply, link)

Migreurop press release: The European Union cannot abolish winter: it must instead put an end to the criminal hotspot policy!

"At what point does failing to assist a person in danger become a crime? How many deaths are necessary to constitute a crime against humanity? These questions have been raised for years in relation to the thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean due to the lack of legal routes into the European Union (EU). Today, the increasingly serious situation of thousands of refugees, trapped by freezing temperatures in Greek camps and on the ‘Balkan routes’, directly challenges the choices made by the EU concerning its ‘management of migration flows’."

EU: Hotspots and EU Agencies: Towards an integrated European administration? (EU Migration Law, link) by Lilian Tsourdi (emphasis added):

"Developments point to the emergence of an increasingly integrated administration in the field of asylum. This is neither inherently positive, nor inherently negative. However, it brings with it novel challenges of both a constitutional and practical nature. While the first concern the division of powers between the EU and national levels, the latter concern effectively upholding applicants’ fundamental and procedural rights. Broadening agencies’ powers in the Home Affairs area, and the nascent forms of joint implementation, will have to be coupled with a rethink in EU administrative law and the establishment of effective guarantees.

Cognizant of that fact, the European Parliament has proposed in its draft position on the European Union Agency on Asylum the establishment of a Fundamental Rights Officer; a Fundamental Rights Strategy; an individual complaints mechanism; and a robust role for the agency’s Consultative Forum in that setting. These proposals recognise the increasingly operational role this agency has to play, and reflect similar developments regarding the EU Border and Coast Guard. They form necessary, but still insufficient, measures that this evolving implementation set-up calls for. The dedicated workshop in the Odysseus Network Annual Policy Conference on the 10th February 2016 will present a forum to critically assess and further debate on these developments."

EU: European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Valletta (press release, pdf)

Comments on the Common European Asylum System, EU-Turkey deal, Libya, "solidarity", border security, interconnecting EU databases and information systems:

"I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank the Maltese Presidency, and my friend and colleague Carmelo Abela, for their excellent work in organising this first informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers here in Valletta.

I am glad to see that the Maltese Presidency and the European Commission agree on the most important priorities for our work on migration, border and security for the next 6 months.

We have engaged in constructive discussions with the Ministers of interior. I'm glad that today we have reached a common understanding on many points and that our joint work is progressing."

FRANCE: PARIS, 28-29 January 2017: Migrant Constituent Assembly (Le Peuple Qui Manque, link):

"We will meet on the 28th and the 29th to collectively write a Migrant Constitution.

The Migrant Constituent Assembly is a negative community that cannot, by its definition, constitute itself as a Nation.

It is the assembly of a people which is missing. Emanating from this paradox statement, a « migrant constituent », what could be a constitution of a political subject that migrates.

An assembly which would be ordered by the community of the disappeared, of migrant and lost lives, on the Mediterranean sea - today the most lethal route of the 21st century-; yesterday being human trafficking in the Black Atlantic and the Middle Passage. An Assembly where the sea would be its missing soil and its language would be the translation itself as whispered to us by Camille de Toledo and Barbara Cassin."

EU: Re-Build Refuge Europe, a new project to counteract the discourses of crisis (European Alternatives, link):

"European Alternatives leads Re-Build Refuge Europe, a project that brings together partners from the UK, Sweden, Spain, Finland and Germany, and Greece. It aims to counteract the dominant discourses of ‘crisis’ and ‘threat’ by using art, culture and innovative practices allowing European citizens and refugees to learn from each other as equals. Activities of the project include storytelling, training and workshops for participants and the digital arts. The final results of the project will be exhibited and performed during the Athens Biennale 2017 and TRANSEUROPA Festival 2017 in Madrid."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.17)
Italy: A refugee has drowned while tourists laughed and told him to ‘go back home’ [VIDEO] (The Canary, link):

"Shocking footage has emerged of the moment a refugee drowned in Venice, Italy. The man, thought to be from Gambia, a country which has been on the brink of war, died in the icy waters of the Grand Canal. But instead of helping him, onlookers filmed, laughed and told him to “go back home”.
“Let him die”

The man, named as 22-year-old Gambian Pateh Sabally, died on Sunday 22 January. He got into difficulties in Venice’s Grand Canal as tourist boats went past. But onlookers didn’t care. They filmed the man’s last moments, and shouted abuse.

One person can be heard saying “He’s stupid. He wants to die”. Another said “Go on. Go back home”. Someone else said ““Let him die at this point”. And in the video people can be heard laughing."

And see: 'Let him die' shout onlookers as African refugee drowns in Venice's Grand Canal - The Gambian man was left to drown while passers-by filmed the incident (IBT, link):

"Italian magistrates have opened an investigation after a Gambian man drowned on 22 January in Venice's Grand Canal in front of onlookers who filmed the incident, laughing and shouting racist comments."

Brussels wants Schengen zone restored from mid-May, Germany sceptical (euractiv, link):

"The EU executive said yesterday (25 January) emergency border controls imposed within the bloc’s free-travel zone over the migration crisis should get a final three-month extension to mid-May, but Germany wants to keep them in place longer....

“We currently have temporary border controls in place. These are exceptional measures for an exceptional situation,” the bloc’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos said in proposing the extension. He made it clear, however, that he wanted to restore the chief achievement of European integration in full from then on: “It’s a question of three months to come back to normal.”

But Germany, which holds elections on 24 September in which immigration and security will be prominent issues, wants to be able to extend the measures for longer, diplomatic sources said.

With immigration into the European Union under tighter control than at the height of the crisis, that may be hard to justify. That is why Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, will today propose changing the legal justification for the border checks to security issues."

European Border and Coast Guard: Commission reports towards full operationalisation and recommends opening negotiations to allow deployments in Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Commission, link)

NGO says Czech police try to drive away asylum seekers (Prague Monitor, link);

"The Czech asylum system tries to discourage refugees from applying for asylum in the country and the immigration officers try to drive away the possible asylum seekers, according to the Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU), a Prague-seated NGO, daily Pravo writes yesterday.

In an international report released yesterday, OPU writes that Czech police officers working at Prague airport force refugees to board planes that would take them to the country from which they arrived or they imprison the refugees, the paper writes. The immigration office dismissed this. It says many refugees produce false IDs and when they end up in prison, they start claiming their right to asylum."

Eurotunnel: Death at the fences, profits for Goldman Sachs (Calais Research, link):

"At least 15 people were killed in or around the channel tunnel in 2015. Some were electrocuted, some run over by trains, some chased by police into traffic near the entrance. All these deaths were a direct result of people trying to get past the intensive security put in place by Eurotunnel, funded by the British and French governments, to stop them reaching England.

Responding to these deaths, Eurotunnel apologised for the inconvenience caused to its passengers. Its boss Jacques Gounon explained that the migrants dying at his door are “very far from poor unfortunates who seek refuge in England and have a right to a humanitarian approach”, but instead are “veritable commandos, well coordinated” who seek “to make politics and destabilise the government.”....

in 2015 Eurotunnel, which runs the tunnel under a concession lasting until 2086, made a €100 million profit. €97 million of this was paid out as a dividend and handed straight to its shareholders, international investment firms led by major shareholder and creditor Goldman Sachs. Despite this record year, Eurotunnel is demanding millions more in compensation from the governments for “lost earnings” due to the “migrant crisis”."

Athens, Greece: Photos & statement from the intervention at the Immigration Directorate on Petrou Ralli Street (Insurrection News, link):

"Following the vindictive transfer of imprisoned immigrants to the jail of the Immigration Directorate on Petrou Ralli street, on the afternoon of Friday 20th of January, around 150 comrades carried through an intervention outside the building."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.1.17)
Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

On Thursday there will be an Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Malta under the Maltese Council Presidency. Among the issues under discussion will be the latest attempt to end the movement of refugees into Libya and then on to Italy. This is set out in a Joint Communication from the Commission and the EEAS (European External Action Service): Migration on the Central Mediterranean route, Managing flows, saving lives (JOIN 4-17,pdf)

While Commission President Juncker recognises that: "First and foremost, stability in Libya and the region as a whole is required" most plans are already known. Two new initiatives are speeding up the introduction of the "Seahorse Mediterranean Network" and sending in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission to strengthen Libya's southern border controls. Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route – Commission contributes to Malta discussion (Press release, pdf)

EU: Commission: Back to Schengen: Commission proposes that the Council allows Member States to maintain temporary controls for another three months (Press release, pdf):

"Brussels, 25 January 2017: European Commission: The European Commission has today recommended the Council allows Member States to maintain the temporary controls currently in place at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway for a further period of three months."

And see Proposal for: Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 40-16,pdf)

EU looks to limit migration from Libya (euractiv, link):

"After blocking the main migrant route from the Middle East, the EU will this week seek ways to check a feared spring surge from Libya and North Africa across the Mediterranean.

The European Union lacks a reliable partner in chaotic Libya, the launchpad for almost all migrant crossings over the central Mediterranean, while some African governments along the trail north have been reluctant to cooperate, EU sources and experts said."

And see: No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission (euobserver, link)

Are You Syrious (24.1.17, link)

Greece: Arrivals

"With 94 official registrations until this morning (51 on Lesvos and 43 on other islands), more than 1000 (1063) people have officially arrived on the Eastern Aegean islands since the beginning of the year, an average of 44 per day."

CROATIA; AYS and the ‘Welcome’ Initiative demanding responsibility from the Croatian police

"The Welcome Initiative and Are You Syrious have urged the Croatian police to stop forcibly and unlawfully turning back refugees from Croatia, to investigate such cases and take disciplinary action against those responsible, and to allow expelled refugees wishing to seek asylum in Croatia to return."

Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): The impact of the proposal for a revised Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights (link):

"The European Parliament asked the Agency to provide its Opinion on the fundamental rights impact of the proposed revision of the Eurodac Regulation on children."

See: The impact of the proposal for a revised: Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (pdf)

EU-Afghanistan: Why the European Union Shouldn’t Deport Afghans - Putting Lives at Risk in Kabul (HRW, link):

"Germany and other EU member states should stop deporting rejected Afghan asylum seekers until it is clear how the Afghan government copes with Pakistan’s mass forced return of refugees. They should not detain Afghans but instead grant them the most favorable status possible under national law.

Returning desperate Afghan asylums seekers to conflict and crisis is not just inhumane, it will add to the instability that drove them to flee in the first place."

See also: Second collective deportation of rejected asylum seekers from Germany arrives in Afghanistan (DW, link): "A group of rejected Afghan asylum seekers deported from Germany has landed in Kabul following protests Monday night at Frankfurt Airport. More than 100 people gathered to demonstrate against the forced repatriations."

Frontex, the European Union and deportations (Exiles in Calais and at the British border, link):

" the European agency Frontex has announced the constitution of a “deportation pool ” With 690 staff members to assist the EU Member States in organizing more effectively the deportations of foreigners.

The priority of this pool will be to increase deportations from Italy and Greece, the two main countries of entry into the European Union."

See: Frontex Press release (link)

Greece: “The snow ruined our international image” – but what about the refugees? (Welcome2Lesvos, link): "The snow is melting on Lesvos. Life goes on, but I am afraid that it will be ice cold, even in summer."

w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece! (link):

"‘One step forward, hundreds back…’ seems to be the motto under which EU experts implement refugee policy, as currently also demonstrated in Greece. "

Thousands of refugee children sleeping rough in sub-zero Serbia, says UN - Refugee facilities in Belgrade, where it is -15C, have been described as ‘worse than the jungle in Calais’ by aid workers (Guardian, link):

"Hundreds of new refugees and migrants, many of them children, are arriving in Serbia every day despite the prospect of sleeping rough in sub-zero temperatures and reports of violent treatment, Save the Children has said, as it calls on the EU to do more to help.

The EU-Turkey deal, which was supposed to stem the flow of refugees arriving in Europe by boat, has meant many refugees are being forced to take a deadlier land route to cross the Balkans, with children as young as eight experiencing harsh weather conditions, dog bites and violent treatment by police and smugglers.

Spain sees 500 southern border crossing attempts in a month (New Europe, link):

"Spanish police say migrants have attempted close to 500 illegal border crossings in just one month by trying to hide on passenger and cargo boats landing on its southern coast."

Greece: Island mayors ask PM for transfer of migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The mayors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros on Monday jointly presented their demands for measures to ease severe overcrowding at migrant reception centers on their islands during a meeting in Athens with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.....

However, though the sources described the mayors’ demands as “logical,” it remained unclear what action, if any, the government plans to respond with."

Refugee winter crisis: Serbia accused of illegal mass deportations - Rights groups say government is complicit in 'pushbacks' of refugees to Macedonia and Bulgaria, including families dumped in forests (Middle East Eye, link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.1.17)
EU: Becoming adult: Child mobility in the EU’s refugee crisis: What are the data gaps and why do they matter? (pdf) by Nando Sigona and Rachel Humphris:

"Child migration into Europe is diverse and often invisible in data and policy. Legal definitions, bureaucratic practices, rights and entitlements of child migrants vary across European states. While some segments of this population are visible in public debate and datasets, especially unaccompanied asylum seeking children, others are hardly visible, particularly dependent children to asylum seeking parents and undocumented children."

Via: University of Oxford: Border Criminologies (link)

And see a previous, more detailed paper by the authors: Global Migration Data Analysis Centre: Children and unsafe migration in Europe: Data and policy, understanding the evidence base (September 2016, pdf)

EU-MALTA: Schengen: Malta reintroducing border controls for high-level political summits on migration in February

The government of Malta is reintroducing controls at the country's air and sea borders between 21 January and 9 February, to "ensure internal security is maintained" for two high-level political summits focusing on migration that will be hosted by Malta as part of its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

See: Reintroduction of temporary border controls at the Maltese air and sea borders (20 January 2017, 5206/17, unclassified, pdf)

EU: Missing migrant children: new campaign urges ministers to take action

"Last year, a record number of refugees and migrants came to Europe. They came from situations of extreme poverty, violence, war, abuse. Once in Europe, they were gathered in overpopulated camps and reception centers across the continent, living conditions are often horrible.

And while the media shows us images of refugees and migrants, we gradually stopped noticing the most vulnerable among them. The group that politicians hardly mention and who are literally only a footnote in the European Agenda on Migration… the children. So, with a simple Facebook campaign we ask people to ‘Mention the Unmentioned’.

By commenting on facebook posts of portraits of refugee and migrant children, people can mention their minister and put pressure on them to finally face children like Gulwali, Ali and Layal. Find your minister here."

See: ‘Mention The Unmentioned’ urges ministers to take action for refugee children (link)

GREECE: How One Man Made Greece a More Welcoming Place for Refugees (Open Society Foundations, link):

A short film from the Open Society Foundations on Vasilis Tsartsanis' efforts to help refugees in Greece: "A group of people walking through the fields caught Vasilis Tsartsanis’s eye as he passed the railroad that connects Greece to the rest of the Balkans. It was a warm September day in 2014, outside the small, usually quiet town of Idomeni. He stopped to watch. Another group passed by. Then a third group, who told him about a crossing that, one year later, would come to exemplify Europe’s refugee emergency.

Tsartsanis didn’t have to think long about what he should do. He ran and got some food, water, and clothes for the migrants. Long before international organizations and donors turned their attention to Idomeni, Tsartsanis and other locals were there offering their help.

Tsartsanis didn’t stop at handing out emergency supplies. He started writing to politicians and authorities, advocating on behalf of the refugees whose stories he knew better than most. He was soon invited to address the European Parliament. He talked to major media outlets.

He didn’t have a large organization behind him or a dedicated advocacy team—perhaps that was his strength. He was a local who was helping people in his area. He enjoyed the trust of his community. Tsartsanis now regularly organizes missions for members of parliament and EU governments to Greece’s camps and has been active in efforts to relocate refugees to other countries."

ITALY-ETHIOPIA: Caritas supports humanitarian corridor for Horn of Africa refugees (Caritas, link):

"Italy is opening a humanitarian corridor for refugees from Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia with the support of Caritas. An agreement with the Italian government was signed last week.

The women, men and children will come from refugee camps in Ethiopia. Once in Italy, Caritas will help the refugees through the project “Protetto. Rifugiato a casa mia” (Protected: a refugee in my home) which is in its third year of helping house refugees with members of local communities in Italy."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.1.17)
EU-Turkey deal: Ombudsman says that Commission must do more to assess human rights impact

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly has today issued a decision (pdf) that says the European Commission must undertake a more thorough assessment of the human rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, which could be done by including a section on human rights in its future progress reports on the implementation of the deal.

MEDITERRANEAN: Malta wants EU-Libyan patrols to stop boat migrants (Malta Today, link):

"The Maltese government has presented home affairs ministers of the EU with a “non-paper” – diplomatic-speak for a political memo – calling for joint patrols with the Libyan navy in a bid to stop the influx of migrants through the Central Mediterranean route.

Malta has assumed the presidency of the European Union and is currently tasked with the delicate bid to push the reform of the Dublin Regulation, which forces EU member states to process any asylum claims presented at their borders.

In its aide-memoire to European member states, Malta has proposed placing European coast guard patrols just outside the extensive Libyan coast, in joint patrols with Libyan counterparts, who will then take intercepted migrant boats back to Libyan shores."

See also: EU needs Turkish-style migration deal with Libya - Maltese PM (Reuters, link) and more detail on EU-Libya cooperation to date: European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link)

SERBIA: Migrants face freezing temperatures as they struggle to get to the EU (Vice, link):

"BELGRADE, Serbia — In the gloom of an abandoned warehouse, a weary-looking Pakistani man named Hayat Ali shivers in a blanket, comforting a sick friend lying at his side. Meters away, children as young as nine crowd around an open fire, their faces and clothes filthy. Outside, the ground is blanketed with snow. The temperature has dropped as low as 3ºF in recent days.

This scene is not playing out on the fringes of a disaster or war zone, but in the heart of a European capital. Since 2015, when the migration crisis began to hit, camps like this have sprung up across the continent from Greece to France, crowded with desperate migrants enduring wretched conditions in their quest to reach a better life in Europe."

EU: Refugees: MEPs demand emergency winter aid and transfers to other EU countries (press release, pdf):

"EU and national authorities should provide emergency aid to help migrants and refugees to cope with freezing temperatures and snow in several parts of Europe, MEPs urged on Wednesday. They also called on EU governments to keep their promises to transfer thousands of asylum-seekers, particularly from Greece, to other countries."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.17)
Italy: New CIEs and the repatriation of foreigners: ASGI statement on the Chief of Police's circular (pdf):

"ASGI is disconcerted and expresses deep concern for the circular issued by the interior ministry on 30.12.2016 concerning activities to repatriate irregular foreigners and the programme to reopen CIEs (Centres for identification and expulsion), apart from the Government’s desire to strike new bilateral readmission agreements and to reform the norms on the right to asylum in a restrictive direction."

The text of the chief of police’s circular of 30 December 2016 (10/01/2017): "Activity to track down irregular foreign citizens in the national territory for the purpose of repatriation."

Are You Syrious (18.1.17, link)

EU member states want to send refugees back to Greece but not relocate them from there

"While EU member states want to start sending back refugees to Greece under the Dublin agreement by March, they are slow to accept relocation and family reunion requests."

Dublin deportations yes, promised relocations no

"In 2016 the Greek Asylum Service registered 51,091 applications for international protection. Additionally there are approximately 15,000 applications for full registration which will be completed in 2017. “Relocation remains the big challenge. As of 27 December, the Asylum Service had registered 21,431 applications from individuals who were eligible to participate in the program, while it had received 13,634 pledges from other EU Member-States,” the Asylum Service reports.

There are 9000 individuals who are ready for relocation but no host country has been found yet. While the acceptance of the request should only take up to ten working days in reality it needs up to six months. “While Greece has sent to other Member-States 13,345 requests, 10,712 of these have been accepted and only 7,000 individuals have departed from Greece. There are serious delays even after the acceptance of outgoing requests for relocation.” The Asylum Service is blaming the other EU member states for not setting up sufficient reception places and then requesting the postponement of the transfer.

On the other hand these EU member states want to go back to the Dublin agreement in March and send back refugees to Greece to run through the asylum process there. Indeed the asylum process can, and in most cases assumably will, include an application for relocation. Already in 2016 Greece’s Dublin Unit received 4,415 requests to return protection seekers but only three were sent back to Greece."

See: Ministry of Migration Policy: The work of the Asylum Service in 2016 (pdf) and: Statistical Data of the Greek Asylum Service (1.1.2016 -31.12.2016) (pdf)

"The winter of our shame", Strasbourg, 18 January 2017 Barbara Spinelli MEP (GUE/NGL) intervened during the plenary session of the European Parliament regarding the declarations by the Council and the Commission on emergency assistance for refugees and migrants who are facing adverse climatic conditions in European refugee camps

"I ask myself how many asylum seekers will have to die due to the cold, in this winter of our shame.

I ask the Commission to listen to Amnesty and the refugees' Community Leaders in Moria. For migrants on the islands to be moved to the mainland, in places other than camps without electricity nor water. The EU-Turkey agreement does not envisage that the returns should be from the islands, as Erdogan wants. In these conditions, refugees should not be sent back to Italy and Greece on the basis of the Dublin system.

Finally, let's tell ourselves that this is not a crisis of refugees. It is the collapse of our asylum policies, those of relocation, family reunification, and respect for the right to life. Dear Commissioner Stylianides, such a cold winter was not unpredictable. Alongside the refugees of Moria, I ask for an end to the deportations of the most vulnerable people to Turkey, and for all the procedural guarantees to which the applicants have a right to be guaranteed.""

See also: European Parliament:
Refugees: MEPs demand emergency winter aid and transfers to other EU countries (Press release, pdf):

"EU and national authorities should provide emergency aid to help migrants and refugees to cope with freezing temperatures and snow in several parts of Europe, MEPs urged on Wednesday. They also called on EU governments to keep their promises to transfer thousands of asylum-seekers, particularly from Greece, to other countries.

Several speakers called the plight of refugees in the Greek islands, but also in other countries like Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, “unacceptable” and some asked how many people have to die of cold before the EU reacts. Many MEPs underlined that only 6% of the 160,000 asylum-seekers who should have been relocated from Greece and Italy have so far been moved.""

Fivefold increase in number of EU citizens held in UK detention centres since Tories took power (Independent, link):

"Some detained for losing their ID card or holding a birthday party in a park - prompting claims the Government is seeking to deter others from moving to Britain.

The sharp rise has led to concerns the Government is trying to “spread anxiety” among people from EU countries living in the UK, in an effort to deter others from moving to Britain.

In 2015, the last full year for which Home Office data is available, 3,699 EU citizens were detained under immigration powers – 11.4 per cent of all detainees – while in 2009 just 768 were detained, 2.7 per cent of the total."

See: National Statistics - Detention: December (link)

Migration: How to stop the rising tide of death in Mediterranean (MSF, link):

"By Jens Pagotto, Head of Médecins Sans Frontières mission in Libya and its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean.

The number of people who have died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean has reached an all-time high and is becoming comparable to what Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is used to seeing in war zones. The UN Migration Agency (IOM) recorded at least 5,079 deaths last year.

The actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher. We have no idea how many dinghies overloaded with terrified passengers set sail from Libya in the direction of Italy each day and how many of them sink without trace before they reach busy shipping lanes in the Mediterranean or call for help. Under international maritime law, all vessels in the area, whether commercial ships, military warships or rescue boats operated by charities such as MSF must provide assistance and take the rescued to a place of safety. "

The big freeze – Paris. Police destroying tents and taking blankets from people sleeping out in sub-zero temperatures (EXODUS, link):

"The police had taken all of the bedding (provided by us and other aid groups) from a slightly sheltered sleeping area and put it out in rain…

Please give what you can so that we can purchase waterproof Bivvy bags and keep up with the French authorities’ destruction – www.gofundme.com/prgsdonate

As the temperatures plummet at – 7 at night, the situation is getting very tough in Paris where many thousands refugees and other migrants are stranded. Several hundreds are sleeping in the streets, and the plan for the extreme cold does not seem to be working. No place to go during the day either, for most! They are out in the cold all day. The situation at the official camp getting chaotic, people who have been in the queue all night hoping to get registered start pushing when refused access because the number has been reached (50 new people per day only), and are repressed by police."

Luxembourg foreign minister tells EU to take refugee obligations seriously (euractiv, link): "The European Union cannot ignore the images of freezing refugees and must implement its redistribution programme, according to Luxembourg’s foreign minister. "

European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link):

"The Libyan navy and the coastguard under its authority are being groomed as gatekeepers of Fortress Europe. Even a migration partnership is under discussion.

Since the forcible regime change in 2011, the European Union has been supporting what it calls reform of the security sector in Libya. Its policy is based on the Berlusconi motto of ‘more oil, less migrants’. The new Libyan Government of National Accord scarcely exercises any control outside Tripoli."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.1.17)
EU: Maltese leader calls for deal on Med migrants (ekathimerini.com, link)

"The head of the European Union's presidency is urging member countries to consider opening up humanitarian corridors to allow people fleeing conflict to cross the Mediterranean."

Greece: Far-right MP storms Athens school over refugee classes (aljazeera.com, link): "Golden Dawn politician and his far-right supporters threaten staff for plans to offer classes to refugee children."

Are You Syrious (link):

Police violence (see Feature)

"A number of accounts of police violence and abuse in the border areas of Serbia’s neighboring countries have been reaching us lately. Although it has been a known subject for a while now, it was is the recent days that we received some disturbing documentation, photos and stories from people who have been beaten, abused and violated by the police officers of the border areas of Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and Macedonia."

CROATIA: Croatia keeps ‘losing’ unaccompanied minors

"How is it possible that dozens of refugee minors disappear from child care centres and everyone keeps quiet about it? Are You Syrious has sent an open letter to the responsible Ministries and child care institutions in Croatia, urging them to immediately start working on providing a better care system for unaccompanied refugee minors in Croatia, who are places in social care centres like child care facilities and special educational centres in the country."

Frontex boosts deportation programs (News That Moves, link):

"The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) has launched a new initiative Turkey or their countries of origin. The force will largely act in emergencies, assisting EU member-states, which will retain final decisions regarding asylum claims and deportation. European Union Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the program is essential for “reducing incentives for illegal immigration.” Frontex has coordinated the return of 10 700 migrants in 232 return operations in 2016."

UK: Deporting EU Rough Sleepers to Prevent Homelessness? (One Small Window, link):

"Homelessness and adequate housing are global crises of the twenty first century. The obvious manifestation of this is rough sleeping. According to the latest UK government statistics*, 3569 rough sleepers were counted in England in the autumn of 2015 alone, an increase of 30% on the same quarter in the previous year. This is more than double the number of rough sleepers estimated in the same period in 2010.

In London, over half of rough sleepers are foreign nationals, mainly from other European states, particularly Central and Eastern European states. In 2010, European Economic Area nationals (EEA: European Union + Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) made up 28% of rough sleepers."

EU-TURKEY: UNHCR cannot monitor the rights of people returned under EU-Turkey deal

"What did the European Commission forget to tell us about the returnees of the EU-Turkey Deal?

So finally UNHCR stated formally, very quietly unfortunately, that has no unimpeded access to the returned refugees to Turkey and cannot monitor the returns under the EU-Turkey deal in any effective manner. In short they haven’t seen much of the returned refugees."

EU: DG Justice: Links between migration and discrimination: A legal analysis of the situation in EU Member States (pdf):

"This report, an update of a report initially published in 2009, aims to describe the links between nationality and protection from discrimination under EU and international law as well as in the domestic legal systems of EU Member States. Protection from discrimination should be seen as a key component of the current strategies for the integration of third-country nationals, which the European Commission pledged to support in the Action Plan it announced in June 2016.1 Such strategies are particularly important today, as the situation of the 20 million third-country nationals living in the EU-28 Member States, representing about 4 % of the total population of the EU, has been figuring prominently in the public debate, and as the European Union has witnessed a significant rise in the inflow of refugees since 2015."

EU: Council of Europe: Human Rights Commissioner: Slovenia: Parliament must ensure that legislative reform on migrants complies with human rights obligations (link):

"Slovenian parliamentarians should reject amendments to the Aliens Act that are contrary to international human rights and refugee protection standards by which Slovenia is bound”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the President of the National Assembly of Slovenia.

Two of the proposed amendments recently introduced by the Government would allow the police to refuse entry into Slovenia and to arrest and summarily return foreigners who entered the country irregularly, even if they express the intention to apply for asylum in Slovenia. The parliament could activate these measures for a renewable 6-month period in case of a change of the migration situation in Slovenia that “threatens public order and internal security."

See: Letter (pdf)

IDMC-Norwegian Refugee Council: Africa Report on internal displacement (pdf):

"Conflict, violence and disasters force millions of Africans from their homes, communities and livelihoods each year, and initial figures for 2016 suggest this year will be no different."

Surge of African migrants brave Latin America jungle trek for U.S. dream (Thomson Reuters, link): "As Europe tightens its borders, growing surge of people from Africa seek new routes to flee poverty, war and persecution."

And see: African migration: trends, patterns, drivers (link)

Drones, dogs and fences: The security ‘shepherds’ guarding Europe's borders: "Europe's frontiers are being fortified and militarised in response to the refugee crisis - and business for border security firms is booming."

Greece: Ministry Refugee Statistics (17.1.17)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.1.17)
TURKEY: 2016 border security measures included 330 km of walls (Hurriyet Daily News, link):

"Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers (205 miles) of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14.

According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers (119 miles) of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security.

The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria."

FRANCE: Migration: collective manifesto marks start of new campaign against the "solidarity offence" as government maintains border controls until July

Over 100 trade unions and local and national associations across France have signed a new manifesto that calls for an end to the "solidarity offence" and denounces the trials of "activists who are only helping people in very precarious situations, victims of dangerous, violent and even inhuman decisions," such as the farmer Cédric Herrou, who was recently tried for aiding illegal arrivals after helping people cross the border from Italy to France.

EU: Refugee crisis: More than 100 asylum seekers drown as boat sinks in the Mediterranean Sea (The Independent, link):

"More than 100 refugees have drowned after a boat sank in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The Italian Navy was searching for survivors from the vessel, which was believed to be carrying up to 110 people.

Only four survivors were pulled from the water, with at least eight bodies found so far.

Flavio Di Giacomo, from the International Organisation for Migration, told The Independent around 106 people were thought to have died and described the conditions at sea as "extremely bad"."

EU: Why the world fears refugees (narrated by Zygmunt Bauman) (Al Jazeera on YouTube, link):

"Zygmunt Bauman, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, says many Europeans' fear of refugees boils down to the idea of the “precariat” - people whose lives are marked by precariousness, anxiety and fear."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Court orders re-opening of 'El Tarajal' case into deaths in the waters around Ceuta

A court in Cádiz, southern Spain, has ordered the re-opening of the 'El Tarajal' case regarding 15 people who drowned in February 2015 after attempting to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea and were repelled with rubber bullets and smoke grenades by officers from the Guardia Civil.

AFRICA: Available evidence contradicts assumptions about African migrations

An important article by Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas:

"Africa is often seen as a continent of mass migration and displacement caused by poverty, violent conflict and environmental stress. Yet such perceptions are based on stereotypes rather than theoretically informed empirical research. Drawing on the migration and visa databases from the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG project) and the Global Bilateral Migration Database (GBMD), this paper explores the evolution and drivers of migration within, towards and from Africa in the post-colonial period. Contradicting common ideas of Africa as a ‘continent on the move’, the analysis shows that intra-African migration intensities have gone down. This may be related to state formation and the related imposition of barriers towards free movement in the wake of decolonisation as well as the concomitant rise of nationalism and inter-state tensions. While African migration remains overwhelmingly intra-continental, since the late 1980s there has been an acceleration and spatial diversification (beyond colonial patterns) of emigration out of Africa to Europe, North America, the Gulf and Asia. This diversification of African emigration seems partly driven by the introduction of visa and other immigration restrictions by European states. Contradicting conventional interpretations of African migration being essentially driven by poverty, violence and underdevelopment, increasing migration out of Africa seems rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ capabilities and aspirations to migrate, a trend which is likely to continue in the future." (emphasis added)

See: African migration: trends, patterns, drivers (pdf)

EU: Malta Presidency of the Council: opinion piece by Maltese interior minister

"It is evident that this presidency is seen as a window of opportunity to reach common, tangible goals in the field of migration. The fact that Malta, given its geographical position in the Mediterranean Sea, has been at the forefront of the migration crisis for so many years, makes us a credible, honest broker in this area.

Achieving progress in discussions on such matters between 28 Member States, all with their own different histories, cultures, realities and political agendas, is quite a tall order. Still, I am optimistic that, if we really want to, we can reach a consensus on a common, effective and equitable way forward. We owe it to our citizens: the very future of the EU depends on the decisions, as Member States, we will take in the coming few months.

We have a very specific priority: to arrive at an agreement on a comprehensive approach to migration. During these six months, my ministry is tasked with carrying forward work on the seven migration and asylum-related proposals that are on the table."

See: Realistic optimists at the helm (Times of Malta, link)

And: 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union Priorities (pdf)

SERBIA: These Refugees Are Suffering Through Freezing Conditions In Serbia (BuzzFeed, link):

"Thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are enduring “appalling” conditions in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and have been left camped in temperatures that have dropped well below freezing, aid groups have said.

Serbia is currently hosting an estimated 7,200 refugees, according to the UNHCR. Although the majority are being sheltered in government-run camps, aid workers estimate that around 2,000 are still on the streets or sheltering in an abandoned warehouse behind the main bus station in Belgrade."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-15.1.17)
Statewatch Analysis: Eighth report on relocation and resettlement: Commission welcomes increase in relocations and ignores harmful systematic effects (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

In the eighth report on relocation and resettlement published on 8 December 2016, the Commission continued to welcome developments which are degrading Europe to ensure that the “emergency” its policies and the dysfunctional Schengen/Dublin system have predictably caused persists, particularly in frontline Mediterranean states (Greece and Italy). Over a year after the start of implementation of the EU Agenda on Migration, the EU Action Plan on Migrations and in particular the roll-out of the hotspot approach in Italy and Greece, mounting evidence shows that far from assisting frontline states, they are being punished for shortcomings in implementing a dysfunctional model designed to penalise them.

EU-MALI: Two returnees sent back to France as Mali rejects EU laissez-passer document

On 29 December 2016, the Malian government produced a statement announcing its refusal to recognise the validity of the EU laissez-passer document used to return two of its citizens, who were sent back to France following their arrival in Bamako on 28 December 2016. The Malian authorities also invited air carriers to refrain from transporting its citizens on the basis of recognition of the validity of such documents, noting that they will be made to fly them back to Europe.

GREECE: 102 refugees land in Lesvos on Sunday (Eric Kempson, link):

"Two boats landed today on the north coast Lesvos first boat had 59 people on board and were taken to Moria camp in the south, The second boat had 43 people on board every one ok they will stay at skala Sykaminia tonight at stage two, we are expecting more boats the dirt track is very bad, great job by every one involved on both boats in very difficult conditions."

Opinion: Then it will no longer be my Europe: Europe would not be what it is today had it not taken in millions of refugees in the past (DW, link) by Krsto Lazarevic (27) was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina and fled to Germany with his family as a child. Today he lives in Berlin:

"For years we have watched as one of the greatest refugee catastrophes since the end of the Second World War has built up in Syria, just a few hundred kilometers from Europe's external border. And we have acted as if it only affected adjacent neighbor states. When - 26 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall - a crack opened in the European fortress, fences were quickly erected: in the heart of Europe and even between EU member states. That was the first step towards getting rid of Europe....

And now Europe is in danger of falling apart because member states with 510 million citizens cannot come to an agreement on how to deal with 2 million refugees? Even though there are more than 65 million refugees in the world? If we allow that to happen, then much of what was achieved after the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall will be lost. Then it will no longer be my Europe."

Italy: Large-scale expansion of detention centres for tougher migration control (ECRE, link):

"Following Italy’s change of government, a Circular outlining a stricter policy on migration control by the Head of the Italian Police was distributed to police authorities across Italy. One of the measures was large-scale use of detention to control irregular migration and promote returns to third countries.

The Circular echoes the latest position of the Ministry of Interior, which has committed to an expansion of detention centres (CIE) with reference to a target of one CIE in every Italian region. At the end of 2015, 7 CIE were operational across the country according to the Roadmap on Relocation."

GREECE: Lesvos: Moria: Refugees, migrants reluctant to get on ship board or move to hotels (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Refugees and migrants at the hot spot of Moria seem reluctant to be provisionally hosted on bord of the Greek Navy ship deployed for his purpose or to move to hotels leased by the UN Refugees Agency UNHCR.

So far, only 61 migrants, all males, have accepted the offer and went on board of “Lesvos”, the Greek Navy ship deployed to host refugees and migrants from the hot spot of Moria....

There are currently 400 beds available for refugees and migrants families in hotel and rooms to rent facilities leased by the UNHCR. Only just over 200 people have moved in from Moria. alone yesterday 15 of them.

Refugees and immigrants are reluctant also to move to the ‘shelters’ when they realize that they are a couple of kilometers away from the hot spot. They fear there could be delays in their asylum procedure. 25 people reportedly returned to Moria on Thursday when they realized the leased facilities were 10 km away."

HUNGARY: Alien police detention must be reinstated (Prime Ministers' Office, link)

"The Government has decided to reinstate alien police detention, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference...

The Minister referred to the increased threat of terrorism and security risks as the reason for the measure, and in his evaluation, the pressure of migration weighing upon Hungary may increase in 2017. The Government asked the Interior Minister to make the necessary preparations for reinstating alien police custody urgently."

GREECE: Lesvos mayor grants prize money to two fishermen who saved hundreds at sea (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Authorities on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos have announced that the money from the 2016 Olof Palme prize awarded to its mayor and his counterpart in Lampedusa in Italy, will be used to help two heroic fishermen whose boats sank under the weight of last week’s heavy snowfall.

Fishermen Kostas Pinteris and Thanassis Marmarinos are known around the world for having saved hundreds of refugees and migrants from drowning in the Aegean.

“The prize money belongs to the citizens of Lesvos,” said Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos, who received the award on Wednesday, adding that the humanity displayed by the two men set an example to the entire world.""

UNHCR calls for help for refugees facing European winter freeze (Link): "The UN Refugee Agency urges governments to do more to help and protect refugees and migrants battling freezing temperatures in Europe."

Aid workers say only four survivors recovered so far after vessel containing about 110 people overturned near Libya (The Observer, link):

"A migrant ship carrying around 100 people capsized in the frigid waters off Libya on Saturday and only four survivors had been rescued after hours of searching, aid groups have said.

Eight bodies were recovered, but poor conditions hampered the search, which was conducted 30 miles (50km) off Libya’s coast, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. Flavio di Giacomo, Rome spokesman for the International Organisation of Migration, said four of the estimated 110 people on board had been rescued."

Non-refoulement: Is part of the EU’s qualification Directive invalid? (EU Law Analysis, link):

"The absolute character of the principle of non-refoulement – the ban on removal to an unsafe country – is widely acknowledged. Still, there is confusion and insecurity on this point with regard to the Qualification Directive, which defines how to determine if someone enjoys refugee or subsidiary protection status within the EU. "


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.1.17)
EU-AFRICA: Report demonstrates priority given by EU to migration control in the Sahel

The work of the EU and its Member States to try to limit the "unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants coming through the Sahel to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in order to travel to Europe" are outlined in a recent joint report by the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the implementation of the EU's Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) between April 2015 and August 2016.

See: Annual Report on the Sahel Regional Action Plan (pdf)

EU: Malta PM wants Turkey-style migrant deals with other Med countries (EurActiv, link):

"Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday (12 January) that he will push to replicate the deal struck with Turkey last year to defuse the refugee time bomb in Northern Africa.

“There is an appetite now at EU level, including Chancellor Merkel, to replicate the Turkey deal in the central Mediterranean. Not in the sense of the same agreement on paper, but rather on breaking the business model of human traffickers,” said Muscat.

(...)

“We all know that we cannot place Turkey and Libya on the same level. Turkey has a very solid government and bodies, maybe too solid, but it’s a state. Libya is on the brink of becoming a failed state,” Muscat said.

The accord could be a basis on which to build a full-fledged EU-Libya agreement. “There should be a political signal from the EU that it is ready to engage with Libya,” the Maltese premier insisted." (emphasis added)

SPAIN: Coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs demand clarification of potential push backs of over thousand people at Spanish-Moroccan border (ECRE, link):

"A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco."

And see: Spain: Collective expulsions at the Moroccan border (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 13/01/17 – EuroMed Rights deplores and condemns the attitude of the Spanish authorities who refused entry to the individuals attempting to enter in Ceuta from Morocco on the night of 31 December without conducting a prior examination of their situation. The migrants were systematically turned away and were not given access to individualized asylum-seeker procedures."

Serbia needs to investigate asylum seekers push backs (Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, link):

"On Sunday 18th of December, the very day in which the World Migrants Days is observed, the Serbian organization InfoPark , a refugee support centre active in downtown Belgrade reported an attempted illegal push back of a Syrian family at the border with Bulgaria. The case involved a group of 7 migrants, among which a 2-years old child.=

The group was riding on a regular bus heading to Bosilegrad - a small town in Southern Serbia - where, as recommended them by the authorities in Belgrade, they would have registered in one of the refugee camps to spend there their time before being able to cross to Hungary. Indeed, the family was regularly registered in the country, as confirmed by the documents in their possession, proving their expression of interest to seek asylum in Serbia.

But they never made it to their final destination: in the proximity of Vladicin Han, a southern town not far from the border with Bulgaria, they were forced to get off the bus. As reported by the InfoPark staff, the family was evicted from the bus by a mixed unity of police and military personnel, part of mixed patrols operate since July, when the government decided to set up joint patrols operating on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. Their documents were confiscated, and then they were driven with another vehicle somewhere closer to the Bulgarian border, before being abandoned there, in the middle of the night, with a temperature of minus 11 degrees."

Hungary plans automatic detention of asylum seekers (EUobserver, link):

"Hungary is planning automatic detention of all asylum seekers until their asylum procedure is completed due to an increased terrorist threat, a senior minister said Thursday. They would not be allowed to leave transit zones designated for migrants. Under EU law, detention is only for exceptional cases. Last year, a gay Iranian refugee won a case against Hungary at the European court in Strasbourg for being incarcerated for 58 days."

Germany to return refugees to Greece starting in March (Al Jazeera, link):

"Germany has decided to start returning newly arrived asylum seekers to Greece starting in mid-March, according to an interior ministry spokesperson, effectively reversing a five-year suspension of such transfers owing to the poor conditions there.

(...)

A German interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that Germany would reinstate the Dublin rule in two months' time and return newly-arrived asylum seekers to their first EU port of call.

"In line with the recommendation from the European Commission, Germany believes that such transfers will be possible from March 15," said the spokesman, Tobias Plate."

See: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 8.12.2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf)

30 Syrian refugees returned to Turkey from Greece (BT.com, link):

"Almost 30 Syrian refugees who had their initial bids for asylum in Greece rejected have been returned to Turkey.

Greek officials said the 17 men, four women and six children were flown from the island of Lesbos to Adana on Thursday.

Under a deal struck last March between the European Union and Turkey, migrants reaching the Greek islands from Turkey are returned unless they can prove they merit asylum in Greece.

More than 800 people have now been returned under the agreement, while about 23,000 new arrivals have reached the Greek islands."

IRELAND: New asylum application process comes into effect (The Irish Times, link):

"New procedures to speed up applications for asylum, which have just come into effect in Ireland, should significantly cut the length of time asylum-seekers spend in direct provision centres.

The move means Ireland will join other European Union member states in having a streamlined process for assessing asylum applications.

Until now asylum-seekers had to navigate a multilayered process that often led to long stays in direct provision awaiting decisions.

Under the new “single procedure” system, asylum-seekers will make one application, which they may appeal once."

And: Ireland – New International Protection Act commenced: A single procedure and restricted family reunification (ECRE, link):

"Secondly, Ireland has changed family reunification rights. Before, there were two categories: an automatic right to reunion with children and spouses, once identity was established and a discretionary category for other family members such as elderly parents or siblings where dependency on the person in Ireland could be established. This discretionary category has now been abolished. In addition, the right now only exists for 12 months following from a declaration of refugee status or subsidiary protection."

EU-TURKEY: Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Commission Reports on Progress in Fifth Steering Committee (European Commission press release, pdf):

"Today, the Steering Committee of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey met in Brussels for the fifth time gathering the European Commission, EU Member State representatives, and representatives of Turkey. Chairing the Committee, the European Commission reported on progress made to date including the signature of contracts worth over €200 million for the construction and equipping of school buildings for refugee children and their host communities, as well as on the increasing humanitarian support to the refugees through the Emergency Social Safety Net."

Slovenia Aliens Act Proposal Worries Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Slovenian government backed an amendment to the existing Aliens Act on Thursday, introducing stricter procedures towards asylum seekers and refugees for a special six-month period – with a possible extension for another six months.

It is likely to be backed by the country's parliament in which the plan enjoys cross-party support.

Although the procedure would not apply to persons whose life is in danger if they are returned to their native countries, or unaccompanied minors, the provisions will empower police officers to refuse entry to most asylum seekers on the border.

Zajovic said Slovenia was trying to imitate recent moves by Hungary, which were unfortunately now being copied by the majority of countries on the "Balkan route", including Croatia, "where we have witnessed a lot of cases in which Croatian police deported refugees to Serbia without proper procedure”."

See: Amnesty International: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (link)

HUNGARY: Hungarian camerawoman avoids jail after being filmed tripping up and kicking refugees (The Independent, link):

"A Hungarian camerawoman who was filmed kicking and tripping up refugees as they ran from police has escaped jail for breaching the peace.

Petra László was handed three years on probation for the incident in September 2015 at Szeged District Court.

Footage showed her tripping up a refugee as he an through a field carrying his young son, as well as kicking a small girl as hundreds of asylum seekers broke through police lines near the Hungarian border to make their way towards Budapest."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.1.17)
Greek Navy Battleship to Host Refugees From Lesvos (Greek Reporter, link):

"Greek Navy battleship “Lesvos” is to sail to Lesvos island on Tuesday night to host refugees and migrants from the overflowing camps that are suffering from the heavy snowfall.

The ship is to arrive on Lesvos on Wednesday and will accommodate about 500 of the 1,000 refugees who currently live in tents in the Moria camp. The warship will dock in the port of Mytilene.

In the past five days, 1,000 refugees and migrants of the Moria camp are living under harsh conditions in tents covered with snow."

And see: Moria: Gov’t sends Navy Ship to host refugees (shocking videos) (Keep Talking Greece, link)

MSF: Bounties not Bodies: Smugglers Profit from Sea Rescues - Though No Clear Alternative Available (MSF Analysis, link):

"The Financial Times reported that the European Union accuses MSF and other humanitarian organisations running search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean of working in collusion with smugglers or at least helping them to carry out their deadly trade. These allegations were made based on an internal report from the European border agency, Frontex. MSF requested Frontex to share this report with us, which they declined. Instead, they refute they accuse humanitarian agencies of collusion, but raise a number of concerns with our search and rescue operations.....

MSF did not create smugglers, just like MSF did not create the conflicts and deep inequality many of those we rescue flee. Until politicians reverse this absurd situation in which we find ourselves, MSF will continue to try and save the maximum number of lives as possible, both on land and on sea. Because the alternative implied by Frontex’s concerns about our rescue operations is to let people drown as a strategy to deter the smugglers."

The Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis (New York Times, link): Brad Evans and Zygmunt Bauman:

"This is the third in a series of dialogues with philosophers and critical theorists on the question of violence. This conversation is with Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, Britain. His latest book, “Strangers at Our Door” is published with Polity Press."

Germany and North Africa split over illegal migrants (DW, link):

"The deportation of illegal North African migrants has sparked a public debate in Germany. Maghreb countries, however, have not seen the movement of their citizens to Europe as a main concern. ...

As European countries such as Germany continue to debate deportation and the influx of migrants, North African countries have put the issue on the backburner while they address political and economic problems domestically."

German ministers agree on tougher rules for migrants posing security risk (euractiv, link):

"Germany’s interior and justice ministers, representing the two blocs in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, agreed on Tuesday (10 January) on tougher measures for asylum seekers whose documents are not in order or who are deemed to pose a security threat."

Frontex creates a new pool of return experts (link):

"Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has launched a pool of experts who will support the return of migrants across the EU. The experts drawn from member states and Schengen associated countries will be at the disposal of Frontex. The creation of the pool is part of agency’s expanded mandate.

The return pool will ultimately consist of 690 return monitors, return escorts and return specialists. Its size was based on past return operations, risk analysis and return activities foreseen for this year. "


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.1.17)
Greece: Snow leaves refugees and government exposed (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Government officials were trying Monday to find an emergency solution that would allow them to temporarily move some 1,000 refugees out of the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos to protect them from the snow and freezing weather.

Authorities met Monday with representatives of the local hoteliers’ association but were unable to reach an agreement as the union held an emergency general assembly three months ago, when members decided that hotel rooms should not be made available for refugees.

“We understand that there is an emergency but for the decision to be reversed there needs to be another [union] general assembly,” the president of the Lesvos Hoteliers’ Association, Pericles Antoniou, told Kathimerini."

Greece: Refugees are no longer living in the cold, says migration minister (ANA-MPA, link):

"05/ 01/ 2017: The government has successfully completed the procedure of overwintering in camps and refugee centers around the country and there are no more refugees or migrants living in the cold, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas told journalists on Thursday. “There are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore. We successfully completed the procedures for overwintering,” ....

EU Commission: “untenable” situation in Greece’s refugee camps (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said the commission “is aware that the situation is currently untenable, but we also have to be clear” that conditions in reception centers are the responsibility of Greek authorities."

Migration minister makes second failed attempt to reach Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas was prevented for a second time on Tuesday from reaching the island of Lesvos, where he hopes to inspect a migrant camp amid criticism of conditions from aid workers and European authorities.

Mouzalas tried to reach the eastern Aegean island by helicopter at noon after an airplane from Athens was turned back because of low clouds and snow earlier in the day, but this second attempt also failed due to weather conditions....

Mouzalas on Monday admitted that the situation on the islands due to the sub-zero temperatures is not acceptable but suggested that the main reason for this is that locals have obstructed plans to expand reception facilities so migrants can be moved out of the hotspots." [emphasis added]

Greece: Moria Community Leaders Demand Respect for Refugee Rights in Lesvos (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"In the face of months of horrible conditions and delayed procedures in Moria Refugee Camp, refugee community leaders have come together to defend their rights and dignity, despite the many obstacles they face. Copied below is the letter with recommendations that was sent by representatives of refugee communities in Moria Camp to the Coordinator of the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement. Please share, and call on your European Commission representatives to respond."

Are You Syrious (9.1.17, link)

“No person seeking protection, fleeing war, torture and extreme violence should be left out in the cold” Clement Perrin, MSF

"All along the Balkan route, temperatures have dropped so low that the situation in the official and makeshift camps has become unbearable and is putting lives in danger. From the frozen tents in Lesvos to the freezing, abandoned buildings in Belgrade, people are being treated by the authorities as if they are not living beings. As Stefano Argenziano, MSF’s operations coordinator on migration, points out, “the EU has decided to turn the entire region into its own gatekeeper,” and this gatekeeper has no means and in most cases, will, to create a system that would protect these people from the most basic of threats — freezing temperatures."

Serbia Why we need independent organizations in the field

"Representatives from Fresh Response have posted this message describing the current situation in Northern Serbia, as well as in other parts of the country, stressing the importance of independent networks in providing necessary aid and assistance."

France: French police steal blankets in an effort to make those living in the streets disappear

"In an effort not unlike that of the Serbian authorities, French authorities are trying to make refugees leave the streets of Paris by denying them the bare essentials they need to survive these cold days. It has been reported both by media and activists on the ground that police are taking blankets from people sleeping in the streets in order to push them away and/or make them invisible. As MSF points out, these people are on the streets due to overcrowding of reception centers. These actions heighten the “systematic police violence” aimed at these people."

Croatia: Ostojic: We have no other choice but to send migrants on to Schengen area (Dalge.com, link):

"Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said at the Opatovac reception centre, eastern Croatia on Monday that Croatia had no other choice but to send refugees and migrants arriving from Serbia on to Slovenia and the Schengen area, reiterating that the key to the refugee crisis was in Greece, which should be the first to control the influx of refugees and migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

“If someone wants to decide that Croatia should be a wall, no problem, but such a decision should be made at the EU level. In that case we would admit that Greece is not fit to be a member of the Schengen area nor is it able to comply with EU rules,” Ostojic told a press conference, adding that this had also been demanded by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic."

Expulsion of seriously ill migrants: a new ECtHR ruling reshapes ECHR and EU law (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In what is possibly one of the most important judgments of 2016, Paposhvili v. Belgium, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has memorably reshaped its case law on when Article 3 ECHR (which bans torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment) applies to the expulsion of seriously ill migrants. In a unanimous judgment, the Court leaves behind the restrictive application of the high Article 3 threshold set in N. v. the United Kingdom and pushes for a more rigorous assessment of the risk of ill-treatment in these cases.

For us at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, it was a thrill to intervene as a third party in such an important case. In our third party intervention we submitted that Paposhvili offered a unique opportunity to depart from the excessively restrictive approach adopted in N. We are delighted that the Grand Chamber has seized the opportunity to re-draw the standards in this area of its case law in a way that does fuller justice to the spirit of Article 3."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.1.17)
EU: Refugees living in snow and sub-zero temperatures at risk of death

"Humanitarian agencies have warned that without adequate housing refugees in Greece may die as the country continues to be gripped by freezing winter weather.

Parts of the country have seen more than a metre (three feet) of snow and temperatures as low as - 18 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and communication lines and roads are out of action on several islands.

In Moria, a large camp on the island of Lesvos, around 15,000 people are still living in overcrowded conditions in thin summer tents."

French police 'stealing blankets from migrants', charity warns (The Independent, link):

"Police in Paris have been accused of putting migrants’ lives in danger by stealing their blankets in the heart of winter.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also warned of “systematic police violence” targeted at the hundreds of migrants forced to sleep rough on the streets of Paris due to overcrowding in the capital's only reception centre.

MSF accused police of harassing migrants, waking them up in the middle of the night, using tear gas to disperse them, and not allowing them to sit down as they queue for a place in the shelter in the northern Parisian neighbourhood of La Chapelle."

Germany threatens to cut development aid to countries that refuse rejected asylum seekers (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere believe that countries that cannot accept rejected asylum seekers may not receive development aid, according to recent interviews.

In an interview with news magazine "Der Spiegel," Gabriel said, "those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid."

GREECE: REFUGEES: NGOs' life-saving efforts acknowledged but those unregistered by March will be banned

The Greek minister for migration policy, Yiannis Mouzalas, said on Thursday (5 January 2017) that NGOs operating in refugee camps will be barred if they do not register with the government by March. See: Refugees are no longer living in the cold, says migration minister (ANA-MPA, link):

"Asked about the NGOs who are operating in various camps, he said that those that do not register with the ministry by March will not be allowed to work in the camps. He also admitted that without the NGOs the government would not have made it through the first phase of the refugee crisis."

Greek asylum claims spike due to backlogs (EUobserver, link):

"Greek asylum applications registered a massive jump late last year, but experts pin it mainly to a backlog.

The Greek Asylum Service noted a 593 percent increase of asylum applications in November alone, or around 7,600 claims, compared to 2015's monthly average of 1,100.

The spike appears to be broadly linked to a large-scale pre-registration programme launched over the summer and a doubling of staff at the Greek Asylum Service."

IRELAND: Irish Refugee Council welcome announcement of refugees coming to Ballaghaderreen but express concern at lack of prior engagement with community (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"Nick Henderson, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council said: “It is heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive reception from people in Ballaghaderreen to this announcement. Many comments have recognised that people have fled persecution and a brutal war in Syria. Coming to Ballaghaderreen is another step in a long journey to safety that has included undertaking a dangerous voyage to Europe and living in very difficult conditions in Greece. This journey does not end once people arrive to Ireland so ensuring that they are welcomed and supported through this transition is essential.”

“However, a consistent theme in comments from people living in the community has been the lack of notice or consultation that was given. It is crucial that in circumstances such as these local communities are properly informed so that questions can be answered, a welcome prepared and services organised. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have happened in this case.”"

FRANCE: Macron: German response to refugee crisis ‘saved Europe’s dignity’ (EurActiv, link):

"The Europhile candidate for the French presidency has congratulated Germany for saving Europe’s collective dignity by opening its arms to refugees...

In an editorial published on Monday (2 January) in Le Monde, Emmanuel Macron said he believes German society, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, “saved” the “collective dignity” of the European people by taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“Chancellor Merkel and German society as a whole lived up to our shared values; they saved our collective dignity by taking in refugees in distress, housing and educating them,” the former minister for economy said."

TURKEY: Erdogan renews promise to grant Syrian, Iraqi refugees Turkish citizenship (Rudaw, link):

"The most qualified among three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees who are currently in Turkey can receive Turkish citizenship and that the interior ministry is in the midst of a vetting process, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on state television on Friday.

“Our interior ministry is carrying out work, and under this work, some of them will be granted our nationality after all the necessary checks have been carried out,” the AFP news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.”

Erdogan made similar comments last July which some opposition parties said was a ploy to increase the leader’s voting base and to permanently influence the demographic makeup in Turkey’s southeastern provinces, which are Kurdish-majority.

“Instead of letting them work illegally here and there, let’s give them the chance to work as citizens, like the children of this nation,” Erdogan said."

EU: European Migrant Smuggling Centre: Arrests and house searches against a people smuggler ring in Germany (Europol press release, link):

"On 5 January 2017, the German Federal Police conducted several house searches in Berlin and executed two arrest warrants in Mönchengladbach and in Germany’s capital city. At the same time, Italian authorities arrested a suspect in Bolzano (Italy). The arrested individuals are suspected of being part of a criminal network involved in smuggling and trafficking of irregular migrants.

This criminal syndicate, composed mainly of Lebanese nationals, facilitated the transport of Syrian nationals via Hungary and Austria to Germany. They are suspected of having smuggled 29 persons in 12 different smuggling incidents since June 2016. Each migrant had to pay between EUR 500 -1 000 to the network. In some of the cases, the perpetrators transported the migrants under dangerous circumstances, overloading cars with migrants."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.1.17)
Greece: Moria: Thousands of Refugees live in tents covered by snow (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Literally buried in the snow were the tents providing shelter to several thousands of refugees and migrants in the camp of Moria. The snow weather stroke the island of Lesvos and neighboring islands of Chios and had the thousands living in tents desperately seeking protection and warmth.

Many of the Moria residents saw snow for the first time in their lives. It might have been a pleasant experience if it wasn’t for having to live in the snow.

The tents of UN High Commissioner could not protect them from the extremely low temperature."

Two more migrants die in Bulgaria’s Borderlands (Bordermonitoring Bulgaria, link):

"On the 6th of January, the Bulgarian Border Police made the case of two more dead people public, who were found by villagers near the village of Izvor in the region of Burgas near the Strandzha mountain massif. They had died of exposure to low temperatures. It was reported that the two Iraqi men were 28 and 35 years old. Only four days ago a Somali woman died in the same region."

UK: Deportation Charter Flights: Collective Expulsion in 2017 (Corporate Watch, link):

"In 2013, Corporate Watch published a research report titled “Collective Expulsion: the case against mass deportation charter flights”. Three years later, not much has changed. The UK continues to make political deportation deals with governments of its former colonies and war zones. Almost 2,000 people a year are still loaded onto secretive night flights from Stansted airport, handcuffed by private security “escorts”, in one of the most brutal facets of the detention and deportation regime.

This factsheet updates recent facts and figures, but doesn't supplant the more in-depth analysis in the 2013 report. It also adds a new section containing short summary profiles of some of the main companies involved in the charter flight business: security guards Tascor (a subsidiary of Capita), plane charter company Titan Airways, and travel bookers Carlson Wagonlit."

See: Report (pdf, link)

Philippa Kempson from Lesvos, Greece: (FB link, 6.1.17)

"Early this evening in Moria.
Sub zero temperatures on the way!
These conditions are deliberate and criminal.
I find myself wondering how many fatalities and hospital cases will it take to stop this?
Would the policies of Europe even change if there were deaths due to these conditions?
The powers that be are acting like winter is a surprise!!!
I'm sure it happens every year!
These deliberate and inhumane policies of torture should be investigated and prosecuted!
Human right seem to depend on the color of your skin or your religion.
Are these people not human? how can we sleep when our governments advocate a deliberate policy of torture against those who make us feel uncomfortable because they are not from here?
Those responsible for this barbarism should be tried for crimes against humanity!
These are HUMANS!!!!"

Thousands of refugees left in cold, as UN and EU accused of mismanagement - United Nations refugee agency and EU’s Echo aid department accused of failing to properly ‘winterise’ camps (Guardian, link):

"The UN refugee agency and the EU’s aid department have been accused by other aid groups of mismanaging a multimillion-pound fund earmarked for the most vulnerable refugees in Europe, leaving thousands sleeping in freezing conditions in Greece.

The Greek government, which has ultimate jurisdiction over camp activities, has also been criticised for failing to use nearly €90m (£75m) of separate EU funding to adequately improve conditions at the camps before the onset of winter. No single actor has overall control of all funding and management decisions in the camps, allowing most parties to distance themselves from blame.....

The head of Medécins Sans Frontières in Greece, Loic Jaeger, described the situation as a failure. “We are outraged about the positive communications [from UNHCR and the EU] that are completely disconnected with reality,” said Jaeger, speaking before UNHCR began to admit flaws in the process on 9 December."

French court acquits researcher who helped illegal migrants find shelter (France 24 News, link):

"A Nice court acquitted a Frenchman caught giving a lift to three illegal migrants in the latest case to highlight the actions of citizens in the now famous “rebel valley”, who claim it is their civic duty to help those in need.

Prosecutors had requested a six-month suspended jail term for the 45-year-old university researcher, who was stopped by police in October on the French Riviera, with three Eritrean women in his car."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.1.17)
A template for protecting human rights during the ‘refugee crisis’? Immigration detention and the expulsion of migrants in a recent ECtHR Grand Chamber ruling (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On the 15th of December 2016 the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber handed down its judgment in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, which partially reversed the Chamber ruling issued on the 1st of September 2015. The case is about immigration detention at the Italian borders (including the island of Lampedusa) and the expulsion of aliens from Italy to Tunisia. Whilst the events took place in 2011, during that peculiar time which was in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring, the issues raised before the Court by the applicants and the principle outlined by the judgments appears relevant to the current refugee crisis and its management by the European Union Institutions and Member States."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

Are You Syrious (5.1.17, link)

Italy: Protest following the death of a refugee leads to pledges to deport those whose asylum was rejected

"Following the death of a refugee woman as the result of a blood clot on Monday, the residents of the Cona refugee center in Veneto staged a protest. Over 500 refugees live in the center. They claim that the staff of the center would not call an ambulance for hours, despite it being clear that the woman was in need of medical assistance. Objects were set on fire, however nobody was injured in the course of the action."

Greece: Total of 131 official registrations on the islands

"There have been 52 arrivals on Lesvos, 35 on Chios, and 44 on Samos, making for a total of 131 arrivals. Additionally, there were 8 arrivals to Lesvos in the early hours of the morning. The people, 4 men, 2 women, and 2 children, are all safe."

Greece: Ministry: Daily statistics (3.1.17, pdf)

Italy boat migrant numbers surge 20% in 2016 (The Local.it, link): "Italy saw a record 181,000 migrants arriving on its shores on boats from northern Africa, EU border agency Frontex said on Friday."

CoE: Human Rights Commissioner: Immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child (link):

"Commissioner Muižnieks reaffirmed that immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published on 19 December 2016.

In his letter, he warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children. Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner expressed the view that the intention to open closed family units near Brussels airport would go against the best interests of the child."

Austrian defence minister eyes plan to overhaul EU migrant policy (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s defence minister has drafted a plan that would revamp the European Union’s migrant policy by establishing a ceiling for migration and only permitting applications for asylum from outside the EU....

Doskozil’s plan also calls for the creation of asylum centres in countries such as Niger, Jordan and Uzbekistan, potentially using existing facilities of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Migrants who were denied asylum or those who entered the EU illegally but could not be returned to their home countries would be transferred to “protective zones” that were linked to asylum centres, the newspaper said."

UNHCR: Faster movement of people from Greek islands to mainland essential (link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today reiterating its call to accelerate the moving of asylum-seekers from the Aegean islands to the Greek mainland. Even with recent efforts to improve matters, conditions at many sites on the islands remain very poor. The need for better protection will become all the more acute this weekend when temperatures on the islands are expected to drop. We are worried."

Slovenia closing doors to refugees (News That Moves, link):

"Slovenia may allow police to seal the borders to migrants and refugees in case of a new migration crisis affecting the country.

The Slovenian government approved on the 5th of January amendments to the law regarding foreigners that will permit police forces to deny entry in Slovenia to migrants and refugees, without considering their asylum claims."

See also: Slovenia: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (AI, link)

Greece: Activists, migrants squatting in city buildings (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Residents and shop owners in parts of central Athens have told Kathimerini that an increasing number of derelict buildings are being occupied by activists and refugees and that appeals to the police and local authorities to intervene have failed to produce a solution.

More than 15 buildings have been occupied in the city center, Exarchia and surrounding areas, Kathimerini understands. In all cases, police are unable to intervene as they must first receive a complaint from the owners of the properties and, in several cases, it is unclear who they are."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.1.17)
EU: Viewpoint: More externalisation of migration control by Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas (senior researcher, Barcelona Centre of International Affairs, CIDOB)

We pay but others do it. This first and foremost has been the response of the European Union to the so-called "refugee crisis". Under the title of the European Agenda on Migration, in May 2015 the European Commission proposed a series of measures to stop what it called "the human misery created by those who exploit migrants." This document established as a priority cooperation with third countries to jointly address the causes of emigration. In practice, this cooperation has been limited to promoting the readmission of irregular migrants, border control and the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees in third countries. The EU's agreements with Turkey (March 2016) and more recently with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia (June 2016) represent the implementation of this approach.

Also available in pdf format.

French farmer on trial for helping migrants across Italian border - Cédric Herrou, who was previously arrested for aiding eight Eritreans, faces up to five years in jail and €30,000 fine if convicted (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer, who has become a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and giving them shelter, has gone on trial for aiding illegal arrivals. Cédric Herrou is one of three people to appear before courts in southern France for assisting people fleeing to Europe.

The 37-year-old activist, accused of “helping undocumented foreigners enter, move about and reside” in France, faces up to five years in prison and a €30,000 (£25,500) fine if convicted.... He has been unapologetic about helping people travelling through Europe via the often perilous boat journey across the Mediterranean.

“If we have to break the law to help people, let’s do it!” he told supporters outside the Nice court on Wednesday, where a crowd of about 300 people gathered."

Thousands of refugees are suing Germany (DW, link):

"Experts believe the number of asylum-related court cases could triple in 2017. Many refugees going to court are Syrians who aren't in danger of being sent back. But they want to make sure their families are safe, too."

Greek Government plans for 2017 (New That Moves, link):

"Greek Minister of Migration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas has outlined his government’s plans to cope with the refugee crisis in Greece in 2017....

After the Christmas holidays, the government will begin a program relocating some people to the island of Crete, where they will be hosted in apartments, in cooperation with the local authorities. In November, Mouzalas said that no more than 2,000 people will be relocated to Crete;...

Security: Authorities are also working on increasing police presence on the islands and on establishing small closed centres (100-200 people) to “tackle criminality,” and detain migrants and refugees displaying “criminal behaviour,” Mouzalas noted;"

The struggle of refugee mothers stranded in Greece (Middle East Eye, link):

"As the refugee crisis in Europe stumbles into its second winter, mothers have a particularly difficult task ahead of them...

Despite the deteriorating conditions in camps across Greece, and the increasingly poor treatment of refugees throughout Europe, refugees continue to trickle in through the Greek islands on a near-daily basis. With the Macedonian border closed, Greece is struggling under the weight of increasingly desperate refugees and migrants."

Walls and welcome: Germany looks to 2017 after a tumultuous year (Middle East Eye, link):

"After a year marked by violent attacks and rising fear, a local council is building a wall around a refugee centre - and residents are divided."

In 2017 | Immigration will reveal the crisis of human rights inside our societies (Malta Today, link)

"!Immigration has become a litmus test of our societies’ capacity to treat people with dignity. The grim reality is that we enter a 2017 imbued with a solidarity and human rights crisis which will make the quest for social and global justice more demanding, but also more pertinent."

Are You Syrious (4.1.17, link)

Greece: Overcrowding in the camps, people sleeping in police precincts

"There are 93 new arrivals in Greek islands today. As camps on the islands are dangerously overcrowded, people are being in some instances transferred to local police precincts. “The situation in the cells has been suffocating for months now,” Dimitris Alexiou, spokesman for the local police union, told Kathimerini. With overcrowding and cold temperatures, flu is spreading in the camps."

Returns to Greece may be resumed, but humane conditions not - sign the petition against the returns

"Overcrowding and non existent winterization of the camps did not prevent the EU commission from recommending the returns to Greece that were suspended in 2011 and, as we have reported, may be resumed in March 2017. This recommendation, though, is not binding for all EU member states and can not be applied retroactively, meaning that people who reached other EU countries in the past and until the 15th of March 2017 will not be returned to Greece. The new rules will concern only asylum applicants who enter Greece irregularly or not from the 15th of March, 2017 onward, and then move without authorization to another EU country.

Calais Action stresses that “Yet no moves are being made to force other European states to make good on their commitments to receive a quota of refugees.” Out of tens of thousands relocations that member states agreed to, only 7,006 have been carried out until the end of 2016. “ If these “Dublin” transfers are restarted Greece will once again be bearing the burden for the refugee crisis completely unsupported by other responsible Schengen states.” Calais Action collective posted next to the online petition to stop the returns to Greece." Please sign it here

Italy to “step up” the deportations

While Italy is at the forefront of the Mediterranean rescues and receives those saved, it has not manage to properly accommodate those arriving. Meanwhile, riots broke out in the Cona migrant centre in the Veneto region following the death of a 25-year-old woman of a blood clot on Monday. Due to this Italy on Wednesday pledged to step up deportations of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected with Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, the country’s former interior minister, said in an interview with La Stampa daily that “We have saved many lives but we cannot accept rule-breaking. We need to speed up deportations” . For more follow the link

Cyprus: Conditions at Kofinou asylum centre remain substandard, human rights officials say (Updated: ministry responds) (cyprus-mail.com, link):

"Despite the fact that Cyprus was not greatly affected by the mass movement of refugees in 2016, conditions at the Kofinou reception centre for asylum seekers remain substandard, officials said.

In a joint open letter, Human Rights Commissioner Eliza Savvidou and the representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cyprus Damtew Dessalenge, said that living conditions at the reception centre had gradually deteriorated due to overcrowding while the number of staff remains the same.

Representatives of the commissioner’s office and of the UNHCR visited the Kofinou reception centre in December, the letter said, and verified that there were many operational problems, and called on the competent authorities to intervene promptly. “Due to the tripling of the centre’s population, reception and living conditions gradually worsen, creating risks for serious health and safety problems for the residents,” the letter said."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.1.17)
GREECE: Migrant dies of hypothermia as gov't tries to improve camps (ekathimerini, link):

"As authorities seek to improve living conditions for migrants at reception centers around the country amid forecasts of another cold snap later this week, a 20-year-old Afghan man died of hypothermia early on Tuesday after crossing the Evros River in northern Greece.

The man’s body was found in a field near the Greek border town of Didymoteicho after police were alerted by another Afghan who said he had traveled with him across the river.

Temperatures in the area plunged to -14 Celsius (7 Fahrenheit) on Monday night and are expected to drop even further from Thursday."

GERMANY: Interior ministry "wish list": strengthen central government security, policing and deportation powers

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has announced a series of proposals that revolve around giving the German federal government more power over security agencies, cyber attacks, policing and deportations; permitting the deployment of the military internally; expanding the scope of the proposed EU Entry/Exit System and loosening the the EU definition of "safe third countries".

FINLAND: Nerg: Finnish authorities concerned about security risk posed by illegal immigrants (Helsinki Times, link):

"Unsuccessful asylum seekers who choose to stay in the country illegally have raised concerns among security authorities in Finland, reveals Päivi Nerg, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of the Interior."

Asylum applications in Finland plunged in 2016 (YLE, link):

"The Finnish Immigration Service reports that around 5,600 people applied for asylum in Finland in 2016, a significantly lower figure than the 32,500 applicants who arrived in 2015. Some 9,000 pending applications are currently being transferred from the auspices of the police department to those of the Immigration Service - and the transition will likely slow down processing times, the agency said."

MEDITERRANEAN: Members of a Spanish NGO rescued 112 refugees who were traveling on an overcrowded rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea (AJ+ on Twitter, link). The NGO in question is Proactiva Open Arms (link).


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.1.17)
GREECE: Refugee solidarity activists arrested in Greece freed on bail

Two activists who were last week arrested in Greece and charged with facilitating illegal immigration were released from preventive detention on Friday 30 December and will have to pay €2,000 within 12 days to obtain permission to leave Greece until their trial takes place.

UK: The bigger picture about refugees

This article provides official statistical data on asyulm claims in the UK up to June 2016, resettlement to the UK (prinicpally through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme), unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and refugee camps in Europe. It was originally published in the newsletter of Bristol Refugee Rights and is republished here with permission.

FRANCE: Malian consulate in Paris occupied due to "corruption" and EU-Mali agreement

RFI reported on 31 December 2016 that an occupation of the Malian consulate in Paris undertaken by the migrant collective 'Clean Hands' had been continuing for a week, after the group entered the building on 23 December.

One of the occupiers, Samba, told RFI that there were no consular staff remaining in the building, and that: "We have changed the reception into a refreshment bar," and that people were using the space to eat and drink.

The collective has denounced the "corruption" within the consulate and problems and delays with obtaining documents and information.

FRANCE: DUBLIN REGULATION: Dublin to Norway, flight to Kabul (Passeurs d'Hospitalités, link):

"There are many ways to come to Europe. One of them, by Russia, to Norway, crossing the border between the two countries, up in the north.

People seeking asylum in Norway and receiving a negative response often continue their migration to other countries. But if they apply for asylum in Norway, they risk being sent back there, as having their finger prints there will make the country responsible for their asylum application under the Dublin III European regulation.

This puts them in a potential chain reaction of expulsions. In fact, in November, Roman had been sent back to Norway and from there to Afghanistan, without even having time to file an appeal once arrived in Norway. In mid-December 2016, a joint Swedish-Norwegian flight had resulted in the removal of 22 people, including 9 from Norway to Kabul under the agreement between the European Union and Afghanistan.

Hashim is now facing the same risk."

GREECE: Conditions for Refugees on Islands are ‘Regrettable and Infuriating’, Says MSF Head in Greece (Greek Reporter, link):

"Living conditions for refugees on Greece’s islands is “regrettable and infuriating”, the head of the MSF (Doctors without Borders) mission in Greece, Clément Perrin, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday.

Perrin said families with newborn babies or small children are still living in tents even as temperatures have dropped to five above Celsius during the night. According to MSF data, in Samos there are 329 tents available for 100 people – 120 of which are outside the hotspot – without heating and access to hot water. In Moria camp, Lesvos, apart from the prefabricated housing units which house families, the rest of the refugees live in tents without heating and hot water is only available in the morning, which causes large queues.

“Greek authorities promised months ago they would improve living conditions on the islands, but very little has been done,” Perrin said. “Very little has been done for the most vulnerable refugees, while they were supposed to have been transferred to the mainland several weeks ago.”"

UK: Cornwall refugee group raises thousands to help resettle Syrian families (The Guardian, link):

"A refugee support group in a small Cornwall town hopes to welcome two Syrian families after raising thousands of pounds.

Bude Welcomes Refugees, a 30-person group based in the north Cornwall seaside resort, wants to be one of the earliest adopters of the community sponsorship scheme to resettle refugee families.

The initiative enables community organisations, including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses, to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK."

Austrian housing project keeps refugees’ hopes alive (UNHCR, link):

"Is she religious? Does she have a philosophy? She shakes her head. It is simple humanity that has motivated her over a long career of caring for the less fortunate. “If someone comes, needing help, I do not tell them to go and see the Pope first.”

Frau Bock, who never married, lives modestly to the point of being ascetic. She has never had a holiday; indeed she doesn’t even have a passport. She thinks fashion is a waste of time and her only luxury is to go to the hairdressers."

Syrian refugees in Greece despair over Aleppo (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The majority of Syrians in northern Greece initially arrived in the country before the EU-Turkey deal which was signed last March. All of them fled because of the conflict in their homeland. All of them have strong opinions on the civil war that has been destroying Syria for almost six years now. Few of them are willing to express their views publicly. They are either tired of talking to the media or they have families and relatives back home whose lives may be put at risk."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.1.17)
Man who tried to smuggle child refugee into UK: 'I'd never do it again. Well ... ' - Rob Lawrie, arrested at the Calais border when officers found an Afghan girl in his van, explains how his life has changed (Guardian, link):

"A former soldier who narrowly avoided jail for trying to smuggle a child refugee into Britain has said he would attempt to get a minor to safety again if he thought he could get away with it...."

New Italian government seeks migration crackdown (DW, link):

"Italy's leaders have launched a push to increase ID checks, deportations, and the construction of detention centers. The tough migration stance is the first major policy departure for new Prime Minister Gentiloni.

Italy has decided to ramp up checks on migrants and increase deportations in 2017, national media reported on Saturday. According to several of the country's leading dailies, police chief Franco Gabrielli sent a memorandum to Italian police stations calling on them to be extra vigilant in the new year.

Gabrielli is the director of public safety for a special Italian police unit called the Protezione Civil, which handles security for "exceptional" circumstances. In his directive, he reminds local officers of the importance of making routine checks "in the current crisis considering the increasing pressures of migration in an international context characterized by instability and which require maximum effort…to keep our territory 'under control.'"

Lost at sea: The search for missing refugees (aljazeera.com, link)

"Thousands of people remain unaccounted for after attempting the deadly Mediterranean Sea crossing.

Thousands of refugees still brave the dangerous sea voyage to Europe across the Aegean Sea each year, but for every refugee that reaches Greece successfully, there are others who are never heard from again. Many are thought to be dead, with some buried in unmarked graves. The process to identify them is mired in bureaucratic and logistical hurdles, leaving their families in limbo.

According to Maria Landri - a coordinator for the tracing services department of the Hellenic Red Cross, a department that aims to assist these families - there are currently 900 cases open, while 114 cases have been solved since 2014. This represents only a fraction of the more than 4,400 missing persons, according to the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants Project."

USA: 450 churches prepare to act as Trump-era ‘underground railroad’ for undocumented immigrants (Raw Story, link):

"A network of 450 houses of worship across the country are stepping up to act as a kind of “underground railroad” for undocumented immigrants under the nascent Donald Trump administration.

The New York Times said that these churches, synagogues and mosques are all part of the Sanctuary Movement — an interfaith movement that began in the 1960s, but which has undergone a revival in recent years as the U.S. has stepped up deportation of undocumented immigrants."

Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta (BBC News, link):

"Fifty Moroccan and five Spanish border guards were injured when 1,100 African migrants attempted to storm a border fence. The migrants were attempting to reach Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta.

Only two were successful, but both were injured scaling the six-metre (20 ft) fence and needed hospital treatment. One guard lost an eye, officials said. The attempt comes after more than 400 migrants succeeded in breaching Ceuta's fence in December."

Over 100 migrant arrivals recorded on Greek islands in 24 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 112 migrants and refugees landed on Greek shores in the first 24 hours of the new year, with 46 arriving on the eastern Aegean island of Chios and another 66 on Samos."

Greece: Nearly 11,000 refugees, migrants stranded on northern Aegean islands (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The number of refugees and migrants stranded on northern Aegean islands reached 10,938 people on Saturday, according to figures released by Greek police on the same day, state news agency ANA-MPA reported.... The data released showed 5,551 migrants and refugees were stranded on Lesvos, 3,517 on Chios and 1,870 on Samos.


The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

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