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

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"

October 2019

End the Killing - For a European Policy of Human Rights (kritnet.org, link):

"We call on the European Council and the EU governments to:

– End the EU–Turkey deal.

– End the partnership with Erdogan’s government, cease arms supplies and make use of all possible avenues to halt at once the war against Rojava in northern Syria.

– Immediately evacuate the migrant camps on the Greek islands, and allow their inhabitants freedom of movement in Europe and their reception by Solidarity Cities.

– Lay new political foundations for migration and asylum in Europe, with policies committed to protecting the human rights of refugees and migrants in Syria, the Mediterranean and in Europe itself."

76 rescued migrants brought to Malta, as Italy rescues 180 more (Times of Malta, link)

Turkish Syria offensive raises Greek fears of new refugee influx - EU states divided over giving Turkey further funds to deter refugees from making crossing (Guardian, link)

GREECE: Report on Rights Violations & Resistance in Lesvos - October 2019 (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"For over three years we have been reporting on the systematic denial of rights to migrants in Lesvos, and each report includes a laundry list of violations that only seem to worsen over time. The containment policy - at first opposed by UN agencies, NGOs and civil society - has become all but the norm in Lesvos.

Since the start of the year, 45,500 people have migrated to Greece, with approximately 18,000 arriving by sea from Turkey in August and September alone. Currently, over 14,000 people trapped on Lesvos are living in inhumane living conditions as a result of the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement, and the legislated containment policy that stipulates that asylum seekers cannot leave the Greek islands."

GREECE: Fire in Samos Refugee Camp (pressenza.com, link):

"Last night there was a fire on the island of Samos, a fire that ripped through the temporary homes of human beings living in ‘the jungle’, the overfill space relied upon to house men, women and children in a Reception and Identification Centre that can no longer cope with the numbers of refugees stuck on the island waiting for an asylum meeting.

Fires, in the RICs are no longer deemed to be news worthy; during the summer months they were occurring on a weekly basis, but like the fire on Lesvos only two weeks ago, this fire was different. The fire on Lesvos led to the death of two people and like last night’s fire on Samos is a symptom of the extreme overcrowding, which leads to frustrations and arguments but that can also lead to far worse."

And see: Samos mayor warns island at breaking point after migrant camp fire (ekathimerini.com,link):

"The mayor of East Samos has warned that a fire at its Vathy migrant reception and processing center earlier his week has brought the eastern Aegean island to breaking point as hundreds of people are having to sleep in the streets and public squares.

“The island has become destabilized,” Mayor Giorgos Stantzos told a morning talk show on Antenna TV on Thursday, days after a fire and a riot at the facility. “We are counting down for something bad to happen.”"

The Rescue - A flimsy raft, more than 100 souls, and three teenage heroes - or are they pirates? (magazine.atavist.com, link):

"Abdalla Bari was hungry. It was the morning of March 26, 2019, and Bari and more than 100 other people were floating in a 30-foot-long rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere in the expanse of water between North Africa and Italy. Men straddled the boat’s edge, each with one foot dangling above the water and the other inside the dinghy. They formed a tightly packed ring around a huddled mass of women and children. At least one of the women was noticeably pregnant. Another, Souwa Nikavogui, was Bari’s wife."

MotM EXCLUSIVE | Going Homeless In Gran Ghetto (MoM. link):

"“Just say ‘ghetto’ and anyone will tell you what bus to take. Just say ‘ghetto.’”

Peter* (Sierra Leone) told me this again and again in the days leading up to my visit. Those are imprecise, if not outright dubious directions when you’re wondering how to meet someone in one of Italy’s most precarious places.

Peter is in a ghetto in Foggia, Italy after leaving Isernia, a small town in the Molise region where I first met him in spring of this year."

EU:: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM): Council of the European Union: Commission services: GAMM (LIMITE doc no: 11539-19,47 pages, pdf):

"This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

See previous: Update report - May 2019 (Statewatch News) and March 2019 (Statewatch News)

Border Violence Monitoring Network: Balkan Region – Report September 2019 (link):

"The Border Violence Monitoring Network has just published it’s September report analyzing collated testimony of pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans. The case material covers extensive violations along Croatia’s border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, chain refoulement from Slovenia, pushbacks from Hungary to Serbia, and incidents from the North Macedonian -Greek border."

Download report (link)

Aegean Boat Report: Week 41: Report (pdf):

"A total of 181 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 5915 people. However, 125 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1776 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2316 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 75947 people. 40209 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1222 boats, so far in 2019."

GREECE: Lesvos protesters said to prevent Spanish charity ship from docking (ekathimerini.com. link):

"Protesters on the island of Lesvos, in the eastern Aegean, have reportedly prevented the Open Arms – a humanitarian vessel operated by Spanish NGO Proactive – from docking at the northern harbor of Skala Sykamias, reports said.

The incident took place on Monday as a group of people, believed to be residents of Petra and Molyvos villages, reportedly threw stones at the vessel which currently remains anchored at around 200 meters from the coast."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-14.10.19) including:

- European States urged to do more to protect and support child refugees and migrants
- New Frontex Regulation: corrected version of the text
- Hungary: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention
- Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months
- Fatal fire inside Moria refugee camp


EU: European States urged to do more to protect and support child refugees and migrants

European States must step up their efforts to protect child refugees and migrants who have endured not only difficult and dangerous journeys but continue to face risks and hardship once in Europe, including unsafe accommodation, being incorrectly registered as adults, and a lack of appropriate care, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has urged.

Migrant deaths: 19,000 in Mediterranean in past 6 years (InfoMigrants, link):

"The Mediterranean crossing continues to be the deadliest migrant route worldwide: 19,000 migrants have been reported dead or missing since October 3, 2013. So far this year, the crossing has claimed over 1,000 victims.

...Here's how many migrants went missing or died in the Mediterranean Sea between 2014 and 2018:

- 3,280 in 2014
- 3,771 in 2015
- 5,143 in 2016
- 3,139 in 2017
- 2,297 in 2018
"

UK: Implications of Brexit for asylum policy highlighted in new report (Irish Legal News, link):

"The most significant implication of UK withdrawal from the EU’s Dublin System – which determines responsibility for asylum applications – would be the loss of a safe, legal route for the reunion of separated refugee families in Europe, the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Committee’s report Brexit: refugee protection and asylum policy [pdf] has found.

In a no-deal Brexit scenario, refugees could be left in legal limbo, facing months of delays and additional distress, while a new framework to allow them to reunite with their families is negotiated.

The committee urges the UK and the EU to honour the right of refugees to family reunion by agreeing a temporary extension of current family unification arrangements in the event of no-deal."

See the report: Brexit: refugee protection and asylum policy (pdf)

Greece calls for more NATO ships to patrol Aegean Sea following Turkey’s Syria offensive (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on NATO to increase naval patrols in the Aegean Sea on Thursday (10 October) after a threat by Turkey to open Europe’s doors to more than three million migrants.

“I asked the Secretary General and the Alliance, and member states to strengthen their presence…in the Aegean Sea with more ships,” Mitsotakis said in a press conference after talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Athens yesterday.(...)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier threatened that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticised Turkey’s ongoing military offensive in Syria."

Are You Syrious (10.10.19,link)

SEARCH AND RESCUE AT SEA

"Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario has finally received permission to proceed into the Mediterranean — without the permission to carry out rescue.

This is contrary to article 98 of the United Nations Convention.

In the past few days, the Spanish have loaded over seven tonnes of aids that they want to bring to the Greek Islands. that they would be bringing to Lesbos next Wednesday, October 16, via Sicily."

Hungary: Commission takes next step in the infringement procedure for nonprovision of food in transit zones (pdf):

"the European Commission decided to address a reasoned opinion to Hungary concerning the non-provision of food to persons held in the Hungarian transit zones at the border with Serbia. This concerns persons whose applications for international protection have been rejected, and who are waiting to be returned to a third country.

In the Commission's view, compelling returnees to stay in the Hungarian transit zones amounts to de facto detention under the EU's Return Directive. The Commission finds that failure to provide food in these circumstances does not respect obligations under Article 16 of the Return Directive and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union."

EU fails to seal migrant redistribution deal (New Europe, link):

"An EU interior minister meeting on migrants in Luxembourg does not appear to have yielded a final deal on migrant redistribution.

Earlier on Tuesday, French EU Minister Amélie de Montchalin said 10 countries were ready to back the Malta accord to redistribute migrants as soon as possible."

Germany warns of a new migration chaos echoing 2015 (euobserver, link):

"Germany has warned of a repeat of the chaotic influx of asylum seekers in 2015 that caught the EU unprepared. Greece and Cyprus have warned of increased migrant arrivals from neighbouring Turkey as the EU interior ministers meet."

EU: Joint press release of the Palermo Charter Platform Process on the results of the EU Summit of Home Affairs Ministers on 23 September in Malta and the consequent negotiations on 8 October in Luxembourg (pdf):

"The Malta Agreement ("agreement on temporary reception and distribution mechanism") is not a hard-won solution, but nothing more than a partial emergency relief. We, European civil society initiatives and networks, mayors of European cities and search and rescue non-governmental organizations, demand a real solution that is adequate to the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

Over 15.000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea in the last five years. “Every single person is one too many,'' says Alessandra Sciurba from Mediterranea. "When we receive distress calls from people on boats, they fear both to drown and to be returned to Libya. The outsourcing of EU border control to Libyan forces and mass interceptions at sea have to stop,“ demands Maurice Stierl from WatchTheMed Alarm Phone. “ The establishment of an operational and sustainable European rescue mission is absolutely necessary in order to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean Sea. Sadly, it is still missing in the Malta agreement”, adds Sciurba."

See: Outcome of the Council meeting here and: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

EU: New Frontex Regulation: corrected version of the text

The European Parliament is due to approve a corrected version of the new Frontex Regulation, which was originally agreed between the Council and Parliament but has been undergoing revision by legal and linguistic specialists.

See: REGULATION (EU) 2019/... OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of ... on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624 (pdf)

How a notorious Libyan trafficker was invited to an official Italian migrant meeting in Sicily (The Globe and Mail, link):

"The United Nations’ migration agency says it unknowingly co-operated with a notorious Libyan human trafficker in 2017, when he was invited by the Italian government to a meeting in Sicily at the height of the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday said it regrets dealing with the Libyan criminal, Abd al-Rahman Milad, better known as Bija, but didn’t know at the time that he was serial abuser of migrants."

Navy ship with 389 migrants and refugees reaches Piraeus (ekathimerini, link):

"A navy ship carrying 389 refugees and migrants from the southeast Aegean island of Symi docked at the Greek capital’s Piraeus port on Wednesday morning.

The asylum-seekers, most of them identified as Afghan nationals, were being taken on buses to unspecified facilities on the Greek mainland."

Delivering Refugees and Migrants to a ‘Place of Safety’ Following Rescue by States at Sea (Maritime Safety and Security Law Journal, link):

"Irregular migration by sea leads states such as Italy and Australia to conduct maritime rescue operations involving refugees and other migrants. During these operations, states must deal with the question of where to disembark survivors.

The law of the sea regime obliges states to ensure survivors are delivered to a ‘place of safety’, arguably requiring maritime officers to merely consider the physical safety of survivors immediately on disembarkation. Non-binding International Maritime Organization guidelines state that the need to avoid disembarking refugees and asylum-seekers in the states of departure or origin is also a consideration. The guidelines refer to other ‘relevant’ international law, including treaties dealing with ‘refugee refoulement’ or refoulement in connection with a risk of torture.

Under the international human rights law regime, including international refugee law, states’ obligations in relation to non-refoulement are broader and prohibit the return of refugees and migrants to states where they directly or indirectly face persecution, torture or other serious harm. In interpreting ‘place of safety’, this work argues that there is insufficient consensus to integrate the two legal regimes. Nevertheless, states can be under co-existing human rights obligations that place limits on disembarkation of rescued refugees and migrants."

ECHR: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Szurovecz v. Hungary (application no. 15428/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

- a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned media access to reception facilities for asylum-seekers.

The applicant in the case, a journalist for an Internet news portal, complained about the authorities’ refusal of his request to carry out interviews and take photographs at the Debrecen Reception Centre, thus preventing him from reporting on the living conditions there."

See: Judgment (pdf)

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (link):Commissioner Mijatovic calls for bolder measures to protect the human rights and dignity of all migrants in the Mediterranean:

" member states have a chance to prevent further disastrous human rights and humanitarian consequences by suspending any co-operation activities with the Libyan authorities that impact on interceptions at sea and result in returns to Libya, until clear guarantees of full human-rights compliance are in place."

Mediterranean Fatalities in 2019 Rise to 1,071 with Latest Shipwreck off Lampedusa (IOM, link):

"Authorities found 22 migrants who survived the disaster, while 13 bodies – all women – were recovered by the Italian Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza. As of Tuesday morning, 17 migrants remained missing, including more women and at least two children. Among the missing are nationals of the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Guinea Conakry and four Tunisian nationals including three men and one 17-year-old boy.(...)

This latest tragedy brings to 1,071 the total number of deaths confirmed on the Mediterranean through 6 October, nearly two thirds of those deaths coming in the waters between North Africa and Italy."

Council of the European Union: Border management: EU signs agreement with Montenegro on European Border and Coast Guard cooperation (link);

"Today, the European Union signed an agreement with Montenegro on border management cooperation between Montenegro and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).(...)

The objective of this agreement is to allow Frontex to coordinate operational cooperation between EU Member states and Montenegro on the management of the borders that the European Union and Montenegro have in common. The signing of this agreement is yet another demonstration of the deepening and expanding cooperation with Montenegro. It will bring benefits for both parties, in particular in enhancing border management activities."

See: Full-text of agreement (pdf)

Greece: Aegean Boat Weekly Report 30 September to 6 October (pdf): HIghly detailed report:

"A total of 203 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 6,941 people. However, 139 boats were stopped by Turkish Coast Guard/police, and 2,242 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2191 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 71,808 people. 38,433 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1,166 boats, so far in 2019."

Migration solutions begin and end with Turkey (New Europe, link):

"Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened several weeks ago that he would “open the gates” for migrants to cross into Europe if the international community did not accept his pledge to create what he termed as “safe-zones” in Kurdish areas on the Turkish and Syrian borders."

The EU’s new migration policy is a gift to the far-right (euractiv, link):

"Far from taking the refugee issue away from the far-right, the EU’s new migration policy plan will simply hand the far-right a grievance it can exploit for years to come, writes Faisal Al Yafai."

Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months (InfoMigrants, link):

"Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maion presented a new asylum decree intended to cut the time it takes for decisions on whether a migrant should be repatriated to four months: "It was a team effort," Di Maio told reporters at a press conference at the foreign ministry last week.

"I thank (Justice) Minister (Alfonso) Bonafede, Premier (Giuseppe) Conte and (Interior) Minister (Luciana) Lamorgese because this morning we signed a ministerial decree that enables us to bring down the measures to establish if a migrant can stay in Italy from two years to four months."

The decree would be the "first step in our plan for safe repatriations," he said, adding that only those who need protection could stay."

UNHCR in Libya Part 1: From standing #WithRefugees to standing #WithStates? (euronews, link):

"October 3rd is a day upon which the UNHCR "remember and commemorate all the victims of immigration and promote awareness-raising and solidarity initiatives."

With that very sentiment in mind, Euronews has undertaken an investigation into the UNHCR's operation in Libya, where tens of thousands of migrants live in detainment camps, hoping to make it to Europe.

We uncover the extent of neglect in terms of care that can be found where migrants wait to be processed. We ask why the UN's humanitarian agency cannot have the required access in Libya when the mother organisation - The United Nations - is working with the Tripoli-based government. We ask why there is a severe lack of transparency surrounding the agency's operation and we talk to some of the migrants involved in the process and allow them to tell their stories."

Plus: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

EU: JHA Council, 7-8 October: documents on EU-USA e-evidence negotiations; EU accession to the ECHR; right-wing extremism; and problems for plans to interconnect policing and migration databases

The Justice and Home Affairs Council is meeting in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 October. Issues under discussion include e-evidence negotiations between the EU and the USA; EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights; right-wing extremism and terrorism; and the implementation of the EU's plans to interconnect its migration and policing databases. Council documents published here indicate that this latter project is running into trouble.

GREEK ISLANDS: Over 100 migrants rescued overnight, as more transfers in the works (ekathimerini.com, link):

"reek coast guards rescued 104 refugees and migrants in three separate operations in the eastern and southeastern Aegean in the early hours of Sunday, just as authorities are planning to transfer 570 asylum seekers from the island of Lesvos to the mainland. (...)

Official figures showed that there were around 13,300 people registered at the Moria camp on Sunday, among which some 1,000 are minors without a parent or chaperone."

Aegean Boat Report: (link):

Today Aegean Boat Report past another milestone, 25000 followers on Facebook, and counting.

It started out as a small community on Facebook, with one single purposes, to provide information. This community has grown beyond my wildest expectations. It has been a long journey from December 2017 until today, and I’m exited to see what the future will bring.

To everyone who has supported me on this journey, THANK YOU."

See also: Moria Refugee Hotspot Camp, Lesvos Oct 2019 (You Tube, link)

Central Mediterranean Regional Analysis (Alarmphone, link):

"Over the past three months, the period of time covered by this regional analysis of developments in the central Mediterranean, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 39 distress situations in that region, involving over 2,337 people. Never before has the Alarm Phone been alerted to so many boats crossing this area of the Mediterranean Sea in such short period of time. 14 of these boats were intercepted and returned to Libya. 17 boats were rescued and brought to a European harbour, including eight by NGO vessels. The fate of six boats remains unknown. Two boats capsized, and about 140 people lost their lives."

Behind the razor wire of Greece’s notorious refugee camp (Observer, link):

"Moria camp mourns a woman’s death, after reports wrongly blamed residents for the fire that killed her.

Last week Moria was in mourning. A deadly fire last Sunday (29 September) killed a woman called Faride Tajik, described by UN officials as a widow with a teenage daughter who has now been taken into care outside the camp. Initial reports suggested a baby had been killed in the blaze that may have been started by refugees protesting over conditions.(...)

However, this account has been shown to be false. There were clashes between residents and the police and fire service but they came after the blaze when people were angry at a perceived failure to help. The Observer has seen and verified a number of time-stamped videos from the fire showing that the first responders were camp residents who brought an emergency firehose to combat the flames engulfing a cluster of stacked containers."

Message from Lesvos (link):

Torrential rain has hit Lesvos overnight!
10.000 people are sleeping in tents!
45% are children!
The situation is heartbreaking!

“It is not enough for your country to be at war, you should be more vulnerable!” (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"I write to you who know my passion for sharing, learning and listening. With many of you, I’ve had conversations about how war and peace are part of the history of all peoples. What I can tell you now, because of what I am experiencing and learning here on Lesvos, is that there are different forms and consequences of what we know as war. The first consequence is death and destruction. After comes the reconstruction phase which is almost impossible. War brings unimaginable destruction, displaces millions of people, and destroys families. Refugees have lived through all of this."

Greece desperately seeking to halt refugees and migrants flows (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greece is desperately seeking to halt the refugees and migrants flows and intensifies its contacts with Turkey and the European Union. Migration Policy Minister, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, is meeting with the Turkish Interior Minister and high ranking officials of the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on Thursday.(...)

boats with refugees and migrants keep arriving in Greece. Between Wednesday and Thursday morning, ten boats with a total of 463 people arrived alone on Lesvos; 700 people from Tuesday to Thursday."

AYS Daily Digest 3/10/19: Stranded in misery, from the Aegean sea to the Strait of Dover (Medium, link):

"Stranded in misery, from the Aegean sea to the Strait of Dover - 300 people arrive in a single day to the overcrowded island camps in Greece, the situation on verge of cracking - Turkey-EU grey area spreading to the fourth year / about 400 people stranded in the woods of Grande Synthe

During the day of October 3, at least eight boats arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands, with 299 people on board, Aegean Boat Report states. More than 35,800 people had arrived this way since the begining of this year, accordinng to the UN’s statistics. In spite all the tragedies and harsh conditions people face (for a long time) once they reach the Aegean islands, there is a rise in the number of those who make an attempt and reach Greece by boat from Turkey."

More than 700 migrant arrivals in Lesvos in past 36 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 703 refugees and migrants arrived on the island of Lesvos between Tuesday midnight and Thursday noon, authorities announced on Thursday.

Based on the data, 191 people reached the island on Thursday, 177 on Wednesday and 335 on Tuesday.

The number of those hosted in and around the Moria reception centre has jumped 140 percent in the period July-September 2019 from 5,500 to a whopping 13,200, while, in the same period, 4,000 people have been transferred to reception facilities on the mainland."

Third Anniversary of EU-Turkey Statement: A Legal Analysis (Heinrich Böll Stiftung, link):

"During the EU-Turkey Summit held on 29 November 2015, parties agreed to support refugees fleeing civil war in Syria and their host country Turkey, and to implement a Joint Action Plan, adopted on 15 October 2015, which sought cooperation to prevent irregular migration flows to the European Union.

Sea Watch migrant rescue captain Carola Rackete criticizes EU lawmakers (DW, link):

"The Sea Watch 3 captain, who memorably defied Italy's landing ban, chastised EU lawmakers for the situation in the Mediterranean. She said rescuers were legally compelled not to return migrants to Libya as it is unsafe.

"The EU member states have engaged in a policy of externalization of their responsibilities and a practice of pushbacks and omissions of rescue, delegating interventions to a country at war, Libya, in breach of international law," Rackete said Thursday to both applause and jeers."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: PACE to Europe’s governments: ‘It is your duty not to let people drown in the Mediterranean’ (link):

"While welcoming the commitment of NGOs to carrying out sea rescues, the Assembly has insisted that “it is the duty of States not to let people drown in the Mediterranean.

States should also allow NGOs to carry out their life-saving missions in the Med, and refrain from “stigmatising” their work. The captains of all such rescue vessels should be able to disembark migrants and refugees in the nearest port of safety, as provided for in international maritime law."

See: Adopted Resolution (pdf)

Greece needs to face reality about asylum seekers (euobserver, link):

"The Greek islands are under the spotlight again, as a new wave of tragic events has hit asylum seekers trapped there.

On 29 September, a big fire broke out in Moria - the notorious camp on the island of Lesbos - killing one woman, and injuring at least nine more people, including a baby, the health ministry reported.

On 24 September, a truck killed a five-year-old Afghan boy who was playing just outside Moria.(...)

Comment: The latest government figures (3.10.19) show that a total of 30,666 refugees are present on the Greek islands. Including 14,930 on Lesvos with places for 3,000 and 6,028 on Samos with places for 648.

Does Frontex arrange illegal push backs? (link):

"The EU Border Agency’s air surveillance could have triggered unlawful deportations at external borders. Such operations took place off Libya and Bosnia-Herzegovina."

New Frontex Regulation: Fortress Europe to be upgraded (link):

"The European Union is setting up a "Standing Corps“ of 10,000 border guards, most of whom will be provided by the German Federal Police. The new President of the Commission wants the unit to be complete by 2024. Frontex will also be given more powers and change its organisational structure."

GREECE-ECHR: The remedies proposed to detained migrants in emergency reception centres in Greece were neither accessible nor sufficient (pdf):

"The case concerned the conditions of detention of Syrian, Afghan and Palestinian nationals in the “hotspots” of Vial and Souda (Greece), and the lawfulness of their detention in those camps.(...)

In contrast, the applicants, who did not have legal assistance, had not been able to understand the content of the information brochure; in particular, they were unable to understand the material relating to the various appeal possibilities available under domestic law. (...)

Even assuming that the remedies were effective, the Court did not see how the applicants could have exercised them. Having regard also to the findings of other international bodies, the Court considered that, in the circumstances of the case, the remedies in question had not been accessible to the applicants.

There had therefore been a violation of Article 5 § 4."

Judgment: Kaak et autres v Grèce (French only, application no. 34215/16, pdf)

Greece rushes to unblock camps after migrant deaths (Politico, link):

"Following a Cabinet meeting, the government said it would try to decongest camps on the Aegean islands, by transferring people to the mainland and setting up closed pre-departure centers for those who are to be deported or sent back to their country of origin. It also said it would create a “safe-country list” for people who have illegally entered Greece, making it easier to send them back if they are not at risk at home.

The goal is for some 20,000 people to leave the squalid conditions in the islands' reception centers, Greek officials said. The center-right government also aims to deport some 10,000 people in 2020, compared with the approximately 1,800 people deported in total during the past four and a half years under the previous left-wing Syriza government."

GREECE: Aegean Boat Report (2.10.19):

"At least 9 boats have arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands since yesterday, 392 people. (...)"and

"Today (1.10.19) at least 12 boats have arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands, 459 people. Seven of the boats arrived on Lesvos."

See also: Third group of refugees, migrants transferred from Moria (ekathimerini.com, link):

215 men, women and children were tranfered to the mainland on Tuesday 1 October folowing the death of a woman in Moria detention centre on Sunday. 350 were transfered the previous Friday.

Lesvos Legal Centre: Press release: Fatal fire inside Moria refugee camp (link):

"In what comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the hotspots on the Greek islands, yesterday a fire broke out inside Moria Refugee Camp, which currently houses approximately 13,000 people in unlivable, cramped ‘housing’. The fire apparently started after an electric short-circuit in one container and killed at least one woman and resulted in the severe injury of many others

After the fire was finally put out, with the assistance of many residents of the camp, and the bodies of several carried to ambulances, protests over the conditions inside the camp were met with excessive use of tear gas by the police."

GREECE-TURKEY: Koumoutsakos visiting Ankara amid spike in migrant arrivals (ekathimerini.com, link):

"speaking to members of the Parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee on Wednesday, Koumoutsakos said there was a 200 percent jump in the number of migrant arrivals in the last five months, and that the EU-Turkey statement worked until 2017, but as of 2018, there had been an “impressive increase.”

Can Schinas put EU values back into migration brief? (euobserver, link):

"The migration issue continues to dominate the EU corridors of power and its agenda.

The new EU leaders and member states will no doubt be reviewing the union's migration policies."

Greece must act to end dangerous overcrowding in island reception centres, EU support crucial (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today calling on Greece to urgently move thousands of asylum-seekers out of dangerously overcrowded reception centres on the Greek Aegean islands. Sea arrivals in September, mostly of Afghan and Syrian families, increased to 10,258 - the highest monthly level since 2016 – worsening conditions on the islands which now host 30,000 asylum-seekers.

The situation on Lesvos, Samos and Kos is critical. The Moria centre on Lesvos is already at five times its capacity with 12,600 people. At a nearby informal settlement, 100 people share a single toilet. Tensions remain high at Moria where a fire on Sunday in a container used to house people killed one woman. An ensuing riot by frustrated asylum-seekers led to clashes with police.

On Samos, the Vathy reception centre houses 5,500 people – eight times its capacity. Most sleep in tents with little access to latrines, clean water, or medical care. Conditions have also deteriorated sharply on Kos, where 3,000 people are staying in a space for 700.

Keeping people on the islands in these inadequate and insecure conditions is inhumane and must come to an end."

EU: 'Moria is hell': asylum seekers protest conditions at Greek camp (Reuters, link):

"Hundreds of asylum seekers protested conditions at Greece’s biggest migrant camp on Lesbos on Tuesday after a woman was killed in a fire there, marching towards the island’s capital before being halted by police.

More than 12,000 people - mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - live in Moria camp, which has grown to become the island’s second largest town in just three years.

The woman’s death on Sunday was the third there in two months. An Afghan teenager was killed in a fight in August and a five-year-old Afghan boy was accidentally run over by a truck while playing in a cardboard box outside the camp in September."

Letter from civil society organisations to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations: Protecting the rights of migrant children (pdf):

"Migrant children are being denied their right to survival and development, to education and family unity, to their cultural identity and to participation in our society by discriminatory and arbitrary migration policies and practices, are denied access to psychological recovery from those harms and to psycho-social, health and welfare resources, detained and separated from their families deliberately and without access to justice and protection measures. Those civil society members who provide assistance and who defend the rights of young migrants must also be free from the fear of prosecution and persecution for so doing, including punitive measures against their families.

There are no justifiable reasons for this systemic harm and abuse of children. States must find new solutions to their legitimate concerns to manage immigration. These measures MUST comply with all existing universally adopted children's rights standards, not be set against them."

September 2019


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-30.9.19) including:

- Greece: Deadly fire triggers protests at Moria refugee camp
- EU: 'Inhumane' Frontex returns going unreported
- The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?


UK: New report calls for root and branch reform of Home Office decision-making following Windrush scandal (Refugee Council, link):

"A new report out today from Freedom From Torture, the Refugee Council and six other leading organisations exposes the historical and systematic failures of asylum-decision making in the UK and makes the case for root-and-branch reform of the asylum and immigration system.

By examining 50 reports from 17 different organisations, including parliamentary committees, the United Nations, nongovernmental organisations, academics and independent inspectorates, Lessons Not Learned charts a 15-year history of criticism levelled at the Home Office. It identifies trends in the mishandling of asylum claims, and asks the crucial question as to why lessons have still not been learned."

Spanish-Moroccan borders upgraded with new cameras, facial recognition and a barbed wire 'swap'

The Spanish government is seeking a 50% reduction in illegal immigration and to achieve this goal is deploying new surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology at its borders with Morocco in Ceuta and Melilla. The Spanish government also plans to remove the barbed wire fences at those borders - but the Moroccan government is constructing its own.

Greece: Deadly fire triggers protests at Moria refugee camp (BBC News, link):

"At least one person has died after a fire broke out at an overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, local officials say.

They say the charred body of a woman was found at Moria camp. But unconfirmed reports say there was another victim, a child.

Police fired teargas against protesting migrants who said firefighters were too slow to respond to the blaze.

The camp houses about 12,000 people in tents and shipping containers.

But it only has an official capacity of 3,000 - leading to severe overcrowding."

EU extends Operation Sophia, Libyan coast guard cooperation despite hefty criticism (InfoMigrants, link):

"The European Union has extended Operation Sophia, its anti-migrant-smuggling mission along the Libyan Mediterranean coast, by six months to the end of March 2020. Actual naval operations remain halted, however; the mandate now mainly consists of air support and training Libya’s controversial coast guard, Europe’s go-to partner to stem migration.

European Union member states resolved to extend the naval mission Operation Sophia for another six months. The mandate was due to expire at the end of September, According to a press release by the European Council, the core aim of the operation, which was set up four years ago, is to "disrupt the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers" in the southern central Mediterranean. Albeit not an official goal, the desired result is fewer migrants successfully crossing the Mediterranean Sea from northern Africa to Europe."

Sweden: Deportations on the Rise and Self-harm Widespread (ECRE, link):

"2600 rejected asylum seekers have been deported from Sweden by plane between January and August 2019. In September 50 Afghan nationals were deported to Kabul in a single day. Information from the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) reveals that self-harm is wide-spread among asylum seekers in Sweden.

With 2,600 deportations in the first seven months of 2019 the number of deportations from Sweden is likely to increase despite a significant decrease of arrivals since 2015, when a total of 2,810 people were deported. The number of escorted deportations is also rising – cases where rejected asylum seekers are reported to the police as at risk of disappearing or refusing deportation."

EU: 'Inhumane' Frontex forced returns going unreported (EUobserver, link):

"On a late evening August flight last year from Munich to Afghanistan, an Afghan man seated in the back of the plane struggled to breath as a German escort officer repeatedly squeezed his testicles.

The man, along with another Afghan who had tried to kill himself, was being forcibly removed from Germany and sent back to a country engulfed in war.

The EU's border agency Frontex coordinated and helped pay for the forced return operation, as part of a broader bid to remove from Europe unwanted migrants and others whose applications for international protection had been rejected.

...The flight journey from Munich highlights a stunning omission from Frontex responsibilities - adding to concerns the EU agency is failing to maintain standards when it comes to coordinating forced-returns in a humane manner. "

EU: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

Germany, France, Italy and Malta have drafted a declaration (pdf) establishing a "predictable and efficient temporary solidarity mechanism" aimed at ensuring the "dignified disembarkation" of people rescued at sea in the Mediterranean. If those rescued are eligible for international protection they will be relocated to a participating EU member state within four weeks, while ineligible persons will be subject to "effective and quick return."

Asylum seeker denied cancer treatment by Home Office dies (The Guardian, link):

"An Ethiopian woman who was denied potentially life-saving cancer treatment for six weeks amid confusion about whether she should be charged by the NHS has died aged 39.

Kelemua Mulat, who had advanced breast cancer, was refused chemotherapy last year after Home Office and NHS officials decided that she was not eligible for free care."

Five EU interior ministers want quotas for shipwrecked refugees (DW, link):

"At a meeting in Malta, the three largest countries in the EU want to find a solution to the issue of distributing migrants. Will other countries follow their lead? Bernd Riegert reports. (...)

Maltese Interior Minister Michael Farrugia to invite his new Italian colleague, as well as interior ministers from Germany, France and Finland, to come to Malta in hopes of establishing new rules laying out how the EU will deal with migrants rescued while crossing the Mediterranean from Libya."

Sassoli: Migration agreement respects fundamental principles of Parliament’s proposal (EP News, link):

"“Finally we move in the direction outlined by the European Parliament.”

This was the first reaction by European Parliament President David Sassoli on the agreement reached today in Valletta between four EU countries: France, Germany, Italy and Malta, on the redistribution of asylum seekers arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-23.9.19)
LESVOS: Journey back to the borders - melody and rhythm of freedom for all (w2eu.net, link)

"Small concert and musical activities in memory with welcome to europe

We would like to look back on migrant struggles and we want to face the reality today on the island. A reality of an organized permanent crisis, with the hot-spots like Moria made to deter people and break their will to move freely – but people continue moving. 10 years after Noborder ‘09 on Lesvos we want to celebrate continuity and stubbornness we have learned together in these migrant struggles."

See: Lost at border (pdf):

"We want to give back a piece of dignity, to those who died – right here – into the senselessness of the European borders – and we want to thank those who risk their lives to rescue.

All of these dead people have a face, a name. All of them leave behind relatives and friends. Besides the bodies also their hopes and dreams are lost."

Sudanese migrant killed after disembarking in Tripoli (ansamed.info, link):

"A Sudanese migrant was killed by gunshot on Thursday in Tripoli, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM), whose staff witnessed the tragedy. It said the death occurred at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli, where 103 migrants had just disembarked and were resisting being taken back to detention centres. A group of armed men began shooting in the air when several migrants tried to run away from their guards. The Sudanese migrant was hit in the stomach and died despite receiving immediate medical care on site from IOM staff.

The man was part of a group of migrants who had just been brought back to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard, (...)"

EU ministers in Malta to thrash out new migrant system (euractiv, link):

"Interior ministers from four EU countries meet Monday (23 September) in Malta to try to work out an automatic system to determine which countries will welcome migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean.

The ministers from France, Germany, Italy and Malta hope to end the long, drawn-out negotiations that have seen vulnerable asylum seekers including babies stranded at sea, sometimes for weeks."

Hundreds of migrants reach Lesvos; Moria bursting at the seams (ekathimerini.com, link):

"nother 408 migrants reached the island of Lesvos by Friday noon, of which 73 arrived by sailboat, the general police directorate of the Northern Aegean said in a press release.

The new arrivals raise the total number of migrants living in the overcrowded identification center of Moria to 12,000, when the camp's capacity is for 3,000."

And see: Greek PM to seek international help with migration problem (ekathimerini.com, link)

Far right Britain First patrolling beaches to ‘catch migrants’ (Metro link):

"It says it is determined to stop people who undertake the dangerous journey from Britain to France on small boats ‘from landing on our shores’. Calling it ‘Operation White Cliffs’ the far right group focuses on the beaches of South England. Wearing high vis jackets and carrying torches and binoculars, they search the area looking for migrants."

Using latest tech for border management (geospatialworld.net,link):

"While a lot of tasks performed by people in border management must not be replaced by Artificial Intelligence, it is important to use new and emerging technologies to prepare for those tasks, emphasizes Berndt Körner, Deputy Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex."

Niger: Has Securitisation Stopped Traffickers? (ispionline.it/itispionline.it, link):

"In the past five years there has been an increase in border controls and foreign military presence in Niger; paradoxically this has only diversified and professionalised the criminal networks operating there. In fact, this development was to be expected. "
Italy, France agree on 'automatic' distribution of migrants (DW, link):

"France and Italy have agreed on a new system to distribute migrants across the European Union. It comes ahead of an interior ministers meeting in Malta next week."

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life' (euobserver, link) by Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"What is the "European way of life"?

In a continent as geographically, linguistically and culturally diverse as ours, this is very difficult to answer.

The way that Europeans live their lives is informed by centuries of history, enriched by overlapping traditions and the shared experience of different peoples, from long-settled communities to new arrivals, living side by side.

In today's turbulent times, we believe it is more fruitful to reflect on what constitute European values, and how these can be applied and strengthened in an era of globalisation and mass migration."

French Dunkirk camp cleared as migrants try to reach UK (BBC News, link):

"French police have begun an operation to evacuate a gymnasium and a tent camp near the northern port of Dunkirk amid an increase in migrants trying to cross the Channel.

Some 1,000 people, many of them Iraqi Kurds, have been living on the Grande Synthe site."

Arrests made after migrants identify 'torturers' in camp in Sicily (The Guardian, link):

"Detectives in Sicily have arrested three men who allegedly raped and tortured dozens of migrants in a detention centre in the north-west of Libya.

Prosecutors in Agrigento have collected testimonies from numerous asylum seekers from north Africa who allegedly recognised their former captors at a migrant registration centre in Messina, Sicily.

The three alleged captors, a 27-year-old Guinean man and two Egyptians aged 24 and 26, are accused of torture, kidnapping and human trafficking."

See: The ongoing disasters in Libya

Turkey stops 300,000 irregular migrants en route to EU so far this year (Daily Sabah, link):

"According to the migration authority's most recent data, the authorities have intercepted some 269,059 irregular migrants between the period of Jan. 1 and Sept. 12. The number is expected to rise until the end of the year. Last year Turkey intercepted 268,003 illegal migrants. The number was 146,485 in 2015, 174,466 in 2016 and 175,752 in 2017 – meaning the number has almost doubled over the last three years."

Hungary: Government extends the “state of crisis due to mass migration” (AIDA, link):

"On 6 September 2019, the Hungarian Government announced it would extend the “state of crisis due to mass migration” until 7 March 2020 to protect the country's security and borders.

To justify this extension, the Government referred to the 7,000 irregular border crossing attempts that have been registered since the beginning of the year as well as to the “critical situation in Serbia and the thousand illegal migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina and some 30,000 migrants in Greece”. It further argued that, without Hungary’s southern fences and border control activities, the country would face a similar scenario to the so-called 2015 “migration crisis” and become the main transit route of irregular migration."

The ongoing disasters in Libya

- There are between 700,000 and 1 million migrants in Libya

- "migrants and refugees rescued or intercepted at sea being transferred to detention centres [with a] lack of traceability, transparency and accountability"

- "The government’s reluctance to address the problems raises the question of its own involvement."

See: Note from the Council Presidency to national delegations; Libya and the surrounding area: current situation and need for immediate action (LIMITE doc no: 115381, pdf)

Aid workers warn of catastrophe in Greek refugee camps (Guardian, link):

"At least 24,000 people are trapped in vastly overcrowded Aegean island camps in squalid conditions.

"Children being bitten by scorpions, rats and snakes; hundreds being forced to use a single shower; the stench of human excrement never far away; and food shortages becoming the norm. One by one, Sophie McCann lists the degradations of life for refugees detained on Lesbos, the Greek island on the frontline of a new surge of asylum seekers desperate to reach Europe.

McCann, a British advocacy manager with Médecins Sans Frontières, like other aid workers, is now raising the alarm: at least 24,000 men, women and children trapped in vastly overcrowded Aegean island camps are being subjected to conditions so harrowing they bear all the hallmarks of humanitarian catastrophe. Four years after the greatest migration crisis in modern times, there are fears history is repeating itself."

Ireland should more than double intake of refugees to meet 'fair share', migrant group says (Irish Examiner, link):

"Ireland should more than double its annual intake of refugees over the coming three years to meet its “fair share” of the projected global refugee resettlement need, a migrant umbrella group has said.

The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition said Ireland had taken in almost 2,600 people under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) in the four years since September 2015, averaging at 650 people per year."

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA): The systematic rejections of family reunification requests from Greece by Germany and their detrimental impact upon the right to family life and the best interest of the child (pdf, link):

"While the Dublin Regulation - the “cornerstone” of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) - has been repeatedly and not unjustly criticized as an unfair and ineffective mechanism for the allocation of responsibility for the examination of asylum applications submitted in different European member states, its family reunification procedure remains until today one of the scarce safe legal routes to fulfill the rights and core principles of family unity, the best interest of the child and the right to family life."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-16.9.19)
Ocean Viking: Rescued migrants disembark in Italy (BBC News, link):

"Eighty-two migrants have disembarked on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa after six days at sea.

Italy says it is allowing the ship, the Ocean Viking, to offload the migrants as most of those on board will be relocated to other EU countries."

Greece says time for EU to step up and deal with migration issue (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece's migration policy minister says the European Union's Mediterranean states are in a better position to convince other EU partners to help them cope with migrant arrivals.

Giorgos Koumoutsakos says the incoming European Commission's priority to forge a new EU migration policy affords Mediterranean states the opportunity to underscore their own concerns.

Koumoutsakos says that between 4,500 and 5,000 migrants entered the EU from its eastern Mediterranean frontier last month, nearly four times more than anywhere else in the Med."

FRONTEX: Migratory situation in August – Slight increase on main migratory routes (pdf, link):

"There were nearly 9 300 detections in August 2019* on the Eastern Mediterranean route accounting for nearly three-quarters of the total number of irregular migrants reaching Europe. This was double the figure from the same month of last year due to a large number of boats reaching the Greek islands in eastern Aegean, especially Lesbos, in late August.

In the first eight months of this year, the total number of detections in this region was up 10% from a year ago to more than 38 300." [emphasis added]

Child Immigration Detention is Not Only Wrong, It Is Ineffective (link):

" Today, the United Nations Network on Migration strongly reiterates its position that child immigration detention must be ended in every region of the world. Detention of children for immigration purposes - whether they are traveling alone or with their families – has been recognized as a child rights violation and can be highly damaging to their physical and psychological health and wellbeing. Detention of children based on their migratory status is thus never in their best interests.

Community-based programmes, case management and other human rights-based alternatives have proven highly effective and all governments should work to replace immigration detention for children and families with appropriate reception and care arrangements."

WEST BALKANS: Illegal push-backs and border violence report: August (Border Violence Monitoring Network, pdf):

"- Torture: Recurrence of extreme violence and abuse
- Pushback from Italy
- Beyond police: Actors within the pushback framework
- Further dispersion of pushback sites in NW Bosnia
- Trends in pushback sites to and from Greece."

.

MSF: 3 migrant children attempted suicide, 17 had injured themselves (Keep Talking Greece,link):

"Children are the real victims of the Migration policy, many of them are not in position to comply with the harsh realities. According to a press release by Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Greece, in the summer months of July and August, three children attempted suicide and 17 had injured themselves. Ten of a total of 73 children referred to MSF were under the age of six, the youngest being just two."

Over 3,400 migrants reached Greece in September (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 3,469 migrants arrived at Greece's northern Aegean islands from the start of September till Friday morning, according to figures published by the region's general police directorate.

Breaking down the numbers, 2,078 foreign nationals arrived on Lesvos, 589 on Chios and 802 on Samos since September 1."

UNHCR reports that so far this year refugee arrivals have been: 36,386 to Greece, 19,782 to Spain, 5,796 to Italy, 1,585 to Malta and 794 to Cyprus.

GREECE: Migration exploited for leverage, says former police inspector general (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey is exploiting the migrant crisis as a form of leverage in its relations with the European Union, but also on a bilateral level, with our country,” she stressed.

She also revealed that three meetings between Greek and Turkish officials that had been scheduled to take place in April, May and June at the Evros border between the two countries had been canceled by Turkey."

ECRE: The College of Commissioners: What’s in a Name? (link):

"A furore has erupted over the unfortunately named “Protecting Our European Way of Life” portfolio, with concern centring on the rather, let us say, fascistic connotation of the expression. (...)

the Home Affairs Commissioner’s mission, the talk is of “challenges” and “concerns” of Europeans. This framing is immediately othering in that it sets up oppositions between Europeans and migrants, security and the threat of people on the move (...)

Some Dutch police using excessive force against immigrants: report (Daily Sabah, link):

"Some Dutch police centers, especially those located in the Hague, use excessive force against immigrants, according to a report published Friday by Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS).

The NOS report said that the discriminative incidents and the cases in which police used excessive force against immigrants are especially related with the Hoefkade Police Station in Schilderswijk – a district known for its large immigrant population."

Germany prepared to take in 25% of migrants who arrive in Italy by sea (DW, link):

"Interior Minister Seehofer has made the gesture ahead of EU talks on migration later this month. The issue has been one of hot debate in recent years following a spate of arrivals in the Mediterranean."

Italy's new government says migrants can disembark from rescue boat (Guardian, link)

"Rome’s new left-leaning government breaks from era of hardline immigration measures pushed by Matteo Salvini."

Deportations to Turkey – overview: August 2019 (Deportation Monitoring Aegean, link)

EU extends Operation Sophia for 6 months, still without ships (Politico, link):

"spokeswoman declared that "Sophia is a maritime operation and it's clear that without naval assets, the operation will not be able to effectively implement its mandate." (...)

Four diplomats told POLITICO the decision to extend the mandate on its current terms was taken on Thursday by the EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC), which is composed of member countries' ambassadors and deals with defense and foreign policy issues.

Despite the six-month extension, one diplomat said the PSC could "revert to the matter much earlier if needed” — a hint that naval assets might return to the mission sooner."

See also: Operation ‘Sophia’ is Given Six More Months Without Ships (ECRE, link)

Inside Lampedusa, the Front Line of Europe’s Migration Crisis (The Global Post, link):

"recent shakeup in the Italian government, Salvini is now out of power, making the future of the migrant situation in Lampedusa unclear. To help shed light on the situation, The Globe Post spoke to Alberto Mallardo of Mediterranean Hope, a project of the Federation of protestant Churches in Italy created in 2014 to analyze migration flows in the region and assist migrants and asylum seekers who arrive on Lampedusa.

Mediterranean Hope also includes the Observatory on Mediterranean migration, based in Lampedusa and coordinated on the field by Mallardo."

Lesvos: Head of Moria hot spot submits his resignation (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The head of the hot spot of Moria on the island of Lesvos submitted his resignation to the political leadership of the Ministry for Citizens’ Protection on Wednesday afternoon.

Citing personal reasons, the Manager of the Reception and Identification Center, Ioannis Balbakakis said that he was “tired” and he had to go.

“I leave with my head up at doing what I needed to do in difficult situations. I am neither leaving as a thief nor leaving as a protesting politician. I’m leaving because I have to leave. I’m tired."

Are You Syrious (11.9.19, link)

FEATURE

"On 1 September a group made up of three women, and six men experienced a violent group expulsion by the Romanian border police, volunteers active in Serbia have reported.

The policemen asked who in the group spoke English, and then proceeded to beat up each of the English speakers. One of the girls tried to move, but they beat her with their boots and batons. She fainted briefly and did not regain consciousness for five minutes. Then she helped her friend and was beaten again as punishment."

MALTA

"For the second time in a week, people detained at the Malta migration center protested and demanded their release. After disembarking on Malta from NGO boats, people are held in detention until they have undergone a health check, the official reason given by authorities. As former detainees report, the conditions in this center are grave and people are not told how long they have to stay there."

Aegean Boat Report (link):

"Total number of refugees on the islands: 25,484."

. Germany pressures Greece to step up migrant deportations to Turkey (DW, link):

"Germany has also called on Turkey to accept the repatriations as part of a 2016 agreement between Ankara and the EU. A recent upswell in illegal crossings has led to rapidly deteriorating conditions in Greek camps.

Germany's Interior Ministry on Thursday called for Greece to step-up deportations to Turkey, as well as for stronger efforts to stem the flow of illegal crossings to Greek islands in the first place.

Stephan Mayer, the parliamentary secretary in the Interior Ministry, said, "We urgently need to make progress in small repatriations to Turkey, to improve the deteriorating conditions at certain hot spots on the islands."

Speaking with the Funke Mediengruppe news publisher, Mayer described the situation on the Greek destinations closest to Turkey as "very difficult."

EU to discuss boatless Operation Sophia (euobserver, link):

"Ambassadors representing member states will meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss extending the mandate of the defunct and boatless Naval Operation Sophia. Sophia is mandated to crackdown on migrant trafficking, but had all its boats pulled following an Italian backlash over where to disembark people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea."

EU: New EU deportation law breaches fundamental rights standards and should be rejected

A proposed new EU law governing standards and procedures for deportations would breach fundamental rights standards, massively expand the use of detention, limit appeal rights and undermine 'voluntary' return initiatives. It should be rejected by the European Parliament and the Council, argues a new analysis published today by Statewatch: Analysis (pdf)

The original Returns Directive was agreed in 2008, but a proposal for a 'recast' version was published by the European Commission in September 2018 as one a number of measures aiming to crack down on "illegally staying third-country nationals" in the EU.

NGO rescue ship barred from Italy despite new government (Guardian, link):

"Alan Kurdi vessel awaits safe port as leaders promise to revise Salvini’s hardline law.

An NGO rescue ship with five people onboard has been barred from landing in Italy, despite the new left-leaning government in Rome vowing to change the hardline immigration laws of the former interior minister Matteo Salvini.

The Alan Kurdi, operated by the German NGO Sea-Eye, has been awaiting a safe port since 31 August after rescuing 13 people fleeing Tunisia."

Switzerland: Former local MP must not be punished for aiding asylum-seekers (AI, link):

"Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal against the conviction of former local MP, Lisa Bosia Mirra, fined almost 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000 US) for helping 24 Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers to cross the Italian border into Switzerland, Amnesty International Researcher, Rym Khadhraoui said:

“Lisa Bosia Mirra’s actions were examples of humanity rather than criminality. By helping asylum seekers, who were mostly unaccompanied minors, to access protection in Switzerland, she committed no crime but instead showed compassion to desperate people – some of who had suffered torture."

Greek PM urges talks, rejects Turkish refugee ‘threats (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis rejected on Sunday (8 September) Turkish “threats” to let Syrian refugees come en masse to Europe unless more international aid was provided and called for neighbourly dialogue instead."

Europe Keeps Asylum Seekers at a Distance, This Time in Rwanda (New York Times, link):

"Under the agreement with Rwanda, which is expected to be signed in the coming weeks, the east African country will take in about 500 migrants evacuated from Libya and host them until they are resettled to new homes or sent back to their countries of origin.

It will offer a way out for a lucky few, but ultimately the Rwandan center is likely to run into the same delays and problems as the one in Agadez.

“The Niger program has suffered from a lot of setbacks, hesitation, very slow processing by European and other countries, very low numbers of actual resettlements,” said Ms. Sunderland of Human Rights Watch. “There’s not much hope then that the exact same process in Rwanda would lead to dramatically different outcomes.”"

Morocco Cracks Down on Migrants as Spain and EU Pay Out (The Globe Times, link):

"The number of migrants arriving by sea in Spain has plunged with Morocco clamping down on boat departures since signing lucrative agreements with Madrid and Brussels, experts say.

While Madrid praises its cooperation with Rabat, human rights groups accuse Morocco of forcibly preventing migrants form boarding boats to Spain.

So far this year 15,683 migrants have arrived by sea, 45 percent down on the first eight months of 2018, according to Spanish interior ministry figures."

:See also: Statewatch Analysis: "Migration control, not rescue": squeezing search and rescue in the Mediterraneaane by Jane Kilpatrick


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-8.9.19) including:

- Britain and France to strengthen joint action against small boats
- Turkey's Erdogan threatens to 'open the gates' for migrants to Europe
- Legal Centre Lesvos denounces the Greek governments proposed changes to the Asylum procedure
- Europe’s Complicity in Turkey’s Syrian-Refugee Crackdown


Britain and France to strengthen joint action against small boats (gov.uk, link):

"The Home Secretary and her French counterpart have agreed to intensify joint action to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel.

Priti Patel met French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner in Paris yesterday evening to discuss what more can be done to deter migrants making the perilous journey across one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world."

See also: Action plan on small boats crossing the Channel published: more information-sharing, €3.6 million for new security equipment, joint return operations (Statewatch News)

Turkey's Erdogan threatens to 'open the gates' for migrants to Europe (euronews.com, link):

" Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will "open the gates" for migrants to Europe if international support for a refugee safe zone in northern Syria fails to materialise.

Turkey's president said on Thursday (September 5) he plans to resettle one million refugees in northern Syria."

GREECE: One dead as 13 migrants rescued off Samos (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Samos coast guard officials on Friday rescued 13 migrants near the seaside village of Kokkari along the northeastern coast of the eastern Aegean island.

Officials also discovered the body of a 65-year-old woman who, fellow occupants said, died during the crossing from Turkey. Officials said the woman appeared to have died of natural causes."

EU countries extend welcome to Eleonore migrants without Italy (DW, link):

"Five EU member states have said they agree to receive the 104 migrants aboard the German charity rescue boat. The EU will schedule a special meeting in autumn to discuss possible migrant distribution mechanisms."

France: Immigrant Children Being Denied Protection - Flawed Procedures in Alps Region Mirror Those in Paris, Elsewhere (HRW, link):

"Unaccompanied children arriving in France’s Alpine region undergo flawed age assessment procedures that deny many access to needed protection, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 80-page report, “Subject to Whim: The Treatment of Unaccompanied Migrant Children in the French Hautes-Alpes,” found that examiners whose job is to certify a child’s status as a minor – that is, under age 18 – do not comply with international standards."

Neither fair nor realistic? How the EU deals with Afghan asylum seekers (Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration, link):

"Over the past ten years, almost 580,000 Afghan nationals have applied for asylum in the European Union. Afghanistan was the second most important country of origin among asylum seekers in the EU, after Syria. The way the EU Member States deal with them is subject to much controversy. Despite a worsening security situation in their country of origin, on average more than half of all asylum claims by Afghans are rejected. They are also confronted with severe injustices as their recognition rates vary greatly, depending on where in the EU their claims are examined. Among the many who are rejected, a majority risk ending up in protracted legal and social limbo situations as they are required to leave the EU, but are in reality rarely returned to their country of origin."

PRESS RELEASE: Legal Centre Lesvos denounces the Greek governments proposed changes to the Asylum procedure .(pressenza.com, link):

"On Saturday 31st August, the Spokesperson for the Greek Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence announced that a meeting had taken place with the Prime Minister and that seven measures of immediate action would be implemented in order to address the increasing number of people arriving on the Greek Islands.

We express serious concern that one of the measures announced is the intention of the Greek government to abolish the appeal stage of the asylum procedure, so that if an asylum application is rejected, they will proceed immediately with the return of the applicant to their country of origin."

Ankara rejects EU claim of increasing migration from Turkey to Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"urkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has refuted recent claims by EU officials that there has been an increasing migrant flow from Turkey to Greece, the country’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Wednesday.

The Greek government recently announced emergency measures to tackle the arrival of “huge waves of refugees” on its islands, who it claimed to have come from Turkey. The EU has voiced “deep concern” over recent developments."

Statewatch Analysis: Spain-Morocco: "Migration control, not rescue": squeezing search and rescue in the Mediterranean

As the EU's member states continue to discuss half-hearted plans for search and rescue and the disembarkation of migrants, they are also putting in place measures to prevent their own maritime safety authorities from carrying out rescues. At the same time, they are pressuring under-resourced and unwilling non-EU states to take on rescue tasks. As reports from Spain show, the results are deadly.

Europe’s Complicity in Turkey’s Syrian-Refugee Crackdown (The Atlantic, link):

"UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, and the European Commission have not said whether they believe Turkey is deporting Syrians. But one senior EU official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the issue, estimated that about 2,200 people were sent to the Syrian province of Idlib, though he said it was unclear whether they were forcibly deported or chose to return. The official added that, were Turkey forcibly deporting Syrians, this would be in explicit violation of the principle of non-refoulement, on which the EU-Turkey deal is conditioned."

USA: DHS to store tens of thousands of refugee biometric records from UNHCR (Biometric Update, link):

"The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) began sharing records including fingerprints, iris scans, and facial biometrics of refugees it is recommending for resettlement consideration in the U.S. with the country’s Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), Nextgov reports.

The UNHCR sends tens of thousands of profiles to federal agencies each year, according to the report, and the Department of Homeland Services (DHS) is retaining the data for all of them, including those who do not actually come to the U.S." (emphasis added)

 Croatian police uses electroshock torture on a migrant minor (h-alter.org, link):

"In another one in a series of cases of mistreatments and beatings of migrants that are being pushed back from the border, officials of the Croatian border police brutally attacked K.S., a minor from Afghanistan, according to the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia. The boy, who survived severe physical and psychological torture, was first separated from a group of 16 migrants and beaten up at the border. After that he was detained in a dark room where he was beaten by four border police officers and subjected to electroshock torture.

According to the Commissariat, the police seized the boy's phone and money and physically injured him. After they caught him at the border, he was locked in a dark room, where the officials questioned him. They forced him to take his clothes off, made him get into water, where they The Commissariat expressed concern and outrage over these practices, and warned representatives of the international community about the enormous use of violence by the Croatian border police, as well as flagrant human rights violationsreleased electricity through a shocker, which led to him losing consciousness.

In this horrific "incident", the 16-year old boy suffered a rib fracture and internal bleeding, a hematoma of the head and lost a lot of blood, it is explained in the statement of the Commissariat published by N1 Serbia."

NGOs statement: LESS THAN 48H FOR AN ILLEGAL DEPORTATION, BUT STILL NO RETURN ORDERED THREE WEEKS AFTER COURT DECISION (pdf):

"After a German court questions legality of controversial “Seehofer Deal” betweenGreece and Germany,the undersigning organisationsdemand the immediate implementation of the judicial order."

Turkish sailors save refugees off Canary Islands (hurriyetdailynews.com, link):

"A Turkish ship has rescued 24 African refugees stranded on a boat off the Canary Islands.

The crew members of the ship Ekmen Trans spotted a boat carrying refugees some 60 miles off Spanish island Gran Canaria.

The refugees, including three children, a pregnant woman and 20 other adults, were taken up to the ship."

UK: U-turn over plan to end freedom of movement on 31 October (Guardian, link):

"Legal experts warned against Priti Patel’s decision to change law immediately after Brexit deadline."

Greece moves hundreds of asylum-seekers from crowded island camp (in-cyprus.com, link):

"Some 635 people, mostly families, boarded a passenger ship on Monday for facilities in northern Greece, and more were due to leave later in the day."

EXARCHIA area under police attack by the new right government in Greece (voidnetwork.gr, link):

"The famous rebel and solidarity district of Athens is completely surrounded by huge police forces: many riot police buses (MAT), anti-Terrorism Police (OPKE), motor bike policemen (Dias), members of the secret police as well as a helicopter and several drones.

Unique place in Europe for its high concentration of squats and other self-managed spaces, but also for its resistance against repression and solidarity with the precarious and migrants, Exarchia has been in major focus of the right government since its election on July 7th."

Italy: Salvini is out, but migrants still endure his policies (DW, link)

"The outgoing interior minister closed Italy's refugee camps and its ports. But even with Matteo Salvini out of government, asylum-seekers are still trapped in a cycle of homelessness, harassment and frustration (...)

We have to be careful — we've been hindered by the police a dozen times," says Marlene Micheloni. She explains that while they can't arrest volunteers for handing out food, they have tried their best to intimidate them out of doing so."

Home Office planning to end family reunion for children after Brexit - Exclusive: Current system for asylum-seeking minors set to end the day after UK leaves EU (Guardian, link):

"The Home Office is preparing to end the current system of family reunification for asylum-seeking children if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Guardian has learned.

The government has privately briefed the UN refugee agency UNHCR and other NGOs that open cases may be able to progress, but a no-deal Brexit would mean no new applications after 1 November from asylum-seeking children to be reunited with relatives living in the UK."

Refugee Lessons: Let us Free Like the Birds ! (Samos Chronicles, link):

"My life has been turned upside down amd inside out. My brain has never had to work so hard to make sense, to survive and to live. For some of my hardest years, the system saw me and treated me as illegal. That is a big experience. I learnt much. But above all I thought about being human and being free. Syria: Now 24 years old I was born in Aleppo in northern Syria (...)

And: For Whom Do You Fly ? Zeppelin over Samos (link):

"The Zeppelin was launched six weeks ago with much fanfare about protecting and hardening European borders. The Samos authorities were so proud to be the first EU country to deploy an airship for this purpose. BUT since taking to the skies on the end of its 1000 metre tether, the flow of refugees here has increased significantly! It is wonderful to see as their arrivals torpedoes the stupidity of deterrence."

ABR: Aegean Boat Report (link):

"Aegean Boat Report is an independent Norwegian NGO, volunteer-run media site, determined to provide neutral, detailed and correct information on boats and arrivals in the Aegean Sea.

Aegean Boat Report has proven to be the most detailed source of information, used by organizations, volunteers and journalists, in search of a better understanding of the ongoing refugee crisis." Donate (link)


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

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