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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"

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October 2018

Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa (euobserver, link):

"Disagreements over the EU's internal asylum reforms remained entrenched after the EU summit on Thursday (18 October) - with notions of solidarity broadly dismissed as leaders press ahead to offshore migration with the supposed help of north African states.

The Brussels summit, where heads of state and government meet to thrash out solutions, failed to reach any agreement on long outstanding issues over the key EU asylum reforms that seek to better manage administrative bottlenecks and their adjoining political headaches."

And see: Reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is in a mess (Statewatch News)

Northern Africa: Europe’s new border guard? (euractiv, link):

"As another EU summit gets underway, Leïla Bodeux and Davide Gnes wonder what values Europeans are willing to give up in order to stop migration.

Leïla Bodeux and Davide Gnes are policy officers on asylum, migration and development at Caritas Europa. (...)

In fact, EU engagement with countries of origin and transit for the purpose of stopping migration is nothing new. Propositions to enhance cooperation on migration management and border control in order to prevent departures of irregular migrants and to re-admit those returned from Europe have for long been sugar-coated with promises of economic investment, trade cooperation or development aid."

UNHCR: Refugee arrivals in 2018 (16 October): Sea arrivals: 90,562, Land Arrivals 5,288: Greece: 24,999, Italy 21, 631, Spain: 48,807, Cyprus 413. Dead or missing: 1,834.

CJEU: Advocate General Szpunar proposes that the Court should rule that the ‘Returns Directive’ must be applied to third-country national where internal border controls have been reinstated (pdf):

"The Advocate General therefore concludes therefrom that a Member State must apply the stages of the return procedure laid down in the ‘Returns Directive’ to the situation of a third-country national stopped or intercepted in connection with the irregular crossing of an internal border at which border controls have been reinstated by application of the Schengen Borders Code."

Are You Syrious (link, 16.10.18):

AFGHANISTAN

Report on child returnees from Save the Children

"Save the Children have released a report about the situation for children returned to Afghanistan from EU states the lack of protection they receive and the extreme danger they are placed in. The report concluded that “Children returning to Afghanistan face difficulties in accessing reliable shelter, education, jobs and medical support, and risk recruitment to armed groups and physical harm due to conflict. Child returnees face psychosocial and in some cases legal challenges,"

GREECE: Arrivals

"Aegean Boat Report state that three boats have arrived on the Greek islands today carrying a total of 125 people.

The first boat was picked up outside the airport by HCG, Lesvos south at 08.30. 57 people. No breakdown available.

The second boat arrived in port at Chios at 08.30 carrying 33 people, 5 children, 9 women and 19 men from Syria, Kuwait, Palestine and Iraq.

A further boat landed outside the airport, Chios at 22.00 carrying 35 people, 1 woman and 34 men,

Land Arrivals: About 200 people were reported to have waded across Evros river today into Greece from Turkey."

European Parliament Study: Humanitarian visas: European Added Value Assessment accompanying the European Parliament's legislative own-initiative report (pdf):

"it concludes that EU legislation on humanitarian visas could close this effectiveness and fundamental rights protection gap by offering safe entry pathways, reducing irregular migration and result in increased management, coordination and efficiency in the asylum process, as well as promoting fair cost-sharing."

EU budgets for the externalisation of migration control: Austrian Presidency seeks Member State views

How do the Member States think EU budgets should be spent on the externalisation of migration control? That was the subject of a questionnaire issued to Member States' representatives in September 2018, in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the EU's budget for the 2021-27 period.

UN experts: concern over EU's attempts to seal borders, close protection space and disregard human rights and humanitarianism

In September eight UN working groups, independent experts and special rapporteurs issued a statement highlighting serious concerns over the ongoing attempts to reform the EU's migration and asylum systems. Their paper was addressed to the informal summit of EU heads of state and government in Salzburg in September, but remains relevant given the ongoing discussions in the EU on the Common European Asylum System and revamping of EU agencies such as Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

FRANCE-ITALY: French police admit taking two migrants over the Italian border 'by mistake' (The Local, link):

"French gendarmes have admitted driving two undocumented immigrants over the Italian border without Italy's permission, in what the French authorities said was a mistake.

The incident took place last Friday, when Italian police spotted a van belonging to their French counterparts near Claviere, a ski resort on the border between south-east France and north-west Italy that runs through the Alps.

The French officers reportedly ushered two men out of the vehicle into some nearby woodland, then drove back towards France."

EU: Solidarity vs ‘securitarian obsessions’ (EurActiv, link) by Progressive Caucus of the European Parliament:

"The sudden and substantial increase of migrants’ flow to Europe over the last years has produced a severe political and identity crisis within the EU, a crisis that risks undermining its basic principles and values, and fostering the rise of xenophobic nationalism, writes the Progressive Caucus of the European Parliament.

For this reason, migration is probably the greatest challenge the EU has to deal with in the near future. It is also a common challenge for all the Progressive forces in Europe.

In recent months, arrivals to the Mediterranean coasts have substantially decreased because of the border externalisation measures taken by the EU and its members, including the agreements with Turkey and Libya. This led certain governments to celebrate the result as a victory.

What they do not mention are the consequences these measures have produced on migrants’ lives: deaths at sea have proportionally increased and crossing the Mediterranean is becoming more dangerous. In addition, migrants are choosing new and routes that are more dangerous and many of them are trapped in Libya, victims of violence and exploitation."

GREECE: Victims of Torture: the invisible side of the refugee population vulnerability (Metadrasi, link):

"Imprisonment in inhuman conditions, extreme tactics of physical abuse, rape, daily psychological violence. In many countries of the world, unthinkable ways of cruel and degrading treatment are still being practiced in order to punish, intimidate, interrogate. Among the refugees arriving in Greece, a high percentage are victims of torture, but they often constitute the “invisible” faces of the vulnerable refugee population.

The act of torture aims to break the resistance of the victims, while leaving as little physical evidence as possible. What is more, victims of torture are naturally reluctant to trust state authorities when arriving in a foreign country and this, combined with the stressful living conditions, makes it very difficult for them to share their stories.

On the other hand, it may prove crucial for a victim of torture to be certified, in order to prevent refoulment or deportation, support their asylum application and/or family reunification claim and be referred to services related to their physical and mental rehabilitation, social support etc. Furthermore, a certification as a victim of torture protects the beneficiary from re-traumatising examinations, while formally acknowledging and recording their experiences is an assertive and empowering act in itself."

France: Tensions reach boiling point in crowded detention centres (ECRE, link):

"NGOs have denounced the increase of acts of violence and tension between refugees and migrants in detention centres in France- a trend that La Cimade argues is the consequence of repressive policies of confinement which severely endanger detainees.

The number of people detained in France for immigration reasons has continued to rise, according to the annual report compiled by civil society organisations monitoring administrative detention centres (CRA) and other administrative detention places (LRA). Statistics for 2017 reveal that a total of 46, 857 people were detained, in comparison to 45, 937 in 2016. The number of detained children has also risen from 179 to 304 within the same time frame.

La Cimade argues that incidences of violence and aggression between detainees are becoming more frequent, because this prolonged incarceration is leading to reactions that can range from aggression, (directed to one’s self or others) self- immolation, resistance, defence, despair or anxiety."

GREECE: 11 killed as migrants smugglers' car crashes (Irish Independent, link):

"A car carrying migrants collided with a truck in northern Greece yesterday, killing 11 people, police said.

Ten of the victims were believed to be migrants who crossed into Greece from Turkey. The 11th person was the driver and a suspected migrant smuggler, police said.

Police said the car, in which the migrants were packed, had another vehicle's licence plates and is suspected of having been used for migrant trafficking. The car had not stopped at a police checkpoint during its journey, but it wasn't immediately clear how close to the site of the crash that it happened."

And see: Turkey migrants: Lorry crash in Izmir 'kills 22' (BBC News, link)

Hungary: Amnesty launches legal challenge to shameful law on migration that targets civil society (link)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-14.10.18) including: Fears growing in 'unbearable' and overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece as winter approaches, The "hotspots" experiment: removing human rights from the equation and the contested Mediterranean
Fears growing in 'unbearable' and overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece as winter approaches (ITV, link):

"Unbearable, Hell, bad, dangerous - just a few of the words people use to describe the Moria refugee camp to us on the rare access we were given inside.

We visited the camp on the Greek island of Lesbos at what felt like a potential breaking point.

The thousands of refugees living there are traumatised, trapped and the hope they had when they arrived has been replaced with feelings of desolation.

The staff we spoke to in the overcapacity facility admitted to being overwhelmed and at a loss, but desperate for a solution."

European Commission releases data on Funds to Greece to deal with Migration (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The European Commission has published a list of recipients of funds to Greece to deal with the migration crisis. An amount totaling 1.6 billion euros has been allocated to non-governmental organizations, international organizations and Greek authorities, even though only half of it has been disbursed."

Are You Syrious (11.10.18, link):

"Sea Watch’s reconaissance aicraft Moonbird took off from a new operating base on Thursday to give evidence of Europe’s deadly border policy and to call for rescue where needed. The aircraft had been prevented from continuing search-and-rescue operations by the Maltese government for three months. The death rate in the central Mediterranean sea has never been as high, as the number of active rescue boats has plummeted."

The “hotspots” experiment: removing human rights from the equation (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

"The Greek hotspots have been transformed into areas where human rights are being systematically breached. It is extremely problematic that these breaches continue despite the fact that a number of international organizations supervise and contribute to the hotspot operations."

Greece: Tents and Drones (Samos Chronicles, link)

"On Wednesday October 3rd 2018 over 200 refugees arrived on Samos.

On Thursday, a Palestinian friend living in one of the containers inside the camp was told he had to leave to make space for new arrivals who had more need for his place. Of course he asked where do I go. To the forest around the camp, he was told.

In what do I sleep?

A tent came the reply.What tent? You must go and buy one. On Friday we heard that the Chinese shops which sell small summer style tents had sold out. In the meantime…."

Germany extends border controls with Austria and Denmark (DW, link):

"Germany's Interior Ministry will extend migration controls at borders with Austria and Denmark for another six months. Denmark, Austria and France have also announced their intention to extend border controls."

EU: The European Border and Coast Guard: The Justice and Home Affairs Council is discussing: Policy debate: Doc no; 12768-18 (this is not a LIIMITE document, pdf) which includes proposals for:

"strengthening the cooperation with third countries by giving the agency a wider scope for action (not limiting it to neighbouring countries);

- supporting Member States on a technical and operational level with return operations; Agency staff can communicate directly with third countries."
[emphasis added]

Some "concerns" have been expressed as to the mandate of the standing corps of 10,000 officers.

EU:  Reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is in a mess

- disagreement amongst Member States blocking adoption

The Austrian Presidency of the Council has produced a report on the state of play in the while trying to agree its negotiating position: From: Presidency To: Permanent Representatives Committee/Council (LIMITE doc no: 12420-18, pdf). There are no fewer than six previous versions.

Each of the seven measures are held up because a minority of delegations (Member States) in the Council are opposed to changes made or proposed unacceptable changes to the Council's original, agreed, negotiating position on which trilogue talks are based.

On its part the European Parliament - after many trilogue meetings - stands by the agreement reached in June on three measures: the Qualifications Directive, Reception Directive and the Resettlement Regulation.

Hungary’s Orbán thanks Greek far-right Golden Dawn for its support (euractiv, link):

" Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has formally thanked the Greek far-right Golden Dawn party for their support during last month’s vote on the activation of Article 7 against Hungary in the European Parliament. The move is likely to cause new frictions in the European People’s Party, Orbán’s political home in the EU."

Three female migrants found murdered near Greece-Turkey border - Area is known for illegal migrant crossings and police say they suspect foul play (Guardian, link):

"Two women and a girl believed to be migrants have been found dead with their throats slashed near Greece’s north-eastern border with Turkey, Greek authorities said.

The victims appeared to be of North African, Middle Eastern or Asian origin, but their nationalities and identities were unknown, police said. An initial examination of the bodies suggested the three were killed about four days earlier, coroner Pavlos Pavlidis said on Wednesday.

“It is clearly a criminal act,” Pavlidis told Associated Press. “They were found with their hands bound, each body about two or three metres away from the other. Their throats were cut right across.”"

Greek court orders inquiry into use of EU migrant funds (euobserver, link):

"Greek Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou on Monday ordered an investigation of how €570m of EU funds for migrant aid was spent after the sacked head of hotspot reception centres, Andreas Iliopoulos, indicated in a newspaper interview that EU funds for migration were being mismanaged. Iliopoulos was responsible for reception centres on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos and in Evros, northern Greece. He was dismissed last week."

And see: Prosecutor launches probe into alleged mismanagement of EU Funds for refugees (Keep Talking Greece, link)

In Italy’s ‘hospitality town’, migrants fight to save mayor who gave them a new home (Guardian, link):

"Domenico Lucano revitalised his community by welcoming foreigners. He has been detained by the state … and supporters fear a political motive."

EU: The next phase of the European Border and Coast Guard: towards operational effectiveness (EU Law Analysis, link):

" Two years after the establishment, in record time, of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG), the Commission’s new proposed Regulation opens the way for a standing corps of 10,000 border guards, with its own equipment and greater executive powers."

Salvini threatens to shut airports over migrant ‘charter flights’ from Germany (euractiv, link):

"Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened Sunday (7 October) to shut the country’s airports after media reported that Germany planned to send charter flights of rejected asylum-seekers to Italy."

EU: Asylum: Austria and Denmark announce their "vision for a better protection system in a globalized world"

A paper published by the Austrian interior ministry and the Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration declares that "migration and asylum policy will shape Europe's future", arguing that "many citizens have lost trust in their governments' ability to deal with the challenges of irregular migration" - trust which will only be restored by "an alternative, unifying vision".

Denmark still refusing to accept any quota refugees in 2018 (The Copenhagen Post, link):

"Denmark will not be accepting any quota refugees for 2018, according to the immigration and integration minister, Inger Støjberg.

The decision means Denmark hasn’t accepted any quota refugees since 2015 and remains the only country to halt its intake of the so-called resettlement refugees.

“Even though we’ve seen better control on the flow of refugees, we are still in a situation when we are fighting to integrate the many refugees who have arrived to Denmark in recent years,” Støjberg said.

“Despite more refugees finding work, there are still many who can’t support themselves – particularly among women. So I’ve decided that Denmark won’t be taking in any quota refugees in 2018.”"

The contested Mediterranean (link)

"Private rescue organizations are put on the chain. In the middle of the standoff about the ship „Aquarius“ Frontex starts the surveillance with drones and wants to give the coordinates of refugee boats to Libya."

Italian-flagged migrant rescue boat defies anti immigration minister (Guardian, link):

"Vessel Mare Jonio sets out towards Libya despite Matteo Salvini clampdown on rescued migrants entering Italian ports. (...)

The Italian flag on the 38-metre Mare Jonio will make it harder for Salvini to prevent it from docking, though he could still move to prevent people from disembarking. The boat has been bought and equipped by a coalition of leftwing politicians, anti-racist associations, intellectuals and figures in the arts, under the supervision of two NGOs. Its mission has been called Mediterranean."

Europe's migrant rescue boats face uncertain future (DW, link)

"The Aquarius has docked at the port of Marseille, carrying with it uncertainty about the future of migrant rescue missions. But even as the humanitarian vessel ends operations indefinitely, some see hope on the horizon. (...)

"It means the Aquarius is going to be in the port of Marseille for a certain period of time while we go through the administrative details of getting registration for the vessel to be able to head back out to sea," Nick Romaniuk, rescue coordinator for SOS Mediterranee, told DW."

Libya is a war zone. Why is the EU still sending refugees back there? (Guardian, link)

A brutal life for migrants in Libya: trafficking, detention or death en route to Europe (pbs.org, link)

Greece: "We have found hell': trauma runs deep for children at dire Lesbos camp (Guardian, link):

"Violent and unsanitary conditions in Moria refugee settlement are exacerbating the horror of fleeing conflict for the 3,000 children who live there."

Hurriyet: Turkey sets up radars to monitor Aegean vessel traffic (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey has set up eleven surveillance stations on the Aegean coast as part of the first phase of the Coast Surveillance Radar System (SGRS) Project which aims to "halt illegal activities" in the sea, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

The paper says, when the system testing has been completed, the radars and electro-optical sensors will monitor the sea around the clock."

Morocco's foreign minister rejects EU's migrant centers (DW, link):

"Morocco's foreign minister said his country should play a greater role in EU decisions on migration in a newspaper interview. Nasser Bourita said Morocco was opposed to the migrant centers that the EU has suggested."

EU: The shrinking space for solidarity with migrants and refugees: How the European Union and Member States target and criminalize defenders of the rights of people on the move (TNI, link):

"Europe’s “refugee crisis” triggered a wave of solidarity actions by both civil society organisations and ordinary citizens. Their efforts were part of a wave of compassion, as people organised convoys to refugee reception centers, warmly greeted arrivals at train stations and lined highways to provide food and water to those making the journey from Syria and elsewhere. Just a few years later those same activists are treated as criminals and humanitarian search and rescue missions are criminalised.

The current onslaught originated in the intensification of the EU’s restrictive approach to immigration policy from late 2014 and the EU’s treatment of Italy and Greece, front-line states on the EU’s migration routes. Today in Europe, solidarity with migrants and refugees can lead to arrest, legal troubles, or harassment. The actions of national police, judiciaries, political powers and far-right militants have created and compounded hostility to solidarity with refugees and migrants.

This report looks at how EU policy has played out and offers a glimpse into the ways citizens and movements are resisting xenophobic and securitarian policies."

EU: On the fifth anniversary of the Lampedusa shipwreck that took 368 lives: Save the Aquarius, Save Lives - Joint NGO Letter (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Five years to the day after the Lampedusa tragedy in which at least 368 people died, rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea are more vital than ever. It is alarming that the last rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean may be forced to stop operating. We call on European leaders to ensure the Aquarius can continue to save lives at sea.

The decision by Panamanian authorities to strike the Aquarius, a nongovernmental rescue ship operated by SOS MEDITERRANEE and Médécins Sans Frontières (MSF), from its ships’ registry, apparently in response to pressure from the Italian government, is a reprehensible move. It will deny potentially life-saving assistance to vulnerable people at risk, including injured people, pregnant women, torture survivors, people traumatized by shipwrecks and unaccompanied minors.

This is just the latest in a series of moves to delegitimize and block nongovernmental groups performing vital search-and-rescue operations in the central Mediterranean. It risks forcing the last remaining NGO ship away from the deadliest stretch of water in the world, resulting in the end of nongovernmental rescue in the area, which for years, has courageously contributed to saving thousands of lives. All other NGOs are blocked in Italian or Maltese ports by legal actions or have been forced to suspend operations given unconscionable delays or refusals to disembark rescued persons in European ports."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.9-2.10.18) including: Lesvos refugee camp at centre of Greek misuse of EU funds row; migrant aid worker convicted for tweet in France; Frontex begins testing drones
Are You Syrious (30.9.18, link)

Greece

"Horrific conditions in Moria camp are only worsened through the rain. Heavy cold rains are a feature of fall weather and Salam Aldeen has documented the horrifying misery in which thousands are trapped. Most international officials are aware of the situations, yet there are only minor efforts. In the photo below, people are packed into a children’s play centre to stay out of the rain. This was part of the government plan to “protect” people from the storm nicknamed “Zorbas” that moved across Greece this weekend."

Germany agrees on immigration law to tackle labor shortages (Reuters, link):

" Germany’s coalition parties agreed on a new immigration law on Tuesday to attract more skilled workers from countries outside the European Union, in a politically risky push to fill a record number of job vacancies and stabilize the public pension system. "

UK: Stansted 15: Amnesty to observe trial amid concerns for anti-deportation activists (Amnesty, link):

"Amnesty International will be observing the trial of 15 human rights defenders set to go on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court next week (Monday 1 October) relating to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted airport.

The protesters - known as the “Stansted 15” - are facing lengthy jail sentences for their non-violent intervention in March last year.

Amnesty is concerned that the serious charge of “endangering safety at aerodromes” may have been brought to discourage other activists from taking non-violent direct action in defence of human rights. "

And see: Stansted 15 Court Demo (Stop deportation charter flights, link)

UNHCR concerned over lack of Mediterranean rescue capacity (euractiv, link);

"The Maltese authorities on Sunday (30 September) finally took 58 migrants from the Aquarius to Valletta after they had waited for days in rough seas on the rescue ship that can no longer go to port after its flag was pulled.

The migrants, including Libyans, sub-Saharan Africans and Afghans, boarded two buses at a Malta Armed Forces base in Valletta after being transferred from the Aquarius to a Maltese patrol boat in international waters."

September 2018

Greece: Lesbos refugee camp at centre of Greek misuse of EU funds row - European anti-fraud agency investigates irregularities after report alleges defence minister benefited from camp funds (Guardian, link):

"The conditions in which thousands of asylum seekers are being detained on Lesbos has unleashed a furious political backlash in Greece, as financing of the island’s overcrowded Moria detention camp comes under scrutiny.

Tensions mounted after the defence minister, Panos Kammenos, filed a defamation action against three journalists, including the editor-in-chief of the Fileleftheros daily, after the publication of a report alleging misuse of EU funds. (...)

The European anti-fraud agency confirmed on Tuesday it was investigating “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece”. Athens has received a total of €1.6bn in financial aid for refugees since 2015"

France: Aid Worker Convicted for Tweet - First Such Conviction in French Courts (HRW, link);

"A humanitarian worker’s defamation conviction on September 25, 2018, for an ironic tweet represents a dangerous escalation in official harassment of groups providing crucial aid to migrants, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the first conviction of its kind in France.

A court in Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France, found Loan Torondel guilty of criminal libel for a tweet he sent out at the beginning of January and sentenced him to pay a fine, which it suspended, and court costs."

Frontex begins testing unmanned aircraft for border surveillance (press release, link):

"This week, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has begun testing the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in Greece, Italy and Portugal to monitor the European Union’s external borders.

Frontex is exploring the surveillance capability of the medium altitude long endurance RPAS and evaluating the related cost efficiency and endurance. The agency will test the unmanned aircraft in several operational situations. These include surveillance of the sea, support of Search and Rescue operations, detection of vessels suspected of criminal activities, such as drug and weapon smuggling and information sharing with multiple users in real time."

CROATIA: Criminalising solidarity: Are You Syrious? statement on politically motivated, unjust guilty verdict for our volunteer

This past March, AYS volunteer Dragan Umicevic approached a police control near the Croatian border to alert police to a family of asylum seekers huddled in a field near Strošinci, already on Croatian soil. A few days later, he was shocked to find himself facing charges of aiding and abetting the asylum seekers’ “illegal crossing” of the Croatian border - despite the fact that he had never laid eyes on the family before and hadn’t even communicated with them directly beforehand.

Morocco navy fires on migrant boat, one dead: local officials (France 24, link):

"Morocco's navy on Tuesday fired on a boat carrying migrants which refused to respond to its orders, leaving a Moroccan woman dead and three other people wounded, local officials said.

The patrol was "forced" to open fire on a speedboat driven by a Spaniard who "refused to obey" orders in waters off the Moroccan locality of M'diq-Fnideq, the authorities said in a statement.

Four migrants were wounded, including a Moroccan woman who died of her injuries in hospital, a local official told AFP."

EU: What to do with rejected asylum seekers? (EurActiv, link) by Anna Lundberg:

"This is not news. For many years, people who do not return to their country of origin have been described as a major policy problem. Forgotten in this debate is that some of the people who have had their asylum applications rejected cannot actually return home.

The underlying reasons vary. If the person is stateless, the designated recipient country may not see any obligation to grant entry permits. There may be political reasons for a state to deny a citizen’s return; an individual’s citizenship may have been withdrawn or it may be impossible to get to the designated country or very difficult to obtain entry permits.

These “Non-Returnable Returnees” end up being legally stranded, in an uncertain position with a high risk of exploitation. In many countries, such people has no right to work and no right to emergency support."

On the proposed legislation in question, see the proposal to amend the Return Directive, available here: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation (Statewatch News Online, 14 September 2018)

BELGIUM: ‘Crimes of solidarity’ in Europe multiply as 11 stand trial in Belgium for helping migrants (Global Voices, link):

"Eleven people who had been arrested and charged with human trafficking in October 2017 appeared in court in Brussels on September 6, the first hearing of a trial that activists say is yet another case of “criminalization of solidarity” in Europe.

The defendants have allegedly assisted 95 undocumented migrants, including 12 minors, to travel from Belgium to the United Kingdom last year, either by hosting them in their homes, by lending them phones and thereby indirectly helping them cross the channel.

On the day of the trial, three hundred people protested in front of the courthouse. Demonstrators say this is a political trial, aimed at dissuading people from helping migrants by establishing an intimidating judicial precedent."

Portugal agrees to take 10 rescue ship migrants amid European divide (The Guardian, link):

"Portugal has offered to take in 10 migrants from the Aquarius rescue ship as Europe once again finds itself divided over what to do with the large number of people crossing the Mediterranean and arriving on its shores... As part of the deal, France will take 18 migrants and Spain and Germany 15 each.

SOS Méditerranée, the NGO that operates the ship, said on Monday it was making for the French port of Marseille carrying 58 people who had been rescued off the coast of Libya but the French government had signalled it was reluctant to welcome the boat, saying it should dock at the nearest safe port to its location near conflict-torn Libya.

Malta, the EU country closest to the ship, on Tuesday said migrants would be transferred to a patrol boat in international waters and taken to the island, which will then send them to the four other member states."

Aquarius migrant rescue ship heads for Marseille despite revoked registration (France 24, link):

"The Aquarius migrant rescue ship is headed for the port of Marseille with 58 people on board and will seek authorisation to dock from the French government, the vessel's operators said Monday, after the ship's registration was revoked."

And see: Charities plea for help after Aquarius migrant rescue ship's flag revoked - Operators claim Panama deflagged vessel after pressure from Italian government (Guardian, link) Also: Italy: A new underhand tactic for ending work of NGO rescue ship will cost lives (AI, link)

Italian government adopts measures to narrow asylum rights - New rules would make it easier to expel migrants and limit who is granted protection (Politico, link):

" Italy’s populist government approved a package of new migration measures Monday, aimed at making it more difficult for migrants to obtain asylum and humanitarian protection.

Under the legislation — which still needs parliamentary as well as presidential approval — migrants could have their asylum requests suspended and face immediate repatriation if they are considered “socially dangerous” or convicted of certain crimes, including drug dealing and sexual assault."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-24.9.18)
EU: A majority of Europeans favor taking in refugees, but most disapprove of EU’s handling of the issue (Pew Research Center, link):

"Three years after a record 1.3 million migrants sought asylum in Europe, a majority of people in several European countries say they support taking in refugees who are fleeing violence and war, according to a Pew Research Center survey. However, most people in these countries disapprove of the way the European Union has dealt with the refugee issue."

EU: Missing at the Borders: the website for the project dedicated to the families of migrants deceased, missing or victims of enforced disappearances

"People not numbers". This is the fundamental principle that guides Missing at the Borders, the project aimed at giving voice to the victims of enforced disappearances and the families of migrants who have become deceased or missing while attempting to reach Europe.

The self-financed initiative is promoted by a network of organizations that works on both sides of the Mediterranean to combine forces with the families of migrants.

Hungary upholds 'terrorism' conviction against Syrian refugee (Al Jazeera, link):

"A Hungarian court rejected the appeal of a Syrian refugee and upheld his 2016 conviction for "terrorism", but reduced his seven-year sentence, in what a rights group called an abuse of anti-terrorism laws.

The appeals court handed down the decision on Thursday in the southern city of Szeged to uphold the conviction while reducing Ahmed H's sentence to five years.

Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International's counterterrorism campaigner who was in the courtroom, said in a statement to Al Jazeera, "this judgement comes as a blow for Ahmed, his wife and his two young daughters.""

Italy acquits Tunisian 'migrant smuggling' fishermen (BBC News, link):

"Six Tunisian fishermen arrested earlier this month by Italian authorities for "aiding illegal migrants" have been cleared.

One of the men's lawyers and their fishermen's association confirmed the acquittal to the BBC.

The arrests outraged Tunisian fishermen and activists who demanded their release.

Supporters of the fishermen, from the south-east coastal town of Zarzis, said the men were aiding a boat in distress."

For in-depth background and context to the case and the role of Tunisian fishermen in carrying out rescues at sea, see: When rescue at sea becomes a crime: who the Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy really are (OpenDemocracy, link)

Trump urged Spain to build Sahara wall to stop migrants (euobserver, link):

"Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell told attendees at a lunch in Madrid this week that US president Donald Trump seriously suggested the Spanish government build a wall across the Sahara desert to stop migration to Europe."

Morocco plays cat and mouse with Africans headed to Europe (euractiv, link):

"African emigrants are defying a campaign by Morocco to keep them away from land and sea crossings to Spain, which has become the main entry point to Europe for migrants and refugees following crackdowns elsewhere."

Greece to move asylum-seekers from overcrowded Lesbos camp (euobserver, link):

"Greece is planning to move some 2,000 asylum-seekers from the overcrowded Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos by the end of September, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos announced - ahead of migration talks at an informal EU summit in Austria. The Moria camp currently houses 9,000 people in a facility built for 3,100. Those being moved will be sent to the mainland to have their asylum claims examined."

Comment: There are currently 10,956 refguees on Lesvos (Ministry figure 19.9.18). The largest numbers are in the Moria detention centre and the "Olive Grove" adjacent to it.

Misery Deepens for Trapped Asylum Seekers in Greece - EU should stop backing policy that confines people to Aegean island (HRW, link):

"Boat migration to Greece is no longer in the headlines but the crisis for asylum seekers on the Greek islands continues.

More than 18,000 asylum seekers remain trapped in overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands. The largest, Moria camp on Lesbos, now holds more than 9,000 people, triple its capacity. Children don’t have access to schools and vulnerable asylum seekers, including pregnant women and people with disabilities, cannot access critical services."

African Union 'dismayed' at Salvini, says 'migrants aren't slaves' - Body asks interior minister to retract statement (ANSA, link):

"The African Union expressed "dismay" on Wednesday after Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini reportedly compared migrants to slaves. "The African Union Commission expresses dismay at the comments made by the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Matteo Salvini, at a recent conference in Vienna at which he likened African immigrants to slaves," the AU said in a statement. "It is the view of the African Union that name-calling will not resolve the migration challenges facing Africa and Europe"."

EU: Fixing the Refugee Crisis: Holding the Commission Accountable (Verfassungsblog, link) by Cathryn Costello and Elspeth Guild:

"Whatever its rhetoric, the Commission’s room for manoeuvre as a political norm entrepreneur on hot issues is constrained. Nonetheless, it could still have worked better, and seized the opportunity to make a success of relocation, and abandon Dublin decisively. However, it failed to shine as technical coordinator, to maintain its integrity as guardian of EU legality, or even stealthily act to maintain EU scrutiny before the CJEU. The ‘political Commission’ appears to have been politicized, in the sense of creating space for ad hoc governmental power over asylum, with all the deep divisions and disagreements that entailed. Much has been lost in that process."

EUCAP Sahel Niger: Council extends the mission for two years (Council of the EU, link):

"On 18 September 2018, the Council extended the mandate of EUCAP Sahel Niger until 30 September 2020 and agreed on a budget of €63.4 million for the period 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2020.

The Council also updated the mission's mandate. EUCAP Sahel Niger provides advice and training to support the Nigerien authorities in strengthening their security capabilities since its launch in 2012. The mission supports the capacity building of the Nigerien security actors to fight terrorism and organised crime. Since 2016, the mission has also assisted the Nigerien central and local authorities, as well as security forces, in developing the procedures and techniques to better control and address irregular migration.

EUCAP Sahel Niger contributes to the development of an integrated, multidisciplinary, coherent, sustainable, and human rights-based approach among the various Nigerien security actors."

German government seeks greater cooperation with Algeria on deportations

The German government wants to classify Algeria as a safe country of origin in terms of asylum law, as it has already done with Tunisia and Morocco. Rejected asylum seekers could be deported more quickly.

CoE: Hungary: anti-torture Committee observed decent conditions in transit zones but criticises treatment of irregular migrants when ‘pushed back’ to Serbia (link):

"The report highlights that in the context of ‘push-backs’, there was no procedure which would assess the risk of ill-treatment following the forcible removal, and the CPT recommends that the Hungarian authorities put an end to the practice of ‘push-backs’ to the Serbian side of the border.

The CPT expresses its misgivings about the fact that all foreign nationals seeking international protection, including families with children and unaccompanied minors (14 to 18 years of age), are compelled to stay in the transit zones at Röszke and Tompa while their asylum claims are being processed."

See: Report (pdf)

Lesvos, Greece: Moria is in a state of emergency (MSF, link):

"I have worked for 14 years as a clinical psychiatrist in the Mental Health department of Trieste in Italy. I’m considered an expert on psychiatric emergencies and I work with people who have addiction and psychiatric comorbidities. I treat people who have been victims of human trafficking, I provide mental health support for refugees and people in prison, and advise on protection and social recovery programmes. Over the course of my career, I have gained significant clinical and professional experience in difficult contexts and crisis situations.

In all of my years of medical practice, I have never witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions, as I am witnessing now amongst refugees on the island of Lesbos."

UN rules against expulsion of victim of torture from Switzerland to Italy (ECRE, link):

"The United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) has ruled that the expulsion of a torture victim from Switzerland to Italy under the Dublin Regulation violates the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, by depriving him of the conditions conducive to recovery and rehabilitation."

See the ruling: Decision adopted by the Committee under article 22 of the Convention, concerning communication No. 742/2016 (pdf)

EU: Official evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur)

The European Commission has published an evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), which recommends that the system be expanded for the "systematic inclusion" of all border crossing points; the monitoring of "secondary movements" of migrants within the EU; and to develop new services and better cooperate with "third parties", for example through "big data analysis" of EU databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System and Europol's computer systems.

EU: Frontex tests drones for border surveillance: €6.5m for Leonardo and Israel Aerospace Industries

Frontex has recently signed two contracts for tests on border surveillance drones with the companies Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) and Israel Aerospace Industries, worth €1.7 million and €4.75 million respectively.

GREECE: 19 organizations demand decongestion of the islands and immediate improvement of refugee reception conditions

Athens, September 13, 2018 - Over 17,000 people remain crammed in Greek island reception centers with a total capacity for only 6,000, living in desperate conditions which do not meet humanitarian standards. This, despite public assurances from the Greek Minister of Migration Policy, Dimitris Vitsas, that the islands would be decongested by September and that thousands of new places would be created on the Greek mainland. As conditions continue to deteriorate, 19 civil society organisations once again urge authorities to engage in the creation of sustainable solutions for the decongestion of the islands and to immediately improve reception conditions for refugees. It is nothing short of shameful that people are expected to endure such horrific conditions on European soil.

Greece: Number of refugees on islands rising: Official figures show that the total numbers on the islands (13.9.18) have risen to 19,711 with the numbers on Lesvos rising to 10.599. The Hope Project on Lesvos reports: "Over just this weekend 10 boats arrived in Lesvos! 519 people! Many children!."

Mytilini harbour on Lesvos has five Frontex and UK boats (The Vailant and Seeker) in constant use to patrol and "search & rescue".

GREECE: FreeHumanitarians (link):

"Nassos Karakitsos, Seán Binder & Sarah Mardini are three humanitarian workers who have been arrested and detained by Greek Authorities.

They have been accused among others for assisting illegally refugees to enter Greece,being a member of a criminal organization, and espionage."

See also: Help is no crime: stand with volunteers against the criminalisation of solidarity (JRS, ;onk)

As the World Abandons Refugees, UNHCR’s Constraints Are Exposed (Refguees Deeply, link):

"The U.N. refugee agency lacks the funding, political clout and independence to protect refugees in the way that it is supposed to, says former UNHCR official and refugee policy expert Jeff Crisp."

Migrant rescue ship Aquarius back in troubled waters (euobserver, link):

"The Aquarius, a rescue ship operated by French charities SOS Mediterranee and Medicins sans Frontieres, sailed back to international waters off Libya this weekend to resume work despite an EU dispute with Italy and Malta on who should take in the people it picks up at sea. No charity ships have worked in the region since late August, when Italy refused to let people on board the Aquarius to disembark."

Germany and Austria back tougher EU external border (euobserver, link):

"German chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz agreed Sunday to back the creation of a 10,000-man EU border force and cooperate with African states to stem migration flows. "There can be no open borders within Europe without proper protection of external EU borders," Kurz said. Morocco, which stopped 65,000 people from coming to the EU last year, is to get €236m in EU aid to stop others."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-14.9.18)
EU: Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament calls on the EU to act

Parliament has asked EU member states to determine, in accordance with Treaty Article 7, whether Hungary is at risk of breaching the EU´s founding values.

The request was approved by 448 votes to 197, with 48 abstentions. To be adopted, the proposal required an absolute majority of members (376) and two thirds of the votes cast - excluding the abstentions.

UK: The "deport first, appeal later" policy: Afghan father who sought refuge in UK 'shot dead by Taliban' after being deported by Home Office (The Independent, link):

"An Afghan man who sought refuge from the Taliban in the UK has been shot dead in his home town after being deported by the British government.

Zainadin Fazlie had lived in London with his wife, who had refugee status, and their four British-born children. But after committing a number of minor offences, the 47-year-old was sent back to Afghanistan after 16 years in Britain, despite threats to his life.

Last Friday, his wife Samira Fazlie found out he had been shot by Taliban forces after seeing an image of his dead body on Facebook."

EU: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation

A reinforced Frontex, a new European Asylum Agency, more measures against online terrorist content, a strengthened European Public Prosecutor's Office, lowering the standards in the Returns Directive and changes to decision-making in foreign policy were just some of the security and migration-related proposals announced in the 'State of the Union' speech given by European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, on 12 September.

GREECE: Update on Moria: mainland travel permitted for some; concerns over growing EASO role in asylum procedure; deportations without due process

Lesvos Legal Centre reports that on Friday 7th September the Greek government began lifting the geographical restrictions for individuals classified as vulnerable who are attempting to claim asylum in Lesvos.

This is supposed to enable around 5,000 people to leave the Moria detention centre/hotspot and travel to the mainland.

This 'solution' to the overcrowding in Moria will not, however, be sufficient to address the needs of the estimated 11,000 people trapped on Lesvos.

EU: Engagement-based Alternatives to Detention in Europe (EPIM, link):

"EPIM has commissioned a first independent evaluation report on the three Alternatives to Detention pilot projects it funds in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland. These pilot projects provide holistic case management as engagement-based alternatives to confinement-focused migration control measures such as immigration detention. The work is supported by the European Alternatives to Detention Network.

In the context of increased pressure across Europe to detain migrants, the evaluation provides evidence that engagement-based case management can be effective in helping migrants to work towards resolving their cases in the community:

The report also provides insight into how, practically, a case management pilot project can be set up, and the challenges faced, which can support further pilots for evidence-building."

See: Briefing paper (pdf) and full report: Alternatives to detention from theory to practice: Evaluation of three engagement-based alternative to immigration detention pillot projects in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland (link to pdf)

Why we need to protect refugees from the ‘big ideas’ designed to save them (The Independent, link) by Heaven Crawley:

"As the so-called “refugee crisis” continues to dominate European political and media debate, I’ve become increasingly concerned about the way in which some academics are responding to “solve” the issue.

...Ideas on how to solve the so-called refugee crisis are heavily skewed towards the global north: its interests shape dominant research themes and produce a disproportionate focus on Europe and North America, often leading to the “out of sight, out of mind” solutions. An echo chamber has developed, which constrains the capacity of many of the poorest countries to analyse migration and other issues on their own terms.

Relinquishing control won’t be an easy process. There are huge vested interests in maintaining the status quo, on all sides. All too often I’ve sat in events and been told that while it’s important to listen to the voices of refugees and to “give them agency”, academics and policy makers are ultimately the experts and know what’s best."

Refugee Libya shipwreck survivors condemned to drown at sea or face arbitrary detention (MSF, link):

"More than a hundred people have reportedly died in a shipwreck off the Libyan coast one week ago, survivors told Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams working in Libya. A group of 276 people, among them survivors of the shipwreck, were brought from the sea to the port city of Khoms (120 kilometres east of Tripoli) by the Libyan coast guard on Sunday 2 September. MSF has been providing urgent medical assistance following disembarkation.

...Upon disembarkation, the group was transferred to a detention centre under the control of the Libyan authorities. It is common for people returned to Libya from unseaworthy boats to be sent back into a harmful system of arbitrary detention. Between January and August 2018, the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard had returned 13, 185 refugees and migrants to Libya.

Among those detained, MSF has met asylum seekers and refugees who have been registered or recognised by UNHCR in Libya or another country. Their prospects appear particularly bleak: UNHCR-led mechanisms to evacuate them from Libya to Niger and resettle them in a third country, launched in 2017 in the aftermath of the global outrage sparked by CNN footage, have remained at a standstill for several months."

GREECE: Update on Moria: travel to the mainland permitted; concerns over growing EASO role in asylum procedure; deportations without due process

Lesvos Legal Centre reports that on Friday 7th September the Greek government lifted the geographical restrictions for individuals attempting to claim asylum in Lesvos.

The effect of this is thought to be intended to enable around 5,000 people to leave the Moria detention centre/hotspot and travel to the mainland.

FRANCE-UK: The Jungle ‘Performance’: Recreating a Refugee Camp on the Fly (Refugees Deeply, link):

"In early 2017, just three months after the demolition of the Jungle, asylum seekers started to return to Calais. For the past year, there have been 400–700 migrants living informally in the area at any given time. Yet the Jungle has not reappeared.

There is no physical camp in Calais. Newcomers play an absurd game of cat and mouse with authorities, building makeshift shelters that are then destroyed by police. In response, volunteer humanitarians reclaim the camp in the only way they can: They publicly “perform” a recreation of the protective space that the Jungle provided for asylum seekers, challenging the police’s attempts to criminalize everybody involved."

And see: French police clear 500 migrants from Dunkirk camp (The Local, link): "Police moved in to clear 500 migrants from a camp near the French port city of Dunkirk, along the English Channel where many gather hoping to stow away on trucks or ferries heading to Britain, officials said Thursday."

MOROCCO: Relentless crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants and refugees is unlawful (Amnesty, link):

"The Moroccan authorities’ large-scale crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, asylum seekers and refugees without due process is cruel and unlawful, Amnesty International said amid ongoing intensive government raids in the north of the country.

Since the end of July, the Moroccan police together with the Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxiliary Forces have carried out major raids on the neighbourhoods where refugees and migrants live in several cities, with particular intensity in the northern provinces of Tangiers, Nador and Tetuan, which neighbour the Spanish borders.

...An estimated 5,000 people have been swept up in the raids since July, piled on to buses and abandoned in remote areas close to the Algerian border or in the south of the country, according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). The group monitored the number of buses that left from Tangiers, Tetuan and Nador and calculated an estimate for the number of people seized.

...“Efforts to control irregular migration from Morocco to Spain are frequently praised by the Spanish authorities, who keep cooperating with Morocco to stop the arrival of migrants and refugees without conditioning such cooperation upon the respect of the rights of all people on the move. Spain and the EU in general should refocus their cooperation with Morocco, prioritizing the protection of human rights and the creation of an asylum system in the country, as required under international law.”"

GREECE: Lesvos: Moria camp "dangerous to public health" and majority of detainees "never feel safe"

The notorious Moria "hotspot" camp on the Greek island of Lesvos must be cleaned up within 30 days or otherwise closed down. Inspectors declared the camp "dangerous for public health and the environment," after finding "broken sewage pipes, overflowing garbage bins, and stagnant water and flies in the toilets," according to a report in the The Independent. Meanwhile, a recent investigation has found that over 65% of people living in the camp "never feel safe" there.

EU: Forced into The Arms of Smugglers (OCCRP, link):

"...with no legal way for migrants and refugees to get in through the Balkans, honest and innocent people are forced into the welcoming arms of organized crime.

“We all failed this test, and organized crime took the route over from us,” Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic told TV1 in June.

“No country should have let that happen."

Seeing no other option, migrants and refugees are paying thousands to go on dangerous journeys with smugglers. Most are left stranded and penniless. Meanwhile, the European smuggling networks are earning an estimated US$ 5-6 billion per year, according to Europol.

Salma’s family alone paid smugglers $30,500 in an attempt to reach Austria after receiving threats from the Taliban and Daesh.

But two years later, they are stuck in this small room in the Salakovac refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with no fan, no regular access to medical care, and no idea what comes next."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.8-7.9.18)
Council of Europe: Despite challenges in managing mixed migration Spain should guarantee effective access to asylum also in Melilla and Ceuta

Strasbourg, 06.09.2018 - ”Every person arriving in Spain, including those jumping the border fences in Melilla and Ceuta, should be protected against refoulement and collective expulsions with a real possibility to have access to an effective and fair asylum procedure”, says the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomáš Bocek in a report published today.

UK’s asylum dispersal system close to 'catastrophic failure' (The Guardian, link):

"Britain’s asylum dispersal system is on the brink of collapse, according to a number of “unprecedented” warning letters written by council leaders and politicians to the Home Office.

Joint letters have been written by 14 leaders of councils across Yorkshire, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland, the Welsh and Scottish governments as well as by Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow council, the only local authority in Scotland to take asylum seekers.

They warn the government the voluntary system that provides accommodation in local authorities for those seeking refugee status is on the verge of “catastrophic failure”. There were 26,350 asylum applications in 2017."

Background: The Corporate Greed of Strangers (IRR, link): "John Grayson reveals the spread of corporate involvement in the provision of asylum housing in the UK and northern Europe, and how outsourcing and private companies are tarnishing Europe’s ‘welcome’ to refugees."

Anti-migrant militias spring up in central Europe (EUobserver, link):

"Czech and Slovenian authorities have voiced alarm over the emergence of armed anti-migrant militias in the two central European countries.

The concerns come after revelations of a paramilitary base, with tanks and armoured personnel carriers, used by a biker gang with Kremlin ties in Slovakia.

The Czech intelligence service, the BIS, voiced its worries about a group that calls itself the National Home Guard in a classified report seen by Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes.

...The home guard groups, which have up to 2,500 members in 90 national branches, patrol the streets of some small Czech towns, such as Nymburk, 50km west of Prague, looking for irregular migrants.

They appear to have links with local police and have political support from National Democracy, a fringe far-right party."

MEDITERRANEAN: Defending humanity at sea: are dedicated and proactive search and rescue operations at sea a "pull factor" for migration and do they deteriorate maritime safety in the Central Mediterranean? (Médecins sans Frontières, pdf):

"What are the main conclusions?

• The accusations levelled against the humanitarian vessels are not substantiated by evidence. There was no major increase in attempted sea crossings during the period of involvement of the humanitarian vessels (as would be expected by the pull factor hypothesis).
• Importantly, the involvement of humanitarian vessels was associated with a significant improvement in maritime safety compared to other periods. Without these boats, the counts of dead and missing at sea would likely have been considerably higher. The proactive search and rescue by humanitarian vessels have thus played a crucial and life-saving role."

Impasse on migration clouds EU-Africa relations (euractiv, link):

"The issue of how to control migration from Africa may have exorcised European leaders in recent years, but it could also derail the EU’s main political agreement with the continent.

Eighteen months of talks on a new agreement to replace the 2000 Cotonou accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries will begin in the coming weeks, with EU and African leaders far apart on how to tackle migration policy."

UNHCR: Desparate Journeys January – August 2018: Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe and at Europe's borders (pdf): "The risk of death at sea for people crossing the Mediterranean continues to increase as the EU and member states attempt to stamp out refugee flows from Libya." And see Commentary in story below.

GREECE: Enough! Please No More Reports Telling us the Bleeding Obvious! (Samos Chronicles, link):

"This week another damning report from UNHCR on the atrocious conditions and treatment of refugees on the Greek islands. A few days earlier another about Lesvos. My computer is full of reports about refugees in Greece and on Samos. There seems no end to the flow.

We have some simple questions to ask of all those organisations and individuals who write and research these reports."

SPAIN: Research on the situation at the Spanish southern border: Spanish Southern Border: Human Rights Violations by Private Companies (link):

"The militarization of European Union's migration policies, responds to a global securitization process that began after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. This process has resulted in an increase of military and defense spending, both at EU level and at member states level. Private actors working in the sector of defense and security have played a leading role in the creation and design of those policies."


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

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